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Zimmerman trial jurors to be instructed on lesser charge: judge

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson speaks from the bench in the George Zimmerman trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 10, 2013.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson speaks from the bench in the George Zimmerman trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 10, 2013.

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - Jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial will be told they can potentially convict him for the lesser charge of manslaughter for the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, a Florida judge said on Thursday.

"The court will give the instruction on manslaughter as a Category One," Seminole County Court Judge Debra Nelson said.

The decision on the instructions that will be given to the panel of six woman jurors was announced by Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, as lawyers for the defense and prosecution argued in a hearing closed to the jury about the instruction they will be given in the closely-watched case.

Zimmerman, 29, faces up to life in prison if he is convicted of second-murder, the charge for which he was put on trial. Under the lesser offense of manslaughter, he could face a maximum penalty of 30 years.

(Reporting by Barbara Liston)

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