Monday, January 22, 2018
Public safety

Jury IDs will be kept private at Zimmerman trial

ORLANDO — The identities of potential jurors in the trial of the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing an unarmed teenager in Central Florida will be kept confidential, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson also ruled that potential jurors for George Zimmerman's trial won't be sequestered, as requested by defense attorneys.

During jury selection beginning next week, potential jurors will be referred to only by their jury numbers. Attorneys need to pick six jurors and four alternates.

"This is to be done in order to protect the prospective jurors from harassment and pressure from the public at large," Nelson said in the ruling.

The judge also prohibited photographers from taking photos of potential jurors during jury selection.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.

Zimmerman fatally shot Martin after seeing him walking through the gated community where he lived. He followed Martin, despite being told by a dispatcher not to do so. Zimmerman says Martin attacked him.

Separately, Zimmerman's defense attorney asked Wednesday that prosecutors be prohibited from using certain words that he described as "disparaging" to Zimmerman. Those words include "profiled," "vigilante," "self-appointed neighborhood watch captain," and "wannabe cop." Defense attorney Mark O'Mara also asked the judge to prohibit prosecutors from using the phrases "He got out of the car after the police (or dispatcher) told him not to" and "He confronted Trayvon Martin."

O'Mara said the word "profiling" is racially charged and that the other words are misstatements that could prejudice a jury.

Martin was black. Zimmerman's father is white, and his mother is Hispanic.

A spokesman for the State Attorney's Office didn't immediately respond to an email.

The defense team's website also reported raising more than $77,000 in donations a week after it made a public plea for help, saying the fund was almost depleted.

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