Judge sentences George Zimmerman shooter to 20 years in prison

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SANFORD, Fla. - The man convicted of trying to kill George Zimmerman was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a judge Monday, despite arguments from his mother and wife that his trial was unfair.

"On count one, I will adjudicate you guilty and sentence you to 20 years in the Department of Corrections," Judge Debra Nelson told Matthew Apperson.

Lisa Apperson, Matthew Apperson’s wife, complained that the media had painted her husband as a monster.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Lisa Apperson said she was disappointed in the 20-year prison sentence.

She also accused many witnesses of lying during her husband’s trial, saying it was “disturbing” to see the “amount of perjury.”

"I can't wrap my head around all of it," she said. "The lies, the things people have held onto, it's just so much injustice and it's such a shame."

Apperson was given credit for more than 400 days that he has already spent in jail. 

Zimmerman told the court that it would see a different picture of Matthew Apperson “if you were to ask his neighbors, if you were to ask the pool man.”

Zimmerman also pointed out that only Matthew Apperson's wife and mother came to speak on his behalf.

"Only the two that could spew the lies through their teeth would appear (at the hearing)," he said. "At the crux here is Mr. Apperson's blatant disregard for human life, any life, not just mine."

Zimmerman is well-known for his arrest and acquittal in Trayvon Martin’s 2012 death, in which Zimmerman claimed self-defense.

A jury found Matthew Apperson guilty on Sept. 16 of attempted second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm.

Zimmerman said he blamed Apperson for pulling the trigger, explaining that "I don't believe in blaming the gun."

Apperson's charges stemmed from a 2015 road-rage incident involving Zimmerman on Lake Mary Boulevard.

During his trial, Apperson testified  that he was acting in self-defense.

Raw video: George Zimmerman speaks at sentencing of man who tried to kill him

Zimmerman claimed during the trial that Apperson fired a handgun at him unprovoked; Apperson said he shot in self-defense.

Prosecutor Stewart Stone told the jury that he didn't believe Apperson was defending himself when he shot.

Raw: Matthew Apperson testimony part 1

Raw: Matthew Apperson testifies part 2

"There is nothing that Mr. Apperson did in his encounter with George Zimmerman on May 11, 2015, along Lake Mary Boulevard that was reasonable, prudent or cautious," he said.

Zimmerman's history and notoriety from the Martin case made Apperson jumpy during an altercation with Zimmerman months before the shooting, he testified during the trial.

Zimmerman pulled up next to him as he was driving in Lake Mary and threatened to shoot, Apperson said.

“I said, 'What are you going to do? Shoot me like you did that little kid?'” Apperson testified, adding that after a short exchange, Zimmerman answered his question. “He said, ‘By the way, I am going to kill you. I’m going to shoot you just like I shot Trayvon.’”

Apperson said he pulled into a gas station to call 911, and Zimmerman followed him.

“He pulled in behind me, in my parking space, blocking me in,” Apperson said.


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Jury selection underway for Seminole County man accused of shooting at George Zimmerman


A recording of the 911 call from the Sept. 9, 2015, incident was played in court.

“I got, frankly, a nut job following me and threatening to shoot me,” Apperson said on the call.

Zimmerman “peeled off” when Apperson went into the store to call 911, he told the dispatcher.

Apperson said he encountered Zimmerman on the road again in May 2015 and was terrified when he looked over into the man’s Honda Ridgeline on Lake Mary Boulevard.

Apperson changed his story on the stand when he was questioned by his attorney.

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Apperson admitted he grabbed his gun before ever seeing Zimmerman pull out his gun in May 2015.

“When you picked up your gun there was no imminent threat of bodily (harm) against you, correct?” Apperson’s attorney asked.

“Correct,” Apperson said.

Defense attorney Michael LaFay asked if Apperson believed that Zimmerman was getting ready to pull the trigger.

“I knew he was dangerous,” he replied, alluding to the Martin case. “I knew he was capable of carrying out the threats he made.”

Apperson said he responded a split second later.

“I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got to protect myself,’ so I pointed my gun and I shot,” he said. “These are split seconds we’re talking about here. I was scared to death. I thought I was going to get shot dead right there.”

Raw: Day 1 George Zimmerman testifies

Raw: Day 2 George Zimmerman testifies

Apperson didn’t have a cellphone on him, so he pulled into the parking lot of his office complex and stopped the first person he saw, he said.

“I yelled, I screamed, ‘Please call 911,’” Apperson said. “’I just had a gun pointed right at my face.’”

Apperson’s testimony came after Zimmerman spent two days on the stand testifying against him.

LaFay characterized Zimmerman as a "belligerent, obnoxious liar who can't be trusted," and questioned the accuracy of his testimony.

“Mr. Zimmerman expands and contracts his memory like an accordion,” LaFay said.

"His latest and most recent casualty is the truth," LaFay said, apparently referring to the Martin shooting.

Nelson refused to let Apperson out on bond while he appeals the sentence.

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