Seating Zimmerman trial jury could be arduous, experts say

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SANFORD, Fla. - The family of Trayvon Martin made a public statement at the Seminole County courthouse Monday morning about what they hope for during George Zimmerman's murder trial.

"As we seek justice for our son, Trayvon, we also seek a fair and impartial trial," Tracy Martin said.

The Martin family is in court Monday, as attorneys on both sides work to choose a jury.

The first demonstrators showed up around 9:30 a.m. Monday outside the courtroom off US Highway 17-92 in Sanford.

WFTV was there as each driver coming to the Seminole County courthouse was questioned by Florida Highway Patrol. Most lots were full before 8 a.m.

"You do not want to be put in a situation where there's a problem because of security. These men and women are here to do a job and I respect that," said Attorney Melissa Stockham.

While the lots filled up, a grassy area designated for demonstrators stayed mostly empty.

Channel 9's Karla Ray spoke to both local and out-of-state protestors.

One group came in from out of state but said they won't be staying for the entire trial.

"If there's a not-guilty verdict in this, that sends a green light to every racist vigilante that it's free, you can gun down a youth of color and just because you say you thought he was doing something wrong, you're free," said Noche Diaz of New York.

Toward the back was a more quiet group of women from Sanford.

"Sanford now is there is a line in the sand. A line in the sand has been drawn," said Francis Oliver of Sanford.

Oliver said she's present for justice for Martin, a weight that's fallen now on the men and women inside court.

"We will have to depend on these six jurors and the courts to come up with a verdict," Oliver said.

Experts told Eyewitness News jury selection alone could take several weeks and could have something to do with Seminole County's demographics.

The issue of race launched the case into the national spotlight, and as a jury is selected, Consultant Susan Constantine said both sides will be trying to balance the racial makeup of the jury box.

"That's going to be a real issue here, is to find a balanced jury pool that makes everybody happy and quite frankly, I don't think that's going to happen," Constantine said.

WFTV researched Seminole County residents who will make up the first 500 people called in for jury selection.

Out of the more than 430,000 people living in Seminole County, 81 percent are white, which is slightly higher than 78 percent state average.

The 11 percent black, and 17 percent Hispanic demographic fall short of the state's makeup of 16 percent Black and 22 percent Hispanic.

The county is about 51 percent women, which also the state average.

The median household income in Seminole County is around $58,908, about $11,000 more than the state average.

Constantine said with the statistics as they are in a trial focused on racial tensions, the process of seating a jury could take longer than the trial's arguments.

"I think they can seat a jury in Seminole County but they're going to go through a lot of jurors," Constantine said.

The demonstrators said their messages are about more than justice for Martin, they're making a statement about minorities rights.

"What's at stake in this trial is whether or not it's OK to treat every black or Latino youth as a criminal with a target on his back," Diaz said.