Dismissed juror in Zimmerman trial returns to court, gets escorted out

SANFORD, Fla. — Channel 9 has learned a potential juror in the George Zimmerman trial who had been dismissed Wednesday returned to the Seminole County courthouse on Friday and had to be escorted out.

The man, referred to only by his juror number, E7, was at the courthouse demanding to know how the defense learned of a website post that got him dismissed earlier this week.

The posting read, in part: "In Sanford and I can tell you this. Justice is coming."

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. He has pleaded not guilty.

The prospective juror was in the hot seat Wednesday for nearly an hour being grilled by attorneys for both sides.

"So certainly you've never been on one of those websites, or posted a comment or participated in a discussion?" Zimmerman defense attorney Don West said.

"Ah, no," said E7.

Minutes later, Judge Debra Nelson was presented with information that E7 was mistaken.

"Did you post something on March 21, 2012, under the Coffee Party Progressives?" asked Nelson.

"Yes," he said. "Fifteen months ago, when (Zimmerman) gets arrested. Oh sure, I'm posting opinions."

The social media comment got the Lake Mary man dismissed from the jury pool.

Once inside the courthouse on Friday, the dismissed juror began to express several concerns about his privacy and his treatment by the court system, so an investigator referred him to the clerk of courts and advised him to seek legal counsel.

Authorities said that's when the man walked away from the investigator and down to the jury assembly room. There, the officer told E7 he had been dismissed and was not allowed in the jury assembly area or have any contact with any potential jurors until after the trial has concluded.

The deputy clerk of court referred E7 to the clerk's office, which is when he replied, "Do they know what they are in for?" referring to other potential jurors.

The dismissed juror then went to the Clerk's Office. When finished, E7 was advised that he was barred from entry to the courthouse until the conclusion of the Zimmerman trial.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, held a news conference following Friday’s court session.

“There was somebody who we were able to identify that they were being less than straightforward in their presentation. That's putting it as gently as I can,” said O’Mara. “And thank God that was uncovered before it got worse, because not only would that potential stealth juror have their own agenda, but then they affect everybody else with it, and the do it in a stealth way, so all of the sudden you have a jury who thinks they're listening to somebody who speaks the truth, when they are only speaking their own truth.”

O'Mara went on to say that had the potential juror actually gotten through to the other potential jurors, things could have been bad.

“I understand he may have actually been attempting to get to some of the jurors, so that's devastating to this process,” said O’Mara. “He would have cost this system a week of time, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars of effort that the sheriff's department, clerk's office, judge and lawyers put into this case. He could have done away with that with one scream into a jury room about something. I'm very glad that the sheriff's office did what they should have done.”

But E7 told Channel 9's Ryan Hughes on Friday that he simply went to the courthouse to ask court officials to urge the judge to further protect prospective jurors.

"This is all I did, and this is hurting me," he said about the media attention after his dismissal.

E7 was hoping more information isn't released by the court in regards to other jurors, saying some media outlets have called him a "stealth juror" who "lied his way on the jury" to find Zimmerman guilty.

He told Hughes he was taken into a holding area and was photographed before officially being barred from the building.

E7 said he was escorted to vehicle as deputies took pictures of his car.

Following his dismissal Wednesday, E7 told Channel 9 some people want him charged with perjury, though it is unlikely that will happen.

"Until they showed it to me, I didn't know I had responded to a website," the former prospective juror said.

The former prospective juror wrote that he believed Zimmerman's family might've pulled strings and that's why he didn't initially get charged.

"I mean, you got one guy minding his own business -- going to his dad's house carrying a soda and Skittles and another guy who think he's Johnny Law. So it begged the question," E7 told reporter Hughes.

"What do you think you would've reached if you were on the jury?" asked Channel 9's Ryan Hughes.

"It depends on what the facts were," E7 said.