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

Sharpton adapts adversarial style to de Blasio's New…

It was not the first time the Reverend Al Sharpton made his way to City Hall in a fiery mood to scold a mayor about New York City police officers…

National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

Music

polyphonic

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…