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

deertracker

Well Sam, at least Zimmerman has a LIFE! Your heart goes out to a killer. That Sam is shameful. Yes, I am sure the jury was really concerned about how white people would react if they found Zimmerman guilty.

KnuckleDragger

Apparently they didn't care how blacks would react either,as they shouldn't. Justice shouldn't be administered based on how a group of people might react. Besides, Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic, not white.

deertracker

They should not have been and weren't concerned. There also is no violent reaction in Florida. I always thought he was Hispanic because he is!

whazup

He is Hispanic but much of the media would like you to think it is white on black crime. That is my biggest beef with this story.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

The appalling thing is all the jerks that think it's ok to destroy other peoples property because of the outcome .

The Big Dog's back

Where's the riots? Where's the property damage bigot?

Tsu Dho Nimh

They started in Oakland, CA last night.

deertracker

Started what? This happened in Florida, remember!

KnuckleDragger

Read the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They are reporting protests in Oakland that include street fires and breaking out windows. Another smalltown moron who believes that just because it wasn't printed in the local hillbilly rag that it isn't happening.

whazup

Watch the news and read the papers.

KnuckleDragger

Try Oakland California where the protests are just beginning.

The Big Dog's back

Shortest "riot" in history. No arrests, streets were empty by 2 am.

deertracker

LOL! They want sooooooooo bad for there to be riots over this. Get a life people.

whazup

Just stating what the three major networks were reporting this morning. I think it's fair to say that the media has twisted this story from the beginning to make it a hate/race issue. Martin wasn't just a nice kid who walked in the rain to buy some candy and Zimmerman is not the racist that the media wants you believe. Should the situation escalated to a shooting? No. Was Martin an innocent party in this tragedy? No. Should Zimmerman followed Martin? It can be argued that he shouldn't. It's a matter of opinion but don't forget, Zimmerman was part of the block watch. Was it against the law? No. Should Martin went home instead of confronting Zimmerman. Probably. Was he breaking the law when he didn't. No. Should he have thrown the first punch and knocked Zimmerman to the ground? No, because that is where the law was first broken (along with Zimmerman's nose). I don't remember the media talking about that, do you?

The Big Dog's back

Then why didn't he identify himself as a volunteer? My name is George, I'm head of the neighborhood watch group.

whazup

How do you know that he didn't?

deertracker

Actually I do remember. It's funny how the media is so awful for hyping up the case but not so awful for hyping up this so called unrest and rioting. You can't have it both ways. Martin was not a bad kid. Lots of kids get into some type of trouble. His infractions were minor kid stuff. Can't say the same for GZ. He assaulted a police officer at one point. HELLO! He should have let the cops handle it. End of story!

whazup

The media mentioned it a little at first then started to say that they couldn't obtain pictures of Zimmerman with a broken nose. Do you remember that? My understanding that there were pictures and were submitted as evidence.

deertracker

What I really remember is the terrible job the police did. Three days in the morgue? Giving GZ back his gun that night? This case is about equal justice. I love Keisha just as much as you love Becky!

whazup

WTH?????? Keisha and Becky? Have no clue what you're talking about.

The Big Dog's back

Baloney.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

KnuckleDragger

Really? I have three teenage boys and none of them have a rap sheet. They certainly aren't being arrested multiple times for assault, drugs, and posting messages on FB that they are looking to score a gun. You won't find them on social media flashing gang signs and posting pics of them smoking dope either.

KnuckleDragger

Ahh yes, fast forward one day. Reports out of LA and Oakland now say that violence has erupted with reports of protesters randomly beating passersby and breaking shop windows, widespread vandalism and looting. Several arrests have already been made and riot police have been deployed. What a difference a day makes. Please tell me you are not so stupid as to believe that this would not happen. This is how blacks react to everything that doesn't for their way. Why is is happening in Cali instead of Florida? I'll tell you why. They are less likely to encounter armed civilian resistence to this nonsense in California. The inmates run the asylum out there.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

Try looking at the news. Big pup you wouldn't feel so good if someone damaged your car.
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Several hundred demonstrators marched peacefully amid a heavy police presence in downtown San Francisco soon after the verdict was announced. Many carried signs with slogans such as "The people say guilty" and "The whole system is racist".

In New York City, crowds carrying homemade signs and blowing whistles marched and gathered in the iconic Times Square.

In the California city of Oakland, protests were more violent, with angry demonstrators spray-painting cars and smashing windows, according to the US media reports.

In Chicago, to the cry of "No justice, no peace! No racist police!" a crowd of activists held a noisy downtown rally, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Los Angeles police declared a "citywide tactical alert" when about 200 demonstrators gathered at a park in a historical black neighbourhood to demonstrate, but police later told local media that it was as a precaution, and that there had been no acts of violence.

Dozens of mostly African-American youths marched chanting slogans in Washington DC, the US capital. They were followed closely by patrol vehicles.

A crowd of several hundred gathered all day on Saturday outside the courthouse in Sanford - and many were outraged when the verdict was read.

The Big Dog's back

So the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to Black people? Really.

whazup

Freedom of Speech applies to everyone. The freedom to cause destruction to the property of others applies to no one.

The Big Dog's back

Where were there destruction in what bull posted?

whazup

Look at Bull's post again.

"In the California city of Oakland, protests were more violent, with angry demonstrators spray-painting cars and smashing windows, according to the US media reports."

Again, can you not read or do you just bark at parked cars, Dumb Dog?

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