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Closing Arguments Begin In Zimmerman Trial

Colin Hale |
July 11, 2013 | 10:29 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

George Zimmerman/Pool photo Gary W. Green
George Zimmerman/Pool photo Gary W. Green
Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday in the nearly month-long trial against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

On Thursday morning, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson instructed jurors that they can consider a lesser charge of manslaughter along with second-degree murder.

The judge ruled on Thursday morning that a third-degree murder charge would not be considered. The judge indicated that the facts didn't fit a third-degree felony murder charge and that an aggravated assault charge was also insufficient as the victim died. 

According to the New York Times, the second-degree murder charge would require the jurors to determine that Zimmerman acted "with spite, malice or ill will without regard for human life in the shooting death" of Martin.  

The manslaughter charge carries a much lower threshold and in Florida is defined "as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice - including the result of an accident or other act in which the person does not have the mental state to commit murder."

If convicted of manslaughter, Zimmerman could face up to 30 years in a Florida state prison. The second-degree murder charge in Florida carries the possibility of a life sentence.

Jury deliberations could begin as early as Friday morning.

Reach Executive Producer Colin Hale here. Follow him on Twitter.



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