Florida Jury Finds George Zimmerman Not Guilty of Murder

BY NewsDesk  July 13, 2013 at 10:17 PM EST


George Zimmerman stands as the jury arrives to deliver the verdict, on the 25th day of his trial. Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images.

A Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman late Saturday night of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, a case closely watched by many around the country. Zimmerman was also acquitted of manslaughter. The six-woman jury delivered its decision after deliberating for more than 16 hours over two days.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012, saying his actions were made in self-defense after he said Martin knocked him down, punched him and slammed his head against the ground. Martin, who was wearing a hoodie, was unarmed and the state’s prosecutors had argued that Zimmerman had pursued the teenager because he assumed Martin was a criminal.

Martin’s death sparked a national discussion about questions of racial profiling and Florida’s self-defense law, “Stand Your Ground,” which allows someone to use deadly force if he or she fears serious bodily harm or death.

The fuller story — including reaction from families as well as attorneys from both sides — is included in link below. We also highlight a range of reaction on social media and information about protests in Florida and California.

On Twitter, there was strong reaction immediately, much of it reflecting disappointment, dismay and outrage. But there was also some support for the jury’s decision not to convict. Overnight, the verdict sparked protests in four cities in California. Most were peaceful, but there was some vandalism in Oakland. More protests are expected on Sunday.

Outside the Sanford courthouse, about 100 protesters gathered after the verdict, holding signs and shouting, “No justice, no peace!” The crowd dissipated about an hour after the decision. Court officials say jurors do not plan to hold news conference or answer questions.

President Obama released a statement on the verdict Sunday afternoon.

I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.

In April, Gwen Ifill reported on how the case might affect “stand your ground” laws in other states.