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.


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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