Fla. teen shooting controversy continues: Would Texas handle the case differently?

Fla. teen shooting controversy continues: Would Texas handle the case differently?

SANSFORD, Florida- The law being used to protect the man who shot and killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin continues to stir up heat across the nation.

NewsChannel 10 wanted to find out if the case would be treated differently if the incident were to take place here in Texas.

Like Florida, Texas has a similar law in place designed to protect those who kill in self defense.

On a February night, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home from a convenience store.

Somewhere down the line, a confrontation between Martin and apartment security guard George Zimmerman ensued.

The facts about what happened during that confrontation which led Zimmerman to open fire on the unarmed teen in "self defense" are still unclear.

"If you strike somebody or hit somebody or shoot somebody, you assaulted them and that's okay if it's in self defense," says Potter County Assistant Attorney Dave Kemp. "You have to ask the question, 'when does self defense come into play?'

Kemp also says the law doesn't speak in terms of weapons.

"Self defense speaks in terms of force," he said. "I have to use force to defend myself from force being used by others and I have to use deadly force to prevent myself from the deadly force the other person is pursuing."

The Florida law, known as "Stand Your Ground," allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened while in their home, vehicle, workplace or anywhere else they are lawfully entitled to be.

Texas' protection law falls under the Castle Doctrine, allowing people to protect themselves and their property.

"We still often look at each other and stereotype each other and classify each other and understand each other based on attributions," WTAMU Associate Professor of Communications Hannah Oliha said.

She's also part of WT's NAACP organization.

She says often times people's actions are a result of premature stereotypes.

"You see one person who likes that and has done that and then assume that everybody who looks like that must be doing that (referring to crime) and that's not the case," she said. "I think one of the fundamental issues that this case raises is the importance of moving beyond those fantasies and negative attributions."

Whether race or self defense led to the shooting will ultimately rest in the hands of a jury if charges were to be filed against Zimmerman.

In 2007, Texas dealt with a similar case involving Joe Horn.

The Houston man was accused and later acquitted of all charges after shooting and killing a black male and Hispanic male for breaking into his neighbor's home.

You can read more about that case by visiting http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/us/13texas.html