In the year since it landed on the international news radar, the Trayvon Martin case has raised a global discussion about Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. But in a stunning twist of events Tuesday morning, George Zimmerman’s attorneys waived their client’s right to a scheduled April 22 hearing that was to be held under the law that has sparked so much debate, ABC news reports.
Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who is facing second-degree murder charges for the shooting of 17-year-old Martin, is awaiting trial set for June 10, 2013. His counsel’s move waiving his right to the April hearing leaves open the opportunity for it to be rolled into Zimmerman’s trial this summer, and gives the defense more time to prepare, an obvious concern after a motion to delay the proceedings was denied.
Martin was headed back to the home of his father’s girlfriend shortly after 7 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2012, after a trip to the convenience store at the time he was killed. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood-watch member, reported Martin to the police and told the 911 dispatcher that the teenager looked “suspicious.” Zimmerman was told by the dispatcher not to follow Martin, but a few minutes after the police call, Martin lay dead from a gunshot to the chest.
Zimmerman admitted to police that he shot Martin, but claimed he acted in self-defense. He was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
This latest move comes after a string of setbacks for Zimmerman, when Florida judge Debra Nelson not only denied a trial delay but also ordered that the defendant must remain under 24-hour GPS monitoring while awaiting the proceedings.
Nelson was appointed to the case after the former Judge Kenneth Lester was asked to step down. Zimmerman’s lawyers were also denied permission to question a young woman who is presumed to be the last known person to speak with Martin the night of the fatal encounter.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman’s lawyers are investigating the young woman, who is known as Witness 8. Defense lawyer Don West said the witness “misrepresented” in a sworn statement that she missed Martin’s funeral because she was hospitalized, however, prosecutors confirmed there were no medical records.