SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys on Tuesday inched toward their goal of finding a pool of 40 potential jurors who will go through a second round of questioning about issues related to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
At the start of the seventh day of jury selection, attorneys had asked 32 potential jurors to return for further questioning. They eventually must narrow the pool to six jurors and four alternates.
The four prospective jurors questioned Tuesday morning expressed no strong opinions about the case. They included a mixed-race man in his 50s, a mixed-race woman in her 20s, a white woman in her 20s and a black man in his 50s.
Zimmerman was driving through the gated community where he lived on the evening of Feb. 26, 2012, when he saw Martin walking back from a convenience store to a home belonging to his father’s fiancee. Zimmerman called a nonemergency police number, followed Martin and at some point a fight erupted between them that left Martin dead.
The case is racially charged. 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 because Martin was a black teen from the Miami area. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
When asked what his impressions were about the case, the mixed-race man in his 50s said, “You had a family grieving for the loss of their son. You have another family grieving for the potential loss of their loved one to this process. You had supporters on both sides, and some people were very angry.”
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are seeking a pool of 40 potential jurors who have been screened for any influence of pretrial publicity before moving to a second round of questioning. Of the 32 candidates asked back so far, more than two-thirds are white. The pool also is overwhelmingly female and skews toward candidates who are middle-aged.
Attorneys had personally interviewed 54 potential jurors over seven days by Tuesday afternoon.