Trayvon Martin murder case jury selection drags into third day

SANFORD, Florida Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:55am EDT

George Zimmerman is welcomed to the defense table by jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn (R) with defense co-counsel Don West on the third day of jury selection in his murder trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, at Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida, June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Burbank/Pool

George Zimmerman is welcomed to the defense table by jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn (R) with defense co-counsel Don West on the third day of jury selection in his murder trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, at Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida, June 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Burbank/Pool

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SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - Prosecutors and defense lawyers in Florida searched for a third day on Wednesday for potential jurors unaffected by blanket media coverage of last year's killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Six jurors in Seminole County criminal court will decide the fate of George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who claims self-defense in the February 26, 2012 shooting death of Martin. So far, jury selection for the trial has been moving at a snail's pace.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder and faces up to life imprisonment if convicted in a case that ignited protests and national debate about race, guns and equal justice before the law.

Zimmerman, a light-skinned Hispanic, walked free without being charged for 44 days after he admitted killing the 17-year-old Martin with a single shot from his 9mm handgun in the town of Sanford in central Florida near Orlando.

Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman on grounds he acted within the guidelines of Florida's loosely written self-defense laws during a confrontation, with no eyewitnesses, in a gated community.

A subsequent firestorm of controversy forced the Sanford police chief to step down and the chief prosecutor to remove himself from the case.

Aware of the polarizing issues surrounding the trial, Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson has lined up 500 potential jurors for a preliminary round of questioning.

Of about 100 prospective jurors who were summoned to court on Monday and filled out a questionnaire, 40 were dismissed without being questioned by lawyers, a court spokeswoman said.

She said 30 other potential jurors were sent home on Tuesday. The spokeswoman, Michelle Kennedy, said lawyers would continue questioning prospective jurors individually about pre-trial publicity until they select a group of about 30 people, who will then be questioned about more commonplace jury selection topics.

The judge and lawyers are working to select a panel of six jurors and four alternates in a process that legal experts say could take about two weeks.

(Writing by Tom Brown; Editing by Grant McCool)

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Comments (34)
gram wrote:
Why would anyone want to join this circus unless you was hoping for a post trail book deal?..
(Is light skinned Hispanic ‘profiling by the way’? )

Jun 12, 2013 11:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Pat_Rich wrote:
Remember OJ? A mostly black jury acquitted him. Remember Obama. Better than 95% of blacks voted for him. That is about the percentage of blacks who will automatically assume Martin was an innocent victim. And jurors cannot be dismissed for “thinking black.” That “subsequent firestorm” mentioned in the article? Angry whites? Angry Hispanics? Of course not. This trial is all about race or there wouldn’t be a trial, and “objective black juror” in this situation is a contradiction in terms. Zimmerman’s BEST possible outcome is a hung jury. It gets worse from there.

Jun 12, 2013 11:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
sailordude wrote:
Funny how it’s not top of the headline news with all the other stuff going on.

Jun 12, 2013 12:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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