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Judge rejects gag order in Zimmerman case

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:55 PM EDT, Wed May 2, 2012
The judge in George Zimmerman's trial says,
The judge in George Zimmerman's trial says, "At this time, there is no demonstrated need to restrict free speech."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The judge has denied a prosecution's motion for a gag order
  • He noted the court could reconsider if attorneys in the case say anything prejudicial
  • Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is accused of wrongly killing Trayvon Martin

(CNN) -- The judge in the murder case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has denied a prosecution's motion for a gag order, but noted the court could reconsider if attorneys in the case write or say anything considered prejudicial.

"At this time, there is no demonstrated need to restrict free speech," Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester wrote.

The decision -- which was made public Tuesday -- rejects, among other things, prosecutor concerns over a lack of juror impartiality due to the amount of media coverage surrounding the high-profile case.

"The case should be tried in the courtroom and not in the media," the motion read in its petition for a gag order.

But Lester wrote that the attorneys had so far represented "the utmost in professionalism in their public statements," and ruled against the motion.

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer accused of wrongly killing Martin on February 26, was released last week on $150,000 bail, 10% of which was put up to secure his release while he awaits trial on a second-degree murder charge.

Zimmerman was arrested April 11 after a lengthy delay punctuated by protests and rallies nationwide calling for charges against him.

Critics have accused him of racially profiling and unjustly killing Martin, though Zimmerman told police that he shot Martin in self-defense.

Although details of the shooting remain murky, both sides agree that Martin ventured out from the Sanford, Florida, home of his father's fiancee and went to a nearby convenience store, where he bought a bag of candy and an iced tea. On his way back, he had a confrontation with Zimmerman, who shot him.

Zimmerman had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood, according to authorities.

In the call, Zimmerman said he was following Martin after the teen started to run, prompting the dispatcher to tell him, "We don't need you to do that." Zimmerman apparently disregarded that advice, but then said he lost sight of Trayvon.

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