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FILE -- George Zimmerman in a Seminole County courtroom during his bond hearing for his role in the death of Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Fla., June 29, 2012.

JOE BURBANK, ASSOCIATED PRESS - NYT

Fla. judge denies gag order in Trayvon Martin case

  • Article by: MIKE SCHNEIDER
  • Associated Press
  • October 30, 2012 - 8:13 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida judge on Monday denied prosecutors' request for a gag order in the trial of a neighborhood watch leader charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson said in an order that there was no need for a gag order at this time to ensure a fair trial for George Zimmerman.

The 29-year-old Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting last February.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims the shooting was self-defense under the state's "stand your ground" law. Zimmerman and Martin got into an altercation inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

Prosecutors had asked for the gag order, claiming a website and social media used by Zimmerman's attorney could influence potential jurors in the racially charged case.

The judge also set scheduling dates ahead of next June's trial in a separate order. Any "stand your ground" hearing must be held before April 26 and all pretrial motions must be filed by early May, she said.

A defendant who invokes Florida's "stand your ground" law can have a nonjury hearing in front of a judge before going to trial. If the judge finds the self-defense argument valid, the judge can dismiss the charges against the defendant.

Nelson warned the attorneys that an inability to meet pretrial deadlines wouldn't be a reason to postpone trial.

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