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Jury returns verdict after 16 hours of deliberation
posted Jul 14, 2013 - 9:46:26am
The verdict is in: George Zimmerman is not guilty.
After 16 hours of deliberation, the six female jurors returned their verdict at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Immediately following the verdict, Zimmerman's family embraced with hugs and smiles while they cried.
Robert Zimmerman Sr. said, "Our whole family is relieved."
The family of Trayvon Martin was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Their attorney Ben Crump was supposed to meet with them following the announcement.
Zimmerman's bond was released, and Judge Debra Nelson said the GPS unit he had been made to wear so that court officials could track his whereabouts would be immediately removed.
Zimmerman had faced second-degree murder charges for the shooting and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford. Zimmerman maintained the shooting occurred in self-defense after Martin attacked him.
During the jury's deliberation, a group of protesters gathered outside of the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in hopes that Zimmerman would be found guilty. Manslaughter, they said in a statement, was not a good enough option.
On Friday, shortly after jurors left the courtroom to deliberate, Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger and Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith held a press conference where they urged the community — and any visitors — to remain peaceful following the verdict.
Eslinger said, "We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law."
Smith focused his comments on the unity of the City of Sanford and the progress it has made in the 17 months since Martin's death.
"Our community is working together to be a better community, to be a better example for people throughout Florida and the nation," he said. "It is our community and when this trial passes it will still be our community."
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