SANFORD, Fla. – Prosecutors presented their closing arguments Thursday in the George Zimmerman trial, accusing the 29-year-old defendant of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
“A teenager is dead,” opened lead state attorney Bernie de la Rionda. “He is dead because another man made assumptions.”
De la Rionda presented photographs in evidence of Trayvon Martin’s body and pictures of the injuries suffered by Zimmerman in the altercation leading up to the shooting.
“When you honestly think about it, who was more scared?” asked de la Rionda whose closing came after several hours spent earlier Thursday hammering out jury instructions. Those instructions were expanded past the original second-degree murder charge to include manslaughter.
In this case, second-degree murder carries a minimum of 25 years in prison while the manslaughter charge carries a maximum of 30 years behind bars.
“Is it really self defense when you follow somebody?” de la Rionda asked the jury.
De la Rionda summarized the state’s argument during trial, alleging that Zimmerman profiled and followed Martin and then lied in later statements to cover up the fact that he pursued the young man out of “ill-will and spite.”
Those two elements of second-degree murder were evidenced by Zimmerman’s words to a 911 dispatcher, he said.
“F****** punks,” de la Rionda emphasized. Zimmerman “muttered it under his breath”, de la Rionda noted, suggesting that the comment showed Zimmerman’s ill-will toward Martin.
Recalling the testimony of Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel, de la Rionda invoked Martin Luther King Jr.: “A witness will not be judged on the color of her personality but by the content of her testimony,” de la Rionda said, modifying the civil rights leader’s most famous words.
Jeantel was on the phone with Martin moments before the altercation with Zimmerman and testified that she thought that he was attacked by Zimmerman. De la Rionda has acknowledged that she had lied in previous statements about her age and whereabouts during Martin’s wake.
For his closing argument, de la Rionda wove in police statements and video of a re-enactment Zimmerman conducted with police the day after the shooting, attempting to expose the defendant’s inconsistencies to the jury.
“See if that all makes sense, what he’s describing,” he said.
Zimmerman shook his head during de la Rionda’s statements when the prosecutor asked, “Was he going for his phone or was he going for his gun?”
“I ask you to come back with a verdict that speaks the truth,” he said at the end of his two-hour statement, before walking toward Zimmerman, pointing at him and calling him “the man who is guilty of second-degree murder.”
Zimmerman, again, quietly shook his head.
The defense will present their closing arguments Friday morning at which point the state will have the opportunity to offer a rebuttal closing statement.
Press officers at Seminole County courthouse have said that the jury is allowed to deliberate over the weekend.
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