Race-killing case jury ponders verdict

Jurors have begun their deliberations in the racially charged trial of a US neighbourhood watch volunteer accused of murderingunarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Jurors retired after defence and prosecution lawyers made closing arguments in a final bid to sway the six-woman panel, which must reach a unanimous verdict to convict.

Two hours later, the jurors returned to the courtroom to ask the judge and lawyers for a list of the evidence in the case.

The jury was to resume deliberations yesterday.

Earlier Judge Debra Nelson reminded jurors that the onus was on prosecutors to prove their case against 29-year-old George Zimmerman.

"It is not necessary for George Zimmerman to disprove anything. Nor is George Zimmerman required to prove his innocence," she said.

"It is up to the state to prove George Zimmerman's guilt by evidence."

Nelson also reminded jurors that Florida law allowed residents to use lethal force to defend themselves, under the state's "stand your ground" law.

"The killing of a human being is justifiable and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the attempted killing," Nelson said.

Zimmerman's lawyer closed his case by telling jurors that his client feared he was going to die when he shot Martin, 17.

"He's not guilty of anything but protecting his own life," Mark O'Mara said.

Zimmerman faces possible life in prison if convicted of second degree murder.

Jurors were told they could also consider the lesser charge of manslaughter if they were not convinced he was guilty of murder.

Defence lawyers rested their case without calling Zimmerman to the witness stand, after three weeks of evidence and testimony.

The trial has been nationally broadcast on US television.

The shooting became a cause celebre last year after authorities initially did not bring charges against Zimmerman, prompting civil rights activists to charge that law enforcement would have pursued the case more zealously had the teenage victim been white.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 25 Apr 2014 03:39:56 Processing Time: 570ms