Monday night at 10 p.m ET on a special edition of HLN After Dark, Vinnie Politan is one-on-one with the Zimmerman prosecution team to try to find out what happened. HLN has been all over this case, and nothing is off-limits in this primetime interview.
After deliberating for 16 hours and 20 minutes, a jury of six women from Seminole County, Florida, found George Zimmerman not guilty late Saturday for all charges related to killing Trayvon Martin.
The former neighborhood watch captain is now a free man. Zimmerman can now resume his career in mortgage insurance or his undergraduate education.
Zimmerman showed no emotion as the verdict was read, and remained calm and collected as the judge read the post-verdict instructions.
The former defendant did smile as the judge left the bench, and he shook his attorney's hands.
"You have no further business with the court," said Judge Debra Nelson, indicating he was apparently free to go.
His wife Shellie Zimmerman was in tears as she embraced her husband and family members after court was adjourned. Zimmerman's brother Robert Zimmerman tweeted this message after the verdict.
The identities of the jurors will remain under seal until future notice from the court.
In a post-verdict press conference, defense attorney Mark O'Mara thanked local law enforcement for ensuring that proceedings were orderly, safe and free of outside influence.
“We appreciate the jury’s time and effort, we really do,” O'Mara said. "Obviously, we are ecstatic with the results."
Defense attorney Don West called the prosecution of Zimmerman "disgraceful."
"It makes make me sad that it took this long and under these circumstances to finally get justice," said West.
West alluded to his opening statement joke when answering a reporter's question about whether he was personally invested in the case, "I still felt the joke was funny."
“This will impact George Zimmerman forever and ever and ever. There’s no winners here, there’s no monsters here,” said West.
Martin's parents were not in attendance when the verdict was read in court. However, moments after the verdict his parents tweeted the following messages.
Crowds outside the courthouse chanted "No justice, no peace" in the aftermath of the verdict. HLN's producers outside the courthouse report the crowd seems to be growing.
"This jury worked very hard and we thank them for their service," said Florida State Attorney Angela Corey in a press conference along with the prosecution team shortly after the verdict. Corey oversaw Zimmerman's prosecution after the Governor Rick Scott handed her the case.
“I have an amazing team of lawyers … and investigators .. and I’m so proud to stand here with them to be part of the historical aspect of this case,” said Corey.
"I am disappointed," said prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.
Ben Crump, the Martin family attorney, addressed reporters after the verdict and said Martin would forever remain a symbol for the fight for equal justice.
“For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful,” Crump said.
“Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP. “We call immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin. This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States.”
“The acquittal of George Zimmerman is a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice. We intend to ask the Department of Justice to move forward as they did in the Rodney King case and we will closely monitor the civil case against Mr. Zimmerman," said Rev. Al Sharpton.
A Justice Department spokesperson tells HLN "the department continues to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."
The verdict was a culmination of a tragic shooting that captivated the nation and sparked national conversations about race, racial profiling and self-defense laws.
The verdict brings some closure to a case that began in February 2012, when Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, called 911 to report "a suspicious” person in his neighborhood, the Retreat at Twin Lakes. He was instructed by the dispatcher not to get out of his vehicle or approach the person, but he did anyway. Moments later, neighbors reported hearing gunfire. Zimmerman, who was bleeding from the nose and back of the head, told police that he and Martin fought and that he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense.
Protests were held around the country when it appeared that Zimmerman wasn’t going to be arrested for Martin’s death. On April 11, 2012, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting the unarmed teen.
Touching a number of hot-button issues like gun control, racial profiling and self-defense laws, the case stoked public opinion for nearly a year and a half, and caused Florida law enforcement officials to prepare for community outrage.
A public campaign by Broward County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office says: “Raise your voice, not your hands. Freedom of expression is a constitutional right," the announcement says. "While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not." The sheriff told CNN that the campaign is part of preventative measures to keep tensions in check after a highly emotional trial. “We don’t have information about a specific event that might take place at the conclusion of the trial, but we encourage everyone to keep any protests peaceful,” Sheriff Scott Israel said.