A judge in Florida has refused George Zimmerman’s request for a five month delay in the murder trial in the death of Trayvon Martin, who would have been 18 on the day of the decision. As a result, the trial will keep its opening date of June.
Outside of the courthouse building in Sanford, Florida, a group of students and people from the community gathered to sing Happy Birthday to the teenager who was killed nearly a year ago as he walked, unarmed, through a gated community on Sanford, a suburb of Orlando.
In her ruling, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson was forthright in her words to Zimmerman’s defense attorney.
“We are four months away from a trial date,” she said. “I don’t see any of your issues to be insurmountable.”
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, had requested a delay in the opening of the trial, explaining that his defense team needed additional time to prepare for the case. He also accused the prosecution of being slow in sharing information from witnesses as well as evidence.
“We are working hard,” O’Mara said. “We are running into an enormous amount of resistance.”
The lead prosecutor in the case, Bernie de la Rionda, took issue with the defense attorney’s characterization. He insisted that the delays in providing information were due largely to O’Mara abruptly canceling dispositions.
The decision comes just weeks before the Feb. 26 anniversary of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in the gated community in Sanford where the teenager was walking to the home of his father’s girlfriend.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin immediately sparked national attention to a death with racial overtones. The African-American teenager was shot by Zimmerman, who is of white and Hispanic heritage. Zimmerman has insisted that he shot the teenager in self-defense after being attacked by him. Martin’s parents say their son was the victim of racial profiling.
The case also brought nationwide attention to Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which enables a citizen to use deadly force if he or she feels imminent danger is at hand. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, is seeking to invoke that law.
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(Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)