Florida Judge Debra Nelson denied a motion from George Zimmerman’s attorney Tuesday requesting a delay in his June 10 trial date. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, citing self-defense in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara requested a five-month postponement, claiming the prosecution has been slow in making evidence and witnesses available. O’Mara’s request came in the midst of a contentious hearing on what would have been Martin’s 18th birthday. The New York Times reported that students and other Martin supporters sang “Happy Birthday” on the courthouse steps.
“We are four months away from a trial date,” Nelson said. “I don’t see any of your issues to be insurmountable.”
Lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda blamed the delays on O’Mara’s tendency to cancel appointments at the last minute.
“We are working hard,” the defense attorney said. “We are running into an enormous amount of resistance.”
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It's been nearly a year since volunteer neighborhood watchman Zimmerman shot Martin in Sanford, Fla., claiming the teenager attacked him. Critics said local police were too slow to arrest Zimmerman, who is Hispanic. The Martin family accused him of profiling and following the unarmed Trayvon, who was black.
Zimmerman has been free on $1 million bond, although he’s monitored via GPS.
Attorneys also sparred over the media’s influence over the proceedings, with de la Rionda saying, “The state has been trying to try this case in the courtroom. I don’t know if that’s true of the defense.”
“I spend virtually no time on Twitter and the website because it doesn’t matter that much,” O’Mara said. “But we cannot ignore the avalanche of information that is flowing through the blogosphere.”
Along with singing on the courthouse steps, community leaders have been preparing for a memorial event. Speakers, entertainers, and free food vendors will be on hand Saturday for the “I am Trayvon, Day of Remembrance Peace Walk,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Supporters said the “spirit of Trayvon was in the courtroom” Tuesday, a feeling that seemed to emanate throughout the community in the days leading up to the anniversary of Martin’s death.
“I’m optimistic, and I’m also excited about the future,” said Pastor Lowman Oliver. “It’s a beginning. We’re moving to become one as a community.”