NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Saturday night.
The six-member, all-woman jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before reaching their decision.
They had been given the chance to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter but did not do so, despite asking for a clarification of the charge earlier in the evening.
After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go.
Supporters of Martin’s family who had gathered outside the courthouse yelled out “No! No!”
Jurors heard two different portraits of Zimmerman and had to decide whether he was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense because he feared for his life.
As 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported earlier Saturday, jurors began their second day of deliberations following Martin’s trial in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder but jurors had been also considering manslaughter.
A thousand miles away, Wolf Williams was on jury watch.
“A very emotionally-charged case, and it’s real easy to let one’s emotions get a hold of yourself,” he said.
Williams wanted justice for Martin, and with passions running so high, the Rev. Al Sharpton pleaded to the African-American community in New York for calm if the verdict did not go Martin’s way as they awaited the jury’s decision.
“We will not become what we’re fighting,” Sharpton said on Saturday afternoon. “Anyone talking violent talk is desecrating and smearing the name of Trayvon Martin.”
Another man, Corey, prayed that something akin to the Rodney King riots of 1992 in Los Angeles does not erupt in the streets.
“Hope not, hope not,” he said.
Shortly after the verdict was read New Yorkers took to social media to voice their opinions on the decision.
“At that moment Zimmerman became the aggressor and Martin was defending himself,” Brian Seth McLaughlin said in a comment on CBS New York’s Facebook page.
Many shared those sentiments, but some commenters disagreed.
“Get over it people, the jury says otherwise,” Jean Sagarese commented.
Others questioned the amount of time that the jury spent mulling the verdict.
“They did not debate long enough, he was guilty,” Marguerite Allard said.
While one commenter implored others to avoid racially charged finger-pointing.
“Frankly tired of the black and “white” issue. Tired of all sorts of racism from all sides…Stop the hate,” a woman who identified herself as Nikki GP said.
After the verdict was read Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy, tweeted that he would always love his son.
Under Florida’s laws involving gun crimes, manslaughter could have ended up carrying a penalty as heavy as the one for second-degree murder: life in prison, CBS Miami reported.
The judge’s decision to allow the jury to consider manslaughter was a potentially heavy blow to the defense: It could have given jurors who weren’t convinced the shooting amounted to murder a way to hold Zimmerman responsible for the killing.
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