SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys resumed jury selection Tuesday in the trial of the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, interviewing a middle-aged black man who said the case was politicized and a middle-aged white man who questioned the need for Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
George Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer, is pleading not guilty to a charge that could carry a life sentence if convicted. He claims he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense. A 44-day delay in Zimmerman’s arrest led to protests around the nation. Protesters questioned whether the Sanford Police Department was investigating the case seriously since Martin was a black teen from the Miami area. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Judge Debra Nelson has said she will keep the identities of the selected jurors anonymous but she rejected a defense request to sequester the initial jury pool of 500 residents.
On the second day of jury selection, Juror “B-35,” a middle-aged black man who owns vending machines, described protests last year over Martin’s shooting as “saber-rattling.” He wondered why there weren’t protests over the fatal shootings of other African-American men in Sanford, the Orlando suburb where Martin was killed in February 2012. He also said he believed Zimmerman deserved his day in court.
“I think they politicized it and made it a racial issue, and I didn’t like that,” said Juror “B-35.”I wasn’t agreeing with the racial connotation.”
Juror “B-7,” a middle-aged white man, said he didn’t think Florida’s stand-your-ground law was necessary in the state given other self-defense laws that were in place prior to its passage. The law allows a person to invoke self-defense if they feel a fatal shooting is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.
Zimmerman is claiming self-defense. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
Juror “B-7” also said he thought news media coverage of the case had been “speculative” and devoid of hard facts.
Attorneys need to find six jurors and four alternates. In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.
Defense attorneys asked potential jurors if being isolated during the trial would be a hardship, indicating they plan to ask Nelson to sequester the jury.