UPDATE: The judge has ruled against allowing the jury to consider the third-degree murder charge.
Original story below:
George Zimmerman’s defense attorney exploded at the prosecution Thursday after they attempted to have the jury also consider a third-degree murder charge based on child abuse in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
“Oh my God. Just when I thought it couldn’t get more bizarre, the state is seeking third-degree murder based on child abuse? Is the court going to give this any serious contention or consideration, because if so we have a lot of talking to do,” defense attorney Don West demanded.
The showdown came ahead of closing arguments in the second-degree murder case as prosecutors requested the jury be instructed to also consider lesser charges for Zimmerman. Judge Debra Nelson said the jury may consider manslaughter as a lesser charge.
Prosecutor Richard Mantei argued that third-degree murder should also be included based on the notion that Zimmerman committed child abuse when he fatally shot Martin, 17. Nelson put off immediately ruling on the matter.
West accused the prosecution of springing it on the defense at the last-minute, saying he only received an email that morning along with “10 or 15 cases” to support the claim.
“Obviously he has spent hours, if not days, if not in fact maybe more than a year plotting for this moment when he can spring it on us and the court,” West said. “Somewhere we wondered why the state would put this vague allegation in the information that Trayvon Martin was 17. No other charge of child abuse, no evidence of anything other than this statement that Trayvon Martin was a minor, 17 years old.”
“Judge, this was a trick,” West fumed a few minutes later. “Doesn’t the court understand this was a trick by the state?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.