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Law And Order

Man who shot at George Zimmerman sentenced to 20 years in prison

The family of a Florida man sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for shooting at George Zimmerman thinks the punishment is unfair, and Zimmerman is receiving preferential treatment due to his notoriety.

Matthew Apperson, a 37-year-old paralegal, was convicted in September of attempted second-degree murder, armed aggravated assault, and shooting into a vehicle. In May 2015, Apperson told police that Zimmerman — the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer acquitted of murder after he fatally shot unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in 2012 — pointed a gun at him first, an allegation Zimmerman denies. The men were in their cars when the shooting took place, and Zimmerman sustained injuries when a bullet shattered his passenger-side window and glass and metal fragments hit him, The Orlando Sentinel reports. This was actually the second altercation between the two, with the first involving the men yelling at each other from their vehicles.

The judge ruled Apperson must serve the state-mandated minimum of 20 years, but before his sentencing, Apperson's wife, Lisa, told the court he was innocent and Seminole County law enforcement has "given George Zimmerman a golden ticket to go out and do whatever he wants to do." This sentiment was echoed by Apperson's mother, Janet White, who called Zimmerman the real "bad man" and said her son was only acting in self-defense. "We will hold our collective breaths to see what outrageous acts [Zimmerman] performs next," she added. Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had multiple run-ins with law enforcement, including when a girlfriend accused him of threatening her with a gun. In court, Zimmerman said Apperson has a "blatant disregard for my life, any life."