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Man who shot at George Zimmerman faces 20 years in jail

Matthew Apperson testified that he acted in self defence.

George Zimmerman
George Zimmerman
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A FLORIDA MAN who fired a gun at George Zimmerman’s vehicle during a road rage confrontation has been convicted of attempted second-degree murder.

Jurors also found Matthew Apperson (37) guilty of shooting into a vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm, local news organisations have reported.

Apperson faces a minimum of 20 years in jail, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He will be sentenced on 17 October.

Apperson testified that he acted in self defence. He said he fired at Zimmerman during the confrontation because Zimmerman flashed a gun.

Zimmerman testified earlier this week that he was driving to a doctor’s appointment on 11 May 2015 when he noticed he was being pursued by a vehicle whose driver later pulled up, exchanged words and fired one gunshot at him that missed.

“I heard a bang and my ears started ringing,” Zimmerman (32) told the jury. The trial opened on Tuesday at the Seminole County Courthouse and the decision was reached on Friday.

Trayvon Martin

Last year’s confrontation was not the first encounter between Apperson and Zimmerman, the former neighbourhood watch volunteer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. Apperson alleged in September 2014 that Zimmerman threatened him in a road-rage encounter, but he did not press charges at the time.

Apperson’s attorney, Michael LaFay, said Zimmerman was the aggressor and brandished a gun in both incidents, but prosecutor Stewart Stone said there was no way Apperson could have seen a gun through the tinted windows of Zimmerman’s vehicle.

In the Martin case, Zimmerman claimed self defence and was acquitted of charges in the shooting, a verdict that sparked protests and a national debate about race relations in the US. It is seen as a seminal moment in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Read: George Zimmerman auctions gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin

Read: Wife of Zimmerman ‘won’t press charges’ after domestic dispute

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