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George Zimmerman blinked and barely smiled as a jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Supporters of Martin’s family who had gathered outside the courthouse yelled out “No! No!”
The jury had been given the chance to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter but did not do so, despite asking for a clarification of the charge earlier in the evening.
Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie Zimmerman, had tears in her eyes after the six-member, all-woman jury delivered its verdict Saturday night.
After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go.
Jurors heard two different portraits of Zimmerman and had to decide whether he was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense because he feared for his life.
The trial and its aftermath received robust cable coverage, with CNN’s Piers Morgan interviewing Zimmeman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman. The brother of the newly freed man said George Zimmerman was still processing his freedom. George Howell, Martin Savidge and David Mattingly were reporting from the ground during the verdict.
On MSNBC, Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris Perry, and Lisa Bloom discussed the role race played in the trial.
“One of the key ways we know this is about race is in this moment black families are holding theirs sons and daughters closer to them with the sense that this verdict…feels very much as though it is saying ‘it is acceptable, it is OK’ to kill an unarmed, African American child who has committed no crime,” Perry said.
Fox News Channel had Harris Faulkner anchoring and Geraldo Rivera on the scene, who reported there were no signs of civil unrest.
On broadcast, ABC’s coverage of the verdict’s aftermath was anchored by David Muir with chief legal affairs anchor and newly named Nightline anchor Dan Abrams. On NBC, Lester Holt broke in to air the verdict, and on CBS, the verdict interrupted 48 Hours, with Jim Axelrod anchoring a 10-minute report.
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