GEORGE ZIMMERMAN VERDICT ‘NOT GUILTY’! DEFENSE ATTORNEY, ‘ IF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN WERE BLACK, HE NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME’

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George Zimmerman found NOT GUILTY of the murder or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin

  • Jury took just over 16 hours to come to not guilty verdict
  • Twitter users calls neighborhood watch volunteer ‘dead man walking’
  • Case was not about race or right to bear arms, prosecutor says
  • Zimmerman said to be worried about reaction to verdict
  • Angry protests outside courthouse as case ends
  • ‘I thought he was guilty’ prosecutor Rionda says
  • Immunity will be sought if attempt to sue Zimmerman is made

By Rachel Quigley and Jessica Jerreat DailyMail  PUBLISHED: , 14 July 2013

The jury of six women took more than 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days to reach a verdict, in which time they unanimously decided the neighborhood watch volunteer justifiably killed the teenager because he believed his life was in imminent danger.

As the judge announced that Zimmerman had no other business with the court just after 10pm on EST on Saturday his mother, who was sat in the court, smiled for the first time during the trial.

Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, were not in court to hear the verdict. Their reaction was said to be reserved but expressed their disappointment.

 
Relief: George Zimmerman breaks into a smile of relief a few moments after being cleared of all chargesRelief: George Zimmerman breaks into a smile of relief a few moments after being cleared of all charges
 
Not guilty: George Zimmerman listens as the judge records the not guilty verdict in his murder trialNot guilty: George Zimmerman listens as the judge records the not guilty verdict in his murder trial
 
Relief: George Zimmerman's wife cries as the verdict was read outRelief: George Zimmerman’s wife cries as the verdict was read outA tweet CNN claimed came from his father said: ‘I know my baby proud of fight we along with all of you put up for him’.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.’There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence,’ Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said immediately after jurors began deliberating. ‘We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully.’Crowds outside the courthouse were outspoken about their disappointment at the verdict, yelling ‘The system has failed us’, and hundreds took to Twitter to voice their discontentment with the justice system and jury.

Moments after the verdict was read out, people reacting on Twitter had described him as ‘a dead man walking’.

Zimmerman’s defense attorneys said the verdict had not sunk in for him yet, and that he was worried about the reaction.

Zimmerman is said to have been in hiding and wears a bullet proof vest when outside, according to the New York Times.

Defense attorney Mark O Mara said: ‘[Zimmerman] has to be cautious and protective of his safety because there is a fringe element who have said on Twitter and elsewhere they want revenge.’

He added that after everyone left the room at the end of the trial, Zimmerman thanked his defense teams and became emotional as he realized the trial was done.

 
Relief: George Zimmerman's family celebrate as the jury clear him of all chargesRelief: George Zimmerman’s family celebrate as the jury clear him of all charges
 
Freed: The defense team shake George Zimmerman's hand after he is found not guilty Freed: The defense team shake George Zimmerman’s hand after he is found not guilty
 
Shock: A Florida woman cries as she hears the not guilty verdict verdict outside the court houseShock: A Florida woman cries as she hears the not guilty verdict verdict outside the court house

‘I’m not sure how you can feel after 16 months of trauma. It’s probably going to settle on him tonight when he is with his family and realizes he doesn’t have to come back to court.’

Robert Zimmerman Jr. said his brother was ‘going to be looking around his shoulder for the rest of his life’.

‘Now the jury has spoken, and we are exonerated as a family,’ he told CNN. ‘And more importantly, George is exonerated.’

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Martin family, acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon’s  supporters, as he ranked the teenager 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.

It took the jury five weeks to see more than 200 pieces of evidence and hear 56 witnesses in a trial that has gripped the nation, the jury heard two very different accounts of what happened on that fateful rainy night of February 26, 2012.

 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 the verdict, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said he was disappointed but respected the jury’s decision.

‘We respect the verdict but I’m disappointed. This is only the second murder case I lost. I thought he was guilty,’ he told a press conference.

 
Emotional: Trayvon's parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton on day 20 of the trial into their son's shootingEmotional: Trayvon’s parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton on day 20 of the trial into their son’s shooting
 
 
Victim: Zimmerman is accused of murdering the unarmed black teenager after following him with a gun and provoking him into a fightVictim: Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012, as he was walking back from the 7/11 with a packet of Skittles and a can of juice

GZ Pressure: George Zimmerman wipes perspiration from his face after arriving in the courtroom for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 12, 2013

 
Tense: Assistant state attorney John Guy, left, responds to defense attorney Don West, right, after another angry exchange of words over evidence Tense: Assistant state attorney John Guy, left, responds to defense attorney Don West, right, after another angry exchange of words over evidence
 
Opposite sides: Defense counsel Mark O'Mara, left, talks to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, right. Both men gave the closing arguments in Zimmerman's trialOpposite sides: Defense counsel Mark O’Mara, left, talks to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, right. Both men gave the closing arguments in Zimmerman’s trial

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey added that they had wanted to ‘get all the facts before the jury because we felt everyone had the right to know everything’.

‘To the living we owe respect, to the dead the truth. We believe we have brought out the truth.’

She added: ‘This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms. But there is no doubt Trayvon was profiled to be a criminal.’

Ms Corey added 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,’ Ms Corey said.

Ultimately, it was the defense team who won. They praised the jury, who Mr O Mara said ‘listened, took notes [and were] as engaged as everyone in the process’.

‘We are ecstatic with the results. George Zimmerman was not guilty of anything except protecting himself in self defense,’ he added after the verdict.

He said that they would seek immunity if someone decided to try to sue Zimmerman.

 
Defense: Don West and Mike O Mara praise the jury for being so engaged with the caseDefense: Don West and Mike O Mara praise the jury for being so engaged with the case
 
Joy: Gladys Zimmerman, center, smiles broadly as she learns that her son has been acquittedJoy: Gladys Zimmerman, center, smiles broadly as she learns that her son has been acquitted

Don West, who was criticized for his opening Knock Knock joke and photos of him on Twitter eating ice cream with his daughters during a break early on in the trial said he would not respond to his critics or talk about the alleged threats made against his family.

‘This trial is about George ZImmerman, not about ice creams,’ he said. ‘I still think the joke was funny but I wish I’d told it better.’

Mr O Mara said: ‘Nothing can bring back Trayvon Martin. Whenever a young life is lost it is a tragedy’ adding that he extended his sympathy to the teenager’s family.

He added however: ‘None of [the evidence] shows George Zimmerman as an aggressor.’

The prosecution had started the case with a powerful and graphic opening statement and it was in this vein they proceeded with their case.

 
Footage: CCTV footage shows Trayvon buying Skittles and a soda at a 7/11Footage: CCTV footage shows Trayvon buying Skittles and a soda at a 7/11
 
Evidence: A shirt worn by Zimmerman on the night of the shooting was used as evidence in the trialEvidence: A shirt worn by Zimmerman on the night of the shooting was used as evidence in the trial
 
ZimmermanZimmerman
 
 

Injuries: Photos of cuts to the back of Zimmerman’s head and his face were included in the evidence

 
Fatal mark: A bullet hole can be seen in the front of the hooded top Trayvon was wearing on the night he diedFatal mark: A bullet hole can be seen in the front of the hooded top Trayvon was wearing on the night he died
 
Crime scene: Trayvon was shot outside with Florida complexCrime scene: Trayvon was shot outside with Florida complex

Zimmerman wasn’t arrested for 44 days after the February 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.

Trayvon’s parents, along with civil rights leaders such as the Rev Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton, argued that Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, had racially profiled their son.

They also accused investigators of dragging their feet because Trayvon 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. President Obama also added to the case, saying that if he had a son, ‘he’d look like Trayvon’.

The Rev Al Sharpton continued to campaign after the verdict, saying: ‘The acquittal of George Zimmerman is a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice.’

According to AP, he added: ‘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. I will convene an emergency call with preachers tonight to discuss next steps and I intend to head to Florida in the next few days.’

 
Ruling: Judge Debra Nelson hands the verdict to the court clerkRuling: Judge Debra Nelson hands the verdict to the court clerk
 
Response: State attorney Angela Corey and assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda give their view on the verdict Response: State attorney Angela Corey and assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda give their view on the verdict
 
Reenactment: The jury had been shown a video of Zimmerman explaining his version of eventsReenactment: The jury had been shown a video of Zimmerman explaining his version of events
 
Despair: Supporters of Trayvon Martin say the verdict is a slap in the face for the American peopleDespair: Supporters of Trayvon Martin say the verdict is a slap in the face for the American people

The race element could become the legacy of the trial. Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed responded to the verdict by saying: ‘The death of Trayvon Martin shows that we must all work harder to shed the dangerous stereotypes that can have devastating consequences for individuals, families and our society.’

Celebrities from Will.I.am to Miley Cyrus also took to Twitter to announce their shock at the verdict.

Will.i.am tweeted: ‘What’s wrong with the world mama!!! #whereIStheLOVE #zimmermanVSamerica.’

Sophia Bush added: ‘The wind is more than knocked out of me… My heart aches for this boy’s family. Justice System? I don’t think so,’ and Miley Cyrus tweeted to say the verdict made her ‘feel sick’.

Others, including Wyclef Jean and Mandy Moore extended their sympathies to Trayvon’s family and friends.
A tweet from Jesse Williams read: ‘Verdict emblematic of a culture rooted in bloodthirsty cowardice.’

The first words in the trial, from state attorney John Guy, had been: ‘F***ing punks, these a**holes always get away,’ words that were repeated to the jury several times in the three weeks of testimony.

Words, they said, that proved George Zimmerman acted with ill will, spite and hatred when he followed Trayvon Martin as he was walking home from a 7/11 and after a scuffle, shot him through the heart.

They portrayed Zimmerman as a ‘vigilante’, a ‘wannabe cop’, a man filled with hatred and frustration after a spate of burglaries in the community he felt he was responsible for protecting.

On Friday, the prosecution appealed to the emotions and the hearts of the all-women jury and in a powerful rebuttal, John Guy said: ‘Trayvon Martin was a son, a brother and a friend and the last thing he did on this earth was to try to get home.

‘George Zimmerman didn’t shoot the teen because he had to, he shot him because he wanted to,’ repeating words he used in his opening statement.

 
Drama: Judge Debra Nelson locks horns again with defense attorney Don West as she asks George Zimmerman if he wants to testify Drama: Judge Debra Nelson repeatedly locked horns with defense attorney Don West throughout the final days of the trial
 
Mother: Gladys Zimmerman said the screams on the 911 call belonged to her son GeorgeEvidence: Gladys Zimmerman said the screams on the 911 call belonged to her son GeorgeMother: Sybrina Fulton took to the stand earlier when she unequivocally stated after hearing the 911 call from February 26: 'I heard my son screaming'Mother: Sybrina Fulton took to the stand earlier when she unequivocally stated after hearing the 911 call from February 26: ‘I heard my son screaming’

In contrast, the defense took a more methodical, conversational and almost calm approach in their delivery. Mr West included his ‘Knock Knock’ joke in his opening statement, though it failed to have the desired effect.

They called only 18 witnesses to the state’s 38 and dedicated a lot of time trying to hammer home to the jury that George Zimmerman feared for his life and was merely defending himself from a vicious MMA-style beating at the hands of Trayvon Martin.

Mark O’Mara pointed out again and again in his closing argument the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that murder in the second-degree occurred.

‘Pure and unadulterated innocence’, he said. ‘In fact, George Zimmerman committed no crime at all.

‘My client is not guilty of anything but protecting his own life,’ he told the jury.

 
Distress: A mother who was listening to the end of the trial with her children weeps at the jury's decisionDistress: A mother who was listening to the end of the trial with her children weeps at the jury’s decision
 
Reaction: Some people took to Twitter to show their disapproval of the verdictReaction: Some people took to Twitter to show their disapproval of the verdict
 
Zimmerman acquital
 
Zimmerman acquital

Central to the case and played numerous times by both legal teams over the last three weeks was the 911 call from a resident of the Retreat at Twin Lakes community.

Terrified and piercing screams for help can be heard in the background before a shot rings out, silencing them instantly.

The prosecution’s last witness was Sybrina Fulton, a mother who lost her only son. She took the stand and said unequivocally the cries for help belonged to her son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

On the same day, the defense called their first witness Gladys Zimmerman, and she – just like Sybrina – told the court it was her son George calling for help.

Next up was Zimmerman’s uncle, retired sheriff Jorge Meza, who acted as a powerful witness to the defense, revealing he was not played the 911 call but only heard it on TV and knew instinctively who it was.

‘That voice just came and hit me. Not only did I hear the scream but I felt it. I know it was my Georgie, I felt it,’ he said while fighting back tears.

The defense also called witness after witness – neighbors, colleagues and friends of Zimmerman – who also unwaveringly testified that it was the neighborhood watch volunteer shouting for help.

Hostile: Witness Rachel Jeantel, right, continues her testimony to defense attorney Don West on day four of George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in SanfordHostile: Witness Rachel Jeantel, right, continues her testimony to defense attorney Don West on day four of George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford
Under cross examination from Bernie de la Rionda, Tracy Martin said of the recording: 'I was listening to my son's last cry for help. I was listening to his life being ended by somebody else'Under cross examination from Bernie de la Rionda, Tracy Martin said of the recording: ‘I was listening to my son’s last cry for help. I was listening to his life being ended by somebody else’
Dr Vincent di MaioDefense witness: Dr Vincent di Maio, a forensic pathologist and gunshot wound expert, describes George Zimmerman’s injuries which he said were consistent with his head being banged against concrete

Another point of contention was – who attacked who at the gated community? Who was the aggressor and who was the victim? Whose life was in danger that night?

The state said Zimmerman had been training at an MMA gym three times a week over the past year.

This would match the description of neighbor John Good, who said the person on top, the aggressor, was straddling the person on the bottom, the victim, in a ‘pound and ground’ move.

Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon’s friend, who was on the phone to the teen right before he was shot, told the court her friend was frightened because a man was following him. She told him to go home.

The last thing she heard Trayvon say was: ‘Why are you following me?’ before the phone went dead. She also claimed it was Zimmerman who approached Trayvon saying, ‘What are you doing around here?’

The defense highlighted the physical differences between the 17-year-old and the then 28-year-old. That at around six foot tall, Trayvon towered over Zimmerman, a mere 5’8″ who was considered to be ‘soft’ and borderline obese at 200 pounds.

They said Travyon was not a scared young boy who feared for his life, but a strapping young man who pounced on Zimmerman and started beating him.

Possibly one of the best witnesses to take the stand in the whole trial was a forensic pathologist who is an expert in gunshot wounds.

Dr Vincent di Maio told the jury that the way the powder marks were formed around the bullet wound shows the gun would have been two-to-four inches away from the teen’s body when the shot was fired, indicating he was leaning forward at the time.

‘The physical evidence is consistent with George Zimmerman’s account that Mr Martin was over him,’ he said.

He later testified that Zimmerman’s head injuries could have been caused by coming into contact with concrete, even if there were no serious injuries to show this.

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362374/George-Zimmerman-trial-Jurors-reach-verdict.html#ixzz2Yzkzud69
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