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George Zimmerman trial: In closing arguments, defense attorney asks jury not to "fill in gaps" in state's case

George Zimmerman arrives for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Thursday, July 11, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Gary W. Green, Pool

Defendant George Zimmerman arrives in the courtroom for closing aurguments in his murder trial July 12, 2013 in Sanford, Florida
Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

(CBS) SANFORD, Fla. -- A defense attorney for accused murderer George Zimmerman asked a jury not to "fill in the gaps" in the prosecution's case against the former neighborhood watch captain as he presented his closing arguments Friday morning.

READ: Trayvon Martin Shooting: A timeline of events

PICTURES: George Zimmerman on trial in death of Fla. teen

"How many 'coulda beens' have you heard from the state in this case? How many what ifs have you heard from the state in this case. I don't think they get to ask any of this. I don't think they get to say to you, 'What do you think?' " asked defense attorney Mark O'Mara. "No no no. No no no. 'What have I proved to you?' 'What have I convinced you of beyond a reasonable doubt?' These are the words and the phrases of good prosecutors.'"

Giving his closing arguments Friday morning, O'Mara said he would take on the burden of proving Zimmerman's innocence, even though he said the state has the burden of proving the 29-year-old's guilt. 

Zimmerman, he said, is "factually innocent."

The 29-year-old former neighborhood watch volunteer is charged in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense. Thursday, the state gave its closing arguments in the case, arguing that Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop" who profiled Florida teen Trayvon Martin and wrongly assumed he was a criminal.

Friday morning, O'Mara honed in on what he portrayed as gaps in the state's case, asking the jury to look for evidence of Zimmerman's guilt. Presenting a ten-foot-long graphic of Zimmerman's phone call with non-emergency dispatchers, he walked jurors though the events of that evening, asking where in the call Zimmerman demonstrated ill will, hatred or spite.

Prosecutors have said that the profanity-laced language he used on the call - "F--ing punks" and "these ---holes" - demonstrated ill will and spite, elements of the second-degree murder charge he faces. Zimmerman placed the call to report Martin as a suspicious person in his community moments before the fatal altercation.

"Anger? Frustration? Hatred? Ill will? Spite? 'Get out here and get these guys, I hate these young black males,'" O'Mara said, language that wasn't used on the call. "Listen to the calls. Do not allow them to give their words to your ears, rather than George's."

O'Mara portrayed Zimmerman as a man concerned about his community - who did have aspirations to be a police officer, something he called a "noble profession" - and suggested that it was appropriate for him to be concerned with the "rash" of burglaries that were happening in his neighborhood.

"They may want you to assume...this neighborhood watch guy was some crazy guy walking around the neighborhood looking for people to harass. Except that's an assumption without any basis in fact whatsoever. Not one," said O'Mara.

He asked jurors what evidence the state had presented them to suggest that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin through the community after the non-emergency dispatcher told him not to.

"If it's there, I missed it. Presumption? Assumption? Connecting the dots? Sure. But you've agreed not to do that," said O'Mara. 

In court, O'Mara presented a computer animation of the defense's version of the fatal struggle, showing Martin throwing the first punch and later, straddling Zimmerman. The animation was a point of controversy outside of the presence of the jury after prosecutors objected to the jury seeing it. A judge ruled the animation could be used as a demonstrative exhibit during closing statements, but it will not be sent back into the deliberation room with the panel.

Just before a break, O'Mara highlighted what he portrayed as another inconsistency in the state's case - a time gap between the time when Trayvon Martin was on the phone with his friend Rachel Jeantel, telling her he was running, and the altercation.

The court sat silent for that length of time.

"Since this is the state's case, and not mine, did they show you, tell you, explain to you, give you any insight whatsoever what Trayvon Martin was doing four minutes before that fight started at the T intersection? Do you have a doubt as to what happened and what Trayvon Martin was doing, and what he must have been thinking for four minutes?"

After a short recess, O'Mara honed in on the time gap, arguing that it shows Martin was the aggressor in the confrontation.

"The person who decided this was going to become a violent event was the guy who didn't go home when he had the chance to," O'Mara said.

Complete coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial-Trayvon Martin case on Crimesider


  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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