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Jury In George Zimmerman ‘Stand Your Ground’ Case Nearly Complete

SANFORD, Fla., (UPI) –  Potential jurors in the trial of a Florida man accused of shooting and killing an unarmed teenager were asked about crime and guns in the selection process.

“Anybody feel like people should be able to take the law into their hands?” Assistant State Attorney Bernie da la Rionda asked jurors who could be listening to evidence in the case against George Zimmerman, 29, the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford last year.

De la Rionda also addressed the state’s greatest shortcoming — no direct evidence about who started the fight that left Zimmerman with a broken nose and gashes to the back of his head and Trayvon dead from a bullet, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday.

“The state can use both direct and what’s called circumstantial evidence,” de la Rionda said. “One is just as good as the other.”

Zimmerman, a Hispanic-American, said the shooting of Martin, who was black, was justified under Florida’s stand-your-ground law.

In his questioning, de la Rionda asked potential jurors whether they’d been victims of crime; 14 said yes, with four victims of violent crimes.

He also asked the potential jurors about their experience with guns, the Sentinel said. More than a dozen said they’re gun owners and one said he’s a member of the National Rifle Association.

On Thursday, defense attorney Mark O’Mara is scheduled to pose his questions to the pool.

Attorneys are expected to finish jury selection later Thursday or early Friday, by paring down the 40-person pool to a panel of six plus four alternates, the Sentinel said

O’Mara said in court Wednesday he expects opening statements to begin Monday.

Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson could rule Thursday on whether state experts can testify about a 911 recording on which screams and the gunshot that killed Martin can be heard. Two state experts said the screams did not come from Zimmerman. The defendant disputes the experts’ opinion, saying he was fighting for his life and calling for help.

The Sentinel said Zimmerman’s parents, Robert and Gladys, were in court Wednesday for the first time since the trial began. The parents didn’t talk to media, but the defendant’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., said in a statement he spent the day caring for his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, so his parents could attend the hearing, despite “numerous death threats.”

Nelson has ruled the jury be sequestered for the duration of the trial, projected to last two to four weeks.

The jurors will remain unidentified during the trial, and their faces will not be broadcast, The New York Times reported. The judge is also considering a defense request to maintain jurors’ anonymity for a six-month cooling-off period after a verdict is reached.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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