The not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin isn’t “really going to change anything,” political science professor Dr. Jason Johnson told Newsmax late Saturday.
“Five white women in the South said it was okay to kill a 17-year-old black boy. Nobody who has any questions or apprehensions or distrust of the legal system is surprised by that result," said Johnson, who also teaches communications at Hiram College in Northeast Ohio, in an exclusive interview.
“It’s not like there’s a real victory to be had by either side," he said. "I just don’t think it ends up making a lot of difference.”
Zimmerman, 29, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, was found not guilty by a jury of six women — five whites and one Hispanic — in the February 2012 shooting death of Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.
The jury deliberated a total of 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days before returning to the courtroom to deliver their verdict at 9:57 p.m.
The sequestered jurors, only identified by number, were individually polled on their decision.
Zimmerman showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
He had pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, though the jury was instructed by Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson that they could consider convicting him of manslaughter.
Late Saturday afternoon, jurors asked Nelson a question about manslaughter.
That was crucial, Johnson told Newsmax.
“When the jury asked about manslaughter, I thought that was a pretty bad sign, until when the lawyers wrote back and asked, ‘Can you be more specific?’ and the jury never asked another question,” he said. “I thought, ‘Okay, they’re probably really not looking at manslaughter.’ It might have been just a last-second question.”
Johnson added that prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda did not present his case very well.
“Given how the trial went, I don’t find it to be a shocking ruling,” he said. “It’s not overly surprising.”
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