Skip to main content

George Zimmerman was 'justified' in shooting Trayvon Martin, juror says

By Dana Ford, CNN
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "We did what the law required us to do," say four other jurors
  • They say the opinions of Juror B37 are not "representative"
  • Juror B37 spoke exclusively to CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" about the case
  • She says Zimmerman "wanted to do good" but "went overboard"

(CNN) -- George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.

The woman, known as Juror B37, spoke exclusively to CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." Part 1 of the interview aired Monday, and part 2 aired Tuesday night.

Shortly after the interview segment Tuesday, four other jurors released a statement responding to her comments.

"We, the undersigned jurors, understand there is a great deal of interest in this case. But we ask you to remember that we are not public officials and we did not invite this type of attention into our lives," they said.

"We also wish to point out that the opinions of Juror B37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below."

The jurors identified themselves only by their jury pool numbers.

Zimmerman jury: B37 doesn't speak for us
Juror: We did care about Trayvon Martin
Juror: Skittles comparison 'ridiculous'
Juror explains how verdict was reached

CNN Exclusive: What Juror B37 said that left people riveted

Juror B37 told CNN she wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of "not using his senses," but that "you can't charge him with anything because he didn't do anything unlawful."

She said Zimmerman "started the ball rolling" and could have avoided the situation by staying in his car.

"But he wanted to do good. I think he had good in his heart, he just went overboard," the juror said.

Asked later whether she thought Zimmerman was within his rights, she was unequivocal: "He was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin."

Opinion: Best way to respond to Martin verdict? Vote

'We can't give them the verdict that they wanted'

The woman was part of a six-person, all-female jury that found Zimmerman not guilty.

As the first juror to speak about the case, she offered insight into what happened behind closed doors.

The jury was initially split -- three and three along the line of guilt -- she said. Juror B37 was among those who believed Zimmerman was not guilty from the start.

There was one holdout, the juror said.

"She wanted to find him guilty of something, but couldn't because of the way the law is written. He wasn't responsible for negligible things that he had done leading up to that point," she said, stressing that she and the other jurors took their responsibility seriously.

"I don't want people to think that we didn't think about this, and we didn't care about Trayvon Martin, because we did. We're very sad that it happened to him," she said.

The juror said she cried after the verdict and before it was read.

At one point during the interview, she struggled to speak as her voice cracked.

To Martin's parents, the juror said she would tell them that she is terribly sorry for their loss.

"I feel bad that we can't give them the verdict that they wanted, but legally, we could not do that," she said.

Her emotion was echoed in the statement from the four other jurors.

"The death of a teenager weighed heavily on our hearts, but in the end we did what the law required us to do," they said.

Martin friend 'upset, angry' by verdict

'I hope he gets some peace'

Just as she believes Zimmerman was guilty of not using common sense, Juror B37 thinks Martin was not without fault.

"I believe he played a huge role in his death," she said about the teenager.

"He could have ... When George confronted him, and 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," she said.

The juror had no doubt that Zimmerman feared for his life.

She said she didn't have a strong impression of Martin.

"All we really heard about Trayvon was the phone call that he had, and the evidence they had found on him. We basically had no information what kind of a boy Trayvon was, what he did. We knew where he went to school and that was pretty much about it, and he lived in Miami," she said.

Asked about what role race might have played in the trial, which grew into a national debate about gun laws and race in America, the juror said it did not matter.

Zimmerman did not target Martin, who was African-American, because of the color of his skin, she said.

The juror believes he profiled him because of the suspicious way he acted.

"I don't think race had anything to do with this trial. I mean just because he was black and George was Spanish or Puerto Rican, I don't think it had anything to do with this trial. But I think people are looking for things to make race play a part," the juror said.

She added that she hopes Zimmerman will be able to move on.

"I hope he gets some peace," she said. "I hope his family can live a normal life after a while. I don't know how he's ever gonna do that, but I hope he can. He'll never forget, but I hope he can."

Radio host offers Rachel Jeantel a full ride to college

Verdict doesn't end debate in Trayvon Martin death

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 10pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
George Zimmerman
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Let's get ready to ... mumble.
January 25, 2014 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
September 29, 2013 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
George Zimmerman's estranged wife said that while she respects the jury's not guilty verdict in his second-degree murder trial, she now has doubts about his innocence.
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
George Zimmerman's defense team says people should delve into the "substance" of other comments made by a juror who claimed the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1712 GMT (0112 HKT)
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 1952 GMT (0352 HKT)
Four days after he was acquitted of murder, George Zimmerman stepped out of seclusion to help a family.
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
Florida law kept George Zimmerman from being held accountable in last year's shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen's mom said.
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 0210 GMT (1010 HKT)
Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."
July 20, 2013 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
The nation has a long history of self-defense laws. Almost every state allows some version of the "castle" defense, as in "a man's home is his castle."
July 18, 2013 -- Updated 0443 GMT (1243 HKT)
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN pushing for new laws.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had "no doubt" he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 0504 GMT (1304 HKT)
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with Zimmerman said she is upset at his acquittal on murder charges.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
His trial's over. And now it turns out that George Zimmerman might need the same thing millions of Americans are looking for: a job.
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
An employee of the Florida State Attorney's Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman's defense team has been fired.
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
This might sound like a legal conundrum.
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Suspected racism in the justice system, deep-seated, secretive and historic, was the crux of the case for millions, writes Tom Foreman.
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Just like most any other teenager, Trayvon Martin enjoyed listening to music and going to the movies, friends and family said.
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
With a single phrase, Rachel Jeantel, that friend of Trayvon Martin's, may have lit a fuse in the trial of his accused killer.
ADVERTISEMENT