The prosecution in the trial of George Zimmerman painted a damning portrait of the man who killed Trayvon Martin in court on Thursday, portraying the defendant as a reckless and overly ambitious neighborhood watch volunteer who saw the young unarmed teenager as a criminal.
“A teenager is dead … because a man made assumptions, he acted on those assumptions and, unfortunately, those assumptions were wrong,” said Bernie de la Rionda, the lead prosecutor in the case. “Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this earth.”
The closing argument by the prosecution in this highly racially charged case was presented in front of a packed courtroom in Sanford, Florida, as well as a jury of six women, five of them white and one Hispanic. Zimmerman, who has been charged with second-degree murder, maintains that he shot the teenager in self-defense.
In his presentation, de la Rionda took great pains to discount that theory, presenting a number of inconsistencies in the various accounts Zimmerman. The lawyer pointed out that Zimmerman offered different versions of the events of the night he shot Martin, saying one thing to police investigators and another in an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News.
The emotionally charged closing argument by the prosecution came on the day that Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled that the jurors can consider convicting Zimmerman of the lesser crime of manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years, as opposed to life in prison for second-degree murder.
Manslaughter has a significantly lower standard and is described in the laws of the state of Florida as killing another individual without malice.
Repeatedly, the prosecution sought to convince the jury that Zimmerman had acted reckless and that the 29-year-old defendant should be convicted.
"Hold the defendant responsible for his actions," de la Rionda said, speaking to the jury. "The law doesn't allow people to take the law into their own hands."
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(Photo: Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images)