Breaking: jury finds Zimmerman not guiltySubmitted: 07/13/2013
Breaking: jury finds Zimmerman not guilty
Story By Associated Press

SANFORD, FLA - Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges Saturday in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.

Zimmerman, 29, blinked and barely smiled when the verdict was announced. He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter. But the jury of six women, all but one of them white, reached a verdict of not guilty after deliberating well into the night. Their names have not been made public, and they declined to speak to the media.

Martin's mother and father were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read; supporters of his family who had gathered outside yelled ``No! No!'' upon learning of the not guilty verdict.

The teen's father, Tracy, reacted on Twitter: ``Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.''

His mother also said on Twitter that she appreciated the prayers from supporters.

``Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have,'' she wrote.

The jurors considered nearly three weeks of often wildly conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor on the rainy night the 17-year-old was shot while walking through the gated townhouse community where he was staying.

Defense attorneys said the case was classic self-defense, claiming Martin knocked Zimmerman down and was slamming the older man's head against the concrete sidewalk when Zimmerman fired his gun.

``We're ecstatic with the results,'' defense attorney Mark O'Mara after the verdict. ``George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense.''

Another member of his defense team, Don West, said he was pleased the jury ``kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty.''

Prosecutors called Zimmerman a liar and portrayed him was a ``wannabe cop'' vigilante who had grown frustrated by break-ins in his neighborhood committed primarily by young black men. Zimmerman assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands, prosecutors said.

State Attorney Angela Corey said after the verdict that she believed second-degree murder was the appropriate charge because Zimmerman's mindset ``fit the bill of second-degree murder.''

``We charged what we believed we could prove,'' Corey said.

As the verdict drew near, police and city leaders in the Orlando suburb of Sanford and other parts of Florida said they were taking precautions against the possibility of mass protests or unrest in the event of an acquittal.

``There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence,'' Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said immediately after jurors began deliberating. ``We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully.''

O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, said his client is aware he has to be cautious and protective of his safety.

``There still is a fringe element that wants revenge,'' O'Mara said. ``They won't listen to a verdict of not guilty.''

The verdict came a year and a half after civil rights protesters angrily demanded Zimmerman be prosecuted. That anger appeared to return Saturday night outside the courthouse, at least for some who had been following the case.

Rosie Barron, 50, and Andrew Perkins, 55, both black residents of Sanford, stood in the parking lot of the courthouse and wept.

``I at least thought he was going to get something, something,'' Barron said.

Added her brother: ``How the hell did they find him not guilty?''

Perkins was so upset he was shaking. ``He killed somebody and got away with murder,'' Perkins shouted, looking in the direction of the courthouse. ``He ain't getting no probation or nothing.''

Several Zimmerman supporters also were outside the courthouse, including a brother and sister quietly rejoicing that Zimmerman was acquitted. Both thought the jury made the right decision in finding Zimmerman not guilty _ they felt that Zimmerman killed Martin in self-defense.

Cindy Lenzen, 50, of Casslebury, and her brother, 52-year-old Chris Bay, stood watching the protesters chant slogans such as, ``the whole system's guilty.''

Lenzen and Bay _ who are white _ called the entire case ``a tragedy,'' especially for Zimmerman.

``It's a tragedy that he's going to suffer for the rest of his life,'' Bay said. ``No one wins either way. This is going to be a recurring nightmare in his mind every night.''

Meanwhile, authorities in Martin's hometown of Miami said the streets were quiet, with no indication of problems. The neighborhood where Martin's father lives in Miami Gardens was equally quiet.

Zimmerman wasn't arrested for 44 days after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting as police in Sanford insisted that Florida's Stand Your Ground law on self-defense prohibited them from bringing charges. Florida gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.

Martin's parents, along with civil rights leaders such as the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, argued that Zimmerman _ whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic _ had racially profiled their son. And they accused investigators of dragging their feet because Martin was a black teenager.

Before a special prosecutor assigned to the case ordered Zimmerman's arrest, thousands of protesters gathered in Sanford, Miami, New York and elsewhere, many wearing hoodies like the one Martin had on the night he died. They also carried Skittles and a can of iced tea, items Martin had in his pocket. President Barack Obama weighed in, saying that if he had a son, ``he'd look like Trayvon.''

Despite the racially charged nature of the case, race was barely mentioned at the trial. Even after the verdict, prosecutors said the case was not about race.

``This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms,'' Corey said. ``We believe this case all along was about boundaries, and George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.''

One of the few mentions of race came from witness Rachel Jeantel, the Miami teen who was talking to Martin by phone moments before he was shot. She testified that he described being followed by a ``creepy-ass cracker'' as he walked through the neighborhood.

Jeantel gave some of the trial's most riveting testimony. She said she overheard Martin demand, ``What are you following me for?'' and then yell, ``Get off! Get off!'' before his cellphone went dead.

The jurors had to sort out clashing testimony from 56 witnesses in all, including police, neighbors, friends and family members.

For example, witnesses who got fleeting glimpses of the fight in the darkness gave differing accounts of who was on top. And Martin's parents and Zimmerman's parents both claimed that the person heard screaming for help in the background of a neighbor's 911 call was their son. Numerous other relatives and friends weighed in, too, as the recording was played over and over in court. Zimmerman had cuts and scrapes on his face and the back of his head, but prosecutors suggested the injuries were not serious.

To secure a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury that Zimmerman acted with a ``depraved'' state of mind _ that is, with ill will, hatred or spite. Prosecutors said he demonstrated that when he muttered, ``F------ punks. These a-------. They always get away'' during a call to police as he watched Martin walk through his neighborhood.

To win a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors had to convince the jury only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


WAUSAU - When you think of Wisconsin, two things might come to mind - beer and snow. 

The Granite Peak Ski Area in Wausau decided to combine the two and host an annual brew fest. 

Andy Ledesma is the head brewer at Red Eye Brewing Company in Wausau. The Granite Peak Brew Fest is one of the many perks of his job.

"No other beer fest is like this, that's for sure," said Ledesma.

He definitely wasn't alone serving more than 40 beers on Saturday. 

Jeff Geurink works for South Shore Brewery in Ashland. They've been around for 20 years, but they wanted to make this brew fest a part of their line up.

"Get our name out there and make sure people are enjoying our beer and get as much information as possible out about our brewery so then when they go out and get a beer, they remember us," said Geurink.

Something everyone will remember from the brew fest was the set-up.

"Snow bar?! You can't get that in the summer time," said Roland Bruhnke.

He's right. Most beer festivals are in the summer. But when it's still feeling like winter in March, Granite Peak turns lemons into lemonade, or more appropriately, hops into beer.

"I think it definitely helped that when they get to the bottom of the hill, you see a bunch of beer," said beer salesman Jesse Bartnik.

So even though beer and physical activity isn't the best combination, dozens of people were loving it this weekend.

"The winter, the skiing, the beer, it's all one big package all rolled into one," said Bruhnke.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - This time of year, winter activies start to wind down and the summer fun hasn't quite started yet.

That's why Fisher's Resort and Bar on Lake George in Rhinelander enjoys having it's annual ice golf tournament each year.

"In year's past, March is always kind of a slower season up here in the Northwoods so we figured we'd create an event and put efforts towards a local organization," said Fisher's Resort and Bar owner, Russ Fisher.

That local organization they raise money for is the Hodag Sno-trails snowmobile club.

This year, the tournament had it's biggest turn out.

30 teams came to play, including first timer Dennis Herrmann who lives right across the lake.

"This has nothing to do with golf, I can tell you that right now. But it's a challenge for all the obvious reasons. But you do it for the charity, you do it for the fun and it gives everybody the chance to get out," said Herrmann.

This year they cut it down from 18 holes to 13 so people could get inside faster to enjoy the chili and the raffle items after their round of golf.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Kids face bullying in schools all the time.

That's one reason why the Eagle River elementary school holds its annual Great Kindness Challenge Week.

It's part of a nationwide challenge involving nearly 10,000 schools.

This year's kindness week in Eagle River wrapped up Friday with a musical assembly with Dave Dall.

Throughout the week, students were challenged to do random acts of kindness.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The warmer weather might have you spending more time outside with man's best friend.

But the remaining snow and ice could increase the risk of injury for dogs.

+ Read More

CRANDON - Planners in Tomahawk dreamed about a bike loop around the city starting in the early 2000s.

Two decades later, it's finally about to happen.

After more than 15 years of negotiation, the city bought a critical piece of land from the Canadian National railroad.

It will allow the city to start building a 4.6 mile bike loop around the city.

"It's a win-win for everybody. There was a little frustration from by position, but you just...kept your foot on the gas through the whole process," said Tomahawk Public Works Director John Cole.

+ Read More

CRANDON - UPDATE (3/23/18): The Forest County Medical Examiner released the name of the inmate who died in the Forest County Jail earlier this week. 

The Forest County Sheriff's Officer said a man committed suicide Wednesday morning. 

An autopsy showed 44-year-old William Zastawniak died by hanging. 

He was facing three child sexual assault charges. 

The medical examiner is still waiting on toxicology results. 

The death is still under investigation.

+ Read More

MADISON - The Conservation Congress plans to ask attendees at its spring hearings whether lawmakers should charge people to use state land and eliminate group hunting.

The congress asks hearing attendees every year for their positions on current outdoors issues. The answers are advisory only.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here