Zimmerman acquitted, locals react

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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SANFORD, Fla. – Jurors declared George Zimmerman not guilty Saturday night after a trial that attracted intense national attention.

The six-person all-female jury deliberated for over 16 hours before acquitting Zimmerman of both second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey held a press conference moments after the verdict alongside her team of attorneys.

“We promised we would seek the truth for Trayvon Martin and due process for George Zimmerman,” she said.

“What we always believed was that this was a case of details,” she said as she and lead attorney Bernie de la Rionda went back over some of the evidence they presented during the trial.

Corey referred twice to the prayers her and her staff had received over the sixteen months she’d been in charge of the case, asking people to remember Trayvon Martin and his family.

“Keep them in mind, too,” she said.

Corey stared down The Daily Caller as she was asked why she charged Zimmerman for second-degree murder.  Many had suggested that second-degree murder, which required a “depraved mind,” was too much given the injuries Zimmerman sustained.

“Well, we charged what believed we could prove based on Florida standard jury instructions and the facts of the case,” she said.

Before deliberations, state attorneys convinced Judge Debra Nelson to add manslaughter as a lesser charge.

At the end of their press conference, state attorney John Guy shook hands with the defense team, who entered the room to hold their own conference.

Asked the best moment of the trial, Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said, “Not guilty.”

“I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful,” said Zimmerman co-counsel Don West. “As happy as I am for George Zimmerman, I’m thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty.”

West later said that the tragedy was the loss of Trayvon Martin’s life, while the travesty would have been Zimmerman’s conviction.

Attorneys for the Martin family held a press conference thanking state prosecutors as well as “everybody who put their hoodies up.”  In his statement, he compared Martin to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till, two African-Americans whose deaths helped spark the civil rights movement.

Tempers flared outside of Seminole County Courthouse.  Since it seemed through the night that a verdict might not come until Sunday, the crowds that had gathered all day dissipated.

As news of the verdict spread, the pre-assigned protest area began to fill.

“Can’t tell me nothin,'” shouted one man after the announcement.  A large group nearby chanted, “The whole system’s guilty.”

Two young children were crying nearby as their parents were being interviewed on television.

The Daily Caller spoke earlier to a man named Ike, who wore a shirt with Zimmerman’s face behind crosshairs.

Sanford native Thomas Sloan told the Daily Caller, “When it comes down to it, either way, it was a tough situation for both families.”  He said that Sanford was a quiet town and he didn’t believe that riots would occur, as many have predicted.

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