Florida man gets 20 years in attempted murder of George Zimmerman

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Oct 17 (Reuters) - A Florida man was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday, media reports said, for shooting at George Zimmerman, who had shot and killed the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 in a case that garnered national attention.

Matthew Apperson was convicted by a jury last month of second-degree attempted murder for firing at Zimmerman, 33, during a roadside confrontation in Lake Mary, Florida in May 2015.

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A Sanford, Florida jury had acquitted Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watchman, of murder in the fatal shooting of the 17-year-old Martin. The case sparked the Black Lives Matter activist movement that campaigns against violence towards black people.

Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson in Seminole County called Apperson "a danger to the community" as she handed down the mandatory minimum sentence on Monday, ABC-affiliate WFTV 9 said.

Apperson also was sentenced for convictions of shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm stemming from the altercation with Zimmerman, who sustained minor injuries from shattered glass.

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George Zimmerman auctions gun
Sanford police officer Timothy Smith holds up the gun that was used to kill Trayvon Martin, while testifying during George Zimmerman's murder trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida, June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Burbank/Pool/File Photo
Dr. Vincent DiMaio, a forensic pathologist and gunshot wound expert, describes the injuries of George Zimmerman while testifying for the defense in the trial in Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Florida, July 9, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Burbank/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda shows the gun used by George Zimmerman while presenting the state's closing arguments to the jury during Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 11, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. REUTERS/Gary W. Green/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst, Amy Siewert answers questions on the witness stand while holding the gun used by George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin during Zimmerman's second degree murder trial in Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Florida, July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jacob Langston/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Matthew Apperson, 35, makes his first appearance in Seminole County court at the John E. Polk correctional facility in Sanford, Fla., on Saturday May 16, 2015. Apperson was charged Friday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and firing a deadly missile into an occupied conveyance stemming from an incident involving George Zimmerman earlier in the week. (Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Vehicle believed to belong to George #Zimmerman hauled from shooting scene #fox35 http://t.co/EtJduC9hiA
A witness says the alleged shooter who is a white male complied with Lake Mary police and was taken away.#wesh http://t.co/SSoLfyzJME
.@LakeMaryPD Chief Steve Bracknell said Zimmerman is being released from a hospital in Sanford now. Zimmerman did not shoot in the incident
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 20: A woman holding a can of ice tea and bag of Skittles candy and hundreds of protesters take part in a 'Justice for Trayvon' vigil outside Los Angeles Federal Courthouse July 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, United States. The vigil, along with others held nationwide, was organized by the National Action Network and called for federal charges to be filed against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
People angry at the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of black teen Trayvon Martin protest outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California July 16, 2013. A jury in Sanford, Florida last week found Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, not guilty of shooting dead Martin, a 17 year-old unarmed teen on the night of February 26, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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During his trial, Apperson testified that the shooting was in self defense. Zimmerman testified it was unprovoked and that he and Apperson had been involved in another roadside altercation in September 2014, in which Apperson had accused him of being in the wrong over the shooting death of Martin.

Zimmerman had claimed to have acted in self-defense when he shot Martin, a high school student who was walking through the community after stopping at a convenience store. (Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bernadette Baum)


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