07/16/2013 03:46 EDT | Updated 09/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Juror backs out of book deal as comments fuel ire over Zimmerman verdict

WASHINGTON - An anonymous juror in the George Zimmerman trial is no longer writing a tell-all book after saying on CNN that an unarmed Trayvon Martin was partly to blame for his fate while his killer's "heart was in the right place."

The woman, known as Juror B37, said she was unaware while sequestered of the widespread anger surrounding the racially charged case, saying she now "realized that the best direction for me to go is away."

Following B37's interview with Anderson Cooper, the juror said in a statement that she'd changed her mind about writing the book with her husband, a lawyer, after signing a contract to do so earlier Monday.

But it emerged Tuesday that the juror's literary agent, Sharlene Martin, was the first to have a change of heart following hours of social media pressure, particularly from one Twitter user with the handle "Cocky McSwagsalot" who started the ball rolling while watching the interview.

"Hey @sharlenemartin, please drop Juror B37," one of the Tweets read. "Do not let a person who helped a murderer get away profit from this tragedy."

The social media campaign soon snowballed and Martin was at the heart of a Twitter firestorm. By 1 a.m., she reportedly messaged Cocky that she'd reconsidered representing the juror.

Juror B37, indeed, has only served to further anger Americans dismayed by the not-guilty verdict handed down to Zimmerman over the weekend. The case has reopened wounds in a country where racial tensions still simmer in the aftermath of a sorry history of slavery and segregation.

"I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into," the juror told Cooper of the events of Feb. 26, 2012, which left Martin gunned down just blocks from his father's home in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

"I think they both could have walked away."

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting, but the jury was also allowed to consider manslaughter.

Protests against the verdict are showing no signs of abating this week as civil rights leaders announced Tuesday that they're organizing vigils and rallies in 100 American cities this weekend to pressure the Department of Justice to lay federal charges against Zimmerman.

"People all across the country will gather to show that we are not having a two- or three-day anger fit," Rev. Al Sharpton said outside department headquarters in D.C. "This is a social movement for justice."

The Justice Department says it's investigating the shooting to determine whether criminal civil rights charges can now be laid against Zimmerman.

Martin, a 17-year-old black teen, was walking to his father's house from a convenience store, carrying Skittles and a can of iced tea, when he caught the eye of Zimmerman, an armed neighbourhood watch guard who began following him. Martin died after an altercation between the two.

African-Americans, in particular, have pointed to Martin's slaying as painful proof that young black men are routinely viewed with suspicion and distrust by authorities — even by someone like Zimmerman, a man of mixed race himself.

Juror B37's comments on CNN — along with details of some of her replies to lawyers during the jury selection process — have not only raised eyebrows, but also questions about why the prosecution selected her in the first place.

The middle-aged white woman and mother of two adult daughters called Martin's death an "unfortunate incident that happened" and described him as a "boy of colour" to Zimmerman's lawyers during her voir dire.

She also insisted she paid no attention to the news, then asserted that there were riots in Sanford soon after Martin's death. There were no riots.

In the interview with Cooper, she asserted that Zimmerman feared for his life while in the altercation with the teenager, and that it was his voice, not Martin's, heard screaming for help on a 9-1-1 tape. Both Martin's and Zimmerman's family members have insisted the voice was their deceased sons'; it's never been determined who was screaming.

In a Los Angeles Times article on Tuesday, author and journalist Hector Tobar raised concerns about the speed with which Juror B37 had signed the book deal.

"Anyone who's ever tried to reach a literary agent over the weekend will question the timing of said announcement, which came less than 36 hours after the jury found Zimmerman not guilty of all counts," he wrote.

"Is it possible that Juror B37, or her husband, was in contact with the agency before the six-woman jury even began to deliberate? And might a desire to transform her experience as a juror into a marketable story have influenced B37's view of the case?"

Three days following the verdict, Martin's mother took to Twitter to say: "God is healing my heart." Sybrina Fulton said that watching so many Americans come together to peacefully protest the verdict have reminded her that there's still work to be done.

Fulton and her ex-husband, Tracy Martin, are pushing for restrictions to so-called Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and 21 other states. Under the law, an aggressor can claim self-defence in the middle of an altercation — and use deadly force if deemed necessary. Opponents of the laws say they're resulting in the slayings of innocent people across the nation.

Attorney General Eric Holder assailed Stand Your Ground laws on Tuesday, suggesting they encourage violence and "undermine public safety."

"It's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defence and sow dangerous conflict in our neighbourhoods," Holder said in a speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"These laws try to fix something that was never broken."

R and B icon Stevie Wonder, meantime, says he won't perform in states with Stand Your Ground laws.

"I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," Wonder told the audience at a concert in Quebec City on Sunday night. "As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world."