The prosecution was unable to prove its legal case beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury — made up of six women, five of who are mothers — took more than 15 hours over two days to come to their decision of acquitting Zimmerman. At one point during deliberations, the jury even asked for clarification on the possible manslaughter clause, a lesser charge which could have meant up to 30 years in prison for Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, 29, was working a neighborhood watch in Sanford, Fla. when he fatally shot and killed an unarmed Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman claimed it was in self-defense, and that Martin had attacked him, although there had been no report of any crime in the area. Martin has no criminal record. The case ignited a heated debate in America about racial profiling and self-defense laws, which state anyone with a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death can use lethal force in Florida.
Judge Debra S. Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go after the verdict was read. Outside the courthouse crowds of people had come from near and far to support the Martin family shouting “Justice for Trayvon,” some even wearing hoodies like the one Martin was wearing when he was gunned down.
Zimmerman lives in hiding and wears a bulletproof vest when in public.