13 Apr 2012

Man accused of murdering Florida teen in court

9:12 pm on 13 April 2012

A neighbourhood watchman accused over the death of unarmed black teenager in the United States has appeared in court.

George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, 17, on 26 February this year in a quiet gated community in Orlando, Florida, claiming it was self-defence.

The 28-year-old had told a police dispatcher he thought the teenager, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious.

The dispatcher advised Mr Zimmerman not to go after the young man. But minutes later a confrontation ensued, leading to the fatal shooting, the BBC reports.

On Wednesday, Mr Zimmerman turned himself in to face a charge of second-degree murder.

During a brief hearing on Thursday, a date of 29 May was set for a formal reading of the charges and a bail hearing.

Following the hearing, Mr Zimmerman's lawyer suggested that his client might apologise to Trayvon Martin's parents.

The attorney said earlier that his client would plead not guilty.

If convicted, he could face life in prison.