George Zimmerman trial: Jury selection pace picks up - New York News

George Zimmerman trial: Jury selection pace picks up during Day 3

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SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Attorneys quickened the pace in jury selection Wednesday in the George Zimmerman trial.

On a third day of juror questioning, the lawyers sought to whittle down the pool of hundreds of potential jurors to just six, plus four alternates, who will decide the fate of Zimmerman, a Florida neighborhood watch captain.  In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.

During Wednesday's proceeding, attorneys stopped questioning a man in his 20s after he gave answers that indicated he wouldn't be impartial.

The juror, known as "R-39" because potential panelists can be identified only by their numbers, said that "murder is murder," even if it's self-defense. Zimmerman, 29, is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year in self-defense.

The potential juror left the Florida courtroom without defense attorneys asking questions.
 

Attorneys had interviewed 18 potential jurors by lunch break Wednesday on the third day of selection. By the end of the day Tuesday, more than 70 jury candidates had been dismissed.

Once 30 jurors have been questioned individually about pretrial exposure and have not been dismissed for cause or hardships, they will be brought together as a group for broader questioning by lawyers on both sides.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Martin and Zimmerman questioned 10 potential jurors at the Seminole County Courthouse -- three men and seven women. By the end of the day, 30 jurors had been dismissed.

 Despite the case's high profile and the worldwide media attention, the Central Florida jury-pool members told attorneys they were open-minded and haven't formed opinions on what happened the night in February 2012 when Zimmerman shot Martin.

Sources of information where potential jurors heard about the case varied. One college-aged young woman said she read about the case on her Facebook feed. Another had heard about it through her church. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that the potential jurors remain anonymous, so they are being identified only by their juror number.

 For the first time, we heard from two black potential jurors. One, a middle-aged man, says he watched the coverage on Fox News and disagreed with the way a congresswoman handled herself.

"I didn't think it was necessary to say the young man was hunted down like a rabid dog. No one was there but these two guys, I don't think he was hunted," juror B35 said. "I don't know what happened because I wasn't there. But I don't think it was racially motivated."

Although he told the court that most of his friends were Martin supporters, he said he could "absolutely" keep an open mind if he were to listen to testimony from Martin's parents.

The other black potential juror questioned Tuesday said she heard about the case from her pastor. When she told the defense she attended a Sanford church, she was asked to look around the room for her pastor.
 
"Reverend Blue doesn't by any chance happen to be in the court room? Would you look?" she was asked.

"I don't see him," she said.

Some questioned Tuesday were asked if they wanted to be on the jury just for the attention.
 
"I'm not interested in any limelight," responded juror B51, an elderly woman. "Just doing what I have to do, then go home."

For the first time since jury selection began, Zimmerman could be seen taking notes in court. He occasionally leaned over to whisper to his defense team.

Zimmerman showed little emotion as potential jurors were faced with the reality that they could be picked for the jury that will decide whether Zimmerman acted in self-defense, as he claims, or whether he will go to jail for murder.

Martin's family has been in court and following the jury selection closely. His family says they're confident a fair and impartial jury will be picked and that justice will be served.

"We told them to prepare for a slow process, that you want to make sure that it is fair to both sides," said Benjamin Crump, a Martin family attorney. "They are happy that they're at least finally picking the jury, because they've prayed for this day, they've wanted this day, to see the killer of their son have to come to court in front of a jury of his peers," Crump said.

Zimmerman, 29, is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. If convicted, Zimmerman could face life in prison.



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