|George Zimmerman in 2012
By Michael O'Brien
SANFORD, Fla. –
In a trial that has divided
much of the country, a Seminole County jury found defendant George
Zimmerman, 28 , not guilty in the death of
17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was charged with shooting the Sanford teenager once in the chest February 26,
2012 during a confrontation at the Retreat at Twin Lakes. Zimmerman
and Martin were both residents of the community.
Prosecutors had charged Zimmerman with second-degree
murder with a lessor
and included charge of manslaughter. The
trial began June 10 in the Seminole County Courthouse with Judge Debra
Mark O’Mara contended his client was acting in self-defense after
the teen allegedly assaulted
Zimmerman, leav ing him no
choice but to shoot Martin. Florida had enacted a so-called Stand
Your Ground statute in 2005, allowing someone
who believed their live was in danger or
they were in danger of grievous
bodily harm to use lethal force.
The prosecution argued Zimmerman initiated the confrontation and Martin was simply walking home at the time of his death.
Martin, wearing a “
hooded sweatshirt, was
returning to his step- father’s home from
a local convenience
store with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea when he was confronted by
Zimmerman. Zimmerman, a self-described
neighborhood watch captain, was armed
with a concealed 9mm semi-automatic
handgun when he spotted Martin walking down the street.
Zimmerman called a
dispatcher to report what he believed to be a suspicious black male
walking down the street on night punctuated
by light rain. Zimmerman
claimed the teen was
stalking his vehicle, looked to be under the influence of drugs and peering
into the windows
of homes in the gated community.
Zimmerman can be heard
in transcripts of 911 calls
telling a dispatcher he was following Martin
on foot. The dispatcher
had advised Zimmerman there was no
need to pursue Martin.
According to Zimmerman, the teen sucker punched him and slammed his head on the sidewalk. Eye witness of the accounts of the struggle varied. While Zimmerman did sustain minor injuries, the prosecution said the injuries while not sufficient to immunize him from prosecution under the stand your ground statute.