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George Zimmerman Waives Pretrial Self-Defense Hearing

Murder defendant George Zimmerman will not have a “stand your ground” immunity   hearing before his trial, after he waived that right in court today.

However, the issue could still resurface during the trial, his defense lawyer said during a roughly three-hour hearing, which concluded at about noon.

During the hearing, Zimmerman was questioned under oath by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson. The state had asked the judge to demand an answer from Zimmerman about whether he was waiving his right to a “stand your ground” hearing.

That’s a proceeding that could absolve him of wrongdoing for the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American 17-year-old, in Sanford, Fla.,in what has become a national civil rights cause.

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, argued that he shouldn’t be asked to waive any rights. He said the defense “might” argue for immunity at trial, after all the evidence is presented.

Over O’Mara’s protestations, Nelson questioned Zimmerman, asking if he had made the decision to waive his right to a pretrial immunity hearing.

“After consultation with my council, yes, your honor,” Zimmerman replied.

Earlier in the hearing, the judge addressed discovery issues: Nelson ordered the state to turn over any cell phone data for Trayvon or Zimmerman that they haven’t given already to the court.

She ordered the state and defense to turn over to the other side any “cleaned up” or enhanced audio of the 911 call that captured screams leading up to the shooting.

Nelson also granted the defense’s request to add five more witnesses to their list, even though the deadline she set for new witnesses had passed.

She also ruled that the $1 million-plus settlement Zimmerman’s homeowners association paid to Trayvon’s parents to settle a wrongful death claim will be turned over to the parties.

However, the judge said the settlement will be redacted in the public court file, which likely means the precise dollar amount won’t be revealed.

The last portion of the hearing centered on the defense’s requests that Nelson  admonish and fine prosecutors for, according to the defense, hiding information and causing delays.

For example, the defense says the state delayed revealing that witness 8, who was on the phone with Trayvon in the moments before his shooting, lied about going to the hospital after learning of his death.

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