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Zimmerman absent as not guilty plea made

May 9, 2012 at 7:51 AM
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SANFORD, Fla., May 9 (UPI) -- The Florida man accused of killing an unarmed teenager skipped a court hearing in which his attorney entered a plea of not guilty to second-degree murder.

George Zimmerman's absence at Tuesday's hearing in Sanford, Fla., was expected.

Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara waived his right to a speedy trial, saying he "needs additional time to prepare" for the case, ABC News reported.

O'Mara has told ABC News he would try to extend the process to allow racial tensions and emotions bought on by the case to subside.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., will be tried for the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed. He said he shot the teen in self defense under Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

If convicted, Zimmerman, 28, could be sentenced to life in prison.

The shooting of Martin, who is black, by Zimmerman, whose parents are Hispanic and white, touched of protests across the country.

Zimmerman is free on bail at an unknown location, but his movements are monitored by authorities through a tracking device.

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