“We the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty.”
After 16 hours of deliberation, the jury in a Florida court handed down their verdict in the controversial murder case of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, a former neighbourhood watch volunteer, was acquitted of second-degree murder and a lesser charge of manslaughter. Though he appeared to show no emotion as the verdict was read out, his wife looked on with tears in her eyes.Trayvon Martin’s parents were not in attendance when the verdict was given. However, his father Tracy tweeted, “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered.”
The case has sparked debate in the US over racial profiling and civil rights when Zimmerman, a white Hispanic man shot the unarmed black teenager in what he said was self-defence. He claimed Martin attacked him, though the prosecution painted him as a ‘wannabe cop’ who tracked and killed the teenager. The case also highlighted Florida’s self-defence laws which allows lethal force to be used if the victim fears great bodily harm or death.
Zimmerman’s plea allowed him to avoid arrest for six weeks following the shooting in Sanford on February 26 2012, after police accepted his testimony. It triggered protests and led to the resignation of the local police chief.
Demonstrations continued throughout the trial which began on June 10, with many holding up bags of skittles, the only item the unarmed youngster was carrying in his pocket at the time of his death.
The Judge urged calm in light of the verdict.