George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on Saturday night. The verdict finally gives closure to a high-profile case that galvanized racial sentiment not seen since the O.J. Simpson murder trial happened two decades earlier.
A six-person all-women jury in the Sanford, Florida trial deliberated on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
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The prosecution held that Zimmerman was an overzealous neighborhood nightwatchman that profiled and pursued the teen victim after being told not to by 911 dispatchers and that his actions led to Martin’s death.
“He automatically assumed Trayvon Martin was a criminal,” lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said in closing arguments. “And that’s why we’re here.” He went on to describe Martin as an innocent teen who’s only crime was that he bought skittles.
The defense contended that their 29-year-old client was attacked by Martin and, as a result, was shot by Zimmerman in self-defense. Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara also held that the state grossly mischaracterized his client as an angry racist and that their claim was baseless.
“They may want you to assume…this neighborhood watch guy was some crazy guy walking around the neighborhood looking for people to harass. Except that’s an assumption without any basis in fact whatsoever. Not one,” O’Mara said.