SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — The racial dimension of Trayvon Martin’s shooting was a prominent focus of questioning Monday as jury selection in George Zimmerman’s trial entered its second week.
A defense attorney questioned a potential juror extensively about her racial views on the case and whether she was bothered by protests led by civil rights leaders after Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of 17-year-old Martin last year.
A 44-day delay in Zimmerman’s arrest led to protests around the nation. Protesters 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.
The third juror questioned Monday morning was a middle-aged white woman who described the protests as unsettling and speculated that there could be further marches in Sanford if Zimmerman isn’t convicted of second-degree murder. The jury candidate, who said she has a biracial grandson, also said she was unsure whether Zimmerman racially profiled Martin because it was dark and the Miami teen was wearing a hoodie, possibly making it difficult to see his race.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was walking through the community of townhouses where he lived when he spotted Martin walking back from a convenience store to a home belonging to his father’s fiance. Zimmerman called a nonemergency police number, followed Martin and at some point there was a fight between them that left Martin dead.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense.
When asked if she thought it was wrong when Zimmerman ignored a police dispatcher’s advice not to follow Martin, she answered “yes.”
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are seeking a pool of 40 potential jurors who have been screened for any influence of pretrial publicity before moving to a second round of questioning. By mid-morning Monday, they had interviewed 45 potential jurors over the past week.
Also interviewed Monday morning were an older white man who said he didn’t have an opinion the case and a middle-aged black man who was dismissed after he said he would have trouble passing judgment on someone because of his religion.
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