SANFORD — Attorneys quizzed a whittled-down group of prospective jurors Wednesday in the Trayvon Martin case on whether they had fired guns, made judgments based on how people dressed or been neighborhood watch volunteers like the teen's shooter.
The day began with a judge reading the formal second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman, who shot the unarmed, 17-year-old Martin in February 2012. Zimmerman, 29, is pleading not guilty and says he acted in self-defense.
Martin's death met with public outrage across the nation, with some accusing Sanford police of failing to investigate the shooting thoroughly from the beginning because of Martin's race and because he was from the Miami area. Martin was black and wearing a hoodie at the time of the confrontation; the hoodie later was appropriated by protesters as a symbol of the shooting. Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic.
After the judge read the charge, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda began a second round of more intensive, personal questioning with the 40 potential jurors, whose names are kept confidential. The final jury will be sequestered throughout the trial.
Fourteen candidates said they had been victims of crimes, four involving violent crimes. Twenty-seven of them are white, seven are black, three are mixed race and three are Hispanic. Twenty-four are women and 16 are men.