Juror In George Zimmerman Trial Backs Off Book Plans
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
It's been three days since a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. Last night, protestors angry over the verdict broke windows in Los Angeles. Another group in San Francisco stopped traffic on an interstate. Singer Stevie Wonder announced he won't perform in Florida until the state repeals its stand your ground self defense law, which was a factor in Zimmerman's acquittal. And NPR's Greg Allen reports, one of the jurors sparked a backlash after appearing on CNN last night.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It was a fast developing story even by the standards of the social media-driven 24-hour news cycle. Less than two days after exonerating Zimmerman, one of the jurors, still anonymous by court order, signed a book deal, at least for a few hours. Shortly afterwards, she was being interviewed on CNN by Anderson Cooper. It was an interview that outraged many supporters of the Martin family. The juror, known only by her court-assigned number B37 and obscured by shadows, told Cooper she thought Zimmerman's heart was in the right place and that he was guilty only of not using good judgment.
JUROR B37: When he was in the car and he had called 911, he shouldn't have gotten out of that car.
ALLEN: Once he did, though, juror B37 says Zimmerman had the right to defend himself. She said she believed his assertion that it was Martin who threw the first punch and that he was genuinely in fear for his life when he shot the 17-year-old. The juror told Cooper that she and the other jurors didn't think race was a factor.
B37: No, we never had that discussion.
ANDERSON COOPER: It didn't come up that - the question of, did George Zimmerman profile Trayvon Martin because he was African-American?
B37: No. I think he just profiled him because he was the neighborhood watch. And he profiled anybody that came in and acting strange.
ALLEN: The juror said she was impressed by the testimony of the former lead investigator in the shooting, Sanford police officer Chris Serino, especially his comment that he found Zimmerman's story believable. During the trial the judge said Serino had improperly given his opinion. She ordered the jury to ignore the comment. An order the juror apparently ignored.
On another prosecution witness, the juror was less impressed. She said she found Rachel Jeantel, a young Miami woman who was on the phone with Martin minutes before he died, not credible.
B37: I think she felt inadequate toward everyone because of her education and her communication skills. I just felt sadness for her.
ALLEN: Those comments and others in the interview drew immediate and impassioned waves of protest on social media. Reactions ranged from disgusting and clueless to racist. Jeantel herself was also on CNN last night interviewed by Piers Morgan. She said the juror's comments left her angry and upset. Morgan asked Jeantel about another of the juror's comments.
PIERS MORGAN: The juror tonight made it clear that the jury never really discussed race as being a motivating factor here.
RACHEL JEANTEL: Imagine. They're white - well, one Hispanic.
ALLEN: Support for Rachel Jeantel continued today with radio personality Tom Joyner offering her a full scholarship to any historically black college. As for juror B37, as the backlash built from her interview on CNN, the book deal crumbled. An online petition started and a few hours after the interview aired, literary agent Charlene Martin announced she was pulling out of the deal.
Shortly afterwards the juror released a statement. She said because she'd been sequestered during the trial, she was unaware of the depth of pain that exists among the general public. Instead of writing a book she said she's now looking to return to her life as it was before she sat on the jury. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.