Zimmerman Defense Declines Separate April Hearing

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  • SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — The attorney for the Florida man accused of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin said Tuesday that he won’t need the two weeks a judge previously set aside for an immunity hearing under the state’s controversial self-defense law, though the issue could be folded into the trial this summer.

    Defense attorney Mark O’Mara told Judge Debra Nelson she could free up the final two weeks in April that she had set aside for George Zimmerman‘s immunity hearing, even though the attorney hasn’t made a final decision on whether to request such a hearing.

    O’Mara has previously said he hoped to wrap the issue into Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial scheduled for June 10. He said that could still possibly happen and the judge has said she is open to it.

    “I haven’t made that decision yet,” O’Mara said. The real focus is going to be on getting ready for a jury trial. As you know, I’ve been counting. We’re only at 96 days right now. So that only that only gives us time to really get ready for one hearing. And that’s going to be a jury trial where he gets acquitted. So that’s my plan.”

    A judge would have sole discretion in an immunity hearing to decide if Zimmerman is exempt from culpability in the shooting. A jury would make the determination in the murder trial.

    Lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda declined comment on any specifics of the case, but did say he was “bewildered” about whether or not the defense intended to have a “stand your ground” hearing.

    “My job is to try the case in the court,” he said. “We’ll let the witnesses speak when they tell the truth, under oath in a courtroom and let the evidence speak for itself.”

    Zimmerman, a 29-year-old former neighborhood watch leader, maintains he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense only after they got into a fight in February 2012.

    Prosecutors contend that he followed Martin and may have racially profiled the black teenager. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is from Peru. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty.

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