The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 15, 2013

Jury instructions at center of Zimmerman verdict

(Continued)

"The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person ... would have believed the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force," the instruction read.

Jurors refused to talk to reporters after the verdict about how they reached their decision Saturday night. Their names are being kept secret until Judge Debra Nelson lifts an order protecting their identities.

After the verdict, Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey said the use of deadly force is often one of the toughest areas of the law for prosecutors. Gov. Rick Scott appointed her office to the case a few weeks after the shooting when local prosecutors didn't press charges.

She said that when a victim shoots a robber or rapist, the use of deadly force is clearly justifiable. In cases such as Zimmerman's, the lines get blurry.

"That's why this case was unique, in a sense, and that's why this case was difficult," she said.

Even defense attorneys, who use the law to their advantage, say the instruction for the justifiable use of deadly force can be confusing to jurors since there are so many elements to it. It's one of the longest instructions given jurors.

"The more complex the instruction, the more it benefits the defense," said Blaine McChesney, an Orlando defense attorney and former prosecutor with no connection to the Zimmerman case. "It's a very convoluted instruction, but it's the best they have."

Jurors were also told that reasonable doubt about Zimmerman's guilt could come from conflicting evidence or the lack of evidence.

Over three weeks of testimony, they received mounds of conflicting evidence and testimony of what happened on that rainy February 2012 night after Zimmerman spotted Martin walking in his townhouse complex after the teen bought Skittles candy and iced tea from a nearby 7-Eleven. He didn't recognize Martin, who lived in the Miami area and was visiting the home of his father's fiancee. The neighborhood had experienced burglaries and some people had reported the suspects seen fleeing were young black males, like Martin.

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