SANFORD — After 3 1/2 hours of deliberations Friday, jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial retired for the night, signaling that it may be a while before they reach a verdict.
The six-member panel — all women, five of them white — sent out a note at 5:50 p.m., asking to break for the evening.
When they get back to work at 9 a.m., they will resume the job of determining whether Zimmerman committed a crime when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, or whether the 29-year-old Neighborhood Watch volunteer was acting in self-defense.
Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson told the jurors she would lock up their notes for the night and that they should not discuss the case until they return. That may be harder than it seems. They're sequestered, staying at the same hotel and are believed to be dining together.
When the jury returned to the courtroom just before retiring for the night, there were no outward signs of anger or conflict.
An hour and a half earlier they sent out a note asking for an itemized list of evidence exhibits — there are more than 250 in this case.
The judge had the clerk make some quick revisions to hers, and the judge sent back six copies.
Neither of the juror notes was good news for Zimmerman.
In his closing argument Friday, defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked jurors to start their deliberations with a quick check of whether they believed the defendant had acted in self-defense.
If they believed that, he said, there was nothing else for jurors to consider.
"It's an easy decision," he said.
Apparently not. If they followed his advice and were in agreement, they'd be done by now.
The panel must decide whether Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter or, because he acted in self-defense, committed no crime.
If they decide he's guilty of second-degree murder, Zimmerman faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. If they decide he's guilty of manslaughter, he faces up to 30 years.
Jurors may be hung up on manslaughter, a hard-to-explain offense that does not require a jury to find that the state proved Zimmerman acted out of ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, as second-degree murder would require.
For these jurors to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, they would have to find that he committed an intentional act that killed Trayvon, and that the teen's death wasn't an act of justifiable or excusable homicide and didn't result from negligence.
When he presented his closing arguments, O'Mara told jurors he would "take on the obligation of proving to you that my client is innocent," despite the fact that the law doesn't require the defense to prove anything.
"If you have a reasonable doubt as to whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, he's not guilty," O'Mara told jury.
O'Mara on Friday described the shooting to jurors as "a tragedy, truly, but you can't allow sympathy into it."
Trayvon was the aggressor that night, he said.
O'Mara hauled across the courtroom a slab of concrete and placed it in front of the jury box.
"This is a sidewalk," he said. "It is a weapon."
Zimmerman has said he acted in self-defense after Trayvon attacked him, punching him and breaking his nose, then getting on top of Zimmerman and pounding his head into the sidewalk.
O'Mara also played for jurors a 3-D computer-generated animation that showed the punch Zimmerman says Trayvon threw and then shows the teenager on top of the defendant.
Although it was hardly movie-house quality, it provided jurors something the state never did, a clear concise narrative of what happened in the final seconds of Trayvon's life.
In an emotion-packed final appeal Friday, Assistant State Attorney John Guy pleaded with jurors to hold Zimmerman accountable for Trayvon's death.
"What was in Trayvon Martin's heart? Was it not fear? Isn't that every child's worst fear, to be followed in the dark by a stranger?"
Zimmerman had spotted Trayvon standing in a neighbor's yard, called police and described him as suspicious then followed him on foot. Neighbors reported hearing an argument, then a fight, then screams for help.
Then, a gunshot.
"Trayvon Martin may not have had the blood of George Zimmerman on his hands," Guy said. "But George Zimmerman will forever have Trayvon Martin's blood on his hands. Forever."
Click here for full coverage of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.
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Watch video from the courthouse as the jury considered the case.
Read about the verbal dispute that occurred at the courthouse.Copyright © 2015, CT Now