George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in the Death of Trayvon Martin
(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The jury in the George Zimmerman murder trial has found Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, who faced the possibility of life in prison, showed no reaction to the jury's verdict.
The six women in the jury, whose identities have been kept secret, delivered their verdict at 10 p.m. after more than 16 hours of deliberations over two days.
Zimmerman's parents were present in the courtroom, and his family members hugged. Some were in tears.
Martin's parents were not in the courtroom, and the Martin family lawyer Ben Crump quickly left.
Zimmerman, 29, was accused of second degree murder for shooting Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012 in Sanford, Fla. The case quickly got racial overtones when Sanford law enforcement declined to arrest Zimmerman. Zimmerman is a white Hispanic and Martin was black.
Zimmerman was arrested nearly two months later after the state appointed Angela Corey as a special prosecutor and she brought second degree murder charges against him.
Prosecutors accused Zimmerman of profiling Martin as a criminal and following him with a loaded gun, triggering the fatal confrontation.
Zimmerman maintained that he shot Martin in self-defense after he was knocked to the ground and Martin was banging his head against the pavement.
Defense lawyer Don West said after the verdict that the "prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful." He said the jury's verdict "kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty."
Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, tweeted "Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY."
The slain teenager's mother tweeted, "Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have.... I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!"
The Martin family lawyer, Ben Crump, said Trayvon Martin would go down "in the annals of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till as symbols of the fight for equal justice for all."
He added, "All America needs to dig deep to figure out how we learn from this tragedy and make sure it's not repeated."
The prosecutors were disappointed with the verdict.
Angela Corey, in a news conference following the verdict, said the state arrested Zimmerman because "We truly believe the mindset of George Zimmerman and the words that he used and that he was out doing what he was doing fit the bill for second degree murder."
Prosecutor John Guy said during his rebuttal at the end of the trial that Zimmerman "had hate in his heart" when he followed Martin the night of the fatal confrontation. As evidence he quoted Zimmerman telling a police dispatcher that "these a**holes always get away" and muttering "f***king punks."
"Trayvon Martin was profiled. There is no doubt that he was profiled as a criminal," Corey said.
She also defended the state's gun laws but said there was a need for responsible use of those weapons.
"We believe this case was all about boundaries and George Zimmerman exceeded those
She said the prosecutors respect the jury's verdict, but also said, "We are used to the imperfections of witnesses and evidence."
The case of Trayvon Martin's death may not be over. The NAACP said it was "outraged" by the verdict and called on the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for violating Martin's civil rights. The DOJ has conducted its own investigation into the shooting.
A department spokeswoman said Saturday night, "The department continues to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."
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