BREAKING NEWS, POLL: George Zimmerman found not guilty

At the moment the verdict is read, George Zimmerman, right, looks down as his defense co-counsel, Don West, second from left, and Lorna Truett, look at Zimmerman's lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara, left, as the verdict is announced in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla. on Saturday, July 13, 2013. Jurors found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Burbank, Pool)

At the moment the verdict is read, George Zimmerman, right, looks down as his defense co-counsel, Don West, second from left, and Lorna Truett, look at Zimmerman's lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara, left, as the verdict is announced in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla. on Saturday, July 13, 2013. Jurors found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Burbank, Pool)

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — 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 Saturday.

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.

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FILE -This combo image made from file photos shows Trayvon Martin, left, and George Zimmerman. On Saturday, July 13, 2013, jurors found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla. The six-member, all-woman jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before reaching their decision Saturday night. (AP Photos, File)

FILE -This combo image made from file photos shows Trayvon Martin, left, and George Zimmerman. On Saturday, July 13, 2013, jurors found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla. The six-member, all-woman jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before reaching their decision Saturday night. (AP Photos, File)

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: "I'm glad this 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."

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."

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 race 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 exception was the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, the Miami teen who was talking to Martin by phone moments before he was shot. She said 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.

Click here to read social media reports on George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict

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Comments » 11

OldMarcoMan writes:

I know this is off topic but is that Judge who closed the Putt Putt elected or appointed ?
Ive had my Grand Kids here for just over a week and have driven to Naples 3 times to play Putt-Putt and I was just figuring out how many hundreds of dollars I gave Naples that I would have spent on Marco if he had left well enough alone.
I think that's called voting my check book.

WMissow writes:

OMM,

Does your, off topic, really insensitive, post regarding voting with your check book really mean that if the prosecution paid the jury then the outcome of the trial could have been different?

August8 writes:

The only ones that should have been indicted here'The Race Bateing, hateful, liberal Trouble Making, Smug, Hidious Main Stream Media'

August8 writes:

in response to Hascle:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Stand your ground was 'Not' part of his defense and given the state did not have a case he did get a fair trial as politicians promised.

August8 writes:

in response to Hascle:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What I am saying, stand your ground law was 'not' part of his defense, it was not used. His defense was self defense plain and simple.I sgree with the Stand Your Ground Law.
Ignore the sick guy below, Oh My.

Sparky100 writes:

If I was on the ground with someone younger and stronger than me smashing my head into the sidewalk, my reaction would be the same as Georges. My aggressor's color would be the last thing on my mind.

26yearsonmarco writes:

The “Never let a Tragedy go to Waste” Guy is weighing in:

OBAMA: HONOR TRAYVON WITH GUN-CONTROL

August8 writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

The “Never let a Tragedy go to Waste” Guy is weighing in:

OBAMA: HONOR TRAYVON WITH GUN-CONTROL

Yep,Yep,Yep, good post. The guy below, totally whacky, totally !!!

RayN writes:

It would almost seem like those who scream "Racist" the loudest, are themselves the biggest racists. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, a good score of others, can't be bothered with the actual facts of this case (and many others that they have rushed to judgment on and later been proven wrong).

You would think these noble knights would spend their lives in Chicago, Detroit, and other places where senseless black on black murders are daily news and often in multiples.

The Zimmerman trial was a political ploy from the get-go, and now we have our impartial Department of Justice (you know, the Dept that used tax dollars to send agitators/observers to Sanford for "Travon" rallies), looking into whether there have been any "civil rights" violations. Well, there have been, Zimmerman's civil rights have been grossly violated.

August8 writes:

in response to RayN:

It would almost seem like those who scream "Racist" the loudest, are themselves the biggest racists. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, a good score of others, can't be bothered with the actual facts of this case (and many others that they have rushed to judgment on and later been proven wrong).

You would think these noble knights would spend their lives in Chicago, Detroit, and other places where senseless black on black murders are daily news and often in multiples.

The Zimmerman trial was a political ploy from the get-go, and now we have our impartial Department of Justice (you know, the Dept that used tax dollars to send agitators/observers to Sanford for "Travon" rallies), looking into whether there have been any "civil rights" violations. Well, there have been, Zimmerman's civil rights have been grossly violated.

You are correct Ray, however what you have missed is the $$$$$ that this type of action really means for the'Justice Brother's'. Sorry, no $$$$$ to be made in those Cities like Chicago, NY.

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