It's a case that has already generated a significant amount of interest and attention, and it was precisely that publicity which was at the core of today's questioning of potential jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on the night of February 26, 2012. He claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.
News sources including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Yahoo!, local TV stations and even morning radio shows were all mentioned at some point by Seminole County residents being quizzed on where they get their information and what level of exposure they already have to the case.
While some prospective jurors said they followed current events very closely, others voiced habits similar to one 20-something woman, who said she avoids news "like the plague" and acknowledged, "I'm so uninformed."
A male potential juror told attorneys that "Most of the news doesn't affect me... the Boston Marathon doesn't have any impact on my life."
A common thread among almost all potential jurors on the fifth day of jury selection was a general familiarity with the Zimmerman case, though most could only provide sketchy details on the specifics of the shooting. A few had heard the audio of the 911 call (the admissibility of which is still being debated) while others said they were aware of the Stand Your Ground law, though not with its specific provisions.
One woman, who was not among the day's six prospective jurors who were asked to return on Tuesday, said she works near the location where Martin was shot. She said there was a "makeshift memorial" with "bears, balloons on a stop sign" and recalled that "there were tour buses that dropped people off. I saw it as a tribute."
Another woman discussed the protests around town after the shooting, which she viewed as "people wanting justice." A juror who wrote in his questionnaire that he believed Zimmerman acted in self-defense said he formed his opinion based on what he heard on a local radio show. However, he told the court that the testimony of a witness would outweigh what heard on the radio.
At the beginning of the day, 23 jurors who have already been questioned were asked to return Tuesday morning, a possible indication that they have advanced to the next round of screening.
Six jurors and four alternates will ultimately be selected to serve. Jury selection will resume Monday morning at 9 a.m. ET.
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