All-women jury chosen for George Zimmerman’s trial

SANFORD, Fla. — 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.

The central Florida community of Sanford is in Seminole County, which is 78.5 percent white and 16.5 percent black.

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.

On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman spotted Martin, whom he did not recognize, walking in the gated townhome community in Sanford where Zimmerman lived and the fiancee of Martin’s father also resided. There had been a rash of recent break-ins at the Retreat, and Zimmerman was wary of strangers walking through the complex.

The two eventually got into a struggle and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest with his 9mm handgun. He was charged 44 days after the shooting, only after a special prosecutor was appointed to review the case.

Martin’s shooting death and the initial decision not to charge Zimmerman led to public outrage and demonstrations around the nation, with some accusing Sanford police of failing to thoroughly investigate the shooting.

The six jurors were culled from a pool of 40 candidates who made it into a second round of jury questioning. Two men and two women also were picked as alternate jurors.

Before selecting the jurors Thursday, O’Mara explored potential jurors’ views on guns, self-defense and justifiable use of force.

Under Florida law, Zimmerman could shoot Martin in self-defense if it were necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. O’Mara previously decided not to invoke a “stand your ground” hearing in which a judge alone would decide whether to dismiss the case or allow it to proceed to trial.

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 Friday on whether the prosecution’s expert can testify.

———

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/KHightower

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

More in Local News

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Distress beacon leads rescuers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Two men in their 20s had encountered snow and waited two nights for a helicopter rescue.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Arrests made in robbery-turned fatal Everett shooting

A man, 24, and woman, 18, were found at a hotel in Seattle.

Boeing marks the start of 777X production at Paine Field

It took tax breaks and union concessions to land assembly of the company’s new jetliner in Everett.

3 fire departments seek levies to support emergency services

District 25 in Oso is hoping to pass its first fire levy in 22 years.

Most Read