Jury selection begins today in the George Zimmerman murder trial in Sanford

Headline Surfer, greater Daytona Beach's 24/7 internet newspaper, among 3 dozen media outlets with seating for high profile case

George Zimmerman shakes hands with co-defense counsel Don West / Headline SurferPool photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel / for Headline Surfer /
George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin shakes hands with one of his attorneys, Don West, after court was recessed for the day Saturday following a preliminary hearing at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Fla. 
 

SANFORD -- Security will be extremely tight when jury selection gets under way this morning at the Seminole County Courthouse for George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin -- the high profile case that galvanized the nation with gun rights advocates on one side and claims of racism on the other side since the victim was a 17-year-old black youth and an arrest wasn't immediately forthcoming leading to nationwide protests.

Not since the Casey Anthony murder trial ended in a not-guilty verdict for the mother in the killing of toddler daughter, Caylee, has Florida been waiting on such a high-profile trial.

Headline Surfer will bring the news to its readers online as it develops throughout the course of the trial, which is expected to last at least a month, if not longer.

Jury selection will be especially trying since the case is one of the most covered in modern times. The jury is to be comprised of six people who live in 18th Judicial Circuit, which comprises Seminole and Brevard counties, though most are expected to come from the greater Sanford area where the killing occurred.

Along with the choosing of six jurors, at least three alternates will be selected as well. 

The judge has already ruled the prospective jurors will be identified by a pre-determined number ID instead of their real names and media pool providers -- The Orlando Sentinel for still photography and CNN's In Session with video feeds -- will not be allowed to capture their images. No photography is allowed inside the courthouse and media is barred from shooting the jurors leaving and entering the courthouse under law enforcement escort.

Headline Surfer, a media outlet of one, is the smallest of several hundred media outlets expected to converge on the courthouse grounds and is among only three dozen with a guaranteed seat for the entire trial. Headline Surfer will set up shop in adjoining courthouse room with video feed provided. The internet newspaper will still be able to interact with the parties involved during recesses.

Press seating for Zimmerman murder trial / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer snapshot graphic / Twenty-seven media outlets have secured seating in the courtroom for the George Zimmerman murder trial. Headline Surfer is first in line for a slot should one of the other media outlets not be able to keep up the daily grind of the trial. In the meantime, the internet newspaper is guaranteed a slot in a reserve media room, complete with video feed and work station. Headline Surfer is the lone Volusia County-based media outlet covering the Zimmerman trial from the courthouse.

The internet newspaper is among only a handful of media outlets to actually interview Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, in person, which occurred inside an SUV by their legal team headed by Benjamin Crump, following a massive rally in Miami just a few weeks after the slaying near the American Airlines Arena where thousands more people were in town for the WWE's Wrestlemania that night.

Headline Surfer is one of three media organizations worldwide to win a journalism award in 2012 for its coverage of Trayvon Martin's slaying and the demonstrations that followed. The others were the Orlando Sentinel and the Huffington Post. 

FAST FACTS: State of Florida vs. George Michael Zimmerman

Trayvon Martin in his hoodie / Headline SurferOn April 11, 2012, George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26, shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, in a gated community in Sanford. State Attorney Angela Corey filed an affidavit of probable cause, alleging Zimmerman profiled and confronted Martin and shot him to death while the youth was not in the commission of a crime. In Florida, a conviction for second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. If a firearm was used, as was the case here, then the mandatory minimum is 25 years in state prison.
Just hours after the killing, Sanford police let Zimmerman go free, saying there was no "probable cause" to arrest him, after the neighborhood watch volunteer  claimed he shot and killed the youth in self-defense while Martin was walking back to the home of his father's fiancee's after purchasing a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles from a nearby 7-Eleven.
Zimmerman told police that Martin was the aggressor and photos of Zimmerman the night of the incident show him with a bloodied, broken nose amongst other injuries. The decision not to charge Zimmerman was made by Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee after consultation with Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger under Florida's so-called "Stand your Ground" defense, which allows a person not to have to retreat when their life is threatened and to use deadly force, if necessary.
This led to national outrage with petitions for Zimmerman's arrest through social media, including 2.2 million signatures with Change.org. A series of protests erupted, first by 30,000 strong in Sanford, followed by even larger demonstrations in Miami, Chicago and elsewhere, that led to the subsequent leave of absence and eventual firing of Sanford PD. Chief Lee and state attorney Wolfinger's resignation from the case in favor of Gov. Scott's appointment of Corey.
With minorities and others claiming institutional racism in law enforcement, pro-gun advocates also spoke out in support of the Stand Your Ground legislation.
But on April 11, Zimmerman was formally charged by Corey with second degree, telling a world-wide audience through the media: "I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly. This case is like a lot of the difficult cases we have handled for years here in our circuit. And we made this decision in the same manner. Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida.
 

KEY PLAYERS

For the prosecution:

Zimmerman Prosecutor Angela Corey / Headline SurferAngela Corey

On March 22, 2012, Florida governor Rick Scott appointed Corey as special prosecutor to investigate the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Corey, 58, is the state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit in greater Jacksonville who succeeded Harry Shorstein, who had fired her, after which she went to work in the 7th judicial circuit under then-State Attorney John Tanner, before winning the 4th judicial circuit's state attorney post in 2008, after Shorstein announced he was retiring.
 

Bernie de la Rionda

He is the lead prosecutor in the Zimmerman trial under Corey.  De la Rionda, was a 4-year-old stowaway who escaped communist Cuba and raised in the U.S. by his grandparents,. He has more than 30 years of prosecutorial experience.
De la Rionda was the FBI's 2010 recipient of the  “Director’s Community Leadership Award.
 

John Guy

The assistant state attorney is the third member of Corey's team for the Zimmerman trial. He's been with the 4th circuit since 1993, and has tried more 100 cases.
 
Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin / photo copyright Headline SurferTrayvon Martin's parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are the parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin. Though divorced prior to their son's death, the parents have been to every court proceeding and at the earlier rallies throughout Florida. Both are listed as witnesses for the prosecution.
 

Attorney Benjamin Crump represents Trayvon Martin's parentsBenjamin Crump 

The high-powered Tallahassee-based civil attorney of Parks & Crump, is not part of the prosecution team, but he does represent the interests of Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, both at the trial, with the media and other legal interests of the parents.
 

For the defense:

George Zimmerman arrest mug / Headline SurferGeorge Zimmerman

George Michael Zimmerman, born Oct. 5, 1983, in Manassas, Va, is the son of Gladys (née Mesa) Zimmerman, who was born in Peru, and Robert Zimmerman, Sr., a retired Virginia magistrate. He was raised Catholic family. Zimmerman's voter registration record lists him as Hispanic. In 2009, Zimmerman moved with his wife to The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, a multi-ethnic gated community, where the shooting occurred. He was employed as an insurance underwriter and was in his final semester at Seminole State College for an associate degree in criminal justice, at the time of the fatal encounter with Trayvon Martin.
 

Zimmerman lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara / Headline SurferMark O’Mara

He is the lead defense attorney for George Zimmerman. O’Mara was a prosecutor before switching sides and is the current president of the Seminole County Bar Association. O’Mara has 28 years of experience in family and criminal law. O’Mara was previously a legal analyst for Orlando TV station WKMG and is well known for holding court for the media. 
 

Zimmerman co-counsel Don West / Headline SurferDon West

He is the co-counsel on the Zimmerman defense team. West, with more than 30 years in criminal defense in metro Orlando, is a specialist in murder trials and among the elite in handling death penalty cases (though that's not in play in this trial). West has also represented some famous people in civil cases, including music mogul Lou Perlman of Backstreet Boys fame.
 

For the court:

Zimmerman trial Judge Debra Nelson / Headline SurferCircuit Judge Debra Nelson

She's the presiding judge in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, and the third judge since Zimmerman's case first went to court. The first two judges recused themselves over conflicts in the case. 

Headline Surfer Multimedia: 

The video at left is a 9-1-1 recording of a neighbor reporting the confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin during which the sound of the fatal gunshot can be heard.
 
The second video at right is a 9-1-1 recording made by George Zimmerman who is told not to pursue Martin. Zimmerman remarks at one point: These (expletive)holes always get away. Zimmerman is asked, Are you following him?" to which he replies, "yes," causing the dispatcher to state, "We don't need you to do that." 
 

The video at left shows one of the earlier marches, shown here on 17-92 west of DeLand. Students from several Volusia County colleges took part in the march to the Sanford Police Department.
 
At right, NBA star Alonzo Mourning is among the speakers at a huge rally in Miami demanding "Justice for Trayvon." 
 

In the video at left, Tallahassee attorney Benjamin Crump leads the rallying cry, "I am Trayvon," during the rally in Miami just weeks after the Trayvon Martin slaying.
 
In the video at right, students at the Miami rally perform a skit in honor of Trayvon Martin.
 

In the video at left, The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks briefly with Headline Surfer (aka NSBNews.net) following the Miami Rally for Trayvon Martin.
 
At right, Headline Surfer speaks exclusively with Trayvon Martin's parents in an SUV immediately following  the Miami rally, an interview that garnered the internet newspaper an award from the Florida Press Club.
 
All eight Headline Surfer videos above produced by Multimedia Editor Serafina Frederick / Videos copyright of NSB News LLC and may not be copied or reproduced without expressed prior written permission of the publisher.  
 

Related Coverage:

Zimmerman coverage / Headline Surfer24/7 internet newspaper's advance coverage of Zimmerman trial tops Google News Directories for Sanford, FL
Posted Mon, 2013-06-10 06:01
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.