Zimmerman trial jurors to be sequestered

June 13, 2013 at 2:44 PM
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SANFORD, Fla., June 13 (UPI) -- The jury in the Florida trial of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing an unarmed black teenager will be sequestered, the judge said Thursday.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson said she expects the trial of George Zimmerman to take two to four weeks, the Orlando Sentinel reported. She said jurors will be away from their homes for that time.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was walking to a relative's home in a gated community in Sanford when he was shot. Zimmerman says Martin assaulted him and he fired in self-defense.

Jury selection began Monday. Potential jurors, whose names are not being released, are being questioned closely on how much they know about the racially charged case and whether they have formed an opinion.

A middle-aged white woman who was being questioned when Nelson made the announcement said the period of time was "doable." She said being away from home for a long period of time was her "biggest fear."

While the woman said she feared "repercussions" if Zimmerman is acquitted, she said she believed she could decide the case based on the evidence.

Another woman said she thinks Zimmerman is innocent. She described herself as a strong supporter of gun rights.

"You'd have to work really hard to change my opinion," she said.

Other potential jurors interviewed Thursday morning said they hadn't really followed the case, the Sentinel reported.

A retired white male, who described himself as "a West Virginia boy," told attorneys he reads the newspaper and watches local television, but hadn't formed an opinion. He said 17-year-old Martin looked like a "typical teenage boy" in published photos he had seen.

The potential juror said his son had also died and he considered Martin's death "a shame."

By Wednesday, 20 potential jurors had cleared the first stage of interviews. Attorneys have questioned them about their knowledge of the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting. Two women said they had only a passing familiarity with the case.

Some 75 people have been judged unsuitable and sent home.

Attorneys hope to assemble a group of 30 potential jurors from whom six jurors and four alternates would be selected to hear the case.

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