George Zimmerman trial: Reverend Al Sharpton calls for day of action as Trayvon Martin juror reveals doubts
Half of all-female jury ‘thought George Zimmerman was guilty but were talked out of it’
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Tuesday 16 July 2013
The Reverend Al Sharpton, the veteran civil rights leader, called for a “Justice for Trayvon National Day of Action” on Saturday and said protests had been planned in more than 100 cities across America.
Police in California made several arrests on Monday evening as demonstrations continued against the acquittal of neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin following an altercation in a gated Florida housing community in February last year.
The call for action followed the admission by one female juror that three of her fellow members were initially inclined to convict Mr Zimmerman. The woman, known only as Juror B-37, offered a glimpse behind the scenes of the jury’s deliberations in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper . She explained how, after 16 hours of discussion, the six women came to the conclusion that Mr Zimmerman ought to be acquitted of the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon, whom he claimed to have shot in self-defence.
“There was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something,” she said. “And after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law, and reading it over and over and over again, we just decided there’s no other way or place to go [but acquittal].”
Juror B-37 is a white, middle-aged chiropractor from Seminole County in Florida, where the shooting and subsequent trial took place. She and her husband, a lawyer, have two grown-up children. In the first poll of the six jurors, she explained, three favoured finding Mr Zimmerman not guilty, two voted for manslaughter and one for second-degree murder. She said that the jury worked hard to reach a verdict and cried over the decision. “I want people to know that we put everything into it,” she said. “We thought about it over and over.”
Finally, however, they could find Mr Zimmerman guilty of nothing but poor judgement. The neighbourhood watch volunteer followed Trayvon on the night of the killing in February 2012, apparently believing him to be a criminal; the two had an altercation, which ended with Mr Zimmerman shooting Trayvon in the chest. “George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighbourhood and wanting to catch these people so badly that he went above and beyond what he really should have done,” the juror said. “He had a right to defend himself. I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him.”
On one crucial point, she said most of the six jurors believed it was Mr Zimmerman who could be heard calling for help in the background of a recorded 911 emergency call.
Civil rights activists have urged the Department of Justice to investigate the killing as a racially motivated hate crime. But Juror B-37 told Cooper that the panel, five of whom were white, did not believe that race was a factor.
Meanwhile, the singer Stevie Wonder announced during a concert on Sunday that he would not perform in Florida until the state’s Stand Your Ground law – which allows people to use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger – is abolished.
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote in North Korean elections
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Oil slicks in South China Sea ‘not from missing jet’, officials say
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
£3360 - £16800 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Cover Supervisor requ...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Male and Female PE te...
£130 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Do you have a qualificatio...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...