West also argued against the manslaughter charge, telling Nelson that Zimmerman believes that because the "state has charged him with second-degree murder, they should be required to prove it, if they can."
In the end, the judge split the difference: The jury can consider manslaughter, but not third-degree felony murder.
Having both options is "enormous," said CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, especially given that Zimmerman could serve decades in prison on a manslaughter conviction.
"The jury can think to itself, well, ... we're compromising," Toobin said. "If the jury convicts on manslaughter, that would be a win for the prosecution."
Prosecutor: 'Innocent 17-year-old kid was profiled as a criminal'
The debate over the charges set the stage for de la Rionda to give his closing argument.
Referencing a widely heard call to police that Zimmerman made to police that night, the prosecutor contended that the defendant was bent on going after Martin -- even if the 911 dispatcher told him otherwise, and even though he never asked the unarmed teen directly what he was doing -- after he spotted him walking through his neighborhood.
"This innocent 17-year-old kid was profiled as a criminal. He was one of those a**holes who get away," de la Rionda told jurors. "He was one of those f***ing punks."
The profane language, de la Rionda argued, offers insight into Zimmerman's mind that winter night -- depicting someone who bore particular malice toward a person he had decided without justification was among the criminals who had plagued his neighborhood in the months leading up to the shooting.
That's important, because to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder, jurors will have to find that he acted with "ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent" in shooting Martin, according to Florida law.
De la Rionda characterized Zimmerman as a wannabe police officer who wrongly took the law into his own hands and pressed the fatal encounter with Martin. The teenager was "just doing a normal everyday thing" -- going to a convenience store to get Skittles and a drink, then walking back to his father's fiancee's home before he ended up dead shortly after 7 p.m., the prosecutor said.
"A teenager is dead through no fault of his own, dead because a man made assumptions and acted on them," said de la Rionda. "Unfortunately, because his assumptions are wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on the earth."
"He profiled him as a criminal. He assumed certain things, that Trayvon Martin was up to no good. And that's what led to his death," de la Rionda said before going on to attack many defense arguments about what happened that rainy night:
De la Rionda:
-- Argued that Zimmerman, who had taken criminal justice classes, fed police a story of escalating violence and exaggerated fear to meet the standards of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law.
-- Questioned Zimmerman's account of Martin straddling him, pounding his head into the pavement and, at one point, covering his mouth and nose with his hands. Why is none of the blood seen on Zimmerman's face found on Martin's hands, he asked. And, if the attack was so violent, why was Zimmerman's jacket in such good shape afterward?
-- Asked how was Zimmerman able to scream for help, as he has said he was, if his mouth was filling with blood and he was being smothered by Martin.
-- Said the lack of Martin's DNA on Zimmerman's pistol refutes defense arguments that Martin had grabbed the gun during the struggle.
Thursday's closing argument also marked the return of the foam, life-sized dummy that famously appeared a day earlier, when O'Mara grappled with it inside the courtroom to show rapt jurors the competing versions of what happened the rainy night Martin was killed.
This time it was de la Rionda's turn. Characterizing Zimmerman's account of how Martin had straddled him -- while allegedly punching him, slamming his head and covering his neck and mouth -- the prosecutor questioned how the late teenager could have seen, much less reach for, the gun that Zimmerman said he'd had in a holster inside his waistband.
"The truth does not lie," de la Rionda said. "... So how does he manage to get it out and get a perfect shot to the heart of a 17-year-old man?"