Jury finds George Zimmerman not guilty.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman whose trial for the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin riveted viewers and sparked a national conversation about race and justice, was found not guilty on all charges Saturday.
Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder in the death of Martin, a 17 year old whom the defendant shot during a scuffle in a nearby gated community on Feb 26, 2012. The six-woman jury also found Zimmerman not guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The jury signaled they had reached a verdict 9:45 pm ET and filed into the courtroom around 10 pm. After the verdict was read, Judge Debra Nelson polled the jurors to make sure each agreed with the decision. She then told Zimmerman he was free to go.
Zimmerman showed little emotion as the verdict was announced.
The decision from the jury had been expected to spark outrage from Martin family supporters who say the teen’s death was ignored by police and prosecutors for weeks because of his race. Martin was black, and Zimmerman is half white and half Hispanic. But more than an hour after court was adjourned, only a handful of demonstrators were outside the courthouse and they were heavily outnumbered by members of the media trying to interview them.
Estefania Galvez, a protester with the national “Justice for Trayvon” group, said protesters will hold a press conference on Sunday at the courthouse to announce a national day of protest on Monday. There were reports of some demonstrations in other cities sparking late Saturday night. Dozens of people marched in San Francisco holding signs in support of Martin, and another spontaneous rally was reported in Washington D.C.
Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. They later tweeted thanks to their supporters.
“Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control,” Fulton tweeted. “Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!”
Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, tweeted, “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY,” he wrote.
The jurors deliberated 12 hours on Saturday–including a one-hour lunch during which they were allowed to discuss the case–before alerting the court that they would like the attorneys to clarify the charge of manslaughter. The attorneys on both sides told the jury that they could not speak about the charge “in general terms” but would be happy to answer a more specific question.