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Zimmerman murder trial judge denies defense request on jury instruction

Judge Debra Nelson gives instructions to the attorneys during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 11
Judge Debra Nelson gives instructions to the attorneys during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 11

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - The judge presiding over the murder trial of George Zimmerman denied a defense request on Thursday that jurors be instructed the neighborhood watch volunteer did nothing illegal in deciding to follow Trayvon Martin, before the encounter in which he shot and killed the unarmed black teenager.

"I am not giving that instruction," Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman defense lawyer Don West, who said no Florida law makes it illegal to follow somebody and that the proposed jury instruction was key to Zimmerman's self-defense case.

Nelson ruled after West failed to cite any law spelling out the legality of following someone by car or on foot. Evidence at Zimmerman's trial has shown it was his pursuit of Martin, with a concealed semiautomatic handgun, that set in motion the event that led to Martin's death.

(Reporting by Barbara Liston; Writing and editing by Tom Brown)

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