By Brielle Bryan
The man convicted of shooting at George Zimmerman was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday, Oct. 17.
The 37-year-old Seminole County man, Matthew Apperson, was convicted last month of attempted second-degree murder, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
According to CNN, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson not only handed Apperson a 20-year sentence, but also gave him a 15-year concurrent sentence for aggravated assault regarding the same incident.
New York Daily News reported that 20 years is Florida’s mandatory minimum sentence for shooting at another person with a gun.
On May 11, 2015, Zimmerman and Apperson were both driving down Lake Mary Boulevard in separate vehicles when Apperson shot at Zimmerman, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The bullet plunged through the passenger window of Zimmerman’s truck and missed Zimmerman, who suffered a few minor injuries from the shattered glass.
Apperson testified that Zimmerman threatened to kill him. Apperson told the court that after he looked over and saw Zimmerman point a gun at him, he pulled out his gun and fired his .357 Magnum, The New York Times reported.
The New York Times also reported that Prosecuting Assistant State Attorney Stewart Stone said Zimmerman’s rolled-up tinted windows would have been impossible to see through. Apperson’s self-defense claim proved to be false.
“Mr. Apperson pulled that trigger and didn’t care,” Zimmerman said, according to CNN. “In fact, he joyfully bragged about killing me and said, ‘I got him. I shot George Zimmerman.’ He thought he had killed me, and he was happy about it.”
In Apperson’s arrest report, according to Click Orlando, a Lake Mary police officer said Apperson had recently been admitted into a mental institution. He said, “It appears that Apperson has a fixation on Zimmerman and has displayed some signs of paranoia, anxiety and bipolar disorder.”
This shooting is actually the second confrontation between Zimmerman and Apperson. The Orlando Sentinel reported that on Sept. 9, 2014, the two men shouted at each other from separate vehicles and Apperson accused Zimmerman of threatening him. Apperson called the police, but didn’t press charges.
This trial threw Zimmerman back in the spotlight after he was acquitted on July 13, 2013 of second-degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to CNN.
On Feb. 26, 2012, Martin was walking back to his father’s fiancé’s house after stopping at a Sanford convenience store for Skittles and a fruity drink, CNN wrote. Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer at the time, spotted Martin and followed him. There was an altercation between the two before Zimmerman said his only remaining option was to pull out his gun.
Martin’s death soon evolved into a civil rights case and sparked a broad discussion of race relations across the country. The New York Times reported that even President Barack Obama took a stance on this case when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Since there were no witnesses except Martin himself, there was not a lot of sufficient evidence against Zimmerman. According to The New York Times, a forensic pathologist who is an expert in gunshot wounds said that the trajectory of the bullet was consistent with Martin leaning over Zimmerman when the gun was fired.
Zimmerman’s defense claim was also backed up by head wounds he received from the incident.
However, according to Fox News, none of Zimmerman’s DNA was found under Martin’s fingernails, and Martin’s DNA was not on the gun Zimmerman used to shoot him.
Four years after the fatal incident with Martin, Zimmerman continues to receive scrutiny from the public. In a more recent incident, the New York Daily News wrote that Zimmerman tried to auction off the gun that was used to end Martin’s life for $250,000.
Zimmerman has been arrested for other incidences. The New York Times reported that Zimmerman was accused of assaulting his girlfriend twice in January 2015 and November 2013, but the woman recanted and the charges were dropped.