Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the shooting death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin in a gated residential community in Sanford, Fl., and just over ten months since neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in that shooting death.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claimed self-defense, but his lawyers have decided against invoking the Stand Your Ground law that became a subject of heated debate in the weeks after the shooting. Under the law, a shooter does not have the duty to retreat before using deadly force if he or she feels his or her life is threatened. Zimmerman’s lawyers contend he did not have an ability to retreat and they will seek immunity under Florida’s self defense law.
Since last April’s arrest, new evidence has come to light. Forensic analysis revealed that Zimmerman’s DNA was not under Martin’s fingernails, as it might have been if a rough struggle ensued, nor was Martin’s DNA found on the murder weapon. However, images released by Zimmerman and his lawyers show him with a bloody face that could be consistent with such a struggle.
Zimmerman’s murder trial is scheduled to begin June 10, but on April 29, a judge will first hear arguments about whether Zimmerman can assert a self defense immunity. If that ruling goes Zimmerman’s way, the case could effectively be over.
George Zimmerman has sued NBCUniversal for defamation and the company has strongly denied his allegations.
Last week, the Martin family attorney filed paperwork suggesting that Trayvon’s parents may intend to sue Zimmerman.
The Martin family has also thrown their support behind efforts to repeal the Stand Your Ground law. A repeal bill has been filed this year, although it’s expected to face significant opposition in the Republican-controlled legislature. The panel commissioned by Governor Rick Scott to review the law in the wake of the shooting suggested no major changes. Democrats have criticized the task force, claiming its members were biased in favor of the law to begin with.