George Zimmerman worried as murder trial comes to close

George Zimmerman worried as murder trial comes to close

George Zimmerman


by ABC News

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 1:38 PM

 (ABC News) -- George Zimmerman is worried as his murder trial draws to a close, fearing that he could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty or in hiding if acquitted, his lawyer said.

Zimmerman has spent the last few days huddling with family, ABC News has learned.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second degree murder for killing Trayvon Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012. If convicted of that charge he could be sentenced to 25 years to life. If Zimmerman is convicted of a lesser charge like manslaughter, he could be sentenced to as much as 30 years.

Zimmerman's lawyer Don West today objected to any lesser charges being included in Judge Debra Nelson's instructions to the jury, producing the latest in a series of testy exchanges with the judge in recent days.

"The state charged him with second degree murder and they should be able to prove it," West said.

Prosecutor Rich Mantei shot back saying that second-degree murder and manslaughter charges typically go hand-in-hand, and that Zimmerman should also face third-degree murder charges, alleging that Zimmerman committed child abuse.

Typically, the underlying felony for third degree murder is aggravated assault or battery, but prosecutors said that it was applicable because Zimmerman allegedly committed felony child abuse by shooting a minor.

"Just when I thought this case could not get any more bizarre the state is seeking third degree on child abuse," said West. "This was a trick."

West said the state tried to spring the third degree charges on the defense at the last minute.

"I don't want to hear the word trick anymore," the judge said after West used it again. She later admonished him for repeatedly disagreeing with her rulings on other jury instructions.

When jurors are given their instructions Friday, Zimmerman will face second-degree murder and manslaughter. But Judge Nelson said she needed time to mull over the possibility of also including a third degree murder charge.

The judge will finalize the charges the jury can consider before they begin deliberations.

Lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara says Zimmerman is concerned that even if he is acquitted, he would spend the rest of his life locked in the confines of his security regimen – hiding from the public and concealing his identity.

"He's very worried about his safety, personal safety going forward," said lead Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara. "Because those same people who portended the fear and hatred leading up to this trial probably are not going to accept an acquittal."

If Zimmerman is found guilty he will immediately be remanded into custody and escorted into Seminole County Jail.

O'Mara says any conviction would be met with an appeal, and hinted he could decide to use a Stand Your Ground immunity hearing during an appeal. Zimmerman's defense team elected not to apply Zimmerman's right to a stand your ground hearing during the trial because the immunity hearing can only be invoked once.

If exonerated he will be immediately released.

Trayvon Martin's parents are undecided about whether they will be in court as the verdict is read. Sources close to his mother and father tell ABC News that the last few days have taken their toll.


After 12 days of testimony, prosecutors are making their final preparations for their closing statement. Prosecutors allege that Zimmerman profiled and followed the unarmed teenager. On Wednesday, prosecutor John Guy used a mannequin as he attempted to demonstrate that Zimmerman's version of the fight may not be accurate.

Jurors and attorneys stood Wednesday as Guy straddled the life-size dummy to demonstrate that it was possible that Martin was backing up when he was shot. They are expected to tell jurors much like in their opening argument that Zimmerman shot Martin because he wanted to and not in self-defense.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin today and it is anticipated that jurors could begin deliberating by Friday afternoon.

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