In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: Juror never gave Trayvon a chance

 

fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

Unarmed Trayvon Martin, 17, never had a chance at being heard by juror B37.

From the onset, this wife of a lawyer was a kindred soul of George Zimmerman’s defense.

It’s not my interpretation, but the proud admission of this juror during an interview with Anderson Cooper, airing in two parts on CNN Monday and Tuesday nights, following the six-woman jury’s verdict of not guilty — and the ensuing mad dash to the celebrity interviewer circuit by some of the case’s protagonists.

“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 Monday night. “But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.”

Oh, poor Georgie.

Poor young Trayvon, I say, wrongly profiled as a criminal by Zimmerman — and, in the name of justice, by juror B37, who couldn’t, and still can’t see him, as what he was until Zimmerman spotted him: a teenager minding his own business on his way home from the 7-Eleven.

He’s the guilty party in her mind.

“Oh, I believe he played a huge role in his death,” B37 told Cooper. “…When George confronted him, he could have walked away and gone home. He didn’t have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.”

B37 — who, on one hand, says she didn’t follow the trial (not that there was one until she was seated) and doesn’t read the newspapers, and on the other says she knew “bits and pieces of what had happened, and the names that were involved” — had no trouble giving Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt from the start.

She speaks admiringly of defense witnesses and has no shame in saying she dismissed Trayvon’s grieving parents and the prosecution’s so-called star witness, Rachel Jeantel, the friend with whom Trayvon was talking on the phone before he was killed.

But what takes the cake is this middle-aged white woman’s interpretation of Zimmerman’s call to the non-emergency 911 operator — and how far she’s willing to go to justify the neighborhood watchman’s deadly actions.

“I think he’s guilty of not using good judgment,” she said. “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. I don’t know if it’s their policy to tell them what to do, not get out the car, to stay in their car, but I think he should have said, ‘Stay in the car,’ not, “Do you see where he’s gone?”

Did she hear a different phone call from the rest of us?

In the call, the dispatcher clearly tells Zimmerman he doesn’t have to follow Trayvon.

So now the killing is the dispatcher’s fault for asking for an address to go with what he was reporting. But the overzealous watchman following the Miami Gardens teen visiting his father in Sanford gets a free pass.

Zimmerman, the grown man with a gun in a holster strapped to his backside, the grown man who had nothing but options all along the way — who shot his gun, not through a leg, an arm, or his groin, but through Trayvon’s heart — is the victim in this juror’s view.

Why?

“I think he has every right to carry a gun,” she told Cooper.

She, too, once had a permit to carry a concealed gun.

“I think it’s everybody’s right to carry a gun as long as they use it the way it’s supposed to be used and be responsible in using it.”

And shooting an unarmed teenager is a responsible use of a gun?

A jury has spoken and we must accept the verdict as our system of justice dictates, but this one hardly deserves respect.

Discuss it we must, peacefully protest it, or this clueless sense of justice — acquittals of people like Zimmerman and Casey Anthony, who even got away with disposing of her daughter’s body and letting it rot in a field — would be compounding the tragedies.

This jury, according to B37, began its 16 hours of deliberations with one person in favor of a guilty verdict of second-degree murder and three people in favor of a guilty verdict of manslaughter, yet ended up acquitting Zimmerman.

The women cried, she said, but it doesn’t sound like it was for Trayvon.

Now juror B37 wants more.

She wants us to believe Zimmerman is innocent.

And that, he’s not.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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