NEWS STORIES

Breaking: jury finds Zimmerman not guiltySubmitted: 07/13/2013
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.


Story By: Associated Press

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





 IN OTHER NEWS
Celebrating Easter in the snowSubmitted: 04/19/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Snow on the ground can’t keep the Easter bunny away in the Northwoods.

Hundreds of kids and their families searched for Easter eggs in Rhinelander on Saturday.

“Even with the snow and the slush, they love running around and getting out there and getting the eggs,”said Nicole Polkowski, the Rhinelander Area Optimist Club president.

+ Read More
Police rescued 22 animals from home Submitted: 04/19/2014

OSHKOSH - A Winnebago County woman has been arrested after authorities found nearly two dozen animals living in deplorable conditions in the Town of Clayton.

WGBA-TV reports that since Thursday, authorities have rescued 17 horses and five dogs from the home. Winnebago sheriff's detective Chris Braman says they did not look healthy.

Another three horses were found dead.

Cattle Rescue Inc. will be caring for the surviving horses. Director Bill Blemke says they are malnourished.

+ Read More
Police investigate threatening letter Submitted: 04/19/2014

STOUGHTON - Police in Stoughton are investigating a threatening letter that was sent to a black teenager, with a photo that depicted him as the victim of a lynching.

The letter had a Madison postmark but no return address. The family told the newspaper it contained a photo showing two men hanging from a tree, with a mob watching. A picture of the 18-year-old was superimposed onto one of the men.

+ Read More
Easter weekend brings in more businessSubmitted: 04/19/2014

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Easter weekend normally brings in a lot of tourist.

For business owners, that means an increase in sales.

The Pine Cone Boutique in Minocqua says they've seen an increase in customers.

They're right off Highway 51 North, right next to McDonald's.

One of the sales associates just started working there.

But she could tell that business picked up quickly.

+ Read More
Marathon County garage fire leaves $2 million in damageSubmitted: 04/18/2014

Play Video

EDGAR - Some county highway workers now have an even more valid reason to want winter to end.

A fire at a Marathon County highway garage near Edgar made eight heavy machines, including snowplows, unusable.

A driver saw the fire just before 3 o'clock Friday morning.

There is more than $2 million in damage.

+ Read More
RHS Mock Trial team recognized for accomplishments Submitted: 04/18/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A Northwoods team broke their own state record last month by winning a 17th state title.

A pair of state legislators honored them Friday.

Republican State Representative Rob Swearingen and Republican State Senator Tom Tiffany honored the Rhinelander Mock Trial Team at the Oneida County courthouse today.

"It's on behalf of myself and Senator Tom Tiffany from the 12th senate district," said Republican State Representative, Rob Swearingen.

+ Read More
Fire does $1.5 million in damage in Marathon CountySubmitted: 04/18/2014

EDGAR - Fire did $1.5 million dollars in damage at a Marathon County Highway Department garage overnight.

Someone driving by shortly before three this morning saw smoke coming from the building along State Highway 97 near Edgar.

One of the garages was on fire at the Marathon County Highway Department's location in the town of Wien.

Firefighters from Edgar and Stratford rushed to the scene.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here