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Trayvon Martin's Killer Had Been Accused Of Violence In The Past

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As national attention continues to be focused on the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last month and the questions it resurrects about race relations in the U.S., The Orlando Sentinel today adds to what's known about George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who pulled the trigger.

Painted as "a racist, a vigilante and a murderer" for killing the African-American boy in what Zimmerman claims was self defense, the Sentinel notes that the "embattled neighborhood watchman" has had few defenders so far.

A former neighbor in Manassas, Va., says Zimmerman was "a good-enough kid" when he was younger. But, "in 2005 [he] was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence."

In one case, Zimmerman allegedly pushed a state alcohol agent who was arresting one of Zimmerman's friends. He "avoided conviction by entering a pretrial-diversion program, something common for first-time offenders." In the other case, he was accused by a woman of domestic violence. Zimmerman "responded by filing a petition of his own the following day." Injunctions have kept the cases' outcomes sealed, the Sentinel says.

Zimmerman has not been arrested. As we reported Tuesday, though, the local prosecutor is taking the case to a grand jury for it to investigate.

Meanwhile, as NPR's Kathy Lohr reported on Morning Edition, tensions remain high in Sanford, where Martin's family and supporters accuse the local police of not being interested in investigating the case because of the boy's race.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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