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Zimmerman Will Attempt Stand Your Ground Defense; Prosecution Flubs Release of Records

| August 9, 2012

George Zimmerman failed to graduate college, which he was attending for a degree in criminal justice, and was denied when he applied for a diploma. The information was  was part of a batch of records the state attorney's released by mistake Thursday.

George Zimmerman failed to graduate college, which he was attending for a degree in criminal justice, and was denied when he applied for a diploma. The information was was part of a batch of records the state attorney’s released by mistake Thursday. Click on the image for larger view.

Lawyers for George Zimmerman confirmed Thursday that he will assert a “stand your ground” defense, although a judge would determine in a hearing whether he ultimately can claim to have acted in self defense under the Stand Your Ground law.

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That means there could essentially be a “mini-trial” ahead of any possible actual second degree murder trial for Zimmerman’s shooting earlier this year of Trayvon Martin, and it could lead to charges being dropped.

The Sanford shooting case, in which Zimmerman has claimed self defense all along, has been watched nationally, in part because of the racial overtones involved, but also because it put the state’s relatively new self defense statute under a microscope, even though the defense has been used numerous times.

“Now that the State has released the majority of their discovery, the defense asserts that there is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense,” Zimmerman’s defense team said on a website set up for it to communicate with the public. “Consistent with this claim of self-defense, there will be a ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing.”

Many of the arguments and much of the evidence that would be presented at trial could first be aired at such a hearing, in which the judge would decide whether the case fits the “Stand Your Ground” statute, which says that people who feel legitimately threatened have the right to meet force with force. The burden would be on the defense to prove that the case fits the circumstances laid out in that law. If they do prove that, charges against Zimmerman would be dropped.

Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, said on the website that it will take time to prepare for such a hearing and urged “everyone to be patient during this process and to reserve judgment until the evidence is presented in the ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing.”

O’Mara’s posting on the website is the first time the defense team has acknowledged that it will use the Stand Your Ground defense.

Ben Crump, the Tallahassee-based attorney for the Martin family, said in a statement that he believed the “stand your ground” claim would be rejected and the matter would be decided in a jury trial.

The case has been messy for both sides almost from the start, whether because the Sanford police botched the original investigation or because Zimmerman was found to have lied to a judge about his financial assets, causing his original bond to be revoked, his brief jailing, and his release on a new bond of $1 million. On Thursday, it was the prosecution’s turn to flub evidence: Among a large batch of records it released, it inadvertently made public Zimmerman’s student records at Seminole Community College, which showed that Zimmerman failed a class and failed to graduate. Student records are confidential under Florida law. The state attorney’s office also released a grainy photograph of the body of Trayvon martin, though the photo contained no recognizable details.

The released information also included Zimmerman’s explanation of a 2005 arrest, as explained to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Academy, to which he was applying in 2008: “I was arrested in July of 2005 for assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence,” Zimmerman wrote. “Both charges were immediately dropped to resisting arrest without violence and then dropped all together. I was in an altercation with an undercover officer that was taking part in an ATF sting for underage drinking in UCF. He never told me he was an officer and assaulted me first.” He cited his father’s status as a retired magistrate in Virginia and his mother serving as a deputy clerk.

He was admitted into the academy. “Your disclosure of the arrest plus the incident involved was ‘unusual,'” Roger Larsen wrote Zimmerman, informing him of his admission.

Zimmerman was charged by a special state prosecutor, Angela Corey, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to take on the case after an uproar from the public when charges hadn’t been filed in the shooting. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin at near point blank range in February after following him in a gated community. Zimmerman said Martin was suspicious – there had been break-ins in the neighborhood, and subsequently said he was attacked by Martin.

Zimmerman’s invocation of the Stand Your Ground law is not a surprise, nor is it unusual in Florida, where the law was passed seven years ago, with then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s approval. The law, the Tampa Bay Times reported in June, “has allowed drug dealers to avoid murder charges and gang members to walk free. It has stymied prosecutors and confused judges. It has also served its intended purpose, exonerating dozens of people who were deemed to be legitimately acting in self-defense. Among them: a woman who was choked and beaten by an irate tenant and a man who was threatened in his driveway by a felon.”

The law may be invoked in a case in Flagler County: that of Paul Miller, the 65-year-old Flagler Beach resident who shot and killed his neighbor, across a fence, during an argument over a dog last spring.

–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida

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20 Responses for “Zimmerman Will Attempt Stand Your Ground Defense; Prosecution Flubs Release of Records”

  1. question says:

    Paul Miller, the 65-year-old Flagler Beach resident who shot and killed his neighbor [in the back, retreating to his home], across a fence, during an argument over a dog last spring.

    and George “if he hadn’t gotten out of his truck as instructed & pursued the unarmed teen,Trayvon, would be alive today” perjurer to the Judges face, Zimmerman

    both make a mockery of the United States Justice system…compliments of the NRA, their lemming members & tea partiers.

    Standing their ground….oh please.

  2. Outsider says:

    If the judge follows the law, he will be exonerated. It will be interesting to see if he succumbs to the political pressure that will certainly be put on him/her.

    • Helene says:

      So then you are saying the law allows anyone to shoot someone else and say they were doing it in self defense. “Dead men can’t talk” or “Dead men tell no lies”. How convenient. Now we can all go around shooting each other and say “he attached me first”.

    • felix says:

      yep the judge will follow the law and send the case to trial,gz has to explain all the inconsistencies in his bogus story,when zimmerman was younger he was in a violent scuffle with a undercover ATF officer,i guess the officer should have shot him to death and stand his ground

  3. gator fan 4ever says:

    if he gets off, race riots will erupt nationwide and all the sanford police that were fired or resigned should get their jobs back.

  4. Ken Dodge says:

    Race riots: is that a euphemism for violent public demonstrations by certain ethnic groups?

  5. tulip says:

    I’m afraid he will get off and then NOT be tried along with his wife for perjury and contempt of court. Also there is thousands of dollars more that has been collected, and if Zim gets off, that’s less lawyer’s and court fees to pay, so Zim walks away a whole lot richer than he was.

    I don’t know the exact facts of what happens, only Zim does, but to me he is a conniving piece of work along with his wife, because he set up the websites to collects lots of money and let the taxpayers foot the bill. The astonishing thing is the amount of people sent in mega bucks to it. If they had put their contriubutions to a worthwhile cause, how much better off we’d be.

    Casey Anthony, Zimmerman—who’s next to get away with crime?

    • Johnny Taxpayer says:

      “I don’t know the exact facts of what happens, only Zim does”


      “Casey Anthony, Zimmerman—who’s next to get away with crime?”

      You don’t know what happened, but yet you convinced he’s getting away with a crime? Hmmmm….

  6. Gia says:

    Standing their ground, YES

  7. some guy says:

    If haveing someone knock you to the ground then jump on you then smash you head onto a concreat side walk is not self defence then what is?

    • Helene says:

      It’s not self defense when you are the one who PURSUED the person walking in the neighborhood, and actually followed him in a car and then got out of said car after being directed by the operator to stay where he was and let the police handle it. If someone was following me in a car and then got out and approached me on a street at night, you can bet I would do everything I could to get him away from me. So then you are saying he has the right to shoot me?

  8. Outsider says:

    Question, the two cases are totally different; Miller shot a man in the back while he was running away. Zimmerman shot a man in the stomach who was on rop of him, smashing his head into the concrete after breaking his nose. The law allows the use of deadly force in that situation, but it does not allow you to shoot your unarmed neighbor across a fence.

    • Helene says:

      There are no facts but the man who is alive saying the statements you just said and we are supposed to believe a man we know for a fact is a liar. Dead men can’t talk.
      The point is, you don’t follow someone in a car and then get out – for what reason exactly? – and confront him. That is the real cops job.

  9. question says:

    Two Donald Duckie bandaids on two non-stitch-worthy scratches
    and 1 bandaid on his extremely loosely defined, un-broken, “broken” nose

    not exactly [or remotely] life threatening DEADLY force.

    How life threatening if paramedic cancels ambulance due to insignificant level of injury.

    Just the beginning of the holes in his ever-changing story.

    And as the Judge will advise the jury—if you catch the defendant in one lie [as in Zimmerman did directly to the Judge’s face, in court] you may consider none of what he says as valid.

    This man and his wife are running a con on the court and all tax-paying citizens of Florida.

  10. ricky says:

    Zimmermon got another thug off the streets.

  11. Geezer says:

    Crystal ball says: “ACQUITTAL”
    Zimmerman’s head was being used as a mortar and pestle.

    He’s a political sock puppet. And yes, expect some ethnic rage.
    Maybe I’ll stay in and order Meals On Wheels, to be safe during the days after the acquittal.

  12. question says:

    So far, looking like ‘Exhibit B’ for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  13. Outsider says:

    Like I said, if the law as it is written is applied, then he never should have been arrested in the first place. Yes, he was initially following Zimmerman; not recommended, but certainly not illegal. The wtiness stated that SOMEONE was on top of someone else. The description given seems to indicate, as do the nature of the injuries to Zimmerman that Treyvon was on top doing the pummelling. At that point, IT DOESN’T MATTER how they got in that situation; even if Zimmerman started a physical altercation, which there is no evidence he did, the law clearly, I’ll say it again, “CLEARLY” allows whatever force is necessary to stop the violence. Maybe the injuries were not severe in your mind question, but there is no doubt the trend was downhill for Zimmerman. What should one do when their head is being smashed into the concrete after being smashed in the face; wait for a more serious injury, then protect yourself? Maybe the next blow would have led to unsconsciousness, and then what? I don’t know or care for Zimmerman or Martin; I’m going strictly by how the law is written, and the best evidence as to what happened; it seems Zimmerman had a strong argument for self defense, or “stand your ground.” Paul Miller, on the other hand, SEEMS to have committed a cold blooded murder because he was upset with his neighbor.

  14. rthomp11 says:

    I’m sorry but a neighborhood watch person should not have gotten out of his car and perused that kid. He should have called the police and let them handle it. He might get away with killing this boy but he is still guilty of murder.

  15. meh says:

    looking forward to the trial so everybody can see trevon martin wasn’t the same person in the picture they were splashing around with his hoodie…

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