SANFORD, Fla. - The neighborhood watch volunteer who claims self defense in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, will not have a stand your ground hearing before the case heads to trial.
At his final pretrial hearing Tuesday morning, George Zimmerman waived his right to what's called an immunity hearing, where a judge would decide if charges should be dropped under Florida's stand your ground statue.
During the hearing, the state demanded to hear directly from Zimmerman on the issue.
"Is it your decision not to have a pretrial immunity hearing?" Judge Debra Nelson asked Zimmerman.
"After consultation with my counsel, yes, your honor," he replied.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara did not want to allow the judge to question his client, to avoid revealing his strategy prior to the trial.
"I ask it be done outside the presence of the state and outside the presence of the media," O'Mara said to Judge Nelson.
The judge denied his request, and asked Zimmerman a series of yes or no questions regarding the immunity hearing, in front of the open court.
Later, O'Mara explained their reasoning to reporters.
"The reality is we made a tactical decision on how to handle this case, and George wants this case tried before a jury of his peers, that's where he is going to get acquitted," he said.
The defense indicated it may still ask for stand your ground immunity during the trial, but at that point it will be up to the jury.
The decision does not change the overall strategy at the defense table -- Zimmerman's attorneys still claim he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense.
"It was an event where two lives intersected, and one of them got extraordinarily aggressive," O'Mara said. "The evidence supports that was Trayvon Martin."
What's expected to be the biggest trial of the summer is expected to begin with jury selection on June 10.
O'Mara said he expected the trial to run at least six weeks, with jury selection taking about half of that time.
"Are you ever truly ready for a trial like this? I don't know," O'Mara said. "If the judge tells us we're trying this on June 10, and so far that's what she's told us, then we'll be there ready to pick a jury on June 10."
Judge Nelson handled several other motions -- many of them minor -- during Tuesday's three-hour pretrial hearing.
Most of the motions regarded the defense demanding pieces of evidence.
The defense also argued to have state prosecutors fined and punished, accusing them of violating discovery rules and dragging their feet. The judge disagreed.
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