Self-Defense or Race-related Murder?: Jury Selection begins in George Zimmerman Trial

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida judge has denied a defense request to delay the start of the trial of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson rejected the delay request Monday in the first order of business on the first day of George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara says the defense needs several more weeks to prepare. He blamed prosecutors for a delay in turning over evidence and said he needs time to interview an attorney for Martin's family.
Prosecutors opposed the request for a delay.
Jury selection is starting. The trial begins almost a year and a half after George Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The first day of jury selection is Monday. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
There's no question Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin. But the defense will have to walk a fine line as it tries to convince the jury that Zimmerman, who's Hispanic, felt threatened by the African-American teenager. At the same time, lawyer Mark O'Mara will have to avoid the appearance that either he or his client is racist.
The challenge for prosecutors is that they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that while Zimmerman's actions weren't premeditated, they demonstrated a "depraved mind" that didn't consider the threat toward human life.
Martin's killing drew worldwide attention as it sparked a national debate about race, equal justice under the law and gun control. Zimmerman could get a life sentence if convicted.

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