Jurors in George Zimmerman trial to continue deliberations Saturday

Day 24 of George Zimmerman trial


SANFORD, Fla. – George Zimmerman trial's jurors deliberated for three and a half hours Friday. They will be back in the courthouse at 9 a.m. Saturday, as they consider the crime watch volunteer's fate.

Before deliberations began, Judge Debra Nelson read the 27 pages of jury instructions. She told jurors to consider two charges -- second-degree-murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter.

"If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty," Nelson read. "If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find [him] guilty."

After two hours of discussions, the six women asked for an enumerated list of items in the evidence locker. The judge had the clerk draft it and they went back to the hotel for the evening.

READ: Jury instructions

On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin with his Kel-Tec 9mm handgun. The aspiring police officer and prosecutor said he killed the unarmed Miami Gardens teen in self-defense.

If jurors find Zimmerman killed in self-defense, he will walk free.  If jurors find him guilty of any of the two charges, he may face decades in prison.

Florida's 10-20-Life law imposes mandatory minimum sentences that are harsher for crimes involving the use of a handgun, prosecutor Angela Corey said Thursday.

Jurors determine when the law is applicable.

"Use a gun and you are done," was the campaign slogan for the law when Gov. Jeb Bush signed. It went into effect in 1999.

If the jury finds him guilty of second-degree murder, Zimmerman could go to prison for life. The sentences for the two lesser charges are as severe.

Manslaughter in a case involving a gun is considered a first-degree felony. The sentencing could range from 25 to 30 years in prison or 30 years of probation. Nelson included it in the jury instructions.

Jurors could find him guilty of manslaughter if prosecutors managed to convince them that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.

Jurors could find him innocent if they believe his claim of self-defense. Zimmerman only had to believe he was facing great bodily harm.

There was a question from the jury after they began deliberating Friday afternoon. They wanted to see an evidence inventory list. After three and a half hours into deliberations, they adjourned for the night.

Local 10 legal analyst Lee Stapleton was surprised at the early end.

"To me, it's a trouble of perhaps trouble that the foreperson took a vote, let's sleep on it, back to back," said Stapleton.

Corey has experience with the 10-20 Life law. In 2009, U.S. Army veteran Ronald Thompson, 65, of Keystone Heights, Fla., fired shots to scare off teens.

Corey prosecuted Thompson on an aggravated assault charge. With the help of the 10-20 Life law, she fought to increase a three year sentence to 20 years. Fourth Circuit Judge John Skinner refused to apply the 10-20-Life law and sentenced Thompson to three years.

Corey won an appeal and he was sentenced to 20 years. But in 2012, Fourth Circuit Judge Don Lester ruled that the jury instructions were not clear. Thompson was freed and is waiting for a new trial.

Corey will be paying special attention to the jury instructions in Zimmerman's trial.

Prosecutors presented their closing arguments Thursday. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara presented his closing argument Friday morning, prosecutors followed with their rebuttal.