State gives closing arguments in George Zimmerman trial
Updated On: Jul 12 2013 09:14:44 AM EDT
Closing arguments began on Thursday in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial with the state's two-hour summary of its case.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with shooting and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled on Thursday that the jury may also consider a lesser manslaughter charge for Zimmerman, but not third-degree murder, as the state requested.
The defense will begin its closing arguments at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. The state will get 45 minutes on Friday for their rebuttal argument.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal as he followed the teen through the townhome complex where Zimmerman lived and Martin was visiting.
"A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions. He acted on those assumptions," de la Rionda started off saying. "Because of that, Trayvon Martin no longer walks on this earth," showing the jury a picture of Martin.
De la Rionda pointed directly at Zimmerman as he said Martin was dead because of the actions of "the man before you," adding that Zimmerman didn't try to resuscitate Martin.
He then played Zimmerman's first statement to the jurors with Sanford police investigator Doris Singleton.
"This neighborhood has had a lot of crimes ... so I decided to start a neighborhood watch," Zimmerman said in the tape.
"He (Zimmerman) profiled him as a criminal profiled him as a criminal, assumed ... Trayvon Martin was up to no good and that led to his death ... what was his crime?" de al Rionda said, showing the jurors Martin's Skittles and Arizona drink.
De la Rionda said Zimmerman went over the line.
"He was gonna be what he wanted to be: a police officer," de la Rionda said, asking the jurors who they thought was more scared--the "kid being followed by a truck" or Zimmerman.
De la Rionda said Zimmerman may not have shouted Martin was a "f****** punk" and that Zimmerman thought "these a******* always get away" but he showed what he was thinking.
"The law doesn't allow people to take the law into their own hands," de la Rionda said, asking the jurors to hold Zimmerman accountable for his actions.
"Why did he get out of his truck? Why? Because he's got a gun!" de la Rionda said of ZImmerman. "He's a wannabe cop"
No juror nodded in agreement as de la Rionda said, "is it really self-defense when you follow somebody?"
De la Rionda then attacked Zimmerman not knowing the street name after living in the Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood in Sanford for four years and for Zimmerman denying he followed Martin because "that would show ill will."
"Zimmerman silenced Trayvon Martin, but even in silence his body provides evidence of guilty ... proves the defendant is lying," de la Rionda said.
He then attacked the defense's claim that rain washed blood off of Martin's hands but not off of Zimmerman's. "You can't have it both ways," he said.
De la Rionda asked jurors to rely on three things: witnesses, the law and "your God-given common sense."
Jurors remained still even when de la Rionda asked, "do you believe there's an innocent man sitting there right now?"
De la Rionda then discussed Witness 8 Rachel Jeantel's testimony, saying that she's "not the most sophisticated, not the most educated," but asks jurors "did she speak the truth?" De la Rionda asked if Jeantel should be disregarded because she can't read cursive and is Haitian?
He then paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream speech" to encourage the jury from improperly, unfairly judging Jeantel.
"She's telling the truth," de la Rionda said, adding that Jeantel did lie about being in the hospital keeping her from going to Martin's funeral.
De la Rionda said the lack of Martin's DNA on Zimmerman's gun "refutes" Zimmerman's purported claim to his friend, Mark Osterman, that Martin grabbed his gun.
After a short break, de la Rionda resumed closing arguments by saying, "Two people. One shot to death and one who repeatedly lies about how it happened ... and he wants you to let him off."
De la Rionda then highlighted Zimmerman's discrepancies about Martin coming out of the bushes and Zimmerman saying he was afraid but got out of his truck anyways.
"He's trying to make up one lie after the other after the other," de la Rionda said.
The defense objected to de la Rionda citing improper statement of case law, perhaps regarding whether it was illegal for Zimmerman to remove his gun when he was first confronted.
Jurors started taking notes for the first time during the closings when de la Rionda argued about the gun placement. He then showed the video reenactment of Zimmerman and de la Rionda said Zimmerman knew the name of the street he couldn't remember the night before.
The jurors then saw Zimmerman's video interview at the Sanford Police Department. De la Rionda ended his closing arguments by getting to the elements on the crime.
More than 50 state and defense witnesses were called over the last two-and-a-half weeks.
The state began its case on June 24 after nearly two weeks of jury selection and rested on July 5, calling 38 witnesses. Testimony included Martin’s mother, who said it was Martin who was screaming on the background of the 911 calls.
The defense began its case July 5 and rested on July 10, calling 18 witnesses, many of whom testifying that it was Zimmerman’s voice in the background of the 911 calls. Former Sanford police chief Bill Lee also testified.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman never testified about the fatal struggle with Martin, a 17-year-old Miami teen who was not armed. Jurors, however, saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his story to investigators.
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