Local legal experts weigh-in on self-defense element of George Zimmerman case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - George Zimmerman's fate is in the hands of the jury. Six women will decide whether he is guilty of murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The jurors have three options: they can find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter or they can declare him not guilty.

Local legal experts following the case believe the self-defense element is what makes this case so unique and tough to argue.

"Well, this is a very tough case, the legal elements that are in this case involving self-defense make for some very difficult hurdles for a prosecution to overcome," Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney, said.

It's a theme that may be stirring up conversation now as the Zimmerman jury debates. But, Criminal Defense Attorney Dan Ross does not see it leaving the court system soon.

"We're going to see a lot more of this type of self-defense case, but the way that the law is intended in the U.S., at least in Florida and Missouri, it is colorblind and so, that result, whatever it is, we live with it, and if mistakes are made, that up to the court of Appeals to resolve," Ross said.

Zimmerman, 29, faces life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. If he's found guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter, he faces a prison term of up to 30 years.

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