Attorneys in the George Zimmerman murder trial have reached the magic number.
Yesterday, attorneys finally decided on a pool of 40 jurors after going through a week and a half of pretrial publicity questioning. Dozens of potential jurors were asked about their knowledge of the case, how they felt about Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman, and if being sequestered would be an emotional, physical, or financial hardship.
Today, round two will begin, but this time it will be much more like a traditional jury selection. The 40 jurors will sit together in the courtroom and answer questions on a wide variety of more general topics, such as if they’ve ever been arrested, if they have medical conditions or if they have opinions about law enforcement.
Lawyers on either side can excuse 10 jurors without reason. Others will be excused if Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson deems them “unfit.”
Let the selections begin…
LATEST UPDATES FROM THE COURTROOM:
4:18 PM EST: Court recesses for night. All jurors due back at 9:00 AM.
4:10 PM EST: Defense attorney O’Mara predicts that evidence and testimony may start on Monday.
- “It looks like we may start Monday.”
4:00 PM EST: Nelson dismisses jurors for night. Does not want O’Mara questions split in two days.
- Questioning P67 alone. Juror wrote letter, is concerned about financial hardships and the safety of his family.
- Says he prefers to be referred to as “citizen,” “resident” or “Hispanic.” Not “Mexican.”
3:08 PM EST: Questioning continues. BDLR asks jurors if they have ever been in a altercation with another person. B25, B7, G66 among those who raised hand.
- 14 of 40 possible jurors say they are victims of crime, four of them violent crime
- BDLR asks if anyone has medical experience. A number raise their hands. Say it will not affect their opinion on case.
- BDLR asks if jurors own guns. More than a dozen of the 40 prospective jurors own guns (E40, B12, B7, E22, E13, K80, K95, P67, G66, I44, I33, I19, H86, H8, H7 member of NRA, H6) One has a concealed weapons permit (B35).
3:00 PM EST: Robert Zimmerman Jr., brother of George, issues a statement on his parents being present in the courtroom today.
“Our parents: Mr. & Mrs. Zimmerman along with our sister are in court today supporting George. Despite safety considerations, the time was right to do what they could to visibly advocate for George’s innocence. Our parents have avoided showing their face on-camera because of numerous death threats directed at our entire family. Our parents have served as primary caretakers for our grandmother Cristina for years. Alzheimer’s disease has left her requiring round-the-clock care & supervision. I am happy to care for our grandmother, as George, our sister & I were raised largely with her help and consider her a parent. Going forward, security and other concerns are paramount and our periodic absence from court should not be misinterpreted as a withdrawal of support. Our position as a family has been clear & consistent since the night George was attacked: We are all sympathetic to the tragic reality of outliving a son or daughter, however… George acted in self-defense, self-defense should not be criminalized & we stand by George because he told the truth.”
1:45 PM EST: Court resumes, questioning continues.
- BDLR asks jurors if they have experience in law enforcement. No jurors have experience, but a number do have family in law enforcement. Say that will not impact their decision.
12:45 PM EST: Court recesses for lunch
10:10 AM EST: BDLR continues to question jurors about their spouses, how long they’ve lived in Seminole County, and about their interests. After questioning, no one answer raises alarm.
- 7 out of 40 prospective jurors have been arrested. They are as follows (we are missing the other jurors): H7, B35, B29, B12.
- Others have had friends that were arrested. Jurors K95 and B7 says they had friends that were arrested and treated unfairly
10:07: BDLR questioning B76
- Has lived in Seminole since 1975. Has two children, one is a lawyer, one is a CNA
- Her passion is saving animals
10:05 AM EST: BDLR questioning B29
- Works as a CNA and has eight children
- Originally from Chicago
10:00 AM EST: BDLR asking B12 questions. Says she’s been a resident of Seminole County for 40 years.
- Also says she’s a widow with two children. Originally from Michigan.
- Never sat on a jury before.
9:54 AM EST: State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda addresses group of 40, tells them this is “their time to live out the Constitution.”
9:45 AM EST: Jurors get a list of potential witnesses in case, asked to specify what names they are familiar with.
- Jurors were also asked if they were family or friends to families on either side (state and defense). No one raised their hand.
- Jurors who knew witnesses on paper: B61, G63, G63, and I33
9:05 AM EST: Court starting late, Judge Nelson waiting on last juror to arrive.
9:00 AM EST: Court resumes
Here’s What To Expect Today:
- Round two of jury selection will start today. See above for a breakdown of how attorneys will conduct the process.
Here’s What You Missed Yesterday:
- Judge Nelson announced the 40 jurors who will continue on to the second round of selections. See who made the cut, below:
B-12: A middle-aged white woman who works the graveyard shift. She likes the crime-forensics show CSI and said she’d heard Zimmerman was following Trayvon.
B-29: A Hispanic nurse on an Alzheimer’s ward who has seven children and lived in Chicago at time of shooting.
B-76: A white middle-aged woman who said Zimmerman had an “altercation with the young man. There was a struggle and the gun went off.”
B-7: A middle-aged white man who listens to NPR. He remembered when Florida implemented its “stand your ground” law and the debate about whether it was needed.
B-35: A middle-aged black man who owns a vending business. He was critical of the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and says this case is not racial.
B-37: A middle-aged white woman who works for a chiropractor and has many pets. She described protests in Sanford as “rioting.”
B-51: A retired white woman from Oviedo who has a dog and 20-year-old cat. She knew a good deal about the case, but said “I’m not rigid in my thinking.”
B-86: A middle-aged white woman who works at a middle school. She said if Trayvon had not been “expelled” from school in Dade County — he was actually suspended — “this could have been prevented.”
E-6: A young white woman and mother who used to work in financial services. She used this case as an example to her adolescent children, warning them to not go out at night.
E-40: A white woman in her 60s who lived in Iowa at the time of the shooting. She heard national news reports and recalls the shooting was in a gated community and a teenager was killed.
E-54: A middle-aged white man with a teenage stepson who wears hoodies. He recalled seeing photos of Zimmerman’s head and face that show injuries.
E-73: A middle-aged white woman active in Sanford’s arts community, who is raising her late brother’s 15 and 18-year-old children. The media interjected race in this case, she said.
M-75: A young African-American woman who says many of her friends have opinions on the case, but she doesn’t.
B-61: A young white woman who remembered that “after the protesters, it seemed to turn more into a racial issue…I don’t think it’s a racial issue.”
B-72: A young man who does maintenance at a school and competes in arm wrestling tournaments. He said he avoids the news because he does not want to be “brainwashed.”
E-22: A middle-aged African-American woman who said that after the shooting Sanford police should have booked Zimmerman and asked him more questions.
E-13: A young white woman who goes to college and works two jobs. She heard the shooting was a “racial thing.”
E-28: A middle-aged white woman who works as a nurse. She knew little about the case and has no opinion about Zimmerman’s guilt.
K-80: A middle-aged white woman with children who has not followed the case. She considers the “racial undertones” in the case “disturbing.”
K-95: A middle-aged woman who’s a full-time student and “IT geek” with two children. She was critical of protests calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.
P-67: A native of Mexico who seemed eager to serve on the jury, describing it as a civic duty. “Some people think it is a racist thing,” he said of the shooting.
G-14: A middle-aged white woman. “I remember a lot of anger, a lot of people upset that Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested immediately.”
G-29: A young black woman who has lived in Seminole County eight months. “There is a lot of racial tension built up,” she said, but she “stayed away from it.”
G-47: A young white man who works as assistant manager at restaurant. Zimmerman appears to be “stuck in the worst situation” possible, he said.
G-63: A young, unemployed man who described himself as “mixed race.” He knew few details about the case but denounced stereotyping and said people sometimes interject race into cases.
G-66: A retired white woman who cares for her toddler grandson and moved to Central Florida in 2011. When she saw photos of Zimmerman’s injuries, “I felt sorry for him.”
G-81: A tall black man who lives less than a half mile from the scene of the shooting. There is a racial divide in Sanford, he said, but the media has misportrayed the city.
H-6: A young white man who heard the phone call Zimmerman made to police before the shooting. “He sounded like he was concerned for his neighborhood.”
H-7: A red-haired man about age 50 in a business suit who recalled “a big brouhaha in Sanford,” described protesters as “a nuisance” and said, “I still don’t know why it became a high profile case.”
H-18: A handsome, muscled, dark-skinned man in his 20s with an accent who’s a mechanic, owns his shop with a partner and moved here from Kuwait. He said he avoids discussing certain topics. “When it’s politics, religion or race, I just don’t get involved.”
H-29: A white-haired man who described national civil rights leaders who led protests in Sanford “a little circus come to town.” It was “negative for the city,” he said. “That honestly turned me off.”
H-35: A young woman who said she knows little about the case. She “liked” a photo of Trayvon on Facebook. Needs to move by the end of June, which she said would be a hardship.
H-81: A middle aged man who described the shooting as an “incident” between Zimmerman and Trayvon. H-81 called the shooting a “very tragic situation.” He has two pending civil cases before Nelson.
H-69: A five-months-pregnant woman who said she saw news about the case on television at work. She mentioned several times that she recalled seeing pictures of Trayvon as “a young child” in the media.
H-86: A young white woman, who said she knows almost nothing about the case. H-86 says she keeps up with current events, but “certain cases and things I don’t follow.”
I-5: A middle-aged African American man, he said he heard self-defense was involved with the case, at one point referring to Zimmerman as “the gentleman that was defending himself.”
I-19: A young white woman identified as I-19, who said she hasn’t followed the case and knows only the basic details: “I don’t watch the news, I don’t read the news,” she said.
I-24: An older white woman who said she followed the case at first, but then “I just kinda tuned out.” Described the case as “a young man lost his life and another man is fighting for his life.”
I-33: An older white man, who said “the more I heard, the less I wanted to hear.” Heard there was a 911 call involved in the case, and “some controversy as to who was doing the screaming” heard in it.
I-44: A father of three who said he’s highly skeptical of the media and its “negativity.” He called himself a “sports nut.”
- To see a full recap of each trial day, see below: