Jury selection to enter second phase in George Zimmerman murder trial

Published On: Jun 18 2013 08:10:03 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 06:44:39 AM EDT

Attorneys in the George Zimmerman murder trial have reached the 40 potential jurors needed for the next phase of jury selection.

SANFORD, Fla. -

Attorneys in the George Zimmerman murder trial have reached the 40 potential jurors on Tuesday needed for the next phase of jury selection.

After seven days of juror questioning, the 40-person jury pool for general voir dire questioning was reached as eight more prospective jurors were found on Tuesday. 

The jury pool is broken down to 16 men- 8 white, 3 black, 2 Hispanic and 3 unknown; and 24 women- 19 white, 4 black, 1 Hispanic. 27 of the prospective jurors appear to be white, nearly 70 percent of the jury pool.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys had been questioning jurors about their exposure to media coverage of the case. They will now be able to ask those invited to the next round more detailed questions about how they feel about the case. Attorneys will then begin dismissing jurors until they arrive at their final panel.

Jury selection will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Jury selection will end at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday to prepare for the remainder of the Frye hearing, which will determine if state audio experts testimony is admissible in Zimmerman's trial.

"If we need to continue with jury selection on Thursday we will do that," Judge Debra S. Nelson said.

Nelson asked Zimmerman if he agrees with his attorneys' potential juror selections, to which he said, "Yes, your honor."

[Chat recap with Tony Pipitone ]

The first potential juror of eight questioned on Tuesday so far was a man in his 40s who said he recalled the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, calling it a "tragic situation."

"I don't have enough facts to make a valued judgement," he said. "And honestly, that's how I truly feel about this.  I'm neither one side or the other."

The potential juror then said he's "not trying to apply for this job" as a juror, and says he's avoided making a judgment about the case. He also has two outstanding homeowner's association lawsuits being handled by Nelson.

"I don't have facts to make judgment," he said.

Another potential juror was a 21-year-old woman 5 months pregnant with her first child, who said her hardship would be not being able to talk to her family.

"Everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.  I can't tell you, 'Oh yes, he's innocent.'  I can't say, 'Oh yes, he's guilty,'" she said.

She told the court it would be "hard in the sense that it's our first child, that would be the hardship."

It appears she has not been eliminated.

The fourth potential juror questioned on Tuesday, a black male business owner, said he had prior knowledge of the case.

"It wasn't that somebody just walked up and shot somebody," he said of the shooting. "There was a scuffle."

Another potential juror claimed "extreme" financial hardship if she is sequestered because her job won't pay for jury duty and her mother is unable to help her.

"She just does not want me to be here because she knows she can't help pay all of it, and she know if I'm here I won't be able to pay my bills," she said. She made it through the second round of questioning.

Other jurors said on Tuesday they stopped watching news because of the coverage of Zimmerman's arrest.

"I don't see how you get a fair trial if everything has been slanted against you before you get your day in court," a prospective juror said.

Some said that early news reports resulted in people being misinformed.

"A young man lost his life, another man is fighting for his life. And no one is a winner in this case," another woman who advanced to general voir dire said.

[DOWNLOAD FREE ZIMMERMAN APP:  iPhone | Android]

Late Monday evening, Nelson continued the hearing to determine whether state voice experts will be included in Zimmerman's trial. No decision was made and the hearing will continue Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  The shooting took place in February 2012 in a gated community in Sanford.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.

[PICS: Zimmerman jury selection | VIDEO: Day 7 update]

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