Story Summary

George Zimmerman trial

Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, setting free a man who had become a polarizing figure in the national debate over racial profiling and self-defense laws.

The panel of six women deliberated more than 16 hours over two days before delivering the verdict, which drew immediate condemnation from some civil rights groups.

Zimmerman appeared stoned-faced as the verdict was announced, but then showed a slight smile of relief. His parents embraced each other and his wife was tearful.

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By Steve Almasy, CNN

Bail for George Zimmerman, charged with felony aggravated assault and two misdemeanors on allegations that he pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend in Florida, was set Tuesday afternoon at $9,000 during Zimmerman’s first court appearance.

zimmermanA Seminole County judge put conditions on Zimmerman’s bail: That he cannot return to two Florida addresses; he cannot have contact with the accuser; he cannot possess weapons; he must wear a monitoring device; and he cannot travel outside Florida.

The judge initially said Zimmerman could return to one of the banned addresses with law enforcement to retrieve his belongings, but later — at the urging of the prosecutor — reversed that allowance, saying a third party could get the belongings instead.

 

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George Zimmerman was charged Monday with felony aggravated assault after allegedly pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend, according to Dennis Lemma, chief deputy with the Seminole County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office.

Zimmerman, who was acquitted earlier this year of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin, was arrested after the incident at the home of Samantha Scheibe, Lemma said. He also was charged with two misdemeanors — domestic violence battery and criminal mischief — in connection with the same incident, Lemma said.

Zimmerman is being held in jail without bail and will make his first appearance in front of a judge Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Differing 911 calls

According to a police report on the incident, Scheibe said that after an argument Zimmerman broke a table with a shotgun then pointed it at her “for a minute.”

Scheibe called 911 at 12:30 E.T., Lemma said.

On a 911 call recording released by police, a woman can be heard telling authorities: “He’s inside my house breaking all my (things) because I asked him to leave.”

The woman then says to someone at the house, “I’m doing this again? You just broke my glass table. You just broke my sunglasses and you put your gun in my freaking face and told me to get the (expletive) out.”

A man is heard telling her to calm down, but then she tells the dispatcher that the man just pushed her out of the house and locked the door.

zimmermanOn a separate 911 call, a man calls to report that his girlfriend was “for lack of a better term, going crazy on me” and throwing his things out. The caller says the woman is outside with police.

When asked why he is calling, the man says, “I just want everyone to know the truth.”

He says he never pulled a firearm and that it is in a bag, locked. He claims she was the one who broke the table.

When deputies arrived at the house, Scheibe gave them a key. When they pushed open the door — which was blocked by several small pieces of furniture — they found Zimmerman, who was sitting and unarmed, Lemma said. He was passive and cooperative, Lemma said.

The sheriff’s office was seeking a search warrant to look for two guns deputies believed were inside the home, he said. According to the police report, Zimmerman had locked up the guns before police arrived.

Recent contact with authorities

This is one of several brushes that Zimmerman has had with law enforcement since he was acquitted this year of murder and manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

Earlier this month, police in Lake Mary, Florida, said no charges would result from an alleged domestic dispute in September between George Zimmerman and his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman.

Shellie Zimmerman said in September that she has doubts about his innocence in the Trayvon Martin case.

Since his acquittal in the Martin case, Zimmerman also has been stopped for speeding twice. He was pulled over the first time in Forney, Texas, in July and told the police officer he had a concealed weapon permit and a gun in his glove compartment. The officer wrote on his incident report that he gave Zimmerman a verbal warning.

Zimmerman was pulled over in early September going 60 mph in a 45-mph zone in Lake Mary and received a $256 ticket. He was not carrying a weapon at the time.

National headlines

Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in the Sanford neighborhood where Zimmerman and Martin’s father lived in February 2012. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, had a confrontation with the unarmed African-American teen after calling police to report a suspicious person, and he said he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense.

Zimmerman was acquitted by a six-person jury in July on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

The high-profile case sparked a heated nationwide discussion of race as well as debate over Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

His attorney in the murder trial, Mark O’Mara, no longer represents him.
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Less than two months after her husband, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Shellie Zimmerman is filing for divorce.

Kelly Sims, Shellie Zimmerman’s attorney, confirmed to CNN that documents were filed Thursday afternoon in Florida’s Seminole County Courthouse.

George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., tweeted the news.

“According to Shellie’s atty Kelly Sims – Shellie is preparing to file 4 divorce. Docs have not yet been filed in Seminole Cty. Pray 4 them.”

Last week, Shellie Zimmerman told “Good Morning America” that her marriage was “in jeopardy.”

She said she would “have to think about” staying in the marriage and expressed guilt and regret about her actions after Martin’s death in February 2012. She pleaded guilty to perjury on August 28 for lying about the state of the couple’s finances during a bond hearing in April 2012. She had claimed she and her husband were broke, when in reality they had collected about $135,000 in donations.

“I can rationalize a lot of reasons for why I was misleading, but the truth is, I knew I was lying,” Shellie Zimmerman told ABC. “I wish a lot things were different. I can’t tell you how many times I have laid at night saying ‘God, I wish these circumstances had been different.’”

Zimmerman also said the publicity around the polarizing trial forced her and her husband to live in constant fear.

“I think we have been pretty much like gypsies,” she said in the ABC interview. “We lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods scared every night that someone was going to find us and that we’d be out in the woods alone and that it would be horrific.”

Since his acquittal on July 13, George Zimmerman has been in the headlines several times. In late July, he reportedly helped a family escape from an overturned SUV. A report from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office confirmed his involvement.

More recently, Zimmerman has been pulled over in traffic not once, but twice. The first time, he was given a verbal warning for a traffic violation in Texas and reportedly told officers he had a firearm in his glove compartment. The second time was in Florida on Tuesday, when he was issued a $256 ticket for speeding.
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A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin “got away with murder.”

“George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” Juror B29 told ABC, according to an article posted on the network’s website Thursday. “(But) the law couldn’t prove it.”

The juror, who used only her first name of Maddy out of concerns for her safety, told ABC that she and others on the panel felt Zimmerman was guilty, but that wasn’t enough.

“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”zimmermanmartin

Thursday night, Martin’s mother said she was devastated after hearing the juror’s comments.

“It is devastating for my family to hear the comments from juror B29, comments which we already knew in our hearts to be true. That George Zimmerman literally got away with murder,” Sybrina Fulton said in a written statement. “This new information challenges our nation once again to do everything we can to make sure that this never happens to another child.”

Maddy is the second juror to speak about the high-profile case since the six-person, all-female jury acquitted Zimmerman earlier this month.

She and other jurors also have identified themselves by their numbers from the jury pool.

Last week the woman known as Juror B37 told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ that Zimmerman “didn’t do anything unlawful” and was “justified” in shooting 17-year-old Martin last year.

Zimmerman has been out of the public eye since the jury found him not guilty of second degree murder on July 13. His parents told ABC News last week that their family has received an “enormous amount of death threats.”

He fatally shot Martin in the Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where Zimmerman and Martin’s father lived in February 2012. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, had a confrontation with the unarmed African-American teen after calling police to report a suspicious person, and he said he shot Martin in self-defense.

The case became a flash point in debates over racial profiling, and thousands attended vigils across the country over the weekend, decrying the verdict.

Maddy, 36, is Puerto Rican and a mother of eight children, ABC said. She was the only minority to deliberate in the case. She told ABC that the case was never about race to her.

At the beginning of deliberations, she told ABC, she wanted to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. But she realized on the second day of deliberations that there wasn’t enough proof to convict him of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

“I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury. I fought to the end,” she said, according to ABC.

Juror B37 told CNN that the jury was initially split — three and three along the line of guilt. Juror B37 was among those who believed Zimmerman was not guilty from the start.

She stressed that she and the other jurors took their responsibility seriously.

“I don’t want people to think that we didn’t think about this, and we didn’t care about Trayvon Martin, because we did. We’re very sad that it happened to him,” she said.

Juror B29 told ABC that the decision is still weighing heavily on her, and she thinks she owes Martin’s parents an apology.

“It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death,” she told ABC. “And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much (as) Trayvon Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain.”
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In unscheduled and unusually personal remarks, President Barack Obama tried Friday to explain why African-Americans were upset about last week’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin while lowering expectations for federal charges in the case.

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama told White House reporters in a surprise appearance at the daily briefing.

A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman last Saturday in Martin’s February 26, 2012, shooting death, inciting anger among many who considered the incident racially motivated murder.

Obama issued a written statement on Sunday, noting that the jury had spoken and urging calm and reflection.

Speaking Friday without a teleprompter, Obama noted a history of racial disparity in law as well as more nuanced social prejudice that contribute to “a lot of pain” in the African American community over the verdict.

“There are very few African-American men in this country who have not had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. That includes me,” the president said.

“There are probably very few African-American men who have not had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator,” he continued.

“There are very few African-Americans who have not had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off. That happens often,” he said.

Saying he didn’t intend to exaggerate those experiences, Obama added that they “inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”

“The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws,” he said. “And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.”

African-Americans feel the context of the Martin killing is little known or denied, “and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different,” Obama said.

These cases usually matter for states

obama2

President Barack Obama

At the same time, Obama responded to calls by civil rights groups for federal hate crimes charges to be filed against Zimmerman by saying the Florida legal process had reached a verdict.

“Once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works,” the president said, later adding that while Attorney General Eric Holder was looking further at the case, those calling for federal charges must “have some clear expectations here.”

In America, law enforcement and the criminal code are “traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal level,” he said.

On Saturday, “Justice for Trayvon” vigils are scheduled outside federal buildings across the country by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Sharpton called Obama’s remarks Friday “significant and much needed,” saying in a statement that the president “set a tone for both direct action and needed dialogue.”

Obama said demonstrations and other responses to the Zimmerman verdict must be non-violent or they will dishonor what happened to Martin and his family.

He outlined possible future steps, calling for the Justice Department, state governors and city mayors to work with law enforcement agencies “about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.”

For example, he noted that racial profiling legislation he pushed as a state senator in Illinois helped police departments think about the issue and act more professionally, which helped build trust with communities they serve.

Stand your ground laws

Obama also called for reconsideration of “stand your ground” self-defense laws in Florida and other states, that he said “may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.”

Sharpton and other civil rights leaders call for abolishing the “stand your ground” laws.

“If we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?” Obama asked.

To supporters of such laws, Obama said they should consider if the right to fight back with a gun would have applied to Martin.

“Do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?” the president said. “And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”

While rejecting any “grand new federal program,” Obama also called for providing more support for African-American boys and young mans who disproportionately end up in prison or homicide victims.

No national conversation

However, he rejected calls for him to launch a national conversation on race, saying “I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when, you know, politicians try to organize conversations.”

His comment could have been a slap at his own response to the 2009 arrest of African-American university professor Henry Louis Gates by a white police officer responding to a report of a possible burglary at his Boston-area home.

After coming under criticism for saying police acted stupidly, Obama later invited the Harvard professor and the arresting officer for a beer at the White House.

On Friday, Obama instead endorsed “soul-searching” discussions in homes, churches and workplaces where people might be more honest about whether they were “wringing as much bias” out of themselves as possible.

“As difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better,” the president concluded, making a reference to his daughters’ generation.

“It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated,” he said. “But, you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.”

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ainst Zimmerman, Obama said they must “have some clear expectations here.”

He stressed that law enforcement and the criminal code “is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal level.”

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By Josh Levs, CNN

Trayvon Martin’s parents spoke out Thursday for the first time since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of their son.

In interviews on the three network TV morning news programs, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin assailed the verdict and the Zimmerman defense team’s argument that the killing was in self-defense during an attack by the unarmed teenager.

Fulton told “CBS This Morning” she was “in a bit of shock” after the verdict. “I thought surely that he would be found guilty of second-degree murder,” she said.

On NBC’s “Today,” Fulton said the case is “sending a terrible message to other little black and brown boys — that you can’t walk fast, you can’t walk slow. So what do they do? I mean, how do you get home without people knowing or either assuming that you’re doing something wrong? Trayvon wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

Tracy Martin told CBS he wants America to know that Trayvon “was a fun-loving child.”

Speaking to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Martin added that he and Fulton did not find the verdict fair, “and of course it’s devastating.”

“My first thought was shock, disgust,” said Fulton.

trayvonmartinsparents

Trayvon Martin’s parents

The parents also were asked about remarks by Juror B37, who told CNN she believes Trayvon Martin “played a huge role in his death.”

“I don’t think she knows Trayvon,” Fulton said on CBS. “Trayvon is not a confrontational person.”

On ABC, she added that she wishes the six-woman jury “had an opportunity to really know who Trayvon was and to put that in context with what their decision was.”

The parents did not say whether they may file a civil lawsuit.

They pushed for the federal government — which is considering whether to file criminal civil rights charges against Zimmerman — to examine the case closely.

Fulton told CBS she wants President Barack Obama to go through the case “with a fine-tooth comb.”

“Today” asked them whether they may forgive Zimmerman, the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer. “Forgiveness is like a healing process. Forgiveness takes time,” Martin responded. “The Bible says that you have to forgive and forget, but also the healing process is a long process and the forgiving process is a long process.”

On ABC, the couple was told that Zimmerman’s parents have told Barbara Walters that they pray for Trayvon every day.

Asked whether they take any comfort from that, Martin said, “There’s no winner in this situation.”

He added, “We continue to pray that we’ll find peace and strength to be forgiving parents.”

Daryl Parks, an attorney for the Martin family, spoke with CNN’s “New Day” about why the parents chose to do interviews now.

“Maybe Trayvon’s human aspect, in the course of the case, didn’t come out quite as much,” he said. “As you listen to that juror (B37), she talks very deeply about George Zimmerman and humanizes George Zimmerman, when in this case Trayvon was the victim here.”

CNN’s Joe Sterling and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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We may never know if it was the hoodie over his head, the color of his skin or some other factor that made George Zimmerman find Trayvon Martin suspicious.  But his shooting death is the realization of a long standing fear for many black parents.

Long before the controversy surrounding the shooting of Trayvon and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, many black parents had “the talk” with their children.

And since the death of unarmed hoodie wearing teen in Florida last year, the issues have become even more prevalent.

WGN’s Frank Holland talks with parents, children and health professionals about having “the talk,” the emotions that go with it, what it means and it’s unintended consequences.

Four more jurors from the George Zimmerman murder trial are speaking out about the controversial verdict.

Those other four jurors released a strongly worded statement in response to the second part of CNN’s interview with Juror known as B37.

In part two, Juror B37 provided more insight into her thinking during the trial.

She said race played no part in Trayvon Martin’s death or the case against Zimmerman.

There was almost a hung jury in the case, according to Juror B37, because another juror attempted to leave due to a family issue.

Juror B37 says the others convinced her to stay because she was too involved in the process that’s been described as highly emotional and physically draining.

But, shortly after the interview Tuesday night, four of the other jurors released this statement distancing themselves and asking for privacy.  “We ask you to remember that we are not public officials and we did not invite this type of attention into our lives.  We also wish to point out that the opinions of Juror B37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper Show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below.”

The sixth juror in this case has not been heard from.

Protests over the Zimmerman verdict have continued around the country.

Civil rights leaders have called for these demonstrations to remain peaceful, but there have been some incidents of violence.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out about “Stand Your Ground Laws” that are in place in 22 states, including Florida.  While speaking to the NAACP convention Tuesday in Orlando, very close to Sanford, Florida, Holder said those laws contribute to more violence than they prevent.

Holder also talked about the open investigation the Department of Justice has into the Zimmerman case.

But most legal experts believe it will be very difficult to prove that Zimmerman had racial motivations behind the shooting.

In the wake of the controversial verdict and nationwide protests related to the George Zimmerman murder trial, some parents are being forced to have difficult conversations with their children about racial profiling.

The profiling conversation has been non-stop for an Evanston family.  14-year-old Diwani Greenwell was wrongly stopped and hadcuffed by police last Fall as he was riding home on his bike.

The verdict in the Zimmerman trial has stirred up new frustration.

Greenwell’s parents tell WGN the verdict has prompted more conversations with their teenage son who expressed disappointment in the Zimmerman trial.

But it has rekindled an important conversation for the family and among parents of many African American boys.

Diwani Greenwell was 13 when he was wrongly targeted by Evanston police who were looking for a burglary suspect merely described as black and wearing cargo shorts.

The honors students was cleared when the burglary victim arrived to confirm he was not the suspect.

The family claims police used excessive force despite Diwani’s non-aggressive reaction.

The Greenwell’s closely followed the Zimmerman trial and they feel for the family of Trayvon Martin.

“Trayvon Martin was just out walking minding his own business.  Our son was riding his bike, minding his own business, so there are some parallels there,” said Diwani’s mother, Ava Thompson-Greenwell. ” The difference of course was that their son was killed and our son was not, thank God.  We also know that it could have been a very different scenario.”

The Greenwell’s predict that parents of African American boys will need to continue with similar conversations for at least another generation or more.

Their lawsuit against the city of Evanston is still pending.

One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had “no doubt” he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin, and that was the definitive factor in the verdict.

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