TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Zimmerman waives immunity hearing in Martin's slaying

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9:45 p.m.

SANFORD — The former neighborhood watch leader charged with fatally shooting a Florida teenager told a judge on Tuesday that he agrees with his defense attorneys' decision not to seek an immunity hearing under the state's “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.

Under questioning from Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, George 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.

The judge had set aside two weeks at the end of April for an immunity hearing should Zimmerman want one. Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, told Nelson during a hearing in March that he wouldn't need those days. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda filed a motion last week asking that Zimmerman make clear his intentions on whether he wanted the hearing.

O'Mara told the judge there was nothing in the law that required the immunity hearing take place before Zimmerman's trial and that it 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 wanted the court to unseal details of a civil settlement Martin's parents received from Zimmerman's homeowners 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 that the public would only be able to see a version from which some information has been removed.

Daryl Parks, one of the Martin family's attorneys, said afterward that any attempt by the defense to use information from the recent civil settlement was “smoke and mirrors.”

“It is just wrong to suggest that Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton wanted their son to be killed so they could get a confidential financial settlement,” he said. “It is just so unfair to this family.”

O'Mara denied he was making that suggestion, but said anything that goes toward witness bias should be available for a jury to explore during trial to decide whether those testifying are credible.

Nelson rejected a request by O'Mara to find fault with prosecutors for what the defense attorney described as violations in providing discovery evidence to them. O'Mara said that prosecutors' failure to disclose evidence in a timely manner had cost 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.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Hearing to determine fate of sergeant accused of killing 2 deaf Iraqi youths
  2. Precautions lack year since fatal blast at plant
  3. Mo. mayor steps down over anti-Semitic comments
  4. Justices uphold Michigan ban on affirmative action, giving states room to maneuver
  5. Details about USS Cole suspect’s stint in CIA custody must be turned over
  6. Gun background checks miss fugitives
  7. Little toxicity data exists for tainted W.Va. water
  8. Images best of readied D-Day ships
  9. IRS awards millions in bonuses to its people who don’t pay taxes
  10. Foundation gives $13M to promote Obamacare
  11. Justices critical of Ohio law punishing campaign lies
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.