Photo: Martin’s family.
Trayvon Martin would have turned 18 Tuesday.Instead, lawyers for George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering the teen, and prosecutors were back in court where a judge denied a motion to delay the June 10 trial date and heard arguments about evidence.
Meanwhile, Trayvon’s family and local leaders have planned community healing and memorial events this week in honour of the teen whose shooting death last year sparked national debates about race, gun laws, and the meaning of self-defence.
Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the Feb. 26 shooting of the 17-year-old in a gated Sanford, Fla., community. Zimmerman is claiming self-defence. Trayvon’s family argues the young man was profiled, pursued, and murdered.
In court Tuesday, Judge Debra Nelson denied a motion by Zimmerman lawyer Mark O’Mara to delay the trial date. O’Mara argued that the prosecution has been slow to turn over evidence and that he does not have enough time to prepare his case.
“We’re four months away from trial,” Nelson said. “The court has no reason to continue the case.”
Earlier, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda and O’Mara traded arguments.
“The state has been trying to try this case in the courtroom,” de la Rionda said at one point. “I don’t know if that’s true of the defence.”
O’Mara, however, continued to press the importance of the Internet. “I spend virtually no time on Twitter and the website because it doesn’t matter that much,” he said. “But we cannot ignore the avalanche of information that is flowing through the blogosphere.”
In addition to the trial date, several other issues came before the court.
Nelson approved a motion by Zimmerman’s lawyer to subpoena credit card sales records from the 7-Eleven Trayvon visited the night he was killed. She also ordered de la Rionda reveal tests performed on the phone that investigators sent to California to get unlocked.
Lawyers also had lengthy arguments about Witness 8, a young lady who claims she was on the phone with Trayvon as the confrontation between him and Zimmerman started.
Nelson ruled that Witness 8 can be asked about her Twitter handle before she is deposed by the defence but that any other questions must be posed during her deposition.
In addition, a scheduled deposition of Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s family, was postponed after a lawyer he hired entered into evidence a 15-page affidavit explaining how Crump found and interacted with Witness 8. Nelson said she and the lawyers for both sides will read the affidavit and determine whether any more information is needed.
To mark what would have been Trayvon’s birthday, community leaders in Sanford are hosting a “Banding Together for Peace” program Tuesday to recognise the need for community healing and solidarity. The event, held in Goldsboro, a historically black part of the city, includes the Sanford Police Department, the NAACP, local city officials, and Crump.
On Saturday, in Miami, where Trayvon lived, an event dubbed the “I am Trayvon, Day of Remembrance Peace Walk” will feature motivational speakers, entertainers, and free food.
On Sunday, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, set up by the teen’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, will host a fundraising dinner with several guests including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
Trayvon’s death and the murder case against Zimmerman has remained a topic of public interest as court hearings continue. Nelson scheduled the next hearing for March 5.
Zimmerman remains free on $1 million bond — with GPS monitoring– while awaiting trial.
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