Six white women to serve as jurors for George Zimmerman trial

Correction: An earlier version of the headline incorrectly reported that the jury in George Zimmerman’s trial is composed of six white women. Only five of the women are known to be white. This version has been corrected.

June 20, 2013
FLORIDA
Six jurors picked for
Trayvon Martin case

A jury of six women, five of them white, was picked Thursday for the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., who says he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in self-defense.

Prosecutors have said Zimmerman, 29, racially profiled Martin, 17, as he walked back from a convenience store on a rainy night in February 2012.

The race and ethnicity of the sixth juror was not immediately available. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday.

The central Florida community of Sanford is in Seminole County, which is 78.5 percent white and 16.5 percent black, roughly mirroring the jury’s racial makeup.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys chose the six jurors after almost two weeks of selection. In Florida, 12 jurors are required only for criminal trials involving capital cases, when the death penalty is being considered. If convicted, Zimmerman could face a life sentence.

— Associated Press

Ministry leader
apologizes to gays

The president of a leading Christian ministry dedicated to helping gays repress their sexual urges through prayer has apologized to the gay community and says the group is shutting down.

Alan Chambers, in a statement posted Thursday on Exodus International’s Web site, said the group wants to apologize to the gay community “for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the church as a whole.”

Chambers also apologized in a speech to his ministry’s annual conference, saying, “We’ve hurt people.”

“While there has been so much good at Exodus, there has also been bad,” he said. “We’ve fought the culture war, and we’ve lost. It’s time for peace.”

Exodus International, based in Orlando, was founded 37 years ago and claimed 260 member ministries nationwide and internationally. In his statement Thursday, Chambers said the board of Exodus had decided to form a new ministry, which he referred to as reducefear.org.

— Associated Press

MICHIGAN
City pension funds
to be investigated

Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager on Thursday ordered an investigation of possible waste, abuse, fraud and corruption in the city’s two pension funds and all employee benefit programs.

The order was signed on the same day members of Kevyn Orr’s restructuring team met with union leaders to discuss plans to cut into health-care benefits and pensions as part of city debt restructuring.

The joint investigation will be led by Detroit’s auditor general and inspector general, who will report their findings to Orr within 60 days.

The cash-strapped city owes about $3.5 billion to Detroit’s general services pension fund and its police and fire pension fund, said Orr spokesman Bill Nowling.

— Associated Press

MILITARY
Suit reinstated for
USS Cole families

Families of 17 sailors killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen have new hope for being compensated for their pain and suffering after a federal appeals court reinstated their $282 million lawsuit against Sudan on Thursday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, unanimously rejected a lower court’s ruling that the families could not seek damage for emotional distress because they had won an earlier judgment for compensatory damages. U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar had said the plaintiffs could not sue twice for the same terrorist attack.

But the appeals court ruled that legislation passed by Congress in 2008 while the first lawsuit was on appeal specifically allowed the families to file the second complaint. The case will now go back to Doumar for trial.

The families of the sailors claim that Sudan provided support to the al-Qaeda terrorists who steered an explosives-laden boat into Cole while it stopped to refuel in a port in Yemen.

— Associated Press

30 prison gang members arrested in federal raid: Federal agents arrested 30 alleged members and associates of a prison gang in Texas on Thursday on charges that they worked with Mexican organized crime to bring drugs into the United States in South Texas and distribute them north. Thursday’s sweep was the result of a four-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, officials said.

— Associated Press

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