Zimmerman Defense Team to Seek ‘Stand Your Ground’ Hearing

George Zimmerman's lawyers want a hearing to argue that he defended himself under Florida's controversial statute in hopes of getting charges against him dropped in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin

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AP / Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool

George Zimmerman, left, and attorney Don West appear before Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr.

The team behind accused killer George Zimmerman’s legal defense has announced today that it will seek a hearing on the defendant’s “stand your ground” rights because they believe the evidence in the case shows significant support for his claim of self defense. The move is the latest in the team’s legal strategy and comes a week after Zimmerman’s request for a new judge was denied.

(TIME Topics: Trayvon Martin)

“In the case against George Zimmerman, a ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing will essentially be a mini-trial,” reads a statement on Zimmerman’s defense team’s website. “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.”

Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Miami teen Trayvon Martin, 17, who was killed while walking through a gated community in Sanford, Fla., while on a visit with his father. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, has maintained that Martin attacked him and that he feared for his life. Prosecutors say that Zimmerman confronted Martin instead of heeding a dispatcher’s advice that they did not need him to pursue the teen.

(MORE: Trayvon Martin’s Family on Zimmerman Apology: ‘We Must Worship a Different God’)

In a hearing, the burden of proof would be on the defense, rather than the prosecution, to show that Zimmerman’s self-defense claim falls within the guidelines of Florida‘s controversial “Stand Your Ground” statute. The legal team, led by attorney Mark O’Mara, will need to argue that Zimmerman had a reason to believe that he needed to use a weapon to prevent himself from being seriously harmed by Martin in order to qualify for the law’s protection. The law also says that a person who finds himself in such a situation has no duty to retreat. If O’Mara successfully argues that Zimmerman found it necessary to shoot Martin, Judge Kenneth Lester can dismiss the charges and make Zimmerman immune from any civil actions connected with the case.

Evidence recently made public by the prosecution provides enough foundation for the hearing, Zimmerman’s lawyers say, but they also believe it will be several months before such a hearing could take place. “It will take time to collect and submit reciprocal discovery, depose witnesses and experts, and identify evidence to be submitted during the hearing,” the defense website says.

Martin’s family’s lawyer Benjamin Crump, responding to the development through a statement on a website set up by the family said the case should be decided by a jury and that many of the experts behind the “Stand Your Ground” law have said Zimmerman’s claims do not apply under the statute.

“We believe that the killer’s motion will be denied during the ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing, and as justice requires a jury will ultimately decide the fate of a man that killed an innocent child,” Crump said. “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.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has released a new discovery given to them by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, including evidence submissions, Zimmerman’s application to the Seminole County Sherrif’s Office Academy, photos of his injuries on the night of the shooting and Martin’s father Tracy’s call to 911.

Zimmerman was released on $1 million bail last month and remains free. The case is scheduled for an Oct. 3 docket sounding, at which time a trial date would be set; although by most accounts a trial is not likely to begin before the end of the year.

(MORE: New George Zimmerman Evidence: 8 Things You Need to Know)

32 comments
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bojimbo26
bojimbo26

An armed man " stands his ground " against an unarmed teen and kills him . Rightttttttttt . " Self defence " .

Phoenix31756
Phoenix31756

Just HANG HIM, and get it over with for Christ sake !

Charlotte Thomas
Charlotte Thomas

Read, the 8 things you need to know under this story, because it pretty much tells you it was self defense.  @Jody Ellis, you must not follow the news, When Zimmerman was taken to the police station he DID have injuries that were clearly seen when the CLEANED UP video was shown, not the blurred video that HIDE the injurers.  @JohnOBX,  If you read the community newsletter, it says, to call the police if residents notice something suspicious AND to contact neigh hood watch  captain George Zimmerman.  Also, where is your proof that Zimmerman approached Martian?On the 911 tapes Zimmerman tells dispatch, I LOST HIM.  All of this misinformation shows, most either have not listened to the unedited 911 tapes, do not follow recent news, or just blatantly make up your own versions of the story.

johnnycanuck56
johnnycanuck56

 what reason would Zimmerman have to tell the truth

I think that his friends Jaafee and Osterman are complicit

Jody Ellis
Jody Ellis

Zimmerman would become the Prey if he showed up in my neighborhood. Amazes me that the hacks over at fox news are supporting a guy that is a Foreigner, remember all the wicked crap they say about them there Foreigners folks. When Zimmerman showed up at the police station he sure did Not have any cuts bruises blood any marks at all on him so explain How the young Martain boy beat the hell out of him. Sorry it's on Film Nothing No Cuts No Blood Zip. Spin that . Put the Needle in Zimmerman!

John Forsthoffer
John Forsthoffer

So you're saying that your neighborhood is full of racists? You obviously are. I can also see that you have a tight grasp on the English language too. Bravo. 

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

Zimmerman loses all credibility before any encounter with Martin.

Undisputed facts of the case:  

1) The Community Watch program specifically recommends against confrontation with suspicious persons.  

2) Community Watch volunteers are the eyes and ears for the police.  They are not law enforcement and have no legal authority other than what any citizen has.

3) Zimmerman saw nothing that Martin was doing that could be construed as a felony.

4) The dispatcher told Zimmerman to not approach Martin, yet this is exactly what Zimmerman did.

Zimmerman's actions before the confrontation were in direct opposition to his training as a Community Watch volunteer.  If he'd done what he was supposed to do, none of this would have happened.  It's like using your hair dryer if you're sitting in the bath tub.  It's your own fault if you wind up electrocute yourself, and you can't sue the manufacturer.  In the same way,  Zimmerman should not be able to use the "stand your ground" law to hide behind.  

John Forsthoffer
John Forsthoffer

  If he had not followed Martin and kept an eye on him, what would everyone think if Martin robbed, killed or raped someone. (not saying he would, just making a point)  Everyone would be saying Zimmerman wasn't doing his job. 

f_galton
f_galton

If Martin hadn't attacked gone back to where Zimmerman was and attacked him, Martin would not have gotten shot.

happydayfortennis
happydayfortennis

This is a classic example of victim-blaming. If Zimmerman had not stalked Trayvon after the police told him not to follow him, both would still be alive.

Charlotte Thomas
Charlotte Thomas

Zimmerman did not "stalk" Trayvon. How do you STALK while giving information the whole time to a 911 dispatcher?

f_galton
f_galton

Martin feloniously assaulted Zimmerman, and Zimmerman justifiably defended himself. If Martin had controlled his violent impulses, he would be alive today.

Zimmerman did stop following Martin, listen to the recording with the dispatcher, and note where the shooting occurred.

Hiro
Hiro

So you are "standing your ground" when you chase after an unarmed teenager on his way to his dad's house and kill him, but it's not the KID standing HIS ground for trying to fight back against a hostile grown man chasing after him with a gun?

Charlotte Thomas
Charlotte Thomas

It turned into "Stand your ground" when Trayvon decided to come back amp; attack Zimmerman.  Do you have ESP?  Well I doubt Zimmerman does either, so how could he know if Trayvon was friend or foe?  Trayvon also didn't know Zimmerman had a gun, or else, I don't think he would have made the decision to come back and beat on Zimmerman. Trayvon was within clicks of the apt he was staying at, he could have ran straight there, WHY DIDN'T HE? 

johnnycanuck56
johnnycanuck56

 who wants to lead a pedophile; rapist , murdering stranger to your own home?

CrimsonA
CrimsonA

Zimmerman was not breaking any law by following Martin. He saw a person he thought was suspicious and followed him. Martin had no need to attack Zimmerman but he did.  Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

max_cady
max_cady

Zimmerman wont have to stand his ground any more

All he will have to do is lay down when they put the needle in his arm

Charlotte Thomas
Charlotte Thomas

We will see...there is nothing so far that even comes close to 2 degree murder.  So to bad for you, looks like no needle in his arm.

Helen Morgan
Helen Morgan

Community Watch volunteers are the eyes and ears for the police.  They are not law enforcement and have no legal authority other than what any citizen has...StartWork2012.blogspot.com

f_galton
f_galton

Trayvon went back to where Zimmerman was and attacked him.

Frankie TheMeister
Frankie TheMeister

 the 'kid' is 6' 2", broke Zimmerman' s nose and was pounding his head against the sidewalk until it was bloody.

justice4now
justice4now

You are killing me with this pounding the head aganinst the side walk crap.  Sreiously think about how the head would look if it was actually pounded on the sidewalk.  All of the blood please get real.  There is still no real evidence of a broken nose ie xray. No matter what neith emts, the doctor or for that matter gz felt it was so crucial because if this was the case he would have went to the hospital the same night.  Something does not sit well with me with the fact that GZ SAYS HE WAS IN A LIFE AND DEAF BATTLE BUT DID NOT GO TO THE HOSPITAL.  

Hiro
Hiro

Now he knows not to pursue and confront big kids then. If he hadn't confronted him, Trayvon wouldn't have had to act in 'self defense.' Trayvon's not the one that started the confrontation, nor the one that killed the other.

f_galton
f_galton

Martin attacked Zimmerman, for that he deserved to get shot.

Jardin J
Jardin J

Of course not. This is florida.

Hiro
Hiro

Point taken!