The Trayvon Martin case brought renewed focus on new “stand your ground” self-defense laws, but George Zimmerman may not use the law in his own defense after all, says the Christian Science Monitor. In a move that bewildered prosecutors, defense attorney Mark O’Mara cancelled an April 20 “stand your ground hearing,” claiming a time crunch in preparing for a June 10 trial in the second-degree murder case. If able to provide clear and convincing evidence of legally standing one’s ground against an attack, a defendant in Florida walks free and is granted immunity from civil liabilities.
Police released Zimmerman without charges after the volunteer watchman shot Martin, 17, just over a year ago. Sanford, Fl., police cited Florida’s 2005 “stand your ground law,” which ifies any imperative for a potential crime victim to try to escape or retreat before using deadly force against an attacker. University of Florida law Prof. Bob Dekle believes O’Mara doesn’t want to go through a bench mini-trial and possibly tip the prosecution about his strategy should the “stand your ground” plea fail. “If you’re not 100 percent sure you’re going to win the ‘stand your ground’ hearing, you just end up telling the state what your defense is and you’ve got nothing with which to surprise the state at trial,” says Dekle. “What you want to do at trial is catch the state with their britches down.”