Miami – In a video timed to coincide with Mother’s Day weekend, the mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin urged people around the country to push for new scrutiny of “stand your ground” self-defense laws like those in Florida and about two dozen other states.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot the unarmed 17-year-old, was not arrested for weeks after the Feb. 26 confrontation because he invoked the Florida law that does not require a person to retreat in the face of a serious threat. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has convened a task force to decide whether the law needs changes in the aftermath of Martin’s shooting.
His mother, Sybrina Fulton, said in the video that other states should follow suit, noting that thousands of mothers lose children every year to gun violence.
“Nobody can bring our children back. But it would bring us comfort if we can spare other mothers the pain we will feel on Mother’s Day and every day for the rest of our lives,” Fulton said. “I’m asking you to join Florida by asking the governor of your state to re-examine similar ‘stand your ground’ laws throughout the nation to keep our children safe.”
Zimmerman, 28, is free on $150,000 bail and living in an undisclosed location. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges that were only filed after the governor appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the slaying in the central Florida city of Sanford.
Embroiled sheriff shifts to re-election campaign
Phoenix – A conservative Arizona sheriff whose congressional campaign took a hit when he disclosed that he was gay amid allegations that he threatened a former Mexican boyfriend with deportation dropped out Friday, opting to run for re-election.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, a Republican, is known for his hardline stance on illegal immigration and border security and was considered a strong candidate in a three-way primary in the 4th Congressional District, which covers most of northwestern Arizona.
His image took a beating in February when the boyfriend, a former campaign volunteer, claimed the sheriff threatened him with deportation if he disclosed their relationship.
Ex-detective sentenced for ’86 murder of woman
Los Angeles – Former Los Angeles Police Detective Stephanie Lazarus was sentenced Friday to 27 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole for killing her ex-boyfriend’s wife nearly three decades ago in a fit of rage and jealousy.
Prosecutors said in a “statement of views” filed in court that “Lazarus misused her police training in the most profound way imaginable by utilizing that training and experience to commit murder and to cover up her crime. Lazarus betrayed the trust placed in her by the Los Angeles Police Department and by people of Los Angeles in order to pursue her own murderous ends.”
Lazarus was convicted in March of first-degree murder in the death of Sherri Rae Rasmussen, who was shot three times in the chest in her Van Nuys home on Feb. 24, 1986. Several months before the attack, Rasmussen, a 29-year-old hospital nursing director, had married John Ruetten, who had also dated Lazarus casually for a few years before the wedding.