George Zimmerman to Face Manslaughter Charge as Well as Murder

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

The ruling was a victory for the prosecution, which sought to include two additional, lesser charges from the original charge of murder in the second degree.

Zimmerman, G.

Prosecutors in the Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin trial hoped to add charges of manslaughter and third-degree murder with child abuse as the underlying felony.

The victim was a minor at the time he was fatally shot; the charges stem from the 2012 death of Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

The defense, which claims Zimmerman acted in self defense, argued that allowing the jury to consider the lesser murder charge would be "outrageous."

"Just when I thought this case couldn't get any more bizarre, the state is seeking third-degree murder charges based on child abuse?" West said.

"This is outrageous," West later told Judge Debra Nelson, adding:

"It's just hard for me to imagine that the court taking this seriously."  

Nelson struck down the possibility of a third-degree felony murder charge based on child abuse, but ruled that the jury may in fact consider manslaughter.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Zimmerman could face up to life in prison; manslaughter would carry a severe, but less permanent sentence.

The state began closing arguments Thursday; the defense will present its closing arguments Friday. Watch the Zimmerman trial live stream below:

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