Janet Johnson Interviewed:
Zimmerman Will Seek 'Stand Your Ground' Hearing
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.
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."