More than a year after the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin sparked controversy across the country, prosecution and defense lawyers will finally get to outline their cases to a Florida jury.
Opening statements are set for Monday morning in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial. The proceedings start following a marathon nine days of jury selection to find objective candidates who had not already formed an opinion about Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence.
Zimmerman, 29, shot and killed Martin as the unarmed teen was walking back to the home of his father’s fiancee from a Sanford, Fla., convenience store with a bag of candy on the night of Feb. 26, 2012.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty in Martin’s slaying.
Jury selection in Zimmerman’s trial concluded Thursday, with a panel of six female jurors chosen to decide his fate. The jurors and four alternates were sequestered at an unknown location over the weekend in order to eliminate the possibility of their exposure to outside influences.
Monday’s opening statements in Seminole County Circuit Court will preview the essence of the trial.
Zimmerman’s attorneys claim he acted in self-defense when he was attacked by Martin while on a neighborhood watch patrol. The prosecution will likely suggest Zimmerman, who is Hispanic-American, profiled and murdered Martin.
The defense has not yet decided if Zimmerman will take the stand. That decision will likely be made after the prosecution presents its case.
The long-awaited proceedings have piqued the interest of the nation and fed a national debate about racism, self-defense laws and gun control.
The trial, before Circuit Judge Debra Nelson in Seminole County, is expected to last more than a month. During that time, both sides will try to convince the jury of their version of the events of Feb. 26, 2012.
If convicted, Zimmerman could face a possible sentence of life in prison.
Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. EST.