One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had “no doubt” he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin, and that was the definitive factor in the verdict.
The woman, who was identified just as Juror B37, spoke exclusively to CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Monday night. She is the first juror to speak publicly about the case.
She said she believes Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” the night he shot Martin, but that he didn’t use “good judgment” in confronting the Florida teen.
“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,” she said.
“But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.”
If anything, Zimmerman was guilty of not using “good judgment,” the juror said.
“When he was in the car, and he had called 911, he shouldn’t have gotten out of that car,” she said.
She also said she believes Martin threw the first punch in the confrontation that followed.
“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 I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him,” she said.
Zimmerman felt his life was in danger before shooting Martin, and it was his voice that was heard screaming for help in 911 calls, the juror said she believes.
“He had a right to defend himself,” she said. “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.”
An initial vote was divided. Three of the jurors first voted Zimmerman was guilty, while three voted he was not guilty, she said. Juror B37 was among those who believed he was not guilty from the start.
“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,” she said.
Jurors were not identified by name during the trial, which sparked a broad debate about gun laws and race in America.
The juror said she did not believe Zimmerman profiled Martin, who was African-American, because of the color of his skin.
She believes he thought Martin was suspicious because of the way he acted.
“Anybody would think anybody walking down the road, stopping and turning and looking — if that’s exactly what happened — is suspicious,” she said.
“I think all of us thought race did not play a role,” the juror said . “We never had that discussion.”
At one point during the interview, she grew emotional and her voice cracked. She said jurors cried after putting in their vote.
“It’s a tragedy this happened. But it happened,” the juror said.
“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.”
Book plans canceled
The juror was planning to write a book about her experience with the case, literary agent Sharlene Martin said before her interview aired.
But hours later, the agent released a statement from Juror B37 saying she would no longer write one.
“Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury,” the juror said.
“I realize it was necessary for our jury to be sequestered in order to (protect) our verdict from unfair outside influence, but that isolation shielded me from the depth of pain that exists among the general public over every aspect of this case.”