Though George Zimmerman’s lawyer had said last week he would use the “Stand your Ground” defense, he now thinks the facts fall under traditional self-defense claims. There is enough evidence to make a solid case that Zimmerman was simply defending his life, not that he chose to stand his ground.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, is defending him against the charge of second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin, which allegedly happened when he, acting as a neighborhood watchman, confronted the youth on Feb.26. Trayvon was accosted after he was returning from a store near his uncle’s house in a gated community, where he was visiting. The case became the target of national debate after Trayvon’s relatives expressed frustration in a March 8 interview that Zimmerman had not been arrested. After an intense media furor, Zimmerman was arrested and is now standing trial.
Florida’s “stand your ground” law stipulates that you can use deadly force to protect yourself rather than retreating. O’Mara believes he has a more solid case on grounds of traditional self defense.
“The facts don’t seem to support a ‘stand your ground’ defense,” he said. Though he will try to get the case dismissed during a ‘stand your ground’ hearing, he thinks Zimmerman was simply defending himself, not standing his ground.
“People look at ‘stand your ground’ and immediately think somebody’s standing there with deadly force — be it a gun or a weapon — and having the opportunity to back up but not having the need to under the statute,” said O’Mara. “I think the evidence in this case suggests that my client was reacting to having his nose broken and reacted to that by screaming for help. He wasn’t in a position where I think there was any suggesting where he could retreat, which he is allowed to do under the statute.”
“I think the facts seem to support that though we have a stand-your-ground immunity hearing, what this really is, is a simple, self-defense immunity hearing.”
O’Mara meanwhile has filed an appeal of Judge Kenneth Lester’s decision to stay the case. Though this will take weeks before the Fifth District Court of Appeals rules on it, he claims it was not to buy time, but to make the claim while he could.
“It’s their timeline,” said O’Mara. “They’ll try to get to it quickly, but it could take several weeks. I still think he’s a good judge and very fair… But there’s a real question of whether Judge Lester stepped over his bound.”
Lester had shot down the request for a recusal earlier this month. O’Mara cited the language Lester used in setting a new bond as having bias. The Judge had raised Zimmerman’s bond from $150,000 to $1 million after prosecutors argued that Zimmerman had more money than he claimed.
Zimmerman and his wife, meanwhile, have been ordered by the judge to stay within Seminole County, though O’Mara says that it “is the most dangerous county for him to be in,” and has meanwhile been living “like a hermit.”