Man accused of shooting at George Zimmerman found guilty

Matthew Apperson fired at Zimmerman in road rage incident, police say

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

SANFORD, Fla. - A jury found Matthew Apperson guilty after officials say he shot at George Zimmerman in a road-rage incident in Seminole County.

The jury reached the guilty verdict on all charges -- including attempted second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault -- after more than four hours of deliberations.

"It's somewhat difficult to base a verdict on the testimony of the witness that it has been contradicted, shown to be inconsistent and is replete with half-truths and outright lies," said Apperson's defense attorney Michael LaFay, referring to Zimmerman. 

Closing arguments were heard earlier Friday. Zimmerman took the stand Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Authorities say Apperson opened fire on Zimmerman during a traffic incident last year.

Zimmerman told officers that he had been driving in Lake Mary when Apperson got behind his truck, yelled and fired a gun at his vehicle, leaving a bullet hole in a window.

"A car came up behind me quickly, and honked its horn and flashed its high beams," Zimmerman testified Tuesday.

Zimmerman said the gun was pointed directly at his face, and that he saw blood on his eyelashes and figured he had been hit, but he was struck by shattered glass, not a bullet.

Apperson said on the stand Thursday that he was on a quick trip to the convenience store during work to grab coffee when the incident unfolded.

"I was in the right lane of the road. I noticed in the left land there was a truck matching my speed and keeping up with me, and it seemed odd," Apperson said. "I saw the driver lean over to look at me. He says, ‘Hey, don't you know who the (expletive) I am?' I realized at that moment. Took me a couple of seconds [to recognize] this is George Zimmerman."

"After that comment, I said, ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to shoot me like you shot that little kid?’” Apperson said.

A police report said Apperson had a fixation on Zimmerman. Months before the shooting, Zimmerman and Apperson were involved in another road rage incident in which Apperson claims Zimmerman threatened to kill him.

Apperson's attorney said that is why his client felt the need to defend himself during the second incident.

Police crime scene technicians and officers testified Thursday about the vehicle and tint of the windows. Zimmerman was also brought back up to the stand Thursday afternoon for a few minutes for questions directed toward the Trayvon Martin case.

Apperson will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Oct. 17. He faces a minimum mandatory 20-year sentence.

Zimmerman was acquitted three years ago in the deadly shooting of Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old. The case sparked protests and a national debate about race relations.

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