mostlycloudy
Thursday July 2nd, 2015 10:43PM

Zimmerman will seek 'stand your ground' hearing

By The Associated Press
MIAMI - George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida's "stand your ground" law in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his attorney said Thursday.

The hearing, which likely won't take place for several months, will amount to a mini-trial involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides.

"Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts and evidence that the defense would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the `stand your ground' hearing," said the statement posted by Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara on Zimmerman's official defense website.

Although the posting did not say so, legal experts say it's likely that Zimmerman himself would testify since he is the sole survivor of the Feb. 26 confrontation.

Under the "stand your ground" law, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester can dismiss the charges if Zimmerman conclusively shows he fatally shot Martin because he "reasonably believed" he might be killed or suffer "great bodily harm" at the hands of the unarmed teenager. The law also says a person has no duty to retreat in the face of such a threat.

Janet Johnson, a Jacksonville defense attorney who has represented defendants in other "stand your ground" cases, said Zimmerman has a good chance to win his claim if he can also show he was in a place where he had a legal right to be and that he didn't create the danger.

"Or, if he did, he had abandoned that activity when Mr. Martin `attacked' him," Johnson said in an email. "There's only one side since Trayvon Martin can't testify."

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin after a confrontation in Zimmerman's gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford, where Martin was visiting. The case drew local and nationwide protests because Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks after the shooting. Zimmerman claims Martin punched him and slammed his head against a sidewalk.

Evidence released by prosecutors, the website statement said, shows "clear support for a strong claim of self-defense." The statement urged "everyone to be patient during this process and to reserve judgment until the evidence is presented in the `stand your ground' hearing."

Prosecutors released 76 pages of additional evidence Thursday, mostly consisting of Zimmerman's community college school records. But they also released a grainy photograph that they described as "depicting the killing of a person," presumably Martin. In a subsequent email, they asked news media to not use the photo, which they said due to its content is exempt from the state's public records law. The extremely dark, poor-quality photo shows a small, unrecognizable shape at the center of the frame.

Martin's parents have contended that Zimmerman singled out their son as he was returning from a convenience store because he was black and that it was Zimmerman's aggression that led to his death. Zimmerman, who is free on $1 million bail, faces a possible life prison sentence if convicted of second-degree murder.

If his "stand your ground" claim succeeds, however, the criminal charges would be dismissed and Zimmerman could not be held liable in any civil action such as a wrongful-death lawsuit. Prosecutors would likely appeal a successful self-defense claim.

A spokeswoman for special prosecutor Angela Corey declined to comment Thursday. Benjamin Crump, attorney for Martin's parents, said in an email he believes the "stand your ground" claim will be denied and that Zimmerman's guilt or innocence will ultimately be decided by a jury.

"Trayvon's parents do not feel that this is a man that feared for his life the night he shot and killed their child, this is a man whose only fear is spending his life in prison," Crump said.

Legal experts have said that Zimmerman's credibility is crucial to his claim and that he undermined his own cause by deceiving the judge about his finances during an April bond hearing. That alleged deception led to perjury charges against Zimmerman's wife, Shellie. She has pleaded not guilty.

Lester remarked that Zimmerman "flaunted the system" by making misleading statements about how much money the couple had raised through online contributions from supporters. The judge, who will also rule on the "stand your ground" claim, revoked Zimmerman's initial $150,000 bond and had him returned to jail. Lesterlater allowed him to be released on the higher $1 million figure with additional restrictions.

"His credibility in asserting that he lawfully `stood his ground' is key and he has been proven to be less than credible in prior dealings with the court," said Johnson, the Jacksonville defense attorney. "The defense will try to limit how much of this comes in."
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Federal report: Polar bears in peril due to global warming
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Polar bears are at risk of dying off if humans don't reverse the trend of global warming, a blunt U.S. government report filed Thursday said."The single most important step fo...
8:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest on train derailment: 5,000 evacuated in Tennessee
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 6 p.m.An official in eastern Tennessee says smoke has stopped rising from the site where a CSX train car derailed and caught fire, forcing the evacuation of thousands of reside...
6:05PM ( 4 hours ago )
Obama draws sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with "mean" Republicans in a state...
5:36PM ( 5 hours ago )
Jim Webb, Iraq war critic in Senate, running for president
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and accomplished novelist who became a fierce critic of the Iraq war in the Senate, announced Thursday that he's challenging Hillary Rodham Clin...
5:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top Republican doubts Senate will confirm ambassador to Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that his chamber is unlikely to approve an American ambassador to Cuba, dishing out a quick rebuff to President Barack Obama and...
4:28PM ( 6 hours ago )