George Zimmerman had been found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin by a jury of his peers. This polarizing case has captured the attention of every American and its outcome tonight will enrage some and reassure others. Let’s hope that Americans control their reactions to this verdict and those feeling anger and outrage do not express it by harming innocent people, uninvolved in the case.
A jury found George Zimmerman not guilty Saturday night, bringing a case that held the attention of a nation for its overtones of race and gun rights closer to its conclusion.
The six-person jury — all women — basically had three choices: to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder; to find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter; or to find him not guilty.
The jurors have been deliberating for 16½ hours total, including 13 on Saturday alone.
Earlier in the day, they asked the court for clarification on its instructions regarding manslaughter. The jury couldn’t have even posed such a query a few days ago: Judge Nelson ruled Thursday, over the defense’s vehement objection, to include manslaughter as an option for jurors, in addition to a second-degree murder charge.
The open-ended question — the jurors’ first since late Friday afternoon, when they requested an inventory of evidence — was read out in court shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday. After a brief discussion between lawyers and the judge, the court recessed for about 40 minutes.
When it reconvened, shortly before the judge announced the jury had ordered dinner, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to a response to the jury’s question — basically asking for more detail. “The court cannot engage in general discussions but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter,” their response to the jury says. “If you have a specific question, please submit it.”
Manslaughter, under Florida law, is “the killing of a human being by the act … of another, without lawful justification … and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder.” It is a second-degree felony.
According to the jury instructions, Zimmerman could be convicted of manslaughter if jurors believe he “intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.”
No doubt we will be hearing much more about this case and its verdict – stay tuned at CDL for updates.