UPDATE: Zimmerman to face lesser charge of manslaughter - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Zimmerman to face lesser charge of manslaughter in addition to second-degree murder

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George Zimmerman in court. AP photo George Zimmerman in court. AP photo
By James Novogrod, Tom Winter and Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News

SANFORD, FL (NBC) - The jury in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial will be allowed to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter, the judge ruled Thursday.

Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Martin last year. Zimmerman did not testify on his own behalf during the trial.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Zimmerman could face up to life in prison.

The state is scheduled to deliver closing arguments at 1 p.m. on Thursday; the defense will present its closing arguments on Friday morning.

The defense rested Wednesday after briefly hearing testimony from Robert Zimmerman, George Zimmerman's father, and Olivia Bertalan, a resident at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community where Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer and where he and Martin had their fatal encounter.

Bertalan had been robbed while she was home with her young son by what she told the court were two teenagers about six months before Martin was killed. She said Zimmerman came over to her house and offered her a lock for her sliding glass door.

"We were terrified when this happened," she said. "He was just saying he wanted to make sure we were OK."

Robert Zimmerman, the defense's final witness, testified that on 911 calls from the night of the shooting, screams of "help" were "absolutely" his son George, despite conflicting opinions from others, including Martin's mom, that the yells could be from Martin.

George Zimmerman's mom, Gladys, testified the screams belonged to George Zimmerman, as did several other people.
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