Zimmerman cleared in shooting of Trayvon Martin

Neighborhood watch volunteer could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter
Associated Press
Jul 14, 2013

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges Saturday in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.

Zimmerman, 29, blinked and barely smiled when the verdict was announced. He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter. But the jury of six women, all but one of them white, reached a verdict of not guilty after deliberating well into the night. Their names have not been made public, and they declined to speak to the media.

Martin's mother and father were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read; supporters of his family who had gathered outside yelled "No! No!" upon learning of the not guilty verdict.

The teen's father, Tracy, reacted on Twitter: "Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY."

His mother also said on Twitter that she appreciated the prayers from supporters.

"Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have," she wrote.

The jurors considered nearly three weeks of often wildly conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor on the rainy night the 17-year-old was shot while walking through the gated townhouse community where he was staying.

Defense attorneys said the case was classic self-defense, claiming Martin knocked Zimmerman down and was slamming the older man's head against the concrete sidewalk when Zimmerman fired his gun.

"We're ecstatic with the results," defense attorney Mark O'Mara after the verdict. "George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense."

Another member of his defense team, Don West, said he was pleased the jury "kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty."

Prosecutors called Zimmerman a liar and portrayed him was a "wannabe cop" vigilante who had grown frustrated by break-ins in his neighborhood committed primarily by young black men. Zimmerman assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands, prosecutors said.

State Attorney Angela Corey said after the verdict that she believed second-degree murder was the appropriate charge because Zimmerman's mindset "fit the bill of second-degree murder."

"We charged what we believed we could prove," Corey said.

As the verdict drew near, police and city leaders in the Orlando suburb of Sanford and other parts of Florida said they were taking precautions against the possibility of mass protests or unrest in the event of an acquittal.

"There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said immediately after jurors began deliberating. "We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully."

O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, said his client is aware he has to be cautious and protective of his safety.

"There still is a fringe element that wants revenge," O'Mara said. "They won't listen to a verdict of not guilty."

The verdict came a year and a half after civil rights protesters angrily demanded Zimmerman be prosecuted. That anger appeared to return Saturday night outside the courthouse, at least for some who had been following the case.

Rosie Barron, 50, and Andrew Perkins, 55, both black residents of Sanford, stood in the parking lot of the courthouse and wept.

"I at least thought he was going to get something, something," Barron said.

Added her brother: "How the hell did they find him not guilty?"

Perkins was so upset he was shaking. "He killed somebody and got away with murder," Perkins shouted, looking in the direction of the courthouse. "He ain't getting no probation or nothing."

Several Zimmerman supporters also were outside the courthouse, including a brother and sister quietly rejoicing that Zimmerman was acquitted. Both thought the jury made the right decision in finding Zimmerman not guilty — they felt that Zimmerman killed Martin in self-defense.

Cindy Lenzen, 50, of Casslebury, and her brother, 52-year-old Chris Bay, stood watching the protesters chant slogans such as, "the whole system's guilty."

Lenzen and Bay — who are white — called the entire case "a tragedy," especially for Zimmerman.

"It's a tragedy that he's going to suffer for the rest of his life," Bay said. "No one wins either way. This is going to be a recurring nightmare in his mind every night."

Meanwhile, authorities in Martin's hometown of Miami said the streets were quiet, with no indication of problems. The neighborhood where Martin's father lives in Miami Gardens was equally quiet.

Zimmerman wasn't arrested for 44 days after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting as police in Sanford insisted that Florida's Stand Your Ground law on self-defense prohibited them from bringing charges. Florida gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.

Martin's parents, along with civil rights leaders such as the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, argued that Zimmerman — whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic — had racially profiled their son. And they accused investigators of dragging their feet because Martin was a black teenager.

Before a special prosecutor assigned to the case ordered Zimmerman's arrest, thousands of protesters gathered in Sanford, Miami, New York and elsewhere, many wearing hoodies like the one Martin had on the night he died. They also carried Skittles and a can of iced tea, items Martin had in his pocket. President Barack Obama weighed in, saying that if he had a son, "he'd look like Trayvon."

Despite the racially charged nature of the case, race was barely mentioned at the trial. Even after the verdict, prosecutors said the case was not about race.

"This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms," Corey said. "We believe this case all along was about boundaries, and George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries."

One of the few mentions of race came from witness Rachel Jeantel, the Miami teen who was talking to Martin by phone moments before he was shot. She testified that he described being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker" as he walked through the neighborhood.

Jeantel gave some of the trial's most riveting testimony. She said she overheard Martin demand, "What are you following me for?" and then yell, "Get off! Get off!" before his cellphone went dead.

The jurors had to sort out clashing testimony from 56 witnesses in all, including police, neighbors, friends and family members.

For example, witnesses who got fleeting glimpses of the fight in the darkness gave differing accounts of who was on top. And Martin's parents and Zimmerman's parents both claimed that the person heard screaming for help in the background of a neighbor's 911 call was their son. Numerous other relatives and friends weighed in, too, as the recording was played over and over in court. Zimmerman had cuts and scrapes on his face and the back of his head, but prosecutors suggested the injuries were not serious.

To secure a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury that Zimmerman acted with a "depraved" state of mind — that is, with ill will, hatred or spite. Prosecutors said he demonstrated that when he muttered, "F------ punks. These a-------. They always get away" during a call to police as he watched Martin walk through his neighborhood.

To win a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.

 

Comments

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

GOOD

The Big Dog's back

This is coming from a state (Florida) who found Casey Anthony not guilty. Mothers, don't take your kids to Florida.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

Mum-of-One

Runyan v. State (1877) 57 Ind. 80, 20 Am.Rep. 52, is one of the earliest cases to strongly support and establish in U.S. law an individual's right to initiate self-defense actions up to and including the justifiable use of lethal force against an aggressor.
In Runyan, the court stated "When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justiciable."

The Big Dog's back

Hope your "one" doesn't walk thru a Florida neighborhood with skittles and tea.

whazup

Don't forget the part where she punches the other person and beats his head.

JudgeMeNot

Get over it deerwacker and lil dog, the jury has spoken. Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

herbie_hancock

walk thru a Florida neighborhood with skittles and tea...and use racial slurs, and smoke/sell weed, and get kicked out of school, and pose like a gangster with your guns on facebook, and pound someones face in to the concrete. It was a panel of his peers, all mothers, that found him not guilty, not the state of Florida. If someone is pounding my face into the concrete, 17 years old or not, I'd do the same thing. Granite Im not going to follow someone around my neighborhood, but its not against the law to do so.

JudgeMeNot

Ha ha. Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

brahrider's picture
brahrider

Ya'll are funny!

A judge denied a new trial Thursday for a Jacksonville woman who has gained national support for her assertion that she stood her ground firing a warning shot against an abusive husband and now can expect a 20-year sentence.

Defense attorney Kevin Cobbin spent about 40 minutes arguing on behalf of 31-year-old Marissa Alexander. He based much of it on what he called limitations the court placed on testimony that could support Alexander's claim of her husband's reputation of abusing women.

Authorities said Alexander shot in the direction of 36-year-old Rico Gray during an August 2010 dispute at their home with his two children in the house.

It took a jury just 12 minutes to find Alexander guilty in March of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Alexander, who rejected an earlier plea deal, said she was in fear of her life and fired the single shot to get Gray out of the house. She said she had tried to leave through the garage before getting her gun, but the door wouldn't work.

Circuit Judge James Daniel denied all of Cobbins' pleas for a new trial, repeatedly referring to the accounts of two witnesses who did testify about Gray's violent reputation.

Cobbin argued that the court also erred in denying Alexander immunity in a Stand Your Ground hearing in July 2011. The law has become a firestorm for debate following the February killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford.

It helped elevate Alexander's cause as the NAACP's Jacksonville chapter issued a letter to the judge, supporters have rallied outside the courthouse and national media have zoned in on her story.

Cobbin added that new evidence pertaining to the details of the incident was not known at the time of the hearing.

That new evidence included the testimony of one of the victims, Gray's son, who at first told authorities he was in fear of his life during the shooting. But at Alexander's trial, he said he was not.

The judge said it would be improper, however, to reverse Circuit Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt's previous findings in the immunity hearing, which would ultimately translate into an acquittal.

"Maybe I would be agreeing to a new Stand Your Ground motion, which highlights some of the difficulties we are struggling with procedurally implementing this new law," Daniel said. "But ultimately the motion is denied."

Daniel said that despite any new evidence, Senterfitt's ruling was based on Alexander's decision to go back into the home armed with a gun.

"This is inconsistent with a person in genuine fear of his or her life," Senterfitt wrote in her ruling.

"She had every right to walk back in that house and had no intention of using that gun until he engaged her," Cobbin said.

Daniel said he will consider acquitting her of one of the charges based on Gray's son's testimony at trial, which he said he took as the truth, though Alexander will still face the 20-year sentence on the other two counts.

State Attorney Angela Corey said it was Alexander's choice to take the case to trial despite a plea offer that would have given her a three-year sentence. The offer was good until the Friday before her trial.

"We still considered all of her mitigation and offered to take 17 years off of the 20-year minimum mandatory, which the '10-20-Life' [law] is excellent at giving prosecutors the discretion to do," Corey said.

Corey said that offer came even after Alexander was arrested four months after the shooting on a charge of domestic abuse, again against Gray. She pleaded no contest to that charge in March following her trial and was sentenced to time served.

Gray has been arrested twice on domestic battery charges, one against Alexander resulting in a conviction and a sentence of probation. Alexander had an injunction filed against him following the attack.

"There's no set standard as to what you do when you're in fear," said Helen Jenkins, Alexander's mother. "Actually, he's still alive. That speaks well of her."

Jenkins said she was disappointed by the judge's ruling, but she and her supporters will "keep on going" to an appeal.

But not before Alexander is sentenced May 11.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/cri...

whazup

Just another example where the courts do not allow abused women to stand up to their abusers. That's another conversation in itself!

herbie_hancock

http://weknowmemes.com/wp-conten... Tag:big dog, deertracker

middleclassworker

I understand a number of people in this country will be upset by the out come of this trial. BUT, SIX WOMAN found him innocent!! It was the press all around the country who was selling guilty...for this they should be ashamed....just to sell a paper or advertising for their news show. The fact I see interesting is that when Martin was 'scared of someone following him" he called his girlfriend to show off with racial slang and descriptive words.....not the police to help him. He choose to show this (racial descriptive term) white person following him a lesson......ask yourself why he didn't want the police involved? He didn't call them....bad people never want to involve the police! Martin did not call the police! He choose to teach Zimmermann a lesson and started a beating so bad that then and only then he choose to defend himself. It is a sad story, I don't like any part of it. And now many others will riot in his name because the media couldn't control the new's story....now they have to just report it.

The Big Dog's back

Bullspit.

middleclassworker

Thank's

deertracker

Your info is incorrect. He did not call his girlfriend he called a friend which is the thing to do if you feel you may be in danger. Calling the police would have been pointless because no crime had been committed. I don't think he was "showing off". Your assumption of "rioting" is not only insulting it shows your lack of knowledge about black people.

middleclassworker

Didn't his friend who was a girl (female or lady) testify on what Martin was saying while being chased?....And you don't need to call the police after a situation turn into a crime....their vehicles typically have a marking on the car that states "to serve & protect" !!! If he felt threatened in any way "life or death , injury vs safety" then he should have called the police. I never mentioned rioting blacks....that was your words.....not mine.

deertracker

You do need to call the police after the fact if a crime has been committed. No disrespect to the police but they cannot protect you if they are not there. You have to protect yourself. I challenge you to call the police and say someone is following you. What do you think they are going to do? What can they do? Who did you think was going to riot? Latinos? Whites? Asians? Who?

middleclassworker

The police will never be there....if you don't call....he didn't call. I have called the police about suspicious persons in my neighborhood....they responded very quickly!! (Thanks Perkins police dept.!!)And thanks to the state of OHIO and the ERIE county sheriff dept. and my success in schooling and training, and being upstanding citizen who had no problems with the back ground check thru the BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation...In case you not aware of them) I have the ability to lawfully protect myself and my family.

Who do I think will riot? AL Qaeda...lol....How about those who disagree with the outcome of the trail ....no matter what their race, church, height, weight, political party is. I don't appreciate you or the media for making this about race!! That their lie's the whole problem!!

Would you feel better if Zimmerman had died from head trauma while Martin ran and hid and bragged to his friends? If so you are a hypocrite!!

The Big Dog's back

HE WAS 17!

middleclassworker

So....I group of teenagers in Sandusky beat a man within an inch of his life....dragged his almost lifeless body down the street to do who knows what to him....probably finish the last of his life away. So if he was 17 then why did they use his 12 yr old picture for the media?

herbie_hancock

How old was T. J. Lane? So your age excuses you from smashing someones face in the concrete? Your age excuse is null and void.

middleclassworker

thank you

The Big Dog's back

What kind of wannabe cop can't handle a 17 year old?

middleclassworker

Martin was 6' 2" and 175 lbs. 17 years old.....not 12 like his picture! Zimmerman was 5' 9" and 160 lbs....he gained 40 + lbs by the time he went to court.

rezzy

I had no idea that by simply being a wannabe cop would mean that I can physically dominate others. From now on, I am going to beat everyone up because I now want to be a cop. Thanks Big pup

Godhelpus44857

MiddleClass: I agree with you when you said the teenager should have called the police for assistance. If someone was following me and I felt fearful, I would call the police and not a friend. This was a tragic case of a teenager (regardless of color) going to stand his ground and "buck-up" to an adult. Teenagers defy and disrespect authority more and more now these days. I think Zimmerman should have behaved better as well. I understand he was trying to "protect" his neighborhood, but if he thought this kid was up to no good, he also should have called the police and asked them to check the kid out. This is a sad and tragic story. The thing that will make this worse, is all of the violent protests that will take place because of this verdict. I do not really believe Mr. Zimmerman targeted this youth because he was black, I think it was more he just thought he looked suspicious. I really hate to see anti-social behavior of any kind by any person, but it really makes me sick when folks use incidences like this to 1) act like idiots and 2) turn it into something racist. It really stains and stifles the message being sent when things get twisted into violent, racial socially inappropriate behaviors. When humans operate under the "pack mentality" then we all lose. My thoughts and prayers are with both families affected by this senseless violence.

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