Jury selection is officially under way on this first day of the highly-anticipated George Zimmerman trial. The Sanford neighborhood watch coordinator facing 2nd degree murder for the shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin.
JURY SELECTION: THE NITTY GRITTY:
Judge Debra Nelson said they will start with a pool of 100 prospective jurors. They need to seat 6 jurors and 4 alternates. All were asked to fill out jury questionnaires. Generally speaking those can include questions about a person's occupation, marital status or criminal background. The completed questionnaires are then distributed by the Clerk's Office to the court and each juror will be called up to the courtroom one by one. Judge Nelson said this would happen 21 people at a time. From what I understand attorneys will question the jurors but reserve their arguments of why they think they should be excluded until the end. I will confirm for you when that happens...expected to begin after 2pm. If anyone from that group of 21 makes the cut, great. If not, it will continue with the same process: 21 at a time being questioned one by one. I have asked for a copy of the questionnaire but was told by the Clerk's Office it is not yet available. A legal expert told me it is probably because they don't want the questions leaked given that jury selection could last for weeks.
WEB EXTRA: (VIDEO) Orlando-based criminal defense attorney, former felony prosecutor and UM Law-graduate Amir Ladan explains the kind of juror the State and Defense would like to see.
There are 31 seats reserved for journalists to include Local 10.
24 seats for members of the public based on a lottery system
4 seats for area pastors.
Trayvon Martin's parents appeared calm when they walked into the courtroom this morning. Martin's father stopping to embrace a family member. One of their family attorney's, Daryl Parks, described this as an "emotional day" for them. Also at the courthouse is Zimmerman's brother Robert Zimmerman Jr. who has been an active advocate for his brother on Twitter.
Local officials have been preparing for weeks for what was expected to be an onslaught of demonstrators. An area of the lawn in front of the courthouse was designated for them and citing safety concerns, an administrative order banned several items to include weapons, loud speakers, coolers, backpacks and signs on sticks. Yet at 8am just a handful of people arrived to the Sanford courthouse for day one of the George Zimmerman Trial. They left just before 9am and returned at noon. Some wonder if demonstrators are skipping jury selection and instead plan to arrive once testimony gets underway. We will have to wait and see what happens.