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George Zimmerman Trial: Potential juror says Trayvon Martin was "looking for a reason to fight"

George Zimmerman, right, leaves the courtroom during a recess, with his attorney Mark O'Mara, in Seminole circuit court on the first day of his trial, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, June 10, 2013. Zimmerman is accused in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank/Pool) Joe Burbank

Jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn, left, and defendant George Zimmerman stand during the morning's proceedings in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla., Thursday, June 13, 2013.
AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston/Pool
(CBS) SANFORD, Fla. -A potential juror questioned Thursday voiced strong support for accused killer George Zimmerman, saying Trayvon Martin was "looking for a reason to fight" when he was "confronted by someone just trying to protect their neighborhood."

PICTURES: George Zimmerman in court

READ: Trayvon Martin Shooting: A timeline of events

Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the Florida teen last year, says he acted in self-defense. Jury selection stretched into its fourth day Thursday, with about 20 potential jurors already in the pool of candidates to be interviewed in the next round, where attorneys will be able to ask more in-depth questions.

30 jury candidates are needed to launch the next round of questioning. Identities of the potential jurors are being kept secret.

Juror E-81, a woman, said she believes Zimmerman is innocent and that he was trying to defend himself against Martin, who she described as a boy "going down the wrong path."

Based on photos from Trayvon Martin's cell phone she said she saw through media reports, the potential juror said Martin had been "smoking pot, getting involved with guns, and learning how to street fight."

The photos, released online by Zimmerman's defense team, portrayed Martin blowing smoke and making obscene gestures, and another photo showed what was apparently a hand holding a gun. Several text messages that were also released referred to Martin's alleged past fighting.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that while the potential evidence can't be discussed in opening statements, the defense may be able to introduce it at trial if they can prove to her its relevance.

"[Zimmerman] is just watching out for someone who looks suspicious and this boy is confronted, and he already has drugs in his system or could have been high even then, and he got aggressive," juror E-81 said.

Later, she said she wasn't sure who had started the confrontation.

The woman also referenced photos of George Zimmerman bleeding from the face following the altercation in describing how she came to the conclusion that that the former neighborhood watch captain was innocent.

E-81 said she believes strongly in the right to bear arms, and said Zimmerman was "legal and lawful" in carrying a gun because he held a concealed carry permit.

"I think the more people who are armed, the better," E-81 said. "There's a lot of crime out there, and when people are armed, it just prevents so much."

The woman also said she would prefer not to serve on the jury because of safety concerns.

"No matter what the outcome is with this, there's going to be someone that's not going to be happy - there's going to be groups out there that aren't going to be happy," E-81 said. "I feel like I'm going to walk out of here with a bullseye on my back."

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda questioned the potential juror as to whether she held a firm opinion of Zimmerman's innocence. "You'd have to work really hard to change my opinion," E-81 said.

But responding to a line of questioning from the defense, E-81 said that she felt she could put aside her opinion and render a verdict based only on the evidence presented in court.

Defense attorneys are likely attempting to "rehabilitate" the potential juror in order to "keep the potential juror in the pool by getting the candidate to say that she can be impartial, despite her initial views," wrote Jeffrey Abramson, a professor of law and government at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, in an e-mail to CBS News' Crimesider.

The judge would need to rule whether the juror can remain the jury pool, likely with an objection from prosecutors, according to Abramson. However, he said, the prosecution could still use one it its peremptory challenges to strike her from the final jury if she remains.

Also on Thursday, Judge Nelson announced that the jury would be sequestered once it is seated. The trial, she said, is expected to last two to four weeks - as opposed to some earlier suggestions of a month or longer.

Complete coverage of the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case on Crimesider

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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