Zimmerman jury selection was completed in the racially charged case. Six women, five of them white, will decide whether the shooting death of Trayvon Martin constituted second-degree murder.
An all-female and mostly white jury will decide whether volunteer watchman George Zimmerman committed second-degree murder when he shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, on a rainy Florida evening in February 2012.
Debate around the high-profile case has swirled around the stereotyping of young black men, defense strategies to raise questions about Martin's character, crime scene photos that suggest a violent struggle took place, and furious courtroom arguments over whether to allow testimony by audio experts regarding who emitted a brief shriek in the background of a 911 call the moment before a shot rang out.
But now the mostly middle age and older female jury – all white, except one Hispanic woman – have to attempt to set aside what they have heard about the case and move beyond their own attitudes and beliefs in order to zero in on whether the killing constituted murder, as the state contends, or was a tragic result of legitimate self-defense.
The gender equation could become a major factor in a case that, at its core, touches on the lengths to which people can go to defend themselves, their homes, and their neighborhoods against threatening strangers – and on whether defensive impulses sometimes simply hide racism.
“Women tend to be more reflexively opposed to the use of violence generally, and also be aware that most violence is perpetrated by men, for just or unjust reasons,” says Doug Keene, a jury consultant in Austin, Texas, who has been following the case.
The jurors include one woman who has been a victim of a crime and one woman who has previously been arrested. Some know intimate details of the case, another one claims to have barely heard about it before being picked for jury duty. The jury includes one young woman, several middle-aged women, and several retirees. While there were seven potential black jurors in the final round of 40 possible jurors, none were picked.