SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge read the formal charge against George Zimmerman on Wednesday to 40 potential jurors who could be selected to decide if the neighborhood watch volunteer committed murder when he shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin.
Judge Debra Nelson read the second-degree murder charge before the potential jurors who are moving on to the second round of questioning of what they know about the case.
“The object is to obtain a jury who will impartially try this case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom,” Nelson told the jurors.
The 17-year-old’s death prompted public outrage around the nation, with some accusing Sanford police of failing to investigate the shooting thoroughly from the beginning because of Martin’s race and because he was from the Miami area.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda then started asking individual jurors about how long they have lived in Florida; whether they supervised workers; their hobbies; if they had previously served on juries; if they’re married; and what their spouses did for a living. He also warned jurors that they would have to forget about anything they knew about the case previously and base their information only on what they heard in the courtroom.
“What you heard and saw anywhere outside the courtroom can’t factor into your decision,” he said. “What you saw on TV or on the Internet or read or what the media said is completely irrelevant.
Twenty-seven of the 40 potential jurors are white, seven are black, three are mixed race and three are Hispanic. Twenty-four are women and 16 are men.
The potential jurors shared personal details about their lives during Wednesday’s questioning. Several were involved with rescuing animals, and the pool included a competitive arm-wrestler and a man who enters barbecue competitions.
The racial and ethnic makeup of potential jurors is relevant, prosecutors say. They have have argued that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer for his gated community in Sanford, Fla., profiled Trayvon Martin when he followed the black teen last year as Martin was walking back from a convenience store to the house of his father’s fiancee.
Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, fatally shot Martin a short time later following a confrontation that was partially captured on a 911 call.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder. He is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
The 40 potential jurors represent a cross-section of people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds who have varying levels of familiarity with the case’s basic facts.
Through an initial round of interviews that included questions focused on pretrial exposure to the case via the news media or other means, lawyers were able to find a group of potential jurors who said they could focus on testimony provided in the courtroom.
Nelson said attorneys for both the prosecution and the state would be allowed to ask much broader questions in the second round than they did in the first.
Nelson said last week that once pared down, the final jury would be sequestered throughout the trial to protect it from outside influence.
A white man in his 50s who described previously serving on a jury said he enjoyed the experience.
“Everybody hear that?” de la Rionda asked the jurors with a smile.
“It was one day. We weren’t sequestered,” the juror shot back.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
29 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 29
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 29
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 29
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 29
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 29
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 29
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 29
8. new new
8 of 29
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 29
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 29
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 29
12 of 29
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 29
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 29
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 29
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 29
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 29
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 29
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 29
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 29
21 of 29
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 29
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 29
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 29
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 29
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 29
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 29
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 29
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 29