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Will controversial law free Trayvon Martin’s killer?

Posted at 8:11 PM, Mar 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-21 00:27:55-04

The FBI is now investigating the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida. 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman last month, while walking to his father fiancee's house in Sanford.

Zimmerman told police he spotted a suspicious man in his neighborhood and began following him, later saying he shot him in self defense. It was later revealed Martin was not armed, and was actually carrying a bag of skittles he had run out to pick up as a snack.

Zimmerman has not been charged.

Police there say there is no evidence refuting his self defense claim. Adding fuel to the fire, newly released 911 tapes of calls Zimmerman placed reveal the dispatcher repeatedly advised him to stop following Martin, just before he was fatally shot.

National outrage is growing, as several protests have been held, demanding Zimmerman be held accountable. Some allege official's decision not to file charges stems racism. Others say it has more to do with a controversial law.

The so-called "Stand Your Ground" law was passed in Florida in 2005, and means citizens do not have to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker. While there is no evidence Martin ever attacked Zimmerman, some argue it affects the way prosecutors determine whether it was self defense.

"This is passed, and it sort of allows [Zimmerman] to essentially follow this young man and arguably provoke this aggression," said CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone. "that's the problem with this law, there is no duty to retreat. No duty to be reasonable in situations like this."

Full interview with Todd Stone

"Florida has said you are allowed to be the pursuer, and then after you pursue someone if you have a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm you can use deadly force to defend yourself."

Some have drawn comparisons to the so-called Castle Doctrine that was introduced in Virginia this year, but failed to pass the General Assembly. It allows homeowner's to use deadly force when defending their homes.

"It's the same sort of situation where you don't have the duty to retreat, but it applies to your home," Stone said. "What Florida has done is take that a step further and apply that to public spaces."