After weeks of media speculation on what the jurors in George Zimmerman’s murder trial might be thinking, one of the six women who acquitted him spoke out for the first time tonight. The woman appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 in silhouette and was identified only by her juror number, B-37. While the verdict sparked protests across the country and a massive discussion on race, the juror says the issue never came up in deliberations. “I thought all of us did not think race played a role,” she said. George Zimmerman would have “profiled anybody who came in and acted strange,” regardless of race, she explained, because he was “overeager to help people” in his neighborhood.
The juror said she feels Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.” She noted that “it’s everyone’s right to carry a gun,” but Zimmerman shouldn’t have gotten out of his car. “I think he’s guilty of not using good judgment,” she said. However, she feels that at some point their “roles changed.” “Trayvon decided that he wasn’t going to let him scare him and get the one-over, up on him, or something,” she said. “And I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him.”
When deliberations began, half the jury felt Zimmerman was not guilty (including B-37), two jurors believed he was guilty of manslaughter, and one thought he’d committed second degree murder. Juror B-37 says they found the law “very confusing” but decided that they had to focus on the moments immediately before Martin was shot, even if Zimmerman instigated the altercation, “because of the heat of the moment and the stand your ground.” “He had a right to defend himself,” she explained. “If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.”
It was reported earlier that juror B-37 plans to write a book about her experience with her attorney husband, but Anderson Cooper said she insists they don’t want to profit from the case. She wanted the public to know that the jurors considered everything very carefully, and cried after they reached their verdict. “It was just hard, thinking that somebody lost their life, and there’s nothing else that could be done about it,” she said. “It’s a tragedy this happened, but it happened. And I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into. I think both of them could have walked away. It just didn’t happen.”
Update: Well, that was fast. Juror B-37’s literary agent, Sharlene Martin, announced on Twitter just before midnight, “After careful consideration of the book project with Zimmerman #JurorB37, I have decided to rescind my offer of representation.” Moments later she posted a statement from the juror herself.
Update II: Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with him when Zimmerman approached that night, appeared with Piers Morgan, calling the verdict “B.S.” She said she “had a feeling it was going to be ‘not guilty’,” but was “disappointed, upset, angry” nonetheless. “Trayvon is not a thug,” she said, calling him a “calm, chill, loving person.”
Asked about her testimony, which was criticized as hard to understand, Jeantel explained that she has a medical condition, an underbite. “I had this situation since kindergarten,” Jeantel said. “Words I can say, they can’t come out right.” Morgan asked if she was bullied. “Look at me,” she said. “No.”