SANFORD, Fla. - An all-women jury was selected Thursday in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial, which will begin on Monday with opening statements.
[Chat recap with Tony Pipitone from the courtroom]
Zimmerman is charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
The jurors, identified as B29, B76, B37, B51, E6 and E40, make up the primary six-member panel. At least five of the women are white. It is unclear from the jury selection process if the other juror is African American, Hispanic or both.
The jury breakdown by race, age, marital status and occupation is as follows:
- B29: Minority (unknown) in her late 30s. Married. Nursing Assistant
- B76: White woman in her 50s. Married. Unemployed
- B37: White woman in her late 40s. Married. Works at chiropractor's office
- B51: White woman in her 60s. Single. Retired but once worked in a call center overseeing 1,200 employees.
- E6: White woman in her 30s-40s. Married. Stay-at-home mom.
- E40: White woman in her 60s. Married. Safety Officer.
The four alternate jurors--two white men and two white women-- were identified as E54, E28, B72 and E13.
The ten jurors, who will all be sequestered for the length of the trial, were selected after nearly 9 days of questioning.
Judge Debra S. Nelson asked Zimmerman if he had opportunity to go over the jury questionnaires and that he consulted his attorneys. He said the jury was acceptable when asked by Nelson.
"I can't begin to tell how much we all in this room appreciate your patience through this process," Nelson told the remainder of the 40 jurors that were being dismissed.
The state used peremptory strikes on potential jurors B76, B86, E6, B12, E6 and B35. Two strikes were restored when the judge upheld the defense challenges of E6 and B76.
B86 was struck after she told the court, "Trayvon Martin is expelled from school and if it hadn't been out there wouldn't have happened."
The defense struck B7.
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, asked prosecutors to explain gender-neutral/race-neutral reasoning for using four consecutive strikes on white women. Judge Debra S. Nelson found the state's reasoning for striking B12 genuine, so the defense's challenge was denied.
"Every strike of the past four were white women," O'Mara said, to which Nelson responded, "I understand that but the court also understands the makeup of this entire panel is a majority woman."
The state said they attempted to strike juror E6 because of her concern about caring for kids and her saying that innocent people go to prison.
The state wanted to strike B76 over her asking why Trayvon Martin was getting candy at night. Nelson ruled against the state's strikes.
"She also mentioned at the very end of Mr. O'Mara's questioning that innocent people go to prison, she was the one that stated that, not Mr. O'Mara," Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said.
But O'Mara persuaded Nelson there was nothing wrong with that.
"This woman now has said sometimes we have to be careful because innocent people go to jail that is a concern we want a juror to have, so to use that as a basis for a strike is pre-textual," said O'Mara.
The state tried to backstrike E6 after the jury was selected, saying that she may know a potential witness. Nelson denied the state's third attempt to strike E6.
Juror E22 was struck by the defense because they say her pastor has written in support of Martin. The state objected to the strike but Nelson ruled for E22 to be eliminated.
O'Mara spoke after the Frye hearing on Thursday, saying that he's happy a jury has been selected and that Zimmerman is "encouraged" that the selection is over. O'Mara said it doesn't matter that the jury is all-women and that it only matters that the jurors are fair and impartial.
Jury selection began last Monday with a pool of 500 prospective jurors, which was whittled down to 40 earlier this week. The 40 potential jurors were questioned until the six jurors and four alternates were selected.
The 40 members of the jury pool shared personal details of their lives in the second round of jury selection Wednesday. On Thursday, they were asked more detailed questions about self-defense.
Prosecutors have said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer for his community, profiled the black teenager as Martin, 17, was walking back from a convenience store to the home of his father's fiancee. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
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.
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