July 15th, 2013
11:58 AM ET

Family, Friends and Nation React to Zimmerman Verdict

Update: Tune-in to this morning's "New Day" to hear reactions from last night's interviews with Juror B37 who spoke exclusively to CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," and Rachel Jeantel who appeared on "Piers Morgan Live."

"New Day" is on from 6-9am ET on CNN.


“New Day” is covering reactions across the country over the “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial this morning.

The acquittal came late on Saturday night after the jury deliberated for 16 and a half hours. The shock that struck the nation was felt most strongly by Trayvon Martin's family.

Following the case from the very beginning, George Howell tells their story in the above video.

“Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton said in a tweet, quote, ‘Lord, during my darkest hour, I lean on you. You are all that I have,’” Howell reports.

“Martin's father wrote, ‘Even though I'm brokenhearted, my faith is unshattered. I will always love my baby Tray.’”

The somber sentiment was also felt at the Martin family’s home church in Miami Gardens.

“We're very concerned and very hurt and very disappointed at this point,” Martin’s relative Roberta Felton said at a press conference. “But we know in the end, God will prevail and justice will be served....”

The verdict even stirred a response from President Obama, who released a statement saying, "...We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.”

CNN's Athena Jones has more on the response in Washington.

While Zimmerman's criminal trial may be over, his legal troubles may yet continue. In addition to any future lawsuits by Martin's family, the Justice Department is considering whether there is sufficient evidence to bring a civil rights action.

Attorney General Eric Holder may discuss the case as early as today, when he speaks before a black sorority in the nation’s capital, Jones reports. And she explains that it is not a clear, open and shut case.

“There’s a very high bar when it comes to federal civil rights charges here,” she says. “They have to prove that George Zimmerman acted out of a state of racial animus or racial hatred when he shot Trayvon Martin.”

Whether further legal action is taken against him or not, Zimmerman likely faces a difficult road ahead trying to lead his life as a free man.

CNN's David Mattingly has more on the challenges Zimmerman faces in his future.

“George Zimmerman is free to go wherever he can,” Mattingly says. “The question is where, when anger is sure to follow?”

Mattingly explains that being acquitted doesn’t necessarily mean that he is free. The fear of encountering violence is palpable for the former neighborhood watch volunteer.

“There have been tweets, email and letters wishing him bodily harm or death,” Mattingly says.

“Experts advise Zimmerman to disappear if that's possible, be contrite and try to not give the appearance that he beat the system.”

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soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. martina martini

    Chris Cuomo said on one programme that he'd like to see some sort of policing at schools to prevent tragedies such as colombine, sandy hook, the list goes on. After what happened to Trayvon, is he so sure that would be a solution ? How many school kids wear hoods?

    July 17, 2013 at 4:04 am | Reply
  2. kr0636

    Jury stacked in favor of Zimmerman
    The defense engaged the most sophisticated jury consultants to determine the selection of jurors. Jury consultants have elevated their skills to a high level of precision. The selected six members of the jury therefore had these characteristics; five were white middle class women, one was half white; they were all advocates of the “stand your ground” law; they were all proponents of the “right to bear and carry arms”. All of these characteristics were favourable to Zimmerman’s defense. The defense was aware of these prejudices and did a fine job of enlisting them in the ensuing jury deliberations. In addition to this jury stacking, there is the question as to whether a person of average intelligence is equipped to objectively evaluate the legal technicalities and manipulations of skillful attorneys. Research has shown that even a college-educated person is vulnerable to the manipulations of skillful attorneys. In this regard, it would seem that the time has come to have a hard look at the jury system as it currently obtains. The recent interview by one of the jurors attest to this bias in the jury; she consistently refers to Zimmerman as "George" and minced no words in derogating Trayvon Martin. The prosecution must bear most of the blame for this travesty of justice. They stand idly by while the jury selection process was manipulated by the defense. The question is "where do we go from here". We have a black president. He received a mere handful of the white electorate, but with the coalition of minorities was able to prevail. Let us look at the scream for help. There was a fight; Zimmerman was loosing, he pulled out his gun; Trayvon staring down the barrel of the gun, screamed for help; Zimmerman pulled the trigger and shot Trayvon through the heart. The scream and the gunfire were almost instantaneous. Anyone facing a loaded gun would scream. The question of who screamed was therefore nothing but a red herring by the defense. Race it seems will always be a contentious aspect of life in America for the unforeseeable future.
    Cephas Keith Reyes, PhD.

    July 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  3. Jamie

    I am sick and tired of the black community making something out of every white related crime, violation and offense. If the perso killed in this case had been hispanic, asian or white, the not guilty verdict would have stood and that would have been the end of the story. They are trying their hardest to make an example out of one man that clearly felt that his life was in danger because someone was beating the crap out of him. So give it a damn break already.

    July 16, 2013 at 9:23 am | Reply
  4. Lashawn

    Really people...we have got our work cut out for us on all sides white, black, latino, Asain....list goes on. These chains need to be broken and our children deserve better role models. Stop the violence in action and in words. Lets do our work and change the legacy to promote civility.

    July 16, 2013 at 9:04 am | Reply
  5. Sinestro

    The black community wanted a trial as long as GZ was found guilty. No amount of evidence will make them see that TM attacked and GZ defended himself. Sure GZ should have stayed in his car but at the same time TM should have gone home and kept his hands to himself. Most black males attack for no reason, sometimes just for looking at them and have no problem pulling a gun in a fist fight. Now that it happened to one of their own, the jury, the judge, the cops are racists and chances are, If you don't see things like they do, you are a racist too.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:49 am | Reply
    • Tina

      [...} you are absolutely right that TM should have just gone home which I was what he was trying to do. However, the murderer GZ pursued him and gotten out of his car. I don't know if you have any children, however, I'd bet you would not feel the same if it had been your child.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:12 am | Reply
      • Dulce

        YOu have no point because if I was that kid and someone got out of the car to approach me, as a child I would have hauled butt all the way home not looking back. I've never heard of a child challenging an adult they viewed as creepy

        July 16, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Vince

      "Most black males attack for no reason".... uhhh that's not at all racist or stereotypical at all! I suppose you have watched alot of "Oz" or something.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
  6. TruthSeeker

    CNN, you just aren't what you once where, which was good at your reporting, not any more you have become a TNN – Tabloid News Network and I sure hope you all do something about it.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:37 am | Reply
  7. Carol

    There is no evidence that Zimmerman confronted Treyvon when the fight started. That's what so many are ignoring. Zimmerman had every right to stop the boy and ask him what his business was in the neighborhood, since he thought he was acting suspicious, and given the number of breakins in that neighborhood in the past year before, albeit that it was gated. Read the information folks, and stop making stuff up.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:29 am | Reply
  8. Kendall

    This case should not have been about race. But if you go back to when it all began it was the African American community that brought up race....Martin's Family Attorney, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev Jesse Jackson, Michael Baisden, etc.......they marched and demanded an arrest and got one. It's sad that a young man lost his life, but the jury got it right according to Florida law.....I don't care what race the victim would have been. Keep praying for peace in our nation at this time and all involved. As a nation we have come a long way but we still have A LONG way to go.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:19 am | Reply
  9. Dulce

    Civil Rights violation?????? Acted out of Racial intentions????? Didn't a Martin witness testify Trayvon stated a c******r a** person was following him? Who is racist? This nation is so backwards. Good Luck trying to win that civil trial

    July 16, 2013 at 7:44 am | Reply
  10. Mike

    Spoken by someone I respect:
    "Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We've got to face that. And we've got to do something about our moral standards. We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can't keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves."
    If you really want ot talk about race relations, it *has* to start there!

    July 16, 2013 at 7:35 am | Reply
  11. jurzydvl

    From jury selection I was in awe...in the day of inclusiveness; how can the jury makeup be as it was?

    If Trayvon Martin had shot George Zimmerman you can be assured the jury would not have been all black women and the world not explode.

    July 16, 2013 at 7:29 am | Reply
    • blackie

      What should it be half black even though blacks represent 18% of the population?

      July 16, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • Nic

      I don't understand why people are making the jury of white women and one black woman out to be white vs. black. Trayvon was black. Zimmerman was HISPANIC!! Stop blaming white people for the problem. The problem isn't that he was profiled. The problem is the epidemic that creates the profile in the first place. More than 60% percent of all violent and domestic crime is committed by blacks. FACT. Address that and then maybe profiling won't exist for young black men. When some one losses money in the stock exchange they assume its a white guy. That is also profiling. Get over your so called "white man keeping me down" mentality and go earn your life. It has been a long time since slavery and I for one am sick of paying for something my ancestors did just like you are sick of paying for what a percentage of your race does today, yesterday and tomorrow.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:14 am | Reply
  12. Ingmar

    I sincerely hope that no further tragedy will come as a result of tis verdict. So many lives have already been torn apart in this situation. I trust that operators of the law on both sides did the best they could to make the truth surface, and I trust the Jury to have made the best Judgement they could with the case and its evidence presented.

    July 16, 2013 at 6:59 am | Reply
  13. Mash3

    Juror 37 addressed George Zimmerman by his first name ( George) over and over again, and no one addressed this. Does everyone in Sanford know each other?

    July 16, 2013 at 6:49 am | Reply
    • Dulce

      LOL LOL LOL Don't you know his name is George by the publicity of the case. I"m sure this juror knows every person involved int he case by first name. That is just an ignorant statement

      July 16, 2013 at 7:47 am | Reply
    • Jed Homewood

      Thank Eric Holder for making him famous. Thank HLN for calling him a murderer during the trial. George is his name and now everyone knows that GEORGE is not and has never been a racist. GEORGE took a black girl to his prom. George mentored black children and advocated for justice in a REAL case of racism and the beating against a black homeless man. We are all being played by the race baiting media to distract everyone from the imminent collapse of the dollar. Good luck to all who are taking the bait.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:11 am | Reply
  14. chet

    The jury got it right, the racism is only from one side. Why; because their culture believes confrontation is the answer as did Martin. Martin should have just gone about his business but instead he had to confront and beat a man who became fearful of his life. Imagine a 6 foot muscled young man beating the crap out of you simply because you were watching out for the neighborhood's interest! Color of skin made no difference in the confrontation but the media made this mess and some racists in the black community continue it.

    July 16, 2013 at 6:26 am | Reply
  15. Evie

    There is VERY little information as to the guidelines of a Neighborhood Watch rules. Why? I believe the rules states not to confront a person who may be suspicious. I wish the Prosecution had touched more on those responsibilities instead on the Self-Defense. According to the Sheriff's office, Zimmerman broke most rules that Neighborhood Watch sets up for the responsiobility of a Neighborhood Watch person. Aimmerman did not follow the rules and instructions given to him by 911. Isn't that breaking the law when he ignores instructions from higher officials?

    July 16, 2013 at 6:17 am | Reply
    • Dulce

      Rules are not laws, if you are late for work do you get thrown in jail or have to face trial.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:48 am | Reply
    • liberal disease

      how do you break a law that's not a law, instructions from officials are not laws, right to self defense is..

      July 16, 2013 at 8:19 am | Reply
    • Anne

      Evie, he wasn't on trial for breaking the neighborhood watch rules. It was a tragedy. and it had horrible consequences. God bless everyone involved. It wasn't racism. The feds, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need to butt out and stop inciting a race war. See, they are dividing the country?

      July 16, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
      • Vince

        I agree with the trial verdict. There was no evidence to convict Zimmerman. But that shouldn't let people think that Zimmerman "did nothing wrong". The fact is he was being very irresponsible for bringing a gun into a situation that he was not at all trained for. There's a reason people in Neighborhood watch are supposed to just observe and report, and that's for the protection of both themselves and the supposed "suspicious character". Zimmerman was not wearing a police or even a security officer uniform. If he was a uniformed officer the situation is clear and no altercation. And it doesn't appear he ever identified himself. So yes in a very real way Trayvon saw Zimmerman as a threat. Did he react properly to that threat, perhaps not, but of course we only have GZs side of the story, so we don't REALLY know that Martin started the altercation. But in the end if Zimmerman just behaves as a neighborhood watch person is supposed to, none of this happens. Criminal? No. Stupid? Hell Yes! While the verdict was sound, we shouldn't at all act like this guy "did the right thing". If he truly did the right thing the police are called, maybe they drive by in a squad car and question Trayvon and check him out, and everyone goes about their merry way. With Trayvon at worst being annoyed the police bothered him for a couple of minutes. No one is dead, and no one has their life ruined by a media blitz.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  16. marie tulloch

    Thanks to your team for bringing attention to the trayvon martin case. I see that you will be discussing another case where a Florida woman (black) was sentenced 20 years in prison for only firing a warning shot when she felt threatened or unsafe. This is another example where the justice system is not fair for blacks. Thanks for your attention to this.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Reply
    • blackie

      maybe you should take into account she left the confrontation that took place at her ex's house, went to her car, got her gun, came back into the house, confronted him with the gun, pointed it at him and the kids and fired a shot into the wall. That's aggrevated assault not self defense.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:02 am | Reply
      • Guest

        20 years and no one died or was injured! 0 years and a teen is dead!

        July 16, 2013 at 8:52 am |

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