Sequestered Zimmerman jurors got mani-pedis, went bowling, saw movies

Updated
The empty jury box for the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fla., is seen on June 17.
The empty jury box for the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fla., is seen on June 17.
Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel pool via AP

The all-female jury in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial was under close watch by court deputies during the 22 day sequester and spent plenty of quality time together, including trips to get manicures and pedicures, movie and bowling outings, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office revealed on Wednesday.

Beginning on June 21, the six-woman jury lived in a Marriott hotel in Lake Mary, Fla., and were closely monitored to prevent them from any exposure to outside information about the case.

Each had individual rooms but the jurors would frequently meet for meals and to socialize, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office released Wednesday. But in all their time together they were not allowed to discuss the case until deliberations began.

And all television, Internet use, reading materials, mail and phone calls were screened and monitored by deputies to prevent the women from coming across any information about the trial.

Any visitors were asked to sign an agreement indicating they would not discuss the case during their visit. Members of the jury could use their cell phones only once each day to check voicemail or make calls — in the presence of a deputy.

Yet, even though the jurors lived in a bubble for more than three weeks, they were allowed to have some fun.

Weekend and evening social events included bowling, and a trip to Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in scenic St. Augustine, Fla.

They also went to the movies and saw “World War Z” and “The Lone Ranger,” — both films that were pre-approved by the court.

The panel even went shopping at a local mall, got manicures and pedicures, and watched fireworks together on the Fourth of July.

Most breakfast and dinner meals were provided through the hotel, officials said, but jurors dined out twice: at an Outback Steakhouse in Sanford and at an Amigo’s in Altamonte Springs.

The total cost of the sequester was about $33,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

Despite the diverting excursions during the trial, however, the jurors that found Zimmerman not guilty of a crime in the shooting that left Florida teenager Trayvon Martin dead have since had such a strong emotional reaction to the case that the court is making counseling available to them, officials announced Wednesday.

But Seminole County Court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy did not say how many of the jurors were taking advantage of the counseling.
Four of the jurors had released a statement Tuesday appealing for privacy.

“We ask you to remember that we are not public officials and we did not invite this type of attention into our lives,” the four women, identified only by their juror number, said in the statement.

“Serving on this jury has been a highly emotional and physically draining experience for each of us. The death of a teenager weighed heavily on our hearts but in the end we did what the law required us to do.”

The jurors also distanced themselves from remarks a fellow juror has made publicly following the verdict. In interviews on CNN, the Juror B-37 said Martin “played a huge role” in his own death and said “he could have walked away and gone home.”

In their statement, the four jurors said, “The opinions of Juror B-37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below.” The note was signed Juror B-51, Juror B-76, Juror E-6 and Juror E-40.

Juror B-37 had plans to pen a book about the experience, citing the isolation of being sequestered as a reason. She later scrapped those plans.

“Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury,” Juror B-37 said in a statement.

 

NBC News’ Jeff Black and Tom Winter contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company has strongly denied the allegation.

A version of this story was originally posted on NBCNews.com

Sequestered Zimmerman jurors got mani-pedis, went bowling, saw movies

Updated