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George Zimmerman case continued; trial unlikely before 2013

By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times –

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida, will probably not face trial until early next year, his lawyers said.

The Zimmerman case was scheduled on Wednesday for a docket sounding, a pro forma court procedure in which the court is given an update on the progress in the proceedings. However, Judge Kenneth R. Lester on Tuesday granted a defense request to continue the matter — that is, push the docket sounding back — until Oct. 3.

“We filed our motion to continue because there is still a great deal of information to be gathered regarding this case, and we are in the early stages of preparing our reciprocal discovery — a process that can take a few months — and it is simply too early in the process to set firm trial dates,” defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said in an online posting.

“Moving forward, we expect there will be additional motions to continue, and it is anticipated, though not certain, that this case will not be ready for trial until early next year,” O’Mara said.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Sanford, Fla., on  Feb. 26. Zimmerman has acknowledged shooting Martin, but has insisted that he acted in self-defense, invoking Florida’s so-called stand-your-ground law. Zimmerman was not charged until weeks after the incident and after the appointment of a state special prosecutor.

Martin’s family, civil rights advocates and Florida prosecutors dispute Zimmerman’s defense, alleging that he profiled Martin because of his race and followed him even though Sanford police dispatchers told Zimmerman to stay back.

Zimmerman is out of jail after posting a $1 million bail bond.

The defense asked Judge Lester to step aside from the case, questioning comments the jurist made at the most recent bail bond hearing. Lester rejected that request, which could still be appealed by the defense.

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