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George Zimmerman has abandoned his quest to have a “stand your ground” hearing. Lawyers for the accused killer surprised the court today by announcing the decision to bypass the hearing which could have absolved him of second degree murder charges.

Zimmerman faces prison time for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin just over a year ago. He has long claimed self-defense, calling on Florida’s controversial law, as an explanation for why he was carrying, and later used, his gun on 17-year-old Martin. The 29-year-old’s fate would’ve been left up to a judge to decide if he was warranted in gunning down the unarmed high schooler. “We decided to focus on the idea that George wants to have a jury of his peers decide his case,” attorney Mike O’Mara told reporters. “And it’s going to be, I think, a more accepted result for everyone who has to accept the result — that he gets an acquittal at trial, more so than an immunity hearing given by a judge.”

During today’s court proceedings Zimmerman’s attorneys debated with the prosecution over “Witness 8,” who was Martin’s girlfriend. The unidentified woman was on the phone with him at the time of his death. O’Mara asked that Judge Debra Nelson take a deeper look into the woman’s account, after prosecutors admitted that reports claiming the fatal altercation resulted in her being hospitalized for trauma were false. Judge Nelson refused.

With his trial date scheduled for June, Zimmerman’s defense team is scrambling to prepare his case. They asked for more time to build their clients defense, a request which was denied.


Photo: Joe Burbank/AP