|Zimmerman Gets All-Female Jury|
|By SENI TIENABESO (@seniABC) and MATT GUTMAN (@mattgutmanABC)||Jun 19, 2013, 12:55 PM|
An all female jury has been selected for the murder trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with second degree murder in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
The trial is scheduled to begin Monday with opening statements.
In a case that has had racial overtones since Martin's death in February 2012, the ethnic makeup of the panel comes as a surprise. Five members of the panel are white and one is a minority. It was not immediately known whether the minority juor was black or a black Hispanic.
Martin was black, and Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.
The six jurors were chosen from hundreds of potential jurors over nine days and will be sequestered for the length of the trial.
Four alternate jurors were also selected, including one Hispanic man, one white man and two white women.
Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said after court that he was "looking forward to Monday" and predicted the trial would last "as much as four weeks."
He said Zimmerman was glad a jury had been seated because "he's been waiting 15 to 16 months to clear his name."
The lawyer said his decision on jurors were "race neutral."
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, said, "We believe as long as this jury is fair and impartial, with the evidence that they have, they will return a verdict holding George Zimmerman accountable."
"With the makeup of this jury, the issue of whether every American can get equal justice no matter who serves on this jury panel will be answered. And we expect the jury pool to do its duty and follow the law," he said.
Crump said Trayvon Martin's parents "have so much faith in the justice system, they pray that it doesn't fail them."
The identities of the jurors are under seal, but they revealed information about their experiences with guns, crime and violence during voir dire, the process of interviewing potential jurors.
One woman, identified as juror B37, said she used to have a concealed weapons permit but let it expire and said it was too easy to obtain such a permit. Two others said they had family members, including a husband and son, who owned guns.
One woman said she was the victim of domestic abuse. At least one juror, E6, is a mother.
Asked about self defense, juror B29, said: "It's not a decision you weigh. It's a split second reaction. I think everyone is entitled to protect your life."
Zimmerman told Judge Debra Nelson he approved of the selected jurors.
The national media has descended on the courthouse for a trial that has gripped the country and divided some communities.
In an indication of the intense emotions surrounding the case, the judge said she will delay the announcement of the jury's eventual verdict by two hours to give police ample time to prepare for security.
Police departments as far away as Miami are already on alert and monitoring social media for signs of unrest.
Prosecutors accuse Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, of profiling the 17-year-old high school student, who passed through the gated community on his way home from a convenience store.
Zimmerman admits to killing Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, but says he did so in self defense.
Zimmerman reported Martin to police and police told Zimmerman not to follow the youth and a police car would be sent.
Zimmerman got out of his car and a violent confrontation followed. Zimmerman claims Martin surprised him and knocked him down. He claims Martin banged his head on the sidewalk several times and then the two struggled over Zimmerman's gun until Zimmerman said him.
Much of the pretrial legal jockeying has been over screams for help that can be heard in the background of calls to 911 dispatchers. Lawyers for Martin and Zimmerman both claim that their clients are the person who is screaming for help.