Juror in Zimmerman trial discusses
how 'not guilty' verdict was reached
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:00 AM
MIAMI - George Zimmerman was guilty of nothing more than "bad judgment," one of six jurors to find the neighborhood watchman not guilty said Monday night.
The juror, the first to share her story publicly, spoke anonymously, telling Anderson Cooper of CNN that she believed Zimmerman's account that Trayvon Martin attacked him. Fearing for his life, Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot the teenager, the juror said. Martin was unarmed.
"I think his heart was in the right place," the juror said of Zimmerman's eagerness to try to protect the neighborhood. "It just went terribly wrong."
She said later, "It pretty much happened the way George said it happened."
Juror B37, the number she was assigned for the trial, also said that when the six jurors first began to deliberate, they were evenly divided between guilt and innocence. One voted for second-degree murder and two voted for manslaughter. B37 said she was one of three who initially voted "not guilty."
"There was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something," the juror said.
But after sorting through the evidence and Zimmerman's account, the three jurors changed their minds. Second-degree murder was discarded first. Then, after much confusion over the jury instructions, manslaughter was also set aside, she said.
The jurors, who gave their verdict Saturday, concluded that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, she said. "I have no doubt George feared for his life," she said.
Unlike the swirl of anger and passion over the role of race outside the courtroom, race did not come up during 16 hours and 20 minutes of deliberations, she said. No juror, she said, viewed the case through the prism of race.
The fact that Martin was black did not drive Zimmerman to suspect and follow him, she said. It was the overall situation - he was cutting through the back, the town house complex had been hit by a rash of burglaries, and Martin appeared to be walking aimlessly in the rain, looking in houses, she said.
"I think he just profiled him because he was the neighborhood watch and he profiled anybody who came in and saw them acting strange," she said, regardless of race.
The juror also said that she and most of the other jurors believed Zimmerman was the one screaming for help during the recording of a resident's 911 call because he was the one being beaten. An "important" piece of evidence, she called it.
"It was a long cry and scream for help - whoever was crying for help was in fear for their life," she said.
For whatever reason, Martin, she said, decided to confront Zimmerman and threw the first punch.
"Trayvon got mad and attacked him," she said.
The juror also said that Rachel Jeantel, Martin's friend who spoke to him on the phone moments before he was killed, was "not a good witness." The juror said Jeantel "clearly didn't want to be there."
Clearly sympathetic to Zimmerman, the juror, who is married to a lawyer and has two grown children, referred to him as George. The juror, who has signed with a literary agent with the intent of writing a book, said she felt sorry for Zimmerman and for Martin, calling the situation a "tragedy."
The six women became very emotional, she said, immediately after they handed their verdict to the bailiff.
"It's just sad that we all had to come together and figure out what is going to happen to this man's life afterwards," she said. "You find him not guilty, but you are responsible for that not guilty, and all the people who want him guilty aren't going to have any closure."