Jury in Zimmerman trial stops deliberating for night
Jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial have stopped deliberating and will return Saturday morning to resume their discussions.
Jurors told the judge Friday they wanted to break for the night and return the next day to talk about whether Zimmerman committed second-degree murder when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. They will also be able to consider a manslaughter charge.
Jurors deliberated for three and a half hours when they decided to stop. About two hours into their discussions, they asked for a list of the evidence.
Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self-defense last year.
Defense attorneys for Zimmerman finished up closing arguments Friday. Zimmerman's lawyer told jurors in Florida that prosecutors haven't proven Zimmerman's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Under Florida's laws involving gun crimes, a conviction on either could mean life in prison.
The jurors have been sequestered during the past three weeks. Because there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, jurors will likely rely heavily on testimony from police, neighbors, friends and family members. The testimony was often conflicting.
Jurors will have to determine whether Zimmerman took the law into his own hands or was in a fight for his life and shot Martin in self-defense.
As he began his closing arguments, defense lawyer Mark O'Mara said he would show Zimmerman's "pure, unadulterated innocence." He said prosecutors had built a case on a series of hypothetical "could've beens" and "maybes."
He dismissed the prosecution's contention that Zimmerman was a "crazy guy" patrolling his townhome complex and "looking for people to harass" when he saw Martin, an unarmed black teen. He also disputed the claim that Zimmerman snapped when he saw Martin because there had been a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood, mostly by young black men.
O'Mara told jurors that Zimmerman at no point showed any ill will, hate or spite during his confrontation with Martin -- and he said that's what prosecutors must prove in order for there to be a second-degree murder conviction.
"George Zimmerman is not guilty if you have a reasonable doubt that he acted in self defense," said O'Mara to the jury.
O'Mara's three-hour presentation included slides, pictures, charts and an animated re-enactment as he walked the jury through the events from the night Martin was killed.
"Where is one shred of evidence that supports the absurdity that they are trying to have you buy?" he asked.
O'Mara used life-sized cut-outs and asked the former community watch volunteer to stand as he talked about the difference in physical presence between Martin and Zimmerman. He paused for four minutes of silence in the courtroom - the time he said Martin had to run home, but instead prepared for a fight.
O'Mara closed by showing the jury a block of concrete.
"That's cement. That is a sidewalk, and that is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home," he argued.
"Concrete - you're kidding me. It's heavy, it's hard, if his head had been slammed into something like this, slammed, bashed over and over, he wouldn't look like he did in those photographs," said Prosecutor John Guy.
Guy pushed back in the state's final presentation to the jury, calling Zimmerman a liar who took the law into his own hands and killed a teenager who had done nothing wrong.
"Trayvon Martin may not have the defendant's blood on his hands, but George Zimmerman will forever have Trayvon Martin's blood on his - forever," he said.
Thursday, a prosecutor said Zimmerman had assumed Martin was a criminal who was up to no good when he confronted him in his neighborhood.
After twelve days of testimony from 53 people, it all comes down to the final, passionate words from attorneys.
"A teenager is dead through no fault of his own," said Bernie De La Rionda, prosecutor, in his arguments Thursday. "He's dead because another man made assumptions."
The prosecutor laid out a case where Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, as a criminal and followed him, setting into motion a deadly chain of events.
"What was his crime? He bought Skittles, and some watermelon or iced tea or whatever it's called. What was his crime?" De La Rionda asked.
Using Powerpoint slides, Zimmerman's videotaped police and television interviews, evidence and 911 calls, De La Rionda pointed out inconsistencies the state sees in the defense's story, including that Zimmerman got out of the car despite viewing Martin as a threat; witness opinions that Zimmerman exaggerated the fight and his injuries and Zimmerman's claim martin went for his gun, forcing him to act.
"Because he's got a gun. He's got the equalizer," said De La Rionda. "It was back here hidden. Look at the size of this gun. How did the victim see that in the darkness?"
During the closing, Zimmerman stared straight ahead, sometimes shaking his head.
Families of both victim and defendant filled the front rows of the gallery and the jury listened intently. The all-female panel will consider both second degree murder and first degree manslaughter charges during deliberations.
"Hold the defendant responsible for his actions. Hold him accountable for what he did," De La Rionda said.
After 12 days of testimony and two days of closing arguments, the last word will come from the six women on the jury.