|Zimmerman Jury Asks for Manslaughter Clarification|
|By SENI TIENABESO (@seniABC)||Jul 13, 2013, 10:55 AM|
The Florida jury deliberating the George Zimmerman murder case asked the judge today for clarification on the charge of manslaughter.
The jury's request was the first indication of the direction of its deliberations.
"I think the defense should be nervous," said Dan Abrams, ABC News' legal consultant." Asking for clarification on manslaughter instructions "means at the very least they are taking that charge seriously."
Conviction for manslaughter could mean as much as 30 years in prison for Zimmerman.
The request from the six female jurors came after more than 11 hours of deliberations over two days.
"May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter," the jury wrote to Judge Debra Nelson this evening.
After consulting with the lawyers for both sides, the judge sent the jurors a reply that said the court cannot engage in "general discussions" on the charge, and added, "If you have a specific question please submit it."
Martin's parents were not present in the courtroom, but Zimmerman's parents exchanged glances with each other after the request came in.
Jury consultant Susan Constantine agreed that the question is an indication of the jury's thinking.
"If they are even asking about manslaughter that means an acquittal seems unlikely," Constantine said.
Zimmerman showed little reaction to the jury's request. That was in contrast to the beginning of the day when the defendant gave a rare smile before the jury began their second day deliberations.
Zimmerman , 29, maintains that he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense on Feb. 26, 2012.
The jury was told they can consider second degree murder, which could mean life in prison, or manslaughter.
His attorneys told ABC News that he is worried about the prospects about possibly spending the rest of his life behind bars or, if acquitted, a life in hiding. He has spent the last few days huddled with family as he awaits the verdict.
The parents of Trayvon Martin have tried to keep a low profile over the last two days. They have spent every day in court listening to attorneys say that their son was either the victim of profiling or the aggressor in an altercation that resulted in his death.
Ben Crump, the Martin family attorney, told ABC News that Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, is trying to keep a positive outlook.
Fulton left the courtroom during the defense's closing argument Friday when Zimmerman's lawyer held up a photo of Martin's dead body for the jury to see.
"Let's face it when you saw those pictures in the court room, you don't want that to be the image of your baby," said Crump. "That's Sybrina's baby boy, and you know the bond between a mother and a son. So she has to cling to the memories of Trayvon when he was growing up and just try to get through. There is no instruction book on how to deal with this."
Crump said Martin's parents plan to be in the courtroom when jurors reach a verdict.
"They're going to be here until the end. They've started this journey over 17 months ago, just asking for simple gestures, and they are [going] to fight for Trayvon to the end so his death won't be in vain," said Crump.
The six women, five of them mothers, who will decide the verdict range in age from their early 30's to their 60's. Four of the women have experience with guns or relatives who own them. Two of them rescue animals. One of the jurors is either Hispanic or black.
The women, who have been sequestered for more than two weeks, will decide one of the more racially charged cases in recent memory.
Friday they asked the court for a list of evidence to review as they decide whether to convict Zimmerman or let him walk free.
Police across Florida are bracing for a verdict. They have created places for people to protest in peace, are monitoring social media and urging people to remain calm.
"As we await this verdict we would like to remind everyone that the city of Sanford is a peaceful location and remains a peaceful location, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said Friday when the case went to the jury. "We have worked…to put together a plan to ensure the safety of Sanford and our surrounding communities."
In Broward County near where Martin lived, police have launched a campaign to encourage people to "be vocal, not violent" and have designated two parks where people can assemble peacefully to express their feelings.