A judge has granted George Zimmerman’s request for a continuance, meaning his attorney is not due back in court in Sanford until Aug. 8.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. signed that order Tuesday, the same day defense attorney Mark O’Mara filed his request for the delay.
What’s being delayed is a routine hearing called “docket sounding,” a proceeding that often lasts less than five minutes at which attorneys tell the judge the status of their cases and what work still needs to be done, for example, that a witness needs to be deposed or the state needs to turn over a security camera photo that’s in evidence.
The continuance bought O’Mara six more weeks. Without it, he would have been due back in court June 27.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, Feb. 26.
Zimmerman says he acted in self-defense after Trayvon knocked him to the ground and began hammering his head against the sidewalk.
A lawyer for Trayvon’s family says Zimmerman is guilty of racial profiling, of getting out of his vehicle and hunting down and killing the teenager because he was black.
There is no pending trial date in the case.
It’s just getting started. There are no public records indicating that O’Mara has taken possession of the evidence collected by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, something that typically happens within three weeks of a defendant’s arrest.
Once a defense attorney gets that, it typically takes several months, sometimes more than a year for him to prepare for trial.
It’s not clear what O’Mara’s plans are. Last week, he said he was eager to take possession of the evidence, something he had delayed, fearing witness names would become public, something he wants to prevent.
Once the state gives him its evidence, it becomes a public record, meaning prosecutors must give it to anyone else who requests it.
O’Mara said he intended last week to file a motion, asking the judge to keep witness names a secret, but he has yet to file that motion.
Media companies, including the owner of the Orlando Sentinel, The Miami Herald, The New York Times and CNN, have filed paperwork, saying they will fight to get access to all public records in the case.