CUMBERLAND, RI (WPRI) - A Cumberland resident received threats after the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, thanks to the internet and his name.
Jorge Zimmerman was not following the trial in Florida as closely as some but he knew when it was over by the messages on his Facebook account.
"I didn't know who these people were and then I checked what they were saying," Jorge Zimmerman said. "People asked if I was the George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin. I got messages like payback is a, you know obscene words. Watch your back. Just watch yourself."
On Saturday, in Sanford, Florida, Zimmerman was cleared of all charges in the shooting of Martin. The killing of the unarmed teenager unleashed searing debate across the country about racial profiling and the concept of self-defense.
Zimmerman showed very little emotion when the verdict was announced but smiled a short time later. He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter but the six woman jury reached its not guilty verdict after hearing about three weeks of testimony.
The messages came to Rhode Island's Zimmerman from as far away as California and Chicago. After he opened a few, he just started deleting everything from people he didn't know.
Then, he decided to take it one step further after weeding through the threatening messages and wondering if they would ever stop.
"I had to deactivate my account. So, yeah, I'm off. I'm off for a while," he said.
No one seemed to notice that he spells his first name differently than the defendant, lives in a different state that's about 1250 miles from the trial location and doesn't look anything like the Florida George Zimmerman.
"I just thought it was ridiculous," he said, adding that he did not receive any threats after Martin was shot to death last year. "I just wanted to be left alone. I had nothing to do with it."
Jorge Zimmerman said he understands people are frustrated but also believes the jury's verdict should be respected.
"It's a sad story to begin with but to lash out at other people who had nothing to do with it? That's ridiculous," he said.
Zimmerman plans on keeping his Facebook account off-line for about a month, hoping his odd case of mistaken identity will be over by then.
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