April 20, 2014

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Zimmerman acquitted in Trayvon Martin case

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges late Saturday night in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.
Zimmerman, 29, blinked and smiled slightly when the verdict was announced. He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter. But the jury of six women, all but one of them white, reached a verdict of not guilty after deliberating more than 15 hours over the course of two days.
Martin’s mother and father were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read; supporters of his family who had gathered outside yelled “No! No!” upon learning of the not-guilty verdict.
The teen’s father, Tracy, reacted on Twitter: “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.”
Trayvon Martin’s brother, Jahvaris Fulton, said simply: “Et tu America?” — a reference to the Latin phrase “Et tu, Brute?” known as an expression of betrayal.
The jurors considered nearly three weeks of often wildly conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor on the rainy night the 17-year-old was shot while walking through the gated townhouse community where he was staying and where Zimmerman lived. None of the witnesses who were called had a clear view of their encounter.
Defense attorneys said the case was classic self-defense, claiming Martin knocked Zimmerman down and was slamming the older man’s head against the concrete sidewalk when Zimmerman fired his gun.
“We’re ecstatic with the results,” defense attorney Mark O’Mara after the verdict. “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense.”
Another member of his defense team, Don West, said he was “thrilled this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty.”
Prosecutors called Zimmerman a liar and portrayed him was a “wannabe cop” vigilante who had grown frustrated by break-ins in his neighborhood committed primarily by young black men. Zimmerman assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands, prosecutors said.
State Attorney Angela Corey said after the verdict that she believed second-degree murder was the appropriate charge because Zimmerman’s mindset “fit the bill of second-degree murder.”
“We charged what we believed we could prove,” Corey said.
The jurors’ names have not been made public, and they declined to speak to the news media.
As the verdict drew near, police and city leaders in the Orlando suburb of Sanford and other parts of Florida said they were taking precautions against the possibility of mass protests or unrest in the event of an acquittal.
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon Martin’s supporters, ranking the teen alongside civil rights heroes Medgar Evers and Emmett Till in the history of the fight for equal justice.
But he urged them not to resort to violence.
“For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful,” he said.
O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, said his client is aware he has to be cautious and protective of his safety.
“There still is a fringe element that wants revenge,” O’Mara said. “They won’t listen to a verdict of not guilty.”
The verdict came a year and a half after civil rights protesters angrily demanded Zimmerman be prosecuted. That anger appeared to return Saturday night outside the courthouse, at least for some who had been following the case.
Rosie Barron, 50, and Andrew Perkins, 55, both black residents of Sanford, stood in the parking lot of the courthouse and wept.
“I at least thought he was going to get something, something,” Barron said.
Added her brother: “How the hell did they find him not guilty?”
Perkins was so upset he was shaking. “He killed somebody and got away with murder,” Perkins shouted, looking in the direction of the courthouse. “He ain’t getting no probation or nothing.”
Issuing a statement from New York, civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton called the not-guilty verdict “a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice.”
“We intend to ask the Department of Justice to move forward as they did in the Rodney King case and we will closely monitor the civil case against Mr. Zimmerman,” Sharpton said, adding that he will travel to Florida in the next few days.
Several Zimmerman supporters also were outside the courthouse, including a brother and sister quietly rejoicing that Zimmerman was acquitted. Both thought the jury made the right decision in finding Zimmerman not guilty — they felt that Zimmerman killed Martin in self-defense.
Cindy Lenzen, 50, of Casslebury, and her brother, 52-year-old Chris Bay, stood watching the protesters chant slogans such as, “the whole system’s guilty.”
Lenzen and Bay — who are white — called the entire case “a tragedy,” especially for Zimmerman.
“It’s a tragedy that he’s going to suffer for the rest of his life,” Bay said. “No one wins either way. This is going to be a recurring nightmare in his mind every night.”
Meanwhile, authorities in Martin’s hometown of Miami said the streets were quiet, with no indication of problems. The neighborhood where Martin’s father lives in Miami Gardens was equally quiet.
Zimmerman wasn’t arrested for 44 days after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting as police in Sanford insisted that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law on self-defense prohibited them from bringing charges. Florida gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.
Martin’s parents, along with civil rights leaders such as Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, argued that Zimmerman — who identifies himself as Hispanic — had racially profiled their son. And they accused investigators of dragging their feet because Martin was a black teenager.
Before a special prosecutor assigned to the case ordered Zimmerman’s arrest, thousands of protesters gathered in Sanford, Miami, New York and elsewhere, many wearing hoodies like the one Martin had on the night he died. They also carried Skittles and a can of iced tea, items Martin had in his pocket. President Barack Obama weighed in, saying that if he had a son, “he’d look like Trayvon.”
Despite the racially charged nature of the case, race was barely mentioned at the trial.
“This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms,” Corey said. “We believe this case all along was about boundaries, and George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.”
One of the few mentions of race came from witness Rachel Jeantel, the Miami teen who was talking to Martin by phone moments before he was shot. She testified that he described being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker” as he walked through the neighborhood.
Jeantel gave some of the trial’s most riveting testimony. She said she overheard Martin demand, “What are you following me for?” and then yell, “Get off! Get off!” before his cellphone went dead.
The jurors had to sort out clashing testimony from 56 witnesses in all, including police, neighbors, friends and family members.
For example, witnesses who got fleeting glimpses of the fight in the darkness gave differing accounts of who was on top. And Martin’s parents and Zimmerman’s parents both claimed that the person heard screaming for help in the background of a neighbor’s 911 call was their son. Numerous other relatives and friends weighed in, too, as the recording was played over and over in court. Zimmerman had cuts and scrapes on his face and the back of his head, but prosecutors suggested the injuries were not serious.
To secure a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury that Zimmerman acted with a “depraved” state of mind — that is, with ill will, hatred or spite. Prosecutors said he demonstrated that when he muttered, “F—— punks. These a——-. They always get away” during a call to police as he watched Martin walk through his neighborhood.
To win a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.

  • J

    The circus is finally over, and the Media and race-baiters have been thwarted.

  • Logdog

    At the outset, it was plain to see that no crime was committed. If there was any evidence of that, the Sanford police would have arrested him at the scene. However, thanks to our Liberal Media and our president’s stupid comments, it quickly became a “racial issue”. I contend that if Trayvon Martin had been a White boy, and George Zimmerman had been a Black man, this event would not even made the “News” in Sanford, FL ! Now we are faced with the usual threats of riots and violence from the usual people that have become the source of most of the violent crime in our Country. What they fail to realize is that some of us are very well prepared to protect ourselves and our families from their violent acts ! “Bring it on” ! It will be a long hot summer !

    • jz

      Zimmerman initiated the contact, was told by dispatch to back off but instead he followed the kid. Zimmerman profiled the kid. Wannabe cop who now that he has a gun wants to be a hero. Bad law. Stand your ground. Opens the way for assholes to be able to look for trouble then shoot someone when they find what they were looking for.

      • Larry Crnobrnja

        It’s unfortunate that TM had to lose his life, but he started the altercation. All the evidence was presented in the trial and GZ was found not guilty. Trying to blame anyone else is ignorant.

      • Edward Nonamaker

        Obviously JZ u did not watch or listen to the trial or evidence that was presented,when Mr. Zimmerman was told to break off his contact with Martin he did so,Martin approached Zimmerman and initiated contact,I am all for profiling ,WHITES ,BLACKS,HISPANICS ETC., maybe crime would decline in this shithole county if more profiling was used.

      • Bob

        Stand your ground law had nothing to do with this case, it wasn’t used as a defense. They went with a straight self defense case.

      • Zen Grouch

        **Opens the way for assholes to be able to look for trouble then shoot someone when they find what they were looking for.**

        …you make that sound like a -bad- thing, in an era where the mantra of the young is *snitches gets stitches*.

        If people want to keep an eye on activities in their neighborhood, more power to ‘em.

        **…don’t bring a bag ‘o Skittles to a gun fight**

      • logdog

        YES jz,, “Stand Your Ground” and “Concealed Carry” WILL endanger a LOT of CRIMINALS ! Who’s side are YOU on ? The evidence PROVED that Trayvon Martin WAS the aggressor. What would YOU have George Zimmerman DO ? Lay there and get his head smashed ? Take the “RACE” out of the case and all you have is SELF DEFENSE !!!

        • jz

          I,m on the side of responsible gun ownership and use. Trayvon was the aggressor after wannabe cop Zimmerman pursued Trayvon until, yes, there was a confrontation. Zimmerman do? Call and report like he did. Then back off like he was told by the police dept. Nobody will convince me that Zimmerman did not go too far for what was called for in this circumstance, knowing he had a gun he was looking for a confrontation and found one. Yes, sometimes the law, common sense or morality conflict. Zimmerman may have legally got off, but morally, He was the one who was more wrong. You forget? Experienced prosecutors chose to prosecute. You think they like burglars or thugs any more than you or me? The prosecutors argument was spot on. Like me they don,t want the wrong people carrying guns and playing wannabe cop/hero/I,m fed up with crime and going to do something about it idiots walking around. I already said and you read, I,m all for conceal carry and 2nd amendment. Stand your ground is bad law. Irresponsible gun carriers, people fed up with crime, [understandbly so] will try and use it to play vigilante, that is what Zimmerman was.

          • Joe Smith

            If this is the case, why didn’t he shoot the others that he called the police on before Trayvon? Zim broke no laws period

          • jz

            Why didn,t he shoot the others? Are you serious. Neither of us knows why. But he did shoot this time because he

          • jz

            CHASED HIM DOWN.

          • Zen Grouch

            You saying this youngster Trayvon couldn’t out run a fat “Cracka’” like Zimmerman?

            …EVEN when he’s all hopped up on Mary Jane and Skittles?!

          • Joe Smith

            SHow me any evidence he chased him down. Zim said he was on his way back to his car when Trayvon came at him and since all the rest of the evidence backs up the rest of Zims story, I would bet on this being true too.

        • Angela Fuller

          what crime was being commited before zimmerman confronted martin?

          • Joe Smith

            What proof was there that he confronted Martin? ZERO!

          • jz

            He chased him down.

          • Zen Grouch

            Yeah you right!

            If you make eye contact with these thugs roaming the street you get what you deserve!

            **Snitches gets stitches!**

      • Joe Smith

        He was NOT told by dispatch not to follow him, they said “we don’t need you to do that” and dispatch has no legal right to tell him not to follow him in the first place. Stand your ground is a great law, nobody should have to back down from a criminal. He was claiming self defense, not SYG anyway

        • jz

          “We don,t need you to do that” isn,t enough? Dispatch having no legal right, so what. that was good advice and Zimmerman should have heeded. How about common sense, back off, let the police take over. Heck no. I gotta gun and I,m a wannabe cop not trained to deal with these situations, permit or no permit.

          • Joe Smith

            No its not ,to say he was told not to follow him, the police should have said “do not do that” Not that they had the right to tell him not to follow him in the first place.
            Also, he said he was on his way back to the car and zero evidence says he did anything else. ZERO

  • Bob Sweatt

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/09/dominique-lang-separate-trial-baby-killed-stroller_n_3048213.html

    Well this case is in the national news getting all the screen time the Zimmerman case did. Then and only then will I give a crap about TM.

    Some people want to talk about race. Ok then why is it when w white BABY gets kill by a black guy. WE NEAR NOTHING ABOUT IT.

    • Zen Grouch

      I’m sure that lil’ Cracka baby instigated the entire incident…

      • jz

        Just the kind of idiot we need carrying a gun and a permit.

        • Zen Grouch

          “WE?”…

          …you got a mouse in your holster?

  • Mark B
  • maggiecita

    Justice was served…

    • Angela Fuller

      justice?

      • Joe Smith

        You are right, it was not justice because Zim should not have been charged in the first place.

  • Angela Fuller

    all i know is the kid was packing a bag of skittles and iced tea and was doing NOTHING wrong and never made it home that night thanks to George Zimmerman,who was packing a gun and who chose not to listen to the police

    • Joe Smith

      He was walking around the houses high on MJ in a neighborhood that has had a lot of break ins so keeping an eye on him was justified. And bashing someones head into the cement is a weapon

      • jz

        Zimmerman “chased him down” , keeping an eye on him. Yeah right. What citizen uses the word “suspect” 24 times in his written statement to police? A wannabe cop. Who claims self defense but refuses to take the stand to tell their story? A person who dares not let the prosecutors cross examine him because of all his lies early on in the investigation. And so what if he had smoked marijuana? So there’s alot of break ins in the neighborhood. That justifies Zimmerman playing vigilante?

        • Pablo Jones

          Well maybe he would have used Trayvon’s name if he knew it at the time. If he used proper English would you say he was a wannabe English teacher or Shakespearean actor? You see what you want to see and are repeating what you have heard from others. If you are truly upset about a black youth losing his life why aren’t you concern about the 300+ black youths that have died in Chicago over the last year.

          Trayvon would not have been shot if he didn’t attack Zimmerman. Zimmerman did not walk up to Trayvon with his gun pulled and shoot he. He was attacked and in the middle of the attack he pulled the gun and shot his attacker. Hard to say you are a vigilante when you are on the ground being beaten.

          And Zimmerman didn’t need to take the stand because the defense already made their case. What lies are you referring too? Maybe the prosecution should have called you to the stand since you know what really happened.

          • jz

            The lies he told in the very beginning according to the prosecutors on tv last night. I don,t understand how you do not put some blame on Zimmerman for what happened. Once again. At the very least he appeared to, because he had a gun, thought he could do something, what? Instead of, like the one juror said on tv last night, stayed in his car like he was advised to by dispatch. Yea, what others say. those others are experienced prosecutors and one juror so far. Are you blind to what happened prior to Trayvons biggest mistake? Yes vigilante. Should never have happened and it is as much zimmermans fault as Trayvons, despite what the law and jury instructions were. How can you dismiss or disregard the fact that what citizen uses the word “suspect” 24 times in a written statement? zimmermans state of mind is just as relevant as Trayvons. Trayvon was minding his own business before the vigilante continued to follow him. The vigilante was an adult. Just because you lave a drivers license does not mean you are a safe driver. Dude doesn,thave the proper mindset to carry a gun. However, the jury spoke. I just don,t get how some of you make it so cut and dry when zimmerman, the adult with a gun, acted in a way if I was in that situation I wouldn,t continue on. The kid is within 20 feet of me my gun is out continues at his peril. I,ve carried a gun in my job years ago and zimmerman did everything wrong which made the shooting unnecessary and should have been avoided. That’s a vigilante.

          • jz

            And another thing 3 jurors, 2 wanted 2nd degree murder, 1 wanted manslaughter. They said they were hamstringed by the jury instructions and had to follow the law. We accept that part of it. The blacks in Chicago is another conversation. My point on this is that someone with a conceal carry should have been more prudent and used better judgement. Once Trayvon did wrong he was gonna lose this one. But what led up to it was unnecessary. He didn,t take the stand because prosecutors would have exposed his true intentions.