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Jury selected in trial of US black teen's shooter

George Zimmerman takes the stand during his bond hearing in Sanford, Florida, April 20, 2012
George Zimmerman takes the stand during his bond hearing for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, April 20, 2012. A jury of six women has been chosen for his trial, which begins Monday and is expected to last up to six weeks.

A jury of six women was selected Thursday for the trial of George Zimmerman, the US neighborhood watchman who shot and killed unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in an incident that set off racial tensions.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder over the February 26, 2012 shooting, saying he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen wrestled him to the ground and pounded his head against the sidewalk.

An initial decision by Florida investigators not to press charges in the case set off widespread outrage, with Martin's supporters alleging racism and pointing to the fact that the teenager was unarmed and had no criminal record.

The incident was widely covered by the national media, and also ignited debate over the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows the use of firearms in self-defense even when it is possible to flee.

The six jurors -- five white women and one black woman -- were selected over the course of a nine-day process of winnowing down a list of hundreds of potential candidates.

Attorneys selected another four people to act as substitute jurors.

Opening arguments will be given Monday, with the trial expected to last up to six weeks.

The jurors will be allowed to spend the weekend with their families before being sequestered for the duration of the proceedings, a court official told AFP.

Zimmerman, a 29-year-old volunteer neighborhood watchman, called police when he saw Martin walking in the rain in a hooded sweatshirt in a gated community in Sanford, Florida which had seen a string of recent robberies.

On the 911 call, police told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.

The 17-year-old Martin was visiting a family friend in the neighborhood and was coming back from a convenience store. In a string of media appearances his distraught parents demanded that Zimmerman be tried.

Zimmerman, the son of an American father and a Peruvian mother, has denied any racial motive in the killing, saying he shot Martin only because he feared his life was in danger.