By RACHEL QUIGLEY
PUBLISHED: 19:25 EST, 11 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:39 EST, 11 May 2012
A photograph of a well-dressed black man holding a baby is reportedly of George Zimmerman’s great-grandfather – and could become a crucial piece of evidence in his murder trial.
CNN aired the picture last night and if its authenticity can be verified then it supports what the accused murderer’s family have been saying since the shooting took place – that Zimmerman is from a mixed-race family and did not kill Trayvon Martin because he was black.
The 28-year-old’s family and legal team have repeatedly asserted that he killed the unarmed 17-year-old on February 26 out of self defense rather than because of his race.
Black roots: This photo shown on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight is said to show George Zimmerman’s great-grandfather. Above is Zimmerman’s grandmother, and his mother is in the man’s arms
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He is awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge and has been accused of racial profiling in the shooting death of Trayvon – whose death caused mass protests all over the country.
National civil rights leaders and campaigners were up in arms when Zimmerman was not charged over the teen’s death. Police cited Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law in their decision.
Florida, which has some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation, enacted the self-defense measure in 2005, which provides people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear bodily harm. The law is now in effect in more than 20 states.
Trayvon was walking through the gated Florida community where George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch guard when he was shot and killed. He was unarmed.
Zimmerman said the teen attacked him, knocking him to the ground and bashing his head into the sidewalk. He pulled the trigger of his 9mm handgun in self defense, he claims.
After initial questioning from police that night, he was released without charge.
Zimmerman’s family members have insisted for months that he is no racist.
Orlando attorney Mark NeJame appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight on Thursday with the photo and said it originated from someone in the family.
It shows a middle-aged black man in a shirt and tie with a baby on his lap and young woman standing behind him.
The baby is thought to be Zimmerman’s mother, and the young woman his grandmother
The man is Zimmerman’s great-grandfather, NeJame told the network, the baby is Zimmerman’s mother and the young woman is his grandmother.
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Last month, an investigation by Reuters portrayed George Zimmerman as a trusted aid to most of his black neighbors in the gated community of Sanford, Florida that was plagued by a string of burglaries in the weeks leading up to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
The 28-year-old insurance-fraud investigator comes from a deeply Catholic background and was raised in a racially integrated household.
It emerged this week he waived his right to a speedy trial while his legal team prepares his defense.