A jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was also found not guilty of manslaughter.
The jury's decision has sparked strong reactions and debate up and down the coast. NewsChannel 3 spoke with several people about the case, and the opinions were definitely mixed. Some people thought the jury got it right, while others thought the jury let a cold-blooded killer off the hook. The controversial topic was even being discussed at some of our local churches.
The church service on Sunday at Second Baptist Church in Santa Barbara started off with a prayer for Trayvon Martin. Several people in the congregation were upset with the jury's decision to clear neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman of all criminal charges.
Second Baptist Church Pastor Shepard said, "Whenever you have a child that's just walking down the street minding his own business and you have someone chase that child down, it's a travesty of justice, to say it's OK now for a young black child to be shot down in cold blood." Church member Melvyn Bryant-Dudley also had a strong reaction to the decision, "This time I felt like it was another slap in the face to the black community."
Some in the congregation were not happy about the decision, but they trust in our legal system. "I was not there during the shooting. I am not a witness. I'm just getting second, third, or fourth-hand information, so yes I think they did what they needed to do," said Art Relieford.
Some people we spoke to on the street think that because of Florida's stand your ground law, the jury had no other choice but to find Zimmerman not guilty. "I think based on the laws you have in Florida, with weapons and protection and stuff like that I would say, yeah they probably did <have to find him not guilty> and in other states it could have been a different outcome," said Ken Given of Santa Barbara. "I don't think they really had enough evidence to put him away. I think they did all that they could do," said Laurie Pope.