George Zimmerman Trial Verdict: What Are the Possibilities?

ByGabriel Grand

Update 1:04 PM - The judge has decided to remove third-degree felony murder from the jury instructions because she does not believe there is enough evidence in support of it.

Now that both the prosecution and the defense have rested their case, the jury for the George Zimmerman trial is set to go into deliberations as soon as both sides finish their closing arguments. If the proceedings go smoothly, the six members of the jury could start their breakdown of the case as soon as Friday afternoon.

With the verdict looming ever-closer, let's take a look at the different ways that the jury could rule:

1. The Jury Finds George Zimmerman Guilty of Second-Degree Murder

The state of Florida has charged Zimmerman of murder in the second degree, a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. In order to find Zimmerman guilty of this charge, the members of the jury would have to find that Zimmerman's actions demonstrated "a depraved mind without regard for human life."

2. The Jury Finds George Zimmerman Guilty of Manslaughter

In order to find Zimmerman guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the jury would have to believe that Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin was "neither excusable, nor justified." Under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code, manslaughter is a second-degree felony. However, manslaughter with a firearm is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. It carries a minimum sentence of 9 and a quarter years.

3. The Jury Finds George Zimmerman Guilty of Third-Degree Felony Murder

Attorneys in the George Zimmerman trial are currently arguing before the judge about whether or not the jury should consider the lesser charge of third-degree murder in its deliberations. The prosecution has argued that Zimmerman committed child abuse when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin because Martin was 17 at the time. Under Florida law, Zimmerman's actions could constitute a felony of the third-degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

4. The Jury Finds George Zimmerman Not Guilty

The jury could decide that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense and in accordance with Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law when he shot Trayvon Martin. It would have to believe that Zimmerman's actions were "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm."

The jury would have to believe that the prosecution failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman was guilty of second-degree murder. It would also have to decide not to find him guilty of any lesser crimes.

In that case, George Zimmerman would walk free, though the consequences of that scenario could be just as severe as any prison sentence.

Gabe Grand is an editorialist for PolicyMic who covers the George Zimmerman trial. For more live updates and opinions on the proceedings, follow him on Twitter:

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