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Florida judge sets June start date for George Zimmerman murder trial

Handout / Reuters

George Zimmerman is seen in a photo shortly after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in February.

A Florida judge has set June 10, 2013 as the start date of the murder trial of George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, 29, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26.

Zimmerman claimed self-defense in the case and has pleaded not guilty.

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Attorneys in the case said they estimate the trial will last three weeks, and Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said he expected the jury selection would take longer than the trial itself, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson was appointed to the case in late August after the former judge in the case made disparaging remarks about Zimmerman’s character and advocated for additional charges against him during a bond hearing.

A hearing is set for Friday for Nelson to hear arguments on several new motions, including the defense asking for more time to interview state witnesses, reported NBCMiami.com. 

Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Peruvian, says he shot Martin, who was black, in self-defense after following him in a gated community in Sanford. Police questioned Zimmerman but initially decided against pressing charges.

The lack of an arrest or charges sparked protests nationwide, with critics alleging that Zimmerman confronted Martin because of his race. Zimmerman's supporters denied that.

The decision whether to arrest Zimmerman was delayed for several weeks because Zimmerman had indicated that he would argue self-defense under Florida's so-called Stand Your Ground law, which shields subjects from prosecution if a judge determines that the shooting was justified to protect life or property.

Zimmerman is currently out of jail on bail. He and his wife, Shellie, who is charged with perjury in the case for her claims that the couple had no money at a bond hearing, are both living in hiding in Seminole County, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

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