FOR TODAY’S MOST SHOCKING PROSPECTIVE JURORS, SCROLL DOWN TO E73, R39 & E7, BELOW.

Today the Court continued its preliminary questioning of prospective jurors, moving through 10 candidates by the end of the day.  As was the case yesterday, questions were limited to how much exposure the prospective juror had to the case through the media and other channels, as well as how that may have impacted their opinion of the case.

Interestingly, Judge Nelson spoke directly to George Zimmerman this morning before the jurors began to be brought in, asking him if he was satisfied with how his counsel were managing the voir dire.  Mr. Zimmerman responded, “Yes, your Honor.”

There was also some speculation today that the defense believed a jury might be seated by the middle of next week.  In addition, it was disclosed that a total of 71 jurors have been dismissed at this point.  Another 100 were summoned today, but are on call and do not have to report immediately to the court house.

Like yesterday , there was also a notable increase in questioning by both the State and the defense about the prospective juror’s use of social media.  There was little of this on Monday, but it’s become an increasing focus of questioning since then.

There also seemed to be an increased interest in whether the prospective jurors were active in church.

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Now, to a quick summary of events in today’s preliminary voir dire of prospective jurors:

Prospective Juror E73

A woman in her 60’s, E73 became the guardian of her 15-year-old and 18-year-old nephews after her brother passed from brain cancer.  She is very active in the arts community, even volunteering to help start an arts festival in Sanford shortly after the shooting.  She firmly believes the media is biased, and avoids Fox.  When asked about the difference between opinion and news, she responded: “The difference between FOX and CNN.”  She watches CNN more often, and on rare occasion will watch NBC.  She feared the shooting would negatively impact Sanford’s image and would make people not want to go there, especially for the arts festival.  She said she read about the case fully when it first happened, but then stopped paying close attention.  Asked if she’s watched the court proceedings, she responded, “I watch Law & Order.”  She recalled the picture of Zimmerman’s bloody face, as well as pictures of Martin, at various stages of his life.  She voiced that she thought the case presented a “very, very tough” concept, regarding the fact that “someone who was unarmed being by someone who is armed.”  She expressed the sentiment that the media was trying to make the case a racial matter, but that she did not believe it to be racial.  She was aware that Martin was wearing a hoodie when killed, and she herself has an 18-year-old who “lives in a hoodie,” but said that wouldn’t affect her judgment in the case.  She also noted that serving on the jury wouldn’t be a hardship, unless they were sequestered.  In that case jury service would be “real difficult.”  She also has a 15-year-old, and three dogs.

West questioned E73 for the defense.  She said se was aware of the NBC video editing controversy, that Zimmerman’s “words had been twisted,” and that someone had been fired over it.  She repeated to West her statement that the difference between slanted and straight news was “the difference between FOX News and CNN.”  She says she doesn’t watch FOX News “if I can help it.”  When asked by West about the screams on the 911 call she responded, “Could I tell whose voice it was? No.”

Interestingly, on the subject of firearms, she said, “I don’t own a gun,” “I can’t conceive of being armed, I can’t conceive of shooting someone.”  She acknowledged that an unarmed person could cause enough of a threat to be perceived as life-threatening.  When asked whether someone else could care for her 18- and 15-year-old were she sequestered she reluctant to commit to that.

Prospective Juror M75

A young black woman, M75 says she lives just down the street from where events took place.  She got most of her information from Fox news in the morning, and occasionally watches ABC.  She fits the typical young person profile in that she regularly uses Facebook, and tweets often.  She said she first found out about the case from TV, then social media “blew up” on the matter.  She indicated that she keeps up with the headlines in the case, and prefers news to commentary.  She indicated that her friends varied in their support for Martin or Zimmerman, but that she herself had not yet made up her mind.

O’Mara handled the questioning for the defense.  He asked when she became aware of the case, and she indicated a couple of weeks after the shooting.  She recalls hearing speculation that Zimmerman perceived Martin as suspicious because Martin was out at night and was black.  She also expressed the sentiment that some in the black community “fell that they’re being targeted,” but said that she did not feel that way.  She also said that a lot of her friends are “on the side of Mr. Martin,” and they believe that Martin was targeted by Zimmerman.  She said the split among her friends was 60% pro-Martin, 40% no opinion.  When asked by O’Mara if any of her friends sided with Zimmerman she said, “Yes, but not many.”  She said she was aware that FOX News had a particular perspective, but did not feel they were biased about things like the case.  The juror was observed to be answering questions confidently, maintaining eye contact, and expressing little of the nervousness that has characterized many earlier prospective jurors.  She indicated that she had friends living in New York and California that could fairly be called “pro-Trayvon activists.”  When asked about evidence that won’t be presented at trial, she responded that, “You can’t consider it because it wasn’t presented.”  Asked by O’Mara, she indicated that she was not active in church.

Prospective Juror R39

Prospective juror R39 was described as a man in his 30s, possibly hispanic.  On the questionnaire, R39 wrote that he “doesn’t really care about what happened.”  He’s a landscaper who is busy and never bothers to watch the news.  Most of his information he gets while landscaping through the radio he listens to that he turns on through his truck speakers.  He indicated that he was aware of the case, but “didn’t pay much attention,” and that he recalled lots of people commenting on Facebook.  He also said that “I don’t judge people by the way they look,” and that “You wear a hoodie if you’re cold.”   He described himself as not the kind of person “to really care about other people,” and that he “does his own thing.”

Then things got interesting.  R39 noted that he believed “murder’s murder, no matter what. Even if it’s self-defense.  Self-defense doesn’t make it right to kill somebody.”  When asked if he would be biased in this case on the issue of self defense as murder he responded, “Yes,” and that he would not be able to set his opinion aside.  He noted that only Zimmerman can tell his story, and that Trayvon Martin cannot.

R39 was dismissed from the court room without being questioned by the defense.

Prospective Juror B61

A young white or hispanic woman in her 20’s, B61 has a very slight ‘valley girl’ swing to her voice.  She loves Good Morning America and watches it every morning.  This is where she gets the majority of her news, though she does sometimes watch CNN or local news.  She is on social media, as all her age seem to be, but says she didn’t get any information about the case there.  She’s a church attender, but did not hear about the case in any way at church or while with church acquaintances and friends.  She said “I know there was a shooting,” as well as protesting, but “that’s about it.”  She also knows there is a debate about “was there a cause or reason” for the shooting.  She says she does not think it’s a racial issue, and that “We have laws for a reason, and that’s how we should look at it.”  Interestingly, she said she was aware that Zimmerman had been raising legal defense money, and that she’d visited his web site.  She believes that the media has been at times biased towards Martin and at other times towards Zimmerman.  Asked if she had any concerns about being on the jury, she only “safety,” but that she trusts the court for that.  She indicated that the case had not been a topic of conversation among her friends.  Asked by O’Mara if she thought coverage of the case was slanted, she said “I’m sure it has . . . depends who’s talking at the time.”

Prospective Juror B72

B72 is a “jack of all trades,” described as a white or hispanic male in his 20s, who mentioned being a classroom teacher, program coordinator, and “maintenance technician” where he said he “maintains the facilities” of a school.  I see this meaning he was a janitor.  He said he had a “dark view” about the media, and didn’t want to be “brainwashed” by them.  He is also a self-described competitive “wrestler” and “arm wrestler”.  The three things that he says stuck in his mind about the case?  The words “Zimmerman”, “Trayv-e-on” (mispronounced), and “skittles.  He is a colorful conversationalist, often adding bits of information that is entertaining, though not always pertinent  He also believes that the college culture, and liberal professors in particular, are “way to out there.”, referring to liberal bias.  He said he didn’t pay much attention to the news, saying “it drags you down,” stuff like “tornadoes, shootings.”  Asked if he remembered the day he first heard about the case he said that he did, it was the same day that he accomplished his first one-armed pull-up. He recalled that that Zimmerman had been a “community patrol guard,” and when asked if Zimmerman had pursued Martin answered, “I don’t know.”  He said that some of his friends think, “Yeah, Zimmerman definitely did it,” and one friend thought that Zimmerman was just “guarding his turf.”  He said that he talked with a friend who was “passionate” about the case, who said that Martin was innocent and Zimmerman “shot the poor kid,” although B72 says he does not take that friend’s opinion to heart. He indicated that he could understand finding someone suspicious in the neighborhood but that he would pursue the person.

Prospective Juror E22

A middle-aged black woman, E22 expressed her strongest opinion not about Trayvon or Zimmerman, but about the Stanford Police.  She felt that she couldn’t have an opinion on Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence because she didn’t have all the information, but came down hard on the SPD for not having investigated Zimmerman further before deciding not to arrest him, saying “the police should have been a bit more proactive in their investigation.”  She indicated that the police should have arrested Zimmerman right away instead of concluding already what happened.  She recalled the news reporting that “one individual was following Martin, not for good reasons, that’s how it started.”   Curiously, de la Rionda asked if she was trying to get on the jury for a secret agenda.  She denied this.  She expressed sympathy for Witness #11 whose 911 call recorded the fatal shot.

Prospective Juror B87

B87 is a middle-aged white man with a full time job and two kids, age 6 and 10.  He has an interesting mix of technology usage.  All interactions he has with the internet is done on his phone, while he doesn’t even have cable TV, only a digital antennae.  Asked if he had an opinion about the case he said, “it’s hard not to form an opinion about what’s going on,” but that “I wasn’t really leaning fully on one side or the other because I don’t known the whole story.  He added, “It’s just a tragedy either way, you know,” and that it “seemed like a struggle happened.”  He indicated that he had seen photos of the injuries to Zimmerman, but says that’s not enough to know what happened.  Calls himself a “wait and see” kind of person.  He recalled that Zimmerman was “walking through the neighborhood late at night, and that he’s a security guard.”  He also recalls hearing that Zimmerman maybe thought he was doing the right thing by following” but that “it went wrong.”  He indicated concerna bout “where my position would be” if he was sequestered for 6 weeks, that the thought “put me on edge a little bit.”

West questioned B87 for the defense.  B87 told West that coverage of the case had been “oversaturated.”  He seemingly goes farther than just saying the news is biased.  He says the news “takes some of these big cases and turns them into entertainment.”  He believes this is wrong, and implies a moral ineptitude on the part of the media).    When asked if he reads the Orlando Sentinel, B87 laughed out loud.  He said, “I don’t think I have enough information to make a decision either way.”  He said that being sequestered would “definitely” cause “some hardship . . . my wife would have to take on a lot.” Asked if that hardship would be insurmountable, B87 responded, “I think so, yes.”

Prospective Juror E7

E7 is a white male, in his 50’s, who works in the entertainment industry (a musician and a painter) but says he is currently “underemployed” and “things are slow.” At first he was relatively interested in the case, and thought that if the police didn’t arrest Zimmerman, there must have been a reason for that.  He feels that someone has a right to defend themselves, and shouldn’t be arrested for doing so lawfully.

Later two things changed that impacted his thoughts and actions.  One, Zimmerman was finally arrested.  Since the facts of the case didn’t change, He wondered why the arrest didn’t happen in the first place, and believed that he should have been, since he was now.  The other thing that changed was how heated the debate became, at which point he consciously decided to avoid the case and not discuss it further.

E7 says he made a conscious decision to avoid the case and not discuss it to prevent “making enemies,” and that he stopped talking about the case after he saw people around him “get so heated.”   He believes, he said, that “all these suppositions don’t mean anything,” and that he’s heard recording in the case but didn’t come to any conclusions.  He recalled seeing pictures of “alleged” damage to Zimmerman’s head.  He said he believed that if someone’s within their right to defend themselves, they shouldn’t be arrested.  He said he was aware that there’s a dispute about who is screaming on the 911 audio, but that “I haven’t formed a conclusion.”

Curiously, after a busy bench conference Judge Nelson addressed E7 directly, asking him if he had made a number of Facebook posts she held in her hand, on a page called “Coffee Party Progressives.”  He indicated that he had.  Judge Nelson sends him from the room and confirms for the record that he had made a relevant Facebook post on March 21, 2012.

NOTE:  In the interests of better informing Legal Insurrection readers on this matter, I took the liberty of examining the “Coffee Party Progressives” Facebook page and comments from March 21, 2012.  Although the comments are identified by individual name, we have no knowledge that any of the individual commenters are, or are not, prospective jurors in the Martin case, and are not suggesting that to be either the case or not.  Nor do we have any knowledge that any of the images below are of the post referenced by Judge Nelson in court today as those posted by prospective juror E7.  The images below are provided solely to give Legal Insurrection viewers a sense of the “flavor” of the “Coffee Party Progressives” Facebook page and its commenters.

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 Prospective Juror E13

A very young white woman who seemed to know nothing. She worked two jobs but says she can be sequestered. She basically knew nothing about the case.  She was described as giggly and light-hearted.  She recalls hearing that it was a “racial thing,” based on things the Martin family had said, and added, “A lot of people think that.” Still, she says “I don’t really know,” when asked if she thins Zimmerman was racially motivated, because she doesn’t know what happened.

Prospective Juror E28

A plump white woman in her 60’s, she works odd hours and knows very little about the case as well.  She said she was ‘very old-school, I do not have Facebook.”  She says she “purposely did not” research or read about the case after receiving the questionnaire.  She said she’s had no discussion of the case at church or at any social organizations, and that she’d never heard anything good or bad about Mr. Zimmerman.

At that point the court recessed until 9AM tomorrow.

Well, that’s it for today’s coverage of day three of the Zimmerman trial.  Be sure to check back in right when Court goes back into session tomorrow, shortly after 9AM.

UPDATE (6-13-13)

After Court ended for the day yesterday, attorney Benjamin Crump, advisor to the Martin family, spoke to the press.

“The evidence shows there is no blood on Trayvon’s hands,” Crump told reporters.

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Andrew F. Branca is a MA lawyer with a long-standing interest in the law of self defense.  He authored the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense” (second edition shipping June 22–save 30% and pre-order TODAY!), and manages the Law of Self Defense web site and blog.  Many thanks to the Professor for the invitation to guest-blog on the Zimmerman trial here on Legal Insurrection!