SANFORD — Forty potential jurors in George Zimmerman's murder trial were asked Tuesday to return for further questioning, clearing the first round of interviews for a case that involves issues of race, equal justice and gun control.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys whittled down the pool from hundreds of prospects on the seventh day of jury selection. The attorneys had been questioning jurors about their exposure to media coverage of Zimmerman's fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Starting Wednesday, they will be able to ask those invited to the next round more detailed questions about how they feel about the case.
Attorneys ultimately need six jurors and four alternates for the trial. In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.
Of the 40 potential jurors, 27 are white, seven are black, three are mixed race and three are Hispanic. Twenty-four are women and 16 are men.
The racial and ethnic makeup of potential jurors is relevant because prosecutors have claimed Zimmerman profiled the 17-year-old Martin when he followed him through the gated community where both the neighborhood watch volunteer and the fiancee of Martin's father lived. The unarmed teen was fatally shot a short time later.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder. He is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.