SANFORD, Fla. -- George Zimmerman's attorney strongly objected to a prosecution proposal that third-degree murder be included in the jury instructions. Defense attorney Don West on Thursday called the proposal "outrageous," given that it is premised on the idea that Zimmerman committed child abuse since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was underage when he was fatally shot.
[Special coverage: George Zimmerman trial] Judge Debra Nelson says she will rule on the proposal later. The judge, however, agreed with the prosecution that jurors could consider manslaughter as a lesser charge. West said he wanted the six jurors to only consider the second-degree murder charge or not guilty, but the jury will now have three options, second-degree murder, manslaughter, or an acquittal. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder. He claims he shot Martin in self-defense last year.Zimmerman's defense attorneys rested Wednesday after calling 18 witnesses over four days.Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told CNN there's "overwhelming evidence" that Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but he worries about jurors returning "a compromise verdict." Some legal analysts have suggested the jury could convict him of the lesser offense of manslaughter.WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer is leaning toward a not guilty verdict -- his opinion.Late Wednesday, the defense team rested its case, bringing Zimmerman a step closer to knowing his fate."And what is your decision?" Judge Debra Nelson asked Zimmerman."After consulting with counsel, not to testify, your honor," Zimmerman said.Zimmerman opted to stay away from the stand.Before his decision -- an exchange erupted between attorney Don West and Judge Debra Nelson. "I object to the court inquiring to Mr. Zimmerman as to his decision about whether or not to testify," Don West said. "Your objection is overruled," Nelson said.Police and city leaders in Florida say they've taken precautionary steps for possible protests or civil unrest if George Zimmerman is acquitted. 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.
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