By: Taren Vaughan
On Day 12, another member of George Zimmerman’s family took the stand and gave their testimony, in addition to a neighbor who used to live in the neighborhood where the fatal altercation took place between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Today in court, the closing arguments began in the Trayvon Martin murder trial with the prosecution. And during his presentation of the prosecution’s argument, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said the reason why Trayvon Martin is no longer alive is because he was “tracked” by George Zimmerman on the night he was fatally shot, USA Today reports:
Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman “tracked” and then shot Trayvon Martin instead of waiting for police to arrive, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jury at Zimmerman’s murder trial.
De la Rionda, presenting the prosecution’s closing argument, accused Zimmerman of taking the law into his own hands during their February 2012 confrontation.
Using a projector, de la Rionda showed jurors a photo of Zimmerman taken at the police station the night of the shooting — alongside a close up of Trayvon’s dead body.
De la Rionda noted that Trayvon’s hands had no blood on them, said his hoodie string may have been pulled down by Zimmerman in a struggle.
“His (Trayvon’s) body speaks to you,” de la Rionda said. “It proves to you that this defendant is lying about what happened.”
De la Rionda focused on his theory that Trayvon was an innocent teen who was wrongly profiled and murdered by Zimmerman. De la Rionda told jury the key word in the prosecution case was “assumptions.”
“He automatically assumed that Trayvon Martin was a criminal and that is why we are here,” de la Rionda said of Zimmerman. Later he said Trayvon was not trespassing in the gated community, but rather was being a normal teen making a trip to the store.
Bernie de la Rionda also made George Zimmerman appear as person who already knew he could defeat Trayvon Martin in a confrontation during his presentation:
“He’s got a gun, he’s got the equalizer,” de la Rionda said. He asked the six-woman jury to use “your God-given common sense” and find the former neighborhood watch volunteer guilty of second-degree murder.
Earlier today in court, Judge Nelson agreed to add manslaughter to the second-degree murder charge George Zimmerman is already facing. However, she rejected prosecutors’ request to add a third-degree murder charge:
“They aren’t going to go all or nothing,” said Jose Baez, a Florida criminal defense attorney, of state prosecutors. “They aren’t blind to the fact that they haven’t proven second-degree murder.” Baez successfully defended Casey Anthony, a Florida mother accused of killing her daughter in a high-profile capital murder case.
Florida criminal defense attorney Elizabeth Parker has been monitoring the case closely and she said the third-degree murder count could bring a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. The prosecution was considering trying to add aggravated assault to the list of charges George Zimmerman faces but they decided against it. The third-degree murder charge request made by the prosecution caused a heated argument to occur:
The third-degree murder charge request drew a heated argument. Third-degree murder can involve death that results from committing a felony, even if the accused did not mean to kill the victim.
Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei, arguing for the count, said Zimmerman committed “child abuse” — a felony — on Trayvon.
Don West argued against their claim, saying child abuse had never been mentioned during the trial. He called the attempt to add the third-degree murder charge a “trick by the state.”
Judge Debra Nelson will allow George Zimmerman’s attorneys approximately three hours to give their closing argument on Friday and the state will get one hour to present any rebuttal statements after that. There is a possibility jury deliberations will begin tomorrow.
Here are the clips from Day 13 of the trial: