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July 11, 2013

Zimmerman case judge: Jury can consider manslaughter charge

SANFORD, Fla.--Jurors in the George Zimmerman case will be allowed to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter when they begin their deliberations on whether the neighborhood watch volunteer murdered Trayvon Martin or shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon, but lawyers spent a testy morning arguing about what instruction Judge Debra S. Nelson will give the six-women jury. The instruction, or charge, is essentially the blueprint of how the jurors will weigh the weeks of evidence and more than 55 witnesses who took the stand.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman maintains he shot in self-defense when Martin attacked him.

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