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July 17, 2013

Zimmerman juror offers sole window into verdict

(Continued)

During the second part of her interview, which aired Tuesday night, Cooper asked B37 whether she thought Trayvon Martin had played a part in his own death.

"Oh, I believe he played a huge role in his death," she said, adding that "when George confronted him, 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."

That mentality suggests that the jury accepted, at face value, Zimmerman's pretrial statements about Martin throwing the first punch, says Orlando criminal defense lawyer Aramis Donell Ayala, who notes that juries are instructed to apply Florida's self-defense statute "at the time the force was used" — not, say, at the time one person initiates an encounter by following another.

Therein lies the larger question of how clearly the jury-selection process reveals racial biases, Ayala says, and where aggression starts in the timeline of a crime.

"The sad part is that no one sees the profiling — or the following of a person whom you've profiled — as a big enough social issue to make it illegal," she says.

Juror B37, for her part, told Cooper that "race did not play a role" in the deliberation room. In the statement released within hours of her Monday interview, she expressed a desire to fade back into obscurity.

"Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general," she said, "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."

- - -

Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia contributed to this report.

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