African American jurors absent in George Zimmerman trial

Jury selection concluded Thursday

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SANFORD, Fla. - A Seminole County resident was disappointed after the jury for the George Zimmerman's trial  was sworn in Thursday. They were five white women and a woman of color whose ethnicity is unclear.

H. Alexander Duncan, of Oviedo, was in the public seating area for most of the jury selection process. He had hoped for African American jurors.

"I'm flabbergasted," Duncan, 33, said. "I can't believe that with all of the African Americans in this County they couldn't find one juror that looked like me or Trayvon."

The process is random. Only about 11 percent of Seminole County residents are African American, according to the U.S. Census.  And in Sanford, the percentage nearly triples.

After days of interviewing dozens of Seminole County residents, Judge Debra Nelson announced the list of six women who will issue a verdict in the second-degree murder trial.

Attorney Benjamin Crump said the only woman of color in the jury was Hispanic. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara said she was black, but her ethnicity was not on the record. In court, Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda identified her as "black" but was unsure if she was Hispanic.

O'Mara said that those who may be upset over the demographics of the jury should take a look at the questioning process carefully.

The list of jurors was random, O'Mara said. About 60 percent of the potential jurors were women. Out of the 40 potential jurors 12 of them were moms, the majority were white and about 7 were black.

The search for the jury began with 211 Seminole County residents who filled out questionnaires. Attorneys only questioned 58 and selected 40. Here is a look at the 40:

- 24 were women

- 16 were men

- 27 were white

- 7 were black

- 3 were of mixed race

- 3 were Hispanic

"The state struck the first black juror and then we got our six," O'Mara said. "I had questions about two black jurors and their ability to be fair and impartial."

Defense attorneys did not want two black women in the jury. One was potential juror E-22. She did not disclose details about how passionate the leaders of her church had been on the case.

In an attempt to disassociate E-22 with her church, De la Rionda said he was Catholic and he believed in the death penalty. Nelson sent E-22 home.

O'Mara was also concerned about potential juror M-75, a black woman who liked growing her own vegetables. Defense attorneys presented Facebook communications between her and a witness in the case.

O'Mara said that to give Zimmerman a fair trial, Nelson agreed that the jurors had to be "racially neutral."

The public can look at the jurors "and have this reaction that there is no blacks in the jury, that there is no this and there is no that, and that there is no men in the jury ," O'Mara said.

There were two men chosen in the group of four alternate jurors.

"Tell me that we did something wrong with the process and I will agree," O'Mara said. "I f you look at the process and say that it was done fairly then the results are fair.

Crump said in an interview with WPLG-Local 10 that it was a very emotional day for Trayvon's parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.

"Equal justice under the law is not a black value, is not a white value, is an American value," Crump said.

Opening Statements are set to begin Monday.


B-29: She is the only woman of color in the jury. It is unclear if she identifies herself with Hispanic or African American ethnicity.  Read more about her here.

M-75 is a single African American woman from New York who appears to be in her late 20s. She has lived in Seminole County since 2001. She has worked as a travel agent in guest services at a theme park in Orlando. She was an animal shelter volunteer.

G-29 is a black woman who is single and doesn't have children. She said that in the eight months that she has lived in Seminole County, she has seen "a lot of racial tension built up."

E-22 is a black woman who appears to be in her 40s. She has lived in Seminole County for 12 years and in Central Florida since 1992. She doesn't have children. She worked for an organization that offered social services. During her free time, she loves gardening and growing her own vegetables. She believes police should have arrested Zimmerman sooner.

B-35  is an African American man who manages a tax office and owns vending machines. He said he has lived in Seminole County since the 1980s.  He has been married for nearly 30 years to a woman who now works in the administration for a local TV station. They have one  son in college studying to be an engineer.  He has been a youth football coach for the Pop Warner organization for about a decade. And he served in the Marine Corp. reserves for six years. During questioning, he was critical of civil rights activists Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson and thinks the case has no racial undertones.

G-81 is a married black man who likes to play golf, watch sports and travel. He said he lives near the scene of the fatal shooting and added that there is a racial divide in Sanford.

I-5 is a married black man in his 60s who is a father of three adults. He lived in Alaska for 27 years, served in the military for seven years and worked for a financial institution. He has served as a juror before. He said the protests were unnecessary and national civil-rights leaders did not have to be involved.

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