Latest News & Current Events

All-Women Jury Selected in Zimmerman Trial

An all-women jury has been chosen in the trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer accused of killing black teenager Trayvon Martin. Five of the female jurors are white, and one is from a racial minority. None of their names has been released

Opening statements in the trial, which is being held in Florida, began on Monday.

Prosecutors claim Zimmerman picked on Martin as he walked back from a convenience store in February 2012 because of his colour.

Zimmerman, 29, who describes himself as Hispanic, claims he shot the 17-year-old in self-defence.

It took prosecutors and defence attorneys two weeks to chose the six and four reserve jurors.

Trayvon Martin phone image 4A photo of Trayvon Martin found on his phone

In Florida, 12 jurors are only required for criminal trials where the death penalty is being considered. Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder hence the six chosen for Zimmerman's trial who came from a pool of 40 short-listed candidates.

They were asked by defence attorney Mark O'Mara whether they thought sympathy should play a role in deciding a case.

Mr O'Mara also asked when they thought a person could be shot in self defence.

Under Florida law this is deemed justifiable if it is necessary to prevent a death or grievous bodily harm.

Zimmerman told police Martin tried to reach for his gun

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda frequently objected during Mr O'Mara's questioning.

Mr O'Mara said screening the prospective jurors for any biases or prejudices "is probably as critical if not more critical than the evidence".

He added: "If you bring that into the courtroom, then what we can't get is a fair verdict."

Martin was shot on February 26, 2012 when Zimmerman spotted him walking in the gated community where he, Zimmerman,  lived. Martin's father's fiancee also resided there.

There had been a rash of recent break-ins in the area, and Zimmerman was wary of strangers walking through the complex.

Trayvon Martin protestMartin's death sparked protests around the country

The two eventually got into a struggle and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest with his 9mm handgun.

He was charged 44 days after the shooting, only after a special prosecutor was appointed to review the case.

Martin's death and the initial decision not to charge Zimmerman led to public outrage and demonstrations across the country, with some accusing Sanford police of failing to investigate the incident properly.

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