July 16, 2013

Early in deliberations, half of Zimmerman jury favored 'guilty' verdict

An unnamed juror – who felt Trayvon Martin threw the first punch – reveals that detail and others in her first interview.

The Associated Press

MIAMI — As they began deliberating in George Zimmerman's murder trial, three of the six jurors wanted to acquit him while the other three wanted to convict him of either murder or manslaughter, one of the jurors said.

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George Zimmerman stands with his defense attorneys during the continuation of jury deliberation in his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. on Saturday. One of the six jurors in the George Zimmerman trial is planning to write a book.

AP

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In this undated photo provided by the Martin family, Trayvon Martin holds an unidentified baby. Martin, 17 of Miami Springs, Fla., was killed by a neighborhood watchman following an altercation in Sanford, Fla. as he walked home from a convenience store in February 2012. (AP Photo/Martin Family, File)

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The six-woman jury ultimately voted to acquit Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in last year's shooting but the jury also was allowed to consider manslaughter.

The woman, known as Juror B37, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that when the jury began deliberations Friday, they took an initial vote. Three jurors— including B37 — were in favor of acquittal, two supported manslaughter and one backed second-degree murder. She said the jury started going through all the evidence, listening to tapes multiple times.

"That's why it took us so long," said B37, who said she planned to write a book about the trial but later had a change of heart.

When they started looking at the law, the person who initially wanted second-degree murder changed her vote to manslaughter, the juror said. Then they asked for clarification from the judge and went over it again and again. B37 said some jurors wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something, but there was just no place to go based on the law.

B37 said jurors cried when they gave their final vote to the bailiff.

"I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict," said the juror, whose face was blacked out during the televised interview but who appeared to become choked up.

The interview came two days after the jury acquitted Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Zimmerman was not arrested for 44 days, and the delay in charging him led to protests from those who believed race was a factor in the handling of the case.

While prosecutors accused Zimmerman of profiling Martin, Zimmerman maintained he acted in self-defense.

Juror B37, the only juror to speak publicly about the case so far, said Monday that the actions of Zimmerman and Martin both led to the teenager's fatal shooting, but that Zimmerman didn't actually break the law.

While Zimmerman made some poor decisions leading up to the shooting, including leaving his car when police told him not to, Martin wasn't innocent either, the juror said.

"I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into," said the juror. "I think they both could have walked away."

The juror said Sanford Police Detective Chris Serino made a big impression on her, because he would have been accustomed to dealing with murders and similar cases. He would have known how to spot a liar, and yet he testified that he believed Zimmerman, the juror said.

Legal analysts agreed that Serino's testimony was a blow to the state's case. The Sanford police were criticized last year for not arresting Zimmerman, and Gov. Rick Scott later appointed a special prosecutor, who brought charges against the neighborhood watch volunteer.

The juror said she didn't think Martin's race was the reason Zimmerman followed him on a dark, rainy night. She said she also believed Martin threw the first punch and that Zimmerman, whom she referred to as "George," had a right to defend himself.

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