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

The Big Dog's back

I already debunked the story about Oakland.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

The Big Dog's back
Sun, 07/14/2013 - 6:34pm

I already debunked the story about Oakland

Did you see the pictures

The Big Dog's back

Yes.

stayfit

Black people get more advantages than any race in this country. They hold a lot of power and have groups such as the NCAAP that are triumphant voice for their race.

There is affirmative action and blacks have an easier time of receiving financial aid and admission to college.

Years of discrimination caused this.

This is a new era.

oheaglefl

So, does that mean the Martin's will have to return the million dollars they were paid by the homeowner's association? Cancel the order for the two new cadillacs. It was always about the money and if they file more suits, it will still be about the money.

deertracker

Sure, all about the money? Nevermind their teenage son is DEAD! You do not need millions to buy a Cadillac. SMDH!

2cents

Is that story true about ordering two Cadys?

If so, that is blood money, sorry for them, what they should be doing is setting up a trust fund to help educate our youth in situations that involve confrontation. I have a friend who's boy never backed down to anybody, he did a few stints in the DH, quit a few jobs and where he is headed I do not know. He has major attitude!

Just saying!

deertracker

Just noise!

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

sandtown born a...

The justice system flawed as it may be is all we have to rely on for legal justice. The sad thing is if history repeats itself Zimmerman will end up getting 20 yrs in prison for a dui or some other lesser crime in some other state and everyone will scream KARMA/JUSTICE. Which it is not what it will be! That's when we will see the biggest flaws in our system.

The Big Dog's back

Maybe someone will claim "self defense" against zim. That would be a shame.

sandtown born a...

And you would consider that justice huh????

The Big Dog's back

Justice? Nope. Self defense.

whazup

Please tell us what you SERIOUSLY believe is self-defense. When do you think it is within the definition of self-defense to use deadly force to stop a threat? Please don't use sarcasm but instead a sincere example.

whazup

Still waiting for a real answer, Big Dog.

whazup

And waiting................yawn

whazup

You have time to call someone a "sock puppet" when they agree with me but 5 hours later you still can't give what you think is a legitimate example of self-defense?

UgtaBkdnMe

I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. Chihuahua pup isn't capable of answering your valid question.

KnuckleDragger

Your comment advocating violence against a man found not guilty of a crime speaks volumes about your hypocrisy.

The Big Dog's back

I said it would be a shame.

deertracker

Are you referring to O.J.? What about those flaws?

sandtown born a...

As a matter of fact I was, imprisoned with a severe sentence because he was found not guilty of 2 murders, the crimes he is in jail for most would have been out long ago. Justice/Karma I think not that's more like revenge. I for one fear that kind of justice

deertracker

Same justice system just a different Black man!

2cents

This will not go away for some time.

(NAACP Call For Civil Rights Charges Against George Zimmerman)

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycram...

sandtown born a...

Can you say WITCH HUNT?

The Big Dog's back

No, actually I would call it the legalizing of killing unarmed Black teens.

sandtown born a...

We thought you went to where ever your back from. Oh well maybe next time

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