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READ: Instructions For The Jury In Trial Of George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman in court on Thursday.
Gary W. Green/pool
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Getty Images
George Zimmerman in court on Thursday.

Nearly 17 months after the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — a death that would spark protests across the nation — a jury is about to begin considering whether defendant George Zimmerman acted in self defense or should be convicted of murder or manslaughter.

Zimmerman's attorneys are expected to wrap up their closing arguments Friday in a Sanford, Fla., courtroom. Then, Judge Debra Nelson will read her instructions to the jurors — guidance that the prosecution and defense spent hours debating on Thursday.

Every line of the instructions was fought over by the attorneys. We've put the document online and in a box we'll embed below (just click on the title, "George Zimmerman Trial: Final Jury Instructions," to pop up a larger version). Read through to see what Judge Nelson will say and what the jurors will be considering as they debate Zimmerman's fate.

Trayvon was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford. Zimmerman, a self-styled neighborhood watch volunteer, says he acted in self defense. Trayvon's family and supporters say Zimmerman, now 29, racially profiled the young African-American and should not have been following the unarmed teen. The case ignited a national debate after Trayvon's family called for Zimmerman's arrest and accused local authorities of not properly investigating the young man's death.

If you'd like to look back at how the story developed, we're also attaching a timeline based on our headlines since March 2012.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.