George Zimmerman trial jurors' had three options

Jury acquits George Zimmerman


SANFORD, Fla. – George Zimmerman walked out of Seminole County courthouse Saturday a free man.

Jurors would not be speaking to the press on Saturday night, Seminole County court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy said.

Before finding Zimmerman innocent of second-degree-murder in the Feb. 26, 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, jurors had to consider three possibilities: They could find him guilty of either second-degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter, or they could find him innocent.

The jury acquitted Zimmerman because as Florida law states they found "the killing was excusable or resulted from justifiable use of deadly force."

To find him guilty of second-degree murder jurors would have had to believe that the prosecution proved Zimmerman had "a depraved mind regardless of human life." 

"Saying that he needs to evince a depraved heart is a way of saying that he acted without sufficient regard for human life," University of Miami law professor Tamra Lave said. "This is sometimes stated as a 'hardness of heart.'"

The lesser charge of manslaughter was supposed to be optional. During deliberations, they asked Judge Debra Nelson to explain the charge. Nelson replied asking jurors for a more specific question. They never got back to her.

To find him guilty of manslaughter jurors would have had to believe that the prosecution proved Trayvon Martin was dead and that Zimmerman "intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin."

The 29-year-old former crime watch volunteer said he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. During closing statements, defense attorney Mark O'Mara brought a piece of concrete to show jurors the weapon that Trayvon allegedly used to attack Zimmerman.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda reminded jurors that Zimmerman had lied repeatedly  about what happened on the rainy night of Feb. 26, 2012.