Prosecutor: Zimmerman's 'assumption' led to Trayvon Martin's death

July 11, 2013 at 4:41 PM
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SANFORD, Fla., July 11 (UPI) -- Because "certain assumptions" were made, a teen was fatally shot in Sanford, Fla., an assistant prosecutor told jurors in the murder trial of George Zimmerman.

"A teenager is dead," Assistant State Attorney Bernie de La Rionda said the beginning his closing statement, "because a man made certain assumptions ... and because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this Earth."

Prosecutors hope to convince the jury that Zimmerman, 29, committed second-degree murder when he shot and killed Martin, an unarmed, black 17-year-old.

De la Rionda said Trayvon Martin was an "innocent 17-year-old kid profiled as a criminal" by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"To quote the defendant, and pardon my language, he was one of those 'assholes' that get away," de la Rionda said. "[And] he wasn't going to get away this time."

"Hold the defendant responsible for his actions," de la Rionda said. "The law doesn't allow people to take the law into their own hands."

Thursday morning, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled the jury can consider manslaughter as a lesser offense, in addition to second-degree murder, the Sentinel said. Jurors have three verdict options: guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter or not guilty.

De La Rionda urged the jury to find Zimmerman "guilty of murder in the second degree" by relying on witness testimony and the facts of the case.

He described Zimmerman, a Hispanic-American, as a "wannabe cop" who was tired of the crime in his community.

"When you really honestly think about it, who was more scared? The kid that was minding his own business and going home," de la Rionda said. "Trayvon Martin unfortunately can't come into this courtroom and tell you how he was feeling."

The defense is expected to begin its closing statement Friday.

The Sentinel said if both sides adhere to a schedule Nelson announced Wednesday, the jury could begin deliberations Friday afternoon.

Zimmerman contends he feared being killed by the unarmed Martin, who he alleges knocked him down, punched him in the nose, straddled him on the ground and repeatedly slammed his head into the concrete pavement.

No one else clearly witnessed the altercation that led to the shooting.

The prosecution maintains Zimmerman, a volunteer Neighborhood Watch coordinator, pursued Martin, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking in the rain in a gated community where he was a guest. It alleges Zimmerman instigated the confrontation that ended in Martin's death.

Defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday without calling Zimmerman to the stand.

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