George Zimmerman, the accused murderer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012, will face an all-female jury in Sanford, Fla., according to the Sacramento Bee.
The six women, five of them white, was settled upon Thursday by both the prosecutors and Zimmerman 's attorneys – and approved by the Judge. These women will weigh the evidence in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
There is really only one issue involved here: Did Zimmerman justifiably shoot and kill an unarmed black teenager? Was this killing a matter of self-defense on the part of Zimmerman or an unnecessary, and non-premeditated, murder?
Prosecutors have argued that Zimmerman, 29, racially profiled Martin as he returned from a convenience store on that fateful rainy night.
So, the jury will determine who was/is the victim here: Zimmerman or Martin?
First and foremost, Martin was black.
Second, he was wearing a dark hooded shirt, the virtual “uniform” for “cat burglars.”
Third, Martin was in an area where recent break-ins and burglaries were fresh in the minds of all residents, including “night watchman” George Zimmerman.
Neither the race nor the ethnicity of the sixth female juror was not immediately available. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Two jurors are recent imports into the Sanford area -- from Iowa and Chicago. Two others are involved with rescuing animals as hobbies.
One juror had been arrested in the past, but she claimed that that matter had been disposed of, and she thought that it was done so in a “fair” manner.
Two other jurors are gun owners. The names of all jurors have been withheld, and they (along with the alternates) will be sequestered for the duration of the trial.
The trial is set to begin in earnest with opening statements on Monday.
Sanford, Fla., is in Seminole County, which is 78.5 percent white and 16.5 percent black. The Jury selection process spanned not quite two weeks.
In Florida, 12-jury panels are required only in trials when the death penalty is a possible sentence after conviction. Should this jury convict Zimmerman, he could receive up to life in prison.
Martin's killing and the almost immediate, real-time decision by the Sanford police department not to charge Zimmerman with so much as jaywalking poured gasoline on a long-simmering fuse of racial outrage and demonstrations led by black people in Sanford and which eventually spread throughout this nation-state.
The six femle jurors were drawn from an initial pool 600 people, 40 whom made the cut into a second round of jury questioning. The third and final stage of the process yield these six, together with two men and two women as alternate jurors.
The law of self-defense in Florida seems to be a subjective call on the part of judges and juries.
Under Florida law, Zimmerman could “legally” shoot Martin if doing so prevented death or great bodily harm to himself or others.
Zimmerman's attorneys had previously opted not to invoke the "stand your ground" portion of Florida's self-defense statute. To do so would have required a hearing in which a judge alone would decide to dismiss the case altogether, or allow it to proceed to trial.
Following the jury selection today, Judge Debra Nelson postponed a hearing on whether to allow experts to testify about background screams heard during 911 calls made as Martin and Zimmerman engaged in what became a death struggle. Prosecutors and their experts will argue that is is clearly Martin heard screaming in the background. Zimmerman's defense team, including an array of paid experts, will say that the voice heard on the tape is either not clear enough to be definitive, or that it was, in fact, Zimmerman.
I find it interesting that none of the commentators think that it is particularly remarkable that this jury is composed of all women.
Let's look at this.
Women have only been “allowed” to vote since 1920, and thus only eligible for jury duty since then.
The women's liberation Movement of the 1960s and '70s picked up from the suffragette movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Women, particularly white women, have glommed on to the success of the Civil Rights movement and Black Power movement beginning the '60s. Indeed, the No. 1 beneficiary of so-called “affirmative action” over the last 40 years has not been black men or black women, not Hispanic men or Hispanic women, but white women.
And so, nobody is batting an eye that at least five white women will sit in judgment of the accused murderer of a young black man. Of course not. White women can be impartial, too, right?
But, a question that just leaps out at me is this: What would the headlines read, what would your feelings be, if this jury were composed of all black men – or all black women?