The jury couldn’t have even posed such a query a few days ago: Judge Debra Nelson ruled Thursday, over the defense’s vehement objection, to include manslaughter as an option for jurors, in addition to second-degree murder. Their third option is to find Zimmerman not guilty.
The open-ended question — the jurors’ first since late Friday afternoon, when they requested an inventory of evidence — was read out in court shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday.
When it reconvened prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to a response to the jury’s question.
“The court cannot engage in general discussions but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter,”
their response to the jury says.
“If you have a specific question, please submit it.”
Manslaughter, under Florida law, is
“the killing of a human being by the act … of another, without lawful justification … and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder.”
That is a second-degree felony.
According to the jury instructions, Zimmerman could be convicted of manslaughter if jurors believe he “intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.”
“George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide,”
the instructions add.
“Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence.”