Jury selection for George Zimmerman’s trial began on Monday. Zimmerman is accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
The case sparked national headlines when Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, wasn’t arrested or charged after he shot and killed an unarmed Martin, who is black.
The murder rose issues about racial profiling, gun-control and Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. After 44 days of walking free, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Trial began on Monday for Zimmerman, who has been living in seclusion after being released on bail last year. The jury is also being selected as the trial plays out. It is hoped that the ones chosen can be open-minded and unbiased about the case, due to the sensitive topics associated with it. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, said he shot Martin that night in self-defense after patrolling a neighborhood in Sanford, Florida. He saw Martin walking around the gated community and said he looked suspicious.
Martin, who had just left a convenience store with a bag of skittles and iced tea, was on his way to his father’s house when he was confronted by Zimmerman. It’s not known what happened after but according to Zimmerman’s story, he was punched and attacked by Martin after he asked him what he was doing that evening in the neighborhood. He then said he had to shoot Martin to defend himself.
As of Thursday, the potential jury was narrowed down to twenty three candidates. They will return to the courthouse next Tuesday for further questioning and have been asked not to discuss the case with anyone else. The remaining potential jurors have also been sequestered, meaning that they will be secluded from the outside world and have very little contact with it. Their identities will also be kept anonymous and after all interviews have been made, six will decide Zimmerman’s fate. If Zimmerman is found guilty, he faces life in prison.