After more than sixteen hours of deliberation, a Florida jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin last February.
The verdict brings to a close a case that has led to passionate debate over the past year, often focusing on issues of race and gun control.
One of the key issues was Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which allows deadly force to be used by a person who believe he or she is in imminent danger, have made this case a flashpoint in the media and on social media, but in the end, Zimmerman’s team did not pursue a “stand your ground” defense.
Throughout the case, the fact that George Zimmerman fired the bullet that killed Trayvon was never in dispute, but rather it was the details of the events leading up to that fateful moment that were debated throughout the trial, with Zimmerman’s defense using self-defense as its justification for the shooting in February 2012.
May God console the Martins at this time; as well as every other family that's gone through this type of injustice.
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) July 14, 2013
Immediately following the verdict, many in the hip-hop community, which has long rallied behind the Martin case, took to Twitter to express both disbelief and disappointment, including Nicki Minaj who tweeted “May God console the Martins at this time; as well as every other family that’s gone through this type of injustice.”
Man I'm praying for all of us who are upset over the Zimmerman verdict. #nojustice
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) July 14, 2013
?uestlove, remarked “knock knock…..who’s there? justice….just us who?”, while Wyclef Jean took to his twitter account to say “May God be with the family of Trayvon Martin”. Q-Tip expressed disbelief, remarking “This is worse than Rodney King. So Crazy”.
I feel sick. #RipTrayvonMartin
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) July 14, 2013
Miley Cyrus, who had been tweeting using the hashtag #justicefortrayvon in recent days, Tweeted “I feel sick. #RipTrayvonMartin”, later tweeting again “No justice. No peace.”
On Friday (July 12), the six person all-female jury was left to deliberate with three choices for a verdict: guilty of second-degree murder; guilty of manslaughter; and not guilty.
The manslaughter charge had just been introduced Thursday after the Judge Nelson, who presided over the case, ruled over the defense’s objection to allow for a manslaughter conviction as an alternative to a murder verdict.
It was back in February 2012 that Zimmerman, then 28, shot and killed Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old high school student.
While driving through his gated community the day of the incident, Zimmerman saw Martin, clad in a hooded sweatshirt, walking through his gated community and called police to report a suspicious person.
While on the phone with authorities, Zimmerman left his vehicle in pursuit of Martin and continued in spite of the dispatcher’s advice to wait for police to arrive. A struggle ensued, and by the time it was over, Martin lay dead, shot dead by Zimmerman with Zimmerman’s personal firearm.
Zimmerman was detained at the time of the incident, but released within hours and not charged with any crime.
The fact that an unarmed teenager, who had committed no apparent crime, lay dead led to a public outcry, which eventually culminated in Zimmerman’s April 2012 arrest. Zimmerman would be charged of with murder in the second degree.
Much of the outcry leading up to Zimmerman’s arrest came from within the hip-hop community, which turned Trayvon’s death into a rallying cry.
“For any circumstances when someone’s killed and there’s a person there that we know did it, regardless of their intentions at that point, there’s right and wrong. And I think that it’s obvious who’s wrong in this actual situation,” 50 Cent told MTV News at the time.
Reactions at the time weren’t just limited to the hip-hop community, either. In March 2012, President Obama remarked that if he had a son, “he’d look like Trayvon”. Obama went on to say “I think all of us have to do some soul searching to think about how something like this happens.”