Defense Rests Case, Zimmerman Will Not Testify

Jurors may begin deliberating this week, as lawyers for George Zimmerman tied up their case Wednesday.

(Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
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As defense attorneys rested their case in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, law enforcement officials are beginning to prepare for whatever unrest might stem from a not-guilty verdict.

On the final day of testimony, Zimmerman, 29, said he would not come to the stand, and prosecutors called rebuttal witnesses, bringing the highly-watched murder trial close to an end.

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, could face up to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and said he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self defense.

[READ: Forensic Pathologist Says Trayvon Martin Was on Top of Zimmerman]

In anticipation of a final verdict in the racially charged case, the Broward County Sheriff's Office and the Sanford Police Department released a public service announcement featuring police officers and teenagers, that urges people to act peacefully in the aftermath of the trial, according to NBC affiliate WLTV.

Martin was on his way to the house of his father's fiance in Sanford, Fla., the night he was shot, but he lived in Broward County.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard from the final defense witness, Zimmerman's father Robert.

 

Robert Zimmerman testified that he heard his son screaming in the background of a 911 call from the night of the shooting. Martin's family has said it is the teenager calling for help in the background.

Robert Zimmerman said he first heard the tape in the state's attorney's office.

[PHOTOS: Protesters Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin]

"I told them absolutely, it's my son, George," he said on Wednesday.

The defense also called former law enforcement officer Dennis Root to testify as an expert on defensive use of force, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Root told the jury that Zimmerman's injuries were consistent with "a physical fist fight." He also said that the profanity Zimmerman used when he described the encounter with Trayvon showed his general frustration, not ill will, hatred or spite.

In order to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, prosecutors must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the act was fueled by hatred, not self defense, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Judge Debra Nelson also made two important rulings on Wednesday regarding Martin's text messages and a computer animation of the fight.

[ALSO: 911 Calls Heart of Zimmerman Trial]

Nelson ruled that the defense could not show jurors the computer animation, but that they may show it as a demonstrative tool during closing arguments. She also ruled against a request from the defense to introduce as evidence text messages from Martin's phone that reportedly made references to buying a gun, according to CNN.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberating later this week, after both sides make closing arguments.

Prosecutors called one rebuttal witness on Wednesday and may call two more before closing arguments, according to Reuters.

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