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George Zimmerman Tag

Seven years ago George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in lawful self-defense, as Martin beat Zimmerman to a bloody pulp Mixed Martial Arts style. Martin died of a single shot. The eyewitness and forensic evidence introduced at trial corroborated Zimmerman's account of being sucker punched in the nose, something Martin had bragged in text messages, kept from the jury, was his preferred method of starting fights. An eyewitness witnessed the beating, and the forensics were completely consistent with Zimmerman's account.

With the “documentary” Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story by Jay Z in the news, I though it worthwhile to make this Case of the Week about the lies created by doctoring the audio file of the call George Zimmerman made to the police moments before he was viciously attacked by Trayvon Martin.

Today is the 5th Anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman. I don't think any other website has covered the case as extensively as we have. We have hundreds of posts under the tags Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and George Zimmerman trial. We covered the initial publicity, the pre-trial criminal proceedings, the trial itself, and the post-trial problems George Zimmerman experienced. Andrew Branca's live coverage of the trial was epic and widely credited, including by Don West, co-defense counsel for Zimmerman, Unexpected thanks to Legal Insurrection on 2nd Anniversary of Zimmerman Acquittal.

Matthew Apperson, the man who attempted to shoot George Zimmerman in the head, has been found guilty on all charges, including attempted second degree murder.   As LI's own Andrew Branca explained, not only did Apperson's reports sound fishy, but he had a checkered past that involved threats to "shoot someone."  Apperson will be sentenced next month and faces a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence. Florida Today reports:
A jury found Matthew Apperson guilty after officials say he shot at George Zimmerman in a road-rage incident in Seminole County. The jury reached the guilty verdict on all charges, including attempted second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault, after more than four hours of deliberations. Apperson will be sentenced on Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. He faces a minimum mandatory 20-year sentence.

Today the South Florida Times posted on their web site a piece entitled "FILM USES VIRTUAL REALITY TO REENACT TRAYVON’S MURDER." In that piece they describe a piece of fabricated ("virtual reality") cinema that purports to tell the "true story" about the interaction between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin that resulted in Martin's death. The article notes that:
The promotional material for One Dark Night indicates, “By anchoring the piece in accurate and unassailable elements, the user becomes transported inside a reliable, albeit virtual, version of the story as an eyewitness. One Dark Night breaks new ground on multiple levels, including through audio carefully cleaned by forensic specialists Sourcesound and Primeau Productions, with the latter asserting that the reconstructed audio indicates George Zimmerman cocked his gun just before he gave chase.
(emphasis added) Except there's one little problem with that narrative:

It’s hard to believe, but this week marks the two-year anniversary of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, on trial for second degree murder and other charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin. You can read more about it at Unexpected thanks to Legal Insurrection on 2nd Anniversary of Zimmerman Acquittal. It is timely, then, that just last week the Florida Supreme Court handed down a major decision on the state's self-defense immunity law, § 776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force, in the case of Bretherick v. State, 2015 Fla. LEXIS 1470 (FL Supreme Court 2015). Florida's self-defense immunity statute was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor without containing any indication as to how it should be implemented by the courts; before Bretherick, it was not clear which party was meant to bear the burden of proof with regards to requests for self-defense immunity. Now, because of this ruling, we know that it is the defendant who bears the burden of proof (by a preponderance of the evidence) at the pretrial evidentiary hearing. Indeed, Bretherick is not the first time the Florida Supreme Court has had to tackle self-defense immunity procedures, with their last major effort taking place five years ago in the decision of Dennis v. State, 51 So.3d 456 (FL Supreme Court 2010).

Has it really been two years since the jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case? Those of you who have been with us for over two years will recall our exhaustive coverage of the case, long before the trial. Andrew Branca's daily trial coverage was superb, the best out there by far. Andrew established himself as the authority on Stand Your Ground and the law of self-defense. We had hundreds of posts, so it's impossible to summarize them. You can scroll through the Trayvon Martin (including my coverage of the race issues) and Zimmerman Trial tags for pre-trial and trial coverage, and the George Zimmerman tag for all that has followed in George's life. The verdict came as a shock only to people who had not followed our coverage: Here is a screenshot of our post of the verdict:

Matthew Apperson, the man who tried to shoot George Zimmerman through the head last month, has been charged today with attempted murder (FS § 782.04), shooting into an occupied vehicle (FS § 790.19), and aggravated assault with a firearm (FS § 784.021), according to CNN. These charges also make Apperson vulnerable to sentencing under Florida's 10-20-Life law (FS § 775.087), with a mandatory minimum of 20 years served consecutively with any other sentences. State Attorney Phil Archer appears confident about the charges filed, but Apperson's attorney, Michael LaFay, continues to argue that his client shot at Zimmerman in self-defense:
"Our law enforcement community and the State Attorney's Office works vigorously to ensure people may travel our busy streets, going about their business, without fear. Every resident and visitor to Seminole County deserves this freedom," said State Attorney Phil Archer. "My reaction to these charges is a pronounced shrug," Apperson's attorney Michael LaFay told CNN. "I've reviewed the charges and they don't change the facts. The prosecutors have put their heads together and tried to contemplate what could be the most serious charges, but that doesn't really change anything. This is a case of self-defense."

UPDATE (5/18/15, 19:43EST): This post has been updated with additional information about Apperson's mental health (or lack thereof) as reported today by WKMG Orlando television. This WKMG report is based upon their obtaining a copy of the police report of officers who spoke with Apperson immediately after he tried to shoot George Zimmerman in the head.  The police report specifically notes:
During the investigation, I learned that Apperson has exhibited unusual behavior in which he had recently been admitted to a mental institution. It appears that Apperson has a fixation on Zimmerman and has displayed some signs of paranoia, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
(emphasis added) Here's a video of the WKMG on-air report earlier today:
A report by WESH Orlando and other news sources states that Matthew Apperson, the man arrested last Friday for firing a .357 Magnum bullet at George Zimmerman's head a week ago, was bonded out of jail over the weekend.  Bond was reportedly set at $35,000. Apperson was formally charged this past Saturday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and firing a deadly missile into an occupied conveyance, police said.  He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on June 23. As conditions of bail Apperson was ordered to turn in his firearms to police, which he reportedly did on Sunday, and to stay away from George Zimmerman. Contributing to Apperson's arrest were police observations of his "unusual behavior" and apparent "fixation" with Zimmerman immediately following the shooting.  The police report also notes Apperson as saying "I hope I got him [Zimmerman] this time."

UPDATE:  This post has been updated with a statement from Attorney Mark NeJame, Matthew Apperson's lawyer. It's a good thing I'm not the kind of guy to say "I told you so." :-) Matthew Apperson, the man who claims he fired a .357 Magnum bullet at George Zimmerman's head in purported self-defense, has been arrested by the Lake Mary Police Department (LMPD) following their investigation of the case. This is according to a press release from the LMPD, embedded below. (Hat tip to commenter "Amy in FL," and tweeter "@AmyA1A.") Zimmerman, you will recall, barely missed being hit by the bullet, and suffered minor injuries from shattered glass when the bullet passed through his car window. According to that LMPD press release:

The Daily Mail has dug up some pure gold on Matthew Apperson, the man who two days ago apparently tried to shoot George Zimmerman through the head with a .357 Magnum revolver. (Apperson appears with his wife, Liza, in the photo above.)

(As an aside, thank you, again, UK news media, for doing the reporting that US news media can't be bothered to do.)

I've previously reported on Apperson's multiple arrests, and occasional convictions, for crimes such as DUI and drug possession, but most of those had taken place about 15 years ago.  (See: Zimmerman Shooter Claims Self-Defense.)

What, one wonders, has Apperson been up to more recently?  It turns out, the Daily Mail reports, that "Apperson is also well known to police in several Florida police districts."

OK folks, just a hit-and-run post here on the Zimmerman/Apperson kerfuffle. Commenter "Merrymary" from our previous post on this subject (George Zimmerman Attempted Shooting – New Facts Released) was kind enough to send me the audio of the third-party 911 call made after Matthew Apperson fired a shot at George Zimmerman; she also provided some police documents. (Thanks!) We, in turn, provide them to you. Here's the 911 call, or at least the brief portion released so far by the police:

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Lake Mary Police Department has released additional information on the events surrounding Matthew Apperson's firing of a bullet at George Zimmerman's face yesterday.  Here's video of the LMPD press spokeswoman briefing the media: Additional facts now being reported by the Orlando Sentinel include: Police recovered two handguns from Apperson's car, including a Glock 22 (in .40S&W, of course) and a .357 Magnum revolver with one spent case in the cylinder. The police spokeswoman indicated that Apperson had licenses for both guns, a fact which seems odd given Apperson's prior arrests and sometimes convictions on charges ranging from drug possession to reckless driving to DUI to violation of probation (see: Zimmerman Shooter Claims Self-Defense.) Police also recovered a handgun from Zimmerman (also a Glock model unspecified), which Zimmerman's lawyer Don West indicates is habitually carried because of the great number of death threats made against Zimmerman.  Zimmerman is licensed to concealed carry a pistol in the State of Florida.