The murder trial against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin will proceed as scheduled, after a Florida judge denied a request from defense attorneys to delay the trial for five months.
Led by attorney Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s defense team asked for the June 10 trial date to be pushed back so that the defense could raise money and further establish their case. However, the judge decided that there was ample time for the defense preparation.
“We are four months away from a trial date,” Circuit Judge Debra Nelson told defense lawyers during a contentious hearing. “I don’t see any of your issues to be insurmountable.”
Nelson’s decision coincided with what would have been Martin’s 18th birthday. A memorial demonstration was held outside the Sanford, Fla., courthouse prior to the hearing, where supporters of Martin and his family gathered to sing “Happy Birthday.”
The city will also be the site of a community peace walk, and the Martin family will attend a fundraising event with the Rev. Al Sharpton later this week.
Zimmerman claimed self-defense in the fatal shooting of Martin in February of last year, and is expected to base his case on Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
It wasn’t until almost 2 months after the Feb. 26 shooting that Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, prompting a national outcry against him, the stand-your-ground law, and law enforcement officials in Sanford.
Several states have implemented stand-your-ground laws that allow armed citizens to use deadly force in situations where they face an unlawful threat.
This includes the use of firearms against unarmed assailants, without the shooter first trying to escape the situation. Though multiple reports state that Zimmerman followed Martin prior to the confrontation, the defense claims that Zimmerman acted within his rights after Martin started a physical altercation.