Category: News Briefs - Original Written by CNN News
(CNN) -- George Zimmerman is not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin, a Florida jury decided late Saturday.
The fact that Zimmerman fired the bullet that killed Martin was never in question, but the verdict means the six-person jury had reasonable doubt that the shooting amounted to a criminal act.
The verdict caps a case that has inflamed passions for well over a year, much of it focused on race and gun rights.
The six-person jury -- all women -- basically had three choices: to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder; to find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter; or to find him not guilty.
The jurors deliberated for 16½ hours total, including 13 on Saturday alone, before delivering its verdict.
Zimmerman smiled and then shook his lawyer's hands when he learned his fate. His parents, Robert and Gladys Zimmerman, were seated nearby, but Martin's parents were not in the courtroom.
Earlier in the day, the jury had asked the court for clarification on its instructions regarding manslaughter. The jury couldn't have even posed such a query a few days ago: Judge Nelson ruled Thursday, over the defense's vehement objection, to include manslaughter as an option for jurors, in addition to a second-degree murder charge.
The question -- the jurors' first since late Friday afternoon, when they requested an inventory of evidence -- was read out in court shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday. After a brief discussion between lawyers and the judge, the court recessed for about 40 minutes.
When it reconvened, shortly before the judge announced the jury had ordered dinner, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to a response to the jury's question -- basically asking for more detail. "The court cannot engage in general discussions but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter," their response to the jury says. "If you have a specific question, please submit it."
Manslaughter, under Florida law, is "the killing of a human being by the act ... of another, without lawful justification ... and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder." It is a second-degree felony.
According to the jury instructions, Zimmerman could be convicted of manslaughter if jurors believe he "intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin."
"George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide," the instructions add. "Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence."
If convicted of manslaughter, Zimmerman could face up to 30 years in prison. The jury, however, hasn't been told of possible sentence lengths for any charge.
To convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, the jury would have to believe that "there was an unlawful killing of Trayvon Martin by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life."
Such a killing would have to be "done from ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent" and would be "of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life."
How long other juries deliberated for in other high-profile cases
The fateful night
The story starts the night of February 26, 2012, as Martin walked back to his father's fiancee's house through the rain from a Sanford convenience store, where he'd bought Skittles and a drink.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him and called police. A 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman that officers were on the way and not to follow the allegedly suspicious person.
Nonetheless, Zimmerman got out of his car, later telling police he just wanted to get a definitive address to relay to authorities.
Sometime after that, Zimmerman and Martin got into a physical altercation. Some neighbors took notice: On one 911 call, anguished cries for help can be heard.
Who was yelling? Martin's mother testified she's "absolutely" sure it was her son; Zimmerman's parents said, with as much conviction, that it was their own child.
There are also disputes about who was the aggressor, about whether or not Martin may have seen or reached for Zimmerman's gun, about whether Zimmerman should have had more injuries if he was pummeled, as he claims.
And some accused Zimmerman -- who identifies himself as Hispanic -- of racially profiling the black teenager, a claim the defense camp flatly denies.
About the only thing not in dispute is that the now 29-year-old Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.
Nelson acknowledged this week that jurors have a lot of evidence, and competing arguments, to consider. She told them that, even as they pay close attention to the law and the facts, they should also "use your common sense."
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"All of us are depending on you to make a wise and legal decision," she said.
Prosecution: 'He shot him because he wanted to'
In his closing argument, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda noted that -- for all the evidence presented -- the case boils down to two men. One of them, Martin, is dead and can't give his side of the story. The other, according to the prosecutor, cannot be trusted.
De la Rionda asked: Why would a scared man get out of his car and walk around after being told not to? Shouldn't Zimmerman have had more than a bloody nose and scratches on his head given the beating he allegedly took? And did he have an agenda -- to do whatever necessary to stop one of those "f***ing punks," as he's heard saying under his breath in his call to police, from getting away?
Get caught up: The Zimmerman trial in 3 minutes
Assistant State Attorney John Guy made the prosecution's final pitch, during the rebuttal phase of closing arguments Friday. He echoed many points de la Rionda had made earlier, portraying Zimmerman as a frustrated wannabe police officer who took the law into his own hands. He had decided Martin was one of the criminals who had been victimizing his neighborhood, he said, then trailed him against the advice of police dispatchers.
"The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to," Guy said. "He shot him because he wanted to. That's the bottom line."
Zimmerman, the prosecution said, had a powerful determination not to allow someone he had already decided was a criminal to escape.
"What is that when a grown man, frustrated, angry, with hate in his heart, gets out of his car with a loaded gun and follows a child? A stranger? In the dark? And shoots him through his heart? What is that?" Guy asked.
Defense: Zimmerman deserves benefit of the doubt
In the opinion of defense attorney Mark O'Mara, what George Zimmerman did was simple: he defended himself.
Zimmerman was looking out for those in his neighborhood when he saw someone he felt was suspicious and called police, O'Mara said in his closing argument. The defendant got out of his car, but briefly, and was walking back to it when things got physical.
Did investigators blow the Zimmerman case?
Martin jumped out of some bushes and pounced, the defense contends. And, O'Mara added, the teen didn't just hold Zimmerman down, but punched and slammed his head repeatedly into the sidewalk.
"That was somebody who used the availability of dangerous items, from his fist to the concrete, to cause great bodily injury against George Zimmerman," said O'Mara.
The lead defense attorney also criticized the prosecution's case, saying it was full of "coulda beens. How many 'what ifs' have you heard from the state in this case?" There's no merit, he claimed, to the depiction of Zimmerman as a frustrated, spiteful man seeking vengeance.
"Do not give anybody the benefit of the doubt except for George Zimmerman," O'Mara said.
Tensions high ahead of verdict
There was a buzz outside the Sanford courtroom Saturday, punctuated by occasional speeches, songs and impassioned words -- at times directed against those on the other side of the debate.
There were those calling for a guilty verdict who held up a large banner reading "End racial oppression" and who yelled in unison, "We want justice." On the other side, Zimmerman backers toted signs saying "Self-defense is a basic human right," "Not enough evidence," and plainly "Not guilty."
'Raise your voice, not your hands,' cops urge as Zimmerman verdict looms
Many of these themes have been echoing since the weeks after Martin's death, when tens of thousands attended rallies led by civil rights activists demanding Zimmerman's arrest and chastising authorities for their handling of the case.
Zimmerman surmised Martin was a criminal like those who'd struck in his neighborhood before -- at least one of whom was black -- a lawyer for the late teen's family said Friday. But Martin was not a criminal, which Daryl Parks said contributes to the racial tensions that still surround this case.
While he wouldn't call Zimmerman a racist, "this case in its totality has a racial undertone to it," Parks told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
The defense has strongly rejected accusations Zimmerman is racist, with O'Mara citing his client's work as a mentor to black children and his taking a black girl to his prom as evidence of his non-racist beliefs.
His defenders have been passionate as well, especially about a person's right to defend himself with a gun when attacked. Debate swirled over Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows those who believe they are in imminent danger to use deadly force to protect themselves.
In light of this ongoing fervor, authorities asked for calm while setting up contingency plans to respond to incidents tied to a verdict. The Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. was among those appealing for peace Friday, while Zimmerman's family urged people to "respect the rule of law, which begins with respecting the verdict."
"Freedom of expression is a constitutional right," said the sheriff's office in Broward County, in the Miami area. "While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not."
But O'Mara said that, whatever the outcome, his client will
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 July 2013 09:13
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO Benjamin Jealous signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the NAACP's 104th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The Agreement will expand outreach to traditionally underserved communities through the NAACP network of more than 200,000 members. Through the MOA, FEMA and the NAACP have joined forces to ensure the needs of underrepresented communities are more fully incorporated into disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation-related activities. The two agencies also will share information such as lessons learned, best practices and training resources, to improve community resilience.
"As a nation, our resiliency depends on our ability to work together to empower communities as part of the emergency management team before, during and after a disaster," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Today's agreement builds on a long-standing partnership between FEMA and the NAACP, and leverages both institutions' resources and networks to improve the 'Whole Community's' disaster preparedness, response and recovery."
"We are pleased to expand our partnership with FEMA to ensure all communities are prepared when confronted with an emergency," stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "This is a critical step toward providing underrepresented communities the tools and training they need to respond and recover after disasters."
"From the Deepwater Horizon Incident, to the 2011 Tornadoes in Alabama, to Superstorm Sandy, we have seen the worst and best of disproportionate impact of disaster on marginalized communities and inspiring community resilience. Communities have been devastated by loss of life, property, culture and more," said Jealous. "While at the same time there have been awesome examples of communities coming together to build stronger neighborhoods with cooperation between community members and equity and justice based allocation of resources. With this partnership we will work together to improve the ability of emergency management systems to serve people on the margins as well as strengthen community resilience," said Jealous.
The NAACP has been an active member of the emergency management team through collaborative efforts including: NAACP senior leadership participation on FEMA's National Advisory Council, hosting emergency preparedness engagement activities at the NAACP Annual Convention, and NAACP staff training on emergency management and community preparedness. The Agreement strengthens the "whole community" approach to emergency management and will greatly improve communities' access to information to help individuals, families and communities stay safe before, during and after an emergency or disaster.
More information and resources for helping communities prepare for a disaster are available at www.CitizenCorps.gov.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 16:34
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by News One Staff
Married couple Lauren Hood and Andrew Jones of Detroit had their first baby Monday afternoon, but the little one was just one of many for the doctor who delivered him.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the couple's baby boy, Austin Brian Jones, was Dr. Richard Smith 8,000th delivery.
Richard Smith 8000th Baby
Brenda Hood sits next to her daughter, Lauren Hood, and her husband, Andrew Jones, after Dr. Richard Smith delivers her son. It was his 8,000 delivery. Dr. Smith delivered Lauren 24 years ago.
"Maybe I'll shoot for 10,000," Smith said while visiting his patients' bedside Wednesday, according to the Free Press. "Because it is one of the best things you can do to help new life come into the world and work with these wonderful families."
Twenty-four years ago, Dr. Smith delivered the boy's mother. Hood said the nurses teased her as they prepped her for delivery. "They were like, 'It's baby 8,000th. Do you know what your number was?' " Hood said. "I have no clue."
What she was sure of was who to call when it was time to deliver her child. "I thought how amazing if the guy who delivered me, delivered my child," said Hood, who just finished a stint as a third-grade teacher in Patterson, N.J., in the Teach for America program.
Hood's mother, Brenda Hood, said she was grateful that Smith was her doctor. "When I was having Lauren, I had complications," she said. "Just the care he gave, I knew I was in good hands, so I wanted to ensure that my child was, too."
Dr. Smith, 61, graduated from Howard University Medical School at 23-years-old. He began his career at a now-closed hospital, where women in labor were dropped off in taxis at the loading dock. Although Hood and her husband will move to Chicago in a few weeks, the new mother knows who she wants to deliver her next child.
"Of course, Dr. Smith can deliver my next child," said Hood. She wants a girl next time.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 14:09
David Alexander Bullock and Change Agent Consortium (CAC) Denounce $1.4 Million Payment to Jones Day Amidst Detroit Financial Crisis
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Rev. David Bullock and Rev. Jesse Jackson enjoy the revelry at NAACP Freedom Fund Walk
Jones Day, the law firm hired to handle Detroit's financial restructuring, has billed the city for $1.4 million in fees for a mere six weeks of work. The fees were approved by emergency manager Kevyn Orr – who just resigned from Jones Day before taking the emergency manager position in March. Orr is expected to return to Jones Day once his contract with the state of Michigan is up.
"It is outrageous to think that a financially challenged city must contemplate busting union contracts, break work rules and change pension plans while it eagerly pays $1.4 million to the Jones Day law firm. It is insulting that the state appointed overseer wants us to join his crusade against pension recipients while he approves a $1.4 million payment to his former employer. The calls for financial responsibility are hallow and it seems the City of Detroit continues to pay for rap sheets when it needs recovery," said David Alexander Bullock, Change Agent Consortium national spokesperson.
Last month Orr met with over 100 of Detroit's creditors in an effort to get them to take pennies on the dollar. Today his restructuring team is meeting with the city employee pension and retiree groups. A bus tour of Detroit was scheduled for Wall Street creditors yesterday, but cancelled on Tuesday.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 13:51
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Doug Gross, CNN
T-Mobile is making a bid to become the wireless world's "un-carrier," rolling out a plan that will let users update their phones up to twice a year for a modest fee.
That's a sharp departure from the traditional model for wireless companies, which usually requires customers to complete a two-year contract before they can get a new smartphone at the discounted rate that makes them affordable.
"At some point, big wireless companies made a decision for you that you should have to wait two years to get a new phone for a fair price. That's 730 days of waiting," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile US, in a written announcement.
"(That's) 730 days of watching new phones come out that you can't have. Or having to live with a cracked screen or an outdated camera," he added. "We say two years is just too long to wait."
The company's new JUMP! plan will cost $10 a month per phone and includes insurance for phones that are damaged, lost or malfunctioning. Some wireless customers already pay for such protection.
Customers can upgrade after being enrolled in the JUMP! program for six months.
At a New York event, T-Mobile also announced an expansion of its 4G LTE network, which it says will reach 157 million people in 116 metro areas across the United States.
The announcement is part of T-Mobile's newly aggressive approach as the carrier tries to move up from fourth place in market share in the United States. It trails first-place Verizon, then AT&T and Sprint.
Research firm comScore says Verizon has about 31% of the market, followed by AT&T at 27%, Sprint at 16% and T-Mobile at about 13%.
In March, T-Mobile took another big leap, announcing that it would offer wireless plans with no contract. It also began selling the iPhone 5 for $99 in April.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 13:41
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