Jurors in Zimmerman case were initially split

Jurors in Zimmerman case were initially split

Jurors in Zimmerman case were initially split

Thousands of demonstrators from across the US chant, pray and fight tears protested a jury’s decision to clear Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of Martin as an unnamed juror admits that the jury was initially split on verdict.

Jurors in the trial of George Zimmerman were originally split whether the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin amounted to murder, but most agreed it was Zimmerman, not Martin, calling for help in the background of an emergency call, a juror said.

The six-woman jury acquitted Zimmerman, ending a trial that became a national story about race in America. The unnamed juror, number B-37, said no one on the jury believed that race played a role in the shooting.

Defense lawyers argued that Martin attacked Zimmerman, who shot the unarmed black 17-year-old in self-defense. Prosecutors said Zimmerman, 29, who is white and Hispanic, wrongly suspected Martin of being a criminal. The jury in Sanford, Florida, on July 13 found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter after a three-week trial. The verdict triggered protests across the United States from people who said Zimmerman racially profiled Martin as a possible criminal and pursued him while armed with a loaded 9mm pistol.

There is ‘no other way’

The jury of six anonymous women - all white, except one - initially had three votes for not guilty, two votes for manslaughter and one vote for second-degree murder when deliberations began, juror B-37 told CNN on July 15. “There was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something. And after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law, and reading it over and over and over again, we just decided there’s no other way or place to go,” she told CNN.

One key question in the trial was whether Zimmerman’s or Martin’s voice was heard calling for help in the background of an emergency call. “I think it was George Zimmerman’s. All but probably one (juror agreed),” said Juror B-37 told CNN with her identity concealed.

Juror B-37, a mother of two who grew up in a military family and used to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said she did not believe Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person because the teenager was black. “All of us thought race did not play a role.”

“He had a right to defend himself,” the juror said, adding she believed Martin started the fight and threw the first punch. “I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him,” said the juror, who, according to her literary agent, has abandoned her plans to write a book about why she found Zimmerman not guilty of murder.

Immediately following the verdict, civil rights activists began calling for federal charges against Zimmerman, saying the trial in Florida failed to serve justice. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called July 15 the shooting death of Martin “unnecessary,” raising questions about whether he believed the shooter, Zimmerman, acted in self-defense. Holder did not indicate whether he intended to bring a federal case. The federal hate crimes law would require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman shot Martin because of race. Zimmerman has gone into hiding since the verdict. Friends, family and defense lawyers have said he will need time to put his life back together and was considering entering law school to help people wrongly accused of crimes.