SANFORD, Fla. - A prosecutor is telling jurors at the George Zimmerman trial that Zimmerman profiled 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, assuming he was up to no good -- and that it led to the shooting death of the teenager.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told jurors in Sanford, Fla., "A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own." He said Martin was killed "because a man made assumptions" -- and "because his assumptions were wrong."
He told the jury that Zimmerman wanted to be a police officer, and that's why he followed Martin through his neighborhood even though the teen wasn't doing anything wrong. The prosecutor said, "He assumed Trayvon Martin was a criminal. That is why we are here."
Closing arguments began after the judge ruled that jurors can consider the lesser charge of manslaughter, in addition to second-degree murder. But she denied a request for the jury to also consider third-degree murder, after a defense attorney called the proposal "outrageous."
For months, officials have been working with pastors, youth coaches and community activists to stress a non-violent approach once a verdict is announced. But police also have quietly been making plans to deal with potential violence.
In South Florida where the 17-year-old Martin was from, police may set up "First Amendment Zones" in the Miami area for peaceful rallies. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel also is airing TV ads stressing non-violence.
Zimmerman is on trial for second-degree murder in the shooting of Martin in Sanford. Martin's supporters say the shooting was racially motivated, while Zimmerman claimed self-defense.