More than 200 pages of photos and eyewitness accounts released by prosecutors Thursday show Zimmerman and Martin were in a loud and bloody fight in the moments leading up to the shooting and that Zimmerman appeared to be getting the worst of it, with wounds both to his face and the back of his head.
But the original lead detective in the case believed Zimmerman caused the fight by getting out of his vehicle to confront Martin, who wasn’t doing anything criminal, and then could have defused the situation by telling Martin he was just a concerned citizen and tried to talk to him. He didn’t think Zimmerman could legally invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law and should be charged with manslaughter.
Under that law, people are given wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if they believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured, they weren’t committing a crime themselves and are in a place they have the legal right to be. The original prosecutor in the case accepted Zimmerman’s invocation of the law after the Feb. 26 shooting but a special prosecutor rejected his claim last month and charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. The former neighborhood watch volunteer has pleaded not guilty, has been released on bail and reportedly is in hiding.
He and his attorney will have two more chances to invoke the law. First, they will try to convince a judge during what will be a mini-trial. If the judge agrees, the charges will be dropped although prosecutors could appeal. That is likely months away. If the judge rejects the claim, Zimmerman could they try to convince the jury and win an acquittal. A trial is unlikely to start before next year. Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Thursday from The Associated Press.
Speaking Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, O’Mara said he couldn’t talk about the individual pieces of evidence in the case. But he said that rather than talking about the “what-if’s” — as in what if Zimmerman had stayed in the car — O’Mara said “we have to deal with what happened and try to explain that.”
Joelle Moreno, a Florida International University law school professor, said the evidence now released makes it difficult to predict if a “stand your ground” defense will work. She is a member of a state senator’s task force examining the law. Read More at AP