Sybrina and Tracy Martin – the parents of slain teenager Trayvon Martin –will finally get their day in court.
George Zimmerman, who is accused of killing 17-year-old Trayvon inside a gated community in Sanford, Florida last year, will go on trial Monday. A jury of six women — five whites and one Hispanic — will decide if Zimmerman is guilty or acquitted of the charges against him.
I’m disappointed that no African Americans are represented on the jury, especially since Seminole County is 12 percent black. This isn’t exactly a jury of Trayvon Martin’s peers, but they will, nonetheless, decide this case.
Even though the jury is expected to be sequestered until the trial is over, it’s hard to imagine that any of these jurors can be totally impartial, having read newspapers, and watched cable television shows about the case – and its racial implications — for a year in a half.
Two of the jurors recently moved to the area — one from Iowa and one from Chicago — and two are involved with rescuing animals as their hobbies.
One juror had a prior arrest, but she said it was disposed of and she thought she was treated fairly. Two jurors have guns in their homes.
“We firmly believe that when these jurors see the overwhelming evidence that will be put before them in the coming weeks, they will find George Zimmerman guilty of murder on the night in question,” attorneys for Trayvon Martin’s family said in a statement.
Opening arguments in the high-profile, racially-charged trial begins Monday in what is expected to be an emotional case that has already divided Americans along racial lines. Even President Barack Obama weighed in earlier this year and angered conservatives when he said: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Prosecutors contend that Zimmerman, 29, profiled Martin, 17, while he was walking in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., the night of Feb. 26, 2012, and that he confronted the unarmed teen. The former neighborhood watch volunteer, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, claims that Martin attacked him and that he shot him in self-defense.
Meanwhile, Sybrina and Tracy Martin, the mother and father of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, are parents in pain; a soft-spoken, spiritual couple on a crusade for truth and justice.
“We just want to do what’s right,” Tracy Martin told me in April. “We just want to do the right thing.”
For Martin, the “right thing” is sharing a message that Trayvon was a victim, not the aggressor or a thug; that he was good son who was shot and killed by an overzealous self-imposed neighborhood watch leader.
As I spoke with Tracy and Sybrina, I saw parents who are still struggling with the loss of their only child – as any parent would – but I also witnessed the dignity in which they are handling this sad and highly public tragedy.
“Our kids are still defined by the color of their skin,” Sybrina Martin told me.
Tracy and Sybrina Martin will sit in the courtroom every day during the trial trusting that Zimmerman will be convicted and ordered to prison. Zimmerman could face life in prison if convicted on second-degree murder charges.
The Martins are seeking justice for Trayvon – while perhaps praying for closure after mourning the death of their son for the past 18 months.
They deserve a moment of peace.