George Zimmerman attorney questions potential jurors about self-defense
Updated On: Jun 20 2013 02:17:14 PM EDT
Attorneys are presenting their 10 pre-emptory strikes of the 40 potential jurors in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial on Thursday as jury selection enters its final phase.
[Chat live with Tony Pipitone from the courtroom]
Judge Debra Nelson denied the state's only request to strike a juror for cause on Thursday. The state said the Mexican-American juror P-67 for cause at state request because of hardship, language difficulties.
Nelson read the self-defense jury instructions on Thursday morning after the state objected to Zimmerman attorney, former Local 6 legal analyst Mark O'Mara, reading it to the potential jurors.
Questioning continued on Thursday morning with O'Mara, walking to Zimmerman and put his hands on his shoulders, presumably using body language to show the jury Zimmerman is human.
"George, he's been a called a defendant in this case, right?" O'Mara said, prompting a state objection for not using more formal term of "Mr. Zimmerman."
O'Mara asked the jury candidates Thursday about their views that a person charged with a crime is innocent until prosecutors prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. O'Mara then got jurors to talk about countries where the defendant is considered guilty until proven innocent and compare it to the U.S.
"Lack of evidence can also lead to reasonable doubt," said O'Mara. "You have to be absolutely certain that the person is guilty. You can't just say, 'well, it's kind of leaning over towards 'they are guilty', so let's just say they're guilty.'"
Potential jurors then discussed people wrongfully imprisoned and the importance of jury decision with O'Mara.
O'Mara focused on telling jurors how to evaluate evidence more than just asking about their backgrounds. He also spoke of how taking someone's money in a civil case is a different burden of proof than taking their liberty in a criminal case.
The defense then asked for potential jurors to evidence concerns over the Second Amendment, to which their voiced concerns about gun laws.
"I think the training that you get with a concealed weapon is not adequate. If you've ever gone to get a concealed weapons permit it's like 'that's it?'" one juror said.
The 40 members of the jury pool -- some of whom will decide whether the former neighborhood watch volunteer committed murder when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year -- shared personal details of their lives in the second round of jury selection Wednesday.
One potential juror belongs to the National Rifle Association. Another says she was the victim of a violent crime that is constantly on her mind. A third is a competitive arm-wrestler.
At 2 p.m. there will be a Frye hearing so the state's audio expert can refute testimony heard by defense experts.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys indicated Wednesday that opening statements for the trial could take place as early as Monday. But before that, they need to choose six jurors and four alternates.
Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
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