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SANFORD - Jurors will hear opening statements at the George Zimmerman murder trial today, as attorneys for both sides begin telling their version of what happened the night Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a homicide that set of weeks of civil rights rallies.
The six jurors and four alternates seated last week will be presented with starkly contrasting depictions of Zimmerman, 29: The state alleges that he profiled the unarmed teenager, then followed, confronted and killed Trayvon Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.
Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, says he fired the fatal shot in self-defense after Trayvon punched him to the ground and began beating him.
When the trial resumes about 9 a.m. today, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda is expected to present the state's opening, followed by defense attorney Don West.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled late last week that the state can use several phrases in opening that Zimmerman's defense team had argued were too inflammatory: Prosecutors can say Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop," or a "vigilante," the judge ruled. They can also say Zimmerman "confronted" Trayvon.