SANFORD, Fla. – Judge Debra Nelson ruled Thursday that the jury in the George Zimmerman trial will have the option to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but that they won’t be able to consider third-degree murder.
The highest charge against Zimmerman is second-degree murder. Under Florida law, that charge is an unlawful killing which “evinces a depraved mind regardless of human life.”
Zimmerman’s defense said they only wanted the jury to consider the initial second-degree charge. “We don’t want a compromise verdict, just like we don’t want a jury pardon,” said Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara on Wednesday. “We want a verdict based on the facts of the law and that’s an acquittal.”
In an apparent surprise to Zimmerman’s defense, state attorneys also sought to include a charge of third-degree murder against Zimmerman Thursday morning. They argued that Zimmerman committed child abuse against Martin who was 17-years-old when he was killed.
Zimmerman attorney Don West was visibly upset by the suggestion. “Oh my God,” he said, “just when I thought this case couldn’t get any more bizarre.”
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