George Zimmerman is being charged with second degree murder. He is pleading not guilty. He claims that he shot 17 year old Trayvon Martin in an act of self defense.
Florida has a ‘stand your ground’ law, which says that a person has no duty to retreat and can invoke self-defense in killing someone if it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm, according to the Huffington Post. In an interview with Fox News last year, George Zimmerman said that he did not know about the law.
Prosecutors counter by mentioning how Zimmerman must have known about the law, as it was a topic covered in his online criminal justice class. They called witness Alexis Carter, a military attorney who instructed the online class. Online class instructor Carter mentioned Zimmerman as good student who got an “A.”
Carter was cross examined and helped the defense’s case by offering two definitions of legal concepts. He explained that a self defense argument can be supported by “reasonable apprehension” of death or great bodily harm. In this sense, he is explaining a person’s fear and how it plays out and decides their actions.
“It’s imminent fear. The fact alone that there isn’t an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that the person didn’t have a reasonable apprehension or fear,” Carter said. “The fact that there are injuries might support there was reasonable apprehension and fear.”
He also explained “imperfect self-defense,” which can happen when a person is threatened but responds with a disproportionately greater force. He told the defense attorney that a person in that case would have the right to defend themselves. Whether this new testimony will make a difference in the defense remains to be seen.
One of the critical arguments will be wrapped around whether or not Trayvon Martin’s DNA was found on George Zimmerman’s person. As it stands, there was no DNA evidence found on Zimmerman’s gun. The prosecution can discuss that if Martin and Zimmerman were fighting, as the defense claims, then George Zimmerman’s DNA should have been found on Martin’s person. Specifically Trayvon Martin’s fingernails were checked for Zimmerman’s DNA and there was nothing found. The defense has so far countered that the evidence bag stunk of ammonia and mold. They are suggesting that the critical evidence that could have helped George Zimmerman in his defense has been compromised. At this point, the DNA is a point between the prosecution and the defense that will definitely score for one side or the other. But the case continues, and new relevance of the new information will be weighed by the judge and jury.