TribLIVE

| USWorld


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

Zimmerman waives immunity hearing in Martin's slaying

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Police search finds no bombs on planes at Atlanta airport
  2. Marine Corps’ general outlines priorities, vision
  3. Marines killed in helicopter training exercise in Southern California
  4. High-value detainees allowed family calls
  5. Snowstorm crawls up coast, hitting New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, parts of Pennsylvania
  6. New York father kils 3 generations of family, himself
  7. Boy, 13, arrested in fatal stabbing at David Wark Griffith Middle School in East Los Angeles
  8. Iowa event jump-starts primary campaigns
  9. Gunfire kills 3 at party in vacant house in Omaha
  10. Wind knocks out power in Los Angeles
  11. GOP leaders work for unity on immigration bill