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George Zimmerman jurors go to deliberations

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   July 12, 2013 at 3:13 PM   |   Comments

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July 12 (UPI) -- Three weeks of testimony and months of pre-trial jostling between attorneys, the media and the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman has finally come to a close.

The fate of Zimmerman is now solely in the hands of the six-woman jury, who entered deliberations Friday afternoon. They can decide between second-degree murder, with which Zimmerman is charged, manslaughter, or self-defense.

The jurors filed out of the courtroom and began their deliberation moments after Judge Debra Nelson finished reading her final instructions.

"It is up to you to decide which evidence is reliable," she said. "You should use your common sense."

Nelson reminded the jurors that Zimmerman's decision not to testify in his own defense was not to be taken as an admission of guilty.

"It is not necessary for George Zimmerman to prove anything," she said.

In closing arguments Thursday, the prosecution tried to impress upon the jury the argument that Zimmerman had stalked Martin as a wannabe police officer to took it upon himself to be judge, jury, and ultimately executioner of a kid who looked like a criminal, then lied about it to police.

"The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to," Assistant State's Attorney John Guy said Friday, rebutting defense lawyer Mark O'Mara's closing argument. "He shot him because he wanted to. That's the bottom line."

For its part, Zimmerman's defense team relied on props -- a cement block, a human sized doll -- to emphasize the danger Zimmerman felt himself to be in.

"That's cement; that is a sidewalk," O'Mara said, indicating a block of cement he had lugged into the courtroom. "And that is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home."

"That was somebody who used the availability of dangerous items, from his fist to the concrete, to cause great bodily injury against George Zimmerman," he said.

O'Mara also cast doubt on the state's case against Zimmerman, arguing the prosecution had failed to remove reasonable doubt into Zimmerman's case for self-defense.

Florida law enforcement has ramped up in preparation for the verdict, fearing riots no matter which way the jury goes.

"This is a trying time for all of us," said Sanford, Fla. Police Chief Cecil Smith. "I'd like to remind everyone that the city of Sanford is a peaceful location and it has been since that time 17 months ago."

Sanford police have been going door-to-door speaking with residents, and in Miami-Dade County, where Martin lived with his mother, police have been keeping an eye on social media for trouble.

The case has sharply divided the nation, but ultimately, the only opinions that matter are those of the six women locked away, deliberating, in a Florida county court.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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