MIAMI — George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida’s ‘‘stand your ground’’ law in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his lawyer said Thursday.
The hearing, which probably will not take place for several months, will amount to a minitrial, involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides.
‘‘Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts, and evidence that the defense would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the stand-your-ground hearing,’’ said the statement posted by Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, on Zimmerman’s official defense website.
Although the posting did not say so, legal experts said it is likely that Zimmerman would testify, since he is the sole survivor of the Feb. 26 confrontation.
Under the stand-your-ground law, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester can dismiss the charges if Zimmerman conclusively shows he fatally shot Martin because he reasonably believed he might be killed or suffer great bodily harm at the hands of the teenager. The law also says a person has no duty to retreat in the face of such a threat.
Janet Johnson, a Jacksonville defense lawyer who has represented defendants in other stand-your-ground cases, said Zimmerman has a good chance to win a dismissal of the charges if he can also show that he was in a place where he had a legal right to be and that he did not create the danger.
‘‘Or, if he did, he had abandoned that activity when Mr. Martin ‘attacked’ him,’’ Johnson said in an e-mail. ‘‘There’s only one side, since Trayvon Martin can’t testify.’’
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin after a confrontation in Zimmerman’s gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford, where Martin was visiting.
The case drew local and nationwide protests because Zimmerman was not arrested for several weeks after the shooting. Zimmerman asserts that Martin punched him and slammed his head against a sidewalk.
Evidence released by prosecutors, the website statement said, shows ‘‘clear support for a strong claim of self-defense.’’ The statement urged ‘‘everyone to be patient during this process and to reserve judgment until the evidence is presented in the stand your ground hearing.’’
Martin’s parents have contended that Zimmerman singled out their son as he was returning from a convenience store because he was black and that it was Zimmerman’s aggression that led to Martin’s death. Zimmerman, who is free on $1 million bail, faces a possible life prison sentence if convicted of second-degree murder.
If his stand-your-ground claim succeeds, however, the criminal charges would be dismissed, and Zimmerman could not be held liable in any civil action such as a wrongful-death lawsuit. Prosecutors would probably appeal a successful self-defense claim.