Editor's note: Jeffrey Toobin will join the co-sponsor of the "stand your ground" law, Dennis Baxley, to discuss the Trayvon Martin investigation. Tune in to AC360° tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
Trayvon Martin went out to buy some Skittles - and was shot dead before he made it home. The case is horrifying, maddening, grotesque. And - perhaps worst of all - there may be nothing Florida law enforcement can do about it.
As the world now knows, the 17-year-old Martin walked to a store in Orlando to buy some snacks on the night of February 26. George Zimmerman, a volunteer Neighborhood Watch captain, thought the boy looked suspicious and called 911. The 911 operator told Zimmerman to keep his distance - police would be sent - but there was a confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin. Martin was killed with a single shot to the chest. Florida authorities have not arrested Zimmerman, and federal authorities recently joined the investigation.
The legal question at the heart of the case involves Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law, which the legislature passed, at the behest of the National Rifle Association, in 2005. Before that time, Florida law resembled that of most other states; during confrontations, individuals had a duty to retreat rather than to respond to provocations. Under the new law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he is in a place he has a right to be and feels reasonably threatened with serious harm.
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