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

grumpy

When did the discussion switch to the racial killings in Chicago? You know the ones where the racist blacks are killing black folks? The blacks in Chicago must just hate black folks, that must be the reason they are killing all them black folks every week.

The Big Dog's back

pooh, your the only one who ever brings up Chicago no matter what the story.

grumpy

You brought up the subject of killing unnamed black teens. Where is it open season on them? Chicago. They remain unnamed, at least in media reports. At most we get a body count every few days. Even when black preteens there get shot the media rarely mentions it. I wonder why when it seems that there is open season on young black folks there, and you are trying to make it seem like it only happens when someone other than black kills unnamed black teens. Those blacks that are killing unnamed black teens must be racist, since they seem only to be killing unnamed blacks. I wonder how many hundreds of unnamed black teens have been shot there since Martin was shot?

Contango

Re: "Where is it open season on them? Chicago."

I lived in the NW suburbs of Chicago for 25 yrs.

A lot of the dead and wounded are little kids just going to school, riding bikes, playing, sleeping, etc.

It's a (BLEEPING) tragedy!!!

Where's the media, where's the outrage????

LabMan

So far in Chicago this month

July 10 – Marlon Young, a 39 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Auburn Gresham.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 8 – Marquise Chandler, a 20 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in West Garfield Park.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 8 – Georgina Randell, a 30 year old black female, caused by a gunshot in North Lawndale.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 8 – Ed Cooper, a 15 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Humboldt Park.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 7 – Ramone Godfrey, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in New City.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 6 – Terry Patterson, a 48 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in East Garfield Park.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 6 – Patricia Martin, a 40 year old black female, caused by a assault in Roseland.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 6 – Jerimiah Milsap, a 24 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Near West Side.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 5 – Shavonte Howard, a 20 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Gage Park.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 5 – Aurelia Wilborn, a 64 year old unknown female, caused by a stabbing in Roseland.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 5 – Elliott Frazier, a 26 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Rogers Park.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 4 – Marlon Obanner, a 31 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in West Englewood.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 4 – Steve Mabins, a 21 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in East Garfield Park.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 4 – Theodis Young, a 36 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Greater Grand Crossing.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 3 – Ernest McMullen, a 26 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Woodlawn.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 3 – Rayford Brown, a 24 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in South Shore.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 3 – William Jones, a 26 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Auburn Gresham.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 3 – Damani Henard, a 14 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Austin.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 2 – Ashley Hardmon, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Austin.
> Read more about this homicide.
July 2 – Terrence Graves, a 23 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Washington Heights.
> Read more about this homicide.

Contango

"In 2010, nearly 700 Chicago school children were shot and 66 of them died."

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp...

I figure that the gangbangers should be taken out to a shooting range and learn how to shoot straight. Then maybe they would only kill each other instead of innocents.

Richard Bebb

RE: "No, actually I would call it the legalizing of killing unarmed Black teens"

Grow up - who started the physical confrontation ? He wasn't walking down the street and got shot in the back for being black. He sucker punched a man and was beating his head on the ground and payed for his criminal actions with his life.

whazup

That's all Dumb Dog wants to talk about. Ask him some real questions and he won't give a direct answer. He won't completely read (or can't read) posts in there entirety and then spouts off with the dumbest responses.

The Big Dog's back

http://www.documentcloud.org/doc...

Just thought you might want to know the facts.

rezzy

They can't get it because the case has to involve a public institution such as a police department. Talk about an organization that outlived its usefulness

deertracker

It's over now. I am really disappointed in the verdict but it is what it is. I am not at all surprised though. Our system of justice is flawed and unequal but it is the only system we have. A civil suit is pointless if there is nothing to get. It's over now.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

he said she said

I don't know about a civil suit for wrongful death, but I did hear last night that the NAACP is getting involved because Zimmerman violated Martin's civil rights.

I'm upset about the verdict but I'm not going to riot or destroy anyone's property.

I do believe that Zimmerman should have been found guilty. He was following someone that was minding his own business and in the end, he killed the kid. So what if Martin was beating the hell out of Zimmerman, the bruises and cuts will heal. He shot Martin and he died, that will never heal.

whazup

Looking back, things would have been different had he not followed the kid but tell me where following the kid was violating a law. The 911 operator made a statement, not a directive. Trayvon did not violate the law when he verbally confronted Zimmerman. The problem, according to testimony and not contradicted by evidence, is that Trayvon threw the first punch and was banging the man's head against the ground. Don't you remember how close the group of teen's in Sandusky were to killing the man laying on the ground and kicking his head? It was also said that the young man saw the gun and threatened to use is on the owner. We don't know what all the jury heard.

grumpy

Good post. Didn't bring up anything that can't be supported by the evidence from the trial, didn't leave anything out, that can be supported by evidence either. Left out the innuendo and guesses that some seem to need to even begin to make a case. Thanks.

The Big Dog's back

So if someone follows you and you confront them and they shoot 1st it's OK right?

rezzy

Following someone when you're a neighborhood watchmen is not against the law. When you're being followed and you punch someone in the face is totally against the law. I rest my case your honor.

deertracker

You are called a "watchman" for a reason. TO WATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rezzy

He watched him and then Trayvon decided to break the law by punching him in the face. That's legal?

rezzy

I'm not clicking your links to find opinionated links that support only your side of the argument. Nice try making your empty statements seem believable.

The Big Dog's back

It's not an opinionated link. It's a PDF file of the actual 911 call. Of course as ignorant as you've shown to be you probably don't know what a PDF file is.

whazup

He watched him as he followed. Maybe the kid should have just walked home and Zimmerman could have watched that. I'm getting the feeling that some people on this blog think it's okay to act violently when someone makes you mad.

deertracker

The question is: Who was mad?

UgtaBkdnMe

Sounds like the kid was mad. Why else would he hit the defendant.

whazup

If his goal was to shoot someone, why wait until he was put in a position where he was being beaten in the head and trapped? People who carry guns hope to never have to use them. Wonder what Zimmerman's fate would have been had he not been carrying? When would Martin decided to quit pounding his head into the ground?

The Big Dog's back

Without the gun (false bravado) zim would have never followed him.

whazup

I agree but that doesn't mean he was out to shoot someone.

deertracker

Maybe not, but he did shoot and kill someone!

Pages