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It has been predicted by several legal analysts that George Zimmerman's attorney will move for a pretrial evidentiary hearing, and will there argue that the "Stand Your Ground" statute grants Zimmerman immunity for the crime of 2nd degree murder.

In 2010, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that anyone claiming "stand your ground" immunity in a death, battery or assault case can request a hearing on the evidence.
 

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The hearing allows the prosecution and defense to argue all the elements of self-defense in the case evidence. To get charges dismissed, the accused must convince the judge that a reasonable person would believe that using deadly force or the threat of deadly force was the only way to protect his or her life, court records show.


The latest such hearing in Florida was held in February of 2012, just ten days or so before Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.

Here is the background (there is a video of the incident at the link):

Two brothers were kicked out of a bar by bouncers, and one of them stabbed a bouncer to death, saying he was defending his brother.  

"Craig was reasonable in his belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent the imminent death of his younger brother Eric," Schwartzreich [the attorney] wrote in the motion. "Craig was slammed up against a wall while he watched several bouncers continuously commit aggravated assault and battery on his younger brother Eric."

Sandhaus, 27, was charged with second-degree murder in [sic] death of Milton Torres.


The hearing took place, but the judge denied immunity for the defendant.   A jury trial was then ordered and scheduled.

The law says, if you or someone is in danger of being severely injured, or killed, you can use deadly force and not be charged.

Judge Apte said it didn't work in this case, because Sandhaus went to a bar where he knew there could be trouble and was ready for it. He was armed with a knife. Torres died after being stabbed three times, according to the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office.

"The defendant had the opportunity to use less force than he did. If he had the opportunity to reach in his pocket and pull out a knife and activate it and stab, he could have easily used his hand."

Apte also noted Sandhaus tossed the knife and then lied to Orlando police about the incident. Initially, Eric Sandhaus was arrested for the stabbing, but Craig turned himself in days later.



1. Had the opportunity to use less force
2. Lied to the police about the incident



Another evidentiary hearing in Florida using the "Stand Your Ground" statute, took place in 2009, and in that one, the defendant was SUCCESSFUL in being granted immunity and avoiding a trial.

A successful hearing in Broward County involved a 2009 confrontation on Interstate 95 between truck driver Julio Abreu Jimenez, who was charged with pulling a gun and threatening another truck driver. After pulling off the highway, Jimenez claimed he drew his weapon only after the other driver left his truck and approached him in a threatening manner, court records show.

The charge of aggravated assault with a firearm was dropped   at the end of the one-hour hearing.



That last link is to the actual court records (pdf).  VERY interesting reading.  I will give my own (abbreviated) account here:

Realize that the charges were different here, in that a gun was pulled and pointed, but not discharged, and nobody was physically injured in the incident.  The official charge was "Aggravated Assault With a Firearm."

-----------------------------------
Basically, two truck drivers were driving on the highway.  They had a disagreement about right of way.  They both exit the highway.  Defendant stops at light.  Other driver stops behind him.  First truck doesn't move.  Second driver gets out and approaches the first truck saying "What the fuck is your problem?"  First driver pulls a gun and points it at the other.  Second driver retreats to his own truck and calls police.
-----------------------------------

The ruling went thus:

In accordance with the "Stand Your Ground" statute, if Jimenez (defendant) drew his firearm toward Hoffstead, as permitted in Florida statute 776.012 and/or 776.013 due to his belief that Hoffstead was approaching his truck with the intent to harm him or enter his vehicle, his use of force is justified, and he is immune from criminal prosecution.

Realize that the charges were different here, in that a gun was pulled and pointed, but not discharged, and nobody was physically injured in the incident.  The official charge was "Aggravated Assault With a Firearm."

Zimmerman not only pulled his weapon (at what point is still in dispute) but also fired.  One wonders if Jimenez had shot the other driver, if his immunity hearing would have been successful.

Trayvon's killing on February 26th is rather more complicated than these other two, however.  In the 2012 event, the basic facts of the case were not in dispute (other than who had the right of way, and whether the signal light was green or red).  In the 2009 event there was a video of the entire episode.  

The facts in the Trayvon Martin killing will be argued by both State Attorney Corey and Attorney O'Mara in front of a judge.  That hearing may be a very good gauge as to what the trial will look like...............

..............if the trial happens.

I am hoping that Angela Corey realizes that since Trayvon had done nothing wrong, and Zimmerman had no authority whatsoever to detain or accost him, it seems that Zimmerman, not Trayvon should be deemed the aggressor in this instance, REGARDLESS of who began the physical altercation, and Trayvon would be the one who would be entitled to invoke the "Stand Your Ground" statute, NOT Zimmerman.




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