Zimmerman juror says self-defence laws gave us no choice and must change
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial has called for changes in the self-defense law that she said gave her no option but to find Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
With her identity kept secret, the juror, designated B-37, gave an interview to CNN on Monday that stirred further debate in the case, which captivated the U.S. public and triggered lengthy discussions about race, guns and self-defense laws.
After receiving a torrent of criticism, including a statement to CNN from four other jurors who said she did not speak for them, the juror issued a statement further stressing her position that Florida's self-defense law, commonly known as Stand Your Ground, forced the jury to vote not guilty.
"My prayers are with all those who have the influence and power to modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than 'not guilty' in order to remain within the instructions," juror B-37 said in the statement. "No other family should be forced to endure what the Martin family has endured."
According to the instructions given to the jury, Zimmerman had "no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force" if he reasonably feared for his life or great bodily harm.
The juror's statement adds to pleas from around the country to change the Stand Your Ground laws that more than 30 states have adopted.
After three weeks of testimony and 16 hours of deliberation, the jury of five white women and one of mixed race acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death, inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012.
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Shortly before the shooting, Zimmerman called police from his car to report a suspicious person, Martin, a house guest of his father's fiancée, who lived inside the gated community. Zimmerman left his car and got into a fight with Martin that left Zimmerman with a bloody nose and head injuries. It ended when Zimmerman shot Martin through the heart with a 9mm pistol he had concealed and was licensed to carry.
The verdict outraged civil rights leaders and protesters across the United States, who said the outcome would have been different if the races had been reversed. Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.
Juror B-37, a mother of two who grew up in a military family and used to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said she believed Zimmerman got out of the car to look for Martin and that "he could have avoided the whole situation by staying in the car."
She said a holdout juror switched her vote to "not guilty" after half an hour of agonizing over the law.
"She wanted to find him guilty of something but couldn't because of the law. The way the law was written, he wasn't responsible for (negligent) things that he had done leading up to that point," she said.
"I wanted to find him guilty of not using his senses but ... you can't charge him with anything because he didn't do anything unlawful," said juror B-37, who also said she believed Martin attacked Zimmerman.
Juror B-37 told CNN that nobody on the jury felt race played a role in the case and that she did not believe Zimmerman racially profiled Martin as a criminal.
Four other jurors responded with a statement distancing themselves from B-37.
"We also wish to point out that the opinions of juror B-37 expressed on the Anderson Cooper show (on CNN) were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below," said the statement, which listed their juror numbers.