The Matthew Apperson trial in Seminole County, Florida, is coming to a close, with the six-person jury expected to begin deliberations today. The case is an apparent case of road rage between Matthew Apperson and George Zimmerman, the Florida man who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the case of Trayvon Martin, a case that launched the Black Lives Matter movement.
Matthew Apperson told his side of the story this week. The jury also heard from George Zimmerman’s ex-girlfriend, who shared details of an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred when she was involved with George Zimmerman romantically. Her testimony this week directly conflicts with statements that she and her mother made in 2013 when she was considered a victim of domestic violence at the hands of George Zimmerman.
Who Started The Case Of Road Rage?
With so many conflicting accounts in this case, the jury in the Apperson trial has no easy task. The key question in this trial that needs to be answered: Who started it?
There were many “he said, she said” moments of conflicting testimony all week. Hostile witnesses in this case of road rage are also something the jury must consider.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the evidence they are deliberating includes testimony from George Zimmerman, who, during his testimony, told Apperson’s defense attorney to address the Black Lives Matter movement as “terrorist cowards.”
George Zimmerman also called the defense attorney a liar while he was on the stand, reports WFTV 9 ABC News. Zimmerman was admonished by the judge for the behavior and deemed a hostile witness. Zimmerman is the alleged victim in this apparent crime of road rage that includes the discharge of a firearm.
Matthew Apperson, the shooter, is facing second-degree attempted murder and aggravated assault with a firearm. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison under Florida sentencing statutes 777.04 and 782.04, according to Kramer Law.
Matthew Apperson Takes The Stand
Kramer Law also says that self-defense is a defense for attempted murder. Matthew Apperson has testified that he admits to shooting a gun at George Zimmerman but says that he did so in self-defense. This week, Apperson testified and shared his side of the story.
The Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday that Matthew Apperson took the stand in his own defense on Thursday, testifying that he shot at George Zimmerman in self-defense. George Zimmerman is widely known around the world for having shot and killed Trayvon Martin in a case that launched the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is a case that is the center of this road rage incident, testified Matthew Apperson yesterday. He said that he has known George Zimmerman for some time, and the Trayvon Martin death “rests at the heart of the feud between the two men,” reports the Orlando Sentinel.
This particular case is not even the first case of road rage between Zimmerman and Apperson. This case rests on a May 2015 incident. However, the first incident between the two occurred on September 9, 2014, when the pair were driving side-by-side on Lake Mary Boulevard, Matthew Apperson testified Thursday.
The Orlando Sentinel reports Apperson told the jury yesterday that in September 2014, he was just driving down the Boulevard when the man in the vehicle pulled up beside him, rolled his window down, and started screaming. In that moment, Apperson testified that he said to Zimmerman that he was “wrong to shoot Trayvon” and that this enraged Zimmerman.
“It was nuts. Here I am, minding my own business and out of nowhere I got, frankly, this nut job following me and threatening to shoot me. Bluntly, I thought he was dangerous.”
Apperson also testified Thursday that he had been the subject of an FBI interview in an unrelated case involving George Zimmerman. He had no details to provide the FBI at that time. Within eight months time, another road rage incident would occur between the men on Lake Mary Boulevard.
George Zimmerman’s doctor is located near Matthew Apperson’s place of work, and this is why the pair seemed to meet on the same road consistently, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
WFTV 9 ABC News says that Matthew Apperson also provided the following testimony.
“I said, ‘What are you going to do? Shoot me like you did that little kid? He said, ‘By the way, I am going to kill you. I’m going to shoot you just like I shot Trayvon.'”
WFTV 9 reports that Apperson then testified that during this September incident, he pulled away and went into the parking lot of a gas station. When he did, Zimmerman allegedly followed him and blocked him in the parking space. Apperson testified that he went into the store to make the 911 call, and when he did, Zimmerman sped away.
Matthew Apperson had originally testified on Thursday that when the car pulled up beside him again eight months later, he said that it was George Zimmerman who “flashed a gun” first, reports the Orlando Sentinel. He changed his story on Thursday, admitting that it was he who pulled his gun first, reports WFTV 9.
However, he also testified that as soon as he saw George Zimmerman on the road again in May of 2015, that he was terrified, reports WFTV.
He was questioned by his attorney on whether or not he thought he was in harm’s way, and Matthew said, “I knew he was dangerous. I knew he was capable of carrying out the threats he made. I’ve got to protect myself. So I pointed my gun and I shot. These are split seconds we’re talking about here. I was scared to death. I thought I was going to get shot dead right there.”
Apperson testified that he shot at George Zimmerman in self-defense. George Zimmerman denied pulling out his firearm first in his testimony on Wednesday.
When Apperson did shoot, the bullet from his firearm hit the passenger window of George Zimmerman’s vehicle and became lodged in the frame of his truck. George Zimmerman was not directly hit by the bullet but sustained minor injuries to his arm and face from glass fragments that occurred in the shooting.
After that, Matthew testified that because he did not have a cell phone, he pulled into an office complex and asked an office agent to call 911, saying, “I just had a gun pointed right at my face.”
The 911 calls were made regarding both incidents of road rage, which the jury heard on Thursday. Listen to one of those 911 calls here and watch raw police footage taken from the dashboard cam of the police unit immediately after the May 2015 incident. Immediately after being shot at, George Zimmerman appears relaxed, smiling, and shakes hands with the police officers investigating the scene of the crime.
Samantha Scheibe Testifies About Domestic Violence
The Orlando Sentinel reports that next on the stand to wrap up the case was Samantha Scheibe, George Zimmerman’s ex-girlfriend. She was testifying about George Zimmerman and a previous case of alleged domestic violence that occurred between her in Zimmerman in 2013 when they lived together.
In her testimony, she described an incident where George Zimmerman also “brandished a gun” at her, broke her furniture, and locked her out of the home they shared. George Zimmerman was arrested on domestic violence charges in that incident, which Samantha later dropped. The Orlando Sentinel reports she also told the jury yesterday,
“I was more in fear about what he was planning to do to himself or to my belongings. Especially after I was locked out of my house, I was definitely not in fear.”
In that incident, it was Samantha Scheibe who called 911 against George Zimmerman. The International Business Times reports that she told 911 George Zimmerman was in her house and breaking her things “because I asked him to leave.”
She also said, “He has his freakin’ gun, breaking all of my stuff right now.”
George Zimmerman reportedly got on the 911 call as well to provide his side of the story. He said he did not want to upset Samantha and would never want to upset her because she was pregnant with their child. Zimmerman agreed to leave the home at the time but said it was Samantha who was breaking belongings.
Law enforcement later disputed that claim, and Samantha Scheibe was never pregnant with George Zimmerman’s child at that time. The police report of that incident provided by Starcasm indicates that upon arrival, Samantha was waiting outside after she had asked Zimmerman to leave the building.
He was inside the house, packing items that included an AR assault rifle and a shotgun. Samantha told police at the time that he had “cocked the shotgun” before putting it in his case, according to the police report.
The police report says that he then took it out of his case after becoming upset. When he did, Samantha said she was going to call the police because that made her nervous. At that point, Zimmerman pointed the gun at Samantha asking her “if she really wanted to do that.”
It was after that incident where he broke her belongings with the butt of the gun. He told her to leave the building, “smashed a pair of sunglasses belonging to Scheibe then pushed her from the side, out the front door, and locked the door.”
Samantha told police he refused to leave the building, saying that he would speak to the police only by phone. When the police arrived, Samantha provided a key to them for entry, after which George Zimmerman was put in investigative detention.
The police report indicates that Samantha provided a statement to police saying she was unsure if the gun that was pointed at her or not, but she was concerned for her safety. She also told the police that she “did not give Zimmerman permission to strike her.”
George Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon in domestic violence, battery touch or strike domestic violence, and damage to property criminal mischief less than $200.
Samantha has since recanted that fear, both on the stand this week and after the incident when she dropped the charges. She released a sworn statement about the domestic violence incident, saying the police had misinterpreted her words.
She also stated in her sworn statement that she felt she was intimidated by the police at the time. However, a video released of Samantha’s police interview after the incident does not reflect this. She is very cooperative in the interview, and the police are very kind to Samantha during the interview.
They also provided a victim’s advocate from a safe house for her to be present during the interview. Her account of the incident is also very detailed, and she uses the word “scared” multiple times. She says that he was brandishing the gun at her in an attempt to scare her from not calling the police.
Also, her story in this interview does not change at all from the original police report, lending credibility to her claims. She also describes multiple incidents between her and George Zimmerman, which she describes as episodes, and answers yes when asked by the police if the episodes were violent.
She described one incident where Zimmerman allegedly choked her, causing bruises. She also said she almost lost consciousness in that episode.
When asked why she didn’t call the police during that incident, she says hesitantly, “Because… I feel like he always gets off, to be honest.”
Samantha eventually dropped the domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman, essentially recanting the entire incident. Recanting by domestic violence victims is not uncommon in domestic violence cases, according to a 2011 domestic violence study reported by Reuters. Samantha testified on the stand yesterday that she was not afraid of George Zimmerman, despite the fact that he pointed a gun at her.
Her mother told CBS 6 at the time a completely different story, saying that at the time, Samantha was fearful for her life. Her mother also told CBS 6 that George Zimmerman apologized to Samantha using emotional pleas to resolve the situation and drop the charges.
That tactic worked. The domestic violence study reported by Reuters says that happens all the time. A 2011 domestic violence study published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine says that victims do not drop charges because they feel more violence and that this is a myth perpetuated by society.
Instead, researchers say perpetrators are using “more sophisticated emotional appeals designed to minimize their actions and gain the sympathy of the victim.” Samantha’s mom, Hope Mason, says this is exactly what happened in the domestic violence incident between Samantha and George Zimmerman, according to CBS 6.
Shortly after that incident, CBS 6 was trying to get an interview with Samantha or her mom and exchanged multiple emails and texts. The interview never transpired, but some shocking information came out from Samantha’s mother about what she perceived Samantha’s feelings about George to be.
Hope told CBS 6 that Zimmerman fought with “bouts of depression” and that this is why Samantha stayed with him, thinking, like many victims do, that she could change him and help him. But Hope says that Samantha definitely “feared him” and that “she’s scared is the bottom line.”
Hope even says that there were times that Samantha feared for her own life. She also told CBS 6 about a time when Samantha fled to her mom’s home for safety, after which George Zimmerman sent a still shot of an intimate moment between him and Samantha, threatening to release it publicly and eventually even releasing it to Samantha’s daughter.
Those sentiments of Samantha’s fear corroborate the police report of the incident and of her police interview here. Watch her whole video here, where she even tells the police when asked if she was scared she says, “Absolutely!”
But this was not what she said on the witness stand this week in the Matthew Apperson trial where there is an apparent case of road rage. Closing arguments are expected to occur today, after which the jury will be going into deliberations.
They will have to decide who started this fight to determine if Matthew Apperson is guilty of attempted murder or if it was self-defense. Do you think it is possible that this was just a case of self-defense?
[Featured Image by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel Pool/AP Images]