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Trayvon Martin shooting: Should victim's high school file be made public?

The new judge overseeing George Zimmerman's murder trial, Debra Nelson, will on Friday set parameters for how new evidence – including shooting victim Trayvon Martin’s high school file – will be handled and discussed. Trial is set for June 2013.


This image shows security camera footage of Trayvon Martin at a convenience store in Sanford, Fla., Feb. 26. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is charged in the shooting death of the 17-year-old during a confrontation in a gated community the same day.

Courtesy of George Zimmerman Legal Case/Reuters

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The legal wranglings in the George Zimmerman murder case in Sanford, Fla., continued this week as a new judge, state Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, took her first peek at what has become one of the country’s biggest and most explosive civil rights cases: the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February.

On Wednesday, Judge Nelson set a trial date of June 10, 2013. On Friday, she will hear several defense motions about the handling of evidence and how much information – including Trayvon's high school records and Mr. Zimmerman's medical records – should be made public. She will also get her first look at the 29-year-old Zimmerman.

Appointed to the bench by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Nelson is known as a tough, conservative judge not afraid to impose stiff sentences and allow circumstantial evidence during trial. In 2001, she won the Seminole County Community Child Advocate of the Year Award. Defense attorney Bill Sheaffer, a legal analyst for Florida’s WFTV-Channel 9, has described Nelson as "very hardworking and smart" but also pro-prosecution.

Nelson was tapped to head the Zimmerman trial in August after a judicial panel found that the previous judge, Kenneth Lester, had begun to form personal opinions about Zimmerman’s character and credibility, raising questions about his impartiality. Judge Lester had in June harshly chastised Zimmerman for helping his wife to lie about the couple’s finances in order to secure a lower bond amount, saying that Zimmerman “flouted” and “tried to manipulate the system.”


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