Trayvon Martin would have turned 18 today-February 5. Instead, in the case of Trayvon Martin, his parents are left, like many parents of senseless gun shootings, to mourn the loss of their son. Trayvon’s parents did get a birthday present from the Judge presiding in the case. Judge Debra S. Nelson, on the same date of Martin’s birthday, denied the defense’s request to further postpone and delay the start of the trial. “We are four months away from a trial date,” Judge Debra S. Nelson of Circuit Court told defense lawyers during a contentious hearing. “I don’t see any of your issues to be insurmountable.”
The trial, as set last October, will start on June 10, 2013. It is expected to last three weeks. The defense stated it needed 6 more months to prepare for trial. Judge Nelson felt it was an unnecessary request for additional time. The prosecution stated the defense was dragging its feet by postponing depositions at the last minute.
George Zimmerman’s lawyers told the Judge in written court documents that they needed more time to prepare for the trial. Although, the judge did not say it, she must have been thinking if the defense spent less time online collecting donations and conducting pre-trial online social media discussions in an attempt to persuade potential jurors of Zimmerman’s innocence, they might be able to prepare for the trial. In unprecedented online discussions, the defense has been portraying Zimmerman as a near choir boy who needed to defend himself with the Stand Your Ground law. The defense asserts on its blog that “it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation”. Most lawyers do not try the case in advance of the trial in online social media.
The defense team has been busy taking depositions of witnesses. Depositions in a criminal case are not standard but in the Zimmerman case, nothing has been standard—from the prosecution mistakenly leaking names to the press and public, to the defense collecting online defense donations and to the defense defiantly asserting its defense in an online blog.
Of the depositions taken so far by the defense, one witness identified only as witness 18 told the investigators on the night of the incident and during the deposition that the larger man was on top of the smaller person—indicating that Zimmerman was on top of Trayvon during any alleged fight. Witness 18 also heard at the same time—someone crying, “help, help”.
One interesting point is what evidence the judge will allow concerning the identity of the voice. Voice identification evidence can vary from what is acceptable in court. Witness no. 18’s account and the identity of the voice crying for help are crucial to the case.
On the night of the shooting, Trayvon Martin was walking to his father’s home in a gated community when Zimmerman, suspected him of suspicious activity. Trayvon Martin, when killed had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea on him. There was nothing suspicious about either of those items. The only suspicious activity was Zimmerman following Martin after being told by the 911 operator to refrain from following him.
No hearing date has been set on the defense’s potential Stand Your Ground defense.
February 26 marks the one year of the death of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, was not arrested until April 11, despite evidence to detain him on the night of the shooting. And Zimmerman remains in an undisclosed location in Florida on bail—pending trial. His wife Shelly is also facing charges for her role in lying about her husband’s finances in procuring bail.
As we move closer to the trial of George Martin, stay tuned to LegalSpeaks for further developments as they occur.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in the media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, local NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV and XM Sirius radio. Her works have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Washington Times, and NPR, among others. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post.