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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid