Reporter's Notebook: Former federal prosecutor issues ? progress report

Testimony ends, closing statements near

David S. Weinstein is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of Florida. He held that position from 1998 to 2009.

SANFORD, Fla. Former prosecutor David Weinstein's wrap of the last day  of testimony and forecast of what to expect Thursday:

As Court ended Wednesday, the case reached the point where it was all over -- except for the shouting.

The defense concluded their case by calling a law enforcement expert, a former neighbor and the defendant's dad.

They used these witnesses to further demonstrate their theory of self defense, to humanize the defendant and to show that he was protecting the neighborhood, not out stalking his victim.

The choice of a woman who hid in her home with a pair of rusty scissors and her baby had to strike a chord with the all female jury.

They also closed out their case with a strong witness who book-ended their first witness, the defendant's mother.

As predicted by most observers, the defendant did not testify. They had far more to lose than to gain by putting him on the stand.

The prosecution scored a few points during the demonstration with the dummy, but that may have only served to create reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury, something that defense counsel usually does.

The state's rebuttal case was a nonstarter and unless they have a surprise witness tomorrow morning, a failure. 

The judge and lawyers previewed the lesser included offenses and the jury instructions. Other than the closing arguments, these will prove to be the one thing that will make the biggest impact on George Zimmerman's life.

Due to the application of the statutory enhancements alleged in the information, what might seem to be a compromise verdict by the jury on the charge of aggravated assault with a firearm will require the imposition of the same sentence as a conviction for Second Degree Murder.

Does the defense argue for an all or nothing verdict? Does the prosecution argue their case but still allow the jury to convict of a lesser included offense?

We will all find out that answer on Thursday and Friday.

What is the most important thing for the prosecution to do?

Emphasize what John Guy said from his opening, that George Zimmerman was out that rainy night hunting down someone to pay for the criminal activity that had been taking place in the neighborhood.

That when he did that, George Zimmerman had ill will, spite, hatred and evil intent in his mind when he committed an imminently dangerous act that demonstrated this depraved mind without regard for human life.

They must use the physical evidence, the uncontested testimony and the defendant's own words to prove their case.

Focus on the choice that George Zimmerman made not to stay in his car and instead to follow Trayvon Martin.

What is the most important thing for the defense to do?

The same thing that they have been doing all along. Call the state's evidence into question, use the physical evidence to show that George Zimmerman acted in self defense and that he was a good neighbor, just looking out for the residents of his community. But above all, don't allow the jury to convict him of a lesser included offense."