Zimmerman to seek dismissal of charges
MIAMI (AP) – George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida’s “stand your ground” law in the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his attorney said Thursday.
The hearing, which likely won’t take place for several months, will amount to a mini-trial involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides.
“Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts and evidence that the defense would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the ‘stand your ground’ hearing,” Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said. Under the “stand your ground” law, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester can dismiss the charges if Zimmerman conclusively shows he fatally shot Trayvon because he “reasonably believed” he might be killed or suffer “great bodily harm” at the hands of the unarmed teenager. The law also says a person has no duty to retreat in the face of such a threat.
Drought contributes to global price hikes
ST. LOUIS (AP) – The Plains states, the center of the country’s corn and soybean production, are being hit harder by excessive drought conditions in the wake of the hottest month on record in the continental U.S., contributing to a surge in global food prices.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed that the amount of the contiguous U.S. mired in drought conditions dropped a little more than 1 percentage point, to 78.14 percent as of Tuesday. But the expanse still gripped by extreme or exceptional drought rose to 24.14 percent, up nearly 2 percentage points from the previous week.
That’s because key farm states didn’t get as much benefit from rains as elsewhere on the heels of temperatures in July that federal scientists said were so high they broke a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Those dry conditions have figured in a sharp rise in global food prices after three months of decline, the U.N.’s Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in its monthly price report Thursday.
Holmes’ mental state is focus of attorneys
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – Attorneys for the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shootings said Thursday their client is mentally ill and that they need more time to assess the nature of his illness.
James Holmes’ lawyers made the disclosure at a court hearing in suburban Denver where news media organizations were asking a judge to unseal court documents in the case.
Holmes, 24, a former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado, Denver, is accused of going on a July 20 shooting rampage at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.
Defense attorney Daniel King made the revelation about Holmes as he argued defense attorneys need more information from prosecutors and investigators to assess their client. “We cannot begin to assess the nature and the depth of Mr. Holmes’ mental illness until we receive full disclosure,” he said.
King said Holmes sought out university psychiatrist Lynne Fenton for help. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.