Zimmerman trial date set for June
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin, will go on trial on 10 June, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
The trial date was set by judge Debra Nelson in a Florida court, but the court noted that there are still several unresolved matters to complete. As such the start of the trial may be pushed back further.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Martin in February – an incident that led to protests across the US and put state gun laws and race relations in America under a spotlight.
Martin was killed as he walked back to the home of his father’s girlfriend in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to a convenience store. After trailing the youth, whom Zimmerman claimed was acting suspiciously, the pair engaged in a fight during which Martin was fatally shot.
Zimmerman claimed self-defence, citing Florida’s controversial stand-your-ground law. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder.
Supporters of the Martin family have claimed that the shooting had a racial element, and that Zimmerman may have targeted Martin for attention because he was black.
A recorded conversation between the shooter and a 911 operator shortly before the incident may have contained a racial slur, some have claimed, although this has been dismissed by Zimmerman and his lawyers.
Nonetheless, the allegations stoked tensions in the immediate aftermath of the shooting on 26 February, prompting demonstration and claims of police mishandling in the case.
Next year’s trial is expected to last three weeks.
Attorneys in the case return to court on Friday for what is expected to be a lengthy hearing for arguments on several motions, including the defence asking for more time to interview state witnesses.