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George Zimmerman, 29, a free man after jury finds him not guilty of shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last February.
George Zimmerman is not guilty of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, a six-woman jury decided late on Saturday night in Florida.
The jurors acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter, The Washington Post reported.
Zimmerman admitted to killing the 17-year-old boy as he walked through a gated community in Sanford, Fla., to his father’s home last February.
The 29-year-old neighborhood watchman suspected Martin was a criminal when he confronted him that night.
They struggled, and Zimmerman shot Martin. He claimed self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground law.”
But Martin, an African-American, was unarmed and held little more than his cellphone, soda and candy from the store.
Zimmerman wasn’t immediately charged, which sparked protests across the country, even prompting President Barack Obama to say if he had a son, he’d “look like Trayvon.”
It took police six weeks to charge Zimmerman.
Just hours before reaching a verdict on Saturday night, the jury broke to ask a question about manslaughter, The New York Times said.
It was their second day of deliberation, and they’ve decided unanimously that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.
“He’s not guilty of anything but protecting his own life,” defense attorney Mark O’Mara said in his closing statement Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
Zimmerman faced life in prison if convicted of murder, or 30 years for manslaughter.
Judge Debra S. Nelson reminded the jury on Friday that citizens have the right to kill in self-defense, and that the burden was on the prosecution to prove Zimmerman committed murder.
The prosecution said Zimmerman carried prejudice along with his gun that night.
“He profiled him as a criminal. He assumed ... that Trayvon Martin was up to no good. And that’s what led to his death,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said, AFP reported.
The racially charged trial became somewhat muddled when it was revealed Martin has a Hispanic mother, yet the verdict still touched off loud protests from Martin's supporters afterward.
About 350 gathered outside the courthouse shouting "the system has failed," and "justice for Trayvon," USA Today reported.
Most were Martin supporters who expressed disbelief.
"How is the law different for one and not for the other? Trayvon was standing his ground when Zimmerman came and messed with him, a young man coming from the store," bystander Nina Mays told the newspaper.
And despite some close calls (and insults and slurs tossed both ways) nothing amounted from the tension earlier in the day, the Orlando Sentinel said.
One Zimmerman supporter shouted "go get your welfare checks, go get your crack" toward the Martin camp.
Yet, there was those who took a more dignified approach, saying Zimmerman was covered by the "stand your ground" law.
Legal experts agreed, and told the Miami Herald that prosecutors failed to make their case.
Jude M. Faccidomo, former Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers president, said the jury identified with the "right to defend yourself."
"Especially when cases are so gray, like this one was, self-defense really resonates because people can associate with being afraid, Faccidomo told the Herald.
As civil rights activists plan rallies in some US cities to condemn the verdict and racial profiling, President Obama called for calm, reminding everyone in a statement that while the death of young Trayvon was a tragedy, "We are a nation of laws and a jury has spoken."
"We should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this," Obama added.