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


Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel pool via AP

The empty jury box for the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fla., is seen on June 17.

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 and movie and bowling outings, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office revealed Wednesday.

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

Each had an individual room, 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 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 who 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 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 numbers, 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 since the verdict. In interviews on CNN, 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 write 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.

The remarks of the jury, which was sequestered throughout the high-profile trial, comes as city politicians and social justice activists across the country have urged peaceful demonstrations after the verdict incited a number of protests, including some that turned violent.

"We don’t want anyone hurt. We don’t want any cars broken into, and we don’t want any damages to business," Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association told NBC Los Angeles.

Fourteen people were arrested after more demonstrations roiled Los Angeles on Monday night, some of which involved clashes with police. City police Chief Charlie Beck said lawbreakers would not be tolerated during the protests.

"You come here again tonight, you will go to jail," Beck said Tuesday afternoon.

Protests were more destructive in Oakland, Calif., where businesses were vandalized Monday night. Interim Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said on Tuesday that his department was caught unawares by the unrest because he didn't know that the Zimmerman jury was planning on deliberating over the weekend, NBC Bay Area reported.

"We didn’t find out they were deliberating until Saturday. We were preparing for a protest, but we didn’t think it was going to happen over the weekend," Whent said.

The pleas for calm appeared to pay off Tuesday night as protests at Los Angeles City Hall and in the neighborhood of Leimert Park went on without any arrests, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Civil rights leaders including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts a show on MSNBC and is president of the National Action Network, have planned vigils across the country and plan to lead marches in cities including Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee, Fla.

"Florida will be the battleground of a new civil rights movement," Sharpton said. "This is a movement for social justice."

The first action, Sharpton said, will be held Saturday as Martin supporters plan to gather outside federal courthouses and other government buildings in 100 cities to call on the Department of Justice to investigate whether civil rights charges should be pressed in the shooting.

"On Saturday night with the verdict we lost the battle, but the war is not over, and we intend to fight," Sharpton said.

Zimmerman is of white and Hispanic descent, and Martin was black, but state prosecutors did not make race a major issue during the trial.

Defense lawyer Mark O’Mara has said race was not a factor in the confrontation.

The protests will also challenge Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, language from which was included in the jury instructions for Zimmerman. The neighborhood watch volunteer pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and said he shot Martin as an act of self-defense. Civil rights leaders will gather in Miami in late July to plan actions against the law, which exists in different forms in states outside Florida.

“As long as ‘Stand Your Ground’ is on the books, we will continue to have the potential of other Trayvon Martins,” Sharpton said.

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.


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