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2012 in review: The shooting death of Trayvon Martin

We know the teenager had Skittles and a bottle of iced tea. We know the older man had a gun. We know that the teenager died of a gunshot to the chest about 70 yards from his father's fiancee's townhome in a gated community called The Retreat at Twin Lakes.

But much of what transpired between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford remains the subject of intense debate. Did the media rush to accuse a self-appointed neighborhood watch coordinator who seemed overly suspicious of an unarmed black kid wandering through his community? Or did police rush to excuse a man who claimed he fired his handgun in self-defense?

After a month and a half of national media attention so intense that it briefly eclipsed the presidential primary season, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor. But by then his defense had already been established: a much-disputed law called "Stand Your Ground."

Written into law in 2005 at the behest of NRA lobbyists, Stand Your Ground removed the obligation to retreat from confrontations, giving citizens the right to use deadly force anywhere they legally had a right to be. All that mattered was that they feared for their lives.

The law may well exonerate Zimmerman at trial next year, but it's hard not to wonder what would have happened if he had simply followed the police dispatcher's advice not to follow Martin.

2012 in review: The shooting death of Trayvon Martin 12/28/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 3:21pm]
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