In an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, an anonymous juror said the panel that found George Zimmerman not guilty considered Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in its deliberations. Earlier reports suggested the notorious law that authorizes the unfettered use of deadly force in self-defense was not applied to the case, because Zimmerman’s lawyers opted not to request a Stand Your Ground hearing. But as ThinkProgress explained in a post earlier today, the jury instructions contained the law’s key provision and instructed jurors that self-defense meant Zimmerman was entitled to “stand his ground” with “no duty to retreat.”
The juror’s interview with Anderson Cooper Monday night confirms that the jury not only considered this language in their deliberations, but that their decision hinged in part on the Stand Your Ground Law:
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. That was our problem. It was just so confusing what went 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 did over and over and over again, we decided there’s just no way — no other place to go.
COOPER: Because of the two options you had, second degree murder or manslaughter, you felt neither applied?
JUROR: Right. 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 he got out of the car, followed Trayvon Martin that didn’t matter in the deliberations. What mattered was the 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.
In spite of claims by some conservatives to the contrary, the juror’s statements, if accurate, make clear that not only was the Stand Your Ground law included in the jury instructions, but that the jury heavily considered that law in its deliberation.