A judge in Florida has dismissed a defamation and conspiracy lawsuit former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman had filed against the parents of Trayvon Martin, the teen he fatally shot almost a decade ago in a case that drew international attention about race and gun violence.
Judge John Cooper in Tallahassee dismissed all counts against all defendants in the lawsuit filed by Zimmerman against Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin; attorney Ben Crump, who had represented the family; and others.
In his order, the judge wrote that Zimmerman had failed to show “any fraudulent representation” and said any further arguments in the case would be futile.
“There can be no claim for conspiracy to defraud if there is no adequately stated claim for fraud,” Cooper wrote in the order filed more than two weeks ago.
The other defendants in the lawsuit included HarperCollins Publishers, which had published a book Martin’s parents wrote about the case; Brittany Diamond Eugene; and Rachel Jeantel.
According to Zimmerman’s lawsuit, Brittany Diamond Eugene didn’t want to testify that she had been talking to Martin before he was killed. So her half-sister, Rachel Jeantel, pretended that she was talking to the teen before he was fatally shot. Jeantel ended up testifying at Zimmerman’s 2013 trial in Sanford, Florida.
The lawsuit claimed that Trayvon Martin’s parents, along with Crump, participated in the conspiracy in an effort to get charges filed against Zimmerman, have him tried and “destroy his good will and reputation in the community.” Zimmerman also claimed the defendants portrayed him as a racist murderer who racially profiled Martin. Martin was Black. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
Zimmerman was acquitted during a 2013 trial, which focused attention on race and Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law that allows people to use force without retreating if they feel threatened.
The case was originally filed in 2019 in state court in central Florida’s Polk County, but it was later transferred to state court in Tallahassee to accommodate some of the participants.