George Zimmerman trial: Judge to sequester jury - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

George Zimmerman trial: Judge to sequester jury; 40 to advance to next round

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SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

The judge in the George Zimmerman trial announced Thursday afternoon that the jury will be sequestered and that trial should take about two to four weeks.

Attorneys are now asking for a pool of 40 potential jurors, instead of 30, before going on to the next phase of questioning.  After they have been cleared, they will be brought together as a group for more in-depth questioning by lawyers on both sides.

On the fourth day of jury selection, people of all different ages were questioned by attorneys.

And it was a day of blatant honesty from potential jurors, with two middle-aged women saying they did not want to be sequestered. 

A housewife, known as "E-81," said, "I feel like I'm going to walk out of here with a bulls-eye on me.  More people should carry guns. There's a lot of crime out there.  I do not want to be on this jury."

She also appeared to already have made up her mind about the case, decreasing her chances of being picked. Her impression was that Martin's prior use of marijuana and an image of a gun found on his cellphone in photos released by the defense were indications that "he was going down the wrong path." She also said she believed Zimmerman was just "looking after his neighborhood."

"Well, I think George was just trying to protect his neighborhood.  He saw something out of place. I am pretty firm in my opinion."

Another woman in her 40s, known as "K-80," was also concerned, describing sequestration as "my biggest fear."   She added, "With the world watching, it makes me nervous having my name out there."

Another potential juror, a senior citizen, joked about sitting on the jury for 4 to 6 weeks. "It would mess up my golf game, tell you that."

Meanwhile, a teenager who just graduated from high school, said the case caused much reaction among students and plenty of misinformation.  The teenager, known as "E-75," said he did not take a side and hasn't formed an opinion.

"Both sides were really just making stuff up. Kids run out of stuff to fire off and start making stuff up to fire off the top of their head."

Potential juror "B-67," a Hispanic female in her 40s, was allowed to leave courtroom without being questioned by defense attorneys after she said being sequestered would be a hardship with her family and school commitments.

Juror "N-18," a middle-aged Hispanic male, was escorted out of the courtroom Thursday following questioning from attorneys. Juror N-18 said he was from Puerto Rico and as a native Spanish speaker, his English was "not very fluent."

He also spoke of his devotion to the Christian faith and his belief in God's law and the Ten Commandments.

Juror "P-67," a Hispanic male, born in Mexico but naturalized in the U.S., said that he wanted to be a juror to pay back his country and because it is part of his citizenship.

By the end of the court session Thursday, attorneys had interviewed 34 potential witnesses over four days. Ten were questioned Thursday.

In the past few days, attorneys on both sides consistently have asked candidates whether they use social media or Facebook.

One potential juror, a middle-aged white man known as E-7, said Wednesday that he was unemployed and wanted to be on the jury.

"I can't form an opinion because everything I have can be flushed with facts," he said.

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He denied ever having posted on Facebook any comments about the second-degree murder case.

However, a few minutes later, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson called for a sidebar. When they returned, Nelson handed juror E-7 a paper that contained a Facebook post dated March 2012 from the "Coffee Party Progressives" Facebook page and asked him whether he had posted it. The posting, which has since been deleted, referenced Trayvon Martin and the Million Hoodie March.

"That's possible," he replied.

"I just want to know if that's your posting," Nelson said.

"Yes," E-7 said. Nelson then dismissed E-7 from the room.

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Nelson had previously ruled that potential jurors remain anonymous, so they are being identified by their juror number.

Other jury candidates Wednesday were asked what they thought of news coverage on the case and whether they thought it had tainted their view of the case.

A white potential juror in his 20s or 30s known at R39 had a strong opinion.

"Murder is murder. Even if it's self defense, it still doesn't make it right," he said.

He was asked whether he thought he was biased in this case."

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"Yes," he replied, and was dismissed.

Two black potential jurors were questioned. One woman criticized the Sanford Police Department for not making an arrest. The other said she's keeping an open mind, even though many of her relatives support Trayvon Martin.

"A cousin and things like that have formed an opinion in favor of Trayvon Martin. But my immediate family that I see, they want to wait and see exactly how the trial progresses," she said.

Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, remains optimistic an impartial jury can be seated.

"We are encouraged that we as a family can get justice for our son, Trayvon, and we ask that the public continue to come forth and be honest as potential jurors," he said from the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford.

After three days of vetting, dozens of potential jurors have been questioned individually about pretrial exposure to the killing of Martin, 17, by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in February 2012 in Sanford.

Attorneys need to find six jurors and four alternates.  In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered.

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