Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Zimmerman verdict draws mixed reactions in Tampa Bay area

George Zimmerman's acquittal late Saturday sparked mixed, emotional reaction across Tampa Bay.

Tonika Witchard, 25, waited for the verdict at a St. Petersburg bar on First Avenue S, scrolling through Twitter on her Samsung Galaxy phone. When two words — NOT GUILTY — appeared on TV screens above, she thought of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's family. She thought of her own.

"I want to cry for them," the St. Petersburg College student said. "It is terrible. It doesn't make sense. It's like, 'What if it happened to me?' What if we had to go through that pain?"

Joe Sullivan, 38, who works for a St. Petersburg financial company, said the jury's decision reinforces gun rights.

"As a concealed weapons permit holder," he said, "I can walk around freely with my weapon and I don't feel I have to second-guess myself if I'm in a position where I have to defend myself."

Sophie Smith, a Seminole teacher, watched the verdict on TV at St. Petersburg's World of Beer.

"I don't believe Zimmerman had the intent to kill. I'm glad he's not guilty," said Smith, 38. "I believe he was an innocent man. It was a bad situation."

Downtown, 30-year-old Eunitee Franklin feared the possibility of riots.

"Something's going to happen," the Clearwater musician said. "How can you possibly say not guilty? How can you play it off like this man did not kill a kid? I think it's sad. So sad for Trayvon's family."

In a liquor store in lower-income Tampa Heights, a small group of patrons unanimously reacted with shock.

Jackie Poe went running into the parking lot to call relatives in Delaware and commiserate over what they agreed was a travesty.

"It should've ended when the cops told him to stay in his car," said Poe, 54. "How the hell they can let a man get away with murder, I don't know."

Cynthia Wenzelburger, 49, agreed the verdict was wrong.

Wenzelburger, a paralegal, was not impressed by the job Zimmerman's defense attorneys did and was surprised it held sway with the jury. Wenzelburger said she thought the trial was won in jury selection, when six woman were selected.

"We're more prone to leniency, when it comes to sending someone to prison," she said.

Zimmerman verdict draws mixed reactions in Tampa Bay area 07/13/13 [Last modified: Sunday, July 14, 2013 1:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County

    Roads

    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'

    Celebrities

    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan

    Blogs

    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets

    National

    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]