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Live on HLN: Zimmerman's fate in hands of jury

NEED TO KNOW
  • The jury began deliberating at around 2:30 p.m.
  • HLN is covering the George Zimmerman trial live, gavel to gavel
  • Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012
Live on HLN: Zimmerman's fate in hands of jury

Monday night at 10 p.m ET on a special edition of HLN After Dark, Vinnie Politan is one-on-one with the Zimmerman prosecution team to try to find out what happened. HLN has been all over this case, and nothing is off-limits in this primetime interview.

The fate of George Zimmerman is now in the hands of six female jurors from Seminole County, Florida.

After three weeks of impassioned arguments from both sides, Judge Debra Nelson ordered the jury to begin deliberating Friday at just before 2:30 p.m. ET.

As he ended his rebuttal argument Friday, prosecutor John Guy's parting thought for the jury before they began deliberations was about morality.

Coming soon to HLN: Georgia v. Andrea Sneiderman

"This case is not about race, it’s about right and wrong. It’s that simple," Guy said. He asked them 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.

Earlier Friday, defense attorney Mark O'Mara said Martin's death was tragic, but that Zimmerman was forced to kill the teenager in self-defense. O'Mara said if the state didn't prove that his client did not act in self-defense -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- they cannot convict him.

"I think what you have to do is be absolutely vigilant, diligent in looking at this case," O'Mara said.

"You go back there [to the deliberation room], first thing you might want to consider doing --  do you have a reasonable doubt that my client may have acted in self-defense?" asked O'Mara. "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."

During his passionate and sometimes boisterous closing argument Thursday, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda implored the jurors to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder for shooting Trayvon Martin.

"The law doesn’t allow people to take the law into their own hands," de la Rionda said. "This defendant didn't give Trayvon Martin a chance."

De la Rionda also called Zimmerman a "wannabe cop" who crossed the line the night he shot Martin.

"A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions," de la Rionda said.

Zimmerman sat looking straight ahead, showing no emotion during most of the closing arguments. Both Martin's and Zimmerman's parents were in attendance and both sets of parents remain composed as the attorneys gave their summations.

Zimmerman told police that on February 26, 2012, he noticed a “suspicious” teenager in his gated community in Sanford, Florida. The neighborhood had been victimized by several break-ins. The two got into a bloody fight, and Zimmerman said he was forced to draw his gun and kill Martin in self-defense.

On Friday, the 14th day of the trial, Nelson instructed the jury on the charges Zimmerman faces and how the prosecution’s case is burdened with basically disproving beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman didn’t act in self-defense.

Zimmerman is now facing multiple possible outcomes as the jury deliberates. Read below for a summation of each charge:

If Zimmerman is convicted of second-degree murder

The former neighborhood watch captain could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. In Florida, the mandatory sentence for the use of a gun that results in the death of another person is 25 years. Therefore, if convicted of second-degree murder, Zimmerman would be facing 25 years to life in prison.

For a second-degree murder conviction under Florida law, the State doesn’t have to prove Zimmerman premeditated killing the teenager, but it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman killed Martin with “ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent.”

Zimmerman will not be eligible for parole if convicted, because it is prohibited under Florida law.

Nelson will schedule Zimmerman's sentencing for a later date.

If Zimmerman is convicted of manslaughter

Manslaughter under Florida law is defined as the killing of a person as a result of an "act, procurement or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification."

Prosecutors don’t have to prove that Zimmerman intended to cause death. However, the jury does have to be convinced that Zimmerman intended to commit an act that was not merely negligent, justified or excusable and which caused Martin's death.
 
In Florida, if manslaughter is committed with a gun, it can be punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If convicted, Zimmerman could be sentenced between 10 to 30 years.
 
Nelson will schedule Zimmerman's sentencing for a later date.
 
What happens if Zimmerman is acquitted?
 
If the jury returns a not guilty verdict, deciding that prosecutors did not disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, he will be a free man and be able to walk out of court because he is not in police custody. He is free to leave Seminole County. He may choose to resume his career in mortgage insurance or his undergraduate education. O’Mara has said his client will not be safe if he is acquitted because of the outrage surrounding Martin’s death.
 
What happens if the jury is hung?
 
There is the possibility the jury will not be able to reach a unanimous decision. That would be what is called a “hung jury.” If the judge declares a mistrial because the jury is hung, Zimmerman could face a retrial.

 

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