The Zimmerman trial jury paused their deliberations at around 6:00PM EST to present Judge Nelson with a question:
“May we please have clarification on instructions regarding manslaughter?”
Nelson announced the question to the parties in open court, and has now recessed court 30 minutes to address the issue with the jury.
The implications of this question can only be addressed speculatively. It does, however, strongly suggest that murder 2 has been discarded from the jury’s consideration. All six jurors may be seriously considering manslaughter, or it may be a situation in which 5 jurors believe manslaughter does not apply (presumably because the State has failed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt) but find they are having trouble convincing the 6th jury of the same.
Update: The Court took a brief recess to allow the parties to gather case law on the issue of providing jury clarification. Parties agree it is acceptable to clarify on a specific question, if that is what the jury is struggling with, but not to provide a general overview of manslaughter. The parties are now co-drafting a question to the jury to ask whether what they seek is, in fact, clarification on a specific issue. Judge Nelson will then deliver this question to the jury.
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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,” now available at www.lawofselfdefense.com. “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition” is also available at Amazon.com.
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