In closing arguments Friday, the defense urged the jury not to make assumptions about George Zimmerman, insisting he wasn't a "neighborhood watch cop wannabe," while prosecutor John Guy asked the jurors to imagine an alternate scenario: what if Zimmerman had been walking home and it was Trayvon Martin who shot and killed Zimmerman: what their verdict would be? NBC's Ron Mott reports.
A Florida jury began deliberating the fate of George Zimmerman on Friday after the defense and prosecution had their final say on whether he should be convicted of a crime in the death of Trayvon Martin.
At 6 p.m., they notified the court they wished to adjourn for the evening. They will continue deliberations starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The six women on the panel will have to decide if Zimmerman – who says he shot the teen in self-defense — is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of second-degree murder or manslaughter or not guilty of both charges.
Judge Debra Nelson handed them the case at 2:28 p.m. ET after instructing them on the law. They will be sequestered until they deliver a verdict.
Earlier, defense lawyer Mark O’Mara delivered his closing argument, declaring that Zimmerman is “not guilty of anything but protecting his own life.”
That was followed by a short rebuttal from prosecutor John Guy, who asked jurors: “Did he have to shoot Trayvon Martin? No, he did not.”
The jury in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial is given instructions from Judge Debra Nelson.
“They did good,” Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, said of prosecutors.
Defense lawyer Mark O’Mara told NBC News, "I'm happy with the way we did and the summations and now we wait for the jury."
About two hours after jurors went behind closed doors, they sent a note out to the judge asking for a numbered list of the all the evidence, with descriptions.
Zimmerman, 29, who pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, says he shot an unarmed Martin, 17, when the teen attacked him after they crossed paths Feb. 26, 2012, in a gated community of Sanford, Fla.
O’Mara told jurors that the prosecution failed to prove otherwise and offered no evidence of the “ill will” or “hatred” needed for a murder conviction.
Zimmerman was “the victim,” whose head was slammed into concrete, he said after hauling a piece of concrete to the front of the courtroom.
“That’s cement. That is a sidewalk. And that is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home,” O’Mara said.
“The suggestion by the state that that’s not a weapon, that that can’t hurt somebody, that that can’t cause great bodily injury … is disgusting.”
Although witnesses have testified that Zimmerman’s injuries from the altercation were minor, O’Mara showed a photo of his client bleeding after the altercation and said if Martin had survived, he would have been charged with a crime.
“You can’t look at those pictures and say what was visited upon George Zimmerman was not evidence of ill will, spite and hatred,” O’Mara said.
In closing argument, Defense attorney Mark O'Mara picks up a piece of concrete and placed it on the floor courtroom, saying the cement on the sidewalk was Trayvon Martin's weapon.
In his rebuttal, Guy showed photographs taken later that night after Zimmerman had cleaned up and did not look as battered.
“If his head had been slammed into something like this, bashed over and over,” Guy said of the concrete, “he wouldn’t look like he did in those photographs.”
Prosecutors contend that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, profiled and followed Martin even after a police dispatcher he called to report a suspicious person told him he didn’t need to.
O’Mara said that prosecutors had offered no proof that Zimmerman tailed Martin as he returned from a trip to a 7-Eleven to buy Skittles and a juice drink.
“Evidence seems to support that George is heading back to his car, and they don’t have one shred of evidence to suggest otherwise,” O’Mara said.
He showed jurors a timeline of the night that he said illustrated Martin had plenty of time to get home if that’s what he wanted to do.
In a dramatic moment, O’Mara asked the panel to sit still for a time, and silence descended on the courtroom as a clock ticked off four minutes.
“That’s how long Trayvon Martin had to run,” the lawyer then told them.
“The person who decided that this was going to continue, that it was going to become a violent event, was the guy who didn’t go home when he had the chance to,” O’Mara added. “It was the guy who decided to lie in wait.”
Guy retorted, “Four minutes is not the amount of time Trayvon Martin had to run home. Four minutes is the amount of time Trayvon Martin had left on this earth.”
“That child had every right to be where he was,” Guy said. “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 and then on foot.
Courtesy Sybrina Fulton
Trayvon Martin poses for a photo at his mother's birthday party on Feb. 18, 2012. Martin was killed on Feb. 26.
“And did that child not have the right to defend himself from that strange man?”
The prosecution had ended its closing argument on Thursday by asking jurors to think about an autopsy photo of Martin, the last one ever taken of him.
O’Mara told them that photo was not an accurate portrayal of Martin because he had lost half his blood, looked “emaciated” and had no muscle tone.
Instead, he showed them a photo of Martin bare-chested, wearing a baseball hat, taken three months before his death.
He also displayed a photo that showed how dark it was in the area when Martin and Zimmerman began grappling.
“All I know is that when George Zimmerman is walking back to his car, out of the darkness — be it bushes or darkness or left or behind or somewhere — Travyon Martin came towards George Zimmerman … and we know what happened,” O’Mara said.
Repeatedly throughout his closing, O’Mara repeated an assertion by the state and sarcastically punctuated it with “Really?” or “Seriously?”
He needled prosecutors for using loud voices when they repeated Zimmerman’s words – “F---ing punks” and “a--holes” – from his call to the police dispatcher.
He questioned the credibility of several prosecution witnesses, and said over and over that prosecutors had not backed up their version of events with evidence.
“How many ‘could-have-beens’ have you heard from the state? How many ‘what-ifs’ have you heard from the state?” O’Mara asked.
“If it hasn’t been proven, as the instruction tells you, it’s just not there. And you can’t consider it. You can’t fill in the gaps. You can’t onnect the dots,” he said.
The prosecution rebuttal focused on Zimmerman’s statements to police that it says were exposed as lies or exaggerations by witnesses.
“Trayvon Benjamin Martin is entitled to the truth and it didn’t come from that defendant’s mouth,” Guy said.
NBC News' Kerry Sanders contributed to this story.
Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation.
This story was originally published on Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:14 PM EDT