SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman‘s defense attorney asked a pool of 40 potential jurors on Thursday whether they truly believed a defendant was innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the first time the defense has questioned those who made it to the second round of jury selection.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said screening the prospective jurors for any biases or prejudices “is probably as critical if not more critical than the evidence.”
“If you bring that into the courtroom, then what we can’t get is a fair verdict,” he said.
Zimmerman, 29, says he acted in self-defense in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in the central Florida community of Sanford where Zimmerman lived.
Martin’s shooting death on Feb. 26, 2012 — and the initial decision not to charge him — led to public outrage and demonstrations around the nation, with some accusing Sanford police of failing to thoroughly investigate the shooting.
Prosecutors have said Zimmerman, while a neighborhood watch volunteer for his community, profiled the black teenager as Martin was walking back from a convenience store to the home of his father’s fiancee. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are trying to pick six jurors and four alternates this week so they can start opening statements early next week.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda began the second round of more intensive, personal questioning Wednesday with the potential jurors, whose names are kept confidential. The final jury will be sequestered throughout the trial.
Several jury candidates were involved with rescuing animals, and the pool included people who compete in arm-wrestling, fishing and barbecue competitions. Seven potential jurors said they had previously been arrested, but they said their cases had been dropped and they thought they’d been treated fairly.
Fourteen candidates said they had been victims of crimes, including four who’d been victims of violent crimes. A white woman in her 50s said it would be difficult for her to keep her experience with a violent crime out of the courtroom.
“It’s always in my mind,” she said.
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.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
23 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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3. 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
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4. Jus haaaanngin out
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5. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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6. new new
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7. 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
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8. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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9. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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10. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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11. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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12. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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13. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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14. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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15. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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16. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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17. 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
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18. 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
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19. 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!
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20. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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21. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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22. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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23. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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