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Man Who Shot At George Zimmerman Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

Defendant Matthew Apperson reacts to testimony from George Zimmerman during a September court hearing in Sanford, Fla.
Joe Burbank
Defendant Matthew Apperson reacts to testimony from George Zimmerman during a September court hearing in Sanford, Fla.

A Florida judge has sentenced a man who shot at George Zimmerman during a confrontation to 20 years in prison.

Zimmerman fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 in a case that struck a chord nationwide. He was later acquitted of all charges.

"A jury in Florida's Seminole County found Matthew Apperson guilty of second-degree attempted murder in the shooting — which happened as Apperson and Zimmerman were driving in separate vehicles," NPR's Greg Allen tells our Newscast unit. Apperson was convicted last month and sentenced today. "He said he was acting in self-defense and that Zimmerman had pointed a gun at him — a claim Zimmerman denied."

A bullet fired by Apperson "shattered the passenger-side window of Zimmerman's truck and lodged in the frame above his window," according to the Orlando Sentinel, and Zimmerman "suffered minor injuries from glass or metal fragments."

As Greg reports, "A circuit judge sentenced Apperson to the state-mandated minimum, 20 years for shooting at another person. It was the second confrontation between the two."

Apperson "apparently has a history with Zimmerman: In September [2014], he said that Zimmerman had threatened him as he drove on a road in Lake Mary," as The Two-Way has reported. No charges were filed.

In his testimony in court, Zimmerman argued that Apperson was "dangerous," according to the Sentinel: "The crux here is Mr. Apperson's blatant disregard for my life, any life ... anybody driving up and down Lake Mary Boulevard." He also claimed "Apperson 'joyfully bragged' that he had killed Zimmerman that day."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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