SANFORD, Fla. – After weeks in hiding, George Zimmerman made his first courtroom appearance Thursday in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and prosecutors outlined their murder case in court papers, saying the neighborhood watch volunteer followed and confronted the black teenager after a police dispatcher told him to back off.
The brief outline, contained in an affidavit filed in support of the second-degree murder charges, appeared to contradict Zimmermans claim that Martin attacked him after he had turned away and was returning to his vehicle.
In the affidavit, prosecutors also said that Martins mother identified cries for help heard in the background of a 911 call as her sons. There had been some question as to whether Martin or Zimmerman was the one crying out.
The account of the shooting was released as Zimmerman, 28, appeared at a four-minute hearing in a jailhouse courtroom, setting in motion what could be a long, drawn-out process, or an abrupt and disappointingly short one for the Martin family because of the strong legal protections contained in Floridas stand your ground law on self-defense.
Zimmerman did not enter a plea; that will happen at his arraignment, which was set for May 29.
To prove second-degree murder, prosecutors must show that Zimmerman committed an imminently dangerous act that showed a depraved lack of regard for human life. The charge carries a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.