Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

All-female jury chosen for George Zimmerman's trial

SANFORD — A jury of six women was picked Thursday to decide the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer who says he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in self-defense.

Prosecutors have said Zimmerman, 29, racially profiled the 17-year-old Martin as he walked back from a convenience store on a rainy night in February 2012 wearing a dark hooded shirt.

Race and ethnicity have played a prominent role in the case and even clouded jury selection. While the court did not release the racial makeup of the jury, the panel appeared to reporters covering jury selection to be made up of five white women and a sixth who may be Hispanic.

Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

After Thursday's hearing, Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara was asked what he would say to people concerned there were no black jurors.

"People can look at it and have this response — that there's no blacks on the jury, or no this or no that, or no men on the jury," he said. "Tell me that we did something wrong in the process and I'll agree with you."

Prosecutors refused to comment for the duration of the trial.

Two of the jurors recently moved to the area — one from Iowa and one from Chicago — and two are involved with rescuing animals as their hobbies.

One juror had a prior arrest, but she said it was disposed of and she thought she was treated fairly. Two jurors have guns in their homes. All of their names have been kept confidential and the panel will be sequestered for the trial.

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys chose the panel of six jurors after almost two weeks of jury selection. In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.

If convicted, Zimmerman could face a potential life sentence.

After the jury was picked, Judge Debra Nelson continued a hearing on whether to allow experts to testify about screams heard on 911 calls made during the struggle. Prosecutors want their expert to testify it was Martin screaming on the calls. An expert for Zimmerman's defense has said there is not enough audio to determine who the screams are coming from.

The judge said she would rule today on whether the prosecution's expert can testify.

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