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article imageGeorge Zimmerman waives right to immunity from prosecution

By Yukio Strachan     May 2, 2013 in Crime
Sanford - The killer of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, in court Tuesday officially waived his right to have a judge dismiss his second-degree murder charge under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Zimmerman claimed self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law after he shot and killed the unarmed teenager on February 26, 2012.
The law provides immunity from prosecution if a defendant can prove at a "Stand Your Ground" hearing that the use of lethal force was justified. If so, the criminal charges would immediately be dropped. The defendant then can't be prosecuted on the issue, states.
Under questioning from Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, Zimmerman repeatedly said "yes" to a series of questions asking if he was aware he was giving up the right to a hearing to get his second-degree murder charge dropped, The Miami Herald reported.
"After consultation with my counsel, yes, your honor," Zimmerman said.
Tuesday's decision means Zimmerman's murder case will proceed to trial as scheduled on June 10. Zimmerman's lawyer will try to persuade jurors of Zimmerman's self-defense claim.
Mark O’Mara, a lawyer for Zimmerman, told reporters said he wanted a jury to decide the case for strategic reasons.
“George wants this case before a jury of his peers. That’s where he’s going to get acquitted,” O’Mara told reporters after the hearing.
But experts think there was more involved. "During a self-defense immunity hearing, the defendant, not the prosecutor, bears the burden of proof," writes the New York Times. By putting his fate in the hands of a jury, Zimmerman shifts the burden of proof away from himself, according to the Washington Post.
Tuesday's move came in response to a motion filed last Wednesday by state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asking Zimmerman to make clear his intentions on whether he wanted the hearing, The Miami Herald reported.
As NBC notes, Zimmerman maintains he was acting in self-defense on Feb. 26, 2012, when he shot Martin to death, and he has pleaded not guilty. He says Martin, 17, attacked him first.
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