After deliberating for more than 16 hours, the six women jurors delivered a verdict which claimed that George Zimmerman was not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter Saturday night in a case that has received national response.
During the hearings the alleged killer assured the jury that he had shot Martin to save his own life after being attacked by the teen on Feb. 26, 2012.
After a four-week series of hearing and testimony, more than a dozen witnesses and a host of controversy, Zimmerman walked out of court a free man.
As USA Today writes, “For Zimmerman, it means trying to recapture his life after he was at the center of a national maelstrom over racial profiling, state gun laws and what constitutes self-defense.”
As the jurors voiced their decision, the accused hardly showed any emotions, smiling slightly and shaking hands with one of his lawyers.
The court found that Zimmerman didn’t “intentionally commit an act or acts that caused death” or demonstrate a “depraved mind without regard for human life” – Florida’s definitions of manslaughter and second-degree murder, respectively.
Meanwhile, the verdict was highly discussed. “I remain stunned at the decision,” civil rights leader Jesse Jackson told reporters on Sunday. “The (U.S.) Department of Justice must intervene to take this to another level.”
Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he has a talk with senior Justice officials about pursuing federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
“When you look at comments made by young black men who lived in that neighborhood about how they felt especially targeted by (Zimmerman), there is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why he targeted young Trayvon,” Jealous told the media.
Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said his client will now need to get on with his life, adding: “I think he’s going to be great. I think he is still worried. Hopefully everyone will respect the jury’s verdict.”
Zimmerman’s brother, Robert, told CNN’s Piers Morgan that his brother still can not believe that he is free now.
“He has some decompressing to do,” he said. “Our family was emotional. We are exonerated as a family and George is exonerated as a defendant. It’s going to take us some time to heal.”
Outside the courtroom, protesters who supported the killed didn’t seem to be surprised as, they say, “the prosecution did not prove its case.”
“The prosecution had no clear narrative, witnesses that appeared poorly prepared, and at the end of the day, this is more of a loss by the prosecution than a win by the defense,” criminal attorney Darren Kavinoky said.
Chief prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda told reporters in an interview, “I am disappointed in the verdict but I respect it. We accept the jury’s verdict.”
State Attorney Angela Corey said the case was a challenge. But she said, “That scream stops when the shot was fired and we always believed it was Trayvon Martin.”