Defense rests case in murder trial of George Zimmerman

Closing arguments today; matter could go to jury Friday

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SANFORD, Fla. — After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman's defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday in the neighborhood watch volunteer's second-degree murder trial.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before they present closing arguments today. Judge Debra Nelson said the case could be sent to the six jurors as early as Friday.

Zimmerman never testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to investigators. He claims that he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the teen straddled and punched him.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told reporters that Zimmerman wanted to testify but his attorneys felt he had already told his version of events in multiple police interviews played for jurors.

O'Mara said his client is "worried" as he faced up to a life sentence in prison for what O'Mara called a classic case of self-defense.

The defense started its case Friday and presented half as many witnesses in half of the time that prosecutors did. Friends, parents and an uncle of the defendant testified that it was Zimmerman screaming for help on a 911 call that captured sounds of the fatal fight. Martin's mother and brother had testified for the prosecution that it was Martin yelling for help.

Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., was the last witness called by the defense on Wednesday, and he said it's his son yelling for help on the call.

Defense attorneys also called a forensic pathologist who testified that the forensics evidence supports Zimmerman's account of what happened.

The defense rested on a day when the judge made two rulings preventing them from introducing certain evidence. Defense attorneys had wanted to present text messages from Martin's cellphone that discussed fighting and an animation depicting Zimmerman's fatal fight with Martin. But Nelson sided with prosecutors, who had argued the animation is inaccurate and the texts were irrelevant.

O'Mara said the defense will use the animation in closing arguments.

He also explained that defense attorneys decided not to show that Martin had a small amount of marijuana in his body at the time he died, despite winning a ruling on it from the judge, because it seemed insignificant.