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Day 13 of the Zimmerman Trial: The Prosecution's Closing Argument

07/12/2013 12:14 EDT | Updated 09/11/2013 05:12 EDT
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SANFORD, FL - JULY 12: Defense attorney Mark O'Mara holds up the photo of George Zimmerman from the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting, during closing arguments for the defence in Zimmerman's murder trial July 12, 2013 in Sanford, Florida. Judge Debra Nelson has ruled that the jury can also consider a lesser manslaughter charge along with the second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)

The following are six key excerpts from the closing argument of Bernie de la Rionda:

1) ''A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions... and unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this earth.''

This simple statement is the state's most compelling argument for a manslaughter conviction. An innocent teenager died and Zimmerman was his killer as the result of his flawed perceptions and negligent conduct. Mark O'Mara has to overcome the jurors' visceral emotional response to the needless killing of an unarmed teenager walking to his father's home to watch a basketball All-Star game. This glaring problem is O'Mara's biggest challenge in his closing address today.

2) De la Rionda asks why Zimmerman ''exaggerated everything that happened.''

The prosecutor devoted a significant portion of his closing address to highlight the various inconsistencies in Zimmerman's statements. However, the inconsistencies are tangential and can't be attributed to a deceptive defendant scrambling to cover his tracks. That was also the conclusion of the lead investigator in the case. If Zimmerman is acquitted, the prosecution can be properly blamed for introducing Zimmerman's statements and his central defence.

3) ''I had a dream... that today, a witness would be judged not on the content of her personality, but on the content of her testimony.''

The prosecutor's feeble purpose to draw on a line from a famous speech of Martin Luther King Jr. was to deflect the jurors' concerns about the presentation of the prosecution's star witness, Rachel Jeantel. The defence, however, will rely on the gaping conflicts in Jeantel's testimony to impugn her credibility. Her evidence will likely be disregarded by the jury.

4) ''He brought a gun to the struggle, to a fight that he started...wanting to make sure the victim didn't get away. And now he wants you to let him off because he killed the only eyewitness, the victim, Trayvon Martin, who was being followed by this man, who had the right to defend him.''

It is false to suggest that Trayvon Martin is the sole eyewitness. The prosecutor minimized the evidence of the neighbour, John Good, who was an independent eyewitness to the fight between Zimmerman and Martin. Good described the man on top, identified as Trayvon Martin, pummeling Zimmerman. An advocate needs to confront bad facts rather than skip over them.

5) ''There was a struggle at some point it appears... the defendant was on top and at some point the victim was on top... but why did it occur?''

Bernie de la Rionda failed to address the circumstances leading to the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin in his closing address. His admission that Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman during the fight is a critical concession and was inconsistent with the prosecution's theory advanced during most of the trial. The submission fortifies the central defence position that when Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin he was acting in self defence. Mark O'Mara will remind the jury of the shifting prosecution theory and argue that it reflects a weak case against his client.

6) De la Rionda asserts that Zimmerman feigned surprise when Officer Doris Singleton informed him an hour after the shooting incident that Martin died.

The prosecutor's claim that Zimmerman acted surprised was based on a statement that he made to his neighbour, Jonathan Manalo, that he killed Martin. However, the actual evidence at trial of Manalo was that Zimmerman told him that: ''I was defending myself when I shot him.'' Mark O'Mara is certain to expose the prosecutor's distortion of the evidence in his closing address. It was a sloppy mistake by the prosecutor. It also highlights that the initial statement of George Zimmerman after the shooting was to proclaim that he was defending himself in the struggle.