The jury in the murder trial of George Zimmerman on Saturday acquitted the former neighborhood watch volunteer of all charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during a scuffle in a gated Florida community.
The six-woman jury announced its verdict of not guilty at about 10 p.m. ET, after more than 16 hours of deliberations over two days.
“You have no further business with the court,” Judge Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Court in Sanford, Fla., told Zimmerman, before telling him he was free to go.
In a series of tweets reacting to the verdict, Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, said he was “broken hearted,” but thanked everyone who will “make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
As we told you earlier Saturday, Zimmerman, 29, had been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting of the unarmed African-American teen whose death shed light on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman had claimed self-defense in the shooting, and said it occurred during a sidewalk fight.
Prosecutors had portrayed Zimmerman as a “wannabe cop” who “profiled” Martin and “automatically assumed that Martin was a criminal” even though the youth was not trespassing in the gated community where the deadly confrontation took place.
NPR’s Greg Allen, who is reporting on the trial for our Newcast unit, reports that Zimmerman showed no reaction at Saturday’s verdict. His mother and wife began crying.
The Associated Press reports that when the verdict was announced, supporters of the family gathered outside yelled “No! No!”
“We’re ecstatic with the results,” defense attorney Mark O’Mara said after the verdict, according to the AP. “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense.”
Florida Attorney General Angela Corey said her team of prosecutors did their best in the case: “We believe we brought out the truth on behalf of Trayvon Martin,” she said.
Prosecutor Bernie De LaRionda issued a statement, saying, “We respect the jury’s verdict.”
We’ll have more reactions as they come in through the night, and NPR’s Code Switch team , which covers race, ethnicity and culture, also is following the reactions to the verdict on its twitter feed.
Update at 12:12 a.m. ET, NAACP, Martin’s Mother React
The NACCP says it wants the Justice Department to file civil rights charges in the case.
On its website, it says: “Demand justice for Trayvon. Tell the Department of Justice to file civil rights charges.”
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said God was “all that I have.”
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson tweeted: “Avoid violence, it will lead to more tragedies. Find a way for self construction not deconstruction in this time of despair.”