George Zimmerman has been found not guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. After 16 hours of deliberating, jurors, consisting of 6 women acquitted Zimmerman of 2nd degree murder, as well as the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Zimmerman was charged after shooting and killing Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fl in February, 2012.
Zimmerman claimed self defense, and his legal team argued that he had the right to use deadly force despite following Trayvon, who was walking home from a 7-11. Trayvon was unarmed and was only carrying a bag of skittles and iced tea.
If convicted, Zimmerman could have faced up to life in prison.
Jurors declined to speak after announcing the verdict at approximately 10pm ET, but both Zimmerman’s attorney’s and Trayvon Martin’s family’s legal team addressed the media and answered questions regarding the controversial trial.
“I am gratified by the juries verdict”, said Zimmerman’s lead attorney Don West. “As happy as a I am for George Zimmmerman, I am thrilled that this jury kept this travesty from turning into a tragedy.”
Lead prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda said, “I am disappointed in the verdict but I respect it. We accept the jury’s verdict.”
And, via twitter, Trayvon Martin’s father Tracy Martin responded to the verdict saying, “Even though I am broken-hearted, my faith is unshattered. I will always love my baby Tray … even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him.”