Law Professor: Injuries Are Not Necessary to Justify Use of Deadly Force

by Dimitrios Halikias

Testifying today in the Zimmerman trial, George Zimmerman’s criminal law professor, U.S. Army Captain Alexis Francisco Carter, said that the “Stand Your Ground” law was a common topic of class discussion, which seems to contradict Zimmerman’s claim in an interview with Sean Hannity that he had never heard of the law. Carter also said Zimmerman received an A and described him as “one of the better students in the class.”

On cross-examination Carter answered questions from defense attorney Don West about when the use of deadly force is justifiable. Carter responded that force can be used when one is in a state of “imminent fear,” and went on to explain that injuries are not necessary to justify the use of force. “The fact alone that there isn’t an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that the person did not have a reasonable apprehension of fear,” said Carter, who continued: “The fact that there were injuries have a tendency to show or support that the person had a reasonable apprehension of fear.”

Zimmerman did have some injuries both to his face and to the back of his head, but according to the medical examiner who testified yesterday, none of the injuries were serious or life-threatening.

Carter noted that “imminent fear” can arise in an instant as the nature of an assault changes minute by minute. West clarified: “You don’t have to wait until you are almost dead before you can defend yourself,” to which Carter humorously replied: “No, I would advise you probably don’t do that.” The response elicited a chuckle in the courtroom, and even Zimmerman, who has been stoic throughout the proceedings, cracked a smile.

The testimony comes in the wake of the judge’s decision to permit the State to present evidence related to Zimmerman’s education.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara protested the decision yesterday, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “If they start bringing what was in George’s background to the table, then it really brings in what Trayvon Martin brings to the table — all of his violent acts that we know about and some of the fighting he was involved in.”