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Zimmerman Prosecutor Delivers Passionate Rebuttal

The state's final plea still may not be strong enough to deliver a second-degree-murder conviction.

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Guy reinforced the argument that Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a likely criminal and followed him. The defense was forced to more or less concede those points. In their closing, the state went as far as saying Zimmerman "trapped" Trayvon.

Guy also reminded jurors that Zimmerman's reference to Trayvon as one of the "[expletive] punks" and "assholes" who always "get away" showed ill will, an element required for a second-degree-murder conviction.

But the state's narrative pauses there. When it resumes, Trayvon is dying from a bullet hole through his heart. For the jurors, what occurred in between is everything.

Who started the fight? As the struggle escalated, who was the aggressor? What about Trayvon's behavior proves he did not cause Zimmerman to fear great injury or death (which is required by Florida law for justified use of deadly force in self-defense)? Exactly what was happening in the altercation that proves Zimmerman unlawfully fired his gun?

The state offered no version of events that answered these questions convincingly enough to rule out all doubt. As Judge Debra Nelson told the jury before sending them to deliberate, "It is not necessary for George Zimmerman to prove anything."

The state, seeming to realize their case was faltering, changed strategies on the last day of testimony. Acting more as defense attorneys than prosecutors, the state tossed out several plausible versions of events to undermine Zimmerman's account, such as their assertion that Trayvon may have been pulling away when the shot was fired. 

"This only magnified the degree of reasonable doubt that exists," former Florida prosecutor Elizabeth Parker says. "The state did not meet its burden of proof of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt."

On Thursday, Guy's co-counsel, Bernie de la Rionda, rested the state's case by highlighting the many alarming inconsistencies in Zimmerman's statements. But he posed too many open-ended questions to the jury that he should have answered with a full, alternate account supported by the evidence.

The state's case was nothing more than "What ifs," defense attorney Mark O'Mara said in his closing argument on Friday. "I don't think they get to say to you, 'What do you think?' " he told the jurors. "No, no, no. No, no, no. 'What have I proved to you?' "

The thin evidence in this case isn't the prosecution's fault. There were no true eyewitnesses, it seems. But blame should be placed with Sanford, Fla., police for whisking Zimmerman in for questioning and releasing him while leaving Trayvon's body, and valuable evidence, uncollected at the scene for hours -- as rain probably washed away clues. 

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As the trial unfolds, remember that it's nothing new for a black man without a weapon to be killed.