In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman acquittal for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, considerable media attention has been focused on two people—juror B37, who gave an exclusive interview to Anderson Cooper on CNN and who announced that she was seeking a book deal and then changed her mind, and on Rachel Jeantel, the much-maligned black teenager who appeared on Piers Morgan’s television show to respond to the attacks she endured after her testimony about her friend Trayvon’s final minutes alive.
In the CNN interview, during which her identity was concealed, juror B37 said at the start of deliberations she and two other jurors were in favor of Zimmerman’s acquittal; two wanted conviction of manslaughter; and one wanted conviction of second-degree murder.
But as they started going through the evidence, the person who initially wanted second-degree murder changed her vote to manslaughter and then eventually to acquittal.
B37 said some jurors wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something, but there was just no place to go based on the law.
“I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict,” she said, sounding as though she was about to cry. “We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards. I don’t think any of us could ever do anything like that ever again.”
In her analysis of the case, B37 said she was certain Zimmerman feared for his life during the confrontation with Martin that concluded when he blasted a hole in Martin’s chest.
“I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into,” the juror said. “I think they both could have walked away.”
“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. “But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.”
“When he was in the car, and he had called 911, he shouldn’t have gotten out of that car,” she said.
She also said she believes Martin threw the first punch in the confrontation that followed.
“I think George got in a little bit too deep, which he shouldn’t have been there. But Trayvon decided that he wasn’t going to let him scare him … and I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him,” she said.
Zimmerman felt his life was in danger before shooting Martin, and it was his voice that was heard screaming for help in 911 calls, the juror said.
“He had a right to defend himself,” she said. “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.”
As for the book deal, Seattle-based literary agent Sharlene Martin first announced Monday that she was representing B37 and her husband, who is an attorney.
But late Monday, Martin — who was subjected to voluminous attacks on social media after the first announcement — released a statement saying she was no longer representing the juror and that B37 had changed her mind about the book idea.
“Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury,” B37 said in a statement on Martin’s Twitter account released earlier today.
B37 said Sanford Police Detective Chris Serino made a big impression on her because he would have been accustomed to dealing with murders and similar cases, and would have known how to spot a liar.
Serino, whose department initially didn’t even want to arrest Zimmerman because they believed he had done nothing wrong, testified that he believed everything Zimmerman said.
B37 said she was not impressed by the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, who was talking with Martin by cellphone moments before he was fatally shot by Zimmerman and who was considered the state’s star witness. Jeantel was subjected to a great deal of abuse by trial observers, even in the African-American community, because of her attitude and lack of articulateness.
“I didn’t think it was very credible, but I felt very sorry for her,” the juror said. “She didn’t want to be there.”
For her part, Jeantel went on Piers Morgan’s show and said that the juror’s characterization of her made her “angry” and “upset.” She said that the lawyers had no clue what type of person she really was.
She said Zimmerman’s acquittal made her “disappointed, upset and angry” and said the jury’s assessment of what happened was “just B.S.”
Jeantel described Martin as a “calm, chill, loving person” and said she never saw him get “aggressive” or “lose his temper” and that he was not a “thug.” About his mild drug use, she said, “Weed don’t make him go crazy, it just makes him go hungry.”
As for her lack of articulation, Jeantel said she was born with an under-bite that has made it difficult for her to speak clearly. Asked by Morgan whether she had been bullied for her condition, she responded, “Look at me,” as the studio audience laughed.
Jeantel also further explained her much-discussed “creepy-ass cracker” description that she said Trayvon gave her for Zimmerman while they were on the phone. She said the term is spelled “cracka” and it is used by young African-Americans to describe “people who are acting like they’re police.”
Jeantel said that if Zimmerman had approached Martin and introduced himself, her friend would have politely said what he was doing there and nothing more would have happened.
Unlike juror B37, Jeantel said she believed Zimmerman was racially motivated.
“It was racial,” she said. “Let’s be honest, racial. If Trayvon was white and he had a hoodie on, would that happen?”
Jeantel said Martin was “creeped out” and believed Zimmerman was following him, even worrying that he might be a “rapist.” She asked, “For every boy or every man who’s not that kind of way, seeing a grown man following them, would they be creeped out?”