George Zimmerman may assert a self-defense law called “stand your ground” in his trial over the death of Trayvon Martin. This law gives immunity to anyone who uses deadly force if they have a reasonable fear that their life is in imminent danger. If the judge rules that Zimmerman deserves immunity, the criminal charge against him for the murder of Trayvon Martin could be dismissed.
So far, the same judge has ruled on an immunity claim only once, and that was in the case of Florida v. Kishawn Jones. This case involved Jones, a homeless man, who was charged with the second-degree murder of a friend of his. This case may be important because it could shed light on how the judge might rule in Zimmerman’s case.
In 2011, Jones killed his friend during an argument over a gun and $20. Jones had bought the gun from the man’s brother, but Jones owed the brother $20. The brothers argued with Jones about the money, and eventually the brother took the gun from Jones. When he agreed to give him the money, the brother gave Jones the gun back. The two brothers then threatened Jones. When they lifted up a table as if they were going to flip it onto Jones, he shot at them three times.
To win a “stand your ground” claim, the defendant must prove that he had a reasonable fear that his life was in imminent danger. In his trial, however, the judge rejected Jones’ immunity claim, finding that brother’s actions would not have caused a reasonable person to fear that he was about to be killed or endure great bodily harm. The jury acquitted Jones, however, finding that the state had not proven Jones’ guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.
Zimmerman claims he killed Martin in self defense. Self-defense cases require a thorough investigation into all aspects of the case, including the reputation of the alleged victim. It will be interesting to see how Zimmerman’s case is decided.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “George Zimmerman judge rejected ‘stand your ground’ claim in other murder case,” Rene Stutzman, Sept. 5, 2012
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