Pool / Reuters
George Zimmerman arrives with his lead counsel, Mark O'Mara, left, for a hearing in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla.
George Zimmerman won’t seek criminal immunity next month under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin and instead will likely let a jury decide his fate.
Meanwhile, his defense team has revealed the ordeal has led Zimmerman to pack on more than 100 pounds.
In court on Tuesday, defense attorney Mark O’Mara waived his right to use court time set aside for an immunity hearing, NBC station WESH reported. In that hearing a judge could have quickly cleared Zimmerman of any criminal liability under Florida law that allows lethal force for personal protection.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer of white and Hispanic descent, has maintained he shot Martin on Feb. 26, 2012 in self-defense after Martin attacked him. He has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge.
O’Mara said outside Seminole County Courthouse on Tuesday that Zimmerman believes it would be a better outcome to be found not guilty of murdering Martin, rather than being granted immunity, WESH reported.
“George wants a jury of his peers to decide the case,” O’Mara said. “It’s going to be, I think, a more accepted result for everyone who has to result that he gets an acquittal at trial even more so than immunity hearing by a judge.”
Zimmerman has not been seen in public since he was released on bail last July.
“George is doing as well as can be expected,” Sean Vincent, spokesman for Zimmerman’s defense team, told NBC News. “He is in hiding and has gained 105 pounds,” putting him in the “ballpark” of 300 pounds. “Everyone deals with stress differently,” Vincent said.
Vincent said that releasing the court dates doesn’t waive any rights Zimmerman has to have an immunity hearing, and indeed the defense may raise “Stand Your Ground” claims at trial. In addition, Zimmerman could seek immunity from civil claims at a later date.
“By entertaining the option of not having an immunity hearing before trial, George preserves the option of having a civil immunity hearing should he need it in the future,” Vincent said.
Bernie de la Rionda, lead prosecutor, said he was "bewildered" by O'Mara's move but didn't elaborate.
The Zimmerman case ignited an emotional debate over race and gun rights in the weeks after Martin's death. Local police initially did not charge Zimmerman with any crime, which ignited protests. He was later charged by special state prosecutor Angela Corey following an investigation.
Last week, a number of demonstration and memorials took place to mark the anniversary of Martin’s death.
Also on Tuesday, the prosecution revealed that one of their witnesses, identified as Martin's girlfriend, or Witness 8, did not tell the truth when she said she was in the hospital on the day of Martin's funeral because of trauma.
The defense wanted medical records from the hospital — but the state admitted no such records existed because the woman was never at the hospital that day.
She is a key witness because she said was on the phone with Martin on the night of his death and provided key details about what took place.
A trial is scheduled to begin on June 10.
Lisa Lampkin contributed to this story
Editor's note: George Zimmerman has sued NBCUniversal for defamation, and the company has strongly denied his allegations.