Florida judge rejects delay in George Zimmerman murder trial

Supporters gather to join a candlelight vigil at the exact moment when teenager Trayvon Martin was shot one year ago by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida February 26,
Supporters gather to join a candlelight vigil at the exact moment when teenager Trayvon Martin was shot one year ago by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida on February 26.

A Florida judge on Tuesday ruled out any further delay in next month’s trial of George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch captain charged with second-degree murder for last year’s killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson, who ruled against several key defense motions during a two-hour hearing in Seminole County Criminal Court, rejected a defense request to delay the scheduled June 10 start of the trial.

Martin’s February 26 2012 killing ignited protests across the country. Much of the public outcry centered on race issues in America because police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, on grounds that he killed the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Nelson ruled that defense attorneys cannot bring up Trayvon Martin’s past marijuana use at trial, or his school suspension shortly before he was killed and alleged participation in fights.

Such background information might only be addressed during the trial if its relevance became apparent during the proceedings and the judge gave specific permission to use it, Nelson said.

She also barred lawyers from mentioning, in their opening arguments, that an active ingredient of marijuana was found in Martin’s blood shortly after his death.

Nelson also denied the state’s motion for a gag order in the case and said she would rule at a later date as to whether the jury should be sequestered.

In an unexpected matter, Nelson scheduled a separate hearing for this Friday to address a claim by Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, that some evidence, including three photos Martin downloaded from his cellphone, had been withheld from him by the prosecution.

A defense request that jurors be taken to the crime scene, in a gated community in this town near Orlando in central Florida, was also rejected by Nelson.

In a motion to ban evidence of marijuana use, prosecutors said there is no evidence that Martin was under the influence or that marijuana contributed to his death. O’Mara claims, however, that the evidence supports the defense theory that Martin was the aggressor.

Zimmerman followed Martin after he spotted him walking in the rain in the gated community in Sanford, where Martin was spending the weekend in one of the town homes with his father. Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person and pursued Martin despite the dispatcher telling him not to. Soon after, Zimmerman shot Martin during a struggle before police arrived.

In court filings Zimmerman’s lawyers say they want the judge to decide about the use during the trial of voice analysis of 911 tapes of calls to the police before and during the struggle.

Lawyers are seeking clarification from the judge about whether the science behind the various types of voice analysis used by experts for the state and defense is solid enough to be considered by the jury.

Nelson said those issues would be addressed at final pre-trial hearings sets for June 6-7.

Experts have reached different conclusions about whether it was Zimmerman or Martin screaming in the background of a 911 call taped just before Martin was shot, or whether it is possible to be certain at all.

Some experts could isolate only seconds of usable audio on the tape while one prosecution expert claims to have deciphered several phrases uttered by Zimmerman and Martin.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.