Juror: Zimmerman had right to defend himself

MIAMI (AP) — A juror in the George Zimmerman trial said Monday that the actions of the neighborhood watch volunteer and Trayvon Martin both led to the teenager’s fatal shooting last year, but that Zimmerman didn’t actually break the law.

The woman known as Juror B37 told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Zimmerman made some poor decisions leading up to the shooting, but that Martin wasn’t innocent either.

“I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into,” said the juror, who is planning to write a book about the trial. “I think they both could have walked away.”

The juror said Sanford Police Detective Chris Serino made a big impression on her, because he would have been accustomed to dealing with murders and similar cases. He would have known how to spot a liar, and yet he testified that he believed Zimmerman, the juror said.

Legal analysts agreed that Serino’s testimony was a blow to the state’s case.

The juror was not impressed by the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, who was talking with Martin by cellphone moments before he was fatally shot by Zimmerman in February, 2012.

“I didn’t think it was very credible, but I felt very sorry for her,” the juror said. “She didn’t want to be there.”

The juror also commented on defense attorney Don West’s knock-knock joke about knowing who Zimmerman was during opening statements.

“The joke was horrible. Nobody got it,” she said.

The interview came two days after the six-woman jury acquitted Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch activist, of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Zimmerman was not arrested for 44 days, and the delay in charging him led to protests from those who believed race was a factor in the handling of the case.

While prosecutors accused Zimmerman of profiling Martin, Zimmerman maintained he acted in self-defense.

The juror said she didn’t think Martin’s race was the reason that Zimmerman followed him. She said she also believed Martin threw the first punch and that Zimmerman, whom she referred to as “George,” had a right to defend himself.

“I have no doubt George feared for his life in the situation he was in at the time,” the juror said.

Juror B37 also outlined to CNN the process she and the other five jurors went through in their deliberations. She said they spent the first day electing a foreman and getting organized. She said the jury instructions weren’t immediately clear and the evidence was in no order whatsoever.

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, but the jury also was allowed to consider manslaughter.

Based on an initial vote, three — including B37 — were in favor of acquittal, two wanted manslaughter and one wanted second-degree murder. She said the jury started going through all the evidence, listening to tapes multiple times.

“That’s why it took us so long,” B37 said.

When they started looking at the law, the person who initially wanted second-degree murder changed her vote to manslaughter, the juror said. Then they asked for clarification from the judge and kept going over it again and again. B37 said some jurors wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something, but there was just no place to go based on the law,

B37 said jurors cried when they gave their final vote to the bailiff.

“I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict,” said the juror, who appeared to become emotional during the interview.

“We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards,” she said. “I don’t think any of us could ever do anything like that ever again.”

Martin Literary Management announced Monday that it is representing B37 and her husband, who is an attorney. The names of the jurors have not been released, but during jury selection it was disclosed that B37 works in an unspecified management position and has two adult children.

In a statement, Martin Literary said the book would focus on what it is like to be sequestered and why B37 felt she had no choice but to acquit Zimmerman. The agency said it is approaching several publishers.

In a separate interview, Jeantel was asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan whether she thought race was a factor in Zimmerman’s decision to follow Martin prior to their fight.

“It was racial,” she said. “Let’s be honest. Racial. If he were white, if Trayvon was white and he had a hoodie on, what would happen?”

She noted that the altercation happened in the early evening, when many people are out walking their dogs or doing other things.

Morgan played back a recording of the juror’s comments about Jeantel’s education level and speech, and the witness said it made her sad and angry. Jeantel, who is black, said she also had a feeling that the jury would return a not-guilty verdict.

“They’re white,” she said of the jury at one point. “Well, one Hispanic. But she’s stuck in the middle. I had a feeling it was going to be a ‘not guilty.’”

While the court did not release the racial makeup of the jury, the panel appeared to reporters covering jury selection to be made up of five white women and a sixth who may be Hispanic.

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