George Zimmerman Won't Seek Pretrial Immunity Hearing in Trayvon Martin Case

Zimmerman won't seek pretrial immunity hearing under "Stand Your Ground"

George Zimmerman appeared in a Sanford courtroom Tuesday where he told a judge he won't ask for a pretrial immunity hearing under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law in the Trayvon Martin shooting case.

Zimmerman repeatedly said "yes" to a series of questions from Judge Debra Nelson asking if he was aware he was giving up the right to a pretrial 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.

The judge had set aside two weeks at the end of April for an immunity hearing should Zimmerman want one. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda had filed a motion asking that Zimmerman make clear his intentions on whether he wanted the hearing.
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. The case generated not only controversy but also a nationwide debate on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
In other motions, 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.

Nelson rejected a request by O'Mara to award attorney's fees for what the defense attorney described as violations by the prosecution to provide discovery evidence. O'Mara said that prosecutors' failure to disclose evidence in a timely manner had caused his team "hours and hours of work."

The judge said she would hold a hearing after the trial to determine if prosecutors should have to pay for some costs that O'Mara said he incurred because of the alleged discovery problems.

George Zimmerman has sued NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC 6 South Florida, for defamation. The company has strongly denied his allegations.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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