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July 15, 2013

Jury instructions at center of Zimmerman verdict

(Continued)

Jurors were also told that reasonable doubt about Zimmerman's guilt could come from conflicting evidence or the lack of evidence.

Over three weeks of testimony, they received mounds of conflicting evidence and testimony of what happened on that rainy February 2012 night after Zimmerman spotted Martin walking in his townhouse complex after the teen bought Skittles candy and iced tea from a nearby 7-Eleven. He didn't recognize Martin, who lived in the Miami area and was visiting the home of his father's fiancee. The neighborhood had experienced burglaries and some people had reported the suspects seen fleeing were young black males, like Martin.

After calling police dispatchers, Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. He says Martin attacked him. Prosecutors disputed that. The evidence was unclear.

None of Zimmerman's neighbors saw or heard the entire fight, and eyewitnesses gave differing accounts of whether Zimmerman or Martin was on top. Martin's parents testified it was their son screaming for help on 911 calls made by Zimmerman's neighbors. Zimmerman's parents testified that no, it was their son. The fight ended seconds after the screams when Zimmerman fired one shot from his handgun into Martin's heart.

Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. His mother was born in Peru and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. His father is a white American.

After the verdict, civil rights leader Al Sharpton asked the U.S. Justice Department to bring charges against Zimmerman for civil rights violations as it did against the Los Angeles police officers in the Rodney King police beating case two decades ago.

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous concurred and started a petition calling for federal charges.

"The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," Jealous wrote in the petition, posted on the website MoveOn.org and addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder.

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