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Man who attacked Trayvon Martin shooter is jailed

Cars are parked outside the 7-Eleven store where Trayvon Martin picked up candy before he was shot by George Zimmerman while on Neighborhood Watch patrol March 20, 2012 in Sanford, Florida (AFP Photo/Roberto Gonzalez)

Miami (AFP) - A man who opened fire on George Zimmerman, the ex-Florida neighborhood watchman who killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday, court officials said.

Matthew Apperson was sentenced to the minimum required sentence for using a firearm in the incident, according to Michelle Kennedy, spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial Circuit for Florida's Broward and Seminole counties.

Apperson, 37, was found guilty of attempted second degree murder with a firearm, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and aggravated assault with a firearm, for the May 11 attack.

"The crux here is Mr. Apperson's blatant disregard for my life, any life," Zimmerman told the judge.

The former volunteer watchman, now 33, claims that in the Martin case, he acted in self-defense but the teen's family and friends claimed it was a murder driven by racism.

Zimmerman is the son of a Peruvian mother and American father; his Florida trial and subsequent acquittal exposed deep racial divides in US society, and nationwide protests erupted over the shooting.

While serving as a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Florida, Zimmerman fatally shot high school student Martin as he was walking home with iced tea and candy in February 2012.

Zimmerman insisted he had been following the teenager on suspicion he was involved in robbery, and that he shot him in self-defense.

He was acquitted of second-degree murder the following year, setting off protests nationwide over Florida's "stand your ground" gun laws.