July 17, 2013

Zimmerman jury initially was divided, juror says

As deliberations began, three of the six jurors wanted a conviction, according to one of them.

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.

Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, speaks to the media during a demonstration asking for justice for Trayvon Martin, in Washington
click image to enlarge

Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, speaks to the media during a demonstration asking for justice for Trayvon Martin, outside the Department of Justice in Washington on Monday. George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of the unarmed, 17-year-old black teenager.

Reuters

DEVELOPMENTS

Lengthy civil rights probe

MIAMI - The Justice Department will sift through trial testimony, interviews and other evidence during what is likely to be a months-long investigation into whether George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights when he shot the black teenager.

The key to charging Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, lies in whether evidence exists that he was motivated by racial animosity to kill Martin, who was 17 when he was shot during a fight with Zimmerman in February 2012. And while Martin's family has said the teen was racially profiled, no evidence surfaced during the state trial that Zimmerman had a racial bias.

Former Miami federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein says it will likely be months before a decision is made on whether to bring charges.

L.A. draws line on violence

LOS ANGELES - After a spate of vandalism and violence, Los Angeles police vowed Tuesday to crack down with quick action and arrests if further disturbances arise from street protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of a black Florida teenager.

Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who took office barely two weeks ago, said peaceful protests are welcome but violence won't be tolerated. Beck vowed that anyone committing violence will be arrested.

"Your actions ... will reduce the power of the message of this community and that is wrong, that is a shameful act," he said.

Los Angeles and Oakland have been flashpoints for violent reactions to Saturday's acquittal of Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.

In the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, 14 people were arrested Monday night after about 150 people split from a peaceful demonstration at a park, running through the streets, jumping on cars, trying to break store windows and punching bystanders. A Wal-Mart store was vandalized.

Singer attacked on stage

HAYWARD, Calif. - R&B singer Lester Chambers is recovering from injuries he suffered after a woman leaped onto the stage and shoved him when he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin during a concert in the San Francisco Bay Area, a newspaper reported Monday.

Chambers - a member of the Chambers Brothers, best known for their 1968 hit "Time Has Come Today" - had a bruised rib muscle and nerve damage after he was attacked Saturday at the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival, family members told The San Jose Mercury News.

-- From news service reports

 

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.

(Continued on page 2)

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