SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Potential jurors' views on race were the focus of questioning Monday in the second week of jury selection for the Florida murder trial of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
A defense attorney questioned a potential juror extensively about her views on the racially charged case and whether she was bothered by protests led by civil rights leaders after Zimmerman's shooting last year of the unarmed 17-year-old Martin.
A 44-day delay in Zimmerman's arrest led to protests around the nation. Protesters questioned whether the Sanford Police Department was investigating the case seriously because Martin was a black teen from the Miami area. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
The third juror questioned Monday morning was a middle-aged white woman who described the protests as unsettling and speculated that there could be further marches in Sanford if Zimmerman isn't convicted of second-degree murder. The jury candidate, who said she has a biracial grandson, also said she was unsure whether Zimmerman racially profiled Martin because it was dark and the teen was wearing a hoodie, possibly making it difficult to determine his race.
Zimmerman, then a neighborhood watch volunteer, was driving through the community of townhouses where he lived when he spotted Martin walking back from a convenience store to a home belonging to his father's fiancee. Zimmerman called a nonemergency police number, followed Martin and at some point there was a fight between them that left Martin dead.
Zimmerman, 29, is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
When asked if she thought it was wrong that Zimmerman ignored a police dispatcher's advice not to follow Martin, she answered "yes."
Separately, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson must still decide whether to allow voice identification experts to testify at trial about screams captured on 911 calls. Voice recognition experts were hired by lawyers and news organizations to analyze the calls, which were made by neighbors during the confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman. Thus far, the experts have reached mixed conclusions about whether they belong to the teen or the neighborhood watch volunteer. Defense attorneys don't want the experts to testify.
After potential jurors went home on Monday, Nelson listened to testimony from defense voice-recognition expert James Wayman who discounted methods used by two prosecution experts. One expert said in a report that the screams came from Martin and the other expert ruled out Zimmerman during testimony at a pretrial hearing. Wayman also doubted the screams came from just one person and said the 911 call was just too small a sample from which to draw conclusions. Wayman said he was "baffled" by the methodology of one of the experts.
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