Five of the six jurors are mothers, who could relate more with Trayvon’s parents than with the boy’s killer.
“Women are more emotional than men, and that could benefit the prosecution in this case,” Parker said. “Trayvon Martin’s mother and father will be sitting in the courtroom, and these jurors will see them every day, knowing that their son was shot and killed, knowing that the decision rests in their hands.”
Two of the jurors have said they have owned guns and that their husbands currently own guns. And two jurors disclosed that they had been arrested in the past, with one saying she was treated “fairly” by police.
The defense argues that Trayvon violently attacked Zimmerman, causing Zimmerman to fire out of fear for his life. The prosecution contends that Zimmerman was the aggressor after pursuing Trayvon, starting when he exited his vehicle against the advice of the 911 dispatcher and followed on foot as Trayvon walked through the subdivision.
Despite the judge’s instructions to base their verdict solely on the evidence presented at trial, jurors naturally draw on their own life experiences, too. It’s a certainty that jurors will imagine being both Trayvon and Zimmerman in that altercation and think about how they would have behaved.
Zimmerman’s decision to leave his vehicle could make a jury of women less inclined to see him as the victim, Parker said. That’s because the “natural instinct” of most women “isn’t to confront a situation like this head-on,” she said. “Our natural instinct is to turn and run.”
Could such thinking prevent jurors from believing Zimmerman felt mortal fear on that night?
“I have a gun in my house. It’s for protection,” Parker said. “But if I saw somebody shady in my neighborhood, I would never in a million years go confront them.”
Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations. Follow him on Twitter.