Published July 13, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: George Zimmerman found 'Not Guilty" of all charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Below is an earlier version of the story.
Jurors in the murder trial of George Zimmerman have asked the judge for clarification on the charge of manslaughter Saturday evening as they deliberate into the second day whether the neighborhood watch volunteer acted in self defense when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The jurors sent Judge Debra Nelson a note asking for clarification on the manslaughter charge, the less-serious charge Zimmerman faces, after deliberating for about eight hours Saturday. The question read simply: "May we please have clarification for the instruction on manslaughter?"
As jurors awaited an answer, Nelson talked to lawyers at the bench and then said court would recess for a half hour. When attorneys returned, prosecutor Richard Mantei said that after conducting research, he would suggest asking the jurors to elaborate. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara agreed.
"Let's get clarification on their confusion," O'Mara said.
The judge then sent a note back to the jury that read: "The court can't engage in general discussion but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter. If you have a specific question, please submit it."
The jury also recessed for an hour for dinner, during which they were allowed to continue deliberating. They did not immediately respond to the judge's note.
During the day about two dozen people gathered outside the courthouse awaiting a verdict, with supporters of the Martin family outnumbering those there for Zimmerman. One man held a sign that read, "We love you George." A woman lay in the grass in a hoodie, her arms spread, in a re-creation of Martin's death.
On Twitter, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, shared what she called her favorite Bible verse: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
Jurors deliberated for three and a half hours Friday and decided to stop in the evening. About two hours into their discussions, they asked for a list of the evidence. If they do not reach a verdict Saturday, it will up to the panel to decide if they want to continue deliberations Sunday. "If they want to deliberate they can," Michelle Kennedy, a court public information said.
During closing arguments, Zimmerman's attorney attempted to portray him as a neighborhood activist who shot Martin in self-defense and prosecutors attempted to paint him as a wannabe cop whose misguided suspicion resulted in the teen’s death.
The jury can acquit the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer or convict him of either second-degree murder or manslaughter in the death of the Martin.
As the jury began their discussions, police and civic leaders in this Orlando suburb went on national television to plead for calm in Sanford and across the country, no matter what the verdict.
"There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said. "We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully."
With the verdict drawing near, police and city leaders in Sanford and other parts of Florida said they have taken precautions for the possibility of mass protests or even civil unrest if Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, is acquitted.
There were big protests in Sanford and other cities across the country last year when authorities waited 44 days before arresting Zimmerman.
Zimmerman shot Martin as the two fought following a confrontation in the gated Sanford community where Zimmerman lives.
"Your verdict should not be influenced by feelings of prejudice, bias or sympathy," Judge Debra Nelson told the jury, reading from a 27-page set of instructions. "Your verdict must be based on the evidence, and on the law contained in these instructions."
Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara urged jurors to let the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer "get back to his life" by finding him not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the 2012 confrontation that ended in the death of Martin, saying the state prove Zimmerman did anything other than defend himself.
In a low-key and methodical presentation that began early Friday, O'Mara urged the all-female, six-member jury to not “fill in the gaps” or “connect the dots,” but to stick to facts. He ridiculed prosecutors for their forceful portrayal of Zimmerman as a wannabe cop who profiled an unarmed teen when he cut through the gated community where Zimmerman lived.
"That is not an unarmed teenager!" O'Mara said, hoisting a chunk of concrete to represent the pavement Martin allegedly bashed Zimmerman's head against before the fatal shot.
For most of the three-hour presentation, O'Mara's style was in sharp contrast to the fiery summation delivered by lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda a day earlier, in which he forcefully told jurors that Zimmerman's inaccurate "assumptions" about Martin were responsible for the teen's death on Feb. 26, 2012. But O'Mara became more emotional toward the end, reminding jurors that even a reasonable doubt in their minds that Zimmerman committed a crime can only mean acquittal.
"It is a tragedy, truly," O'Mara said. "But you can't allow sympathy."
O'Mara's summation was followed by the prosecution's rebuttal, in which prosecutor John Guy told jurors that Zimmerman would have had to have faced deadly force to be justified in shooting Martin. Guy showed a picture of Zimmerman’s scalp and downplayed cuts on it.
“Did that man need to kill somebody? Kill a teenager?" he asked.
“Did he really need to shoot, did he have to shoot, Trayvon Martin?” Guy asked the jury. “No he did not.”
Guy said "only two people on this Earth" know what really happened that night, adding that one of them cannot testify.
Then, quoting Voltaire, Guy said in a hushed tone: "To the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe the truth."
Earlier, O’Mara showed jurors an animated reconstruction of the shooting, depicting Martin striking Zimmerman first before a scuffle ensued. The animated re-enactment was not admitted into evidence earlier, as Nelson ruled it could only be used during the defense's summation. O’Mara played 911 calls as the jury watched the animation, recreating Zimmerman's version of the fatal confrontation — that he fired the fatal shot as the teen straddled him and bashed his head against the pavement.
“He’s not guilty of anything but protecting his own life," O'Mara said of Zimmerman.
O'Mara disputed prosecutors’ claims that Zimmerman was a “crazy guy” who snapped when he spotted Martin because there had been a series of break-ins in the neighborhood, mostly by young black men.
"That presumption isn't based on any fact whatsoever," O'Mara told jurors.
O'Mara also asked jurors to ponder what Martin was doing during the four minutes from when he started running at the urging of a friend he was talking to on a cell phone to when he encountered the neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin was planning his attack instead of going back to the house where he was staying, said O'Mara, who let four minutes of silence elapse in court to dramatize the amount of time.
"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," said O'Mara.
Fox News' Joshua Rhett Miller, Serafin Gomez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.