(Reuters) - A Florida judge on Tuesday found probable cause to proceed with an attempted murder charge in a roadway shooting in which George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted in the 2012 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, was injured.
Zimmerman returned to a courtroom in central Florida to testify about the May incident in which authorities say he was shot at by Matthew Apperson, 36. Apperson is charged with attempted second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm.
Zimmerman suffered minor injuries from flying glass after his car window was pierced. In his testimony, Zimmerman recalled seeing the barrel of a gun and Apperson, then hearing “a bang and a ringing in my ears.”
“I believed I was shot,” said Zimmerman, adding he saw blood on his eyelash and shorts.
The judge’s finding of probable cause allows the case to proceed to trial. The hearing was streamed online by local media.
Zimmerman, 31, testified that he and Apperson had been involved in an earlier roadside altercation in September 2014. At that time, Zimmerman said, Apperson had called him in the wrong over the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The Trayvon Martin case made Zimmerman a high-profile figure nationally, spurred civil rights rallies and drew attention to Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
Zimmerman testified that during the May encounter in Lake Mary, Florida, a suburb of Orlando, Apperson again was confrontational.
He said Apperson swore at him and told him: “You owe me your life. The only reason I didn’t press charges was because I wanted to kill you myself.”
Apperson’s defense attorney Michael LaFay asked detailed questions about two guns in Zimmerman’s vehicle at the time of the May shooting.
“It’s an interesting development in terms of our self-defense claim that Mr. Zimmerman was armed to the T,” LaFay said in a telephone interview after the hearing.
Zimmerman said he had a license to carry concealed firearms and did not brandish a weapon in a threatening manner during the May incident.
Apperson, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held in jail without bond.
Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla. Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Editing by Mohammad Zargham