Sunday, February 25, 2018

Zimmerman lawyer pursuing traditional self-defense

ORLANDO — The attorney for the former neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin said Monday that he believes that the facts that will be argued in the case fall more under traditional self-defense.

Mark O'Mara, who is defending George Zimmerman against a second-degree murder charge in the fatal February shooting, said looking at the case through traditional self-defense circumstances is appropriate because the facts suggest his client couldn't retreat from a beating he was receiving from Martin.

Zimmerman's attorneys said last week that they would use Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force — rather than retreat — if they believe their lives are in danger.

"The facts don't seem to support a 'stand your ground' defense," O'Mara said.

Still, he said Monday that the defense team will try to get the case dismissed during a "stand your ground" hearing.

"My concern with even calling it a 'stand your ground' hearing is we need to be more realistic," O'Mara said. "I've said from Day 1 we need to wait until all the evidence comes out."

University of Miami law professor Tamara Lave said O'Mara's shift may signal that he thinks his case for self-defense is solid even without the special provisions afforded by "stand your ground."

" 'Stand your ground' makes it easier to prevail under self-defense theory than the law that existed beforehand," Lave said. "I think what he's saying is, his case is so strong that he doesn't need 'stand your ground.' "

Zimmerman, 28, was initially granted $150,000 bond and released in April. But the judge revoked that bond in June after prosecutors presented evidence that Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had, including $135,000 raised by then from a website for his legal defense. He was later freed on a new $1 million bond.

Meanwhile, Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, continue to live in an undisclosed location in Seminole County.

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