Running updates from the Zimmerman trial

Story highlights

  • The trial of George Zimmerman nears the beginning of jury deliberations
  • The closing arguments have concluded
  • The judge is set to give the jurors their instructions after the lunch break
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 the action from Friday:
[Updated at 2:28 p.m. ET]
Nelson has sent the jury back to deliberate.
[Updated at 2:27 p.m. ET]
The first item for the jury to do when deliberations begin is to elect a forewoman.
[Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET]
The Fort Lauderdale/Broward County NAACP held a town hall meeting Thursday night to discuss the case and potential outcomes in the Zimmerman trial. Authorities, local leaders, and activists are pleading for peace from the public, according to HLN affiliate WSVN.
[Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET]
The jurors verdict must be unanimous. Nelson is reading the verdict form the jury will fill out.
[Updated at 2:22 p.m. ET]
Nelson said told the jurors their feelings about the attorneys in this case cannot influence their verdict.
[Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET]
It is up to the jurors to decide what evidence is the most "reliable," and they must use what they consider the "best" evidence.
[Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET]
Nelson is explaining Zimmerman's presumption of innocence, and the prosecution's burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
[Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET]
Nelson is now reading the definition for justifiable use of deadly force.
[Updated at 2:12 p.m. ET]
Nelson is reading the elements of manslaughter the prosecution must prove to convict Zimmerman of this lesser included crime.
[Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET]
Nelson has now moved on to the lesser included charge of manslaughter.
[Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET]
Nelson is explaining to the jury what facts they must find to be true beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder.
[Updated at 2:04 p.m. ET]
Nelson is about to read the instructions to jurors.
[Updated at 2:01 p.m. ET]
Judge Nelson is on the bench, and the jury is being seated.
[Updated at 1:59 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman is in the courtroom. The proceedings should begin shortly.
[Updated at 12:54 p.m. ET]
The judge has recessed the court for lunch, until 2 p.m. ET. The live blog will resume then.
[Updated at 12:53 p.m. ET]
The judge asks the jurors if they would like the instructions read now or after lunch. They say after lunch.
[Updated at 12:51 p.m. ET]
"This case is not about race, it's about right and wrong. It's that simple," Guy says. He asks the jurors to reverse the roles and imagine Zimmerman walking home in the rain with a hoodie and Martin with "hate in his heart" driving around in the car.
"If it was Trayvon Martin who had shot and killed George Zimmerman, what would your verdict be? That's how you know, it's not about race. To the living we owe respect but to the dead we owe the truth."
[Updated at 12:49 p.m. ET]
The judge tells jurors she will be instructing them on the law before they deliberate.
[Updated at 12:49 p.m. ET]
"A reasonable doubt needs to be two things: It needs to be reasonable, common-sense reasonable. And it needs to go to an element of the crime," Guy says.
O'Mara apologizes for interrupting and asks the judge if he can approach the bench. The attorneys are at a sidebar.
[Updated at 12:46 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman's statements were self-serving, according to Guy. He says Zimmerman gave so many statements not because he was innocent but because he needed to justify his actions.
[Updated at 12:44 p.m. ET]
Guy says Zimmerman knew there was a neighbor (John Good) just a few feet away and that other neighbors were opening their doors.
"Who lost the fight?" Guy asks. "Did he (Zimmerman) really need to shoot, did he have to shoot, Trayvon Martin? No, he didn't."
[Updated at 12:41 p.m. ET]
"Your verdict is not going to bring Trayvon Benjamin Martin back to life. Your verdict is not going to change the past. But it will forever define it," Guy says. "So what is that? What is that when a grown man, frustrated, angry, with hate in his heart, gets out of his car with a loaded gun and follows a child? A stranger? In the dark? And shoots him through him heart? What is that? Is that nothing? That's not anything? Is that where we are? That's nothing?"
[Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET]
"It's not like TV where all the witnesses are well-dressed, well-educated actors and actresses. There are no Rachel Jeantels on CSI," Guy says. "In real life, we give you everything: The good, the bad, the indifferent."
[Updated at 12:36 p.m. ET]
Guy says Zimmerman didn't tell anyone to call an ambulance after shooting Martin.
"He just stood there and he watched and he waited while Trayvon Martin was face-down. The bottom line is, who is responsible for Trayvon Martin lying on that ground? Trayvon Martin did not kill himself," Guy says.
[Updated at 12:35 p.m. ET]
Guy says Zimmerman was taught to not be a vigilante and to call the police instead of taking the law into his own hands.
[Updated at 12:32 p.m. ET]
"This case is not about standing your ground. It's about staying in your car," Guy says.
[Updated at 12:31 p.m. ET]
"Do you think for a second, seriously, that if Trayvon Martin had seen that gun ever, there'd be a gunshot at 90 degrees in the center of his chest? Do you think that? Mr. Softie was going to be able to get a shot directly through the center of his chest with Trayvon Martin knowing that gun was there, fighting for his life?"
[Updated at 12:29 p.m. ET]
Guy walks through a presentation, outlining all the places he contends Zimmerman lied.
[Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET]
"If Trayvon Martin was the one on the hunt, would he still have been on his cell phone?" Guy asks.
[Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET]
"If that defendant thought he missed Trayvon Martin, thought Trayvon Martin was still alive ... why would he stop yelling for help? Why, if he was in fear? Does that make any sense? Of course not," Guy says. "This isn't a complicated case, it's a common-sense case. And it's not a case about self-defense, it's a case about self-denial -- George Zimmerman's."
[Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET]
Zimmerman wouldn't have been able to reach his gun if Martin was straddling him like he said he was, according to Martin.
"He couldn't have gotten the gun -- he couldn't have. It's a physical impossibility. The only way that defendant gets to his gun, the only way, {is} Trayvon Martin's getting off of him or he had backed up so far on his legs that he couldn't hit him. The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to, he shot him because he wanted to. That's the bottom line."
[Updated at 12:19 p.m. ET]
Guy says the defense's 3D animation only shows them what amounts to the last chapter of a book.
"Let me suggest to you that you start at the beginning," Guy says. "That child had every right to do what he was doing -- walking home. That child had every right to be afraid of a strange man following him -- first in his car, then on foot. And did that child not have the right to defend himself from that strange man? Did Trayvon Martin not also have that right?"
[Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET]
Defense attorney O'Mara had asked in his closing argument what Martin was doing for four minutes.
"Well, what was the defendant doing for two minutes? Watch the walkthrough again -- watch it. ... He wasn't going back to his car," Guy said. "I'm asking you to use your common sense, use your heart, use what you know is real."
[Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET]
"What was in Trayvon Martin's heart? Was it not fear. ... Was that child not in fear when he was running from that defendant? Isn't that every child's worst nightmare? To be followed on the way home in the dark, by a stranger? Isn't that every child's worst fear? That was Trayvon Martin's last emotion," Guy said.
[Updated at 12:07 p.m. ET]
Prosecutor John Guy starts his rebuttal closing argument.
"The human heart, it has a great many functions. ... It moves us, it motivates us, it inspires us, it leads us and it guides us -- our hearts," Guy says. "If we really want to know what happened ... should we not look into the heart of the grown man and the heart of that child? What will that tell us about what really happened out there?"
[Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET]
The judge is on the bench and the jury is being seated.
[Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET]
The judge has recessed the court for 10 minutes.
[Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET]
O'Mara thanks jurors for their time. "I want you to really, really look at those instructions and apply them, say he acted in self-defense and find him not guilty," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET]
"You go back there, first thing you might want to consider doing -- do you have a reasonable doubt that my client may have acted in self-defense?" O'Mara asks. "And if you reach that conclusion you get to stop. You really do. Why? Because self-defense is a defense to everything. To littering, to speeding, to battery, to grand theft, to assault, to manslaughter, to second-degree ... It's an easy decision."
[Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says Zimmerman was the victim of ill will, spite and hatred that night.
[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET]
"That's cement; that is a sidewalk. 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," O'Mara says as he places a block of concrete on the courtroom floor.
[Updated at 11:38 a.m. ET]
O'Mara tells the jury it's not illegal for someone to follow someone else.
[Updated at 11:36 a.m. ET]
"The knife coming at you could be rubber, (but) as long as you perceive it to be steel," it is self-defense, O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET]
O'Mara is explaining self-defense.
"He doesn't have to think he was going to die. He does not have to think he was going to die. He does have to think he was going to be injured greatly," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:32 a.m. ET]
"Don't bring your assumptions, don't bring your presumptions. ... You don't have that luxury in a criminal courtroom. You don't. You only get to decide upon what you are certain of," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET]
O'Mara explains how to determine the credibility of the witnesses who testified. He also goes over the rules of deliberation.
[Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET]
"I almost wish that the verdict (form) had guilty, not guilty and completely innocent -- because I would ask you to check that one," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:27 a.m. ET]
O'Mara defines and explains reasonable doubt to the jury.
[Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET]
Zimmerman's back was wet and grassy, while Martin's knees were wet, says O'Mara, which shows Martin was on top during the altercation.
[Updated at 11:24 a.m. ET]
If Zimmerman wanted to deceive police, then why did he give so many statements, O'Mara asks.
[Updated at 11:21 a.m. ET]
O'Mara also holds up a photo of a shirtless Martin, taken three months before the shooting. He tells jurors to consider this photo, not the one taken at Martin's autopsy.
"A dead person on a slab has an impact on you. ... The other thing about autopsy photographs, there's no muscle tone," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:18 a.m. ET]
O'Mara holds up life-size cutouts of Zimmerman and Martin, telling jurors to notice the height difference. He also has Zimmerman stand up briefly next to the cutout of Martin.
[Updated at 11:16 a.m. ET]
O'Mara holds up photos taken of Martin's gunshot wound, pointing out that the blood was not present in one of them. He says the evidence was mishandled.
[Updated at 11:13 a.m. ET]
"That's the face of the frustration," O'Mara says about neighbor Olivia Bertalan. She testified earlier that she was home alone with her baby and had a pair of rusty scissors in her hand as two men broke into her home.
[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET]
"What other options did he (Zimmerman) have? None. He had none," O'Mara says. "Give me a shred of evidence that contradicts he had any other option."
[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says the prosecution has suggested Martin may have been backing off when he was shot.
"The 'coulda beens' don't belong in this courtroom," O'Mara says. "Trayvon Martin retreated. Really? Really? Just one piece of evidence, just one I ask for. ... Where is it? Where is it?"
[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET:
Martin was on top, leaning over Zimmerman, when he got shot, according to O'Mara.
[Updated at 11:03 a.m. ET:
O'Mara says Trayvon Martin's dad first said it wasn't his son screaming on the 911 call.
"It just wasn't his voice to him. And his mind has changed now, but it is interesting for you to consider when you're trying to figure out that issue of who said what," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 11:00 a.m. ET]
"Both moms believe with their heart, with their soul, that that was their son screaming for help. You have to, you want to, and that's just the way you get through it," O'Mara said, explaining why he called Martin's mom, Sybrina Fulton, to the stand.
[Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says he believes Zimmerman was bleeding in -- not out -- that night and that the blood probably dripped out of Zimmerman's nose when he stood up. He says this explains why Martin didn't have blood on his hand.
[Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET]
"No injuries necessary to respond with deadly force. Not a cut on a finger. The statute is clear -- reasonable fear of bodily harm," O'Mara says. "The injuries? Icing on the cake of self-defense."
[Updated at 10:52 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says the former lead investigator in the case didn't find any significant inconsistencies in Zimmerman's story.
[Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET]
It was possible for Martin to move his hands under his body after Zimmerman spread them out, according to O'Mara.
[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET]
O'Mara discusses the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, the friend who spoke to Martin right before he was shot. O'Mara says he wouldn't be able to remember a phone call he made three weeks ago.
"I'm sorry that she had to involve her life in our lives in a way that she never wanted to be involved. Unfortunately, she was a witness and we had to deal with it," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says different vantage points and life experiences explain the inconsistencies in statements from witnesses.
[Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET]
"You've got two dots and they're this far away," O'Mara says as he spreads out his arms. "Just give me a line, give me something."
[Updated at 10:37 a.m. ET]
On the issue of Zimmerman being a "cop wannabe:" "Really? Seriously? Have they proven that to you? Have they come even close except for speculation?" O'Mara asks.
[Updated at 10:34 a.m. ET]
O'Mara has put up a presentation and is recapping what each of the witnesses said on the stand.
"I'm not going to allow you or the state to ignore the realities of what actually happened that night," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET]
"Now the state wants you to say this mastermind criminal ... knew at the precise moment that he darn well better say that he was the one screaming," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET]
In reference to the screams on the 911 call, O'Mara says the case would be closed if they could determine who it was.
"Unfortunately, it couldn't be done. So now we don't know. Now you do get to decide or not, of course. You just simply get to decide that you can't decide. And who gets the benefit of the doubt? Mr. Zimmerman," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET]
O'Mara holds up the bloody photo of Zimmerman's face, taken by an officer after the shooting.
"If we didn't have this, we would only have the cleaned-up photo, the one that doesn't show the significant injury. ... This is undeniable. This is significant injury," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:24 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says that if Zimmerman had called him that night, he would have told Zimmerman to shut up and not talk to police.
[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET]
"The reality of what happened is very straightforward and it proves absolute innocence," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET]
"With those for minutes -- now let's use your common sense. Now let's decide what probably happened that night, because we know the result," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET]
"Four minutes -- that felt like a long time to you, that we sat here and did nothing for four minutes? You get to think what Trayvon Martin was doing," O'Mara says. "Four minutes to do what? To walk home? Run home? The four-minute mile was broken when I was like, 12. ... I do know you can run a mile in about four minutes if you're in decent shape."
[Updated at 10:18 a.m. ET]
The judge is on the bench and the jury is being seated.
[Updated at 9:57 a.m. ET]
"Did they show you, tell you, explain to you, give you any insight whatsoever, what Trayvon Martin was doing four minutes before that fight started at the 'T' intersection? Do you have a doubt as to what happened and what Trayvon Martin was doing and what he must have been thinking for four minutes?" O'Mara asks.
The judge has recessed court for 15 minutes.
[Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET]
O'Mara breaks the silence, saying, "That's how long Trayvon Martin had to run -- about 4 minutes. When he said he was running, that's how long. So let's talk about who was doing what and when." O'Mara pulls out a map of the neighborhood.
[Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET]
Our producer, who is inside the courtroom, says the jury is just sitting in the box, not doing much of anything.
[Updated at 9:52 a.m. ET]
"We're going to sit tight and we're not going to talk, and I'll tell you when we're going to talk again," O'Mara says, sitting back down at the defense table. The courtroom is sitting in silence.
[Updated at 9:48 a.m. ET]
"Don't assume it. Prove it, believe it. Don't prove it and it just doesn't exist," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 9:46 a.m. ET]
The animation goes black as the rest of the 911 call starts to play out. O'Mara stops the video because he says nothing of relevance is mentioned at this point.
[Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET]
O'Mara describes how the perspective in the animation is 50 mm, which is similar to what people see.
[Updated at 9:41 a.m. ET]
After having some trouble starting the 3D animation, O'Mara plays it in court. He stops it along the way to describe what's happening in the scene.
[Updated at 9:37 a.m. ET]
O'Mara is preparing to play the 3D animation his team had made, which shows Zimmerman's version of events the night of the shooting.
[Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET]
There is no evidence, according to O'Mara, to suggest Zimmerman wasn't walking back to his car before the altercation began.
"They don't have one shred of evidence to suggest otherwise. If they had it, I would presume they would have presented it -- so where is it?" O'Mara asks.
[Updated at 9:33 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says the darkness is like a "black wall" in the photos and that Zimmerman had a flashlight and it was on that night.
[Updated at 9:28 a.m. ET]
"Strange as it seems, we want to make sure you know it was raining out. But we also want you to know the wind was up that night," says O'Mara who told jurors he submitted weather reports into evidence. He suggests that the "running" noise heard on the non-emergency call could be wind.
[Updated at 9:26 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says it's difficult to gain ill will, spite and hatred for someone you don't even know.
[Updated at 9:23 a.m. ET]
O'Mara pulls out a timeline, joking that it's 10 feet long. He starts walking through it for the jury, pointing out that the non-emergency dispatcher asked Zimmerman twice where Martin was headed. He also asks where it is that Zimmerman allegedly snapped.
[Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET]
O'Mara is addressing the curse words Zimmerman said on the non-emergency call. He says Zimmerman knew he was being recorded and the fact that he said those words to law enforcement demonstrates his innocence.
"So where's the non-guilt? Well, he never screams. Mr. Guy screamed. Mr. de la Rionda screamed. George Zimmerman didn't scream on that call," O'Mara said.
[Updated at 9:17 a.m. ET]
"What did he do? Stayed on the phone, cursed -- well, yeah, definitely cursed and cursed towards those people, maybe including Trayvon Martin, by the way, because he did match the description, unfortunately, and that's just maybe happenstance," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET]
"He does what he was told to do -- he calls non-emergency," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 9:13 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says "there is not a witness in there, not one" who will say Zimmerman patrolled the neighborhood. He says jurors will have to assume Zimmerman was crazy and patrolled the neighborhood: "You would have to assume it because you certainly can't find it."
[Updated at 9:11 a.m. ET]
"Listen to the calls. Anger, frustration, ill will, spite?" asks O'Mara. He tells jurors to take Zimmerman's own words into account, not what the prosecutors have to say about them.
[Updated at 9:09 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says he put another one of Zimmerman's non-emergency calls into evidence. He tells jurors to listen to it and says Zimmerman is calling just to report that some kids are playing as cars fly by them.
"They don't have to show you good stuff about George Zimmerman," O'Mara says about the prosecutors, who didn't play the call in court.
[Updated at 9:06 a.m. ET]
"Yeah, he wanted to be involved and yes, he wanted to be a cop," O'Mara says, referring to law enforcement as a noble profession. "It is a profession that its moniker is 'protect and serve,'" both of which he says Zimmerman was willing to do.
[Updated at 9:03 a.m. ET]
O'Mara shows jurors another chart of the "self-defense burden of proof."
"George Zimmerman is not guilty if you have just a reasonable doubt that he acted in self-defense," said O'Mara.
[Updated at 9:01 a.m. ET]
O'Mara shows jurors a chart of the burden of proof, with not guilty at the bottom and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at the top.
[Updated at 8:58 a.m. ET]
"At the risk of confusing you, I'm going to take a side trip for just a few minutes. And that side trip is going to be, I'm going to take on the obligation to prove to you that my client is innocent," O'Mara says. He says he doesn't have to do this and the state has the burden of proof.
[Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET]
"How many 'couda- beens' have you heard from the state in this case? How many 'what ifs' have you heard from the state in this case? They don't get to ask you that. No, no, no," O'Mara says. He also says prosecutors are supposed to show "what I have proven to you."
[Updated at 8:53 a.m. ET]
"He's not guilty of anything except protecting his own life," says O'Mara, who also quotes John Adams: "It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished."
[Updated at 8:51 a.m. ET]
"You've heard from him, time and time and time again, you've heard from him, telling you what happened that night," says O'Mara, who also asks jurors to not presume why Zimmerman didn't testify.
[Updated at 8:49 a.m. ET]
"Do not give anybody the benefit of the doubt except for George Zimmerman," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 8:47 a.m. ET]
O'Mara tells jurors they can't fill the gaps or connect the dots for the prosecutors.
"Assumptions presume a lack of evidence," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 8:44 a.m. ET]
Trayvon Martin's parents have entered the courtroom.
"I think what you have to do is be absolutely vigilant, diligent in looking at this case," O'Mara says.
[Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET]
Defense attorney O'Mara has Zimmerman stand up.
"Be careful with your common sense because common sense is the way we run our everyday lives, the way we make those snap decisions we have to make every day," O'Mara says. He says he fears this could hurt his client.
[Updated at 8:39 a.m. ET]
O'Mara says he has fears about the jurors forming an opinion before entering the deliberation room.
"You're completely unused to it. You don't know how to apply a standard beyond a reasonable doubt, you just don't," O'Mara says. "You can't help but have a first impression."
O'Mara puts on a ring and sunglasses and asks what would happen if he walked into the courtroom like that.
[Updated at 8:36 a.m. ET]
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara begins by thanking the jurors, the defense team and the prosecutors and their team. Trayvon Martin's parents are not in the courtroom.
[Updated at 8:34 a.m. ET]
Zimmerman continues to wipe away sweat as the jury is seated.
[Updated at 8:33 a.m. ET]
The jury is being seated.
[Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET]
The attorneys are at a sidebar.
[Updated at 8:29 a.m. ET]
The judge is on the bench. Zimmerman wipes away sweat after entering the courtroom.
[Updated at 7:41 a.m. ET]
Court is scheduled to be back in session at 8:30 a.m. ET. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara should begin his closing argument shortly after that.