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George Zimmerman Trial: Jury Selection Begins

Brianna Sacks |
June 10, 2013 | 8:23 a.m. PDT


(George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin/Creative Commons)
(George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin/Creative Commons)
Jury selection for the George Zimmerman murder trial begins Monday, more than a year after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, 29, who is being charged with second degree murder for the shooting death of the unarmed teen in February 2012, says he acted in self defense after Martin attacked him. Zimmerman said Martin was "up to no good" when he stopped the teen in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

The trial will take place at the Seminole County criminal courthouse, and officials are preparing for protestors, an overflowing courtroom and weeks of testimony, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The jury, composed of six jurors and two alternates, will be chosen from a potential jury pool of about 500. The selection process reportedly will take one to three weeks.

    SEE ALSO: New Evidence Shows Trayvon Martin Never Touched Gun

The case has spurred a heated civil-rights and race debate for both parties. Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Zimmerman called police moments before the shooting and warned them Trayvon looked suspicious.  

According to Zimmerman, Trayvon punched him in the nose and repeatedly hit his head against the pavement, and under the controversial Florida "stand your ground law," a person may use deadly force if they feel they are seriously in danger.

Sanford Police took over 40 days to arrest Zimmerman, spurring a campaign led by Trayvon's outraged family and other national civil-rights leaders.

  SEE ALSO: L.A. Protestors Rally For Trayvon Martin

At a March 26, 2012, rally in Sanford, the Rev. Al Sharpton warned the city, "You are risking going down as the Birmingham and Selma of the 21st century."

From CBS News

This is one of these topsy-turvy cases where the conservative/liberal split kind of flips upside down," said Jeffrey Abramson, law and government professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. "The prosecution usually favors 'law-and-order' jurors who are pro-conviction, but in this case, it's very possible that those jurors with conservative backgrounds might sympathize with vigilante justice and the right to carry arms.... it's very difficult to pin down who is a good juror for which side because of this flip."

Though the case has drawn heavy debate about race -- Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic - Abramson said a larger issue at play in choosing potential jurors will be their attitudes towards the rights of a community to police itself.

Jurors will probably be questioned about their views on gun control, ownership and race, according to Abramson.

Zimmerman’s trial is expected to last four to six weeks, although the defense was handed a setback last week when a judge ruled that Martin’s texts, school records, and possible marijuana use could not be brought up at trial.

Read the whole story at CBS News and the Orlando Sentinel

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the George Zimmerman trial


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