George Zimmerman Could Be Found Guilty Of A Lesser Charge Of Manslaughter In The Murder Of Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman Could Be Found Guilty Of A Lesser Charge Of Manslaughter In The Murder Of Trayvon Martin

george zimmerman and trayvon martin

Will Trayvon Martin get justice? At the way things are looking probably not as his cold-blooded racist killer George Zimmerman could probably walk because of Florida’s laws.

In the latest turn of events surrounding the murder trial, the jury was given the option Thursday of convicting him on the lesser charge of manslaughter in the shooting of the 17-year-old Martin.

The Associated Press reports that Judge Debra Nelson issued her ruling over the objections of Zimmerman’s lawyers shortly before a prosecutor delivered a closing argument in which he portrayed the defendant as an aspiring police officer who assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands.

“A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jurors. “He is dead because a man made assumptions. … Unfortunately because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks this Earth.”

Because of the judge’s ruling, the six jurors will have three options when they start deliberations as early as Friday: guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter and not guilty.

Zimmerman attorney Don West had argued an all-or-nothing strategy, saying the only charge that should be put before the jury is second-degree murder.

“The state has charged him with second-degree murder. They should be required to prove it,” West said. “If they had wanted to charge him with manslaughter … they could do that.”

To win a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors must prove Zimmerman showed ill will, hatred or spite – a burden the defense has argued the state failed to meet. To get a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors must show only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.

Allowing the jurors to consider manslaughter could give those who aren’t convinced the shooting amounted to murder a way to hold Zimmerman responsible for the death of the unarmed teen, said David Hill, an Orlando defense attorney with no connection to the case.

Because of the way Florida law imposes longer sentences for crimes committed with a gun, manslaughter could end up carrying a penalty as heavy as the one for second-degree murder: life in prison.

It is standard for prosecutors in Florida murder cases to ask that the jury be allowed to consider lesser charges that were not actually brought against the defendant. And it is not unusual for judges to grant such requests.

Zimmerman’s lawyers are expected to deliver their closing arguments Friday morning.

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