SANFORD, Fla. – After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday in the neighborhood watch volunteer’s second-degree murder trial.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before they present closing arguments today. Judge Debra Nelson said the case could be sent to the six jurors as early as Friday.
Zimmerman never testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to investigators. He claims that he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the teen straddled and punched him.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara told reporters that Zimmerman wanted to testify but his attorneys felt he had already told his version of events in multiple police interviews played for jurors.
“I think he really wanted to be able to interact with this jury and say to them ‘This is what I did and this is why I did it. And as importantly, this is what was happening to me at the time that I decided to do what I had to do,’ ” O’Mara said. “So in that sense, yes, I think he wanted to tell his story.”
Still, O’Mara said his client is “worried” as he faced up to a life sentence in prison for what O’Mara called a classic case of self-defense.
Asserting that Zimmerman “believed he did what he had to do to protect himself from great bodily injury that was already been visited on him,” O’Mara added, “If we presented evidence that helped the jury understand that, then we’ve done our job.”
The defense started its case last Friday and presented half as many witnesses in half of the time that prosecutors did. Friends, parents and an uncle of the defendant testified that it was Zimmerman screaming for help on a 911 call that captured sounds of the fatal fight. Martin’s mother and brother had testified for the prosecution that it was Martin yelling for help.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. On the night of the fatal scuffle in February 2012, Martin was visiting his father and his father’s fiancee at the same townhome complex where Zimmerman lived.