George Zimmerman trial jury pool includes empathic mothers


Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mom, and her attorney Benjamin Crump listen to potential jurors Monday at the Seminole County Courthouse, Monday, June 17, 2013.

SANFORD, Fla. - The search for the panel of six jurors and four alternates who will decide the fate of George Zimmerman, a 29-year-old former crime watch volunteer facing a second-degree murder charge in Seminole County, continues Tuesday.  

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, had been visiting his father in Sanford, Fla. when Zimmerman fatally shot him. It took police 44 days to make an arrest. Zimmerman claimed he killed the Dr. Michael M. Krop High School student in self-defense and entered a not guilty plea.

After six days of the initial round of interviews -- which focused on the influence of the heightened media attention -- attorneys were moving closer to finding 40 finalists. Judge Debra Nelson asked 40 serving jury duty to return to the courtroom Tuesday and 10 to return Wednesday.

"I know it's slow-going to the outside, but it's not slow-going to the inside," defense attorney Mark O'Mara said. "I think it's working out pretty well."

Most of the potential jurors chosen were mothers and grandmothers who were likely to empathize with the African-American teen, who died Feb. 26, 2012 in a Sanford gated townhouse community. 

The next phase of questioning should begin this week. For their protection, the potential jurors will only be identified by letter and number during the trial, said Court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy.  The judge has yet to  determined how long after the verdict their identities will kept secret.


Most of the women attorneys questioned showed empathy toward Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton, who has been in courtroom since the trial started June 10. Others said they were concerned about the safety of their teens after they heard the news.

Mother relies on old TV antenna

(B76 is a white woman)

During questioning June 10, the court identified the white woman who appeared to be middle-aged, as potential juror B76. She relies on an over-the-air antenna to get local TV news.

She said Zimmerman was a security guard. He was not. She also said her daughter wondered why a kid would be out late at night getting candy. Zimmerman called police at 7:09 p.m.

The woman who has lived in Sanford for decades said Zimmerman had an "altercation with the young man. There was a struggle and the gun went off."


Animal lover has dogs, cats, parrot, lizard

(B37 is a white woman)

The  unidentified woman said newspapers are more useful in her parrot cage.

"It's a lot better use," she said. "I just don't think they're truthful."

She added she doesn't like to read the news, and only uses the Internet to look for recipes. The mother of two adult daughters also said she took care of three dogs, four cats and had recently rescued a lizard.

"I have no time to do anything other than feed my animals," she said.

During questioning June 11, attorneys identified her as potential juror B37. When she is not taking care of her pets, she works for a chiropractor.

She described protests in Sanford as "rioting" and Trayvon as "a boy of color."

Mother: My sons poked fun at Trayvon's Skittles

(B86 is a white woman)

The mother of two sons ages 20 and 21 said that when her family heard the news about Trayvon's death there was laughter.

The Miami Gardens teen had purchased a bag of Skittles before dying. During questioning June 11, she said her sons found the "Skittles" detail funny.

The woman, identified as potential juror B86, works in the office of a middle school. She said that if Trayvon had not been "expelled" from school "this could have been prevented." Trayvon was not expelled; he was suspended. 


Mom feared for teens after Trayvon's death

(E6 is a white woman)

During questioning June 11, the mother of two teenagers ages 11 and 13 said she warned her kids not to go out at night after she heard of Trayvon's death.

"This kind of thing can happen," she said.

The court identified the woman as potential juror E6. She said she used to work in financial services and hasn't been working since September.

"I in no way ever foresaw that I would be sitting here," she said. And also added, "I don't know enough facts (about the case) to formulate an opinion."

Grandmother had case of the giggles

(G66 is a white woman)

During questioning Thursday, the grandmother with a short spiky modern haircut and sharp blond highlights giggled through the interview. 

"I'm a pretty up front person," she said. "I wasn't implying that you weren't," prosecutor said. She laughed loudly.

Since she moved to Seminole County in 2011, the retiree from Chicago spends most of her time caring for her grandson, who is a toddler.

 Her main news source is TV morning shows. And she said that when she saw photos of Zimmerman's injuries, she "felt sorry for him."

Mother is self-proclaimed ‘IT Geek' 

(K95 is a white woman)

During questioning Thursday, the mother of two children said she is very busy. She is also a full-time college student and technologically savvy.

Without time to watch the news, she said the incident was "about a gentleman who shot a teenager."

She referred to protests after Trayvon died, as a "commotion" and said the media was "trying to make it [the case] a racial thing."


Mother sympathizes with Trayvon's mom

(K80  is a white woman)

During questioning Thursday, the mother said childcare would be an issue during trial.

"It would be a lot to juggle, but I would figure it out," she said. "I always do."

She also said the "racial undertones" in the case were "disturbing" and called what happened to Trayvon a "terrible accident."

As a mother, she said, she sympathizes with Trayvon's family.


Nurse is fan of Law & Order 

(E28  is a white woman)

During questioning Wednesday, the nurse said she enjoys watching many hours of crime drama during her free time. She works in an operating room at a local hospital.

As her husband drives her to work, they usually listen to a local radio station for news. She is the mother of two adults, a daughter and a son.


Grandmother likes to watch crime drama

(B12 is a white woman)

Attorneys were concerned that the woman's affinity for the crime-forensics show CSI: Miami could mean that she has an exaggerated perception of forensic science.

On June 10, she was identified as potential juror B12 and during her questioning Monday said she knew that the CSI shows are "not even close" to reality.

The grandmother, who works the graveyard shift, said she also likes game shows and barely watches the news. She had not been following the case and did not pronounce Trayvon's name correctly. She referred to him as a "kid."

Patron of the arts likes watching Law & Order

(E73 is a white woman)

During questioning Wednesday, the woman identified as potential juror E73 said she enjoyed watching Law & Order.

She said that the news that a person who was unarmed was shot was a "tough concept" to grasp.

She said she was helping raise her late brother's 15 and 18-year-old kids, and also had a dog.  Her 18-year-old wears "hoodies" often.

Because she worked for a company from New Zealand, no one at work knew about the case. Her work as a volunteer in a recent local art fair brought up a concern about the case tainting the city's image.


Nurse from Chicago likes reality TV

(B29 is a Hispanic woman)

During questioning Monday, the court identified the only Hispanic mother as potential juror B29.

She has six kids -- ages 18, 19, 14, 10 and a set of three-year-old twins. The family moved from Chicago four months ago.

She works as a nurse on an Alzheimer's ward and when she is not watching reality TV, she watches the news for the weather updates.


Pregnant woman knows more about Syria than Sanford

(H69 is a mixed-race woman)

During questioning Tuesday morning, the court identified the pregnant young woman as potential juror H69.

She said she reads the Wall Street Journal and is more interested in world news than on local, which she finds to be incomplete and misleading.

 "I know Martin was not the child originally painted by the media," she said.

She also added that people die all the time and the case just didn't catch her attention. Orlando attorney Richard Hornsby said her callous tone could change during the trial.

"This juror may be callous about death" but if he was a defense attorney in the case, he "would not want a pregnant juror to hear another mother testify about losing son," Hornsby tweeted.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.