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Comparing the trials of George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony

4:11 PM, Jul 15, 2013   |    comments
George Zimmerman, center, talks to his attorneys Don West, left, and Mark O'Mara during jury deliberations in his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Saturday, July 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Gary W. Green, Pool)
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Tallahassee, Fla. -- A state lawmaker who pushed for a repeal of Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law says he sees a similarity between the trials of George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony.

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, says the verdicts in both cases disappointed a lot of people and prompted them to call for changes in Florida law.

Casey Anthony's case grabbed the attention of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and spurred them to pass "Caylee's Law" last year. It increases penalties for anyone who lies to police about a missing child.

George Zimmerman's case prompted Rep. Williams to file a bill this year repealing the Stand Your Ground law.

Zimmerman's lawyers did not use the law in his defense, but the measure was the reason police initially did not arrest him. The law allows people to use deadly force in public if they feel a serious threat.

But unlike Caylee's Law, Williams' legislation never got a hearing in the Legislature.

He calls that very frustrating.

"It's pretty ironic that the same type of outcry from the Casey Anthony trial, there were bills filed on that and they had a hearing. I think we owe at least that much to our community, to our state, to the people of the state of Florida that we have some level of commitment to make sure we do all we can to address this problem."

Rep. Williams says he will continue to push for a repeal of the Stand Your Ground law.

He says Florida should be embarrassed because Trayvon Martin's death put a national spotlight on the Stand Your Ground law, but then lawmakers decided not to hold hearings on the issue.

"I think the state should be in a position where whenever we have laws that are on the books that bring attention to us in a negative light, we should look it."

Gov. Rick Scott appointed a task force last year to study the Stand Your Ground law. Members concluded it was a good law and should not be overturned.

It offered recommendations such as stricter rules for neighborhood watch groups and more training for police and prosecutors to make sure the law is applied fairly.

Critics contended the task force was stacked with supporters of the Stand Your Ground law so they failed to focus on how the law has been misused.

State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, convened his own task force to study the law and it concluded the measure is used too often by criminals as a defense for their crimes.

That task force recommended sending Stand Your Ground cases to grand juries.

Dave Heller

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