A judge on Thursday will rule on whether to allow the jury in the Trayvon Martin case to consider additional charges against defendant George Zimmerman – which would allow him to be convicted of lesser crimes if he is acquitted of murder.
Prosecutors are asking the judge to let the jury consider manslaughter and aggravated assault when they begin deliberations on Friday, USA Today reports.
Some see the request, which Zimmerman’s lawyers oppose, as an indicator that prosecutors are not confident about the prospects of a second-degree murder conviction.
“They aren’t going to go all or nothing,” Jose Baez, the Florida criminal defense attorney who successfully defended Casey Anthony, said of the prosecution. “They aren’t blind to the fact that they haven’t proven second-degree murder.”
Zimmerman could face life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder; up to 30 years for manslaughter; and up to five years for aggravated assault.
Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday after the defense rested its case Wednesday. Zimmerman himself declined to testify on his own behalf.
The jury is being asked to decide whether Zimmerman, 29, was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012.