While this drama played out in a Sanford courtroom, authorities -- in that central Florida city and elsewhere around the state and the country -- braced for what might happen when or if the jury makes its decision.
In the weeks after Martin's death, tens of thousands attended rallies demanding Zimmerman's arrest and castigating authorities for their handling of the case. Some of them wore hoodies, as did Martin the night he was killed, in support of his family.
On Friday, a lawyer for the late teenager's family said that, while he wouldn't call Zimmerman a racist, "this case in its totality has a racial undertone to it."
Daryl Parks told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the defendant surmised Martin was a criminal like those who'd struck in his neighborhood before -- at least one of whom was black. "The problem, in this case, ... is that Trayvon was not one of those people," Parks said.
The defense, meanwhile, has strongly rejected accusations that Zimmerman is a racist, with O'Mara citing his client's work as a mentor to black children and his having taken a black girl to his prom as evidence of his non-racist beliefs.
But the perception is still out there, and it's a big reason Zimmerman moved out of his home after receiving death threats, his father Robert had said, then stayed at an undisclosed location awaiting trial.
His defenders have been passionate as well, especially about a person's right to defend himself with a gun when attacked. Debate swirled over Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows those who believe they are in imminent danger to use deadly force to protect themselves.
Soon after the jury got the case, Zimmerman's family released a statement urging people to accept the verdict, whatever it is.
"Though we maintain George committed no crime whatsoever, we acknowledge that the people who called for George's arrest and subsequent trial have now witnessed both events come to pass," the family said. "We hope now that as Americans we will all respect the rule of law, which begins with respecting the verdict. The judicial system has run its course -- pray for justice, pray for peace, pray for our country."
Authorities similarly appealed for calm -- and took steps in case some did not heed those appeals.
The sheriff's office in Broward County, in the Miami area, said it had made a contingency plan to respond to incidents tied to a verdict, as it used a public service announcement to urge people to refrain from violence or destruction.
"Freedom of expression is a constitutional right," the sheriff's office said. "While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., a prominent civil rights leader, was among those who urged people not to react with violence.
"If Zimmerman is convicted there should not be inappropriate celebrations, because a young man lost his life, and if he is not convicted we should avoid violence because it will only lead to more tragedies," Jackson said.
But O'Mara, for one, said that whatever the outcome, his client will not feel safe.
"There are a percentage of the population who are angry, they're upset, and they may well take it out on him," he said.