George Zimmerman Stand Your Ground Law in Tact: No Reform in Florida Law After Trayvon Martin Shooting
Nov 14, 2012 11:40 AM EST
(Photo : Reuters )
The "Stand Your Ground" that was once cited by Mark O'Mara to defend his client George Zimmerman in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, remains unchanged after review.
The "Stand your Ground" law was put under task review by Florida governor Rick Scott in light of the Zimmerman case. On Wednesday, according to the Business Insider, "The task force concurs with the core belief that all persons, regardless of citizenship status, have a right to feel safe and secure in our state," the task force wrote in its recommendation. "To that end, all persons have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be and are conducting themselves in a lawful manner." In other words, the law remains for the most part unchanged.
O'Mara, however, has switched to the basic "Self-Defense" law of the state, some time ago.
The family of Trayvon Martin sought to change Florida's "Stand your ground" law early in October by setting up a website called "ChangeforTrayvon.com." The website is like a lobby group to change the law that Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, once used as a defense to the second degree murder charges he is currently facing.
The website was set up by Martin's parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. The website contains a video of the parents telling viewers, "We need your help to change the laws which keep parents like ourselves from finding peace."
The website says its mission is "The purpose of Change for Trayvon is to give his family a voice in the political process. Your support will help engage the discussion across the country regarding stand-your-ground laws and the need to revise them so that there is required judicial or prosecutorial review before decisions are made...The Change for Trayvon movement will shine the light on stand-your-ground laws across the nation. These laws allow individuals to shoot first and ask questions later."
Zimmerman at the time of the fatal incident was a volunteer watch-guard of a gated community, when he approached 17-year-old Martin after observing some suspicious behavior. Zimmerman claims that the encounter soon turned into a violent affront. In an act to protect himself, Zimmerman fatally fired at the teenager. When he was arrested in February and charged with the second degree murder of Martin, Zimmerman has maintained his defense of self-protection.
However, O'Mara, Zimmerman's lawyer, who admitted he would use the Florida State's "Stand Your Ground," in a change of strategy said he will not use take shelter in the immunity provided by the statue, but instead would present a clear case of self-defense.
According to the "Stand your Ground," law, if a person is in reasonable fear of danger than he/she could use deadly force, without having to evade the situation. This means that even though a person has the opportunity to escape his/her attacker he/she could choose to stand ground and fight back.
But now, Zimmerman's lawyer told the Huffington Post, "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."
The basic argument, O'Mara will make is that Zimmerman was being attacked by the unarmed teenager and fired the shots in an act of pure defense without any opportunity to escape the situation.
A few months ago, when voice recording of Zimmerman's interrogation was released to the public, the 28-year-old was repeatedly heard telling police that he was punched and violently attacked by the victim.
In one of the audiotapes, Zimmerman revealed Martin "jumped out from the bushes and starting punching my face knocking me down. I started screaming for help. I couldn't see. I couldn't breathe...He grabbed my head and started hitting it into the sidewalk," he said. "When he started doing that, I slid into the grass to try to get out from under him. ... I'm still yelling for help," as reported by Christian Science Monitor.
In July, the Florida judge set Zimmerman's bail for $1 million, after previously revoking a $150,000 bond, for misleading the court about his finances.
He has been released from jail on bond, but under strict conditions including a round the clock GPS monitoring system.