Jury Finds Zimmerman Not Guilty

Saturday, July 13, 2013

George Zimmerman, center, at a bond hearing. (Photo by Gary Green/The Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images)

Jurors have found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Reaction in New York was swift, and gatherings are expected today in protest.

The six-member, all-woman jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before reaching their decision Saturday night.

They had been given the chance to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter but did not do so, despite asking for a clarification of the charge earlier in the evening.

After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go.

Jurors heard two different portraits of Zimmerman and had to decide whether he was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense because he feared for his life.

The reaction to George Zimmerman's acquittal in Trayvon Martin's death was swift in New York last night.

Jay Smooth, a deejay at WBAI Radio, wrote on Twitter: "The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it's more George Zimmermans."

Caprice Crane, a novelist and screenwriter who splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, tweeted:

"The verdict is shocking. But I hope everyone angry about it will behave with the same dignity that the family of Trayvon Martin has shown."

The Rev. Al Sharpton called the verdict a "slap in the face." Sharpton had brought attention to the Martin's death in the early days and says he will head to Florida soon.

Meanwhile, City Councilmember Eric Ulrich of Queens, a Republican, tweeted: "The rights of the accused cannot be compromised by the court of public opinion. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial."

About 100 people gathered in Union Square late last night for a mostly peaceful candlelight protest against the verdict. More vigils are expected Sunday.

Please share your reaction with WNYC. Reply @wnyc on Twitter or comment on this Brian Lehrer post on Facebook. Or leave a voice message at 855-8-My-WNYC, which is 855-869-9692.


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Comments [13]

Steve Z from Edgemont from Westchester

The reactions differ so starkly by the prism people see their world through, whom or what they believe are the facts or view with skepticism. Very much like many political discussions, some look at the available information and interpret it one way, while others look at the same information and see it very differently.

The legal system and laws seem inadequate to address this case especially in a place like Florida, and so the benefit of the doubt works here to the advantage of the defendant. That is about all that is clear from this court proceeding. Zimmerman's guilt or innocence and his moral responsibility, along with the degree to which his behavior caused the death of a teenager is not.

His need to use deadly force when he did, alone was an unjustified decision shaped by a string of dangerous and unnecessary decisions Zimmerman made from his own aggressive, violent mindset and his provocation of the events that occurred. His injuries, as well, l do not support that his actions were warranted. But the circumstances of this event and the legal system leave an a teenager, undeserving of death, dead, and the man who perpetrated his killing free.

Jul. 14 2013 11:21 PM

I read each post and I am saddened at all the totally false postings. According to the trial report, you know the eye witness (John), TM was beating GZ and had him on the ground. That was the crime committed and, yet, I do not read such comments.

How can people be so delusional? Did they read or even watch YouTube videos of the trial?

It doesn't appear like anyone bothered.

Jul. 14 2013 05:14 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Rachel Jeantel stated, when questioned by the prosecution "I was trying to say Trayvon, Trayvon, what's going on, I started hearing a little of Trayvon saying 'Get off, get off.'"

Rachel Jeantel stated, when defense questioned her, "I said Trayvon—I kind of heard Trayvon saying, "Get off. Get off.""

"I kind of heard" is a very different statement from her original statement "I started hearing", certainly the kind of statement that would bring doubt to my mind - did she hear what she stated or did she "kind of hear" it?

As many studies have shown, memory is a very tricky thing and highly subject to getting changed when repeatedly called forth. This is one reason eye witness testimony is so unreliable.

If the jury had a reasonable doubt, they had to find George Zimmerman not guilty. Ms. Jeantel's testimony was the strongest the prosecution had against Mr. Zimmerman and, to my mind, it did not pass the "beyond a reasonable doubt" test.

Jul. 14 2013 02:30 PM
rd from Inwood

My 85 year old neighbor just asked me this question. I didn't watch the trial so I have no idea of the answer, but her question was this: Zimmerman says that Martin was reaching for his gun. How did Trayvon know that Zimmerman had a gun unless he had threatened him with it first?

Jul. 14 2013 12:06 PM
Louise Wood from NJ

Ok, your child walks to the store for soda and chips. on the way home, they are followed by an older man. He is getting closer and closer. the child turns to defends themselves from rape, kidnap, injury , theft and the man shoots your child. Who is guilty? your child? Once again, once again, once again. when the riots start - this is the cause.

Jul. 14 2013 11:18 AM
Armando Chavez from NYC

Typical. Whites have been murdering blacks in this country, especially in the south, with impunity, since the first Africans arrived on these shores 400 years ago. Why would you expect anything else.

Jul. 14 2013 11:16 AM
Dan from NJ

Justice spoke, end of story. And whie the left wingers tried to further racially divide the country, the system ignored that pressure and weighed the facts. Good day for that poor Peruvian Zimmerman.

Jul. 14 2013 09:59 AM
Paulie Walnuts from Brooklyn

Thank God for a better justice system than we had when OJ performed a premedicated murder of some regular old white folk. And then wrote a book about how he did it, but never was convicted. Any rioting? any car burning? nope, not the white (cracker) stlye. Left wingers need to get thier racist anti white, self hating attitude in check. Got news for ya'll if a 6'3 dude was smashing my head or yours into the ground trying to kill me and I had a gun. He's toast.

Jul. 14 2013 09:51 AM
Shakerdom from Phrisko

It's tragic. Martin and Zimmerman required close psychiatric supervision. Zimmerman's actions seem to have been predictable. And now he's prowling again. Florida's justice system stinks. As does the Federal system. Both ignore the prevention: cure factor. Everything focuses on "evidence", but not the use or misuse of evidence by the "attorneys". This blinds the average juror.

Jul. 14 2013 07:53 AM
extrapolitan from Manhattan

The key thing here is that Zimmerman pursued Martin and precipitated a confrontation because Zimmerman had a gun. If he hadn't had a gun he would have been afraid and nothing would have happened. Then he used the gun to kill Martin. I don't know how to address this legally, but it just seems incredibly unfair.

Jul. 13 2013 11:31 PM
Russ from Rockland County

Everything that happened that night was caused by Zimmerman. He is responsible for the outcome. It is he that disregarded the directive of the police. He was a stalker. We would celebrate a stalker getting caught in any other case. Zimmerman was not standing his ground, he was the aggressor. Mr. Martin was the only person "STANDING HIS GROUND" that horrible night. This is another sad day in the history of our country.

Jul. 13 2013 11:17 PM
PbnJ from Brooklyn

This was an ill prepared prosecutor will little evidence, few witnesses, and a jury that was not balanced. Another tragic day for the family who lost a son due to a hot headed, cop-wannabe. No justice!

Jul. 13 2013 10:58 PM
Eli Friedmann from astoria

it's a shameful day for this country.
an unarmed kid was shot and killed by an armed assailant. in what universe is this "self defense"?
any law that justifies this is a stupid and crazy law.

Jul. 13 2013 10:28 PM

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