Reporting Ted Scouten
SANFORD (CBSMiami/AP) – Jury selection is expected to continue Tuesday in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman for the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Tuesday morning, attorneys began trying to find out what prospective jurors have heard about the case.
“There seems to be a lot of people that Mr. Zimmerman shot Mr. Martin or followed him, attacked him, because of his race,’ said Juror B7.
Another juror, identified as B-35, was the first African-American male to be questioned. He told attorneys he didn’t like how the case has blown up into a racial issue on news talk shows.
“They’re trying to politicize it, make it into a racial issue when we don’t know exactly what went down that day and I didn’t like that,” said Juror B-35. “When I saw the Reverend Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson get up there and march and do all this saber rattling, I wasn’t with that. I think we got more important things to worry about than just this one case.”
The jury selection process is expected to take all week, if not longer.
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. The familiarity of the first four jurors questioned Monday ranged from specific details of the February 2012 encounter to vague outlines of the incident and the circumstances that led to the deadly encounter.
Juror “B30″, a 65-year-old man with hearing loss, said he recalled Martin’s parents going public about their concerns over the lack of an immediate arrest last year and more recently testimony over whether voice-recognition experts should be allowed to testify at trial.
“There was fault on both sides as far as I can see, two people being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. “Two people who instigated something that could have been avoided.”
“I really don’t know anything about the case,” said a woman, known as Juror “B29.” ”But I believe at the end of the day, you have to listen to both sides.”
The first group of 100 potential jurors filled out questionnaires about themselves and their ability to serve before they were verbally questioned. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are trying to find six objective members and four alternates. In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.
Nelson said the jury selection would alternate with the continuation of a hearing to determine whether she will allow the testimony of voice-recognition experts who say they might be able to identify who was screaming on a 911 tape recorded during Zimmerman’s confrontation with Martin.
Thus far, the experts have reached mixed conclusions. Defense attorneys don’t want them to testify. No testimony took place Monday.
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