George Zimmerman has waived his right to a “stand your ground” pretrial immunity hearing. Instead, his attorneys have opted for a self-defense case.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17. Florida’s deadly force law, nicknamed “stand your ground,” was enacted in 2005.
Zimmerman has claimed that he shot and killed Martin in self-defense because he feared for his life. It was expected that the former neighborhood watch captain would use the deadly force law as his defense. The law allows someone to meet force with force if they believe they or someone else is in danger of being seriously harmed.
Under the law, a person can use deadly force anywhere in the state as long as they are not engaged in unlawful activity, are being attacked somewhere they have a right to be, and have a solid belief that their life and safety are in danger.
If Zimmerman had opted for a stand your ground pretrial hearing, a judge would have determined whether the man’s actions were protected under the lethal force law. A ruling in favor of him would mean the case would not have to proceed to trial, either civil or criminal.
George Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, explained of the decision, “We’d much rather have the jury address the issue of criminal liability or lack thereof.” But Zimmerman’s defense team hinted they may resurrect the stand your ground immunity law during the trial.
Tuesday’s hearing was the first time Zimmerman spoke in court in more than a year. He answered “yes” and “no” to a series of questions posed by Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson. Nelson warned both sides to remain professional during the hearing. Both sides have used court motions in attempts to batter each other in the past few months.
But while the hearing began professionally, both sides accused each other later on during a hearing about possible sanctions against the prosecutors for discovery violations were debated.
Following the motions hearing, the prosecutors and defense attorneys met with the judge in private to discuss jury issues for the trial against George Zimmerman, which is expected to begin on June 10.