ZIMMERMAN TRIAL: All-female jury set to begin Monday - KMSP-TV

ZIMMERMAN TRIAL: All-female jury set to begin Monday

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An all-female jury will decide George Zimmerman's fate. There are six in all -- five of whom are white and one who identifies herself as Hispanic and black.

George Zimmerman's Defense Attorney, Mark O'Mara told FOX, "It is the waiting that is frustrating for everybody -- particularly him, waiting 15, 16 months to clear his name. Now, we get to start. I think he's happy that we got the jury in place."

Zimmerman may be happy, but the long-standing question remains: Is he guilty of second degree murder? The jury will ultimately decide.

Local legal experts spoke with FOX 9 News to weigh in on the composition of the jury and how it could affect the outcome of the case.

Valerie Jensen serves as executive director of Diversity in Practice, a Minneapolis-based association of law firms and corporate legal departments.

"Having two sons myself who are men of color who wear hoodies, I'm concerned that there's not an African American [juror]," Jensen admitted. "You don't know how this young woman identifies, and you can't guarantee that she's a minority that she identifies with a minority in the case."

Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to murder charges after shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sandford, Fla., in February 2012. He contends he was acting in self-defense.

"If I was the prosecution, I probably would have not been as happy," said Jensen, shaking her head.

A former prosecutor herself, Jensen believes an all-female jury could very well work in Zimmerman's favor.

"Women can be more thoughtful and can be more open in some ways, and that's why some defense attorneys like to have them on the jury," she explained.

Defense Attorney Joe Tamburino agrees.

"I think women, for the most part as jurors, think of things harder, think of things more deeply, and they're less likely to stereotype and give knee-jerk reactions than men," said Tamburino, admitting the statement affirms stereotypes.

Both Jensen and Tamburino make it clear, jury composition matters. Other significant factors not be ignored are also at hand.

"The 911 people, whether it was the police or dispatcher, told him not to pursue Trayvon," Tamburino pointed out.

Meanwhile, Jensen remains curious about the jury's ability to look beyond stereotypes. She believes demographics play an influential factor in the case.

"This isn't just about Trayvon," she said. "This happens to be about how people view young, black men."

As for how much Zimmerman's identity will affect the jury's decision, it depends on who you ask.

"There are many different Latinos. Some identify as black, some identify as white. It's clear Zimmerman identifies as a white Hispanic, so I'm assuming that the defense is hoping that [the jury] will pick up on that, and that they'll really look at him as somebody they could relate to," Jensen said.

"Even though George Zimmerman identifies as a white Hispanic, he still identifies as a Latino and you have a prosecutor who identifies as Latino," noted Tamburino.

Tamburino told FOX 9 News he believes Zimmerman has a strong case. Based on Florida law and how it defines self-defense, Zimmerman did not have to retreat. He was in a legally-recognized area when he decided to use force. Whether or not that force was reasonable is up to the jury. If convicted, Zimmerman could face a life sentence.

The trial starts Monday morning.

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