(The Root) — At long last, the second-degree-murder trial of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year, began on Monday with jury selection.
Legal experts had predicted that attorneys for the prosecution and defense would probe potential jurors for their attitudes about African Americans (Trayvon), Hispanics (Zimmerman) and guns, as well as ask if they had been victims of crime and more. Instead, most of the questioning of the four potential jurors centered on how much they knew about the case and whether they had been influenced by the 16 months of news reports and social media chatter.
The first four potential jurors questioned all had some knowledge of the case, in some instances more than they initially let on. All of them said that they hadn’t formed opinions about Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence and could be fair jurors.
The selection process has a ways to go, perhaps as long as two weeks. The judge and attorneys will choose six jurors and four alternates from a pool of 500.
Jury selection resumed Tuesday at 9 a.m. Below is a sampling of what the four potential jurors said in their testimony on Monday. The court withheld their names and referred to them only by their jury-pool number.
“B-12“: The first potential juror questioned was a middle-aged woman who said she lives about 10 miles from the subdivision where the shooting occurred. She said that she saw television news reports about the case shortly after the incident, but hardly since. She said that she’s heard about the case “probably three or four times” in the past 16 months.
Yet she had some knowledge of the case. She said she hadn’t known that the police in Sanford, Fla., conducted the investigation, but she did remember hearing that Zimmerman “followed” Trayvon before the altercation. She also recalled news reports about Zimmerman soliciting donations and using the money to “pay bills.”
When she realized that she could be a juror in this case, she told lawyers, she said, “Oh, my goodness, I might be on Zimmerman.” Then, to remain impartial, she said she “made sure I did not watch the TV” coverage of the case.
She said she hasn’t formed an opinion about Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence.
“B-29“: This potential juror was identified as a black woman, who said that she’s married and has seven children. She said that she works as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home. She said that she knew very little about the case because she’d moved to Florida from Chicago just four months ago.
“I don’t like watching the news, period,” she said. “I’m more of a Bravo watcher,” of reality shows such as the Real Housewives franchise.