George Zimmerman, who shot 17-year old Trayvon Martin and killed him, was found not guilty by a court and was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter, the NY Times reports.
After three weeks of testimony, the six-woman jury rejected the prosecution’s contention that Mr. Zimmerman had deliberately pursued Mr. Martin because he assumed the hoodie-clad teenager was a criminal and instigated the fight that led to his death.
Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Mr. Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk. In finding him not guilty of murder or manslaughter, the jury agreed that Mr. Zimmerman could have been justified in shooting Mr. Martin because he feared great bodily harm or death.
The jury, which had been sequestered since June 24, deliberated 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days. The six female jurors entered the quiet, tense courtroom, several looking exhausted, their faces drawn and grim. After the verdict was read, each assented, one by one, and quietly, their agreement with the verdict.
The case began in the small city of Sanford as a routine homicide but soon evolved into a civil rights cause examining racial profiling and its consequences — an issue barred from the courtroom — and setting off a broad discussion of race relations in America. Mr. Martin, with his gray hooded sweatshirt and his Skittles — the candy he was carrying — became its catalyst.
Even President Obama weighed in a month after the shooting, expressing sympathy for Mr. Martin’s family and urging a thorough investigation. “If I had a son,” Mr. Obama said, “he’d look like Trayvon.”
Saturday night when the verdict was read, Mr. Zimmerman, 29, smiled slightly. His wife, Shellie, and several of his friends wept, and his parents kissed and embraced.
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, who lost their son a few weeks after his 17th birthday, were not in the courtroom.
After the verdict, Judge Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Court, told Mr. Zimmerman, who has been in hiding and wears a bulletproof vest outside, that his bond was revoked and his GPS monitor would be cut off. “You have no further business with the court,” she said.
Outside the courthouse, perhaps a hundred protesters who had been gathering through the night, their numbers building as the hours passed, began pumping their fists in the air, waving placards and chanting “No justice, no peace!” Sheriff’s deputies lined up inside the courthouse, watching the crowd, who were chanting peacefully, but intently.
By 11:20, more than an hour after the verdict had been read, the crowd outside the courtroom had begun to dwindle; fists were no longer aloft, placards had come down.
Among the last of the protesters to leave the courthouse lawn was Mattie Aikens, 33, of Sanford. She had been standing outside since noon, holding a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona watermelon drink, which Mr. Martin was carrying the night he was shot. More than an hour after the verdict, she was still shocked. “He should have went to prison,” she said. “He should have just got guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.”
Mark O’Mara, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, said, “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except firing the gun in self-defense.”