Attorneys for George Zimmerman said Thursday that they plan to seek a "Stand Your Ground" hearing in the shooting of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin.
"Now that the State has released the majority of their discovery, the defense asserts that there is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense," Zimmerman's attorneys wrote in a posting on their website. "Consistent with this claim of self-defense, there will be a 'Stand Your Ground' hearing."
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford in February. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
His attorneys say the hearing would be a "mini-trial," with the defense presenting most of the arguments, witnesses, experts and evidence that they would in a criminal trial. They said preparing for the hearing could take several months.
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump issued a statement opposing a "Stand Your Ground" hearing Thursday.
"Let it be clear on the record, that we feel confident that the unjustified killing of Trayvon Benjamin Martin should and will be decided by a jury. Many of the legal architects of the Stand Your Ground law have already opined that it does not apply in this case," Crump said. "A grown man cannot profile and pursue an unarmed child, shoot him in the heart, and then claim stand your ground. We believe that the killer’s motion will be denied during the Stand Your Ground hearing, and as justice requires a jury will ultimately decide the fate of a man that killed an innocent child."
A spokeswoman for special prosecutor Angela Corey declined to comment Thursday.
Any decision at such a hearing would be made by Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., and the burden would be on Zimmerman's attorneys to prove that the evidence fits the conditions of the "Stand Your Ground" law.
"The primary focus of a 'Stand Your Ground' hearing is whether George Zimmerman reasonably believed that his use of his weapon was necessary to prevent great bodily harm to himself at the hands of Trayvon Martin," the Zimmerman attorneys' posting said.
If a judge rules in Zimmerman's favor, his criminal charges would be dismissed – and Zimmerman could not be held liable in any civil action such as a wrongful death lawsuit. Prosecutors would likely appeal a successful self-defense claim.