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Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in Trayvon Martin Shooting

  • VOA News

George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman's not guilty verdict was read in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013.

George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman's not guilty verdict was read in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013.

A jury in the U.S. state of Florida has found George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty in the murder of unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

The six-woman jury acquitted Zimmerman late Saturday of all charges in the racially charged proceedings. The case raised the debate over racial profiling with many saying that Zimmerman - who is white and Hispanic - thought the 17-year-old Martin was a criminal because he was black.

Immediately after the verdict, Martin's supporters - including his family members - took to social media to express their displeasure with the decision. While spontaneous protests sprang up in several cities across the U.S., including thousands of kilometers from Florida in San Francisco.

State Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda says he was disappointed by the ruling, but will respect the jury's decision.

"I am disappointed, as we are with the verdict. But we accept it. We live in a great country that has a great criminal justice system. It is not perfect, but it's the best in the world and we respect the jury's verdict," he said.

While Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's defense lawyer, says they are obviously ecstatic with the results.

"George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense. I'm glad that the jury saw it that way," he said.

Zimmerman was driving in his neighborhood February 26, 2012, when he saw Martin and called police. Zimmerman - a neighborhood watch volunteer - got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. A confrontation and struggle followed, ending with Zimmerman shooting Martin.

The case made national news after it was revealed that Zimmerman was not charged for more than six weeks after the shooting, because police did not contest his claim that he shot Martin in self-defense.

The prosecution said Zimmerman profiled the teen and followed him through a gated community because he assumed Martin was intent on making trouble. Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense once he and Martin entered into a struggle, with Martin banging Zimmerman's head against the concrete pavement.

Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law authorizes people who fear for their lives to use deadly force without having to avoid a confrontation.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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