All of the relevant statutes, case law, and jury instructions are here
I'm not going to repeat it all, but read the source documents because inaccurate statements here about the the law will be deleted. I don't mean the validity of arguments one side might make, that's a matter of opinion, but the actual law -- which is clear.
Suffice it to say, the first section of the aggressor statute, 776.041
, concerning forcible felonies, does not apply
to this case because George Zimmerman is not charged with an independent forcible felony. A multiple of Florida cases and the state's jury instructions state this. See, Dennis v. State
, Martinez v. State
, Johnson v. State
and Giles v. State
An aggressor is someone who initially provokes the use of physical force
against himself. Provoking fear is not the test. And the provocation has to be contemporaneous with the victim's use of force against him.
Specifically, section 776.041 subsection (2) precludes the initial aggressor from asserting self-defense where he or she is the individual who provoked the use of force" contemporaneously to the actions of the victim to which the defendant claims self-defense.
Even if Zimmerman were the aggressor under the aggressor statute, 776.041
, he could respond with deadly force to the victim's use of force against him, if:
Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;
The Florida Supreme Court amended and clarified the instruction on the justifiable use of deadly force in March 2008......See In re Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases ;Report No. 2007-3, 976 So. 2d 1081, 1087 (Fla. 2008) (expressly stating the "forcible felony" instruction is to be given only if the defendant is charged with an independent forcible felony). The 2010 version is here
Also, in order for Trayvon to have been justified in his use of non-deadly force against Zimmerman, he had to reasonably believe he was in danger of an imminent attack by Zimmerman. He can't just have been afraid because he was unsure what Zimmerman up to. Uncertainty of what Zimmerman was up to is not a belief Zimmerman was about to attack him. Section 776.012
A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force.
If Zimmerman did not do anything to provoke Martin's assault, then stand your ground
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Once George Zimmerman introduces some evidence of self-defense and is entitled to a jury instruction, he has no other burden of proof. The state must disprove self-defense by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. From Stieh v. State
It was the State's burden to overcome Stieh's theory of self-defense and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stieh was not acting lawfully when he stabbed the victim. See Behanna, 985 So. 2d at 555. As noted by this court in Jenkins, "self-defense cases are intensely fact-specific." 942 So. 2d at 916. But where the evidence " leaves room for two or more inferences of fact, at least one of which is consistent with the defendant's hypothesis of innocence, [it] is not legally sufficient to make a case for the jury." Fowler, 921 So. 2d at 712 .
For more:Stand Your Ground and Self DefenseCan the State Prove Zimmerman's Ill-Will, Hatred, Spite and Evil Intent: