SANFORD - Jurors in the George Zimmerman have returned to deliberationsafter asking for clarification on the "instructions regarding manslaughter," according to a note just read by the judge in the courtroom.
Jurors have been deliberating since 9 a.m. today in the trial of George Zimmerman working to decide whether the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was a crime, or an act of self-defense.
Their question, which was presented to the judge just before 6 p.m: "May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter?"
Attorneys spent 30 minutes reaching a "sort of" agreement after looking at case law, and crafted a message to send back to jurors.
They settled on this, which Circuit Judge Debra Nelson read aloud in court:
"The court cannot engage in general discussions but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter. If you have a specific question please submit," it read.
Rather than sending a specific question, the jurors took a dinner break and decided to continue deliberating, according to court spokeswoman Michelle Kenney.
Before the manslaughter request, the jurors had not asked a single question or made any requests today. The jury deliberated three and a half hours Friday, before asking Circuit Judge Debra Nelson for an evening recess.
It's not entirely surprising that the jurors may be hung up on manslaughter. It's a hard-to-explain offense that does not require a jury to find that the state proved Zimmerman acted out of ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, as second-degree murder would require.
For these jurors to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, they would have to find that he committed an intentional act that killed Trayvon, and that the teen's death wasn't an act of self-defense, or justifiable or excusable homicide and didn't result from negligence.
"There are very few instructions that are simpler than manslaughter," Orlando defense attorney Diana Tennis told the anchors on WOFL-TV.
The jury had its first question for the judge and the attorneys about two hours in on Friday: The jurors requested a list of all evidence exhibits, numbered and with descriptions.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson directed the clerk to compile a comprehensive list.
The jury has three options on the table: Zimmerman can be found guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter, or not guilty.
If the jury — made up of six women, five of them white — finds Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder, he faces a maximum of life in prison. If they find him guilty of manslaughter, he faces a maximum 30-year prison sentence.
Now that deliberations have started, the pace of the trial is in the hands of the jury.
As the six women consider the evidence inside the jury room, there is no predetermined schedule that they must follow to come to a speedy decision on a verdict, court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy said.
"They will deliberate through the weekend if they choose," Kennedy said. "If they indicate they need a day off, they will get one."
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting. Prosecutors allege he profiled, pursued and killed the unarmed Miami Gardens teen. Zimmerman says he was attacked by Trayvon, and fired the fatal shot in self-defense.
This is a developing story. Check back later today for updates, and visit OrlandoSentinel.com for a live video feed of the court proceedings, and a live chat. For frequent updates, follow Jeff Weiner on Twitter at @JeffWeinerOS and Rene Stutzman at @ReneStutzman.
Click here for full coverage of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.
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Watch video from the courthouse as the jury considered the case.
Read about the verbal dispute that occurred at the courthouse.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun