It has been more than 16 months since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed after running to the store to buy candy and iced tea.
Now, the shooter, George Zimmerman, is on trial for second-degree murder in Seminole County, Fla.
The controversy and media saturation is nothing new to Central Floridians, who were glued to the Casey Anthony trial two years ago, and the first week of testimony has lived up to the hype:
The Jury: Per Florida law, only six jurors were seated to hear the evidence. (Florida only uses a 12-member jury for capital cases, such as 2011’s Casey Anthony trial.) The six jurors are all women, five of them mothers. Ranging in age from early 30s to late 60s, five of the jurors are white and one is Hispanic. Most of them are middle class, working in jobs such as nursing, property management, and real estate sales. Two are retired.
Opening Arguments: Both the prosecution and defense began their opening statements with a bang. Prosecutor John Guy began with a swear word. “F—ing punks. These a holes, they always get away,” he stated, quoting from Zimmerman’s controversial 911 call. “Those were the words in that man’s chest when he got out of his car armed with a fully loaded semiautomatic pistol and two flashlights to follow on foot Trayvon Benjamin Martin.” At the sound of the F-bomb, some of the older jurors looked shocked. Meanwhile, defense lawyer Don West began his statements with an ill-timed knock-knock joke before asserting that his client was simply defending himself when the gun went off.
The Star Witness: Rachel Jeantel was chatting with Martin on the phone when he first encountered Zimmerman. During her day-long testimony, Jeantel sometimes sparred with the defense team as they pointed out perceived inconsistencies in her testimony. In one of the most controversial moments so far, Jeantel told the hushed courtroom that Martin had used racial slurs during the conversation, including calling Zimmerman a “creepy-ass cracker.”
The Eyewitnesses: It was a dark, rainy night on February 26, 2012, so the neighbors are all over the place in recounting what they saw as they peered out their windows. Neighbor Selene Bahadoor said she saw some of the struggle, but could not identify who was who. Another neighbor, Jayne Surdyka, said that she heard a terrified cry for help, presumably by Trayvon Martin. “It was excruciating,” she testified. “I really felt it was a boy’s voice.” But later, neighbor John Good testified that he saw Martin straddling Zimmerman in the moments before the shooting, which would indicate that Martin was the aggressor.
The Crime Scene: Prosecutors showed jurors a photo of Martin’s dead body – his eyes and mouth open. As the jurors looked at the horrifying photo, Martin’s parents left the courtroom. Although Martin’s parents are on the witness list, they are permitted to sit in the courtroom because they are the victim’s parents.
The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.