Weighty words, charged atmosphere as Zimmerman trial rests with jury
Lawyers' closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial invoked the Founding Fathers and Martin Luther King Jr. – portentous words for a high-stakes case. Jurors began deliberations Friday afternoon.
Lawyers in the George Zimmerman murder trial cited America's Founding Fathers, a civil rights icon, and the US Constitution on Friday as they sought to make last impressions with the jury, which is now deliberating a verdict that will define justice for Trayvon Martin, a slain black teenager, and his family.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Florida vs. George Zimmerman: Case closed?
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The lawyers' portentous references, made in closing arguments of an emotional month-long trial, are intended to frame the case for a jury of six women – five whites and one Hispanic, five of whom are mothers. But the references also alluded to the sensitive political and racial issues that have swirled around the case.
In his appeal to the jury, defense attorney Mark O’Mara cited John Adams on the presumption of innocence and Thomas Jefferson on the importance of citizen juries before laying out his contention that Mr. Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is “factually innocent” of murder.
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” Mr. O’Mara said, quoting Jefferson. Then he told jurors, “You are living the Constitution.”
Florida prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, in his closing arguments to the jury Thursday, asked jurors to look past the unsophistication of the state’s star witness, Rachel Jeantel, and to glean the meaning of her testimony about her phone call with Trayvon on the night he died, specifically that she heard him yell “Get off!” before the connection was broken.
At times hard to understand and fond of “colorful language” – such as calling Mr. De la Rionda “that bald-headed dude” – Ms. Jeantel nevertheless provided what prosecutors contend is a key piece of information that should lead to Zimmerman’s conviction on second-degree murder or manslaughter charges.
Mr. De la Rionda put his own twist on the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he told jurors: “A witness will not be judged on the color of her personality but by the content of her testimony.”