George Zimmerman’s jury has finally been seated after a lengthy selection process, according to Zimmerman’s attorney. The six jurors seated are all women, and nearly all (five of the six) are white. Of the four alternates, two are women and two are men.
Zimmerman will stand trial beginning next week in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, last February. Zimmerman, head of the neighborhood watch for his area, saw Martin walking through his neighborhood and grew suspicious. Concerned over recent break-ins in the neighborhood, Zimmerman followed Martin while calling 911 to report his suspicions. Zimmerman was told by the 911 operator to stop following Martin, and he hung up shortly thereafter.
That’s the point at which stories become conflicted. Zimmerman claims that he was returning to his car when Martin attacked him. In the ensuing struggle, Zimmerman was forced to kill Martin in self-defense, using the 9mm pistol he was carrying. Prosecutors claim that Zimmerman pursued Martin and shot him, and that the shooting was racially motivated.
During the struggle that ended in Martin’s death, Zimmerman received numerous injuries to the face and head, while Martin suffered a scrape to one ring finger, a single gunshot wound to the chest, and no other injuries. According to Seminole County authorities, Zimmerman took and passed a voice stress test the day after the shooting.
The case ignited racial tensions in Florida and across the country as it generated a massive amount of national media coverage. Everyone, from the President to various media personalities, to pretty much the entire population of Twitter expressed some sort of opinion, many vilifying Martin as a racist and murderer.
The process of seating the jury for Zimmerman’s trial was unusually long and complicated, owing largely to the intense media attention the case has received. Attorneys began with a pool of 211 potential jurors. These filled out questionnaires, which were reviewed by the lawyers and the judge, who narrowed the group down to 58. The attorneys questioned those 58 about their media exposure to the case in an attempt to weed out those with pre-determined opinions about the incident. Eighteen of those were eliminated, and the 6 jurors and 4 alternates were chosen from the final group of 40.
Now that the jury has been seated, there are no further obstacles to beginning the trial. Opening arguments are set to begin on Monday.
Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder. If convicted, he faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.