Attorneys Clear Issues Before Opening Statements

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  • SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — With a jury now seated to consider a murder charge against George Zimmerman, attorneys are turning to unresolved issues Friday before opening statements next week, including whether a prosecution expert can testify that screams for help on a 911 call came from 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Six female jurors were chosen Thursday for the second-degree murder trial of Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer who says he fired on the unarmed black teenager in self-defense last year in a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty.

    Opening statements are scheduled Monday. But pending issues to be resolved Friday include whether the audio expert can testify. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson said she would make a decision Friday. Defense attorneys don’t want the expert to testify, claiming his analysis is flawed.

    The jury’s selection Thursday followed nearly two weeks in which potential jurors were quizzed by attorneys about their views on firearms, crime, race and self-defense.

    “We’ve got a jury, which is great!” defense attorney Mark O’Mara said after jurors were sworn in Thursday. “We found six jurors that said they’ll be fair, they’ll be impartial and most important not allow any external pressures, sympathy, biases, political expediency to affect the way they’re going to look at the evidence.”

    Prosecutors have refused to comment for the duration of the trial. In a statement, attorneys representing Martin’s parents said they expected the jurors to be fair and impartial.

    “This case has always been about equal justice,” they said. “Equal justice under the law is not a black value or a white value. It’s an American value. “

    Prosecutors have said Zimmerman, 29, racially profiled Martin as he walked back through the central Florida community from a convenience store on a rainy night in February 2012 wearing a dark hooded shirt.

    Race and ethnicity have played a prominent role in the case and even clouded jury selection. While the court did not release the racial makeup of the jury, the panel appeared to reporters covering the selection process to be made up of five white women and a sixth who may be Hispanic.

    Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

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