An unarmed African American teenager was shot dead “through no fault of his own” but because a neighbourhood watch volunteer deemed him a criminal, a prosecutor has said near the end of a murder trial. Florida prosecutors said George Zimmerman, 29, lied about what happened the night he killed Trayvon Martin, 17.
The accused says he shot the teenager in self-defence during a fight. He is charged with second-degree murder, but the judge has ruled the jury can convict him of manslaughter.
Mr Zimmerman could face life in prison if convicted on the murder charge. If found guilty of manslaughter, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
The entire world has been affixed to this case which has been aired by so many News stations including CNN and as a 12 day trial comes to a close, NoCoolStory hopes to bring you latest updates.
On the night of 26 February 2012, Martin was walking from a convenience shop to the home of his father’s fiancee in Sanford, Florida, when the fatal confrontation ensued.
Mr Zimmerman, who was legally armed with a pistol, had been sitting in his vehicle on a dark street when he saw Martin and believed he was up to no good. Mr Zimmerman telephoned police, then left his vehicle in apparent pursuit of the teenager.
Moments later, Martin was dead of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Mr Zimmerman claimed he had shot Martin in self-defence when the teenager tried to grab his gun. In the absence of witnesses contradicting his account, police did not arrest him until six weeks later, following mass protests across the United States.
After 12 days of testimony in Mr Zimmerman’s murder trial, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda gave the state’s closing remarks on Thursday.
He described Mr Zimmerman as a “wannabe cop” and said the neighbourhood watch volunteer had followed the teenager with a gun and provoked him into a fight.
“He is dead because another man made assumptions. Because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin will no longer walk on this Earth.”
Without explicitly bringing up race, Mr de la Rionda said Mr Zimmerman had “profiled” the young black hooded sweatshirt-clad teenager as a criminal.
“Who started this?” Mr de la Rionda asked the jury to consider. “Who followed who? Who was minding his own business? And of the two, who was armed?”