Jury hard to find in Trayvon Martin case

2013-06-12 11:00
Tracy Martin, centre, and Sybrina Fulton, left, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, listen to their attorney Benjamin Crump, right, in Seminole circuit court during George Zimmerman's trial. (Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank/ AP)

Tracy Martin, centre, and Sybrina Fulton, left, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, listen to their attorney Benjamin Crump, right, in Seminole circuit court during George Zimmerman's trial. (Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank/ AP)

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Sanford — Attorneys in the trial of a US man in the fatal shooting of a black teenager struggled to put together a jury on Tuesday, as it was hard to find people who hadn't heard something about a case that drew national attention to issues of race and self-defence laws.

George Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighbourhood watch volunteer, is pleading not guilty to a second-degree murder charge that could carry a life sentence. He says he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defence in February 2012 in his gated community.

A 44-day delay in Zimmerman's arrest led to protests around the United States.

One juror told attorneys they're going to have a hard time finding jurors who haven't heard about the case and can only hope they find residents who can keep an open mind.

"I haven't lived under a rock for the past year," Juror "B-51", a white, female retiree, said. "It's pretty hard for people not to have gotten some information."

By the end of the day on Tuesday, the attorneys had questioned 14 potential jurors in person, and 70 jury candidates had been dismissed after filling out a questionnaire. That figure includes 30 dismissed on Tuesday.

Zimmerman is claiming self-defence under Florida's so-called stand-your-ground law, which allows a person to invoke self-defence if they feel a fatal shooting is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

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.

Jury candidates who move on from the initial round of questioning about their knowledge of the case face other rounds of interviews with the attorneys.

Read more on:    george zimmerman  |  trayvon martin  |  us

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