Zimmerman's defense team questions potential jurors
by Rachel Delinski, Herald Publisher/Editor
June 20 2013 at 0804 | 0 0 comments | 826 826 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Defense counsel Mark O'Mara questions potential jurors during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla., Thursday, June 20. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool)
Defense counsel Mark O'Mara questions potential jurors during George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla., Thursday, June 20. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool)
Questioning of potential jurors in the George Zimmerman case will continue today as prosecutors and defense attorneys try to make their jury selection from a pool of 40 potential jurors.

The group of 40 was questioned by prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda yesterday on a range of topics including their criminal history, experience with law enforcement, involvement with neighborhood watch and personal background. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara will have his turn to question the potential jurors today.

Also scheduled today at 2 p.m. is the continuation of a Frye hearing about expert testimony.

Zimmerman is charged with the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who he shot and killed Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman has maintained the shooting was in self-defense after he was attacked by Martin in The Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood in Sanford.

Check back throughout the day for updates from the courtroom.

3 p.m.

The alternates have been chosen. They are:

E13 - She has lived in Seminole County for 17 years and is single. She has been a surgical assistant for two years and is a member of a church. She has no military experience and has horses. She has no prior juror service.

B72 - He is a young male who has lived in Seminole County for 9 years and was in Chicago before. He is a part of PTK fraternity, and was vice president of the local chapter. He spends his time outside of work going to gym and arm wrestling. He has no prior jury experience.

E54 - He is a middle aged white male who has lived in Seminole County for 14 years. He has been married for 5 years, and his spouse is an engineering tech. He has two step-children: One is 16, other is late 20s. He has no military experience and likes to work on his family tree.

E28 -She is a woman who has lived in Seminole County since 1985, and lived in Texas before that. She has been married for 28 years, and has two children that are 27 and 23 and work for a theme park and a hotel. Her husband is a teacher. She is a volunteer and is part of professional organization.

Judge Nelson is calling back the jurors who were not chosen to the courtroom.

2:45 p.m.

The six jurors have been chosen. They are:

B29- She is a female that grew up in Chicago and has been married for 10 years. She has 8 kids, one is over 18, he is 20. She has been at her current job for three months and has worked as a CNA for 12 years. When asked if she is part of any organizations she said, "My house, it's an organization."

B76- A white middle aged female who has been in Seminole county since 1976. She has been married 30 years and her son is 28 is an attorney who practices in Seminole County for civil cases. She used to own a construction company with her husband. She said she rescues a lot of pets and has been doing that for a long time.

B37- She is a middle aged white female who has been married for almost 20 years and her husband is a space attorney who used to work with the shuttles and now works with rockets. She has a 24-year-old daughter who is a pet groomer and a 27-year-old daughter at UCF. She was involved in rescue groups for animals but said she stopped because she couldn't take anymore animals. She has never served in the military.

B51- She is a middle aged white female who has lived in Seminole County For 9 years. She is retired from real estate. Prior to that she was a director of a call center in Brevard Co. for 10 years, where she ultimately had 1,200 employees under her. She has never served in the military. She said she drives back and forth to Jacksonville, Fla. a lot to visit her elderly parents and family.

E6 -She is a younger white woman who has lived in Seminole County for two years and lived in Orange County since 2004, Brevard before that. She has been married for 6 years to an engineer, her kids are 11 and 13. She is unemployed and worked 9 months before that was in school and raising kids. Her field was in financial services. She is a member of a church and used to volunteer at the kids school. She does a lot of Babysitting and gardening.

E40- She is a middle aged white woman who has lived in Seminole County for 2 months; Iowa for two years, California before that. She is a safety officer and has been serving as one for more than 20 years. Her spouse is a chemical engineer. She has one son who is 28 and is unemployed, he worked in fast food before. She travels and reads outside of work and watches football. She served on a jury in Pennsylvania 20 years ago for a criminal case.

Council is currently working to chose alternates.

11:50 a.m.

O'Mara has begun discussion about self-defense and the Stand Your Ground Law. Council has been called up the bench several times when O'Mara attempts to explain the law. He clarified and said he just trying to make sure the jurors can use the law in their deliberation, even if they don't agree with it.

11:20 a.m.

O'Mara is discussing the concept of sympathy and how it must be separated from the case.

"Any concern with asking you to be less human, if you're a juror with us?" said O'Mara.

He is now asking them about "taking the law into your own hands." O'Mara has proposed the Good Samaritan Law, and is asking for discussion on that.

11 a.m.

O'Mara asked jurors about tough decisions they have made in their lives, and the forethought that went into those decisions. He asked if they could give the case the same consideration to this case. He addressed the topic of assumptions, and said jurors' assumptions should remain outside of the courtroom.

"I think we get common sense from our life experience," said O'Mara. He asked jurors if they can be cautious when considering they're life experience when hearing this case. This moved into a conversation about the process as a whole. O'Mara wanted to make sure that the jurors understand this is a "unique process," and that they should not default to their own life experience when considering the case.

10:15 a.m.

O'Mara has asked jurors about their right to bear arms and how they feel about it. Several jurors have noted they believe in the right, however they said, there should be restrictions to what kind of guns you can own and who can own and carry them.

10 a.m.

O'Mara went over the idea of proving guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." From there he transitioned into a discussion about direct versus circumstantial evidence.

"You need to look at that [circumstantial evidence] with caution. You need to look at that and say 'does it match everything else?'" He said.

While de la Rionda told jurors yesterday that circumstantial evidence should be given equal weight to direct evidence, O'Mara seems to be cautioning jurors today to consider direct evidence and be cautionary towards circumstantial evidence.

O'Mara has returned to the idea of proving innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. Directions for the jury were read by Judge Debra Nelson and the jury is discussing whether or not they would find someone innocent, even if they still have an "abiding conviction of guilt."

9:30 a.m.

O'Mara made the distinction between being a defendant and having something to defend. He asked the potential jurors about their feelings on the "presumption of innocence."

He questioned jurors about their experience with other countries, where a presumption of guilt may exist. Five jurors responded, saying they had been to or lived in countries where you are not presumed innocent. They all said, however, that it would not influence their thinking and they believed in the presumption of innocence.

9:17 a.m.

Jurors have arrived to the courtroom and O'Mara has begun speaking with them.

9 a.m.

The defense team and prosecutors have arrived and we are waiting on the potential jurors to be brought into the courtroom.