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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Tentative Trial Date Set for Trayvon’s Killer

SANFORD, Fla. (CN) - A judge set a tentative trial date for George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin to death, but only if Zimmerman cannot prove self-defense.

Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder for the shooting of the unarmed teen, said he acted in self-defense, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson said the self-defense hearing will be held 45 days before the trial, which is tentatively set for June 10. After the late April hearing, Nelson will determine whether Zimmerman will go to trial.

Florida's Stand Your Ground law allows people to use deadly force in life-threatening situations.

Martin's family and legal team say the law is too broad and vague, and say Zimmerman profiled Martin because he is black.

Nelson will decide today whether a gag order will be issued against Zimmerman, as requested by the prosecution.

In a Friday hearing, state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said a gag order was needed to protect the selection of jurors, who might be influenced by the defense team's comments about the evidence.

Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara said jurors could already have been swayed due to the national attention the case has received.

Several media outlets also argued against the gag order.

Zimmerman shot Martin on Feb. 26 as the teen walked home from a convenience store. Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, was not arrested until 44 days after the incident. National demonstrations were staged by civil rights leaders demanding his arrest.

O'Mara was granted permission to look at Martin's school records and his social media accounts.

Martin's family attorney Benjamin Crump maintains that the social media accounts and records are irrelevant but said there is nothing to hide.

Judge Nelson said that Zimmerman made a self-defense claim, and the information may show whether Martin had violent tendencies.

Nelson took over the case in late August after Judge Kenneth Lester was removed.

Four Sanford police officers and four fire-rescue employees who responded to the scene have been deposed.

Zimmerman and his family continue to live in hiding in Seminole County.

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