The process of selecting a jury in the murder trial of George Zimmerman begins Monday in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, who was 17, last year, but Zimmerman has claimed he acted in self-defense. Jonathan Capehart explains why Martin’s death attracted national attention:

From the very beginning, Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, have demanded justice for their son. Their first goal was to have Zimmerman arrested, which happened 44 days after he killed their son. That he was able to take a life under murky circumstances and not even be charged was galling. The national outrage it sparked may have diminished with time, but the passions this case inspires burn red-hot. Now comes the trial. While Trayvon’s parents are hopeful that a jury will see what they see, they have said time and again that they will accept the jury’s verdict — an assertion they repeated again before heading into court today.


The Associated Press reports that Zimmerman’s attorney will try to persuade the jury that his actions were not motivated by racism:

Because there is no dispute that Zimmerman shot Martin, 17, during a fight on a rainy night in February 2012, Mark O’Mara must convince the jury that Zimmerman pulled his 9 mm handgun and fired a bullet into the Miami-area high school student’s chest because he feared for his life and that the fear was caused by Martin’s actions, not his race.

O’Mara has to be careful how he characterizes Martin, said Randy McClean, an Orlando-area defense attorney. “Mr. O’Mara’s challenge is to show Trayvon wasn’t profiled, that Zimmerman either saw something that looked suspicious or something else that caused him to make contact with Trayvon.”

McClean and another Orlando defense attorney, David Hill, predicted that prosecutors will attack Zimmerman, who was employed at a mortgage risk management firm, as a frustrated, would-be police officer who had a chip on his shoulder. Zimmerman had studied criminal justice at a community college and had volunteered to run his community’s neighborhood watch program.

Associated Press

See images from the first day of the trial below.