Jury in Zimmerman case may consider other charges

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:10 pm | Updated: 8:12 pm, Thu Jul 11, 2013.

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge has denied a prosecution request to include third-degree murder as a lesser charge in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder charge.

Judge Debra Nelson ruled Wednesday, saying it was best to exercise caution.

Defense attorney Don West had objected strongly to the third-degree murder proposal since it is premised on the idea Zimmerman committed child abuse when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

West called the instruction "outrageous."

The judge earlier ruled manslaughter can be considered as a lesser charge.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A judge said Thursday that jurors in the George Zimmerman case can consider the lesser charge of manslaughter, but she delayed ruling on whether they may also consider third-degree murder after defense attorneys called the proposal "outrageous."

Prosecutor Richard Mantei argued that instructions for third-degree murder should be included on the premise that Zimmerman committed child abuse when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin because Martin was underage.

But defense attorney Don West called the proposed instruction "a trick," and he accused the prosecutor of springing it on the defense at the last minute.

"Just when I didn't think this case could get any more bizarre, the state is alleging child abuse?" West said. "This is outrageous. It's outrageous the state would seek to do this at this time."

Judge Debra Nelson says she will rule on the proposal later. The judge, however, agreed with the prosecution that jurors could consider manslaughter as a lesser charge.

West said he wanted the six jurors to only consider the second-degree murder charge or not guilty.

"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."

Jurors could begin deliberating as early as Friday. Prosecutors were expected to give closing arguments Thursday afternoon, followed by the defense closing on Friday morning.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. On the night of the fatal scuffle in February 2012, Martin was visiting his father and his father's fiancee at the same townhome complex where Zimmerman lived.

Zimmerman observed Martin while driving in his neighborhood, called police and the fight ensued after the neighborhood watch volunteer got out of his vehicle. Zimmerman claims Martin was slamming his head into the concrete pavement when he fired his gun.

Some civil rights activists argued that a delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin's race, and protests were held around the nation in the 44 days between the fatal fight and Zimmerman's arrest. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

___

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://twitter.com/khightower.

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

SUBMIT PHOTOS & VIDEOS | VIEW ALL PHOTOS & VIDEOS

Send your photos & videos to Pix@MySuncoast.com and you could be featured on ABC 7 & our website.