Zimmerman shooter will try a Stand Your Ground defense

May 29, 2015, 2:55 PM

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — An attorney for a Florida man charged with shooting at George Zimmerman said Friday that he planned to use a “Stand Your Ground” defense — the same legal strategy considered but ultimately not used by lawyers for the former neighborhood watch leader who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Such a defense would entitle Matthew Apperson to a hearing, ahead of his trial, during which a judge would decide if he deserves immunity from prosecution because he feared imminent death or bodily injury. Apperson was charged earlier this month with aggravated assault and battery for firing a gun into Zimmerman’s car during a traffic run-in. Zimmerman had minor injuries.

Zimmerman’s defense attorneys had considered asking for a “Stand Your Ground” hearing when the former neighborhood watch leader faced a second-degree murder charge for the February 2012 fatal shooting of Martin, but they instead opted to go straight to a traditional criminal trial.

A jury acquitted Zimmerman of any crime following a trial two years ago. The case sparked protests and a national debate about race relations. The U.S. Justice Department later decided not to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman.

“That’s a good look into the future,” Apperson’s attorney, Michael LaFay, was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying after a hearing in which a judge ordered Apperson to wear a GPS monitoring device.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson issued the order so that Zimmerman will know any time Apperson is close by.

LaFay argued during the hearing in a Sanford courtroom that the monitoring was unnecessary.

A police report says Apperson had a fixation on the former neighborhood watch leader and that Apperson had recently been admitted to a mental institution.

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Zimmerman shooter will try a Stand Your Ground defense