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Weighty words, charged atmosphere as Zimmerman trial rests with jury

Lawyers' closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial invoked the Founding Fathers and Martin Luther King Jr. – portentous words for a high-stakes case. Jurors began deliberations Friday afternoon.

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Defense counsel Mark O'Mara, right. talks to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda during the George Zimmerman trial at the Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla., Friday.

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/AP/Pool

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Lawyers in the George Zimmerman murder trial cited America's Founding Fathers, a civil rights icon, and the US Constitution on Friday as they sought to make last impressions with the jury, which is now deliberating a verdict that will define justice for Trayvon Martin, a slain black teenager, and his family.

The lawyers' portentous references, made in closing arguments of an emotional month-long trial, are intended to frame the case for a jury of six women – five whites and one Hispanic, five of whom are mothers. But the references also alluded to the sensitive political and racial issues that have swirled around the case.

In his appeal to the jury, defense attorney Mark O’Mara cited John Adams on the presumption of innocence and Thomas Jefferson on the importance of citizen juries before laying out his contention that Mr. Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is “factually innocent” of murder.

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” Mr. O’Mara said, quoting Jefferson. Then he told jurors, “You are living the Constitution.”

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