Zimmerman Not Guilty In Shooting Death Of Unarmed Black Teenager

RFE/RL, July 14, 2013

In a closely watched trial in the United States, a man has been acquitted of all charges in connection with the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida.

A jury of all women cleared George Zimmerman late on July 13 of second-degree, or unpremeditated, murder charges over the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012.

Zimmerman said he fatally shot Martin in self-defense during a nighttime confrontation.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara praised the jury after the verdict was delivered.

"Obviously we are ecstatic with the results," he said. "George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self defense. I'm glad that the jury saw it that way and I hope that everyone who thinks, particularly those who doubted George's reasons and doubted his background now understand that the jury knew everything that they knew was enough for them to find him not guilty."

Zimmerman faced a possible sentence of life in prison if he had been convicted. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

Saquan Jones, a cousin of Martin's, told reporters he was "flabbergasted" by the jury's decision:

"My family will forever be in emotional unrest," he said. "This isn't over. But one thing that we must do to alleviate that pain, to try to alleviate that pain and palliate it, is to pray. I can't believe it [the verdict], man. I'm just as incredulous as ever... I can't believe it."

The jury deliberated more than 15 hours over two days before reaching its decision.

The case raised questions about justice for black Americans and whether Martin had been targeted for an attack because of his race.

Following the announcement, angry demonstrators marched in many U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta.

In Oakland, California, demonstrators spray-painted cars and smashed windows. Police in Los Angeles declared a "citywide tactical alert" as a precaution. Protesters also burned a U.S. flag.

U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson expressed his disappointment at the verdict.

"We offer prayers to the Martin family," he said. "I am very disappointed by the verdict. They said Zimmerman was not guilty. He was guilty of murdering an unarmed boy going home alone attending to his business."

Article courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

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