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Trayvon Martin killing in Florida puts 'Stand Your Ground' law on trial

Excerpt

The following is from the March 16, 2012, edition of The Christian Science Monitor. SMU Law Professor Jeff Bellin provided expertise for this story.

March 16, 2012

By Patrik Jonsson
Staff Writer

For many tuning in across the nation, the shooting late last month in Florida of an unarmed black teenager by a suspicious neighborhood watch captain looks like a racially motivated murder.

That's why the decision by the police not to arrest George Zimmerman for getting out of his car and shooting Trayvon Martin in the middle of a gated neighborhood in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26 has raised allegations of racial injustice and profiling.

The shooting has sparked a nationwide protest petition, the involvement of a black militia group, and, on Friday, a call by the parents of the slain teenager for the FBI to investigate the handling of the case, which police have handed off to state investigators. . .

“It's hard to imagine that this couldn't have been resolved by [Mr. Zimmerman] leaving, so that no one would've gotten hurt, so this is a case where the Stand Your Ground law can actually make a legal difference,” says former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Bellin, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas.

“Even if you have suspicions about what motivated this, and you think there was a racial element and no justification for this shooting, the fact is he had no obligation to retreat under the law,” he notes. “If prosecutors don't have the evidence to disprove the claim of self-defense, they won't be able to win.”

Read the full story.

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