George Zimmerman Formally Waives “Stand Your Ground” Hearing
George Zimmerman, whose trial on charges of Second Degree Murder begins in June, formally waived his right to a hearing under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law during a court appearance today:
SANFORD – Murder defendant George Zimmerman will not have a “stand your ground” hearing before his trial, after he waived that right in court today.
However, the issue could still resurface at trial in June, his defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said during a roughly three-hour hearing, which concluded about noon.
After the hearing, O’Mara predicted the trial would last four to six weeks, with half of that time taken up by jury selection. He said the evidence Zimmerman acted in self-defense is “quite strong.”
“What happened that night is that George Zimmerman did nothing wrong, that he was attacked by Trayvon Martin,” O’Mara said, adding that his client is “not a racist.”
Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled, pursued and killed the unarmed black 17-year-old Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.
During the hearing, Zimmerman was questioned under oath by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson. The state had asked the judge to demand an answer from Zimmerman about whether he was waiving his right to a “stand your ground” hearing.
That’s a proceeding that could absolve him of wrongdoing for the killing of Trayvon, which has become a civil rights cause célèbre.
Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, argued Zimmerman shouldn’t be asked to waive any rights. The defense “might,” he said, argue for immunity at trial, after all the evidence is presented.
Over O’Mara’s protestations, Nelson questioned Zimmerman, asking if he had made the decision to waive his right to a pre-trial immunity hearing.
“After consultation with my counsel, yes, your honor,” Zimmerman replied.
It’s unclear why the Court questioned Zimmerman on this point given the fact that his lawyers, at a March hearing for which he as not required to be present, had already advised the court that they were waiving the pre-trial hearing while continuing to intend to pursue a self-defense case at trial. Perhaps she wanted to make it clear for the record that the waiver was a clear and voluntary decision on Zimmerman’s part, but it’s hard to say. In any event, expect more news about this case in the coming weeks as the trial date approaches.