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Zimmerman will seek ‘stand your ground’ hearing

MIAMI (AP) — George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida’s “stand your ground” law in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his attorney said Thursday.

The hearing, which likely won’t take place for several months, will amount to a mini-trial involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides.

“Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts and evidence that the defense would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the ‘stand your ground’ hearing,” said the statement posted by Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara on Zimmerman’s official defense website.

Although the posting did not say so, legal experts say it’s likely Zimmerman himself would testify since he is the sole survivor of the Feb. 26 confrontation.

Under the “stand your ground” law, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester can dismiss the charges if Zimmerman conclusively shows he fatally shot Martin because he “reasonably believed” he might be killed or suffer “great bodily harm” at the hands of the unarmed teenager. The law also says a person has no duty to retreat in the face of such a threat.

Janet Johnson, a Jacksonville defense attorney who has represented defendants in other “stand your ground” cases, said Zimmerman has a good chance to win his claim if he can also show he was in a place where he had a legal right to be and he didn’t create the danger.

“Or, if he did, he had abandoned that activity when Mr. Martin ‘attacked’ him,” Johnson said in an email. “There’s only one side since Trayvon Martin can’t testify.”

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin after a confrontation in Zimmerman’s gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford, where Martin was visiting. The case drew local and nationwide protests because Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks after the shooting. Zimmerman claims Martin punched him and slammed his head against a sidewalk.

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