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Juror B37: Panel Was Initially Split in Zimmerman Verdict

The first juror to speak publicly said she thought George Zimmerman did not use "good judgment."

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As a Florida jury's decision to acquit George Zimmerman of all charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin continues to spark outrage across the world, one of the jurors stepped forward Monday to reveal information about the group's deliberations, saying she had "no doubt" that Zimmerman feared for his life before he shot the teenager.

[VOTE: Should George Zimmerman Have Been Acquitted?]

In an interview on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," the juror, who was identified as Juror B37, said the group was initially split, with three voting to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter or second-degree murder. In the end, however, the juror said the decision came down to determining what Zimmerman was feeling in the final minutes, or even seconds, leading up to the moment he shot the 17-year-old.

"I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place," she told Cooper. "It just went terribly wrong."

The woman, who was the first juror to speak publicly about the trial, said she thought Zimmerman did not use good judgment when we got out of his car and followed the teenager last February. But she also said she felt that the 911 operator, who Zimmerman had called to report what he said was suspicious activity, egged Zimmerman on.

"I think he should have said, 'Stay in your car,' not 'Can you see where he's gone?'," the woman said.

[ALSO: Even London Is Protesting the Trayvon Martin Verdict]

Other 911 calls made during the encounter captured someone screaming for help in the background. Being able to determine whose voice was recorded on the call would have been a pivotal piece of information in the case, because it could help indicate who the aggressor was.

Although the parents of both Martin and Zimmerman testified that it was their own son's voice on the call, juror B37 said most of the panel was in agreement that it was Zimmerman's voice.

After reviewing the evidence and listening to 911 calls several times, juror B37 said the panel narrowed down its decision to either manslaughter or "not guilty." But the jury determined that it was what Zimmerman was feeling during the final moments of the encounter that would determine whether he acted out of self defense.

"Because of the heat of the moment and the 'Stand Your Ground' (law), he had the right to defend himself," she told Cooper. "If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right."

[OPINION: Zimmerman's Not Guilty, But He's Not Out of the Woods Yet]

And although Zimmerman's attorneys did not use the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law in their defense, the trial caused a debate on the law to resurface.

Florida is one of 22 states with such a law that states a person is "justified in the use of deadly force and does not have the duty to retreat" if that person believes there is a threat to his or her life.

In a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott dated about a month after Martin was killed, state Sen. Christopher Smith, D-29th, argued that there were "inherent" ambiguities in the law that needed to be addressed. Smith again decried the laws after the verdict was announced and called for a review.

"The fact that a child is dead and an armed man can now walk free without so much as a backward glance sends the wrong message to Florida and its citizens," he said in a released statement.

 

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