George Zimmerman attorney says he thinks murder trial will start Monday
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 11:49:39 PM EDT
The attorney for George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, told a prospective juror during a second round of questioning on Wednesday that he thinks the trial may begin on Monday.
Prosecutors continued questioning the pool of 40 potential jurors and explaining what being sequestered would mean for them. Zimmerman's attorney, former Local 6 legal analyst Mark O'Mara, said sequestered jurors will have family contact, monitored phone/email use, visits and activities planned.
Other jurors expressed concerns about sequestration, to which the judge responded that they wouldn't be cooped up and they'd have activities planned.
"We're not putting you in prison," O'Mara said.
After the rest of the jurors left, one man came back to express his concerns about how he is being categorized as a 'Mexican' in the media. His wife also apparently wrote a letter to the court regarding her concerns about him being on the jury. The letter expressed hardship from the prospective juror's wife and child.
The man admitted to O'Mara while it would be a major inconvenience, it would not destroy his family.
The jurors, which consist of 19 white females, 8 white males, 4 black females, 3 black males, 2 Hispanic men, 1 Hispanic woman and 3 men are unknown, were recessed until 9 a.m. on Thursday, when the defense will begin its questions.
One of the 40 prospective jurors was late, delaying the jury selection process by more than 30 minutes. Judge Debra Nelson read the formal second-degree murder charge Wednesday before 40 potential jurors.
"On February 26 2012 George Zimmerman did unlawfully and by an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual kill Trayvon Martin a human being under the age of 18," Nelson said, reading the charge.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys had been questioning jurors about their exposure to media coverage of the case. They started to ask the 40 invited to the next round more detailed questions about how they feel about the case.
Prosecutors asked prospective jurors if they are National Rifle Association members and if they own firearms. 16 of the 40 potential jurors have guns or live with family members with guns.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked potential jurors how long they've lived in Seminole County, what kind of work they do and about their families. Several jurors said they had served on a jury before.
After the lunch recess, de la Rionda asked jurors if they've been a victim of a crime and if that would affect their abilities as a juror. One juror said she was a victim of a "similar crime" and would have trouble forgetting it during trial.
Potential jurors were also questioned about their involvement in neighborhood watch programs and crime in their neighborhoods.
One juror said she has a right to protect her family in her home. De la Rionda asked if people have a right to take law into their own hands, to which one juror said "we have a government to do that."
De la Rionda also asked if it matters how a person dresses and if race matters. The jurors seemed to agree that they should not consider skin color.
Jurors were also questioned about their thoughts of training in linguistics and phonetics.
Zimmerman was again seated in the courtroom with his attorneys. His parents, Robert Zimmerman Sr. and Gladys Zimmerman, were also present to witness the jury selection process. It's the first time both Martin's parents and Zimmerman's parents are in the courtroom together.
Prospective jurors were then asked if they recognize any of the potential witnesses in the case. Some jurors said they recognized several names, but the names were not released.
De la Rionda congratulated potential jurors for making it to the next round and said he was "seeking justice."
"The first thing I guess I should state is, congratulations," de la Rionda said. "You made it to stage two. I'm sure everybody is overly excited to be here."
Zimmerman's attorneys will question the prospective jurors about topics such as gun ownership, self-defense and their thoughts on race relations starting Thursday.
Nelson announced that the Frye hearing that will determine if the state's audio experts' testimony will be admissible at trial will continue at 2 p.m. Thursday.
The pool was whittled down Tuesday on the seventh day of jury selection for the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murder in the shooting death of Martin.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the 17-year-old's death. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
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