Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, was charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. He says he shot the teenager in self-defense, but prosecutors accuse him of unjustly profiling and killing Martin.
An initial decision by police not to pursue charges in the case led to the dismissal of the town’s police chief and began large debates about race relations and gun laws in the United States. Zimmerman is Hispanic; Martin was African-American.
The jury for his trial was chosen Thursday afternoon and consists of an all-female jury. The jury members are five white women and one black or Hispanic woman; two women and two men will hear the case as well and serve as alternate jurors.
O’Mara began the day by explaining the definition of reasonable doubt to the jury pool. He said it’s a complicated concept that even “third-year law students” can have difficulty understanding. He also asked the jurors about their beliefs on gun ownership and self-defense. Nelson then read to the jury the strict definition of justifiable homicide that they must consider during deliberations; Justifiable homicide is a killing where no criminal liability can result, such as when someone acts in self-defense to protect himself or another person.
Under Florida law, six-person juries hear all criminal cases except capital offenses. The charges against Zimmerman do not make it a capital case. Therefore, a 6 panel jury is acceptable in this case.
Opening statements will begin next week Monday.