National News

July 18, 2013

$33,000 spent on sequestered jurors

ORLANDO, Fla. — About $33,000 was spent to sequester the six female jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman of any crime for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, according to details released Wednesday by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office spent almost 10 times that amount — $320,000 — on total costs related to the trial, including overtime and equipment.

During their three weeks of sequestration, jurors took an excursion to St. Augustine, Fla.; watched the movies “The Lone Ranger” and “World War Z;”  went on bowling excursions; and saw Fourth of July fireworks.

All television, Internet use, mail and phone calls were screened and logged by deputies who provided security for them at all times. Jurors were allowed to use their cell phones once a day to check for voicemails and make calls in front of a deputy, according to the sheriff’s office.

Jurors ate most of their breakfast and dinner meals at the Marriott hotel where they stayed during sequestration. They dined out twice.

They received visits on weekends from family and friends, who had to sign an agreement promising not to discuss anything related to the case.

Despite spending 22 days together, four of the jurors have distanced themselves from statements another juror made in a televised interview.

The four jurors issued a brief statement Tuesday on court letterhead saying the opinions expressed by Juror B37 to CNN’s Anderson Cooper are not representative of their views.

“The opinions of Juror B37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below,” said the statement, signed by Jurors B51, B76, E6 and E40. The six-sentence statement did not specify what parts of the other juror’s comments they disagreed with.

Juror B37 said the actions of Zimmerman and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin both led to the teenager’s fatal shooting last year, but that Zimmerman didn’t actually break the law.

The four other jurors said in their statement that Martin’s death weighed on them.

“Serving on this jury has been a highly emotional and physically draining experience for each of us,” the statement said. “The death of a teenager weighed heavily on our hearts but in the end we did what the law required us to do.”

They also made a request for privacy. The court has not released the names of the six-woman jury, which included five whites and one woman who appeared to reporters to be Hispanic. B37’s face was obscured by shadow during her interview.

In a statement to CNN released Wednesday, Juror B37 said she prayed for those who have the power to modify laws that gave her “no verdict option other than ‘not guilty’ in order to remain within the instructions.”

Juror B37 had an agreement with a literary agent to explore a book deal. But under pressure from critics in social media, that relationship ended when she realized the emotions tied to the case once she was out of the bubble of sequestration, she said.

“My prayers are with Trayvon’s parents for their loss, as they have always been,” she said.

Court officials also released the questionnaire given to potential jurors on Wednesday. The six-question form asks if they had heard about Martin or Zimmerman; if they had formed an opinion as to Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence; and if they could put aside any opinion they had formed and focus only on the evidence presented in testimony.

Juror B37’s interview came two days after the jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Zimmerman was not arrested for 44 days, and the delay in charging him led to protests from those who believed race was a factor in the handling of the case.

While prosecutors accused Zimmerman of profiling Martin, Zimmerman maintained he acted in self-defense. He claimed Martin was slamming his head into the concrete sidewalk when he fired the gun.

———

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikeschneiderap

 

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