Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in Killing of Trayvon Martin (Update 1)
The verdict was read at about 10 p.m. Saturday after the jury deliberated for more than 16 hours over two days. Zimmerman, who faced the possibility of life in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder, smiled and shook hands with his defense lawyers.
Judge Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Court polled the jurors, each of answering that not guilty was her verdict.
Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, who attended the trial every day, were not in the courtroom for the reading of the verdict.
Martin's father wrote on Twitter, "God blessed Me & Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him GOD BLESS."
Don West, one of Zimmerman's attorneys, said: "I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful. ... I'm happy this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty."
Jury deliberations got under way Friday and resumed Saturday morning. On Saturday evening the jurors requested regarding the manslaughter charge. They were sent a message from the judge stating that if they had a specific question, the should submit it. But the jurors apparently went on to reach its verdict without any clarification.
On Friday, closing arguments for the defense lasted three hours, and Zimmerman's legal team contending that he was "completely innocent." The defense finished closing arguments and the jury began deliberations shortly before 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, according to media reports.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., encountered Martin on the evening of Feb. 26, describing him as a "suspicious guy," in a call to the police. He claims to have, a few minutes later, shot Martin in self-defense during a struggle in which, the teenager was reaching for Zimmerman's gun, tucked into his waistband.
Martin, who was a guest in his father's home in the neighborhood, was returning from a trip to the store to buy snacks. He was unarmed.
The shooting has been widely perceived as racially motivated, because Martin was black. Zimmerman has alternately been described as white and Hispanic.