George Zimmerman’s lawyer will use self-defense, not Florida’s “stand your ground” law, to answer murder charges the neighborhood watch volunteer faces for shooting 17 year-old Trayvon Martin.

The facts surrounding the Feb. 26 encounter between the Sanford, Fla. neighborhood watch volunteer and the teenager “don’t seem to support a ‘stand your ground’ defense,” Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, said Aug. 13, because Zimmerman was unable to get away from Martin’s beating.

O’Mara announced the refinement in his legal defense strategy as he prepared for a hearing under the controversial Florida statute that permits the use of deadly force. His approach to the hearing, though, will be through a traditional self-defense approach.

“My concern with even calling it a `stand your ground’ hearing is we need to be more realistic,” O’Mara said. If the court rules in Zimmerman’s favor at the hearing, the charges could be dropped immediately.

Zimmerman, 28, is accused of shooting Martin on Feb. 26, after following him because he thought he “was a real suspicious guy” who was “up to no good” in an Orlando, Fla. suburb.

According to police emergency tapes released by authorities, the emergency dispatcher told Zimmerman officers were “on the way” and to not follow the man. Zimmerman decided to track the man he said was “on drugs or something” against the instructions of the operator.

Calls came into the 911 center that night from both Zimmerman himself and neighbors who heard and saw the two engaged in a physical altercation. Cries for help are in the background of one neighbor’s tape until a loud bang is heard, followed by silence.

At the time of his death Martin was found to be unarmed and carrying snacks he had purchased minutes earlier at a convenience store blocks away from the apartment of his father’s fiancée, where he was visiting.

Zimmerman wasn’t charged for 44 days. He was later released on a $1 million dollar bail. 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer