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Michael LaFay and Matthew Apperson appear in court

Judge: Case against man accused of shooting at George Zimmerman heads to trial

For the first time since being acquitted on charges that he murdered Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was back in the same courtroom and in front of the same judge.

This time he was the alleged victim and, unlike in the Trayvon case, Zimmerman took the stand.

After hearing testimony, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled the case against Matthew Apperson, the Winter Springs man who is accused of shooting at Zimmerman in May, can head to trial.

On May 11, Apperson fired one round from a .357-caliber handgun at Zimmerman as they drove in separate vehicles on Lake Mary Boulevard, police allege.

Apperson is charged with attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

Zimmerman explained that he was driving on Lake Mary Boulevard when a vehicle approached and started flashing its lights and honking its horn

Matthew Apperson with attorney Michael Lefay during a bond hearing before Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, on Friday, May 29, 2015. Apperson, is accused of firing a gun and injuring George Zimmerman, May 11. Apperson is free on $35,000 bail. He and Zimmerman have had three run-ins in the past few months, according to police records.

He testified that the man in the vehicle, who he was able to identify as Apperson, started yelling at him.

He testified that Apperson screamed: "Do you remember me, you fat [expletive]? ... You owe me your life."

Zimmerman replied, laughing "You're a clown."

He said at this point he looked into Apperson's vehicle and saw the "barrel of a gun" and then heard a bang.

After hearing the bang, Zimmerman saw a hole in the front passenger window. He said he had blood on his left eyelash and shorts. Zimmerman thought he was shot.

Zimmerman said he started driving to where he saw a deputy was parked and flagged down a Lake Mary police officer. Then he was taken to the hospital where he realized he wasn't shot but injured by a piece of shattered glass.

Apperson's attorney, Michael LaFay, said his client will likely claim self-defense and a stand-your-ground hearing was "probable."

Don West, Zimmerman's attorney, was in the courtroom and said his client was a good witness, answering questions clearly and directly.

Zimmerman didn't answer questions as he was walking to or from the courtroom.

This shooting followed another incident in September 2014 when Apperson confronted Zimmerman about the Trayvon case.

According to Zimmerman, Apperson said "did you know you were wrong to kill that little black boy ... real men handle stuff with their fists."

Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012, after calling police to report the unarmed teenager as a suspicious person.

He was eventually charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor, but he was acquitted at trial in July 2013, on a self-defense argument.

Copyright © 2015,Orlando Sentinel

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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