Zimmerman found not guilty in death of Trayvon Martin

Defendant hugs wife and friends after being acquitted.
TNS Regional News
Jul 14, 2013

 

In a case that touched off a national debate on race and guns, George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager killed during a confrontation on a rainy night in Florida last year.

“There’s to be no outbursts upon the reading of the verdict or afterwards,” Judge Debra S. Nelson warned the packed courtroom in Seminole County awaiting the verdict from the jury of six women who began deliberating on Friday and worked a 13-hour day Saturday.

Zimmerman stood at the defendant’s table, flanked by his lawyers as the verdict was read.

As he had been throughout the trial, Zimmerman was impassive. He seemed not to move a muscle until the jurors were taken out of the courtroom. Then the tension drained out of his face. A small smile began at the corners of his mouth and very slowly spread.

“Your bond will be released,” Nelson told Zimmerman. “Your GPS monitor will be cut off, and you have no further business with this court.”

Then the defendant’s side of the courtroom exploded in hugs. Zimmerman hugged his wife, Shellie, and friends who have waited during the long trial that began with jury selection last month. Zimmerman’s parents, Robert Sr. and Gladys, hugged each other. Gladys Zimmerman reached over to hug defense attorneys Don West and Mark O’Mara, who broke out in smiles.

“He’s very, very happy with the result,” O’Mara told reporters. “I think it’s probably going to settle on him tonight with his family when he realizes he doesn’t have to come back to the courthouse tomorrow or ever again. I think he’s still very, very worried.”

Outside the courthouse, where about 100 people had gathered to await the verdict in a small park, many reacted in disbelief. Many were black. They stood, stunned, as the verdict was announced.

“I have two sons of my own,” said Cathy Cole, one of the protesters. “I think the child was murdered.”

Zimmerman, 29, had been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, in central Florida.

He maintained that he shot Martin in self-defense when the teenager attacked him. Prosecutors argued that he had profiled and stalked Martin, 17, who was returning from a convenience store after buying Skittles and a soft drink. Wearing the now-famous hoodie sweat shirt, Martin was walking in the rain back to the home where he was staying in the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford.

After the verdict was read, the supporters and family of Martin left the courtroom silently, some shedding tears.

“We are very, very, very saddened, but we accept the jury’s verdict in this case,” Daryl Parks, one of the attorneys representing the Martin family, told reporters later. He said Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and Tracy Martin, his father, “are just heartbroken.”

In the protests before and after Zimmerman’s indictment, hoodies played a prominent role. They, along with Skittles, were held up as symbols of racial profiling and of a senseless death.

“To everybody who put their hoodies on and to everybody who said, ‘I am Trayvon,’ his family expresses their heartfelt gratitude,” another family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said.

“Trayvon Martin will forever remain in the annals of civil rights history along with Medgar Evers and Emmett Till,” said Crump, referring to two African Americans whose slayings were pivotal events in the civil rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s.

After the shooting, local police had accepted Zimmerman’s explanation that he acted in self-defense, but a special state prosecutor charged the neighborhood watch volunteer after weeks of protests and demonstrations by civil rights leaders across the nation. Much of the case’s tension began in the six weeks between the shooting and the indictment of Zimmerman on the charge of second-degree murder.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Saturday night called on the U.S. Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman, said the group’s president, Benjamin Jealous.

Led by the Martin family and civil rights leaders, supporters had called for Zimmerman, who identifies himself ethnically with his mother’s Latino heritage, to be charged with the slaying. They argued that if a black man had shot an unarmed white teenager, authorities would have been less likely to accept the self-defense argument.

The furor reached all the way to the White House.

“Obviously, this is a tragedy,” President Barack Obama said on March 23, 2012. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Questions about race have been part of the case from the beginning and continued to the end. Local law enforcement officials and pastors called for calm regardless of the verdict. Those pleas appeared to be heeded, though the disappointment was real.

Special prosecutor Angela B. Corey, who was in the courtroom during the weeks of trial, told reporters afterward that her team of prosecutors had done its best.

“This case has never been about race... (or) about the right to bear arms,” she said. “We believe that this case all along was about boundaries and that George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.”

“Who was following who?” Bernie de la Rionda, who led the prosecution team, told reporters. “What it really boils down to is a kid minding his own business being followed by a stranger.... He gets accosted. He gets followed by an individual who wants to be a cop.”

Unlike in many murder cases, there was no mystery about who did the killing because Zimmerman said from the beginning that he had fired a single shot from his 9-millimeter handgun at Martin.

Prosecutors used witnesses and documents to present Zimmerman as a police wannabe, an eager neighborhood watch volunteer who was growing more frustrated by crime in his community. When he saw Martin, a stranger, walking on a rainy night, he called authorities to report someone suspicious. The dispatcher advised him to let the police handle it, but Zimmerman ignored that and followed Martin, prosecutors said.

Where the prosecution described Zimmerman as an out-of-control vigilante, the defense portrayed him as a good citizen making a personal sacrifice to help neighbors stay safe.

The prosecution said Zimmerman used his knowledge of police procedure and self-defense law to tailor his responses to authorities. The defense said he was trying to better himself by seeking a career in law enforcement.

There were no direct eyewitnesses to the moments before the confrontation. At least one witness, John Good, one of Zimmerman’s former neighbors, said he saw the pair tussle on the ground. Martin, in the dark sweat shirt, appeared to be on top of Zimmerman, Good testified. He said he heard cries for help coming from the person on the bottom.

Those screams were caught in the background of a 911 telephone call made by another resident. Within seconds, there was a gunshot and the screams abruptly ended.

An FBI audio expert testified that there was no way for science to determine whose voice was crying out, but the mothers of the dead teenager and the defendant offered clashing interpretations of the recording.

“I heard my son screaming,” Sybrina Fulton testified.

The defense opened its case with Gladys Zimmerman.

She was just as emphatic when, after listening to the recording and being asked who was screaming, she answered, “My son.”

When pressed on how she could be so certain, she replied: “Because it’s my son.”

———

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Michael Muskal - Los Angeles Times (MCT) Hennessy-Fiske reported from Sanford and Muskal from Los Angeles. Carolyn Cole in Sanford contributed to this report.

©2013 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

Contango

"I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher.

But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.

I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son."

- Pres. Obama.

My compliments to a VERY presidential statement.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ob...

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : Amen

arnmcrmn

Wow, Im surprised Obama said that but kudos to him....well said.

JACKEL

Believe me those are not his words.The only presidential words he ever said were,"Get Bin Ladin and No we won't help you in Benghazi !How about the new Fed Excise tax being imposed to pay for Bozocare.?It is supposed to be hidden from the public but a retailer exposed it on his register !

Ddog89

right wing republican much

JACKEL

Right Wing,Left Wing Crap.I am an American that gave 8 years of my youth to defend the constitution.What has that Bozo done ?It is your constitution also but you Lib's are too stupid to realize it.What if that were your son unarmed in Benghazi?

mikeylikesit's picture
mikeylikesit

soon to be a nation of sharia law. im sure that's what he meant..

dontcare

This case should have never gone to trial in the first place

JudgeMeNot's picture
JudgeMeNot

True.

all fact or all...

Don't get it when a few people post this crap. The kid was walking down the street, not peeking in any windows, not trying to get into an apartment but eating a bag of skittles and drinking ice tea, The policeman wanna be got out of his car and started following him, he should have stayed in his car as directed, the police were on the way HE WAS 17 years old and had every right to be there . His parents just wanted some kind of justice, Walk a mile in their shoes, hope you don't have a child that could be taken from you in a violent way and people comment on here like they have been. This kid is DEAD and did nothing wrong.

arnmcrmn

Obviously you did not watch all the trial, nor have all the facts. Martin circled back around when Zim lost him (which by the way, following someone is not a crime). Also, Zim stopped when he was directed to (media fails to include that in on the 911 tape). Martin came back around to "teach this cracker a lesson"......sorry, but HE was looking for trouble.

Trial is over, self defense. I rest my case.

In my opinon

Looking for trouble my butt..He had every right to be walking in that neighborhood. Not breaking into a car, window peeking, prying the lock off any doors, walking down a street which we ALL black, white,Asian, etc, and the "cracker " you refer to isn't Caucasian person. Maybe it wouldn't have scared you someone following you but this was a Kid alone on a rainy dark night. And when Zimmerman was talking to dispatcher don't forget "another F-n black punk getting away with it, what? walking down the street? Ask yourself how you would react if someone shot your kid for walking down the street. Yes trial is over but justice was not served.

WASP71

I just saw that the Feds are going to charge him with a hate crime?! I thought he was found not guilty..guess our justice system doesn't matter. Should have just hung him and forgot the trial. Now it's about vengeance. Not right. He should be finished, 6 people said he was not guilty and I guess that isn't good enough anymore. I'm starting to see why "The People" really hate our gov't. Whether me, you or anyone else thinks he is guilty or not, the justice system said "Not Guilty". We should abide by that. The justice system is a joke.

Cliff Cannon

@ Wasp71 : " The justice system is a joke " Well put

In my opinon

Obviously neither one of you are lawyers or you would know there is a different burden of proof between CRIMINAL and CIVIL courts. These laws were not created for this case only. Over the last 200 years, the Supreme Court has made decisions that ended segregation, secured women's right and protected civil liberties that we cherish. If you don't like our government try living in Iraq,Palestine, Afganistan, Russia, Syria, Libya, Mexico etc. Then maybe you would appreciate ours a little more. At least in the USA you can gripe about it without being beheaded, hanged or imprisoned. Anyone of you find a better form of Government let us know. What gets me is this kid was just walking down the street, gets shot and all of a sudden it's his fault or the governments fault. What kind of reasoning is that.

Cliff Cannon

@ In my opinion: Where did I say one thing about our government ? Further,if you read my other comment here, you will see I agreed with our President on this topic. So why toss all that hooey and hog wash on me ?


What I agreed with is the justice system is a joke. And I believe it is, for the simplest reasons it not only favors the criminal, trials go on and on and on and on....


Of course, the biggest problem is not the justice system, rather it is the Constitution. 175 years ago the French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville warned in his classic book " Democracy in America " that if Americans ever really understood the " rights " granted us in our Constitution, that America would be in deep trouble.


Would you agree he was correct ?

In my opinon

I will agree our Justice system needs fixing and the prosecutors work for the city or state so it is a form of local Government. All I am saying is what we have beats any other country. If people don't like it protest to their legislators ( law makers) not a 17 year old walking home from a convience store. There is a dead child and people seem to think it was his own fault and it wasn't. Where has humanity gone..

TheLegend

What we have beats any other country?? You must be referring to your 8th grade teacher when she told you America was the greatest country in the world! It's not, by a long shot! Also, its funny how everyone refers to Martin as a "Dead Child." He was 17, old enough to know better! Lets get hypothetical.... What if Martin Kills Zimmerman by slamming his head into the ground, could of easily happened right? I'll tell you what, no one would have even heard about it!!!!!!!

In my opinon

He was a child, and know better about what? Walking home from a convenience store, and don't sit at your keyboard and tell me if you were un armed and someone came up to you and had a gun you wouldn't have tried to defend yourself! Only thing is a cement sidewalk and a gun. And remember the wounds on Zimmerman were superficial, no stitches. Maybe he stumbled backwards after shooting the kid. We won't know because the Child is DEAD. VERY dramatic when a lawyer slams a prop on a slab of cement. All we saw and heard we Zimmerman's word. Oh, and the dispatcher telling him not to pursue police were on their way.

KURTje

Apart from Zimmerman verdict; one gets the justice they can afford. I too feel if you have $$, chances are you avoid prison.

In my opinon

@Kurtje..Amen! to that statement.

rogerthat

OJ was not guilty also.

swiss family

I am not sure if I would say that Justice was served here, but the Jury has decided....and that is our American way.. I never did hear why, though that there were only 6 people on the jury??? Does anyone know why??

jamie9700

Swiss family: In Florida, the only time a jury of 12 is assigned is when the defendant is charged with capital murder and the death penalty can be invoked. George was charged with 2nd degree murder and manslaughter and those two crimes cannot have the death penalty as punishment.

Imagine that

I'm just glad Zimmerman wasn't found guilty. Poor guy wouldn't have anyone to protest for him!!! We'd all be at WORK!!!

In my opinon

Im sure if you had a child killed in this manner you would be the first one out there crying for justice!!

Howdydoody

Hey I am almost 73, I try to go walking after supper every night. I occasionally ware a hooded sweatshirt (alias Hoodie) if its chilly. Although I do not eat skittles I do munch on a healthy bar once in awhile and walk a little hunched over, I hope Zimmerman doesn't relocate to my neighborhood.

In my opinon

@Howdydoody, How refreshing to see a senior with a sence of humor. My point excatly, he was just walking down the street.

ole45mag

When you go for your walk, go through east Cleveland. There is no racism in this country except that which is created by the loafers of all colors, the government, and the media. I asked my sons what they think about black people...they said "nothing to think" Ditto when asked about the Mexicans. They are 16 and 14. If they watch the news and see the gang violence, black on black, they will soon fear blacks. Tell you what, you take and black daughter of anyone and put her with a white male teen to walk with her, and then take a white daughter of anyone, and black teen to walk with her. Have the white daughter start in Cleveland and walk west through west Cleveland with her white escort, and have the white girl with her black escort go through east Cleveland. See who gets racially profiled and maybe, no definitely, harmed, raped, or killed. White folk definitely can't walk through east Cleveland, but more than likely a black can walk through west Cleveland. In the 70's, we used to ride our bikes from Newark California, to Oakland to watch the A's play ball...right through "black people" town. Nothing EVER happened to us. My Buddy Bruce Osborn in these same 70's was a black kid in a mostly white town (Newark, Ca.). A) I never realized he was DIFFERENT! B) None of the kids ever realized he was DIFFERENT!! And neither do my kids, until gangs, government, and the media points it out. I'm proud to say I was Baptized at the East Parish Street Church of Christ in 1994. It is, as people would say "a black congregation". But what is REALLY is according to God, is a "Christian Congregation". Race is a dead issue if allowed to be so. If it's night, and I walk upon a group of hoodie tattoo covered blacks, I'm scared, which means I have racially profiled these blacks. If it's night, and I walk upon a group of hoodie tattoo covered whites, I'm scared, which means I have racially profiled these whites. It's the new culture in people that's bad, not the old races of black and white and yellow and red (1/5th me).
I'm a bad bunny.

In my opinon

I agree with a lot of your comments,, what bothers me is Norwalk is not east side of Cleveland and read some of the raciest remarks..When a child is born they know no color barrier, do these adults need to be re-educated because some of these remarks are very raciest. Everyone is aloud an opinion, not every one has to agree with it but no one should say their's are right and yours is wrong. Then add a raciest remark. It's up to the adults to change their attitudes , pass some positive on to their kids. Maybe go back and learn more about the civil war and 100 years later what blacks were still going through in the south. Maybe they don't teach this in school anymore. Families ripped away from their children to never see them again, given names of their slave owners, then try to do family genealogy when they don't no their given surname. Where did humanity go. And crap women are tattooed from head to toe, and big difference between one person and a gang. Live in a big city and every nationality has a gang from Russia Mafia to the Vietnamese and all in between. It has to start and stop somewhere. But not with racist remarks and blaming a 17 yr old for causing his own death because he was black and wearing a hoddie.

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