Trayvon Martin “played a huge role in his death,” one of the six jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman in the killing of the Miami Gardens teen said in an interview that aired Tuesday night.
“When George confronted him, he could have walked away and gone home,” Juror B37 told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “He didn’t have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.”
The juror conceded that Zimmerman had exercised bad judgment when he got out of his car to follow Trayvon, setting into motion the chain of events that led to the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen.
Zimmerman “started the ball rolling,” the juror said. “He could have avoided the whole situation by staying in the car.” But “when the end came to the end, he was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin,” the juror said, adding that she believed testimony from Zimmerman, who did not take the witness stand, would not have made a difference in the outcome of the case.
Juror B37 spoke to Cooper on Monday on the condition she would not be named. She appeared on the show obscured by a dark shadow.
All that is known about the woman comes from her pre-trial interviews. She is middle-aged, has two grown children, once had a license to carry a concealed weapon and worked for a chiropractor for 16 years.
The names of the six jurors, all women, will not become public record for several months. That doesn’t bar jurors from speaking out or revealing their identities if they choose.
On Monday, Juror B37 announced that she had inked a deal with a literary agent to write a book. She backed off her plans Tuesday, saying that the sequestration of the jury during the long trial had “shielded [her] from the depth of pain that exists among the general public over every aspect of this case.”
Speaking to CNN’s Cooper, the juror said she felt as if she had gotten to know Zimmerman. She called the defendant by his first name and said she knew what motivated him.
By contrast, the juror said she knew little about Trayvon.
“We basically had no information about what kind of a boy Trayvon was and what he did,” she said. “We know where he went to school. That was about it — and that he lived in Miami.”
When asked what she would say to Trayvon’s parents, the juror responded: “I would say, I’m terribly sorry for your loss. It’s a tragedy…. I didn’t know him, but I felt their pain because of his death.”
Fighting back tears, she added: “I felt bad that we couldn’t give them the verdict that they wanted. But legally, we couldn’t do that.”
The CNN interview also raised new questions about the role Florida’s Stand Your Ground law played in the jury deliberations.
Under the 2005 self-defense law, a person may use deadly force if the person “reasonably believes” he or she is in a life-threatening situation — and has no obligation to attempt to retreat from the threat.
Zimmerman waived his right to a Stand Your Ground hearing before trial, and did not invoke is as part of the defense strategy. But it was included in the jury instructions.
In the portion of the interview that aired Monday, Juror B37 said she and the other five members believed Trayvon was the aggressor in the Feb. 26, 2012, confrontation. The remarks that aired Tuesday, however, were more nuanced.