Meet the potential jurors in Zimmerman trial

National/World News
President Barack Obama called on Sunday for "calm reflection" following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (Credit: CNN)

President Barack Obama called on Sunday for “calm reflection” following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (Credit: CNN)

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( — Jury selection is underway in the trial of George Zimmerman, who faces second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

According to, attorneys from the prosecution and the defense have been grilling potential jurors for three days, seeking jurors who can be objective and who are willing to be isolated during the trial, indicating the defense plans to ask Judge Debra Nelson to sequester the jury.

The jury selection process is expected to take at least a week. Attorneys need to find six jurors and four alternates. In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.

The case has sparked national interest, and one potential juror even suggested to attorneys that they’re going to have a hard time finding jurors who haven’t heard about the case and can only hope they find residents who can keep an open mind.

“I haven’t lived under a rock for the past year,” said Juror B-51. “It’s pretty hard for people not to have gotten some information.”

Juror B-51, a white female retiree, was quizzed on the second day of jury selection. She said her first impression of the case was “sad” for both sides. When asked if she though Zimmerman had done anything wrong by getting out of his truck, she said, “Certainly, he didn’t wait. Maybe the police didn’t come quick enough. I don’t know.”

The longest individual questioning of a potential juror came on Thursday, when attorneys quizzed the individual known as Juror E-81 about her thoughts on the case.

Juror E-81, a middle-aged white female, appeared to have already made up her mind. Her impression was that Martin’s prior use of marijuana and an image of a gun found on his cell phone were indications that “he was going down the wrong path.” She also said she believed Zimmerman was just “looking after his neighborhood.”

“I believe every American has a right to defend himself,” said the woman, known as Juror E-81. “I think the more people armed, the better.”

Nelson has ruled that Martin’s past marijuana use, suspension from school and prior fights can’t be mentioned at trial during opening arguments.

Also on Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys interviewed a recent high school graduate who said classmates at his central Florida high school claimed to be friends with Martin even though Martin was from the Miami area. But the overwhelming opinion of his classmates and friends on social media was that “George was guilty,” although he made it clear he had never voiced his opinion.

When asked if he thought race played a role in the case, he said, “For sure.”

“It just got people really riled up,” he said.

Juror N-18, a middle-aged Hispanic male, was escorted out of the courtroom Thursday following questioning from attorneys. Juror N-18 said he was from Puerto Rico and as a native Spanish speaker, his English was “not very fluent.”

He also spoke of his devotion to the Christian faith and his belief in God’s law and the 10 Commandments. Juror P-67, a Hispanic male, born in Mexico but naturalized in the U.S., said that he wanted to be a juror to pay back his country and because it is part of his citizenship.

Questioning came to a halt Wednesday after a potential juror gave answers that indicated he wouldn’t be impartial.

The juror, known as R-39 because potential panelists can be identified only by their numbers, said that “murder is murder,” even if it’s self-defense.

The potential juror left the Florida courtroom without defense attorneys asking questions.

Four other potential jurors questioned Wednesday included a white woman in her mid-20s who expressed concerns about her safety if picked; a black woman in her 20s who lived nearby the shooting but said she hadn’t formed an opinion about it; and a white woman in her 50s who didn’t like the negative image of Sanford that was portrayed in the media after the shooting happened there.

Potential juror E-13, a white female in her 20’s, said, “I never really watch the news,” while potential juror E-28, a married white female in her late 50s or early 60s, said she listens to a lot of radio on her fifteen minute commute to her job as a nurse.

Attorneys questioned Juror B-35, a middle-aged black man who owns vending machines, on Tuesday. He described protests last year over Martin’s shooting as “saber-rattling.” He wondered why there weren’t protests over the fatal shootings of other African-American men in Sanford, the Orlando suburb where Martin was killed in February 2012. He also said he believed Zimmerman deserved his day in court.

“I think they politicized it and made it a racial issue, and I didn’t like that,” said Juror B-35. “I wasn’t agreeing with the racial connotation.”

Juror B-7, a middle-aged white man, said he didn’t think Florida’s stand-your-ground law was necessary in the state given other self-defense laws that were in place prior to its passage. The law allows a person to invoke self-defense if they feel a fatal shooting is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

Zimmerman is claiming self-defense. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Juror B-7 also said he thought news media coverage of the case had been “speculative” and devoid of hard facts.

Juror B-65, the potential juror with the least knowledge of the case, was a middle-aged black woman who said Tuesday that she learned about it when a prayer was held at her church for the parties involved in the confrontation. She said she no longer owned a television.

Attorneys also questioned Juror B-55, a minority student in her 20’s, who said she heard about the Zimmerman case through Facebook.

On Monday, the first day of the trial, attorneys questioned four potential jurors about their backgrounds and their knowledge of the case.

Juror B-30, a 65-year-old man with hearing loss, said he recalled Martin’s parents going public about their concerns over the lack of an immediate arrest last year and more recently testimony over whether voice-recognition experts should be allowed to testify at trial.

“There was fault on both sides as far as I can see, two people being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. “Two people who instigated something that could have been avoided.”

A woman in her 50s who watches TV game shows said she believed she could be unbiased even though she knew some basic facts of the case. Another woman in her late 30s who recently moved from Chicago and works in a nursing home, said she only had a passing familiarity with the case — mainly images she saw of people wearing T-shirts with Martin’s face on them.

“I really don’t know anything about the case,” said the woman, known as Juror B-29. “But I believe at the end of the day, you have to listen to both sides.”

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