News / USA

Zimmerman Juror Calls for Change in Self-defense Laws

A police officer shuts the doors to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office at 5 p.m. July 17, 2013 as protestors chant in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.
A police officer shuts the doors to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office at 5 p.m. July 17, 2013 as protestors chant in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.
Reuters
A member of the jury that found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin called for changes in Florida's self-defense law, which she said gave jurors no option but to acquit the defendant.
 
The juror's statement adds to pleas from around the country to change the Stand Your Ground laws that more than 30 states have adopted. In Florida, demonstrators occupied a part of the governor's office demanding that the state repeal or curtail its 2005 law.
 
With her identity kept secret, the juror, designated B-37, gave an interview to CNN on Monday that stirred further debate in the case that captivated the U.S. public and triggered  lengthy discussions about race, guns and self-defense laws.
 
After receiving a torrent of criticism, including a statement to CNN from four other jurors who said she did not speak for them, the juror issued a statement further stressing her position that Florida's self-defense law, commonly known as Stand Your Ground, forced the jury to vote not guilty.
 
“My prayers are with all those who have the influence and power to modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than 'not guilty' in order to remain within the instructions,” juror B-37 said in the statement. “No other family should be forced to endure what the Martin family has endured.”
 
According to the instructions given to the jury, Zimmerman had “no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force” if he reasonably feared for his life or great bodily harm.
 
On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder questioned those laws in a speech. On Wednesday, the Florida president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urged Republican Governor Rick Scott to return to the state capital, Tallahassee, to meet with scores of young demonstrators occupying his office to protest the verdict.
 
The protesters, hastily organized by a group called “Dream Defenders,” are among those demanding Scott call a special session of the Republican-led Florida legislature to repeal or curtail the 2005 Stand Your Ground law. The governor has said he supports the law, which was strongly backed by the National Rifle Association.
 
“The consequence of this verdict and the Stand Your Ground law has made Florida an increasingly unsafe state for its citizens, especially its black and Latino youth,” Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, wrote in a letter hand-delivered to Scott's office.
 
An aide said the governor was out of town.
 
Verdict Prompts Protests
 
After three weeks of testimony and 16 hours of deliberation, the jury of five white women and one of mixed race acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death, inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012.
 
George Zimmerman, far right, stands for the judge's arrival with, from left, defense attorney Mark O'Mara and co-defense counsel Don West in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, June 24, 2013.George Zimmerman, far right, stands for the judge's arrival with, from left, defense attorney Mark O'Mara and co-defense counsel Don West in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, June 24, 2013.
x
George Zimmerman, far right, stands for the judge's arrival with, from left, defense attorney Mark O'Mara and co-defense counsel Don West in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, June 24, 2013.
George Zimmerman, far right, stands for the judge's arrival with, from left, defense attorney Mark O'Mara and co-defense counsel Don West in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, June 24, 2013.
Shortly before the shooting, Zimmerman called police from his car to report a suspicious person, Martin, a house guest of his father's fiancee, who lived inside the gated community. Zimmerman left his car and got into a fight with Martin that left Zimmerman with a bloody nose and head injuries. It ended when Zimmerman shot Martin through the heart with a 9mm pistol he had concealed and was licensed to carry.
 
The Democratic leaders of Florida's legislature, who are in the minority in both chambers, were due to hold a news conference in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday to announce plans for action in response to the Zimmerman acquittal. They tried to get the Stand Your Ground law changed in the past session but never even got a committee hearing on the issue.
 
Juror B-37, a mother of two who grew up in a military family and used to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said one holdout juror switched her vote to “not guilty” after half an hour of agonizing over the law.
 
“She wanted to find him guilty of something but couldn't because of the law. The way the law was written, he wasn't responsible for [negligent] things that he had done leading up to that point,” she said.
 
“I wanted to find him guilty of not using his senses but ... you can't charge him with anything because he didn't do anything unlawful,” said juror B-37, who also said she believed Martin attacked Zimmerman.
 
Four other jurors responded with a statement distancing themselves from B-37, who told CNN nobody on the jury felt raced played a role in the case.
 
“We also wish to point out that the opinions of juror B-37  expressed on the Anderson Cooper show [on CNN] were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below,” said the statement, which listed their juror numbers.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More