ORLANDO — Jurors in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial will be allowed to consider at least one lesser charge — manslaughter — when they get the case after closing arguments, Judge Debra Nelson ruled Thursday.
But she put off a decision whether they could consider a charge of third-degree murder after attorney Don West offered fierce objection to the charge, which prosecutors said is based on the idea that Zimmerman committed child abuse in killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“Oh my God,” he told Nelson. “Just when I thought this case couldn’t get any more bizarre, the state is seeking third-degree murder based on child abuse.”
Prosecutors are seeking the additional charges to give jurors more options should they find Zimmerman didn’t commit second-degree murder when he killed Martin on February 26, 2012.
In arguing unsuccessfully against the manslaughter charge, West told Nelson that Zimmerman believes that because the “state has charged him with second-degree murder, they should be required to prove it, if they can.”
Closing arguments in the case were expected to begin Thursday afternoon, after attorneys finish arguing over legal points in the jury instructions — including decisions on explaining justifiable use of force and Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
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