SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights, was found not guilty on Saturday of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin. He also was acquitted of manslaughter, a lesser charge.
After three weeks of testimony, the six-woman jury rejected the prosecution’s contention that Mr. Zimmerman, 29, had deliberately pursued Mr. Martin, 17, because he viewed the hoodie-clad teenager as a criminal and instigated the fight that led to his death.
Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Mr. Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk. In finding him not guilty of murder or manslaughter, the jury agreed that Mr. Zimmerman could have been justified in shooting Mr. Martin because he feared great bodily harm or death.
The jury, which has been sequestered since June 24, deliberated 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days.