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George Zimmerman “didn’t do anything unlawful” and was “justified” in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
The woman, known as Juror B37, spoke exclusively to CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” The interview aired Monday night and will continue Tuesday.
“I wanted to find him guilty of not using his senses, but you can’t fault anybody,” she said. “You can’t charge him with anything because he didn’t do anything unlawful.”
The juror said Zimmerman “started the ball rolling” and could have avoided the situation by staying in his car.
“But he wanted to do good. I think he had good in his heart, he just went overboard,” she said.
Asked later whether she thought Zimmerman was within his rights, the juror was unequivocal: “He was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin.”
‘We can’t give them the verdict that they wanted’
The woman was part of a six-person, all-female jury that found Zimmerman not guilty.
As the first juror to speak about the case, she offered insight into what happened behind closed doors.
The jury was initially split — three and three along the line of guilt — she said. Juror B37 was among those who believed Zimmerman was not guilty from the start.
There was one holdout, the juror said.
“She wanted to find him guilty of something, but couldn’t because of the way the law is written. He wasn’t responsible for negligible things that he had done leading up to that point,” she said, stressing that she and the other jurors took their responsibility seriously.
“I don’t want people to think that we didn’t think about this, and we didn’t care about Trayvon Martin, because we did. We’re very sad that it happened to him,” she said.
The juror said she cried after the verdict and before it was read.
At one point during the interview, she struggled to speak as her voice cracked with emotion.
To Martin’s parents, the juror said she would tell them that she is terribly sorry for their loss.
“I feel bad that we can’t give them the verdict that they wanted, but legally, we could not do that,” she said.
‘I hope he gets some peace’
Just as she believes Zimmerman was guilty of not using common sense, the juror thinks Martin was not without fault.
“I believe he played a huge role in his death,” she said about the teenager.
“He could have ... When George confronted him, and he could have walked away and gone home. He didn’t have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight,” she said.
The juror had no doubt that Zimmerman feared for his life.
“I believe he (Martin) hit his head on the concrete. I think he was probably trying to slam it, I don’t know how hard George’s head hit on the concrete. It hit hard enough to get damaged — bruising, swelling. I think it’s, you know, it was definitely enough to make you fear, when you’re in that situation,” she said.
Asked about what role race might have played in the trial, which grew into a national debate about gun laws and race in America, the juror said it did not matter.
Zimmerman did not target Martin, who was African-American, because of the color of his skin, she said.
The juror believes he profiled him because of the suspicious way he acted.
“I don’t think race had anything to do with this trial. I mean just because he was black and George was Spanish or Puerto Rican, I don’t think it had anything to do with this trial. But I think people are looking for things to make race play a part,” the juror said.
She added she hopes Zimmerman will be able to move on.
“I hope he gets some peace,” she said. “I hope his family can live a normal life after a while. I don’t know how he’s ever gonna do that, but I hope he can. He’ll never forget, but I hope he can.”
Dana Ford | CNN