After nearly two weeks of painstaking questions to potential jurors, a panel – five of them white, one Hispanic and all of them women – was selected to determine the fate of George Zimmerman in the racially charged case in the death of Trayvon Martin.
An additional four alternates were selected for the jury in the case of Zimmerman, who is facing charges of second-degree murder. Zimmerman has maintained that he acted in self-defense in the death of the unarmed, 17-year-old Martin more than a year ago in Sanford, Florida.
The lack of an African-American juror set off some concerns in the world of cyberspace, where Twitter and social media were filled with deep unease. “The fix is in,” said one law professor in a Facebook message.
With the selection of the jury, opening statements will start on Monday. Judge Debra Nelson of the Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford recently said that she expects the trial to be completed within a month.
The proceedings will be highly watched and the verdict will be eagerly awaited. Martin’s family has maintained that the teenager was the victim of racial profiling by Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer. The defense is insisting that Zimmerman was attacked by Martin as the young man walked from a convenience store to the home of his father’s girlfriend in a gated community.
The selection of the jury set off speculation in many quarters about how sympathetic they will be to either side of the case. There had been concern about what the racial composition of the jury would be.
The pool of potential jurors was not limited to Sanford, which has a population that is about 30 percent Black and 20 percent Hispanic. Instead, the jury pool was made up of residents of Seminole County, where the population is about 10 percent Black.
One juror is a middle-aged white woman who has worked for a chiropractor for about 16 years. One is a retired financial services employee who once worked in real estate.
Another is a young woman who worked in financial services and is married to a gun owner. The prosecution sought to have her stricken from the jury, but was unsuccessful. The state also tried unsuccessfully to remove from the jury a middle-aged woman who is unemployed but previously worked for her husband’s construction company and has a son who is a lawyer.
The six jurors were taken from a pool of 40 candidates who made it into a second round of questioning. Judge Nelson announced last week that the jurors will be sequestered for the trial.