An all-female jury will begin hearing the murder case against Florida man George Zimmerman, who is accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin last year.
The six women were picked Thursday to serve on the jury after nine days of questioning. The jurors come from different backgrounds and have varying knowledge about the case against the former neighborhood watch volunteer, according to the Associated Press.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the murder, saying he killed 17-year-old Martin in self-defense after being attacked. But prosecutors have argued that he profiled and murdered the teenager.
The panel appeared to reporters who were covering the jury selection to be made up of five white women and a sixth who may be Hispanic, the AP reported. Four alternate jurors — two women and two men — will hear the case as well, CNN reports.
"This is probably as critical if not more critical than the evidence," Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, told USA Today, regarding the makeup of the jury.
"The question of whether every American can get equal justice regardless of who serves on their jury panel will be answered," the statement said. "We firmly believe that when these jurors see the overwhelming evidence that will be put before them in the coming weeks, they will find George Zimmerman guilty of murder on the night in question."
In a major ruling in the case, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson decided on a defense motion on Friday that was seeking to block certain phrases – like saying Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop" and that he profiled Martin – from trial. Nelson ruled that prosecutors will be able to use those phrases, and can also say "vigilante" if they choose, but should avoid saying Trayvon was "racially profiled," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Prosecutor John Guy has argued that there were a number of ways someone could be profiled.
"That is not a racially charged term unless it's made so, and we don't intend to make it a racially charged term," Guy said, according to the AP. "There are a number of avenues someone can be profiled in any one way or combination. We don't intend to say he was solely profiled because of race."
Nelson was also expected to rule on whether state expert witnesses will be allowed to testify about who was screaming in the background of a 911 call before Trayvon's shooting.
The state's forensic audio analysts say it's likely Martin's screams, not Zimmerman's, that were captured by a neighbor's 911 call. That decision may not come until Monday, when opening statements are scheduled to begin, according to the Orlando Sentinel.