George Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted Saturday night in Florida of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin, bringing to an end of a case that set off national debates over racial justice and self-defense laws.
Zimmerman showed little reaction in the courtroom when the verdict was announced after 10 p.m. on Saturday, shaking hands with his attorneys. He later hugged family members before he left the courthouse after being cleared of all charges.
George Zimmerman (R) is congratulated by his defense team after being found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013. (Photo:Reuters/Joe Burbank)
Martin’s family members were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read, but reacted on Twitter Saturday night. Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, expressed his disappointment with the verdict, tweeting, ”Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.”
Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, tweeted ”Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!”
The six female jurors, who were sequestered during the three-week trial, reached the decision on their second day of deliberation at the Seminole County courthouse. They had to weigh the testimony of more than 50 witnesses and evaluate hundreds of pieces of evidence.
Now, the weapon Zimmerman used in February 2012 to take the life of Trayvon Martin can be returned to him. His defense attorney O'Mara says Zimmerman needs the weapon now "even more" than before.
"There are a lot of people out there who actually hate him, though they shouldn't," he said.
Martin's family plans to take civil action against their son's killer now that the criminal trial, which captivated and stirred emotions worldwide, has ended.
Thousands across the nation took to the streets to protest the verdict and express distaste for Zimmerman, the jury and the controversial Florida law that allowed Zimmerman to kill the unarmed 17-year-old. Demonstrations in Manhattan and Los Angeles ended in some arrests as protesters clashed with riot-ready police.