The verdict is the culmination of a case that captured the nation’s attention and will undoubtedly be imprinted in America’s history. The not guilty verdict means the jury of six women found that Zimmerman justifiably used deadly force and reasonably believed that such force was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself— Florida’s definition of self-defense.
The women decided Zimmerman didn’t “intentionally commit an act or acts that caused death” or demonstrate a “depraved mind without regard for human life” –Florida’s definitions of manslaughter and second degree murder, respectively.
“Its means there was reasonable doubt,” said Susan Constantine, a jury consultant and body language expert who attended Zimmerman’s trial regularly. “They just could not put the pieces together.”
The case has gripped the nation since the shooting happened on Feb. 26, 2012. Police initially did not charge Zimmerman with a crime, citing Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, which allows someone who believes they are in imminent danger to take whatever steps are necessary to protect themselves.
Protests ensued in several cities, including New York, by supporters of Trayvon’s family. Many protesters voiced the opinion that Trayvon was targeted and killed for racial reasons. Trayvon was black and Zimmerman is Hispanic.
“You have a little black boy who was killed,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the parents of Trayvon. “It’s going to be reported in history books and 50 years from now, our children will talk about Trayvon Martin’s case like we talk about Emmett Till.”