A Florida judge has set a trial date in the second degree murder case of George Zimmerman, who is charged in the Feb. 26 shooting of 17-year-old Miami high schooler Trayvon Martin. The prosecution team, led by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, and the defense, led by attorney Mark O’Mara, will begin their arguments to a jury on June 10, 2013.
The 29-year-old Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer has been out on bail since August, living in seclusion while O’Mara has filed various motions and challenges regarding evidence submitted by the prosecution, and — most importantly — has sought to reinforce Zimmerman’s claim to self defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute.
Shortly after Wednesday’s brief docket hearing in which Circuit Judge Debra Nelson set the date, the defense team tweeted that it would likely request a hearing on the applicability of “Stand Your Ground” in this case for April or May.
A second hearing is scheduled for this Friday, where Nelson will hear arguments on whether or not to allow Martin’s school records to be subpoenaed by O’Mara. At the time of his death, Martin had been suspended from school after being caught with a small plastic bag that contained marijuana residue. However, an autopsy only found trace amounts of the plant in his system, which could have been ingested long before the shooting.
Since Zimmerman’s arrest and indictment, the trial has gone through three separate judges, bail for the accused has been set twice and Zimmerman’s wife Shellie has been charged with perjury over her testimony regarding the family’s available funds. Volumes of disovery evidence have been released, including audio of the shooting and calls to 911, statements by police, and a revelation that none of Martin’s DNA was found on the handgun that fired the fatal shot. And finally, Zimmerman has reportedly considered bringing a defamation lawsuit against NBC over the selective editing of his 911 call.
Despite the high profile nature of the case and the convoluted path it’s taken to get to trial, it may still turn out to be much less complicated than many people think.
“The case itself is not that complicated,” said University of Florida law professor Michele Jacobs. “What complicates it is the high-profile stature that it has achieved. But it’s really a run-of-the-mill credibility contest. We’ll see how the state positions itself to win that credibility contest.”
Jacobs said that while it’s not likely for either the defense or prosecution to argue for a change of venue, jury selection might be a bit more difficult for the prosecution than it would be for the defense.
“Let’s look at the selection for the jury pools in that area,” she said. “That area of Florida is not what we’d call a liberal hub in any kind of sense. The challenge would be for the prosecutor to get a panel that would weigh the evidence impartially. I may be an outlier in this regard, but Zimmerman could be seen as a sympathetic defendant.”