Zimmerman Juror: 'I Have No Doubt George Feared for His Life'
One of the six jurors who decided to acquit George Zimmerman of the charges against him for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin spoke to Anderson Cooper on Monday evening.
One of the six jurors who decided to acquit George Zimmerman of the charges against him for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin spoke to Anderson Cooper on Monday evening. In short, the juror more or less completely believed Zimmerman's version of events. It was Zimmerman's voice screaming for help heard over the 911 call, she told Cooper. And she does not believe that race played a role in Zimmerman's assessment of Martin. Overall, her take on Zimmerman himself was very sympathetic.
Juror B37 sat across from Anderson Cooper, with her face in darkness. She told Cooper that she hadn't been following the trial, or story, "at all" before become one of the six jurors in the trial. During her interview, she referred to George Zimmerman as "George," and Trayvon Martin as "Trayvon." Overall, she found the evidence presented more interesting than the testimony.
The first vote during deliberations among the 6-woman jury on the verdict, the juror said, was 3 not guilty; 2 manslaughter; 1 second-degree murder. The juror was one of the three not guilty votes. The juror said that she initially found the law surrounding the case "very confusing," specifically referring to the last-minute addition of manslaughter to the charges they were to consider against Zimmerman. "there was a couple in there who wanted to find him guilty of something," she said, but that neither of the options on the table, second-degree murder or manslaughter, were feasibly options given the way they read state law.
According to Anderson Cooper, Juror B37 is the one who has already lined up a book deal. He clarified that CNN did not pay for the interview. Earlier today, Gawker published the juror's "voir dire—" a pre-trial interview of perspective jurors.
Here's a round-up of her thoughts on some of the most notable parts of the trial:
Defense Attorney Don West's opening joke was "horrible:"
According to Juror B37, the joke "was horrible. Nobody got it. I didn't get it, till later....I guess that could have been funny, but not in the context that he told hit."
Credible witnesses came from the defense:
The defense's medical examiner was the most credible witness, in her opinion, he was "awe inspiring" because of the "experiences he had over in the war." That witness, whom she didn't identify by name, might have been Vincent DiMaio, who formerly served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He testified that Zimmerman was under Martin when he fired his gun into the unarmed teenager. But: based on her description of his testimony (she referenced him identifying Zimmerman's scream on the 911 call), Cooper thought she might have been talking about Zimmerman's friend, a Vietnam vet who testified. She clarified that it was the medical examiner.
Chris Serino, the lead detective in the case, was also someone she found credible. His statement that he found Zimmerman's account to be overall truthful made a "big" impression on her, because, she said, that's part of his job. The judge later asked the jury to ignore the exchange leading to Serino's assessment of Zimmerman's veracity.
911 Tapes: She heard Zimmerman's voice screaming for help:
She was most convinced by the Lauer tape, which captured the whole thing. "I think it was George Zimmerman's" voice on the tape screaming for help, she said, because of the cuts and abrasions on his body after the incident, and because of one witness account identifying Zimmerman as at the bottom of the scuffle between Zimmerman and Martin. She believes that all but one juror thought it was Zimmerman's voice on the tape.
Rachel Jeantel wasn't "very credible:"
"I didn't think it was very credible, but I felt sorry for her. She didn't ask for this... I think she felt inadequate towards everyone because of her education and her communication skills. I just felt sadness for her...she just wasn't a good witness." The juror found it hard to understand what she was saying "a lot of the time" because she was "using phrases I have never heard before, and what they meant." She thinks Trayvon probably said "creepy ass cracker," which she didn't think it was racial, just every day life "for the type of life that they live."
Of her testimony, she thought her account of the phone call was the most important aspect.
Zimmerman's Motivation and Guilt — his "heart was in the right place:"
"I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place," the juror told Cooper, "but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods. [He] wanted to catch these people so badly that he went above and beyond what he should have done...it just went terribly wrong." Cooper then asked her if she thought Zimmerman was guilty of anything: "I think he's guilty of not using good judgement...he shouldn't have gotten out of that car," but she thinks that the 911 operator "egged him on."
She thought that Martin may have reached for the gun, but couldn't say for sure. She believes, however, that Zimmerman thought he was reaching for the gun, meaning that "George had a right to protect himself at that point." The juror believes that Martin threw the first punch. "I have no doubt George feared for his life," she told Cooper.
As far as who was at fault, the juror thinks that "George got in a little too deep," initially as the aggressor, by approaching Martin, but then their roles changed. She believes that "Trayvon got mad and attacked him." She added that nobody on the jury felt they knew exactly what happened, but that the more credible witnesses told Zimmerman's version of events.
"He's overeager to help people," was the juror's overall take on Zimmerman, citing testimony from defense witnesses. "You have to have a heart...to help people." She didn't buy the prosecution's take that he was a "wannabe cop." In response to a question, she said that she'd want Zimmerman in her neighborhood as a neighborhood watch leader so long as he "didn't go to far...I would feel comfortable having George, because I think he's learned a good lesson" from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
As for whether George Zimmerman should get back his gun, the juror said that "I think he'd be more responsible than any one else on this planet" right now. "I think he has every right to carry a gun," she said.
On Martin's, Zimmerman's parents:
Agreeing with Cooper, the juror said that their testimony essentially cancelled each other out, because they both couldn't hear anything other than their kid screaming for help. "You want to believe that they're innocent," she said.
On race — Zimmerman would have acted the "exact same way" no matter what Trayvon's race was:
The juror did not believe that race played a role in Zimmerman's assessment of Martin. “I don’t think it’s really racial," she said. She thought it was probably the "circumstances" of past neighborhood robberies that triggered Zimmerman's suspicion, adding that she thinks Zimmerman would have reacted the "exact same way" to anyone doing what Trayvon did, no matter his race. "Anybody walking down the road stopping and turning and looking...is suspicious." She said that none of the jurors thought that race played a role. They did not discuss racial profiling as part of the case. "I saw it as a murder case," she said.
After the final vote, the juror said, as she broke into tears during the interview, "that's when everybody started to cry," she said. "It's just hard, thinking that somebody lost their life...it's a tragedy this happened." She added: "I think both of them could have walked away. It just didn't happen...I feel sorry for both of them." "We thought about it for hours," she said of the verdict. "And cried over it." According to Cooper, the juror never wants to be on a jury again.
This post has been updated with additional information.