SANFORD, Fla. (USA TODAY) - Jurors deliberating the second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman recessed after 3 1/2 hours Friday and are set to return to court Saturday morning.
The six-woman jury began weighing evidence against Zimmerman earlier Friday after lawyers wrapped up closing arguments. Zimmerman, 29, is a former neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the February 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old shot to death in February 2012.
Before the jury began weighing evidence, Judge Debra Nelson told the panel they must find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman is guilty of a crime. "You must presume innocence. ... Zimmerman is not required ... to prove anything,'' she said. "The state must prove the alleged crime was committed. It's up to the state to prove his guilt."
Deliberations in the high-profile second-degree murder case began shortly before 2:30 p.m., after Mark O'Mara, one of Zimmerman's lawyers, argued in a lengthy closing statement that his client is a conscientious citizen who fired a fatal bullet into a teen in self-defense while fighting for his life.
About two hours into their review, jurors asked Nelson for an inventory of all the evidence in the case. O'Mara used several visuals in his closing, including a chart about reasonable doubt, self-defense and a computer animation showing Trayvon walking up to Zimmerman and punching him.
Zimmerman faces up to life imprisonment if convicted of second-degree murder. If he's found guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter, he faces a prison term of up to 30 years.
Nelson had ruled that the animation couldn't be entered into evidence but could be used in closing arguments. Jurors watched intently as the animation, which resembled a video game, showed Trayvon in a dark hoodie on top of Zimmerman before being killed. The video was overlaid with a 911 call that recorded the fatal shot.
Soon after, O'Mara paused silently for four minutes. That's how long Trayvon had time to get home, O'Mara told jurors.
The defense attorney said that Zimmerman was not the aggressor and that the state's case arguing Zimmerman's cursing on a police call was ill will doesn't make sense.
"The fact that he was willing to say it on a call with law enforcement is evidence of non-guilt," O'Mara said, explaining Zimmerman saying "f--king punks" and "a-- holes" after spotting Trayvon.
The lawyer also argued that no evidence supported Zimmerman's following of Trayvon after a dispatcher told Zimmerman he didn't have to.
Assistant State Attorney John Guy gave the state's rebuttal statements to jurors, saying "that child had every right to be afraid of a strange man following him."
Guy repeated a sentence he delivered in his opening statement in the rebuttal: "The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to, he shot him because he wanted to," he said.
Guy later summarized the trial: "This case isn't about standing your ground. It's about staying in your car."
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda told the jury Thursday that Trayvon was an innocent teen now dead because Zimmerman wrongly assumed he was a criminal. Prosecutors throughout the trial have portrayed Zimmerman as a lying "wanna-be cop" who followed Trayvon even after a police dispatcher told him via cellphone that pursuit was not necessary.
"A teenager is dead. He's dead through no fault of his own," de la Rionda said to jurors. "He's dead because another man made an assumption."
Zimmerman's defense team maintained that Trayvon was the aggressor and that Zimmerman shot him in self-defense during a struggle in which Zimmerman's head was repeatedly bashed into a concrete sidewalk.
The case has gripped the nation since the Feb. 26, 2012, incident. Zimmerman initially was not charged with a crime. Protests ensued in several cities, including New York, by supporters of Trayvon's family. Many protesters voiced the opinion that Trayvon was targeted and killed for racial reasons. Trayvon is black and Zimmerman is Hispanic. Later, State Attorney Angela Corey stepped in and charged Zimmerman with murder.
Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY