George Zimmerman Trial Verdict Announced: Jury Finds 29-Year-Old Not Guilty Of Murder Or Manslaughter In Trayvon Martin Case [BREAKING]
[UPDATE 7.13.2013, 10:35 PM] A jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty in the fatal 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. They acquitted Zimmerman on both charges, finding him innocent of both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The Zimmerman trial verdict was announced at 10 p.m. Saturday night. Jury deliberations began Friday afternoon.
The trial of 29-year-old George Zimmerman, who is accused of racially profiling and murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, is in its final act after three weeks of courtroom proceedings. Following the defense's closing arguments earlier today, and the prosecution's subsequent rebuttal, Judge Debra Nelson handed the case over to the six-member, all-women jury.
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"It is up to you decide which evidence is reliable," Nelson told the jurors. "You should use your common sense."
Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge as well as one count of manslaughter for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in a Sanford, Fla. neighborhood. Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer at the time, was driving through the gated community on a personal errand when he spotted Martin walking home from the convenience store. After approaching the teen, Zimmerman got into a scuffle with Martin, and ended up shooting the 17-year-old in the chest, fatally wounding him.
The shooting sparked national protests after Sanford police failed to indict Zimmerman. Critics also said Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, who was black, and pursued the teen because of his appearance.
The outcome of the Trayvon Martin murder case could go one of a few ways. The jury could convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, which requires prosecutors to prove Zimmerman had a "depraved mind" and "ill intent." If convicted, Zimmerman could face life in prison, or even the death penalty.
Florida statue reads:
The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life.
If the jury does not convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, they could still find him guilty of manslaughter - an outcome made possible only after Judge Nelson ruled it was permissible on Thursday - in which case the 29-year-old would face at least 10 years in prison.
From public attorney Richard E. Hornsby's website:
If convicted of Manslaughter, a judge is required to impose a minimum prison sentence of 9¼ years in prison and can impose any additional combination of the following penalties:
Up to 15 years in prison.
Up to 15 years of probation.
Up to $10,000 in fines.
Or, the jury could find that the state did not prove either second-degree murder or manslaughter, and Zimmerman could walk away from the ordeal unscathed.
Authorities in Florida are bracing for the possibility of riots following the Zimmerman case verdict. They fear a violent reaction to the jury's decision, and politicians and community leaders are urging public use their words, not their fists.
"Freedom of expression is a constitutional right," the sheriff's office said in its statement. "While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not." Even Marin's family members have reached out to urge people to stay calm, regardless of the outcome of the trial. USA Today reports that there are even first amendment zones set up for peaceful rallies.
For a true gauge of reactions, we go to the hotbed of hotheads: Twitter.
July 25th #Leo tweeted: "It will be a surprise if Zimmerman gets 2nd degree murder. If anything, he'll get manslaughter, in which 10-30 is just fine."
It will be a surprise if Zimmerman gets 2nd degree murder. If anything, he'll get manslaughter, in which 10-30 is just fine. #zimmermantrial
— July 25th #Leo (@Wayyy_TooMuch) July 12, 2013
Gen JC Christian quipped: "Soon we will learn whether George will go to prison or deliver keynote at the next GOP convention."
Soon we will learn whether George will go to prison or deliver keynote at the next GOP convention #ZimmermanTrial — Gen JC Christian (@JC_Christian) July 12, 2013
I'll say this: if the #ZimmermanTrial verdict comes back not guilty, my personal space requirements for walking down the street will triple.
— Chris L. Robinson (@chrisLrob) July 12, 2013
Why are Trayvon supporters getting ready to riot and protest? Because they know he is not guilty and can't accept it. #ZimmermanTrial — Moose (@sleeper362) July 12, 2013
Have you been following the Zimmerman trial? What do you think of the Trayvon Martin case? What do you think the jury will decide? Is George Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder? Weigh in below:
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