A juror in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighbourhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, told CNN race wasn't a factor in their decision.
"All of us thought race did not play a role," juror B-37 told interviewer Anderson Cooper in a televised interview Monday. The juror, whose face was completely hidden, said that she did not think Zimmerman racially profiled Martin.
The juror also revealed that the six-person jury was initially split, with three votes for not guilty, one for second-degree murder and two for manslaughter.
"There was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something. And after hours and hours and hours of deliberating ... reading it over and over and over again, we just decided there's no other way to go," she told CNN. The jury later reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty.
A key element in that decision was the belief that Zimmerman "no doubt" feared for his life in the moments before shooting Martin, said juror B-37.
She went on to say that Zimmerman was guilty only of not using "good judgement."
AG slams 'unnecessary shooting'
Attorney General Eric Holder said today the killing of Trayvon Martin was a "tragic, unnecessary shooting," and that the 17-year-old's death provides an opportunity for the nation to speak honestly about complicated and emotionally charged issues.
In his first comments since the acquittal Saturday of Zimmerman in the Martin case, the attorney general said from Washington that Martin's parents have suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure. He said the nation must not forgo an opportunity toward better understanding of one another.
On Sunday, the Justice Department said it is reviewing evidence in the case to determine whether criminal civil rights charges are warranted.
The department opened an investigation into Martin's death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.
Holder said, "We are ... mindful of the pain felt by our nation surrounding the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last year."
"I want to assure you" that the Justice Department" will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law," said Holder.
"Independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe that this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally charged issues that this case has raised," Holder said in remarks to the 51st national convention of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
"We must not — as we have too often in the past — let this opportunity pass," he added.
Evidence under evaluation
The department says the criminal section of its civil rights division, the FBI and federal prosecutors in Florida are continuing to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, plus evidence and testimony from the state trial.
Meanwhile, vigils across the U.S. are planned for this weekend following demonstrations to protest a Sanford jury's decision to clear Zimmerman and find him not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of the unarmed black teenager.
Rallies on Sunday were largely peaceful as demonstrators voiced their support for Martin's family and decried the verdict.
However, police in Los Angeles said they arrested six people, mostly for failure to disperse, after about 80 protesters gathered in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard and an unlawful assembly was declared.
New York police said at least a dozen people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges during a rally in Times Square.
Advocates want federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday that his organization will hold vigils and rallies in 100 cities Saturday in front of federal buildings.
Obama, community leaders urge calm
Sunday's demonstrations, held in cities from Florida to Wisconsin, attracted anywhere from a few dozen people to more than a thousand.
At a march and rally in downtown Chicago attended by about 200 people, 73-year-old Maya Miller said the case reminded her of the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was killed by a group of white men while visiting Mississippi. Till's killing galvanized the civil rights movement.
"Fifty-eight years and nothing's changed," Miller said, pausing to join a chant for "Justice for Trayvon, not one more."
In New York City, more than 1,000 people marched into Times Square on Sunday night, zigzagging through Manhattan's streets to avoid police lines. Sign-carrying marchers thronged the busy intersection, chanting "Justice for! Trayvon Martin!" as they made their way from downtown Union Square, blocking traffic for more than an hour.
In San Francisco and in Los Angeles, where police dispersed an earlier protest with beanbag rounds, police closed streets Sunday.
In Oakland, Calif., during protests that began late Saturday night, some angry demonstrators broke windows, burned U.S. flags, vandalized a police squad car and spray-painted anti-police graffiti.
President Barack Obama, Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson have urged calm.