Matthew Apperson, the man who fired a shot at George Zimmerman, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted murder, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting.
Last month, a Seminole County jury found Apperson guilty of attempted second-degree murder, armed aggravated assault, and shooting into a vehicle. The jury rejected Apperson’s claim that he had shot Zimmerman in self-defense following a 2015 road rage incident.
— USA News (@1USNews) October 17, 2016
George Zimmerman and Matthew Apperson had had a history with one another since September of 2014, if not earlier, the New York Post reported in May 2015. The two were involved in a road-rage incident, although neither pressed charges at that time, so details of what had happened remain unclear; Apperson alleged at the time that Zimmerman had threatened to kill him. But in May of 2015, the two men encountered each other again on the roads in suburban Orlando, and this time, things got violent.
The two men somehow crossed paths again in the Orlando suburb of Lake Mary, and following a “heated argument,” Apperson said Zimmerman waved a gun at him. Apperson produced his own gun and fired it into Zimmerman’s vehicle. The bullet missed Zimmerman, but shattered a window instead, sending exploding glass fragments into the vehicle. Zimmerman suffered minor cuts to his face following the incident. He was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.
Apperson fled the scene, but he later flagged down a bystander and told them to call 911.
“I shot George Zimmerman, call 911.”
He was later arrested and charged with attempted murder, second-degree aggravated assault, and gun charges.
During his trial, Zimmerman testified that Apperson followed him, flashing his lights and honking his horn, according to CNN. He also claimed that Apperson “joyfully bragged” about having killed George Zimmerman.
“The crux here is Mr. Apperson’s blatant disregard for my life, any life … anybody driving up and down Lake Mary Boulevard.”
— Abiyomi Kofi (@TheAngryindian) October 17, 2016
Apperson, however, testified that he shot at Zimmerman in self-defense. Specifically, he said, Zimmerman’s “intimidating reputation” as a remorseless killer made Apperson fear for his life, according to the New York Daily News.
George Zimmerman became a household name — as well as a villain — in 2012 after he shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. On February 26, 2102, Zimmerman was volunteering as a neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community in suburban Orlando where he was living. Martin was also staying with family in the neighborhood. That night, Martin had gone to a nearby convenience store to buy snacks; as he was walking home, Zimmerman confronted him. What happened next remains in dispute to this day, but at some point, Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed black teen.
Months later, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges, largely due to Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows the use of deadly force in matters of self-defense.
Since his brush with infamy, George Zimmerman has managed to have repeated run-ins with the law, including allegations of domestic violence. He also auctioned off the gun he used to kill Travon Martin — allegedly for $250,000 — and has been known to brag about killing Trayvon.
Following Apperson’s sentencing, his wife, Lisa, told the judge that authorities have given Zimmerman “a golden ticket to go out and do whatever he wants to do.” Similarly, Apperson’s mother, Janet White, said that George Zimmerman is the real villain in this case.
“We will hold our collective breaths to see what outrageous acts he (Zimmerman) performs next.”
Matthew Apperson’s sentence of 20 years for firing a gun at George Zimmerman is the minimum sentence required for shooting at another person with a gun in Florida.
[Featured Image by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/AP Images]