George ZimmermanCrime Suspect
Born: 5 October 1983
Birthplace: Manassas, Virginia
Best known as: The Florida neighborhood watchdog who killed Trayvon Martin
George Zimmerman is the Florida man who shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin on 26 February 2012, launching heated public arguments over gun laws and racial profiling. He was found not guilty of Martin's death after a jury trial in 2013. George Zimmerman lived in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. He was an unofficial neighborhood watchdog, with a history of calling the local police force to report what he considered suspicious behavior. On a Sunday evening in February, Zimmerman spotted Martin, a teenager who was walking home from a neighborhood convenience store. Zimmerman called the police and was told he didn't need to pursue Martin. A short time later, some kind of altercation led to Zimmerman using his pistol to kill Martin. The incident achieved little notice when it first happened, but became a national story a month later, after Martin's parents hired an attorney and went public with the question: Why wasn't George Zimmerman arrested? Local police cited Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law for the use of guns as justification for letting Zimmerman walk, but a more vocal group suggested that Zimmerman had racial motives for pursuing Martin, who was black. A widely-publicized photo of the racially-mixed Zimmerman only muddied the waters (his father is of European descent, and his mother is of Peruvian descent). A national debate ensued, detached from what few facts were known about the case. Florida authorities launched an investigation and appointed a special prosecutor, and in late April of 2012 Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. His trial began on June 24, 2013; the case went to the jury on July 12th, and he was found not guilty the next day.
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