The jury spent more than 16 hours over two days sifting through evidence and testimony before returning the verdict.
The jury essentially concluded that Zimmerman’s actions were justified under Florida law, which allows individuals to use deadly force if they feel their lives are threatened.
The prosecution tried to portray Zimmerman as a “vigilante” and “wannabe” cop who stalked Martin as he walked home after going out to a 7-Eleven store to pick up a snack. They argued that Zimmerman was frustrated, bitter and looking for trouble after a rash of burglaries in the community.
“George Zimmerman didn’t shoot the teen because he had to, he shot him because he wanted to,” said State’s Attorney John Guy.
But the defense poked holes in the prosecution’s case, which suffered from a lack of eye-witnesses and contradictory testimony over who was the aggressor in the fight that led to Martin’s death on the night of February 26, 2012.
Defense lawyer Mark O’Mara focused on the contention that Zimmerman feared for his life and shot Martin out of self-defense after the 17-year-old pinned him to the ground and started beating him.
“My client is not guilty of anything but protecting his own life,” he told the jury.