Zimmerman Jury Can Consider Lesser Charge, Judge Says | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Zimmerman Jury Can Consider Lesser Charge, Judge Says

The jury weighing the guilt or innocence of the man accused in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin can consider convicting George Zimmerman on a lesser charge of manslaughter, the judge ruled Thursday morning.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder and his trial is wrapping up. It's expected that the jury will begin debating his fate on Friday.

Trayvon, 17, was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, a self-styled neighborhood watch volunteer, says he acted in self defense. Trayvon's family and supporters say Zimmerman, now 29, racially profiled the young African-American and should not have been following the unarmed teen. The case ignited a national debate after Trayvon's family called for Zimmerman's arrest and accused local authorities of not properly investigating the young man's death.

In addition to asking Judge Debra Nelson to instruct the jurors that they can consider a manslaughter charge, prosecutors also asked that jurors be told they can consider a third-degree murder charge — based on the theory that Zimmerman allegedly committed child abuse when Trayvon was killed.

As NPR's Greg Allen reports from Sanford, defense lawyer Donald West objected strongly to the suggestion that a third-degree murder charge be included in the instructions for the jury. West called the prosecution's suggest a "trick" and said that "just when I thought this case couldn't get more bizarre," it did.

Judge Nelson said she would consider the request about a third-degree murder charge later in the day.

Update at 1:10 p.m. ET. No Third-Degree Murder Instruction:

Judge Nelson just told the prosecution and defense that she will not instruct the jury to consider the option of third-degree murder.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Look, Mom, I Finally Made It To Broadway!

NPR's Michel Martin will sit down with a panel of award-winning playwrights to ask about diversity in theater. Follow here or join us on Twitter on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, using #NPRMichel.
NPR

Sweet: Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme Pump Up Pledge On Palm Oil

Two major doughnut chains have bowed to consumer pressure to better police their palm oil purchases. Environmentalists say it's a win for consumers, trees and animals.
NPR

Congress Quietly Extends The Budget — Past Election Day, Anyway

Since the GOP retook the House, the chamber once brought the country to the brink of a debt default and once shut down the government. But in election years, including this one, there's no such drama.
NPR

Look, Mom, I Finally Made It To Broadway!

NPR's Michel Martin will sit down with a panel of award-winning playwrights to ask about diversity in theater. Follow here or join us on Twitter on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, using #NPRMichel.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.