14 Jul 2013

Zimmerman found not guilty in Florida

10:25 pm on 14 July 2013

The Florida jury in the Zimmerman case has found the accused not guilty of second degree murder.

Neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, 29, was accused of second degree murder, or alternatively manslaughter, in the killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, an unarmed African-American, on 26 February 2012.

He pleaded not guilty, saying it was self-defense.

The BBC reports that as the jury retired on Friday, Seminole County judge Debra Nelson told the panel of six women to consider whether Mr Zimmerman acted in self-defence and with justifiable use of deadly force.

Without explicitly discussing race, the prosecution had suggested Mr Zimmerman assumed the African-American teenager, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt as he walked in the rain, was up to no good.

But the defence said Trayvon Martin punched their client, slammed his head into the pavement and reached for Mr Zimmerman's gun.

Mr Zimmerman was legally armed with a pistol and had been sitting in his vehicle on a dark street when he saw Trayvon Martin.

Mr Zimmerman telephoned police to report a suspicious person, then left his vehicle in apparent pursuit of the teenager.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Martin was found dead, shot in the chest.