On Monday night, one of the jurors in the George Zimmerman trial offered shocking insight into how the group of six women reached its decision to acquit the defendant of all charges in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Juror B37 — who initially planned to write a book about the trial — revealed that the jurors considered Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in reaching their verdict, appeared to strongly sympathize with the defendant, and felt that race played no factor in the incident. Below are Juror B37’s most surprising revelations:
1. Martin was responsible for his own death.
JUROR: It was just hard, thinking that somebody lost their life, and there’s nothing else that could be done about it. I mean, it’s what happened. It’s sad. It’s a tragedy this happened, but it happened. 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.
2. Juror felt just as sorry for Zimmerman.
COOPER: Do you feel sorry for Trayvon Martin?
JUROR: I feel sorry for both of them. I feel sorry for Trayvon, in the situation he was in. And I feel sorry for George because of the situation he got himself in.
3. Zimmerman should continue to serve as a neighborhood watchman because he has learned his lesson about going too far.
COOPER: Is George Zimmerman somebody you would like to have on a neighborhood watch in your community?
JUROR: If he didn’t go too far. I mean, you can always go too far. He just didn’t stop at the limitations that he should have stopped at.
COOPER: So is that a yes or — if he didn’t go too far. Is he somebody prone, you think, to going too far? Is he somebody you would feel comfortable —
JUROR: I think he was frustrated. I think he was frustrated with the whole situation in the neighborhood, with the break-ins and the robberies. And they actually arrested somebody not that long ago. I — I mean, I would feel comfortable having George, but I think he’s learned a good lesson.
COOPER: So you would feel comfortable having him now, because you think he’s learned a lesson from all of this?
JUROR: Exactly. I think he just didn’t know when to stop. He was frustrated, and things just got out of hand.
4. Verdict hinged on “Stand Your Ground” law, even though Zimmerman did not use it in his defense.
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.
5. Zimmerman was only guilty of using poor judgment and was “egged” on to follow Martin by the 9/11 operator.
COOPER: Do you think he’s guilty of something?
JUROR: I think he’s guilty of not using good judgment. When he was in the car and he called 911, he shouldn’t have gotten out of that car. But the 911 operator also, when he was talking to him, kind of egged him on.
6. Race played absolutely no factor in Zimmerman’s profiling of Martin.
JUROR: I think just circumstances caused George to think that he might be a robber, or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood because of all that had gone on previously. There were unbelievable, a number of robberies in the neighborhood.
COOPER: So you don’t believe race played a role in this case?
JUROR: 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 the exact same way.
COOPER: Why do you think George Zimmerman found Trayvon Martin suspicious then?
JUROR: Because he was cutting through the back, it was raining. He said he was looking in houses as he was walking down the road. Kind of just not having a purpose to where he was going. He was stopping and starting. But I mean, that’s George’s rendition of it, but I think the situation where Trayvon got into him being late at night, dark at night, raining, and anybody would think anybody walking down the road stopping and turning and looking, if that’s exactly what happened, is suspicious. And George said that he didn’t recognize who he was.
COOPER: Well, was that a common belief on the jury that race was not — that race did not play a role in this?
JUROR: I think all of us thought that race did not play a role. […]
COOPER: It didn’t come up, the question of, did George Zimmerman profile Trayvon Martin because he was African-American?
JUROR: No, I think he just profiled him because he was the neighborhood watch, and he profiled anyone who came in acting strange. I think it was just circumstances happened that he saw Trayvon at the exact time that he thought he was suspicious.
7. Zimmerman’s history of reporting black men to the police and his decision to follow Martin played no role in the verdict.
COOPER: So whether it was George Zimmerman getting out of the vehicle, whether he was right to get out of the vehicle, whether he was a wannabe cop, whether he was overeager, none of that in the final analysis, mattered. What mattered was those seconds before the shot went off, did George Zimmerman fear for his life?
JUROR: Exactly. That’s exactly what happened.
Juror B37 twice used the phrase “George said,” even though Zimmerman himself didn’t testify. Tapes of Zimmerman explaining the incident were shown in the courtroom.
B37 also told Cooper that Zimmerman “was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin.” “But he wanted to do good. I think he had good in his heart, he just went overboard,” she said. Four jurors have since distanced themselves from her comments.