George Zimmerman’s defense attorney said he wished for the first time in his legal career that a jury could find his client “completely innocent” — not just “not guilty.”
“I wish the verdict had guilty, not guilty, and completely innocent. I would ask you to check the last two,” attorney Mark O’Mara told jurors during his closing argument.
O’Mara said prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was guilty of second-degree murder when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“If it hasn’t been proven, it’s just not there,” O’Mara said. “You can’t fill in the gaps. You can’t connect the dots. You’re not allowed to.”
O’Mara said his client never showed any ill will or hate — a key component of second-degree murder — during the confrontation with Martin. Instead, he said Zimmerman feared great bodily harm and fired his gun in self-defense. O’Mara showed a computer-animated depiction of the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin according to Zimmerman’s account.
The judge ruled Thursday that jurors may also consider the charge manslaughter during their deliberations, which could begin Friday.
To illustrate the four minutes Martin had to run, at the urging of a friend he was talking to on the phone, O’Mara let four minutes pass in silence. But Martin didn’t go home, O’Mara said: he planned his attack on Zimmerman.
“The person who decided … it was going to be a violent event, it was the guy who decided not to go home when he had a chance to,” O’Mara said.
O’Mara said what happened to Martin “is a tragedy, truly,” but said jurors cannot let that cloud their judgement.
“You can’t allow sympathy,” he said.
In his rebuttal of the defense’s closing, prosecutor John Guy said Zimmerman had told “so many lies” in the wake of the shooting. He said Zimmerman, as a neighborhood watch volunteer, should only have been observing and reporting suspicious behavior, not taking things into his own hands by following anyone.
“Isn’t that every child’s worst nightmare, to be followed on the way home in the dark by a stranger,” Guy said. “Isn’t that every child’s worst fear?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.