In the first day of jury selection Monday in the Michael Dunn trial, 36 potential jurors were excused and dozens more were sent home early but asked to return at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
About 100 potential jurors were called in Monday to be interviewed in the first phase of the trial for Dunn, who is accused of murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis in November 2012 outside a Gate convenience store. Another 100 will be at the courthouse Tuesday.
Dunn, who admitted to police he confronted Davis and three other teens over the loud music coming from their SUV, claimed he shot in self-defense after seeing a gun inside the vehicle Davis was in. Authorities found no gun in the SUV or at the scene.
Just before 11 a.m. Monday, Judge Russell Healey began addressing potential jurors, telling them they would be sequestered during the trial, which could last up to two weeks. Healey also issued orders Monday to keep the jurors' identities confidential.
Twelve jurors and four alternates chosen to hear the case will be kept in a hotel and kept from media coverage of the trial, provided security, transportation and meals.
One potential juror who was questioned Monday said she's "not a gun owner, don't like guns, don't understand why people have them." The judge asked her if she can set aside her dislike for guns and think about what happened to render a verdict, and she said she could.
The media was only allowed to listen to audio from the courtroom in a separate room, and only lawyers for both sides and the judge was allowed in the courtroom for jury selection.
Another potential juror said she doesn't have cable but reads headlines. She said she could be unbiased and fair.
And yet another potential juror said he is a physician at Mayo Clinic and is on call.
Many potential jurors said being sequestered would get in the way of work, school and family.
Attorney Randy Reep, who is not involved in the case, said sequestering the jury is a good move in a trial that has garnered this much attention.
"I think it's wise with the amount of money that the city's going to be spending on the trial. It's probably wise to get it done once and get it done right," Reep said. "It's a big step. It's not always happening that way, but it's probably the best interest of the city."
Attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters, who's also not affiliated with the case, agrees.
"I'm sure that the judge wants to make sure that the jury is not tainted, so they want to make sure that they take all the precautions necessary in ensuring that this jury will come back, they won't have to retry this case, and they will come back with a verdict," she said. "Certainly with this age of social media, one of the biggest concerns is going to be the phones, people's cellphones. So they'll probably able to have limited contact with their family members just to ensure that everybody is OK, but they won't be able to necessarily search the Internet or be on Facebook and things like that."
Reep, who is watching the case closely, hesitates to predict when a jury will be seated.
"I think judge Healey has somewhat forecasted maybe a Wednesday seating of the jury. I think that's pretty reasonable, but not knowing exactly how it plays out, the jury selection process isn't done until it's all done," Reep said. "So I think that that's probably an accurate, but possibly optimistic view that the opening statements start on Thursday."
Once the case gets started, Reep sees the trial proceeding rapidly.
"The fact that (the jury is) sequestered probably means that they'll go through the weekend, so I think you'll see this done quicker as opposed to later. Judge Healey (is) a no-nonsense guy. Seeing (closing arguments) happen by the end of next week, I think is probably very reasonable."
Trial in media spotlight
Davis' death and the Dunn trial has international attention partly because of the similarities to the trial of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but also because the prosecutor in the case is the same: State Attorney Angela Corey.