Judge denies George Zimmerman's request to delay 'stand your ground' hearing
Posted by Rene Stutzman on 02/15/2013 at 7:20 PM
SANFORD — The judge in the George Zimmerman murder case on Thursday rejected his lawyers' request to delay the start of his "stand your ground" hearing in April and ordered 500 potential jurors – more than the fire marshal allows in the Seminole County Courthouse jury room – for his June trial.
Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson made it clear, yet again, that she intends to move the case to trial quickly.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara did not formally ask for a delay in Zimmerman's "stand your ground" hearing, at which the Neighborhood Watch volunteer is expected to say he killed Trayvon Martin because he feared the 17-year-old was on the verge of killing him, but that's only because the judge was so quick to make known her intention.
"I will not continue it unless there are extenuating, extraordinary circumstances," she said.
She gave attorneys the option of starting it a week early – April 15. Attorneys for both sides settled on April 22, and if a second week is needed, roll into the week of April 29.
In October, she had issued a ruling, requiring that it be concluded by April 26.
O'Mara on Thursday raised the possibility of holding the "stand your ground hearing" as part of the trial. It is an idea Zimmerman's lawyers are exploring, given how little time they have to prepare, he said.
Zimmerman, 29, was not at the hearing, which lasted about 40 minutes. He is free on $1 million bail, awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge. He killed Trayvon Feb. 26 in Sanford after calling police, describing the unarmed, black 17-year-old as suspicious.
Thursday's hearing was quick affair, announced just the day before and requested by O'Mara, who last week lost a request to delay Zimmerman's June 10 trial.
Thursday's hearing quickly morphed into a catch-all of pending and upcoming business.
O'Mara initially recommended that the judge summon more than 300 potential jurors, adding "500 sounds outrageously high."
But the judge quickly latched onto 500 and while the hearing was underway directed the clerk of court's office to summon that many.