George Zimmerman jury asks question about manslaughter

Published On: Jul 13 2013 07:44:54 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 13 2013 09:14:49 PM EDT

The jury in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial asks the judge a question after nearly 11 and a half hours of deliberations.

SANFORD, Fla. -

The jury in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial asked the judge a question about manslaughter after nearly 11 and a half hours of deliberations.

[WATCH/CHAT LIVE: Tony Pipitone | READ: Jury instructions | Verdict form]

Judge Debra Nelson said the jury is seeking clarification about the instruction of the lesser charge of manslaughter.  Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford in February 2012, but Nelson allowed the state to also seek a charge of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

After discussing the jurors' question with state and defense attorneys, Nelson said court was in recess, allowing both sides to come up with an appropriate answer for the jury.

Around 6:45 p.m., the state said it had reached a near-agreement with the defense before citing several previous legal cases.  Nelson told the two sides to come up with exact wording to send to the jury, with both sides wanting to know what specific clarification the jury is seeking.

Nelson said the letter to the jury will inform the jurors that although the court cannot engage in general discussion, it may be able to answer a specific question.

The jury also requested dinner, and the court tweeted around 8:30 p.m. that deliberations were ongoing.  The jury has not yet responded back to the court.

The jurors returned to the Seminole County Courthouse to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. Saturday after adjourning for the night Friday at 6 p.m. without a decision.  Jurors paused deliberations from noon to 1 p.m. to eat lunch on site, the court tweeted, and they then asked the question about manslaughter just before 6 p.m.

The jury received their instructions  and the verdict forms from Nelson at 2 p.m Friday, and jurors deliberated for nearly three-and-a-half hours before calling it a day.  Earlier Friday, jurors heard the defense's three-hour closing argument and the state's 45-minute rebuttal.

About two hours into deliberations, which began at 2:28:.47 p.m. Friday, it was announced the jury had their first question.  Jurors asked for an inventory list of what's in evidence, including descriptions. Judge Debra S. Nelson made a list, the attorneys approved it and it was given to the jury a short time after the request.

Attorney Mark O'Mara presented the closing arguments for the defense Friday morning and prosecutor John Guy followed with the state's rebuttal.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda presented the state's closing arguments on Thursday.

On Friday, as the jury began their discussions, police and civic leaders in the Orlando suburb went on national television to plead for calm in Sanford and across the country, no matter what the verdict.

Although not large in number, several protesters -- on both sides -- gathered outside the courthouse to voice their opinions about the case.

The six-person, all-female jury will determine if Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder or of a lesser charge of manslaughter. The jury has been sequestered since opening statements on June 24.

[PICS: Zimmerman trial | SPECIAL SECTION: George Zimmerman trial]

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot Martin in self-defense.

In other famous court cases, deliberations and verdicts have varied.  Here are some of them, according to HLN:

Casey Anthony was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. The jury deliberated for 10 hours and 40 minutes.

In 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Jurors deliberated for less than four hours.

Scott Peterson was convicted of first-degree and second-degree murder for killing his wife and their unborn child. The jury deliberated for seven days.

After four days of deliberations, the Menendez brothers were convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing their parents.

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