The most anticipated trial of the year is almost over.
George Zimmerman’s attorneys rested their case yesterday, making way for the prosecution’s closing argument later this afternoon. Jurors are expected to return to court at 1:00 p.m.
Attorneys on both sides will be in court this morning, however, to argue about whether jurors should be allowed to consider lesser charges for Zimmerman when they deliberate.
State prosecutors are asking the judge in the Trayvon Martin murder case to instruct the jury to consider lesser charges — manslaughter and aggravated assault — when they begin deliberations Friday.
The defense objects to any lesser charges.
***(UPDATE: Judge Nelson rules that manslaughter will be allowed, but third-degree murder will not. See below for details).
If both sides keep to the schedule Judge Nelson decided on yesterday – with both giving closing statements today – the jury should begin deliberations by Friday.
We’ll keep you updated on the latest.
LATEST UPDATES FROM THE COURTROOM:
5:00 PM EST: Here is more of BDLR’s closing statement (see above)
1:40 PM EST: Closing arguments begin:
– Bernie de la Rionda starts the state’s closing statement.
– He starts with this: A teenager is dead. He is dead because of no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions. Unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this Earth.”
– BDLR points out that Zimmerman decided to take the law into his own hands and be what he always wanted to be, a cop. “Hold the defendant responsible for his actions…the law doesn’t allow people to take the law into their own hands.”
– “But in this particular case, it lead to the death of an innocent 17-year-old boy, because this defendant made the wrong assumption. He profiled him as a criminal….and that is what led to his death.”
– BDLR shows photos of Trayvon’s lifeless body to the jury. He also holds up the pack of Skittles and the Arizona Ice Tea the teenager bought just moments before his death.
– BDLR asks the jury not to judge Rachel Jeantel’s testimony because of her colorful testimony, but consider the facts and timeline of her call with the victim and the events of that night.
– BDLR says that the events leading up to the shooting happened months ago when Zimmerman started the neighborhood watch program.
– “When you really honestly think about it, who was more scared? The kid that was minding his own business and going home. Trayvon Martin unfortunately can’t come into this courtroom and tell you how he was feeling.”
1:10 PM EST: Another 30 minute recess is in order.
1:05 PM EST: BREAKING – Judge Nelson rules that the jury will not be able to consider third-degree murder. Child abuse charge is dropped.
– The jury can now only find Zimmerman guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter.
12:00 PM EST: Court recesses until 1:00 pm.
11:47 AM EST: BREAKING – Judge Nelson denies request from state to define “great bodily harm” in jury instructions.
11:07 AM EST: BREAKING – Judge rules that jury will not be read instruction on Zimmerman provoking.
10:20 AM EST: 3rd degree murder charge is argued.
– Mantei (state attorney) is requesting that felony third-degree child abuse charge be available for the jury.
– Mantei going over Florida’s statue defining childhood abuse: “intentionally inflicting physical or mental injury upon a child.”
– Don West doesn’t agree. Says the state is lying or withholding information and “sprung” the child abuse charge on them. He needs more time to prepare.
– No decision made on third-degree charge.
9:00 AM EST: COURT RESUMES.
– After a short argument about the state’s request to include lesser charges for the jury, Judge Nelson rules in favor of the state.
– The jury will be allowed to consider manslaughter as a lesser offense. Second-degree murder will also be a charge.
– A conviction on that charge could carry up to 30 years in prison.
WHAT YOU MISSED YESTERDAY:
– For a recap of all the courtroom drama yesterday, click here.
– To see the top three heated exchanges between defense attorney Don West and Judge Debra Nelson, click here.