In a case that has gripped the nation and set off contentious debates around race, self-defense, and guns, George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by a Florida jury on Saturday night. Zimmerman had been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The jury of six women took two days of deliberation in order to return the verdict that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force to defend himself from Martin. The state of Florida’s definition of manslaughter and second-degree murder say that the person "intentionally committed an act or acts that caused death" and that they acted "without regard for human life."
As the verdict was read, Zimmerman showed no emotion, but afterwards reached over to shake the hands of his lawyer.
On February 26, 2012, Zimmerman, who is 29 years old and of white and Hispanic descent, shot and killed 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claims his life was in danger and he acted in self-defense.
Following the verdict, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O'Mara, noted that it was now time for his client to move on from the trial. "I think he's going to be great,” O’Mara said in a press conference. “I think he is still worried. Hopefully everyone will respect the jury's verdict.”
“I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful,” said Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Don West. “As happy as I am for George Zimmerman, I’m thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty. For that, we are eternally grateful.”
While Zimmerman’s family breathed a sigh of relief over the verdict, Martin’s family and supporters expressed disappointment over the jury’s decision.
Bernie De la Rionda, the lead prosecutor, said, "I am disappointed in the verdict but I respect it. We accept the jury's verdict."
"Even though I am broken-hearted, my faith is unshattered,” Trayvon's father, Tracy, wrote on his Twitter account. “I will always love my baby Tray... even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him."
In a statement, the NAACP said that justice had not been served on this day, while chairman Roslyn M. Brock noted that the case “re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States.”
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