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Trial Begins in Racially Charged Florida Shooting Case

George Zimmerman, far right, stands for the judge arrival with, from left, assistant state attorney John Guy, defense attorney Mark O'Mara and co-defense counsel Don West in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, June 24, 2013.
A closely watched U.S. trial has opened for a neighborhood-watch volunteer charged in the shooting death of a black teenager last year in Florida.

Defendant George Zimmerman has pled not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor said Zimmerman thought Martin was about to commit a crime solely because he was a black man. He said Zimmerman, a Hispanic, followed Martin through his neighborhood, confronted him, and then fatally shot him during a fight.

Zimmerman said he feared for his life because the teenager attacked him and was trying to take his gun.

The case has attracted widespread attention in the United States becaue Zimmerman was charged 44 days after the shooting. The delay in the arrest prompted protests nationwide.