In a case filled with anomalies, chalk up one more: Unless one of the six chosen jurors is booted from the case, George Zimmerman will have an all female jury.
And if the Hispanic Zimmerman is considered white – he would not be on trial if he were not – his jury is all white as well. In any case, there are no blacks among the six jurors or four alternates.
If Zimmerman is acquitted, and he likely will be, the absence of black jurors will likely be someone’s rallying cry. For the record, however, Seminole County is only 12 percent black.
The Seminole County Justice Center in Sanford, Fla., where the trial will be held, sits directly across the street from a low-rent amusement park called “Fun World,” a subsidiary of the larger and more celebrated “Flea World.”
The media trucks parked close to the street at the Justice Center look, at first glance, like an extension of the amusements at Fun World. Although the media have occasionally beclowned themselves in their reporting, there is nothing amusing going on at the Justice Center.
To park, one has to stop at four different checkpoints, all amiably staffed by sheriff’s deputies. Guarding the courthouse itself, in addition to a half-dozen or so uniformed personnel outside, are three groups of three deputies, each group manning a screening device.
At the entrance to the fifth-floor courtroom where George Zimmerman is being tried for second-degree murder is still another screening device and still another deputy.
The security may seem excessive, but the Zimmerman family does not think so. The New Black Panther Party was openly offering a $10,000 bounty for the capture of “child killer” George Zimmerman and passing out “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters. And they weren’t the worst of the lot.
Zimmerman has been in hiding for more than a year, which is not easy considering that he has been confined to the smallish confines of Seminole County. Various threats forced his parents out of their home as well.
The year has been an existential nightmare for the family. George’s father, after suffering a heart attack, had been released from the hospital just four days before the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting of Trayvon Martin.
George’s maternal grandmother had suffered a setback in her treatment for Alzheimers earlier that February, and she, too, had been hospitalized. She has lived with her daughter and son-in-law for 30 years. She had to move with them.
Opening statements begin Monday. It is hard to anticipate what kind of story the prosecution will try to tell.
Witness No. 6 will present problems. He told the Sanford P.D. that he saw a “black man in a black hoodie on top of either a white guy … or an Hispanic guy in a red sweater on the ground yelling out help.”
According to No. 6, the black man on top was “throwing down blows on the guy MMA [mixed martial arts] style.” Witness No. 13 waited until the fighting ended, went outside and saw Zimmerman walking toward him.
“Am I bleeding?” Zimmerman asked. Witness No. 13 answered affirmatively. He also noticed “blood on the back of his head” and took a picture of it.
According to Witness No. 8, the girl with whom Martin had been speaking on the phone during this sequence, Martin “attempted to run home.” By “home” she meant the townhouse where Martin was staying.
In its probable cause affidavit accusing Zimmerman of murder in the second degree, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey cited Witness No. 8 and echoed her claim that “Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman.”
According to the affidavit, Zimmerman then “disregarded” the Sanford P.D.’s request to stop pursuing Martin, “continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home,” and “confronted” him.
At the time, Zimmerman was four inches shorter and 50 pounds heavier than Martin. He also gave Martin at the very least a 20-second head start to a destination no more than 20 seconds away.
In fact, however, by the time Zimmerman’s call with the S.P.D. ended, Martin had had a leisurely two minutes to run the 100 or so yards to the townhouse where he was staying.
The challenge for the prosecutors is to prove that despite the obvious handicaps, Zimmerman managed to catch a fleeing Martin, confront him and somehow scare him into yelling “help” during the 42 seconds he was pummeling Zimmerman MMA-style.
Bottom line: Judge Debra Nelson will have to work very hard to keep State Attorney Angela Corey from being coupled forever in the public’s memory with Mike “Duke Lacrosse” Nifong.