Jury finds George Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd-degree murder
Zimmerman cleared in death of Trayvon Martin
SANFORD, Fla. – The jury has found neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The jury received the case on Friday afternoon deliberating for nearly 15 hours before announcing they reached a verdict just before 10 p.m. Saturday.
Zimmerman blinked and barely smiled as the six-member, all-woman jury announced its verdict following more than 15 hours of deliberations over two days. After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go.
Martin's mother and father were not inside the courtroom when the verdict was read, but supporters of Martin's family who had gathered outside the courthouse yelled out "No! No!"
Zimmerman's wife, Shellie Zimmerman, had tears in her eyes after the six-member, all-woman jury delivered its verdict Saturday night.
The jury has said they have no desire to speak to the media, court officials said Saturday night. The juror anonymity order is still in effect until matter is addressed at future hearing.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey spoke to the media after the verdict was read.
"I have an amazing team of lawyers," Corey said. "We promised we would seek the truth for Trayvon Martin and due process for George Zimmerman."
When asked about the charging of Zimmerman, Corey replied, "we truly believe that George Zimmerman's mindset ... fit the bill for second-degree murder."
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda spoke after Corey, saying that he was "disappointed" but "respects the verdict," along with prosecutors John Guy and Richard Mantei.
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara then read aloud a letter he wrote to Seminole Sheriff thanking SCSO for how the Zimmerman matter was "handled."
Defense attorney Don West then said that he knows he can be "blunt" but called the state's prosecution of Zimmerman "disgraceful" and is "thrilled jury prevented this tragedy from becoming a travesty."
Corey said that the state has not spoken to the Martin family since the verdict.
Tracy Martin, Martin's father, took to Twitter after the verdict, saying "God blessed Me & Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him GOD BLESS."
Martin family attorney Daryl Parks spoke on behalf of the Martins, saying that Martin's parents are "heartbroken."
"For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful," said Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump.
The jury asked a question after 11 hours of deliberations about the instruction of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
After discussing the jurors' question with state and defense attorneys, Nelson said court was in recess, allowing both sides to come up with an appropriate answer for the jury.
Around 6:45 p.m., the state said it had reached a near-agreement with the defense before citing several previous legal cases. Nelson told the two sides to come up with exact wording to send to the jury, with both sides wanting to know what specific clarification the jury is seeking.
The six-person, all female jury had the choice to convict Zimmerman, 29, of second-degree murder, manslaughter or not guilty.
Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Manslaughter with a firearm carries a maximum 30-year sentence.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman never testified about the fatal struggle with Martin, a 17-year-old Miami teen who was not armed. Jurors, however, saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his story to investigators.
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