Prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin case face steep hurdles to win a second-degree murder conviction against George Zimmerman for the death of the unarmed teenager, experts say, the Associated Press reported.
Experts say that the prosecutor and her team will have to prove that Zimmerman went after Martin intentionally instead of shooting him in self-defense, and must refute Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which may have empowered Zimmerman to use deadly force.
Zimmerman, who was charged after a public campaign to make an arrest galvanized the nation, turned himself in at a county jail on Wednesday after prosecutor Angela Corey announced the charge. He will appear before a magistrate on Thursday and is expected to plead not guilty in the Feb. 26 shooting. BBC News reported that he is expected to seek bail.
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said that Zimmerman is "concerned about getting a fair trial and a fair presentation."
"He is a client who has a lot of hatred focused on him," O'Mara said. "I'm hoping the hatred settles down ... he has the right to his own safety and the case being tried before a judge and jury."
According to Bruce Fleischer, a veteran criminal attorney in Miami, what Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher and what he said in his first statement to police will be key to his case. Any evidence showing he believed “his life was in danger” will be central to a self-defense claim, he said, Bloomberg Business Week reported.
“It’s a recognized defense under the law, and Stand Your Ground has enhanced it,” he said.
If convicted for 2nd degree murder, he will face life in prison. According to legal experts, Corey chose a tough route with the murder charge, over manslaughter, which usually carries 15-year prison terms and covers reckless or negligent killings.
There's a "high likelihood it could be dismissed by the judge even before the jury gets to hear the case," Florida defense attorney Richard Hornsby said, AP reported.
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