A second-degree murder charge in Florida carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. It is typically charged when a confrontation results in death while there was no premeditated plan to kill someone. This case is a test of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives wide leeway to people who claim self-defense, and which does not require people to retreat before using deadly force.
Zimmerman and his supporters say he shot Martin in self-defense. Martin was walking to his father’s girlfriend home in the gated community that Zimmerman was watching, when he was first followed and then confronted by Zimmerman, who was armed with a handgun. Civil rights groups and others across the country have spoken out, saying the shooting was unjustified. Many people have attended protests and rallies in support of Martin, many wearing hooded sweat shirts – as Martin had worn that day, suggesting his appearance and race had something to do with his killing.
Zimmerman told police Martin was the aggressor who attacked him. Zimmerman’s father said that Martin threatened to kill his son and that Zimmerman suffered a broken nose.
A video taken about 40 minutes after the shooting showed Zimmerman at the Sanford police station walking unassisted with no difficulty. There were no plainly visible bandages or blood on his clothing, but Zimmerman may have had a small wound on the back of his head, and policeman was seen looking briefly at the back of Zimmerman’s head.
News coverage varies depending on which news you follow, according to research by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Liberal news sources focus on Martin’s story and on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law. For example, from March 19 to 28, MSNBC devoted 49 percent of its on-air time to the Martin story. During the same period at conservative Fox News, only 15 percent of the news time was spent on the case, and their focus was about Martin’s personal background and statements in defense of Zimmerman.
See the figure, “Timeline of George Zimmerman Shoots Trayvon Martin”, which highlights the sequence of events since the February 26 shooting.
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