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Juror B37 Speaks Out About Zimmerman Verdict


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm David Greene.

Days after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, we are hearing some details about how the jury reached its verdict. One juror, remaining anonymous, has spoken to CNN.

From Miami, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: When the trial began, Judge Debra Nelson ruled jurors would have their identities concealed. Yesterday, just two days after the verdict, it was announced that juror B37 had signed a book deal. A few hours later, still anonymous and obscured by shadows, she was being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN.

The juror said she believed Zimmerman's story, and that she'd welcome him as a neighbor to her community if - in her words - he didn't go too far.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.

ANDERSON COOPER: Do you think he's guilty of something?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I think he's guilty of not using good judgment.

ALLEN: During jury selection, the middle-aged woman gave a few details about her life, among them, that she and her husband both had permits to carry a concealed gun, but she let hers lapse.

Juror B37 said Zimmerman has a right to carry a gun and defend himself. She also said she doesn't think he racially profiled Martin.


COOPER: So you don't believe race played a role in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: 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 in the exact same way.

ALLEN: Talking about the witnesses, the juror had a tough assessment of Rachel Jeantel, a young women from Miami who was on the phone with Martin just minutes before his death.

Juror B37 said she found Jeantel not credible. The juror said she felt sorry for her, that Jeantel seemed to feel inadequate because of her education and poor communication skills. Jeantel was also on CNN last night, and said those comments left her angry and upset.

The juror had a better impression of another witness, the former lead investigator of the case, Sanford Police officer Chris Serino. She told Cooper his testimony was important.


COOPER: When he testified that he found George Zimmerman to be more or less and overall truthful, did that make an impression on you?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It did. It did. It made a big impression on me.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Because he deals with this all the time.

ALLEN: The judge told the jury to disregard the comment by Serino, that he found Zimmerman's story believable. Juror B37 seemed to indicate she ignored the judge's instruction.

During the trial, a key piece of evidence was a 911 call on which a voice is heard calling for help, cries that end when there's a gunshot. The juror said the whole panel was convinced it was Zimmerman calling for help, except for one person.

When they went into the jury room, B37 said, in the first vote, she was one of three people who thought Zimmerman was not guilty. Two wanted manslaughter, and one second-degree murder.

Eventually, she says, there were five jury members for acquittal, with one holding out for manslaughter. That was when the jury told the judge they had a question. Last night, the juror told Cooper it was from the lone holdout, who wanted to know if, in that charge, they should consider all of Zimmerman's actions leading up to the fatal encounter...


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: 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...


COOPER: ...not just in the minute or two before the shot actually went off, but...


ALLEN: The question was never answered. The judge asked the jury to be more specific. Juror B37 said a couple on the panel wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something, but after hours of deliberating, she says they decided the only possible verdict was not guilty.

News of the book deal and the interview sparked an immediate backlash. On social media, some said they didn't want to see the juror profit from what they label injustice. Hours after the interview, the book deal was canceled.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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