• Sequestered Zimmerman trial jurors had alone time with family during trial


    SANFORD, Fla. - The six women who acquitted George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin's killing were sequestered during the trial, but Channel 9 learned those jurors were allowed hours of time alone with friends and family.

    Channel 9's Kathi Belich confirmed the jurors were left unsupervised with guests at times, which WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said is more than enough time for a member to have said something that could have influenced a juror and possibly impacted the verdict.

    The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said Judge Debra Nelson allowed jurors generally no more than two hours of alone time with visitors once a week.

    Nelson didn't decide until three days into the trial to sequester the jury after potential jurors voiced concerns about their privacy and safety.

    Channel 9 obtained the agreement the judge had all of the jurors' visitors sign in which they agreed "the case or anything even remotely related to the case must not be talked about."

    Sheaffer said allowing sequestered jurors to have unsupervised visits invites criticism and questions over the integrity of the verdict.

    "It only takes two seconds for an inappropriate comment to be made to a juror by a family member inadvertently or otherwise to possibly affect the verdict, how they look at the case," Sheaffer said.

    The law says it's up to the judge to decide how far to take the sequestration of jurors.

    And there are questions being raised now about juror B37, who reportedly signed with a literary agent hours after the verdict and about when she and her husband discussed a plan to write a book.

    "We'll never know unless someone comes out and admits it, and what are the chances of that?" said Sheaffer.

    Channel 9 has not heard of any evidence that suggest juror B37 or any other juror did anything wrong during the trial.

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