Critics brought up the story of a Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in 2012 for firing a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband.
Marissa Alexander unsuccessfully tried to use Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law to derail the prosecution. Debate has swirled over the law, which allows those who believe they are in imminent danger to use deadly force to protect themselves.
But a jury convicted Alexander of aggravated assault after just 12 minutes of deliberation.
The case, which was prosecuted by the same state attorney who handled the Trayvon Martin case, gained the attention of civil rights leaders, who said the African-American woman was persecuted because of her race.
But amid the sorrow, messages of peace and hope emerged.
"Change doesn't roll in on wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle. So we must straighten (our) ... backs & work 4 freedom," Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Bigotry & hate won't just quietly disappear - nor be defeated by more hate. It'll take stubborn, relentless, unyielding love & service."