In my opinion The Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman murder case was lost at Jury selection.. But in a county (Stanford County) that is 80% white, Trayvon Martin probably never had a chance to have a jury that looked like him or understood the problems with racial profiling in the first place.
In case you missed it last night, here’s the transcript of the Anderson Cooper’s interview with Juror B37.. A couple of the things that stood out for me was that she says none of the jurors considered racial profiling to be an issue in this case (contrary to a large majority of how the country feels about this) and that she admitted confusion about the actual interpretation of the laws.
I find it very frustrating, disheartening and flawed having people decide cases when they do not understand the laws they are deciding verdicts on. Why isn’t a clearer understanding and explanation of the laws mandatory?
Read the transcript and tell me what you think?
ANDERSON COOPER, host of AC360: She’s the first juror to speak out publicly, the first to talk about how she saw the powerful testimony that all of us saw, which testimony resonated with her and the other jurors, which evidence persuaded her and the other five women on the panel.
What happened inside that jury room, what does she think really happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin?
COOPER: When you first sat down in the jury, when you first gathered together, what was it like?
Did you know how big this —
JUROR: It was unreal. It was unreal. It was like — it was like something that — why would they want to pick me? Why would I be picked over all these hundreds of people that they interviewed?
COOPER: And when the trial started, what was the first day like? There were the opening statements. Don West told a joke, what did you think of that?
JUROR: The joke was horrible. I just — nobody got it. I didn’t get it until later, and then I thought about it. And I’m like, I guess that could have been funny, but not in the context he told it.
COOPER: Going into the trial, did you have an idea in your mind about what happened?
JUROR: No, because I hadn’t followed the trial at all. I mean, I’d heard bits and pieces of what had happened, and the names that were involved, but not any details.
COOPER: So take me back if you can to that first day, the opening statements, what do you remember about them? What stood out to you?
JUROR: Not a whole lot because it seems like it’s been years ago that it happened. It does. It seems like it’s been a very long time that we were there.
COOPER: Was there a particular witness that stands out to you?
Who did you find to be the most credible?
JUROR: The doctor — and I don’t know his name.
COOPER: The doctor for — that the defense called?
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: What about him?
JUROR: I thought he was awe inspiring, the experiences that he had had over in the war, and I just never thought of anybody that could recognize somebody’s voice yelling, in like a terrible terror voice when he was just previously a half hour ago playing cards with him.
COOPER: This was the witness that — the friend of George Zimmerman’s who had had military experience?
JUROR: No, that was — this was the defense —
COOPER: The defense medical examiner?
What was it like day by day just being on that jury?
JUROR: Day by day was interesting. There were more interesting things than others; when they got into the evidence it was a lot more interesting than just testimony. Some of the witnesses — some of the witnesses were good, some of them not so good.
COOPER: Did you feel — a lot of the analysts who were watching the trial, felt that the defense attorneys — Mark O’Mara, Don West — were able to turn prosecution witnesses to their advantage — Chris Serino (ph), for instance, the lead investigator.
Did he make an impression on you?
JUROR: Chris Serino (ph) did. He — but he — to me, he just was doing his job. He was doing his job the way he was doing his job and he was going to tell the truth regardless of who asked him the questions.
COOPER: So you found him to be credible?
JUROR: I did, very credible.
COOPER: So when he testified that he found George Zimmerman to be more or less and overall truthful, did that make an impression on you?
COOPER: The prosecution started off by saying that George Zimmerman was on top in the struggle. And then later on, they seemed to concede, well, perhaps Trayvon Martin was on top, maybe he was pulling away.
Do you feel that the prosecution really had a firm idea of what actually happened?
JUROR: I think they wanted to happen what they wanted to happen to go to their side for the prosecution and the state. There was a lot — the witnesses that the defense had on, plus some of the prosecution witnesses, there was no doubt that they had seen what had happened. Some of it was taped, so they couldn’t rebut any of that.
COOPER: It was on the 9-1-1 tape.
JUROR: Yes, the 9-1-1 tapes and the John Good calling and all of that.
COOPER: How significant were those 9-1-1 tapes to you?
JUROR: The Lauer tape was the most significant because it went through before the struggle, during the struggle, the gunshot and then after.
COOPER: You had the parents of Trayvon Martin testifying; you had the family of George Zimmerman, friends of George Zimmerman, testifying about whose voice it was on the 9-1-1 call.
Whose voice do you think it was in the 9-1-1 call?
JUROR: I think it was George Zimmerman’s.
COOPER: Did everybody on the jury agree with that?
JUROR: All but probably one.
COOPER: And what made you think it was George Zimmerman’s voice?
JUROR: Because of the evidence that he was the one that had gotten beaten.
COOPER: So you think because he was the one who had had cuts, had abrasions, he was the one getting hit; he was the one calling for help?
JUROR: Well, because of the witnesses of John Good, saw Trayvon on top of George, not necessarily hitting him, because it was so dark, he couldn’t see. But he saw blows down towards George. And he could tell that it was George Zimmerman on the bottom. He didn’t know who it was, but he knew what they were wearing.
COOPER: The one — the juror who didn’t think it was George Zimmerman’s voice, who thought it was Trayvon Martin’s voice on that call.
Do you know why they thought that way?
JUROR: Well, she didn’t think it was Trayvon’s, she just said she — it could have been Trayvon’s.
COOPER: So she wasn’t even sure?
JUROR: No. She wanted to give everybody absolute out of being guilty.
COOPER: But you were sure it was George Zimmerman’s voice?
JUROR: I was sure it was George Zimmerman (inaudible)–
COOPER: And everybody else on the jury was? Except for that one person?
JUROR: I think so. I think they were. I don’t think there was a doubt that everybody else thought it was George’s voice.
COOPER: I want to ask you a bunch of the — I want to ask you about some of the different witnesses. Rachel Jeantel, the woman who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin at the start of the incident.
What did you make of her testimony?
JUROR: I didn’t think it was very credible, but I felt very sorry for her. She didn’t ask to be in this place. She didn’t ask — she wanted to go. She wanted to leave. She didn’t want to be any part of this jury. I think she felt inadequate toward everyone because of her education and her communication skills. I just felt sadness for her.
COOPER: And did you see that as a negative statement or a racial statement as the defense suggested?
JUROR: I don’t think it’s really racial. I think it’s just everyday life, the type of life that they live, and how they’re living, in the environment that they’re living in.
COOPER: So you didn’t find her credible as a witness?
COOPER: So did you find her testimony important in terms of what she actually said?
JUROR: Well, I think the most important thing is the time that she was on the phone with Trayvon. So you basically, hopefully if she heard anything, she would say she did, but the time coincides with George’s statements and testimony of time limits and what had happened during that time.
COOPER: Explain that?
JUROR: Well, because there was a — George was on the 9-1-1 call while she was on the call with Trayvon, and the times coincide, and I think there was two minutes between when George hung up from his 9-1-1 call, to the time Trayvon and Rachel had hung up.
So really nothing could have happened because the 9-1-1 call would have heard the nonemergency call that George had called, heard something happening before that.
COOPER: She said at one point that she heard the sound of wet grass.
Did that seem believable to you?
JUROR: Well, everything was wet at that point. It was pouring down rain.
COOPER: We’re going to have a lot more tonight, just ahead, much more from Juror B-37; again, you’ll only see it here. Literally just completed this interview right before we went on air.
Coming up next, defense attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don West react to this juror, what she is saying.
You’ll also hear from the prosecution, let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I’m tweeting about some of the things this juror is saying. We’ll be right back.
COOPER: What did you think of George Zimmerman?
JUROR: I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods, and wanting to catch these people so badly, that he went above and beyond what he really should have done. But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.
COOPER: Do you think he’s guilty of something?
JUROR: I think he’s guilty of not using good judgment. When he was in the car and he called 911, he shouldn’t have gotten out of that car. But the 911 operator also, when he was talking to him, kind of egged him on. I don’t know if it’s their policy to tell them what to do, not to get out of the car, to stay in their car. But I think he should have said, stay in your car, not can you see where he’s gone.
COOPER: Do you feel George Zimmerman should have been carrying a gun?
COOPER: So you can’t say for sure whether or not Trayvon Martin reached for that gun?
JUROR: Right. But that doesn’t make it right. I mean, it doesn’t make it — there’s not a right or a wrong. Even if he did reach for the gun, it doesn’t make any difference.
COOPER: How so?
JUROR: Well, because George had a right to protect himself at that point.
COOPER: So you believe that George Zimmerman really felt his life was in danger?
JUROR: I do. I really do.
COOPER: Do you think Trayvon Martin threw the first punch?
JUROR: I think he did.
COOPER: What makes you think that?
JUROR: Because of the evidence of on the T, on the sidewalk, where George says he was punched, there was evidence of his flashlight and keys there, and then a little bit further down, there was a flashlight that he was carrying. And I think that’s where Trayvon hit him.
COOPER: So you think, based on the testimony you heard, you believe that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor?
JUROR: I think the roles changed. I think, I think George got in a little bit too deep, which he shouldn’t have been there. But Trayvon decided that he wasn’t going to let him scare him and get the one-over, up on him, or something. And I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him.
COOPER: Do you feel like you know for sure what happened in the altercation? And did the other jurors feel for sure that they knew what happened?
JUROR: Nobody knew exactly what happened. I mean, it started at one point and ended on another point. Witnesses said they heard left to right movement. Other witnesses said they heard right to left movement. But the credible witnesses said they heard left to right movement. So whatever happened, I think the punch came, and then they ended up in front of the — in back of the house. I don’t think anybody knows.
COOPER: When the defense in their closing argument played that animation of what they believe happened, did you find that credible?
JUROR: I found it credible. I did.
COOPER: What did you think of the testimony of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father? Did you find them credible?
JUROR: I think they said anything a mother and a father would say. Just like George Zimmerman’s mom and father. I think — they’re your kids. You want to believe that they’re innocent and that was their voice. Because hearing that voice would make it credible that they were the victim, not the aggressor.
COOPER: So in a way, both sets of parents kind of canceled each other out in your mind?
JUROR: They did, definitely. Because if I was a mother, I would want to believe so hard that it was not my son that did that, or was responsible for any of that, that I would convince myself probably that it was his voice.
COOPER: How critical, though, was it for you in your mind to have an idea of whose voice it was yelling for help? How important was that yell for help?
JUROR: I think it was pretty important. Because it was a long cry and scream for help, that whoever was calling for help was in fear of their life.
COOPER: The prosecution didn’t use the word racial profiling during the case. They used the word profiling. And that was something that was worked out between the judge and the lawyers when the jury wasn’t in the room.
COOPER: Do you feel that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin? Do you think race played a role in his decision, his view of Trayvon Martin as suspicious?
JUROR: I don’t think he did. I think just circumstances caused George to think that he might be a robber, or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood because of all that had gone on previously. There were unbelievable, a number of robberies in the neighborhood.
COOPER: So you don’t believe race played a role in this case?
JUROR: I don’t think it did. I think if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian, if they came in the same situation where Trayvon was, I think George would have reacted the exact same way.
COOPER: Why do you think George Zimmerman found Trayvon Martin suspicious then?
JUROR: Because he was cutting through the back, it was raining. He said he was looking in houses as he was walking down the road. Kind of just not having a purpose to where he was going. He was stopping and starting. But I mean, that’s George’s rendition of it, but I think the situation where Trayvon got into him being late at night, dark at night, raining, and anybody would think anybody walking down the road stopping and turning and looking, if that’s exactly what happened, is suspicious. And George said that he didn’t recognize who he was.
COOPER: Well, was that a common belief on the jury that race was not — that race did not play a role in this?
JUROR: I think all of us thought that race did not play a role.
COOPER: So nobody thought race played a role?
JUROR: I don’t think so.
COOPER: None of the jurors?
JUROR: I can’t speak for them. I’m not their voice–
COOPER: That wasn’t part of the discussion in the jury room?
JUROR: No, no, we never had that discussion.
COOPER: It didn’t come up, the question of, did George Zimmerman profile Trayvon Martin because he was African-American?
JUROR: No, I think he just profiled him because he was the neighborhood watch, and he profiled anyone who came in acting strange. I think it was just circumstances happened that he saw Trayvon at the exact time that he thought he was suspicious.
COOPER: The prosecution tried to paint George Zimmerman as a wannabe cop, overeager. Did you buy that?
JUROR: I think he’s overeager to help people. Like the lady who got broken in and robbed, while her baby and her were upstairs, he came over and he offered her a lock for her backsliding glass door. He offered her his phone number, his wife’s phone number. He told her that she could come over if she felt stressed or she needed anybody, come over to their house, sit down, have dinner. Not anybody — I mean, you have to have a heart to do that and care and help people.
COOPER: So you didn’t find it creepy that — you didn’t find it a negative? You didn’t buy the prosecution when they kind of said he was a wannabe cop?
JUROR: No, I didn’t at all.
COOPER: Is George Zimmerman somebody you would like to have on a neighborhood watch in your community?
JUROR: If he didn’t go too far. I mean, you can always go too far. He just didn’t stop at the limitations that he should have stopped at.
COOPER: So is that a yes or — if he didn’t go too far. Is he somebody prone, you think, to going too far? Is he somebody you would feel comfortable —
JUROR: I think he was frustrated. I think he was frustrated with the whole situation in the neighborhood, with the break-ins and the robberies. And they actually arrested somebody not that long ago. I — I mean, I would feel comfortable having George, but I think he’s learned a good lesson.
COOPER: So you would feel comfortable having him now, because you think he’s learned a lesson from all of this?
JUROR: Exactly. I think he just didn’t know when to stop. He was frustrated, and things just got out of hand.
COOPER: People have now remarked subsequently that he gets his gun back. And there are some people that said that the idea that he gets — is — can have a gun, worries them. Does that worry you?
JUROR: It doesn’t worry me. I think he would be more responsible than anybody else on this planet right now.
COOPER: OK. Let’s talk about how you reached the verdict. When the closing arguments were done, the rebuttal was done, you go into that jury room, what happened?
JUROR: Well, the first day we went in, we were trying to get ourselves organized, because there’s no instructions on what you do, how you do it and when you do it.
So we all decided. We nominated a foreman so she could have the voice and kind of run the show if anybody gets, you know, so everybody’s not talking over everybody, if somebody starts talking, somebody else starts talking. And then she would say, you know, stop, we got to — one person at a time, we got to do this.
And so the first day we got all the evidence on the tables and on the walls, then we asked for an inventory, because it was just too time-consuming looking for evidence, when it was in no order whatsoever.
COOPER: Did you take an initial vote to see where everybody was?
JUROR: We did.
COOPER: So where was everybody? How was that first vote?
JUROR: We had three not guilties, one second degree murder and two manslaughters.
COOPER: So half the jury felt he was not guilty, two manslaughters and one second degree?
COOPER: Can you say where — do you want to say where you were on that?
JUROR: I was not guilty.
COOPER: So going into it at — once the evidence — all the evidence had been presented, you felt he was not guilty?
JUROR: I did. I think that the medical examiner could have done a better job at presenting Trayvon’s — preserving Trayvon’s evidence on them —
COOPER: The state medical —
JUROR: — I mean the state. They should have bagged his hands, they should have dried his clothes, they should have done a lot of things they didn’t do.
COOPER: Do you feel you know truly what happened?
JUROR: I have a rendition of what I believe happened. And I think it’s probably as close as anybody could come to what happened. But nobody’s not going to know what exactly happened except for George.
COOPER: So you took that first vote, you saw basically the jury split, half the jurors, including yourself, thought not guilty, two people thought manslaughter, one person thought second degree murder had been proven.
How do you then go about deciding things?
JUROR: We started looking at the evidence. We listened to all the tapes, two, three, four, five times.
COOPER: The 9-1-1 recordings?
JUROR: The 9-1-1 recordings, and then there’s the re-enactment tape, there were some tapes from previous 9-1-1 calls that George had made.
COOPER: The re-enactment tape, that’s the tape of George Zimmerman walking police through what he says happened?
JUROR: Exactly, exactly. We looked through pretty much everything. That’s why it took us so long. We’re looking through the evidence, and then at the end we just — we got done, and then we just started looking at the law. What exactly we could find, and how we should vote for this case. And the law became very confusing.
COOPER: Tell me about that.
JUROR: It became very confusing. We had stuff thrown at us. We had the second-degree murder charge, the manslaughter charge, then we had self-defense, stand your ground, and I think there was one other one. But the manslaughter case — we actually had gotten it down to manslaughter, because the second degree, it wasn’t at second degree anymore.
COOPER: So the person who felt it was second degree going into it, you had convinced them, OK, it’s manslaughter?
JUROR: Through going through the law. And then we had sent a question to the judge, and it was not a question that they could answer yes or no. So they sent it back saying that if we could narrow it down to a question asking us if — what exactly — not what about the law and how to handle it, but if they could just have — I guess — I don’t know.
COOPER: You sent a question out to the judge about manslaughter?
COOPER: And about —
JUROR: What could be applied to the manslaughter. We were looking at the self-defense. One of the girls said that — asked if you can put all the leading things into that one moment where he feels it’s a matter of life or death to shoot this boy, or if it was just at the heat of passion at that moment.
COOPER: So that juror wanted to know whether the things that had brought George Zimmerman to that place, not just in the minute or two before the shot actually went off.
COOPER: But earlier that day, even prior crime?
JUROR: Not prior crimes, just the situation leading to it, all the steps — as the ball got rolling, if all that —
COOPER: From him getting — spotting Trayvon Martin, to getting out of his vehicle to follow him, whether all of that could play a role in —
JUROR: Determining the self-defense or not.
COOPER: Did you feel like you understood the instructions from the judge? Because they were very complex. I mean, reading them, they were tough to follow.
JUROR: Right. And that was our problem. I mean, it was just so confusing what — with what and what we could apply to what. Because I mean, there was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something. And after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law and reading it over and over and over again, we decided there’s just no way — other place to go.
COOPER: Because of the only, the two options you had, second degree murder or manslaughter, you felt neither applied?
JUROR: Right. Well, because of the heat of the moment and the stand your ground. He had a right to defend himself. 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.
COOPER: Even though it’s he who had gotten out of the car, followed Trayvon Martin, that didn’t matter in the deliberations. What mattered was those final seconds, minutes, when there was an altercation, and whether or not in your mind the most important thing was whether or not George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger?
JUROR: That’s how we read the law. That’s how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty.
COOPER: So that was the belief of the jury, that you had to zero in on those final minutes/seconds, about the threat that George Zimmerman believed he faced?
JUROR: That’s exactly what had happened.
COOPER: So whether it was George Zimmerman getting out of the vehicle, whether he was right to get out of the vehicle, whether he was a wannabe cop, whether he was overeager, none of that in the final analysis, mattered. What mattered was those seconds before the shot went off, did George Zimmerman fear for his life?
JUROR: Exactly. That’s exactly what happened.
COOPER: And you have no — do you have any doubt that George Zimmerman feared for his life?
JUROR: I had no doubt George feared for his life in the situation he was in at the time.
COOPER: She said she had no doubt at all. Coming up, more of our exclusive interview. Juror B-37, talking about whether she feels sorry for Trayvon Martin and her overall take on the confrontation that ended his life.
JUROR: It’s a tragedy this happened, but it happened. I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into. I think both of them could have walked away.
COOPER: More of my exclusive interview now with juror B-37 in the George Zimmerman trial and how it’s affected her.
COOPER: How has this been for you? I mean, how was making that decision, when you all realized, OK, the last holdout juror has decided, OK, manslaughter does not — we can’t hold George Zimmerman to manslaughter. There’s nothing we can really hold him to, not guilty. In that jury room, emotionally, what was that like?
JUROR: It was emotional to a point, but after we had put our vote in and the bailiff had taken our vote, that’s when everybody started to cry.
COOPER: Tell me about that.
JUROR: It was just hard, thinking that somebody lost their life, and there’s nothing else that could be done about it. I mean, it’s what happened. It’s sad. 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.
COOPER: It’s still emotional for you?
JUROR: It is, it’s very emotional.
COOPER: Can you explain the emotion?
JUROR: It’s just sad that we all had to come together and figure out what is going to happen to this man’s life afterwards. You find him not guilty, but you’re responsible for that not guilty. And all the people that want him guilty aren’t going to have any closure.
COOPER: Do you feel sorry for Trayvon Martin?
JUROR: I feel sorry for both of them. I feel sorry for Trayvon, in the situation he was in. And I feel sorry for George because of the situation he got himself in.
COOPER: Did you realize how big this trial had become?
JUROR: I had no clue, no clue whatsoever.
COOPER: Did it make sense to you that it had — that there was this much attention on it?
JUROR: It didn’t to me, because I didn’t see it as a racial thing. I saw it as a murder case, as a second degree murder case. It just — it was just unbelievable that it had gotten so big and so political — not really political; I don’t want to say that, but so emotional for everybody involved.
And I never would have thought when we went over to the hotel to get all our stuff from the hotel, we got to the hotel and the parking lot was just a regular parking lot; by the time we came out, it looked like Disney World, there was media, there were police, there were — and it really kind of started to sink in, when we went to get our stuff, and then the state police showed up, because they were going to be our escorts home.
COOPER: Are you scared now?
JUROR: I’m not scared. I don’t know how to say it.
COOPER: You clearly don’t want people to see your face?
JUROR: No. But I don’t want anybody else around me to be affected by anyone else. I mean, I’m not really scared, but I want to be cautious, if that makes any sense.
COOPER: It’s understandable.
COOPER: But you want people to know. Why did you want to speak?
JUROR: I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict. We didn’t just go in there and say, we’re going to come in here and just do guilty/not guilty. We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards. I don’t think any of us could ever do anything like that ever again.