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"Stand your ground" laws and the Trayvon Martin case

Protestors make a call for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
Protestors make a call for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
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The fatal shooting of 17-year old Trayvon Martin has sparked a fiery response across the country. The black teenager was shot last month by a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman, 28, claims he shot Martin in self-defense.

Florida is one of 17 states with a "stand your- round" law that eliminates a person's duty to retreat before using deadly force. However, you must be facing the threat of an imminent and fatal attack -- Martin was unarmed at the time of the confrontation. Yesterday, The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice opened investigations into the Martin case.

Today the prosecutors' office in central Florida announced a grand jury will probe the case. As reported by the Associated Press, Zimmerman spotted Martin during a neighborhood patrol on a rainy night, then called 911 to report a suspicious person. Against the advice of the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman followed Martin who was walking home after buying candy at a convenience store.

Details of what happened next are sketchy. The case also raises red flags around race. The local sheriff's office say Zimmerman called the police to report suspicious persons on a number of occasions -- all of whom were black, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Zimmerman has been described as white, but his father says he comes from a multi-racial and Spanish-speaking family.


Michael L. Seigel, Professor of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law; Former Federal Prosecutor; Director, Criminal Justice Center

David Workman, Communications Director for the Second Amendment

Joe Hicks, Co-Founder and Vice President of Los Angeles-based civil rights and social criticism organization Community Advocates, Inc.