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SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Jurors in the murder trial of George Zimmerman have asked the judge for clarification on the charge of manslaughter Saturday evening, as they deliberate into the second day whether the neighborhood watch volunteer acted in self-defense when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. 

The jurors sent Judge Debra Nelson a note asking for clarification on the manslaughter charge, the less-serious charge Zimmerman faces, after deliberating for about eight hours Saturday. The question read simply: "May we please have clarification for the instruction on manslaughter?"

As jurors awaited an answer, Nelson talked to lawyers at the bench and then said court would recess for a half hour.  When attorneys returned, prosecutor Richard Mantei said that after conducting research, he would suggest asking the jurors to elaborate.  Defense attorney Mark O'Mara agreed.

"Let's get clarification on their confusion," O'Mara said.

The judge then sent a note back to the jury that read: "The court can't engage in general discussion but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter. If you have a specific question, please submit it."

The jury also recessed for an hour for dinner, during which they were allowed to continue deliberating.

During the day about two dozen people gathered outside the courthouse awaiting a verdict, with supporters of the Martin family outnumbering those there for Zimmerman. One man held a sign that read, "We love you George." A woman lay in the grass in a hoodie, her arms spread, in a re-creation of Martin's death.

On Twitter, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, shared what she called her favorite Bible verse: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

Watch the George Zimmerman verdict as it happens LIVE at ZimmermanTrialOnFox.com

The six women who make up the jury were handed the case early Friday afternoon. About two hours into their discussions, they asked for a list of the evidence.   After another hour of deliberations, they adjourned for the day, around 6 p.m.

"Your verdict should not be influenced by feelings of prejudice, bias or sympathy," Judge Nelson told the panel earlier, reading from a 27-page set of instructions. "Your verdict must be based on the evidence, and on the law contained in these instructions."

Just after the jury began deliberations Friday, civic leaders and law enforcement held a news conference to plead for calm in Sanford and across the country in the wake of the verdict, no matter the outcome.

Read the instructions given to jurors (PDF)

"We recognize that this case has stirred up a great deal of emotion, but we're not seeing tension here in Seminole County. There is no party involved in this case who wants to see any violence," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said.

"We have every expectation, upon the announcement of this verdict, that our community, and its visitors, will continue to act peacefully."

Eslinger stressed: "We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law."

During closing arguments, Zimmerman's attorneys portrayed their client as a neighborhood activist who shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense after a confrontation and struggle. Prosecutors, meanwhile, worked to portray him as a "wannabe" cop whose misguided suspicion resulted in the teen's death.

Over three hours Friday, Attorney Mark O'Mara delivered the defense's closing arguments. He put a concrete slab and two life-sized cardboard cutouts in front of the jury box in one last attempt to convince the panel Zimmerman shot the teen in self-defense while the larger Martin slammed Zimmerman's head against the pavement.

"That is not an unarmed teenager," O'Mara said, hoisting the chunk of concrete.

Jurors were focused as the defense played an animation depicting what they thought happened the night Zimmerman killed Martin.

O'Mara also used the animation to put doubt in jurors' minds as to what state witnesses said. Selma Mora testified she saw Zimmerman over Martin.

Zimmerman "is not guilty of anything but protecting his own life," O'Mara said. "This is what really matters for today and that is self-defense."

O'Mara reminded jurors that even a reasonable doubt in their minds that Zimmerman committed a crime can only mean acquittal.

"It is a tragedy, truly," O'Mara said. "But you can't allow sympathy."

O'Mara said the state's argument is based on a series of "could've beens" and "maybes."

Listen to 911 calls, see pictures from the trial at ZimmermanTrialOnFox.com

"If it hasn't been proven, it's just not there," O'Mara said. "You can't fill in the gaps. You can't connect the dots. You're not allowed to."

In a rebuttal to the defense, prosecutor John Guy accused Zimmerman of telling "so many lies." He said Martin's last emotion was fear as Zimmerman followed him through The Retreat at Twin Lakes townhome complex on the fateful rainy night.
 
"Isn't that every child's worst nightmare, to be followed on the way home in the dark by a stranger?" Guy said. "Isn't that every child's worst fear?"
 
A young juror appeared to wipe away a tear as Guy said nothing would ever bring back Martin.

"The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to, he shot him because he wanted to," Guy said. "That's the bottom line.

"It's not a case about self defense, it's a case about self denial -- George Zimmerman's."

Guy said Zimmerman lied about what happened: "He had to make Trayvon Martin menacing, violent, threatening, so he had to put his arms out. This case is not about race. It's about right and wrong. It's that simple."

Lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda delivered the state's closing arguments a day earlier. He forcefully told jurors that Zimmerman's inaccurate "assumptions" about Martin were responsible for the teen's death February 26, 2012.

"A teenager is dead," he said. "He's dead not just because the man made those assumptions, but because he acted on those assumptions and unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this Earth.

"He brought a gun to a fight that he started. Now he wants you to let him off because he killed the only eyewitness, the victim Trayvon Martin," de la Rionda said.

Zimmerman showed ill will and hatred when he whispered profanities to a police dispatcher over his cell phone while following Martin, said de la Rionda as he urged jurors to hold Zimmerman accountable for his actions. In order to get a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors must show Zimmerman showed ill will, hatred or spite.

Complete coverage of the George Zimmerman at ZimmermanTrialOnFox.com

"The law doesn't allow people to take the law into their own hands," de la Rionda said.

Jurors can acquit the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer or convict him of either second-degree murder or manslaughter in the death of the Martin. Prosecutors must prove that Zimmerman acted with ill will, hated or spite to convict him of second-degree murder.

A third-degree murder charge based on child abuse was disallowed by Nelson on Thursday.

Because there were no direct eyewitnesses the night of the shooting, the jury will likely rely heavily on testimony -- which was often conflicting -- from police, neighbors who testified they heard a struggle, friends and family members.

Zimmerman never testified, but jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to investigators.

O'Mara told reporters that Zimmerman did want to testify, but his attorneys felt he had already told his version of events.

"I think he really wanted to be able to interact with this jury and say to them 'This is what I did and this is why I did it. And as importantly, this is what was happening to me at the time that I decided to do what I had to do,' " O'Mara said. "So in that sense, yes, I think he wanted to tell his story."

Still, O'Mara said his client is "worried" because he faces up to a life sentence in prison if convicted for what O'Mara called a classic case of self-defense.

Asserting that Zimmerman "believed he did what he had to do to protect himself from great bodily injury that was already being visited on him," O'Mara added, "If we presented evidence that helped the jury understand that, then we've done our job."

Zimmerman could face up to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm. A manslaughter conviction in the case could result in a maximum sentence of 30 years.

If the jurors do not reach a verdict Saturday, it will up to the panel to decide if they want to continue deliberations Sunday.

"If they want to deliberate they can," Michelle Kennedy, a court public information said.

 

Information from Fox 35 News' Valerie Boey, FoxNews.com and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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