Zimmerman Won’t Seek Immunity Hearing Before Trial
SANFORD (CBSMiami/AP) – What was expected to be a lengthy hearing got underway Tuesday morning in a Sanford courtroom as attorneys for the state and for George Zimmerman, the man charged in the death of Trayvon Martin, work through a number of motions.
The first motion addressed was brought by State attorney Bernie de la Rionda who wanted to know if Zimmerman’s attorneys planned to seek an immunity hearing before the trial under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
The former neighborhood watch leader told the court he agreed with his attorneys’ decision not to seek an immunity hearing.
Under questioning from Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, Zimmerman repeatedly said “yes” to a series of questions asking if he was aware he was giving up the right to a hearing before his second-degree murder trial in June. 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.
“After consultation with my counsel, yes, your honor,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, told the judge Tuesday there was nothing in the law that required the immunity hearing to take place before Zimmerman’s trial and could be requested after prosecutors have presented their case.
“We’d much rather have the jury address the issue of criminal liability or lack thereof,” O’Mara said.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense. Martin was fatally shot in February 2012 during a fight with Zimmerman in a Sanford gated community.
O’Mara also wanted the court to unseal details on a civil settlement Martin’s parents received from Zimmerman’s homeowner’s association. O’Mara contended the settlement could influence the testimony of Martin’s parents, if they are called as witnesses.
The judge said defense attorneys and prosecutors could see full copies of the settlement but the public would only be able to see a version from which some information has been removed.
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