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Attorneys in Zimmerman Trial to Give Opening Statements Monday


June 21, 2013 | WMFE - Opening statements are Monday in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial. Attorneys will refrain from some possibly inflammatory language like "racial profiling."

[Photo: Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara (left) and prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda. Courtesy the Orlando Sentinel.] 

Judge Debra Nelson ruled Friday attorneys can say "profiling" but not "racial profiling."

They can describe Zimmerman as a "vigilante." But they can't describe his position in his Neighborhood Watch as "self-appointed," or say he got out of his car to follow Martin after police told him not to, because attorneys agree both statements are inaccurate.

Zimmerman organized the Neighborhood Watch group but didn't appoint himself as its leader, both sides say. Also, he already had exited his car before he was told not to follow Martin.

As for whether Zimmerman confronted Martin – the judge says prosecutors can say that.

"That is the state's case, and so they will be allowed to do that."

Zimmerman will face a jury of six women. Two men and two women are alternates. The judge has ruled the jury will remain anonymous. 

Kareem Jordan would like a more diverse jury. The criminal justice associate professor at the University of Central Florida says that's because while jurors must consider only evidence presented in the courtroom, they may interpret that evidence through their life experiences.

He says their lack of diversity will affect their decision-making.

"Two people can look at the same evidence in a very different way, but what shapes that evidence is their perceptions, their experience, their common sense." 

Turner Clayton is the local president of the NAACP. He says many members of Sanford's black community who observed jury selection have told him they are satisfied.  

"Because it was not based on race or gender. It was simply based on how the person responded to the questions that were being asked."

Zimmerman says he shot and killed Martin, an unarmed black teen, in self-defense. The trial is expected to last two to four weeks.

 

 

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