ORLANDO, Fla. » In a lengthy and heated exchange with a defense attorney today, George Zimmerman called members of the Black Lives Matter movement “terrorists” and said he sold the gun he used to kill unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin for $250,000.
Zimmerman, 32, returned to the Seminole County courthouse for a second day to testify against a man accused of trying to kill him by shooting into his truck last year. The defense attorney for shooter Matthew Apperson, who maintains he fired in self-defense, peppered his questions with blatant and brutal references to Martin’s killing.
“You didn’t shoot at Apperson because he had a pistol and not a bag of Skittles?” Michael LaFay asked.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, in 2012 fatally shot Martin, a black 17-year-old, who had a bag of Skittles in his pocket when he died. A jury in 2013 acquitted Zimmerman of murder, spurring protests across the country and giving birth to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Apperson, 37, admits to shooting a single bullet through the window of Zimmerman’s Honda Ridgeline as the two drove on Lake Mary Boulevard on May 11, 2015, but he argues he acted in self-defense after Zimmerman threatened him. The Winter Springs man faces charges of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm, shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm. Apperson told investigators Zimmerman pulled a gun first.
LaFay asked Zimmerman whether he associated Apperson with the Black Lives Matter movement. Zimmerman said no, saying the attorney was giving its members “credence.”
“They are terrorists,” he said. “I see them as terrorists.”
In May, Zimmerman made multiple attempts to auction the gun used in Martin’s death, a Kel-Tec 9mm PF-9 pistol, through online auctions.
In a post advertising the sale, Zimmerman referred to Apperson as a “BLM sympathizer.”
“I spent $2.5 million defending myself from the prosecution, so if I sold the gun for $250,000 that’s really not making any money,” he said on the stand.
Zimmerman testified for a total of about seven hours Tuesday and Wednesday.
Seminole-Brevard Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, who also presided over Zimmerman’s murder trial, admonished Zimmerman for being a hostile witness, interrupting LaFay and asking questions.
Zimmerman left the courtroom trailed by his attorney and a private security detail of three men.
Zimmerman and Apperson’s first interaction on Sept. 9, 2014, was an argument over Martin’s shooting death. Apperson told Zimmerman he “shouldn’t have shot that little black boy,” according to testimony, and Zimmerman responded that Apperson “didn’t know what he’s done for the African-American community.”
That exchange also started as they drove next to each other.
Apperson declined to press charges, but he called Lake Mary police two days later to report he thought Zimmerman was tracking his movements.
Zimmerman’s doctor is near Apperson’s workplace off Lake Mary Boulevard on Waymont Court, which could help explain why the two have bumped into each other at least three times in less than a year.
During the shooting investigation, law officers said they found two guns in Apperson’s Infiniti sedan and two guns in Zimmerman’s truck, plus one in his backpack. Officers testified it was impossible to see inside the windows of Zimmerman’s truck because of illegal tinting, casting doubts on Apperson’s statements that he saw Zimmerman draw a gun.
A police investigator said Apperson appeared to be “fixated” with Zimmerman, according to a report. During the investigation, an officer wrote that Apperson, a paralegal, had been admitted to a mental hospital at one point.
The trial resumes Thursday, when Zimmerman is expected to be recalled as a witness.
©2016 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)