Sarasota News Leader

07/19/2013

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OPINION FLORIDA MUST RECONSIDER 'STAND YOUR GROUND' LAW EDITORIAL It has been 17 months since that fateful night in February 2012, when Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had their fatal encounter. Martin died that night, and Zimmerman found himself at the center of a storm of public controversy about vigilantism, race relations, gun rights and the new definition of self-defense known as "stand your ground." Many legal experts maintained from the outset that there was virtually no chance that Zimmerman could be convicted of either manslaughter or second-degree murder, given the circumstances of the case. The reason most frequently offered for this expected outcome was chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes, titled, "Justified use of force." Eventually, and perhaps because of the nation- Under that statute, a provision now wideal outcry, Zimmerman ly known as "stand was charged with your ground" allows second-degree murThe infamous "stand your ground" someone to use deadder in Martin's death. That process end- law has lived up to its most dire predictions: ly force against anothed earlier this week Someone has killed someone else under er when "[h]e or she w h e n a S e m i n o l e questionable circumstances but could not be believes such force County jury acquitted held accountable because the law shielded is necessary to preZimmerman of crimi- him from effective prosecution. vent imminent death nal complicity in the or great bodily harm killing.

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