George Zimmerman

Jurors reach verdict in murder trial of George Zimmerman


Tuesday July 2 2013 Prosecutors Bernie de la Rionda Mark O' Mara Photo / AP  - Orlando Sentinel Joe Burbank Poolpe rSANFORD, Florida (AP) — Jurors deciding whether a former neighborhood watch volunteer committed a crime when he fatally shot an unarmed black teenager asked Saturday for clarification on the charge of manslaughter — a possible indication they were considering the lesser charge instead of second-degree murder.

They also asked for dinner, an apparent sign they planned to deliberate for at least an hour or more beyond the eight hours they already had put in during their second day.

“May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter,” Judge Debra Nelson read from the six-member, all-woman jury’s note before a courtroom that had rapidly filled up with lawyers, reporters and members of the families of victim Trayvon Martin and the accused, George Zimmerman.

As jurors awaited an answer, Nelson talked to lawyers at the bench and after a half-hour recess, they agreed to send a note back asking the jurors to elaborate.

“The court can’t engage in general discussion but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter,” the note said. “If you have a specific question, please submit it.”

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder but jurors also have the options of finding him guilty of manslaughter or not guilty. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense.

To win a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors must show only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification. To win a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors must convince jurors Zimmerman acted with ill will, hatred or spite toward Martin.

Zimmerman faces a maximum prison sentence of life for second-degree murder and 30 years if convicted of manslaughter, due to extra sentencing guidelines for committing a crime with a gun.

Outside lawyers with no connection to the case said the jury’s question could be an indication that it has taken second-degree murder off the table.

“It does sound like at this point, they’re considering between manslaughter and not guilty,” said Blaine McChesney, an Orlando defense attorney and former prosecutor with no connection to the case.

Added Orlando defense attorney David Hill: “Why would they bother to ask for clarification unless they were thinking about manslaughter?”

To convict Zimmermann of manslaughter, jurors must believe Zimmerman intentionally committed an act that caused Martin’s death, according to the judge’s instructions. He can’t be guilty of manslaughter merely by committing a negligent act or if the killing was excusable, the instructions say.

The jury started deliberating Friday afternoon. At the time jurors asked their question about manslaughter Saturday, they had been deliberating for a total of 11 ½ hours over two days. On Friday, they asked their first question: a request for a list of all the evidence.

Jurors were being sequestered, and their identities are kept anonymous — they are identified only by number.

As jurors deliberated for a second day, there was little understanding between two camps assembled to support Martin and Zimmerman outside the Seminole County Courthouse.

“He deserves some respect and appreciation,” Casey David Kole Sr., 66, shouted about the former neighborhood watch leader. “It’s a tragedy.”

Patricia Dalton, 60, yelled back: “It’s a tragedy that could have been avoided!”

Dalton, like most of the 100 or so people at the suburban Orlando courthouse, says she’s there in support of the family of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teen from Miami who Zimmerman fatally shot last year.

The supporters stayed peaceful for most of the day until in the afternoon when sheriff’s deputies had to separate a Zimmerman supporter from a pro-Martin demonstrator after a heated exchange. There was no physical contact made and no one was arrested.

The atmosphere quickly cooled down. Two Orlando sisters, dressed in colorful African-print clothing and walking on stilts, sang “Lean on Me” with the crowd as a man strummed a banjo and people waved signs.

“We’re just here for peace and love,” said stilt walker Bambi Loketo.

Prosecutors and Trayvon Martin’s family say Zimmerman profiled Martin because of the teen’s race. Those allegations, and a 44-day delay before police arrested Zimmerman, sparked nationwide protests involving leading national civil rights leaders and spurred emotional debates about gun control, self-defense laws, race, and equal justice under the law.

In Saturday’s strong Florida sun, some people at the courthouse wore hoodies, as Martin had when he died. One woman lay in the grass, her arms spread, in a re-creation of Martin’s death. Those in the smaller pro-Zimmerman camp held small signs, saying things like “We love you George” and “George got hit you must acquit.”

Joseph Uy of Longwood was among an even smaller group: the few who said they had no opinion on whether Zimmerman was guilty. He said he came because he was “just curious.”

“I’m neutral,” he said, while cradling his three tiny Chihuahuas in his arms.

In New York on Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton said that no matter the verdict, any demonstrations that follow it must be peaceful.

“We do not want to smear Trayvon Martin’s name with violence,” the civil rights leader said. “He is a victim of violence.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson had a similar message. He tweeted that people should “avoid violence because it only leads to more tragedies.”

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin’s family, said the parents are emotional but doing as well as expected as they await a verdict.

“(Jurors) staying out longer and considering the evidence and testimony is a good thing for us arriving at a just verdict,” Crump said.

On Saturday morning, Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, shared on Twitter what she called her favorite Bible verse: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

KYLE HIGHTOWER and MIKE SCHNEIDER

Associated Press writers Kyle Hightower and Tony Winton in Sanford; and Colleen Long in New York contributed to this report.

Source: AP

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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stacey says:

Everyone needs to remember “Stand you Ground” may save your own life someday. Both parties are at fault. We all know 17 year old people think they are 7 foot tall and bullet proof. The NW person should have identified himself. Let just think about all the other horrible killings that happen everyday. This one is just in the media.

   
Patricia Nelson says:

TOO BAD TOO SAD ON THIS.

   
Patricia Nelson says:

I CAN NOT STAND PEOPLE BUT I LOVE ANIMALS! STUPID AGAIN. What a world we live we live in?

   
Patricia Nelson says:

WELL JUST SAYING ON THIS NOT GOOD.

   
Patricia Nelson says:

He better watch his back after this!

   
Patricia Nelson says:

REALLY? WATCH WHAT HAPPENS, NOT GOOD.

   
LoveBunny says:

The State failed! . . . too much reasonable doubt.

   
Patrica Nelson says:

Who had the loaded gun? Not that kid Trayvon

   
Patrica Nelson says:

He is going away for along time.

   
Adam2011 says:

Not guilty!!!!! All this racial bs is ridiculous!!!!! It was self defense !!!!

   
LoveBunny says:

This is tough because it seems that TM started a confrontation and was injuring GZ to the point where GZ was scared for his life and had to use deadly force. . . BUT all of this NEVER would have happened if GZ hadn’t followed TM in the first place. It could have been avoided and TM old would still be alive today.

   
Valerie says:

I don’t believe contrary to what people think that GZ had plans to use his gun hence he got out of the truck, he did not confront TM first simply because he does not have the balls to, it was the other way around, and the reason he was forced to use deadly force was because the beating he was getting from TM, what was he supposed to do, he had to make it stop, everyone has a right to defend themselves even if it means using deadly force! Don’t forget TM had the time to run home but chose to start a confrontation, when you go looking for trouble you will surely find it. He did not live in this complex so what was he doing snooping around in the rain other than being up to no good.

   
Jimmyboi says:

Lets be honest if Zimmerman didnt have that gun he would have stayed in the truck . He got out to pursue because he made the decision that if sh$@ went down he was going to shoot to kill plain and simple. Also just another point that strikes me as odd is that zimmerman acted so confused about the incident Yet he was cognizant enough to fire only one shot into Trayvons heart. Its my belief He knew what he was doing and id even go as far as saying it was premeditated murder just my opinion at least

   
emeraldeyes says:

Not only did he have a gun, he was loaded for bear with a bullet already in the chamber and 7 in the gun – all he had to do was pull the trigger. George Zimmerman was also on Adderal and one other drug for ADHD. How the hell he ever got a permit to carry a firearm with so serious a mental health issue is beyond any sensible, thinking person’s reasoning. Syrena and Tracy need to sue the state of Florida! He had no business being authorized to carry. Hopefully, they will sit down with a good lawyer and figure out who all was responsible for Trayvon’s death and begin the process of suing everyone!

   
Mary says:

I’m watching Nancy Grace and feel like blood is going to shoot out of my eyeballs.

   
Norma says:

I don’t think it will take long for this Jury to send George Zimmerman home to his family where he belongs.

   
Beez says:

I think GZ will be acquitted, but will spend the rest of his life in hiding. Either way his life is basically over.

   
Rockrock says:

Let his ass go HELL with his stinking,unpleasant ,rotten. Go to JAIL for a long long long TIME!!!!!

   
Maria says:

May Trayvon be served with justice soon.

   

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