said the juror.
"There was a couple of 'em in there that wanted to find him guilty of something," she added.
The law wasn't a model of clarity.
One of the jurors wondered about how self-defense law applied in Zimmerman's situation when he got out of his car and followed Trayvon. The jurors asked the court a question about it, but B37 didn't recall the specifics.
Zimmerman said he thought the 17-year-old looked suspicious in the burglary-prone neighborhood. B37 said none of the jurors thought Zimmerman was motivated by racial animus.
"George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhood," she said. "He went above and beyond what he should have done. But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong."
Was he guilty of something? Cooper asked.
"He's guilty of not using good judgment," she continued. "When he was in the car, he had called 911, he shouldn't have gotten out of that car.
"But the 911 operator... kind of egged him on," she said. "He should have said 'stay in your car' not 'can you see where he's gone?'"
The transcript of that 911 call, however, indicates the dispatcher wasn't encouraging Zimmerman, but trying to get a fix on the direction Trayvon was going when Zimmerman was describing the teen's movements. Then, when Zimmerman acknowledged he was following Trayvon, the dispatcher said: "Ok, we don't need you to do that."
The prosecution argued that Zimmerman hunted Trayvon down because the neighborhood watch volunteer was armed with a Kel-Tec 9mm handgun, his "equalizer." Trayvon was unarmed.
The jury ultimately didn't buy the state's argument or feel prosecutors provided adequate proof.
But lawyers and partisans are divided over whether Stand Your Ground made the prosecution's job tougher.
Those who side with prosecutors say the state would have had an easier time pressing their case under Florida's pre-Stand Your Ground jury instructions, which required the defendant to show how he "used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force."
"The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force," the old instructions read, according to a copy furnished by former Miami Beach Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber, a one-time prosecutor who voted against Stand Your Ground in 2005.
But Zimmerman's supporters say that, even under the old law, he would have been able to use deadly force because he said he lost sight of Trayvon, who then surprised and attacked Zimmerman as he walked back to his car.
At that point, Zimmerman had no way to retreat and had to defend himself, supporters say, entitling him to a general self-defense claim that would have predated Stand Your Ground.
Zimmerman began losing the fight and was in great fear for his safety, juror B37 said. She said she believed that Zimmerman, not Trayvon, could be heard screaming for his life in the background of a 911 call a neighbor placed during the melee.
In closing arguments, the prosecution appeared to emphasize the details of the fight -- how Zimmerman pulled his gun and how many blows Trayvon landed -- more than the details of the man's pursuit of the teen.
And that might have affected the jurors, who apparently focused more on the fight as well.
"So even though it was he who had gotten out of his car, followed Trayvon Martin, that didn't matter in the deliberations?" Cooper asked B37. "What mattered was those final seconds, minutes when there was an altercation and whether or not... George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger?"
"Well, that's how we read the law," she said. "That's how we got to the point of everyone believing not guilty."
"We decided there's just no other place to go," the juror said earlier.
"Because of the only two options you had: The second-degree murder or manslaughter?" Coooper asked. "You felt neither applied."
"Right. Well, because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground," she said. "He had a right to defend himself. 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."
(c)2013 The Miami Herald
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