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Monday, November 18, 2013

Who is George Michael Zimmerman?

Who is George Michael Zimmerman? The world knows him as George Zimmerman, he is an American known for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. On July 13, 2013, his trial for second-degree murder and manslaughter ended in acquittal.



Biography

Zimmerman was born on October 5, 1983, in Manassas, Virginia, and is the son of Gladys (née Mesa) Zimmerman and Robert Zimmerman, Sr.[2] Zimmerman is the third of four children and his siblings include a brother, Robert Jr., and two sisters, Grace and Dawn.[3][4] Gladys Zimmerman was born in Peru and has some black ancestry through her Afro-Peruvian maternal grandfather.[3] Robert Zimmerman, Sr. is an American of German descent and served 22 years in the military working for the Department of Defense for the last 10 years of his military career. Before retiring to Florida in 2002, Zimmerman, Sr. had served as a magistrate in Fairfax County's 19th Judicial District.[5][3][6][7] George Zimmerman's voter registration record lists him as a Democrat and a Hispanic.[8][9]
Zimmerman was raised as a Catholic and served as an altar boy from age 7 to 17. Zimmerman attended All Saints Catholic School in Manassas before going to public high school.[6] At age 14, Zimmerman joined an after-school Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program because he had wanted to become a Marine.[3] When Zimmerman was 15 years old, he held three part-time jobs on nights and weekends to save up for a car. Zimmerman graduated from Osbourn High School in 2001.[3][6]

Move to Florida

After graduating from high school, Zimmerman moved to Lake Mary, Florida where he got a job at an insurance agency. Zimmerman took classes at night to obtain a license to sell insurance. It was during this time when he became friends with Lee Ann Benjamin, a real estate agent, and her husband John Donnelly, a Sanford attorney.[3] Benjamin and Donnelly would both later testify on his behalf at his trial in the death of Martin.[10] [11] According to Donnelly, in 2004 Zimmerman and an African-American friend opened a satellite office of Allstate insurance which eventually failed a year later. In July of 2005, when he was 21, Zimmerman was arrested and charged after shoving an "undercover alcohol-control agent" while a friend of Zimmerman's was being arrested for underage drinking. The charges were subsequently dropped when Zimmerman entered a pre-trial diversion program that included anger-management classes.[3][12] Also in 2005, Zimmerman's ex-fiancée filed a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman requested a reciprocal restraining order. Both orders were granted.[3][13] These incidents were raised by prosecutors at Zimmerman's initial bond hearing. The judge described the arrests as "run of the mill." [3][14][15]

Move to Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford

Zimmerman married Shellie Dean, a licensed cosmetologist in 2007 and, two years later, they rented a townhouse in the Retreat at Twin Lakes. Zimmerman had also previously been employed at a car dealership and a mortgage audit firm.[3][4] Zimmerman enrolled in Seminole State College in 2009 and was working on an associate degree in criminal justice. In December 2011 he was allowed to participate in a school graduation ceremony, even though he was a course credit shy of his degree. He was completing that credit at the time of the shooting. Zimmerman was employed as an insurance underwriter at that time also.[3][4][16]
In early 2011, Zimmerman participated in a citizen forum at the Sanford City Hall, to protest the beating of a black homeless man by the son of a white Sanford police officer. During the meeting, Zimmerman claimed he witnessed "disgusting behavior" while in ride-along program with local police; however the police department said it did not know when, if ever, Zimmerman was in that program.[17][18]

Trayvon Martin shooting and trial

Trayvon Martin
On February 26, 2012, Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old African American high school student Trayvon Martin in The Retreat at Twin Lakes community in Sanford, Florida.[3] Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting occurred.[19][20][21] The National Sheriff's Association issued a statement that said that the program in the neighborhood where the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin transpired was not associated with the national organization and that Zimmerman ignored everything the program stands for. Their statement also said that Zimmerman was self-appointed, and it describes the shooting of Trayvon as a tragedy.[22] The Twin Lakes Neighborhood Watch program was administered by the local police department. Following an earlier call from Zimmerman, police arrived within two minutes of a gunshot during an altercation in which Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, who did not possess any weapons. Zimmerman was subsequently taken into custody, treated for head injuries, then questioned for five hours. The police chief said that Zimmerman was released because there was no evidence to refute Zimmerman's claim of having acted in self-defense, and that under Florida's Stand Your Ground statute, the police were prohibited by law from making an arrest.[23] The police chief also said that Zimmerman had had a right to defend himself with lethal force.[24] As news of the case spread, thousands of protestors across the country called for Zimmerman's arrest and a full investigation.[25] Six weeks after the shooting, amid widespread, intense, and in some cases misleading media coverage,[26][27] Zimmerman was charged with murder by a special prosecutor appointed by Governor Rick Scott.[28]
Zimmerman's trial began on June 10, 2013, in Sanford. On July 13, 2013, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.[29]

Other encounters with police

On September 9, 2013, in Lake Mary, Florida, police responded to a 911 call by Zimmerman's estranged wife, who reported that Zimmerman had threatened her and her father with a gun and had punched her father in the face. Zimmerman was briefly detained and questioned by police.[30] No gun was found at the scene. Police were investigating a broken iPad for video to determine if they would press charges, and if they would be against Zimmerman or his wife.[31] His wife declined to press charges and said that she had not actually seen a gun but had assumed Zimmerman had had a gun from his stance and the way he was putting his hand in his shirt. She said, in a subsequent interview on the Today show, "In hindsight I should've [pressed charges], and I really regret that, but I'm on probation and the officers made it very clear that day if I pressed charges we were all going to go to jail and I would've been the only one to stay there."[32]
On November 18, 2013, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a weapon - a felony; domestic violence battery; and criminal mischief, after allegedly pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend.[33][34][35]


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