George Zimmerman Jury May Consider Lesser Charge of Manslaughter
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson made the ruling on Thursday. So now Zimmerman's jurors have three options to go with when they hand down their verdict: guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter, or not guilty.
The prosecution also tried to have her rule on having the jury consider a third-degree felony murder charge, which includes a commission of child abuse. Not surprisingly, this did not please the defense.
However, Nelson ruled only on allowing the jury to consider the manslaughter charge.
The jury heard closing arguments Thursday afternoon. Zimmerman's defense urged the jury to only consider the second-degree murder charge, as well as a not-guilty verdict..
"His position is the state has charged him with second-degree murder, they should be required to prove it," Zimmerman attorney Don West said." If they can't prove it, that's a failure of the prosecution."
A second-degree murder conviction would mean the jury believes Zimmerman acted out of hatred or ill will.
A manslaughter conviction would mean the jury thinks Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin without lawful justification.
If the jury isn't sold on the idea that the killing was straight-up murder, it can still hold Zimmerman responsible for Martin's death by handing down a manslaughter conviction.
The ruling allows it decision to be as black and white as guilty or not guilty.