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Why did Trayvon's killer shun calls to keep away?

NEIGHBOURHOOD watch volunteer George Zimmerman followed and confronted the black teenager he is accused of murdering after a police dispatcher told him not to, say prosecutors.

Zimmerman (28) made his first court appearance in Florida yesterday, accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The prosecution's case appeared to contradict Zimmerman's claim that Trayvon attacked him after he had turned away and was returning to his vehicle.

Prosecutors also said that Trayvon's mother identified cries for help heard in the background of an emergency services call as her son's.

Shackled

The account of the shooting was released as Zimmerman appeared at a four-minute hearing in a jailhouse courtroom.

During the hearing, Zimmerman wearing a grey prison jumpsuit, spoke only to answer "Yes, sir" twice after he was asked basic questions from the judge. His hands were shackled. He did not enter a plea -- that will happen at his arraignment, which was set for May 29. Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, has said his client will plead not guilty. A bail hearing for Zimmerman will probably be held on April 20.

The charge carries a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.

The special prosecutor in the case, Angela Corey, has refused to explain exactly how she arrived at the charge. But in the affidavit, prosecutors said Zimmerman spotted Trayvon while patrolling his gated community in Sanford, got out of his vehicle and followed the boy.

Prosecutors interviewed a friend of Trayvon's who was talking to him on the phone moments before the shooting. His parents' lawyer said he was talking to his girlfriend.

Scared

"During this time, Martin was on the phone with a friend and described to her what was happening," the affidavit said. "The witness advised that Martin was scared because he was being followed through the complex by an unknown male and didn't know why."

During a recorded call to a police dispatcher, Zimmerman "made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighbourhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated 'these a******s, they always get away' and also said 'these f*****g punks', said the affidavit.

It continued: "When the police dispatcher realised Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.

"Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued."

For all the relief among civil rights activists over the arrest, legal experts warned there was a real chance it could get thrown out before it went to trial because of the "stand your ground" law, which gives people a broad right to use deadly force.

hnews@herald.ie


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