George Zimmerman's Attorney Asks To Delay Start of Trial

Mark O'Mara said he needs more time to review the qualifications of a prosecution witness with expertise in speech identification

Thursday, May 23, 2013  |  Updated 10:18 PM EDT
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George Zimmerman's Attorney Asks To Delay Start of Trial

AP

George Zimmerman with his attorney Mark O'Mara, right, at a recent court hearing.

George Zimmerman's attorney filed a motion on Thursday asking for a delay to the start of his client's trial next month so the defense team can vet an expert witness for the prosecution.

In the motion, attorney Mark O'Mara said he needs more time to review the qualifications of a prosecution witness with expertise in speech identification. He said prosecutors only made him aware of the expert recently.

The expert could be used at the trial to testify whose voices were on 911 calls that captured a fight between Zimmerman and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman is charged with fatally shooting Martin last year during a confrontation at a gated community in Sanford. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense.

A telephone message left by NBC 6 at O'Mara's law office after regular business hours wasn't immediately returned.

The motion to delay came on the same day that Zimmerman's legal team released information from Martin's cellphone that includes the teen texting with a friend about fighting and smoking marijuana and photos that show a gun.

The photos also show Martin blowing smoke and extending his middle fingers to the camera.

The trove of evidence comes in advance of a hearing next Tuesday that will determine whether the texts and photos can be used at Zimmerman's trial.

Prosecutors have filed a motion asking Circuit Judge Debra Nelson to prevent the photos, texts and other personal information from being used at the trial.

O'Mara told The Associated Press on Thursday that the materials could be relevant if prosecutors try to portray Martin in a certain light.

"If they had suggested that Trayvon is nonviolent and that George is the aggressor, I think that makes evidence of the fighting he has been involved with in the past relevant,'' O'Mara said.

O'Mara also said Thursday that he would ask the judge to sequester the jury and the jury pool in the trial. That may involve sequestering 500 potential jurors in order to find six people who can serve on the jury, he said.

Attorneys for Martin's parents said in a statement that the photos and texts were irrelevant to the trial and could pollute the jury pool.

"Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because (of) the way he looked?'' the statement said. "If so, this stereotypical and closed-minded thinking is the same mindset that caused George Zimmerman to get out of his car and pursue Trayvon, an unarmed kid who he didn't know.''

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