Running updates from the Zimmerman trial

Story highlights

  • The trial of George Zimmerman draws nearer to the beginning of jury deliberations
  • The prosecution begins its closing arguments Thursday afternoon
  • The defense will sum up its arguments Friday
  • The judge allows the lesser charge of manslaughter in addition to the murder charge
HLN, CNN's sister network, is covering the George Zimmerman trial, gavel to gavel. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. Here is testimony from Thursday:
[Updated at 4:21 p.m. ET]
The attorneys need to fix the jury instructions, where Zimmerman's name is spelled with a capital "I." The live blog will pick back up Friday for closing arguments, which are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. ET.
[Updated at 4:19 p.m. ET]
The judge has dismissed the jurors until 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday.
[Updated at 4:18 p.m. ET]
"I ask you to come back with a verdict that speaks the truth. A verdict that is just," de la Rionda says. "They can't take any more photos and that's true because of the actions of one person. The man before you. ... The man who is guilty of second-degree murder. Thank you." De la Rionda has concluded his closing argument.
[Updated at 4:17 p.m. ET]
"What a coincidence. The shot, all of a sudden the yelling stops," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda is flashing through several slides in his presentation, including one that says "self-defense vs. common sense."
[Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET]
"We don't have a big animation of how it happened. Did anyone see it out there?" asks de la Rionda. Zimmerman's defense had an animator make a 3D re-enactment of the shooting. Jurors may see it during the defense's closing argument.
[Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET]
"Victim didn't get to choose anything. Or anyone," says the presentation that de la Rionda puts up on the screen. He describes the lesser included charge of manslaughter.
[Updated at 4:09 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda puts up on the screen what is needed for a person to be convicted of second-degree murder.
[Updated at 4:07 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman knew the self-defense laws and knew what to tell police, says de la Rionda. The prosecutor also asks, "How many arms did Trayvon Martin need?" in order to accomplish everything Zimmerman said he did.
[Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda pulls out the dummy and straddles it, with his knees near the dummy's armpits.
"How does he get the gun out? Armpits -- how does he get the gun out?" asks de la Rionda.
[Updated at 4:03 p.m. ET]
"I feel like it was all God's plan and for me to second guess and judge it ..." Zimmerman said in the interview. He also said he wouldn't have done anything differently if he had a second chance.
"I don't know that I need to comment about that. It speaks for itself," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 4:01 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman told Fox News that Martin first saw the gun when they were on the ground and Zimmerman's shirt pulled up.
[Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET]
Fox News' Sean Hannity suggests in the interview that Martin may have been afraid, which is why he was running. Zimmerman says Martin was skipping, not running out of fear. De la Rionda skips in the courtroom.
[Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda is now playing Zimmerman's interview with Fox News, where he says the reporter was giving him "home run, easy questions."
[Updated at 3:54 p.m. ET]
Investigator Chris Serino tells Zimmerman on the video that Martin had a right to defend himself if he saw Zimmerman reaching in his pocket and thought he was getting a weapon (Zimmerman says he was going for his phone).
[Updated at 3:51 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda is now playing video of another one of Zimmerman's interviews with police. De la Rionda says Zimmerman was trying to impress them by using jargon and asking the officer how she keeps her firearm secured.
[Updated at 3:47 p.m. ET]
"I guess the victim has two or three arms. See if that all makes sense, what he's describing," de la Rionda says as he continues playing Zimmerman's re-enactment with police.
[Updated at 3:46 p.m. ET]
The prosecutor points out a sprinkler box on the video and asks if that could have caused some of Zimmerman's injuries.
[Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Zimmerman was caught in a lie when he freely listed the name of the street Martin was walking down. The prosecutor says Zimmerman told police earlier that he didn't know the street he was on, which is why he got out of his car.
"There's only three streets and he's lived there four years. Why did he have to lie about that?" asks de la Rionda.
[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda is playing parts of Zimmerman's re-enactment with police.
[Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman called Martin a "suspect" because, according to de la Rionda, he wanted to impress police.
[Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda shows a picture of Zimmerman's shoes, saying they're wet and have grass on them, which de la Rionda suggests shows Zimmerman wasn't on his back the entire time.
[Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman tells police on the audio that he was going for his phone when Martin punched him. De la Rionda says this was an excuse Zimmerman made to explain how Martin got the upper hand.
"Was he going for his phone or was he going for a gun?" asks de la Rionda.
[Updated at 3:28 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Zimmerman slips up at one point in his interview with police, saying he walked toward Martin, then switches to say Martin came at him.
[Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda pulls out Zimmerman's gun for jurors and shows where Zimmerman had it holstered.
"Look at the gun, look at the size of this gun -- how did the victim see it in the darkness?" asks de la Rionda. He also wants to know why Zimmerman put his gun away after shooting Martin, if he was still afraid of Martin.
[Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says it doesn't make sense that Martin could reach for Zimmerman's gun when he was using both hands to hit and smother Zimmerman.
[Updated at 3:21 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Zimmerman was trying to convince police he didn't do anything wrong.
"Of course, he hasn't taken his gun out, that would be illegal. He has the right to conceal it," says de la Rionda. "He's not in fear, he's just kind of wandering. Does that make sense?"
[Updated at 3:17 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman said he doesn't know the street names and said Martin was circling his car.
If he's really in such fear, de la Rionda asks, "why does he get out of the car?"
[Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda is playing Zimmerman's first interview with police. He says Zimmerman knew there wasn't any surveillance video taken of the shooting. Zimmerman told police he had hoped the shooting was recorded on video.
[Updated at 3:14 p.m. ET]
"Now he wants you to let him off because he killed the only eyewitness, the victim, Trayvon Martin, who was being followed by this man; who had the right to defend himself," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET]
The judge is back on the bench and the jury is being seated.
[Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET]
The judge has recessed court for 15 minutes.
[Updated at 2:49 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda points out how Martin's hands were under his body, while Zimmerman said he got on Martin's back and spread Martin's arms out after shooting him. A defense expert said Martin may have been able to move around for 10 to 15 seconds after being shot, but de la Rionda questions if Martin would have been able to lift himself up and put his arms under his body.
"I don't know, you decide," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET]
One of Martin's sweatshirt strings is longer than the other and de la Rionda asks if this could be because Zimmerman was pulling on it.
[Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda shows more photos from the scene that capture Martin's phone, Zimmerman's flashlight and Martin's body on the ground. The prosecutor says the button on Martin's sweatshirt may have affected how the sweater was hanging on him.
[Updated at 2:43 p.m. ET]
The prosecutor shows photos from the scene and says it's dark and raining, but also points out there is no blood in the photos. He also brings up a question in regard to Zimmerman saying his head was being bashed against the concrete: "Why isn't his jacket all torn up or at least scratched up?"
[Updated at 2:42 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda: "Who was following who? Who was chasing who? Who had the right, if they were being chased? Does the victim have the right to self-defense when he's being chased by this person?"
[Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET]
"There was a struggle. At some points it appears ... the defendant was on top and at some points the victim was on top. ... But why did it occur?" de la Rionda asks.
[Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says eyewitness John Good saw a struggle but never saw Zimmerman's hands. The prosecutor asks if Zimmerman already had his gun out at this point.
"Was he (Martin) trying to protect himself from that gun? Is that what the struggle was about? That at some point this defendant had the gun?" de la Rionda asks.
[Updated at 2:34 p.m. ET]
"Poor defendant, poor George Zimmerman, he just kind of took it. ... He never did anything. Compare the sizes. Oh, and at the last minute, he was able to take out that gun and he was able to just shoot him," de la Rionda says. "Oh, but of course he's just a pudgy, overweight man. ... But he's the one who's had MMA training of some time."
[Updated at 2:31 p.m. ET]
An eyewitness who had a good vantage point, according to de la Rionda, saw the "bigger man" on top and thought the yelling for help was coming from the younger person. This witness's name is Jane Surdyka.
[Updated at 2:28 p.m. ET]
De le Rionda displays a map of Zimmerman's neighborhood.
"Of course, he claims to not know the street he comes in on every day, in and out," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 2:27 p.m. ET]
The part of the non-emergency call where Zimmerman says, "these (expletive) always get away" is played. De la Rionda says it's ill will and hatred because Zimmerman was tired of the crimes and didn't want this guy to get away.
[Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Jeantel did lie about her age, because she didn't want to come forward, and also lied about going to the funeral, because she didn't want to see Martin's body.
[Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET]
"I had a dream ... that today, a witness would be judged not on the color of her personality, but on the content of her testimony," says de la Rionda. He also says Jeantel's testimony matches up with the evidence.
[Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says jurors will be able to look at the prosecution's timeline in the case.
He then addresses Martin's friend, Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with him before he was shot.
"This young lady is not a very sophisticated person ... but she's a human being. ... Maybe her speech, language was a little colorful. But did she speak the truth? Because when you think of it, she was the person that was speaking to the victim and really the conversation that she had with the victim, nobody would know whether she's telling the truth but her," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET]
"Do you believe he just assumed something but he kind of overreacted a little bit but it really wasn't his fault Trayvon Martin is dead?" asks de la Rionda. "Who started this? Who followed who? Who was minding their own business? Who was the one who was armed and knew they were armed?"
[Updated at 2:16 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda tells jurors how he thinks they should reach a verdict: Rely on the witness/testimony/evidence, rely on the law the judge reads to them and "you rely on your God-given common sense." He tells them a just verdict is a guilty verdict.
[Updated at 2:14 p.m. ET]
The prosecutor says it was good that Zimmerman wanted to be a police officer, but you can't take the law into your own hands -- that's why we have courtrooms.
[Updated at 2:12 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Zimmerman didn't do several things: Ask Martin if he needed help, roll down his window and identify himself as neighborhood watch, wait for police, wait inside his car.
"Use your God-given common sense," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET]
On a presentation display, de la Rionda shows all of the assumptions he says Zimmerman made: That Martin didn't belong in the neighborhood, that he was a criminal and that he was one of those (expletive) who always get away.
[Updated at 2:09 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Zimmerman has studied the law and what's required for self-defense.
[Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET]
"He (Zimmerman) doesn't know the main street you go in? Because see, when he admits something like that, it proves one thing, that he was following him (Martin). That he had profiled him and he was following him. And that shows his guilt. It shows his actions, unfortunately, led to the death of Trayvon Martin," de la Rionda says.
"He, the defendant, silenced Trayvon Martin. But even in silence, his body provides evidence as to this defendant's guilt. ... His body speaks to you and even in death it proves to you that this defendant is lying about what happened," says de la Rionda, who points out that no blood was found on Martin's hands.
[Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda asks why Zimmerman "exaggerated everything that happened." Zimmerman kept denying that he followed Martin, according to de la Rionda, because he knew it would show ill will.
[Updated at 2:04 p.m. ET]
"Do you have an innocent man before you? Is it really self-defense when you follow somebody? First of all, when you profile somebody incorrectly?" asks de la Rionda.
[Updated at 2:02 p.m. ET]
"The law doesn't allow people to take the law into their own hands," says de la Rionda. "This defendant didn't give Trayvon Martin a chance."
The prosecutor asks why Zimmerman got out of the car if he thought Martin was a threat.
"Why? Why, because he's got the gun, he has the equalizer," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 2:01 p.m. ET]
"The law talks about accountability and responsibility for one's actions. ... Hold him accountable for what he did," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 1:58 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman had the right to have a concealed weapon, de la Rionda says. But he points out that Martin wasn't armed. He puts up a photo of Zimmerman, taken by police, alongside the last photo taken of Martin, during his autopsy.
[Updated at 1:56 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda says Martin was probably more scared because a man was following him in a vehicle. But he says Martin can't come in and testify because of the actions of Zimmerman.
Zimmerman shows no emotion during de la Rionda's closing argument.
[Updated at 1:54 p.m. ET]
"He (Martin) was wearing a hoodie -- last I heard that wasn't against the law. But in this man's eyes, he was up to no good. He presumed something that was not true," de la Rionda says. "It's good that citizens get involved but he went over the line."
The prosecutor is showing a presentation -- yellow text on a blue background -- as he speaks.
[Updated at 1:50 p.m. ET]
The events leading up to Martin's death started months before, according to de la Rionda. He's playing Zimmerman's initial interview with police where he starts off by telling investigators how the neighborhood has had a lot of crimes recently. On the audio, Zimmerman describes how he decided to start a neighborhood watch program.
"Now, those actions weren't anything sinister or terrible or evil or of ill will," says de la Rionda. "But in this particular case, it led to the death of an innocent 17-year-old boy because this defendant made the wrong assumption. He profiled him as a criminal. He assumed certain things, that Trayvon Martin was up to no good. And that is what led to his death."
[Updated at 1:46 p.m. ET]
De la Rionda shows jurors one of the last photos taken of Martin. He says Zimmerman didn't try to revive Martin after shooting him, like the police officer who gave Martin mouth-to-mouth without a barrier mask.
"Those actions speak volumes of what occurred that evening. ... They speak volumes of this defendant's actions," says de la Rionda.
[Updated at 1:43 p.m. ET]
"A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions. That man assumed certain things. He's dead not just because the man made those assumptions -- because he acted upon those assumptions. And unfortunately -- unfortunately because his assumptions were wrong -- Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this earth," de la Rionda says.
[Updated at 1:42 p.m. ET]
Prosecutor de la Rionda rests the state's case. The judge is now reading instructions to the jury about closing arguments.
[Updated at 1:39 p.m. ET]
The jury is being seated. Our producer, who is inside the courtroom, says prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda has pulled out all the props, including a mannequin, Martin's hooded sweatshirt, etc. Zimmerman's parents and wife are in the courtroom, as are Martin's parents and relatives.
[Updated at 1:37 p.m. ET]
The judge tells prosecutors they need to officially rest in front of the jurors. The attorneys are at a sidebar.
[Updated at 1:34 p.m. ET]
The judge is on the bench.
[Updated at 1:31 p.m. ET]
One of our producers, who is inside the courtroom, says a plain-clothes investigator has brought in the mannequin that was used in demos on Wednesday.
[Updated at 1:11 p.m. ET:]
The judge has recessed court so attorneys can finalize the wording in the jury instructions. She says closing arguments will now begin at 1:40 p.m. ET.
[Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET]
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara is back in the courtroom, looking over West's shoulder as they flip through the instructions. O'Mara is giving the defense's closing argument and took the morning session to prepare.
[Updated at 1:09 p.m. ET]
The verdict form should now have guilty of second-degree murder at the top, guilty of manslaughter after that and then not guilty as the third option. Only one lesser charge -- manslaughter -- will be going to the jury.
[Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET]
The judge says she doesn't believe there's enough evidence to support putting third-degree felony charges in front of the jury. She's going to take it off the jury instructions.
[Updated at 1:02 p.m. ET]
Prosecutor Richard Mantei is submitting more cases to the judge to support his argument of why the jury should be able to consider third-degree felony murder in this case.
[Updated at 1:00 p.m. ET]
The judge is back on the bench.
[Updated at 11:54 a.m. ET]
Nelson says she is going to recess for lunch, and when court resumes they will take up the issue of third-degree murder charge. The live blog will pick back up when court resumes at 1 p.m. ET.
[Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET]
West asks the court to put the not guilty option on the first page of the verdict form. Nelson says very flatly she was not going to to that.
[Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET]
Nelson now wants to move on to the verdict form that will be given to the jurors to fill out.
[Updated at 11:41 a.m. ET]
West is arguing all the facts in the case that support the idea that Zimmerman was in great bodily harm. He says he was being punched in the face, and his head was being slammed on a sidewalk. West says the court is skating on "very thin ice" with the prosecution's definition of great bodily harm.
[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET]
The attorneys are now arguing over the definition of great bodily harm.
[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET]
Nelson says it seems the issue with third-degree felony murder is whether the facts fit into the charge. If the facts fit, Zimmerman will be charged with it as a matter of law, because the court does not have discretion on this matter.
[Updated at 11:33 a.m. ET]
West says he has no objection to the manslaughter instruction, so Nelson will give the standard instruction on manslaughter.
[Updated at 11:31 a.m. ET]
Nelson has rattled through several issues with the jury instructions without objections for either side. She has now moved back to the issue of a third-degree felony murder charge on the basis of felony child abuse. She says she is going to look at that issue and will give West some time to review the issue of third-degree felony issue.
[Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET]
Nelson has moved on to the instructions regarding experts and how much they make. Nelson says she will not give that instruction to the jurors.
[Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET]
Nelson says she is not going to give the circumstantial evidence instruction to the jury.
[Updated at 11:24 a.m. ET]
West has cautioned the court to not confuse the jury about the significance of circumstantial evidence.
[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET]
West says circumstantial evidence is not as reliable as direct evidence and the jury does need to be told that in the instructions.
[Updated at 11:18 a.m. ET]
West is arguing that a specific instruction on circumstantial evidence is not necessary, because of other instructions given to the jury.
[Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET]
Nelson has moved on to the jury instruction regarding circumstantial evidence.
[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET]
Nelson says she will not include that following Martin was a lawful activity. She sternly told West not to continue to disagree after she has made a ruling. The defense will be allowed to tell the jury during closing arguments that following Martin the night of the shooting was a lawful activity.
[Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET]
Mantei says the jury should be free to consider the whether Zimmerman followed Martin when deciding who provoked the fight.
[Updated at 11:07 a.m. ET]
West says if the jurors think Zimmerman following Martin was illegal, they must be told in the instructions that it wasn't or they will be confused.
[Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET]
Nelson is talking about how a comma needs to removed from the jury instructions, because the comma has caused cases to be reversed in the past.
[Updated at 11:02 a.m. ET]
West says Zimmerman's actions of trying to help law enforcement cannot be considered provocation. Physical force or threat of physical force is provocation, according to West.
[Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET]
Mantei is arguing again that evidence exists that Zimmerman may have provoked the fight, and it is up to the jury to decide who provoked who on the night of the shooting.
[Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET]
Zimmerman is closing his eyes as the attorneys argue over who provoked who the night of the shooting.
[Updated at 10:53 a.m. ET]
West says the facts do not support Mantei's accusation that Martin provoked the fight.
[Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET]
The attorneys are now arguing, regarding the jury instructions, about what it means to provoke a fight, and its legal ramifications. Mantei says Zimmerman provoked the altercation because he followed Martin on the night of the shooting.
[Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET]
Mantei says West's definition of "justifiable use of deadly force" is applicable, but it is not, as West claims, the only definition.
[Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET]
West calls the prosecution definition of "justifiable use of deadly force" another "trick." Nelson says she doesn't want to hear the word "trick" again.
[Updated at 10:42 a.m. ET]
West is objecting to the prosecution's definition of "justifiable use of deadly force."
[Updated at 10:37 a.m. ET]
Zimmerman has been taking notes as West argues passionately for his cause. Prosecutor Mantei has moved on to the self-defense jury instructions.
[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET]
West is calling the prosecution's actions a "trick." Nelson says she understands West's argument, and will come back to this issue.
[Updated at 10:33 a.m. ET]
Nelson says the law says that third-degree murder is a lesser included charge of second-degree murder.
[Updated at 10:32 a.m. ET]
West appears to be very upset, and frustrated with the prosecution.
[Updated at 10:31 a.m. ET]
West says the third-degree felony was sprung on him at the last minute, and he is not prepared to make an argument about the third-degree felony murder.
[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET]
"Just when I thought this case couldn't get anymore bizarre. The state is seeking third-degree murder based on child abuse. Is the court going to give this any serious contention or consideration, because if so we have a lot of talking to do," West says.
[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET]
Mantei says the self-defense would apply to all the charges being considered in this case. West is now arguing before in the court.
[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET]
Mantei is now talking about the elements required of third-degree murder saying the jury must find the defendant was committing a felony and as a result of the felony someone died.
[Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET]
Mantei is explaining to the court multiple cases where third-degree murder was charged against the defendant.
[Updated at 10:16 a.m. ET]
Mantei is buttressing his argument with examples from case law now.
[Updated at 10:14 a.m. ET]
Mantei is arguing why Zimmerman should also be charged with third-degree felony murder. Mantei says the basis for the charge is that Zimmerman committed the felony of child abuse that resulted in death.
[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET]
Nelson says that based on case law she will charge Zimmerman with manslaughter. Nelson is now asking if there are any objections the manslaughter jury instruction.
[Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET]
Prosecutor Mantei is giving his argument as to why Florida law demands that lesser included charges in this case.
[Updated at 10:04 a.m. ET]
Prosecutors are no longer seeking the lesser included charge of aggravated assault. They are now asking that Zimmerman be charged with third-degree felony murder.
[Updated at 10:03 a.m. ET]
Nelson is asking Zimmerman if he understands that his attorneys are objecting to the lesser included charges and that his attorney plans to argue during his closing argument that it's either second-degree murder or not guilty.
[Updated at 10:01 a.m. ET]
Judge Nelson says she just wants uniformity in regards to George Zimmerman or defendant so it will be George Zimmerman throughout the jury instructions. Nelson is reading through the merged version of the jury instructions.
[Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET]
Prosecutor Rich Mantei is objecting the defense's request to have any reference to "the defendant" replaced with "George Zimmerman" throughout the jury instructions.
[Updated at 9:56 a.m. ET]
Nelson is back on the bench, and West is bringing up an issue related to the charge of manslaughter, but says that can be addressed later.
The attorneys have merged a version of the jury instructions that merges the prosecution's and defense's drafts.
[Updated at 9:09 a.m. ET]
Nelson has recessed court for 30 minutes to allow the parties to review both the prosecution's and the defense's proposed versions of jury instructions.
[Updated at 9:07 a.m. ET]
West is explaining what he has done the defense's suggested version of the jury instructions.
[Updated at 9:03 a.m. ET]
Judge Debra Nelson is on the bench. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara is preparing his closing argument so he will not be present for the hearing this morning.
[Updated at 8:58 a.m. ET]
Zimmerman is in the courtroom, and today's proceedings should begin shortly.