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.




Yes, he did. Did you not catch the part where the jury found him not guilty because it fell under the definition of self defense? Would you be happy if the defendant didn't have a gun and was beaten to a pulp by the deceased? He shouldn't have struck the defendant in the first place.


Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.


Was this the incident where the teenage black kids needed to kill a white man to get into some kind of gang? The white guy was attending a wedding reception at the Crystal room when they jumped him in the parking lot. How is he doing recovered or still in bad shape?


I was referring to the incident last year where a large group of kids were outside of a man's house near the hospital late at night. He went outside on HIS lawn and told the kids to go home. They jumped him, beat him in the head and had his girlfriend/wife not called the PD, they probably would have killed him. Several teenagers were charged with attempted murder and at least one is serving time in prison. The man they attacked I believe is in his 30's.

The man was white and the majority of the kids were black. I don't believe it is a race thing at all but isn't it funny that we have different standards of judgement in our country when a white victim is attacked by a minority?


I don't think Zimmerman was guilty of anything other than defending himself, nevertheless, "Better that (pick a number) guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." Some seem to think we should be ruled by mobs and demonstrations rather than laws.


Based on racial profiling? Well only evidence that was submitted was TM calling GZ. a "creepy a$$ cracker" admitted by his girlfriend while on the phone! Not once did I hear or see evidence of GZ remotely call TM anything "racial" that was all brought up by the family of TM and the NAACP! The State of Florida had no witness's and no evidence of a racial intent of hate! The people of the Sunshine State of Florida has spoken! NOT GUILTY! Frankly eight families will be forever changed! Martin family, Zimmerman family and that of 6 juror families!


F*****g coons/creepy cracker? Review the call then post again! SMDH!


I didn't hear him say f'ing coons on the 911 call...nor did I hear it in evidence! So shake your darn head all you want!


Review the call then repost! SMFH!


Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.


That is not what was recorded in the actual 911 call. That is what the media "doctored". Please check it out and I think you will see that is the truth.

The Big Dog's back

It's not the media doctored call. It's the original 911 call.


Didn't see the word coons in your link. Closest thing would be where Zimmerman says fing (unintelligible) That means they don't know what he said, much like you don't know what he said, or anybody else. But then that won't fit your biases.


Haven't you noticed? Dumb Dog can't read.


Big pup's spending an aweful lot of time surfing youtube and posting; perhaps he is part of the 47% Mitt Romney referred to.

S w Rand 2016

re: Big Dog's video link.

The first comment on the page, with which anyone would have to agree, says:
I totally hear "******* punks". The f-word is clear, the next sound is a plosive consonant with air release at the lips, like "B" in boy or "P" in punk. Coon would release with the lips open and the sound more harsh in the mouth, like "K" in krill or "C" in coon. At the end of the word "punk" you would expect that harsh plosive "K", which I think can be heard. The hissing sibilant at the end sounds like "S" as in snake unlike "Coons" which I would expect to end with "Z" in zebra.

I mean, seriously..Big Dog, think. People say punk all the time. How many people use the word coon as a racial slur in the last few decades? The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of punks. And you hear it clearly.


I stand corrected! I barely heard it..but it does sound like it! So they both called each other names! Creepy a$$ cracker and f'ing coon.


Thank you!!!

Richard Bebb

Stop with the race baiting he said F-ing punks - if you had watched a minute of the trial or the coverage the prosecution (that means the people on your side) said Zimmerman said F-ing punks in their opening statements.


S w Rand 2016

re: Paul Y'all.

Wrong. He clearly says punks.

The f-word is clear, the next sound is a plosive consonant with air release at the lips, like "B" in boy or "P" in punk. Coon would release with the lips open and the sound more harsh in the mouth, like "K" in krill or "C" in coon. At the end of the word "punk" you would expect that harsh plosive "K", which I think can be heard. The hissing sibilant at the end sounds like "S" as in snake unlike "Coons" which I would expect to end with "Z" in zebra.

Even without the expert opinion, what are the odds anyway? How many people use the word punks and how many people use the word coons? Think about it.

J Cooper

The true racists now appear, where were they when OJ got away with murder?


They were probably hanging out with the cops that beat the hell out of Rodney King!

J Cooper

Or celebrating when OJ got acquitted.


Rodney King being beaten (with extreme excessive force) does not make Zimmerman guilty.

The Big Dog's back

Who said it did?


Can you not read, Dumb Dog? Deertracker made a statement that I was responding to.