Zimmerman jurors all women: Does it matter?

NEED TO KNOW
  • Jury for George Zimmerman's trial is all women and mostly white, except for one woman who is black and Hispanic
  • Jury experts say panel's views on guns are more important than their gender
  • Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The 6 women who will determine Zimmerman's fate

The 6 women who will determine Zimmerman's fate

George Zimmerman trial: 84 evidence photos

George Zimmerman trial: 84 evidence photos

HLN and HLNtv.com will bring you live coverage of opening statements in George Zimmerman's trial, which are scheduled to begin 9 a.m. ET Monday.

When the dust settled after almost two weeks of jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial, attorneys were left with a set of six female jurors. But jury experts say their gender may not make much of a difference when it comes to the verdict in the case.

These six women are being tasked with deciding the fate of the former neighborhood watch captain, who is on trial for second-degree murder for killing Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on the night of February 26, 2012. He claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.

INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: The George Zimmerman Case

The fact that not a single man (apart from two of the four alternates) was picked to be on a jury of Zimmerman's peers was quite a shock to several jury consultants. Especially when you compare the all-female jury to the statistics in Seminole County, where the trial is being held, which only has a slight majority of females (51.5%).

But when the pool of 500 potential jurors was whittled down to 40, the panel candidates already skewed more female with two-thirds of jurors being women.

Watch: Zimmerman's brother speaks to Dr. Drew

So what could this all-female jury mean for Zimmerman? Jury experts have differing opinions on how it could shake out in the deliberation room.

"You already have a little bit of a movement toward consensus," said Richard Gabriel, a jury consultant in Los Angeles, California. "It's always easier for people of the same sex/race to get along and talk to each other."

The prosecution wants unanimity, according to Gabriel, so this could be a win for them. But Susan Constantine, a jury consultant in Orlando, Florida, said an immediate consensus among women isn't guaranteed.

"Any time you ever get a group of women together, it's never a good thing," she joked. "When you're dealing with all kinds of personalities in there and women with their emotions - they're coming from all different aspects of life."

In addition to being an all-female jury, most of the jurors are white except for one, who is black and Hispanic. This may be an issue for many who consider race to play a big part in this case since the defendant, who identifies as Hispanic, has been accused of racially profiling the victim, who was black.

But Mark NeJame, a CNN analyst and criminal defense attorney in Orlando, pointed out that the racial makeup of the jury actually mimics that of Seminole County, even if you include the four alternate jurors who are also white. This would make one out of 10 jurors (including alternates) black/Hispanic while about 11% of the population in Seminole County is black, according to the 2010 census. About 78% of the Seminole County population is white, while 17% of people identify themselves as Hispanic (the numbers for Hispanic are calculated for the total population and are considered a part of "ethnicity" and not "race").

Watch: Trayvon Martin's father: My son was not a thug

If you look specifically at Sanford, Florida, where the shooting took place, then the racial makeup of blacks on the jury is actually disproportionate to the number who live in the city. About 30% of the population of Sanford is black while 57% is white and 20% identifies as Hispanic.

At first, NeJame thought it could be the jurors' sex that would benefit the prosecution most. Constantine also said women tend to be tougher on crime. But as jury questioning came to an end, NeJame said sex became less relevant. More important was a juror's stance on guns.

"That was one of the big things the defense would be looking at, is that you're going to have people who aren't hesitant with firearms," said NeJame. "I think that neutralizes the all-woman aspect of this."

One of the jurors said she carried a concealed weapons permit at some point. Add her to the three others who either have guns in their home or know family members who do and more than half of the jury has some familiarity with firearms. To put that in perspective, 19,389 people have concealed weapons permits in Seminole County out of a population of 428,104, according to Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing.

Watch: George Zimmerman reenacts Trayvon shooting

The defense could score another win with jurors who have a criminal history.

"It shows that people can be falsely arrested, people can be falsely accused," said NeJame.

Two of the six jurors have said they were arrested in the past. To put that in perspective, 19,084 people were arrested in Seminole County in 2012 out of a population of 428,104, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

While looking at these factors of sex, race, gun views and criminal histories was important to the jury experts, Constantine said it may be jurors' individual personalities - especially their agreeableness - that ends up playing the biggest role. At the end of the trial, jurors have one task and that's to come to a unanimous decision about whether Zimmerman is guilty.

Read more: Case file: 5 must-read Zimmerman docs

And one of the key people in getting that jury to a unanimous verdict is the jury foreperson, who will usually bring people around to their point of view. All three experts point to one woman as the standout for this lead role. She's the only one who seems to have managerial experience, having supervised more than 1,000 people in one of her many jobs.

She's been a resident of Seminole County for nine years, is retired and has no kids. So what's going on inside the mind of this woman, who could end up becoming one of the more pivotal characters in the deliberation room?

The only clues we have are these observations from Constantine, who has been in the courtroom for jury selection almost every day including the day this juror was questioned: 

Read more: How the Zimmerman-Martin case unfolded

"She was an extremely good, active listener. She had really great comprehension skills. She was also good at critical thinking," said Constantine.

Attorneys have told jurors they should expect the trial to last anywhere from two to four weeks, during which time they will be sequestered. Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET on Monday.

Join the conversation...

HLNtv.com welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.
Attorney: Trayvon texts 'completely irrelevant'
Trayvon Martin | See all 587 items Attorney: Trayvon texts 'completely irrelevant'

Advertisement