Quantcast

Zimmerman case likely in jury's hands in a few hours

Michael Pearson Greg Botelho and Faith Karimi | 7/12/2013, 9:54 a.m.
George Zimmerman Trial continues Thursday, July 11, 2013. CNN

— The murder case was filled with recordings of harrowing screams for help, panicked 911 calls and mystery over what happened that fateful night. On Friday, the jury will try to make sense of it when it starts deliberating George Zimmerman's fate.

Zimmerman's defense presents its closing argument the same day, followed by a rebuttal by the prosecution.

The case then goes to the sequestered jury of six women, who will decide whether Zimmerman should be acquitted, or convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

The defendant is accused of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer at the time, said he acted in self-defense.

There are no witnesses to the entire altercation that occurred on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida.

The prosecution

State prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda has argued that Zimmerman's account that he fired his gun because he feared for his life does not hold up.

"He brought a gun to a struggle, to a fight that he started ... wanting to make sure the victim didn't get away," the prosecutor said. "And now he wants you to let him off because he killed the only eyewitness, the victim Trayvon Martin, who was being followed by this man."

Zimmerman, 29, did not testify when his defense team rested its case Wednesday, but his words were front-and-center a day earlier.

The prosecutor picked apart interviews Zimmerman had given to police and in the media.

Why would a scared man get out of his car and walk around after being told by a 911 dispatcher not to follow the victim? Did Zimmerman walk toward Martin, or did Martin come after him -- as he seemingly said both? Should he have had more than a bloody nose and scratches on his head if he'd had his head slammed on the ground by the victim?

"(Zimmerman) always has an excuse, or they catch him in a lie," de la Rionda said.

The trial kicked off June 24 with opening statements. The prosecution called 38 witnesses in nine days while the defense took parts of four days to call its witnesses.

The defense

Lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara will spend up to three hours giving a closing argument Friday, followed by a rebuttal by the prosecution.

O'Mara and his team have maintained that Zimmerman is not racist and fought back in self-defense during a struggle in which the teenager pummeled him. Martin was visiting his father who lived in the neighborhood, which Zimmerman said had experienced recent break-ins.

On the day the defense rested, O'Mara said Zimmerman was considering testifying.

"He really wanted to talk to his jury and tell them what he did, why he did it and what he was facing when he made that decision to fire the shot," O'Mara told CNN's "AC 360."

But there was no need for him to testify, he said, because the state had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Though confident of his defense, O'Mara said he fears that the jury might consider a compromised verdict.