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7/13/2013 9:30:00 PM
Zimmerman cleared in shooting of Trayvon Martin
Gary W. Green/The Associated Press
Gary W. Green/The Associated Press

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. 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.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: Peace Out

I hope and pray my neighbors are armed and individuals walking through my neighborhood are aware of that fact. Zimmerman had the same right to walk in his condo complex as Trayvon.

If someone follows me, I will not approach or confront them. If they confront or try to encroach on my space, their actions will dictate the results of the encounter.

If attacked, I will defend myself.

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: statistics statistics

re: Black on White crime....given the fact that only 13% of the population is black, it would be VERY hard for whites to find enough blacks to commit crimes against to bring up the numbers of white on black crimes.

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ @ my thoughts

Honey, I hope and pray that you don't live in my neighborhood!

"Sooo if I just follow someone in an effort to protect my property and my neighbors, then attacked by the person I'm following, it is my fault".....Yeah, pretty much. Do you follow every person you see walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood coming home from the store? Martin wasn't "doing" anything to anyone's property or neighbors, he was walking in his own complex. You sound a lil" crazy yourself. Everyone here is entitled to express their own thoughts/opinions. The fact that you took such reproach with mine tells me enough to know that I hope you don't carry a gun on neighborhood watch too. Peace out.

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Article comment by: Parker Anderson

@Dumb and Dumber and everyone else who didn't take my post seriously---actually that's a positive thing. It means that the Righties aren't picking up on that fear-mongering rhetoric, but I wasn't making it up. I did see some clown make that outlandish statement on Fox News on Sunday. Since it hasn't caught on with others, maybe even Fox actually realized their guest was way out of line. Hope so.

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ My Thoughts

Sooo if I just follow someone in an effort to protect my property and my neighbors, then attacked by the person I'm following, it is my fault.

What country do you live in. It takes the police longer to respond to a none life threatening incidents than it does for the intruder to steal and go.

Who is to say the person following was not out for a walk or just heading in the same direction. Use your head, Zimmerman was attacked. The person attacking did not know he was armed, and paid with his life.

All Trayvon needed to do is what Zimmerman did, dial 911 and report his concerns. Instead he figured he could handle the issue with violence, which caused his death.

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Article comment by: Oh Please

You know what amazes me? People who were there that night (neighbors and so on) don't know what happened, but people here in Prescott do.
Here's the simple truth: The police investigation determined no crime committed.
Trial anyway due to political pressure from professional racists. Jury hears all evidence, does their job professionally and diligently and (even after some prosecutorial misconduct) say, wait for it "no crime committed". And then know it alls from 1000's of miles away say, "oh no, I know better". Nonsense.

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Article comment by: Roger Dane

Points - Martin was not a 'child' - he'd graduated from that as proven by his actions and police contacts well before this incident.
Scared at night? Doubt that too... that was his choice, it makes the crimes easier to commit.
Martin was as big a reverse racist as his supporters calling, speaking into his phone, GZ a 'crazy cracker'... ease of speech when talking to friends is a good indicator.
And Martin was a drug a for sure...
Know this, the Skittles and Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail drink he carried that night are ingredients that, when mixed with DXM cough syrup, create “Lean”, a concocted street level drug which can cause psychosis and aggression (read, Aggression!) over the longer term. There was an autopsy report and in that report Martin’s liver showed damage consistent with just such drug abuse (that means long term...). Right or wrong in his use, his personality and responses followed the "potential" indicated for such drug abuse! Never mind the MJ present in his system! Where were his supportive and vaunted parents?

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: My thoughts ...

My two cents...if I am a teenage boy walking home from the store in my own neighborhood and a man I don't know is following me...I would be scared. And Trayvon stated so in the phone conversation with his friend in which he said he felt he was being followed. Furthermore, Zimmerman FOLLOWED this guy who was doing NOTHING wrong. When on the phone with law enforcement he was TOLD to STOP FOLLOWING THE PERSON and that police would come check it out. Nothing else from there matters to me--Zimmerman was not in danger, he chose to go against the advice he was being given on the phone and pursue someone at night. Of course this kid's scared. I don't care if he then confronted Zimmerman or "started" the fight or not. This started when Zimmerman went out of his way for no reason to follow and thereby intimidate Martin. Zimmerman provoked the whole thing. And, now someone is dead. This is wreckless and beyond.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: You know what I wonder?

How many Whites have been killed by Blacks across the country this month? My guess, as usual, it is far more common, by a factor of 5 or so. And, imagine, without a peep from Obama, Holder and the rest of the race baiters. Isn't that a surprise?

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

@The Jury: Have they proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Trayvon was the aggressor? Almost seemed like the fight started while Trayvon was still on the phone with his friend.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: In Dog we Trust

Four hundred years, a civil war and two Amendment later, and it just spews. The notion of @Dragonmaster"full eclipse of our Nation's heritage" and Al Sharpton bla, bla. Somethings have not changed much. Just more clever in choosing the language whipping up the hate..

Bad cases make bad law. Justice has spoken. Not guilty. All the rest is selling the questionable consumer products of the advertizes to the soaking emotional sponges.

(And now that extremist talk radio has found its way on to local FM, I'll be letting the big advertizes know of my concern. I was successful, in part, in removing the screaming kid Insurance add, thank you.)

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: gail Friar

Ah, the Prescott libs are whining again...this time it isn't about weed or the Iron Brotherhood, but a young negro boy...

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

OK. One commenter quoted Michael Moore in a post.

So, I give you Danny Glover.

He stated the following: "Certainly, when we talk about Trayvon Martin, we have to think about what we need to aggressively do with respect to racial profiling, continued racism, and the criminalization of certain portions of our population."

Hmm. Not TOO bad. Does NOT apply to the Martin shooting, but fairly innocuous. It does, however indicate which side of the fence he's on.

But this same Danny Glover argues for the innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, nee: Welsey Cook, a Black man who famously executed a Philadelphia police officer.

So what does this have to do with anything?

I think it is a perfect illustration of the selective outrage of those Liberals who are now calling for a DOJ investigation of George Zimmerman, and of those who are agitating for demonstrations and even violence.

After all, the didn't seem to care much about the civil rights of the White cop...

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Talk About An Inconvenient Truth

Based on the actual crime statistics gathered nationwide by the FBI:

A white person is 7 times more likely to be murdered by a black person than the other way around.

Funny how by watching the television news you'd be absolutely sure it was the other way around.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

Touchy "left" world we live in....Even right here in Prescott you can get in really BIG TROUBLE just for shooting a Javalina, The only fix to this horrible violence problem is for everyone to turn in their guns and become docile, passive, dorks and victims. Testosterone is now forbidden and must be neutralized. What ever you do, never, never defend your domicile lest you become the bad guy.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Josie Wharton

@Hooty Hoo wannabe bad boys. you know this for sure. How about Martin, don't think he was a wannabe gang member? Stop assuming and let it go.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: JM S

Can we finally move on to more important problems in our country.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: JM S

Our DOJ is showing more action in the trial than his own responsibilities. Seems he forgets our country's real problems, he only contributes to them. The liberals news media forgets that O.J. never testified, walked away from killing his ex-wife and friend, nothing said. If this justice too? Why is our president and DOJ even getting involved, another side tracking strategy.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: The Jury Examined The Facts

Common sense dictates a community watch volunteer will follow, watch and report the position of a suspect individual and not engage the individual. Trayvon initiated the contact and escalated the incident with violence. All he needed to do was call 911 and proceed to his dad's home, he would still be alive.

The use of the word child to describe Trayvon is ludicrous. He towered over Zimmerman and was the aggressor. This only went to trial because the usual race baiting suspects rhetoric.

This was a tragic situation, where a young man reacted in a manner causing his death.

Did Trayvon deserve to die, NO. Zimmerman reacted with deadly force, as he perceived his life was in danger.

The jury examined the facts and determined Zimmerman acted in self defense.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

Just proves that when guns and people who are wannabe badboys get together somebody gets hurt. Throw a little booze and/or a floozy in there and the sparks usually fly.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: The hypocrisy is pretty hard to take

Funny how little we hear from Obama, Holder, Jackson, Sharpton and the leftist organizations/unions/media about this issue.

Oh yeah, Blacks murdering Blacks on a staggeringly routine basis is no problem to speak about, it's only those darn White Hispanics that must pay the ultimate price.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: What nobody is talking about

The contribution to what happened by the reality of the frequency of Black crime. 12.5% of the population, 52.4% of murders, 56% of carjackings, 42% of forcible rapes, 40% of assaults and so on, and so on. The reality of this played a role here, even if indirectly. Zimmerman followed Martin (and shouldn't have) because his neighborhood was plagued with crime, and specifically Black crime. It seems to me Zimmerman's frustration with the lack of anyone's interest in addressing the crime problem probably motivated his leaving the car. Additionally, he had called 911 and asked for the cops to come investigate, he wanted to be able to direct them to Martin's location when they arrived. The idea he called 911, asked for the cops to come investigate, and then got out of the car to "stalk and murder an innocent black boy" (which I hear routinely on CNN, MSNBC and HLN) isn't just ridiculous, it's a flat out lie. I think the people that say it KNOW it is not true. They just don't care.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Isn't President Obama wonderful?

I love what he has done for race relations in this country.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: My View

This is what happens when you prosecute a criminal case not based upon the facts, the law or the results of a police investigation, but just to appease a racist mob led by some of the worst racists in the country.
1, Shooting happens.
2. Police investigate, determine insufficient evidence a crime was committed.
3. Mob shows up. leftist media takes up cause, because the Anthony case is over and they need something to boost their ratings
4. Some politician (Obama, Holder) says "I don't care about the facts, law, or what the evidence is or is not" prosecute anyway.
5. Trial (a farce, with most prosecution witnesses basically testifying for the defense)
6. Defendant found "not guilty", and virtually every impartial legal expert across the political spectrum says "Of course he was found not guilty. There was always reasonable doubt here."
7. Mob is outraged, leftist media is outraged (this must keep going until we can find another victim to exploit), racist politicians are outraged.
8. The uninformed pontificate endlessly on opinion pages across the USA, 99% of whom know absolutely nothing about the case they didn't see on CNN, MSNBC, HLN or FOX.

The Martin family, many Black leaders, the leftist media, the Obama administration and some politicians in Florida didn't want a fair trial. They wanted Zimmerman found guilty period. If you support that you do. I sure don't. Verdicts shouldn't be directed by a mob led by racists of either color. They should be the result of a fair trial. This one wasn't all that fair (Prosecutors engaged in misconduct and got busted doing it) but it was fair enough.
The role of Obama, Holder, and many politicians in Florida in this case is despicable. The role of the Jackson's and Sharpton's and the leftist media is well beyond despicable, as usual.

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Dead Sprat

Forging any of the usual prefacing remarks about the ignorant and arrogant actions of George Zimmerman I can’t help wonder why the President and many African American entertainers and athletes have made this single action their clarion call for reduced gun violence when hundreds of black on black gun deaths happen each year in Chicago and Detroit without their notice or remarks?

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