BLOOMINGTON— Jury selection is continuing Tuesday in the Kirk Zimmerman murder case, with six potential jurors questioned so far.
Zimmerman, 60, is charged in the November 2014 shooting death of his former wife, Pam Zimmerman.
One woman was excused from jury service after she told Judge Scott Drazewski she was unwilling to judge another person, based on her Christian beliefs.
“I try not to. If I can avoid it, I will,” the woman said of the obligation to determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
A retired Bloomington police officer also was excused. His jury survey indicated he knew 22 potential witnesses, the judge noted.
Four male jurors were selected on Monday and decisions are pending on three others also questioned on Monday.
Jury candidates are interviewed individually in the courtroom by Drazewski, First Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon and defense lawyer John Rogers.
On Monday, 19 potential jurors were interviewed. Each was asked about their knowledge of the case, the source of that information and whether they know any of the more than 100 witnesses who may testify at the trial that is expected to last four to six weeks.
The state and defense are both allowed to excuse seven jury candidates without stating a reason, and each side used two challenges Monday.
Several other would-be jurors were excused after Drazewski ruled they were disqualified based on their firm opinion that Zimmerman was guilty or a personal hardship related to financial or medical issues.
The first potential juror, an employee of State Farm, which was where Zimmerman worked before his arrest, acknowledged he had formed an opinion that the defendant is likely guilty. He said, however, that he could set that opinion aside and listen to the evidence and testimony.
Rogers emphasized to the 12 jury finalists that a lack of bias on the part of jurors is critical to his client's ability to have a fair trial.
"Mr. Zimmerman's got one chance with 12 unbiased and fair jurors," said Rogers.
The first panel of four jurors — all men — includes a State Farm employee and a retired school maintenance worker.
A decision on the three other jurors will be made Tuesday afternoon after more jurors are interviewed and a candidate for the final slot in the second panel of four can be made.
Dressed in a gray suit and dark tie, Zimmerman stood and smiled as he was introduced to the jury pool brought into the courtroom on Monday as a group for general information.
Two of Zimmerman's three children and three of the victim's siblings attended the opening day of the trial.
The first man accepted as a juror said he has followed the case through the media and in discussions with co-workers.
“There was some commotion at State Farm when it happened,” said the jury candidate.
Three possible jurors said they had little information about the case and have no opinion on Zimmerman's guilt. One man disclosed that his sister also is in the jury pool, but he would be comfortable serving on the panel with her.
The 32 possible jurors summoned Monday were among 200 people sent 28-page surveys last month.
Before jury selection, Drazewski heard two motions related to public access to court records previously sealed, and an objection by the defendant’s former girlfriend, Kate Arthur, to being photographed during her testimony.
The judge ruled that information in two pretrial motions will be kept secret until a verdict is reached.
The material relates to personal information about Zimmerman and unnamed third parties, according to lawyers. The state does not intend to introduce the material as evidence.
Springfield media lawyer Don Craven, representing media organizations that have opposed sealing the records, argued Monday the timing of the defense effort to keep the records sealed draws attention to the damaging information.
The judge also ruled that Arthur will not be photographed, videotaped or audio recorded. In her objection, Arthur's lawyer Tristan Bullington cited a harassing note she received after her testimony at a previous pretrial hearing.