No 'stand your ground' hearing in April for George Zimmerman

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SANFORD, Fla. - The attorney for the Florida man accused of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin said that he won't need the two weeks a judge previously set aside for an immunity hearing under the state's controversial self-defense law, though the issue could be folded into the trial.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told Judge Debra Nelson during a hearing Tuesday that she could free up the final two weeks in April which had been set aside for George Zimmerman's immunity hearing.

Zimmerman said he fatally shot 17-year-old Martin in self-defense in February 2012.

O'Mara previously stated that he hopes to wrap the "stand your ground" hearing into Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial, scheduled for June 10. He said that could still possibly happen and the judge has said she is open to it.

A judge would have sole discretion in an immunity hearing to decide if Zimmerman is exempt from culpability in the shooting.

A jury would make the determination in the murder trial.

O'Mara said after Tuesday's hearing that no decision about when he might file a motion for an immunity hearing is set in stone, though.

"I haven't made that decision yet. The real focus is going to be on getting ready for a jury trial," he said. "As you know, I've been counting. We're only at 96 days right now. So that only that only gives us time to really get ready for one hearing. And that's going to be a jury trial where he gets acquitted. So that's my plan.

"If we're going all the way through a jury trial, I look forward to a jury verdict."

The prosecutor doesn't know what to make of the defense decision to cancel the immunity hearing, according to Channel 9's Kathi Belich.

"I'm bewildered," said prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

"Certainly, one main focus that we have is to get him to a jury and get acquitted," said O'Mara. "A second focus is then to maintain his civil immunity when that becomes relevant."

But WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said there could be a strategic reason for putting it off.

Even if Zimmerman were to be acquitted of murder, that most likely would not be the end of his legal troubles.

The lawyer representing Martin's parents said they plan to sue Zimmerman, presumably for wrongful death, for which there would be no limit to how much they could be awarded.

Sheaffer said Zimmerman could argue self-defense to the civil judge.

"He could have the case thrown out on immunity and the Martins wouldn't see a penny," said Sheaffer.

The judge also ruled today that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has to hand over the profiles it worked up on some witnesses and on Zimmerman and Martin, including criminal histories, past addresses, associates and employment histories.

At the beginning of the hearing, the defense dropped a possible bombshell in the case.

Prosecutors said their star witness, "number 8," Martin's girlfriend, who was on the phone with him in the moments before he was shot to death, lied under oath.

The state told the defense about the lie on Monday because the defense was asking for hospital records to back up her claim that she was so upset over his death she went to the hospital rather than go to his funeral.

The girl has been categorized as a star witness of the state because she has also spoken under oath about what she and Martin talked about on his cellphone just moments before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman.

Also, prosecutors charged Zimmerman's wife, Shelly Zimmerman, for lying under oath during Zimmerman's bond hearing about how much money they had to post bail.

Prosecutors would not say whether they had any intention of charging their own witness with perjury for her lie.