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

Informed

So here's what it boils down to. If you want to get rid of someone you don't like, instigate a fight with him. When you are getting your butt kicked, pull a gun and kill him--you'll get off scott free if you claim self-defense.

2cents

That's what the gangs do now!

whazup

What makes you think Zimmerman didn't like Martin? Nothing was released that indicated they knew one another. What do you think a neighborhood block watch is for? Could it be that Zimmerman was hoping that by following Martin he would be preventing another home being broken into? There had just be a couple a few days prior. You wouldn't find it suspicious that a person, who you don't recognize, is walking around in your neighborhood in the pouring rain? Don't forget, Trayvon was new to the neighborhood and would not be recognized as "one of the neighbors". If he wanted to approach Zimmerman, why not say "dude, I live at such and such address" and just go home? I by no means think this is a racial issue but to be the devil's advocate, maybe Martin didn't like Hispanics and that is why HE started the fight. Unfortunately, Martin was killed and Zimmerman has to live with in. It is a sad, sad situation.

The Big Dog's back

Answer the question. If zim was on the up and up, why didn't he identify himself?

whazup

Again, how do you know that he didn't? Notice how you avoid all of the real questions?

The Big Dog's back

Because he would have said it in one of his 12 versions of what happened.

whazup

Exactly the response I was looking for. So Zimmerman had an opportunity to lie and a dead teenager couldn't dispute it. It would have been so easy for him to make that claim but he didn't. So why is the rest of his story just a bunch of lies? His story has been consistent.

rezzy

Big pup hates other ethnic groups. Don't you puppy?

The Big Dog's back

Is right wingnut an ethnicity?

rezzy

No more than left-wing nuts are

whazup

He's a yellow lab and doesn't run with the other labs.

S w Rand 2016

re: Big Dog: "Answer the question. If zim was on the up and up, why didn't he identify himself?"

When Martin turned and approached him in a confrontational manner, perhaps Zimmerman became nervous. Maybe Zimmerman thought that identifying himself as a member of a block watch (who also has the police on the phone) might cause the situation to escalate. Maybe he thought Martin would pull a gun on HIM.
Remember, he was just trying to tail Martin until the police showed up. There is no reason to assume that Zimmerman wanted to risk getting physically involved himself.

Pretty likely, if you think about it.

The Big Dog's back

That sums it up informed.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

deertracker

@Informed
Agreed!

Mystery_Cheese

Zimmerman didn't instigate the fight according to the jury.

S w Rand 2016

re: Informed: "So here's what it boils down to. [and the rest of that comment]"

No. It boils down to the fact that you do NOT wanna set a precedent of convicting someone without evidence. I'm sure you wouldn't want to be, yourself, convicted of something without evidence. Why would you wish it on others?

PaulYall

BREAKING NEWS! OVER 20 MILLION AMERICANS HAVE JUST ACQUIRED THERE LAW DOCTRINE OVERNIGHT!

whazup

Hahahahahahahaha Thanks for the laugh : )

J Cooper

When this tragic incident occurred, Obama, Jackson and Sharpton all was making comments, watched all the morning news programs didn't hear or see any of them calling for calm and respecting the rule of law, typical double standard.

The Big Dog's back

There is calm. I already debunked the bullspit Oakland story.

rezzy

You are sooooo amazing and incredibly smart! How can one acquire such capabilities?

The Big Dog's back

1st you have to have a brain and your own thinking abilities. 2nd, you don't let Fox news control what you think. 3rd, don't echo what other people say without researching yourself.

deertracker

Elementary my dear!

CAST THE FIRST STONE

Big dog is a rasist more than anyone i have ever seen on here. Rasist is being for one color over another does not matter which way. spelling wrong on purpose

rezzy

Big pup actually took my comment literally and began trying to help me to be as smart as he is, bahhhh haaa haa ha.

The Big Dog's back

Yeah I know, it will never happen.

JudgeMeNot

Zimmer is free to go.

VTX Rider

Yes. He is.

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