SANFORD, Fla. — Attorneys for both sides in the George Zimmerman trial continued Monday to drill down into what potential jurors have heard about the case in the media.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. He claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.
One potential juror, a White male with a salt-and-pepper beard down to his chest, told the court he donated $20 to Zimmerman’s defense fund, saying it wasn’t a lot but, “I don’t really have a lot to spare either.” Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda grilled him about why he didn’t include that fact on his questionnaire and whether the donation would affect his opinion in the trial.
“You still think, even though you’ve already contributed to his defense, that you can sit there and just want everybody to disregard the fact that you’ve contributed to his defense? You think that’s being fair?” asked de la Rionda.
“I said I could keep an open mind. I would not want to say whether he was guilty or innocent without listening to all of the facts,” said the potential juror.
This juror also said he was “70% firm” in his opinion that Zimmerman was innocent.
“I think Mr. Zimmerman was trying to do the right thing and things kind of spiraled out of control,” he said. The judge didn’t ask him to return to court for further questioning.
Several other potential jurors questioned in court on Monday — the sixth day of jury selection — said they heard about the case in the media before being summoned for jury duty. Most of them knew the basic facts of the case and many of them had seen photos of Martin and Zimmerman and had listened to the 911 calls made by Zimmerman and a witness the night Martin died.
A couple of potential jurors also talked about the unwanted attention their town has received as a result of the case.
Another potential juror, a White female, said she lived through the race riots of the 1960s and found the protests after Martin’s death to be “unsettling.” She said she wished things “weren’t racially divided.” She also said that while she hadn’t formed any opinions about the case, she had questions including why Zimmerman had a gun that night.
One potential juror, a White male who appears to be in his 60s, said he was turned off by the “circus that came to town,” referring to the media.
Zimmerman took notes and smiled several times throughout the day, including during one moment where his attorney told a potential juror to take a breath after she said she had social anxiety. This same juror also told the court, “I want to be there for America and do this but I have obligations,” which include moving at the end of June.
At the end of Monday’s questioning, the judge asked Zimmerman if he had reviewed the questionnaires for the potential jurors and if he agreed with the decisions his attorneys had made regarding some of them. He responded, “Yes, your honor,” to both questions.
Six jurors and four alternates ultimately will be selected to serve. The judge has asked a group of 12 potential jurors to return Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET, when jury selection will resume. Another group of 10 will return on Wednesday.
Amanda Sloane | HLNtv.com