SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — The six jurors and four alternates eventually picked to hear the second-degree murder case of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman will be sequestered for the two to four weeks the trial will last, the judge presiding over the case said for the first time Thursday.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson told a potential juror on the fourth day of selection that all panelists will be kept isolated
During the first four days of jury selection, attorneys have asked potential jurors about the hardships they would face if they were kept away from their families during the trial. Defense attorney Don West explained to one candidate that if picked she would have limited contact with her family, would be monitored by court security outside the courtroom and would have to live in a hotel for the duration.
“You would not be able to participate in day-to-day routine activities,” West said. “You will be limited in contact with the outside world.”
Zimmerman, a 29-year-old former neighborhood watch volunteer, is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming he shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year in self-defense. A 44-day delay in Zimmerman’s arrest led to protests around the nation. They questioned whether the Sanford Police Department was investigating the case seriously because Martin was a black teen from the Miami area. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Some potential jurors are wary of the prospect of being cut off from the world during the trial.
Jury candidate K-80, a middle-aged white woman, described sequestration Thursday as “my biggest fear.” Candidates are being referred to only by their jury numbers in court to protect their identities.
Juror E-81, a middle-aged white woman, said when she saw the word “sequester” on the questionnaire in the jury room, “the walls caved in.”
“I want to sleep in my own bed,” she said. The potential juror also worried about her safety if picked, saying “I’m going to walk out of here with a bulls-eye on me.”
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.”
“I believe every American has a right to defend himself,” said Juror E-81. “I think the more people armed, the better.”
Potential juror B-67, a Hispanic female in her 40s, was allowed to leave the courtroom without being questioned by defense attorneys after she said being sequestered would be a hardship with her family and school commitments.
Attorneys started off Thursday with a pool of 20 potential jurors who they wanted for a second round of questioning. They needed an additional 10 candidates before they could move past the first round of asking questions about what potential jurors knew about the case from news coverage or social media. But the court announced late Thursday that attorneys had requested that the number of jurors needed to move to the second round be raised to 40.
By the end of the court session Thursday, attorneys had interviewed 34 potential witnesses over four days. Ten were questioned Thursday. Five were held over, raising the number of potential candidates eligible second round to 25.
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.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KHightower
Follow Mike Schneider at http://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Loyal fans lined up in the rain and sleet to get first dibs on Elton John tickets.
Crews in Youngstown are working to contain a fire on the South Side.
Hundreds of people came to the Beeghly campus of Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley for its annual tree lighting ceremony. The festivities were part of the hospital's five-year anniversary celebration.
The area will experience a mixed bag of precipitation Friday and again on Sunday. Snow, sleet and rain are likely Friday. Another weather system will bring snow Sunday afternoon. The snow could be accompanied by freezing rain Sunday night into Monday morning. Then rain Monday when temperatures rise about freezing.
Here in the Valley, local leaders and community activists are talking about how Mandela's life has impacted them and how greatly he will be missed.
Raymond and Nellie Amill said it is an honor for both of their grandsons to be playing in such big games, but they're just glad they're not playing each other.
Friends and family of a Youngstown murder victim honored and celebrated his life Thursday through two of his biggest passions: Music and performance.
The public is welcome to view the eternal flame that arrived at the Boy Scout headquarters in Warren Thursday.
For the 27th year, a community Christmas tree Lighting was held at the Wickliffe Circle Fire Station in Austintown.
The Cardinal Mooney football team is preparing for another state championship game on Friday, but school leaders said it's not just athletics that makes their school stand out.
Mahoning County commissioners are considering a proposal to put a sales tax increase on the May ballot.
As Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley celebrates five years of pediatric care, hospital officials said it is area business that help bring smiles to the faces of their patients.
Five years ago, Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley opened on Market Street in Boardman. It has undergone several expansions since then and more growth is on the way. Click on the videos to see highlights of the hospital.
State Rep. Bob Hagan and a colleague are asking for Congress' help to make railways safer for passengers and people living in surrounding areas.
An animal shelter in Trumbull County is getting a boost in its effort to build a new home.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will return to the Mahoning Valley in May.