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Vocapedia > USA > Law, Justice > Jury > Verdict


Not guilty





George Zimmerman Verdict

Video        Published on Jul 13, 2013

YouTube > movietrailerz8

















President Obama

Speaks on Trayvon Martin

White House    July 19, 2013





President Obama Speaks on Trayvon Martin

Video    White House    July 19, 2013


President Obama

makes a statement about Trayvon Martin

and the verdict of the court trial

that followed the Florida teenager's death

















































hear the verdict










be found not guilty of N
















find N not guilty

of first-degree reckless homicide

in the shooting death of N










be found not guilty

of all four misdemeanor charges










USA > not guilty        UK / USA








































































not-guilty verdict










receive not guilty verdicts










a reasonable doubt










be found not guilty by reason of insanity








not guilty of all counts










be committed to a state mental hospital
















be exonerated















































be acquitted











































be acquitted of second-degree murder










be acquitted of manslaughter












be acquitted on all 10 counts
























USA > acquittal        UK / USA









































be found not guilty of N


















cleared of all charges








be cleared of a separate charge








be cleared by DNA evidence








walk free










Corpus of news articles


Law, Justice > Jury


Verdict > Not guilty, Acquittal




Zimmerman Is Acquitted

in Trayvon Martin Killing


July 13, 2013

The New York Times




SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights, was found not guilty late Saturday night of second-degree murder. He was also acquitted of manslaughter, a lesser charge.

After three weeks of testimony, the six-woman jury rejected the prosecution’s contention that Mr. Zimmerman had deliberately pursued Mr. Martin because he assumed the hoodie-clad teenager was 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 had been sequestered since June 24, deliberated 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days. The six female jurors entered the quiet, tense courtroom, several looking exhausted, their faces drawn and grim. After the verdict was read, each assented, one by one, and quietly, their agreement with the verdict.

The case began in the small city of Sanford as a routine homicide but soon evolved into a civil rights cause examining racial profiling and its consequences — an issue barred from the courtroom — and setting off a broad discussion of race relations in America. Mr. Martin, with his gray hooded sweatshirt and his Skittles — the candy he was carrying — became its catalyst.

Even President Obama weighed in a month after the shooting, expressing sympathy for Mr. Martin’s family and urging a thorough investigation. “If I had a son,” Mr. Obama said, “he’d look like Trayvon.”

Saturday night when the verdict was read, Mr. Zimmerman, 29, smiled slightly. His wife, Shellie, and several of his friends wept, and his parents kissed and embraced.

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, who lost their son a few weeks after his 17th birthday, were not in the courtroom.

After the verdict, Judge Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Court, told Mr. Zimmerman, who has been in hiding and wears a bulletproof vest outside, that his bond was revoked and his GPS monitor would be cut off. “You have no further business with the court,” she said.

Outside the courthouse, perhaps a hundred protesters who had been gathering through the night, their numbers building as the hours passed, began pumping their fists in the air, waving placards and chanting “No justice, no peace!” Sheriff’s deputies lined up inside the courthouse, watching the crowd, who were chanting peacefully, but intently.

By 11:20, more than an hour after the verdict had been read, the crowd outside the courtroom had begun to dwindle; fists were no longer aloft, placards had come down.

Among the last of the protesters to leave the courthouse lawn was Mattie Aikens, 33, of Sanford. She had been standing outside since noon, holding a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona watermelon drink, which Mr. Martin was carrying the night he was shot. More than an hour after the verdict, she was still shocked. “He should have went to prison,” she said. “He should have just got guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.”

Mark O’Mara, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, said, “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except firing the gun in self-defense.”

In a news conference following the verdict, Angela B. Corey, the state attorney who brought the charges, rebuffed the suggestion that her office overcharged Mr. Zimmerman.

“We charged what we had based on the facts of the case,” she said. “We truly believe the mind-set of George Zimmerman and the reason he was doing what he did fit the bill for second-degree murder.”

Calling it a “very trying time,” Benjamin Crump, a Martin family lawyer, said he had urged Mr. Martin’s parents to stay out of the courtroom for the verdict. They were home and planning to attend church on Sunday. The parents, he said, were grateful for all the support.

Mr. Crump asked the family’s supporters keep the peace and read a Twitter post by Dr. Bernice King, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter.

“Whatever the Zimmerman verdict is,” Mr. Crump read, “in the words of my father, we must conduct ourselves on the higher plane of dignity and discipline.”

Sanford’s new police chief, Cecil E. Smith, was in the courtroom for the verdict, and said afterward that while many calls were coming in from worried residents, the downtown was open and neighborhoods were calm.

Still, there was anger over the verdict. “We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P. “We stand with Trayvon’s family and we are called to act. We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”

Mr. O’Mara disputed the notion that Mr. Zimmerman engaged in racial profiling. “His history was not as a racist,” he said.

He added that if Mr. Zimmerman was black, he likely would never have been charged. “This became a focus for a civil rights event, which is wonderful event to have,” he said, “but they decided George Zimmerman was to blame and to use as a civil rights violation.”

And while defense lawyers were elated with the verdict, they also expressed anger that Mr. Zimmerman spent 16 months filled with fear and trauma when all he was doing was defending himself.

“The prosecution of George Zimmerman was a disgrace,” said Don West, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers. “I am thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from become a travesty.”

The shooting brought attention to Florida’s expansive self-defense laws. The laws allow someone with a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death to use lethal force, even if retreating from danger is an option. In court, the gunman is given the benefit of the doubt.

The outcry began after the police initially decided not to arrest Mr. Zimmerman, who is half-Peruvian, as they investigated the shooting. Mr. Martin, 17, had no criminal record and was on a snack run, returning to the house where he was staying as a guest.

Six weeks later, Mr. Zimmerman was arrested, but only after civil rights leaders championed the case and demonstrators, many wearing hoodies, marched in Sanford, Miami and elsewhere to demand action.

“Justice for Trayvon!” they shouted.

The pressure prompted Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to remove local prosecutors from the case and appoint Ms. Corey, from Jacksonville. She ultimately charged Mr. Zimmerman with second-degree murder. The tumult also led to the firing of the Sanford police chief.

Through it all, Mr. Martin’s parents said they sought one thing: That Mr. Zimmerman have his day in court.

That day arrived on Saturday.

From the start, prosecutors faced a difficult task in proving second-degree murder. That charge required Mr. Zimmerman to have evinced a “depraved mind,” brimming with ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent, when he shot Mr. Martin.

Manslaughter, which under Florida law is typically added as a lesser charge if either side requests it, was a lower bar. Jurors needed to decide only that Mr. Zimmerman put himself in a situation that culminated in Mr. Martin’s death.

But because of Florida’s laws, prosecutors had to persuade jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. A shortage of evidence in the case made that a high hurdle, legal experts said.

Even after three weeks of testimony, the fight between Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman on that rainy night was a muddle, fodder for reasonable doubt. It remained unclear who had started it, who screamed for help, who threw the first punch and at what point Mr. Zimmerman drew his gun. There were no witnesses to the shooting.

The state presented a case that was strong on guesswork and emotion but weak on evidence and proof, Mr. O’Mara said.

“Don’t connect those dots unless they are connected for you, beyond a reasonable doubt, by the state,” he urged the jury.

In the end, prosecutors were left with Mr. Zimmerman’s version of events.

The defense also had one piece of irrefutable evidence, photographs of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries — a bloody nose along with lumps and two cuts on his head. It indicated that there had been a fight and that Mr. Zimmerman had been harmed, and the defense showed them to the jury at every opportunity.

Prosecutors built their case around Mr. Zimmerman’s persona — a “wannabe cop” — his wrong assumptions and his words.

Mr. Zimmerman, they said, was so concerned about burglaries in his townhouse complex that when he spotted Mr. Martin, an unfamiliar face in the rain, he immediately “profiled” him as a criminal. He picked up his phone and reported him to the police.

Then he made the first in a string of bad choices, they said. He got out of the car with a gun on his waist; he disregarded a police dispatcher’s advice not to follow Mr. Martin and he chased the teenage, engaged in a fight and shot him in the heart.

To stave off an arrest, he lied to the police, prosecutors said, embellishing his story to try to flesh out his self-defense claim.

“Punks,” Mr. Zimmerman said to the police dispatcher after he spotted Mr. Martin, adding a profanity. “They always get away,” he said at another point in the conversation, a reference to would-be burglars.

On these words, prosecutors hung their case of ill will, hatred and spite toward Mr. Martin.

“This defendant was sick and tired of it,” Bernie de la Rionda, the chief prosecutor, said in his closing statement. “He was going to be what he wanted to be — a police officer.”

But no one saw the shooting; witnesses saw and heard only parts of the struggle, and provided conflicting accounts.

And there was not a “shred of evidence” that Mr. Zimmerman was not returning to his car when Mr. Martin “pounced,” defense lawyers said.

The prosecution’s witnesses did not always help their case. Rachel Jeantel, the 19-year-old who was talking with Mr. Martin on his cellphone shortly before he was shot, proved problematic. Her testimony was critical for the prosecution because she said that Mr. Martin was being followed by Mr. Zimmerman — a “creepy-ass cracker,” he called him — and that he was scared.

But Ms. Jeantel might have damaged her credibility by acknowledging she had lied about her age and why she did not attend Mr. Martin’s wake. She also testified that she softened her initial account of her chat with Mr. Martin for fear of upsetting Ms. Fulton, who sat next to her, weeping, during Ms. Jeantel’s first interview with prosecutors.

Prosecutors also were not helped by the police and crime scene technicians, who made some mistakes in the case. Mr. Martin’s sweatshirt, for example, was improperly bagged, which might have degraded DNA evidence.

Typically, police testimony boosts the state’s case. Here, the chief police investigator, Chris Serino, told jurors that he believed Mr. Zimmerman, despite contradictions in his statements.

Still, prosecutors had emotion on their side — the heart-wrenching narrative of a teenager “minding his own business” who was gunned down as he walked home with a pocketful of Skittles and a fruit drink.

“That child had every right to do what he was doing, walking home,” said John Guy, a prosecutor in the case. “That child had every right to be afraid of a strange man following him, first in his car and then on foot. And did that child not have the right to defend himself from that strange man?”

Through it all, though, the defense chipped away at the prosecution’s case. The resident with the best vantage point of the fight described a “ground and pound” fight, with a person in red or a light color on the bottom. Mr. Zimmerman wore a reddish jacket.

And a prominent forensic pathologist who is an expert in gunshot wounds testified that the trajectory of the bullet was consistent with Mr. Martin leaning over Mr. Zimmerman when the gun was fired.

“Let him go back,” Mr. O’Mara said to the jury, referring to Mr. Zimmerman, “and get back to his life.”

On Saturday, the jury did just that.


Cara Buckley contributed reporting.

Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Trayvon Martin Killing,






Casey Anthony Not Guilty

in Slaying of Daughter


July 5, 2011

The New York Times



ORLANDO, Fla. — Casey Anthony, the young mother whose seeming heartlessness at the disappearance of her daughter transfixed America for three years, was found not guilty on Tuesday of killing the girl, Caylee Marie.

After nearly six weeks of testimony, a jury of seven women and five men rejected the prosecution’s contention that Ms. Anthony had murdered Caylee, 2, by dosing her with chloroform, suffocating her with duct tape and dumping her body in a wooded area. They did, however, find her guilty of lesser charges of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

In a sign that jurors had little difficulty reaching a verdict, the jury did not ask to review any evidence and reached a decision in fewer than 11 hours. Jurors, who were imported from the Clearwater area and had been sequestered for six weeks, declined to talk with reporters and returned home to Pinellas County.

When the verdict was read, Ms. Anthony, 25, who faced a possible death sentence, cried quietly, the relief made plain on her face. After the jury left the courtroom, she broke down and sobbed, hugging her lawyer, Jose Baez, tightly. She has spent about two and a half years in jail awaiting trial. She is expected to be released soon because she is not likely to serve any more time for misdemeanors. Ms. Anthony was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse.

Her parents, George and Cindy, who lost a granddaughter and then listened in court as Mr. Baez blamed the family for Caylee’s death, sat stone-faced after the verdict was read. Prosecutors, who had entered the courthouse with broad smiles and to cheers, sat stunned.

The defense had argued from the start that Caylee drowned accidentally in the family swimming pool and that the death was concealed by a panicked George Anthony and Casey Anthony.

It was unclear if that version of Caylee’s death swayed jurors. But the circumstantial nature of the prosecution’s case seemed to be insurmountable. There was no direct evidence tying Ms. Anthony to the death of her daughter. Forensic evidence was tenuous, and no witnesses ever connected her to Caylee’s death. Investigators found no traces of Ms. Anthony’s DNA or irrefutable signs of chloroform or decomposition inside the trunk of Ms. Anthony’s car, where prosecutors said she stashed Caylee before disposing of her body. The prosecution was also hurt by the fact that nobody knows exactly when or how Caylee died; her body was too badly decomposed to pinpoint cause of death. And it permitted Mr. Baez, Ms. Anthony’s lawyer, to create a reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds — despite the prosecution’s relentless portrayal of her as a callous liar who sought to kill Caylee so she could lead a carefree life of boyfriends and bars.

“The best feeling I have today is I know I can go home and my daughter will ask me, ‘What did you do today?’ and I can say, ‘I saved a life,’ ” Mr. Baez said at a news conference.

Mr. Baez also denounced the death penalty, saying Ms. Anthony’s acquittal is an example of why “we all need to stop and look and think twice about a country that decides to kill its own citizens.”

This case was widely reported in real time through Twitter and cable television, and outrage over the verdict came swiftly as did criticism of the news media. But the public was equally captivated by the trial, with some people flying in to grab a hard-to-get seat in the courtroom.

Cheney Mason, Mr. Baez’s co-counsel, sharply criticized reporters and pundits for “media assassination” in maligning Ms. Anthony and sprinting to an assumption of guilt.

“I can tell you that my colleagues coast to coast and border to border have condemned this whole process of lawyers getting on television to talk about cases they don’t know a damn thing about,” Mr. Mason said.

Outside, Lawson Lamar, the state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Court, praised prosecutors for their meticulous work but added that it was a tough trial because it was a “dry bones case,” a reference to Caylee’s decomposed state, with “no smoking gun.”

Caylee was last seen June 16, 2008. Her remains were found Dec. 11 in a wooded lot near the Anthony home. Ms. Anthony failed to report Caylee missing for 31 days and created a tangle of lies, including that a baby sitter kidnapped Caylee, to cover up the absence.

The defense conceded Ms. Anthony’s lies, but said they happened for one reason: she had been sexually abused by her father and had been coached to lie her whole life.

Prosecutors argued all along that Ms. Anthony killed her child so she could carouse with her boyfriend, go clubbing and live the “bella vita” — beautiful life — as her tattoo, done after Caylee’s disappearance, proclaimed. They used jailhouse recordings of Ms. Anthony and photographs of her reveling with friends to show she was clearly not grieving.

One prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, called it “absurd” that Mr. Anthony, a former homicide detective, would find Caylee dead in the swimming pool and, rather than call 911, cover up the drowning, wrap dead Caylee’s face with duct tape and dump her body.

“It is a trip down a rabbit hole into a bizarre world where men who love their granddaughters find them drowned and do nothing,” Mr. Ashton said.

Mr. Anthony, who had testified tearfully during the trial, denied abusing his daughter and finding Caylee in the swimming pool.

Prosecutors failed to offer evidence or testimony that showed Ms. Anthony was actually a bad or negligent mother.

From the start of the trial, Mr. Baez, who began his law career in 2005 and three years later landed Ms. Anthony as a client, was often pilloried for his risky opening argument — the drowning and sexual abuse theories — and his failure to bolster that defense during the trial.

Mr. Baez delved lightly into the idea that Caylee drowned and said nothing more about the sexual abuse after the first day of the trial. Judge Belvin Perry Jr., the presiding judge who also heads the Ninth Circuit Court, barred Mr. Baez from mentioning the abuse accusation during closing statements because there was no evidence to support his claim.

Yet Mr. Baez successfully hammered away at the nearly 400 pieces of evidence that were recovered, including Ms. Anthony’s car. He also accused prosecutors of relying on faulty science to bolster their case and labeled the state’s work “fraud.”

As the trial continued, Mr. Baez cast Mr. Anthony as the villain who covered up the drowning and allowed Ms. Anthony to take the blame. And he detailed what he viewed as the Anthony family’s dysfunctional behavior.

The sheriff’s office also faced criticism for failing to find Caylee’s remains in August 2008, when a meter reader, Roy Kronk, reported a suspicious item for three consecutive days. On the third day, deputies met the reader at the crime scene, where he pointed to the area from a distance. Mr. Kronk testified that deputies found nothing and were dismissive. Caylee’s body decomposed over six months.

In closing statements, Mr. Baez reminded jurors that the burden of proof rested entirely with prosecutors and pleaded that they keep their emotions in check during deliberations.

“This case should not be decided for or against anyone because you feel sorry for anyone or are angry at anyone,” Mr. Baez told the jury.

Casey Anthony Not Guilty in Slaying of Daughter,










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