Zimmerman declines to testify in trial for murder of Trayvon Martin

The neighbourhood watch volunteer is accused of second degree murder for shooting an unarmed teenager

George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer who last year shot and killed an unarmed African American teenager, has declined to testify on the final day of his trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Lawyers for the defendant rested their case this afternoon without calling on Mr Zimmerman, who has previously told his story of the night on national television.

Speaking directly to Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson, he said: "After consulting with counsel, (I have decided) not to testify, your honor."

Following requests by prosecution after a devastating defence, the judge will now consider whether she will allow the jury to consider lesser charges to second degree murder – manslaughter and aggravated assault – when they begin deliberations on Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors will conclude closing arguments this afternoon and the defence is due to finish on Friday morning.

While the defendant did not take the stand, his recollection of events has been heard by the jury via a filmed interview with police investigators, an official re-enactment video recorded by police and his public interview with Fox News presenter Sean Hannity.  

The prosecution has spent nine days building its case for Mr Zimmerman’s conviction, while the defence has used less than four days of testimony to present its case that 17-year-old Trayvon attacked him and he shot in self-defence.

And however terse, defence attorneys have been praised, namely for their use of well-known forensic pathologist Vincent DiMaio to support Mr Zimmerman’s claims that he was struck repeatedly in the head before firing. Though they were unsuccessful yesterday in their bid to have text messages about guns and violence sent by Trayvon introduced to the jury.

According to reports, the neighbourhood watchman considered the 17-year-old suspicious after spotting him on February 26, 2012 in the gated community in Florida where he volunteered. Mr Zimmerman called police but before officers arrived, a confrontation led to Mr Zimmerman drawing his Kel Tech 9mm pistol and shooting Trayvon once through the heart.

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