Trayvon was in Sanford visiting his father after he was suspended from Dr. Michael Krop High in North Miami-Dade. His killing focused attention on Florida’s self-defense law, which critics say promoted vigilante justice. Prominent black civil rights leaders staged rallies for Zimmerman’s arrest.
Sanford police initially didn’t arrest Zimmerman, after he claimed self-defense. Gov. Rick Scott later appointed prosecutors from Jacksonville to investigate. Zimmerman was arrested 44 days later.
The trial began June 10 as lawyers selected an all-female, six-person jury; of the jurors, five are white, one is Hispanic.
Over 50 witnesses testified, including the mothers of both Trayvon and Zimmerman, each of whom said the voice crying for help on a neighbor’s 911 call belonged to her son.
Closing arguments in the case ended Friday. Defense lawyers have said Zimmerman had to fire his gun to save his life during a scuffle started by Trayvon, while prosecutors have depicted Zimmerman as an over-zealous neighborhood watchman who falsely assumed Trayvon was a criminal prowling the Retreat at Twin Lakes community.
“This case not about standing your ground. It’s about staying in your car, as he was taught to do,” prosecutor John Guy told jurors in a final closing argument Friday afternoon.
In an appeal to the all-female jury, Guy repeatedly referred to Trayvon as a “child.” Several jurors looked emotionally strained as he spoke.
The state honed in on Zimmerman’s phone call to police reporting Trayvon as a suspicious person, a false assumption that the teen was a criminal, Guy said. In the phone call, Zimmerman admits to getting out of his truck and following Trayvon. Yet he also claimed the teen was circling his vehicle menacingly.
Guy also stressed Zimmerman’s mutterings -- that “these assholes always get away” and “f**king punks” -- prove the “hate” needed to convict on a charge of second-degree murder.
“If there was ever a window into that man’s soul, it was that defendant’s words on that phone call,” Guy said.
The defense cast Zimmerman as a reasonable resident, concerned about safety in his neighborhood, who was attacked by a physically more adept young man.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara also played a vivid computer animation that showed a Trayvon avatar hitting the figure representing Zimmerman, then straddling him on the grass beside a concrete walkway. The 911 tape that captured the cries of the struggle and the fatal gunshot played over the animation.
The defense attorney, during three hours of closing arguments, stressed that Zimmerman’s state of mind — fearful — was key. He called the photos of Zimmerman’s injuries to his face and head “icing on the cake.” It was Trayvon who committed the crime, O’Mara suggested.
The lawyer finished in dramatic fashion: by carrying a chunk of concrete into court and plopping it on the floor, telling jurors it was “disgusting” for prosecutors to suggest Trayvon was “unarmed.” The defense has said Trayvon bashed Zimmerman’s head into a sidewalk during the struggle.
“That’s a sidewalk,” O’Mara said. “That is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles, trying to get home.”