After deliberating for 12 hours Saturday, jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty of a committing a crime when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.
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.
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This is breaking news. Here is AP's earlier story.
SANFORD, Fla. — Jurors deciding whether George Zimmerman committed a crime when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin asked Saturday for clarification on the charge of manslaughter — a possible indication they were considering the lesser charge instead of second-degree murder.
They also stayed at the courthouse through dinner, an apparent sign they planned to deliberate into the night. Meanwhile, a crowd outside the courthouse that started at 100 people earlier in the day doubled in size in anticipation of a potential verdict.
The six-member, all-woman jury presented its question Saturday evening.
"May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter," said the note, which Judge Debra Nelson read aloud to a lawyers, reporters and members of the families of Martin and Zimmerman who were gathered in the courtroom.
As jurors awaited an answer, Nelson talked to lawyers at the bench and after a half-hour recess, they agreed to send a note back asking the jurors to elaborate.
"The court can't engage in general discussion but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter," the note said. "If you have a specific question, please submit it."
Jurors didn't send back a response to the note.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder but jurors also have the options of finding him guilty of manslaughter or not guilty. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense.
To win a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors must show only that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification. To win a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors must convince jurors Zimmerman acted with ill will, hatred or spite toward Martin.
Zimmerman faces a maximum prison sentence of life for second-degree murder and 30 years if convicted of manslaughter, due to extra sentencing guidelines for committing a crime with a gun.
Outside lawyers with no connection to the case said the jury's question could be an indication that it has taken second-degree murder off the table.
"It does sound like at this point, they're considering between manslaughter and not guilty," said Blaine McChesney, an Orlando defense attorney and former prosecutor with no connection to the case.
Added Orlando defense attorney David Hill: "Why would they bother to ask for clarification unless they were thinking about manslaughter?"
To convict Zimmermann of manslaughter, jurors must believe Zimmerman intentionally committed an act that caused Martin's death, according to the judge's instructions. He can't be guilty of manslaughter merely by committing a negligent act or if the killing was excusable, the instructions say.
The jury started deliberating Friday afternoon. At the time jurors asked their question about manslaughter Saturday, they had been deliberating for a total of 11 ½ hours over two days. On Friday, they asked their first question: a request for a list of all the evidence.
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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