‘Stand Your Ground Law’ at center of Fla. shooting

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Crump, the Martin family attorney, said the teenager weighed about 140 pounds and was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea he had bought at a nearby convenience store when Zimmerman began following him in his sport utility vehicle. Zimmerman, meanwhile, weighs around 200 pounds and was armed with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, which he had a permit to legally carry.

“So the facts that have come out that I have become aware of, would tend to indicate he should not be granted immunity,” Roger Weeden, an Orlando defense attorney closely following the case, said of Zimmerman.

State figures indicate that justified use of deadly force by private citizens is on the upswing.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics show that before the law was enacted in 2005, there were about 13 justified killings each year by citizens from 2000 to 2005. Between 2006 and 2010, the average has risen to 36 justified killings each year.

Some state lawmakers are already questioning whether the law should be revisited.

State Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, said he is preparing a bill that would not allow a self-defense claim in cases where the shooter appeared to provoke the victim. That could have be a factor in the Martin case, where 911 calls and other evidence shows that Zimmerman was following the teenager in his vehicle and approached him aggressively despite specific instructions from police to back off.

“Stand your ground appears to be giving suspects better protections from arrest and prosecution than increased security measures for the citizens the law was originally intended to protect,” said Smith, whose bill would also limit legal use of lethal force to places such as a person’s home, car or workplace.

Lee, the police chief, said in a statement that the police dispatcher’s “suggestion” to Zimmerman that he did not need to follow Martin “is not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmermann would be required to follow.”

Mr. Zimmerman’s statement was that he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon,” Lee said.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected after the law’s passage, said he’s open to suggestions if the Martin case illustrates problems with it.

“If there’s something wrong with the law that’s in place, I think it’s important we address it,” Scott said Tuesday. “If what’s happening is it’s being abused, that’s not right.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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