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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

George Zimmerman Trial

Aired June 24, 2013 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live. In just a moment, we`re going back into court for more of day one in one of the nation`s most anticipated trials.

Did Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman execute Trayvon Martin in cold blood? Or did he shoot the unarmed teenager in self-defense? We will bring you the biggest fireworks of the day in a very dramatic day in court. We`re also going to re-enact both sides of the shooting and debate it with our expert panel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRAIL FOR SHOOTING TRAYVON MARTIN (via phone): Break into my neighborhood. And he`s a real suspicious guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): He just said he`s got a gun, and he`s (ph) laying on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This case is different from, I think, any other case.

ZIMMERMAN: I grabbed it, and I just grabbed my firearm and shot him.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Trayvon Martin was silenced immediately.

ZIMMERMAN: This guy, walking (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He looks black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Did you see what he was wearing?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. Dark hoodie, like a gray hoodie.

GUY: "(EXPLETIVE DELETED) punks. These (EXPLETIVE DELETED), they always get away." Those were the words in that grown man`s mouth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (screaming)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): So you think he`s yelling "help"?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): George, what`s your last name?

ZIMMERMAN: Zimmerman.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Both sides came out swinging today. But in a terrible misjudgment that shocked and offended so many people, while Trayvon Martin`s parents are sobbing and wiping away tears, George Zimmerman`s attorney begins his opening statement with -- are you sitting down? -- a knock-knock joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON WESTFOR, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Knock knock. Who`s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good. You`re on the jury. Nothing? That`s funny.

No more bad jokes. I promise that. I`m convinced it was the delivery, though. I really thought that was funny. I`m sorry if I offended anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Even the apology was a bomb.

The state`s opening, by contrast, was a concise 33-minute assault on Zimmerman from the prosecutor called a vigilante, wannabe cop who profiled and pursued 17-year-old Trayvon on that dark and rainy night.

The prosecutor outlined a litany of lines he says Zimmerman told about the shooting, lies he says the defendant made to portray himself as the victim.

I want to hear what you have to say tonight. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1- 877-586-7297.

We`re going to go back into court in just a moment. But first, straight out to HLN legal correspondent Jean Casarez.

You have just emerged from the courtroom. Tell us about the reaction of the joke that bombed that the defense had to apologize for. Was that a disaster or what?

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the prosecution opening concluded, and then back-to-back the defense had to start. And the emotion in that courtroom from the prosecution`s opening, it was so passionate.

And then it began and we hear there`s a joke. And I think he was trying to change the -- the atmosphere in the courtroom. But I looked at the jury, and the four women, five of the women in the front row just sort of stared at him. And the -- one woman cracked a smile, actually, at him. I think just trying to be cordial.

But then after that he went on to meticulous detail by detail. It took a long time but describing for the jury what you will hear, what the evidence will show for the defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ve got to tell you, we`re going to debate that joke with our legal panel in the lion`s den in a moment.

But first, we`re going to go back into court. We`re outside the presence of the jury. There is a heated debate over whether the prosecution can introduce a previous call that this defendant, George Zimmerman, made to the cops, where he also complains about another suspicious person who was also African-American and whether or not that will get in.

Let`s go back into court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went to August 3.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING OVER TRIAL I will -- I -- I will go ahead and recess for the day. And we can take this up at 8:30 in the morning and have the jury be back at 9. And we can start then.

If you don`t mind, are you available to come back tomorrow? OK. Thank you very much.

The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is available to come back tomorrow. The court will bring the jury back in. We`ll recess for the night and give counsel an opportunity to do the research on this overnight, as will the court. And have counsel back at 8:30 to continue this argument. And as I said we`ll have the jury come back at 9.

Is that acceptable to both sides?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor. I`m sorry. I missed the time for counsel to report.

NELSON: Eight-thirty. Acceptable?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

NELSON: OK. Let`s go ahead and bring the jury back in so I can discharge them for the day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go into the lion`s den as court ends for the day with a huge controversy. And the lion`s den is where we debate the most controversial issues of the day.

And I want to start with the one and only Sheryl Lee Ralph and ask her what you think of this big, big argument right now over whether or not the prosecution can introduce a previous call. OK? George Zimmerman previously back in August of 2011 called, also reporting a suspicious person to police, and that person is also African-American in the call. The prosecution says it`s prior bad acts. The defense says it`s not fair. What do you think?

SHERYL LEE RALPH, ACTRESS: Of course, it`s fair. You know something? There are two people involved in this case, and the -- one of those people is dead. So since one of them is dead, and the voice has been muffled, let us get as much information as we possibly can to hear something from that voice so that we hear some more about Mr. Zimmerman.

I would like to know if this is something that he had done on the regular: calling -- calling, making the calls in about those -- you know, the words that we can`t say online, and he had several different names for those kinds of people. Is this something that he did regularly? So was he just on the patrol looking out for those kinds of people? Who is George Zimmerman really?

And I believe that it is phone calls like this that can give us more insight as to who he really is. Because we know that that night, with young Trayvon, it was not the first time that he was stalking, let`s just say, suspicious-looking people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Frank Taaffe, a former neighbor of George Zimmerman`s, a supporter of George Zimmerman`s, what do you think about the idea of introducing these calls? Obviously, the prosecution wants to establish a pattern and show that he is a cop wannabe and that he`s a gadfly and that he`s sticking his nose into the community`s business and may be biased against people walking in the neighborhood who happen to be African-American.

FRANK TAAFFE, FORMER NEIGHBOR OF ZIMMERMAN`S: Well, let`s first eliminate the word "stalking." He never stalked; nor did he ever confront.

And to answer your question, I believe they should be introduced, and I`ll with you the most important reason why.

On February 2, one of the 911 calls to the nonemergency line to the Sanford Police Department was when a burglary in progress was happening at moi`s house, at my house. And so be it, as I`ve shared this before, that when George went out to target that night he wasn`t on patrol, he wasn`t on watch. He was merely going to get his groceries, as was stated today by Don West.

And lo and behold, in the same exact spot, henceforth, three weeks later, you see Mr. Trayvon Martin up in my yard. Why? Well, you know what? We all have memories of the past, and three weeks prior to that, there was a young African-American, black male, who was prowling in my house who was later apprehended and come to find out through George`s diligent effort as a Neighborhood Watch person...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what does that have to do with Trayvon Martin?

RALPH: Exactly! What does that have to do with Trayvon? See, this is the scary part...

TAAFFE: If you will allow me to -- if you will let me finish I`ll...

RALPH: When he -- when he talked...

TAAFFE: If you let me finish, I will tell you.

RALPH: Jane, one black man represents all of them in his mind.

TAAFFE: Please. Please. Listen -- OK.

RALPH: That`s what`s happening. From this point is...

TAAFFE: The majority of all the burglaries at the retreat -- let`s go back to the retreat. There were seven burglaries in 11 months. All of them were committed by young black males. Documented. Documented.

RALPH: But I`m saying...

TAAFFE: Here we have, again...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second.

TAAFFE: ... it`s deja vu, all over again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me -- let me hit the pause button on this conversation. Boy, are we in the lion`s den.

I want to go to another very special guest: Natalie Jackson, Trayvon Martin`s family attorney.

Natalie, want to get your take on all this. It`s a very passionate, passionate debate. And you speak for the family of this young man who is not here to speak for himself anymore.

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN`S FAMILY: Yes. I want to first off -- say that I thought that the state attorney represented the family fantastically today. The argument that is going on right now is whether or not the prior tape will come in.

Here, the reason the state wants them this in is because it shows a pattern. It shows who in George Zimmerman`s mind these a-holes were. So you have to -- you have to go back and see him building up this anger, this moment, this resentment to make him want to go get them, the next time he sees one of them. That`s the criminal profiling that the state is saying that George Zimmerman did against Trayvon Martin.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Heather Hansen, briefly.

HEATHER HANSEN: Jane, the prejudice here far outweighs any value to this evidence. It`s just like all of the evidence that everyone has said should be kept out with regard to Trayvon in his past acts. If you`re going to do what`s good for one should be good for the other. If you`re going to bring in George Zimmerman`s past, then you`re going to be opening the door for an argument to bring in things from Trayvon`s past that you may not want to have brought in. I don`t think that this stuff should be brought in at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz for the prosecution.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Listen, everybody can have an opinion and everybody can think what is right. But the fact of the matter is you have to abide by what the law is.

And what the state is trying to do is they`re trying to bring in these prior bad acts, and there`s only certain ways in which you can do it: to show motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, planned knowledge. And that`s exactly what they`re trying to show.

They`re trying to show that he profiled, because under this murder two, there`s got to be a showing of ill-will, spite, hatred. And so that`s what the state has to put in motion. And they`re going to research this and see if there is law to let them get this in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fantastic panel in the lion`s den. We`re going to come back to you. We`re going to take a short break. There is, we understand now, some more court before it is officially dismissed for the day. We`re going to take a short break and be back with that.

And I`m going to re-enact some of the biggest, biggest controversies of this case physically, myself, with the help of a friend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN (via phone): Something is wrong with him. Yes. He`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hand. I don`t know what his deal is. These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) always get away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We don`t need you to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: I mean, I was trying to defend myself, but every time he punched me in the nose, it felt like my head was going to explode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

ZIMMERMAN: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The jury of six women is sequestered for the duration of this trial. They`re about to go home, but the judge is issuing a warning to them and a caution to them before they go back to their hotel rooms. So -- as they are sequestered, they stay in a hotel. Activities provided for them. Let`s listen to the judge talk to these jurors.

NELSON: Don`t get too comfortable. The matter that we were taking up outside your presence is going to take a little longer. And instead of having you sitting back there I`m going the recess as far as the jury is concerned for the day. So we will see you at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

If -- you`ll please give me a moment I`ll go ahead and give you my instructions during the overnight recess. You`re not to discuss the case amongst yourselves or with anybody else. You`re not to read or listen to any radio, television, or newspaper reports about the case. You`re not to use any electronic device to do independent research about the case: people, place and things or terminology. And you`re not to read or create any e-mails, text messages, Twitters, tweet, blogs, text messages, or social networking pages about the case. Does everybody agree to it abide by the court`s instructions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

NELSON: OK. Is there anybody who is not going to be able to abide by that? I`m not hearing anything with that. You`re excused for the evening. Enjoy your evening and please leave your notepads face down. They will be locked up overnight.

Please be seated. Ms. Rumph, you`re excused until tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. During the overnight recess, you are still under oath. It`s as if you`re still on the stand, so you`re not to discuss your testimony with anybody. That includes the lawyers. OK. Thank you very much. You`re excused until 9.

Counsel, is will anything else we need to take up before we risk recess for the evening? We`ll see counsel at 8:30 in the morning. Court is in recess.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the day began with opening statements. The prosecutor, in his very passionate opening statement, accused the defendant, the ex-volunteer Neighborhood Watchman, George Zimmerman, of spewing a whole bunch of lies about what happened the night he shot Trayvon Martin. Here`s one of those alleged lies. Then we`ll debate it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZIMMERMAN: I got on top of him, pushed his arms apart. Up and over.

GUY: You`ll see pictures of Trayvon Martin. He went out there that might before the police got there and snapped off a photo on his phone. Trayvon Martin`s hands are underneath his chest.

ZIMMERMAN: I got on his back and moved his arms apart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what really happened? Who`s telling the truth? They can`t both be right.

You are George Zimmerman. I`m Trayvon Martin. You`re claiming that you`re on the Ground and I`m on top of you and I had actually, according to you, punched you 25 to 30 times.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Zimmerman claims at some point he thinks Trayvon sees the gun, and he sees Trayvon`s hand going for the gun. At that point Zimmerman grabs it, takes it out and boom. One shot.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then Zimmerman says that Trayvon falls back and says, "You got me. You got me." He claims he doesn`t really know that he shot him, even though he shot him right in the chest. And then Trayvon falls down.

LEIBERMAN: Exactly. And Zimmerman claims after Trayvon Falls down Zimmerman felt like he was being hit with something in the face other than a fist so he claims he spreads Trayvon`s arms out like that to make sure Trayvon doesn`t have a weapon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the prosecution says that a neighbor came out and took a picture, and Trayvon Martin`s arms were not spread out. They were under his chest like this.

Somebody is lying.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go into the lion`s den and Debate it. Trayvon`s arms, were they out as George Zimmerman said, or were they like this, under his chest?

And I`m going to start with Michael Skolnik, GlobalGrind.com.

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, GLOBALGRIND.COM: I mean, Jane, George Zimmerman as told four different stories. Every time that man talks he tells a different story. He has to take the stand to tell his one and only story.

The fact is that he says that he was yelling, he was screaming, he was yelling; he`s being punched 25 to 50 times. But when the bullet was shot, he -- the screaming stops. So you know it was Trayvon. If he didn`t know that he hit Trayvon, why did he stop screaming for help?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go to Heather Hansen. You`re taking Zimmerman`s side. What do you say to that?

HANSEN: Jane, I don`t think it makes a difference whether his arms were out or in. It`s after the shot. That interview was sometime after the night at issue. Things do get confused.

He had been beaten up. He had had his head conked against the concrete. Time had passed. I don`t think that this is an issue that is going to be the deciding issue for the jury by any means.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee Ralph.

RALPH: You know what? I`m going say it once again, Jane. There is your truth, my truth, and the truth. Only two people know the truth, and one of them is dead.

But there is one thing that people who are telling the truth do is they tell you the truth over and over and over. And too many times we have heard mixed truths from Mr. Zimmerman about what happened that night. Too many times the story has changed for all of us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are just getting started. More re-enactments. The prosecution`s side and the defense side. I`ll do it with my friend. Stay right there. And we`re taking your calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUY: "(EXPLETIVE DELETED) punks. These (EXPLETIVE DELETED), they always get away." Those were the words in that man`s chest when he got out of his car, armed with a fully-loaded semiautomatic pistol and two flash lights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOTHER: I ask that you pray for me and my family, because I don`t want any other mother to have to experience what I`m going through now. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She ran out of the courtroom sobbing today. Very, very difficult for the family of Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman -- you see him there -- claims Trayvon punched him, knocked him to the ground and then tried to put his hands over Zimmerman`s nose and mouth.

The prosecutor told jurors today the evidence showed that is not true.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUY: He said that Trayvon Martin had him down on the ground, was straddled over top of him and took his hand and covered his mouth and his nose, his nose that was bleeding already from having been struck by a punch to the nose.

ZIMMERMAN: I kept going, "Help, help, help."

GUY: They looked at Trayvon Martin`s hands. There`s no blood on them. They took wooden sticks, and they scraped his fingernails, Trayvon Martin`s. No blood of George Zimmerman. No DNA of George Zimmerman. The only blood of George Zimmerman is on the waistband around Trayvon Martin`s shorts.

ZIMMERMAN: Put his hand on his nose -- on my nose, And his other hand on my mouth. He says, "(EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The prosecution says when they did test they found no George Zimmerman blood on Trayvon Martin`s hands. Authorities even went underneath Trayvon Martin`s nails, fingernails, looking for Zimmerman`s DNA. And they didn`t find it.

LEIBERMAN: But George Zimmerman`s defense team claims there`s a reason why there was no blood in Trayvon`s hands.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s the old "garbage in, garbage out" defense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If Trayvon put his hands over Zimmerman`s bloody nose -- right -- like this, why no blood? Why no blood on his hands? Let`s go into the lion`s den, and I want to start with Natalie Jackson, the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family.

Essentially, Natalie, what I heard the -- defense say was, "Well, it was rainy night. It may have washed off. They didn`t properly bag the hands." What is your opinion?

JACKSON: All right. There would be DNA; there would be blood. George Zimmerman said he was bashed in the face 20 to 30 times. His pace was bloodied. You see a picture. Where is the blood? There is not even any blood under Trayvon`s nails. The rain doesn`t wash that off.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank Taaffe, former neighbor of George Zimmerman and supporter.

TAAFFE: Easy. You remember the O.J. crime Scene? Remember it was contaminated? There were a lot of people going in and out of that crime scene that night before the tape was put up.

And let me also add to the fact that any DNA forensic expert will be able to refute that testimony on behalf of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. There you got it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

LEIBERMAN: Well, it`s going to be interesting, Jane, because also, George Zimmerman didn`t really have any defensive wounds on him either. There was really nothing under his fingernails. His hands weren`t, you know, cut up or anything like that.

So if, indeed, as he claims, he was punched 25 to 30 times, and he was trying to fight Trayvon off of him, you would think he would have some defensive wounds.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We are just getting started. We have more re- enactments with my buddy there. Jon Leiberman and I playing different parts to try to explain this very complicated case.

We`re taking your calls. We`re debating it. Back in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUY: George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. He shot him (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because he wanted to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZIMMERMAN: Hey, we`ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood. And there`s a real suspicious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just said he shot him dead. The person is dead laying on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This case is different from, I think, than any other case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Sanford Police Department is conducting a fair investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a gunshot.

SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Our son was not committing any crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They all know about the case.

ZIMMERMAN: And I grabbed it and I just grabbed my firearm and shot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see what he was wearing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Opening statements today in the second-degree murder trial of volunteer neighborhood watch George Zimmerman. And his defense got off to a rocky and even offensive, even a disastrous, some say, start with while the family of the victim Trayvon Martin`s family crying. They have tears out. And he starts with a knock-knock joke that left everybody in the courtroom stunned in silence. We are talking about defense attorney Don West and then he tried to back pedal and he gave a half-hearted apology which also fell flat.

It`s what everybody is talking about tonight. Listen and we will debate it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Knock, knock. Who`s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right. Good. You are on the jury. Nothing? That`s funny. No more bad jokes. I promise that. I`m convinced it was the delivery, though. I really thought that was funny. I`m sorry if I offended anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Trayvon Martin`s family is in the gallery crying tears, holding tissues. Everybody can see that. The defense starts with a knock- knock joke? Let`s go back into the lion`s den and debate with our expert panel starting with Michael Skolnik of GlobalGrind.com.

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, GLOBALGRIND.COM: I mean, Jane, that knock-knock joke was so damn offensive. He started -- opening arguments for the defense with a joke? This is not a joke. Trayvon Martin`s life was not a joke. His family`s life is not a joke.

It was offensive to us in the room. It`s offensive to the family. It`s offensive to members of the jury. The fact is, as you pointed out, Don West had to apology and his apology sucks.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Heather Hansen, you are taking -- go ahead.

HEATHER HANSEN, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Jane -- it was just a -- it was a poor attempt to connect with the jury. The defense can`t take this passionate position that the state can take. They have to go through the evidence step by step which is what he did the remainder of his opening. Unfortunately his attempt to connect to the jury was definitely poor. I think they will stay a way from such attempts in the future.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes. It`s just not a good idea. The whole idea is that this young man`s life was minimized and his importance was minimized. And then to make a joke, it just adds -- insult to fatal injury as it were.

The prosecution says George Zimmerman put a gun directly to Trayvon`s chest and pulled the trigger essentially executing him. The defense says no, that`s not how it happened. It was more of a struggle. Listen, we are going on re-enact it and then we will debate it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Distance was zero. It was a contact shot.

ZIMMERMAN: The jacket moved up and he saw -- looked at it and said you`re going to die (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He reached for it. He reached -- like I felt this arm going down on my side and I grabbed it. I just grabbed my firearm and I shot him, one time.

GUY: He pressed that gun into Trayvon Martin`s chest and you will see with your own eyes the burn marks on each of the sweatshirts where that hot lead passed through.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The big question -- was this murder or was this self- defense? The answer really lies in the details and who is telling the truth about those details.

So once again, I`m Trayvon Martin according to George Zimmerman. I`m on top of George Zimmerman punching away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very important distinction here Jane. The state says Zimmerman takes the gun and presses it against Trayvon Martin Trayvon Martin`s skin and fires. A contact wound to the skin.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like an execution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. But what the defense saying is, no, it wasn`t a contact wound up against the skin. It was only contact to the piece of clothing that Trayvon was wearing. So for example, it could be like this. The gun wasn`t pressed right up against the skin. But more like this indicating self-defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sort of more of a struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go into the lion`s den and debate it. Was this execution or struggle that resulted in a self-defense shooting? And I`m going to start with Frank Taaffe, former neighbor of George Zimmerman and friend and supporter of George Zimmerman.

FRANK TAAFFE, FORMER NEIGHBOR OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Well John Guy won the Daytime Emmy award for his impersonation of El McGantry (ph). Unfortunately Don West makes good stand why lawyers should stick to lawyering and never get into comedy.

Anyway, I believe he had no factual basis in his opening statement to admit that it was pressed against his chest. When the medical examiner came out and said it was an intermediate shot which means six to 12 inches. And the stippling on his hoodie was more pronounced on the hoodie as it was going against the chest. It diminishes as it goes into Trayvon`s chest.

It is more pronounced, three to six inches, bam, more pronounced here, which means he was hovering over him. Just like witness number six stated that he was on top of George beating him up MMA style. And you know what, the facts and evidence will outlay all this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. You made your point. Now we want Natalie Jackson from Trayvon Martin`s family and we will go to others.

NATALIE JACKSON: This was a direct (inaudible) shot. You are going to hear that in the testimony that comes out. You are also going to hear from the witness that Frank Taaffe was talking about, the MMA style, giving this witness recanted his statement to (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

TAAFFE: Only after he saw the Black Panthers on the front gate. He became --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on.

JACKSON: Oh, yes. Right. Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Hold on.

JACKSON: Right. That made him change his statement. How about maybe he realized that he was not --

(CROSSTALK)

TAAFFE: He was truthful -- he was truthful in the beginning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Skolnik --

TAAFFE: The police never talked to him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- GlobalGrind.com.

TAAFFE: Never talked to him.

SKOLNIK: I mean, Frank, this whole conversation is getting ridiculous. And you`re behaving in a ridiculous manner.

TAAFFE: Your -- your -- your comments --

SKOLNIK: George Zimmerman -- George Zimmerman was the only one --

TAAFFE: -- don`t make any sense.

SKOLNIK: George Zimmerman was the only one --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody -- one at a time.

SKOLNIK: -- Frank, George Zimmerman was the only one who`s training MMA style --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank, we gave you a chance to talk. Just pipe down a little bit.

(CROSSTALK)

SKOLNIK: -- gym. The only one that knew MMA was George Zimmerman. Mai Thai it is no an exercise, it is a style of fighting. And he was training in it. That was said in court by the defense attorney -- not by the prosecutor.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Sheryl Lee Ralph.

SHERYL LEE RALPH, ACTRESS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee Ralph.

(CROSSTALK)

RALPH: Once again -- once again, Jane, Jane, Jane. There is your truth, my truth and the truth. Only two people know the truth and one of them is dead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Heather Hansen quickly.

HANSEN: You are going to hear scientific evidence. You heard today in West`s opening. They`re going to be calling a pathologist. That scientific evidence is going to say that it was a contact shot to the sweatshirt but an intermediate shot to the body. Because he was removed, the juice was weighing him down. The sweatshirt was separated from the body.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Guess what.

RALPH: We are now saying that the iced tea was weighing Trayvon Martin down. Look, somebody got shot. Somebody got shot. Somebody is dead. How were they killed? That`s what is important here and we are not going to start blaming this case on a bottle or a can of iced tea. Mr. Neighbor, it is not about a can of iced tea.

TAAFFE: Trayvon Martin committed aggravated battery on George Zimmerman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We will be back in a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUY: They literally got his video camera and let him explain in his own words what had happened and did. And you will learn that that`s when he began to spin that tangled web of lies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEST: You will see the evidence proves at least one thing. Trayvon Martin hadn`t gone home. We know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, that was the defense attorney, Don West, of the infamous now knock-knock joke. His point was he says well, if Trayvon felt he was being followed as he told his girlfriend on the phone why didn`t he just hurry home?

And I want to debate that so go back into the lion`s den with our fantastic panel. Is it a fair question, Stacey Honowitz, to ask? Why didn`t he go home? It is a free country. Why does he have to go home?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, of course, everything is a fair question when you put it in that context. But is that the issue in the case? Is that the issue that this child should have to go home and did not have to worry about somebody following him, or profiling him or looking for him? That really becomes irrelevant quite frankly in this court of law.

And that`s what you`re going to hear. You are going to hear facts and forensics and witnesses. And the jury has to decide the credibility of those witnesses and the forensic evidence if it matches the elements of the crime of murder 2.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But the question is, Frank Taaffe, we will go to you briefly. Please, I want to include but you can`t talk over everybody else. The defense attorney, Zimmerman`s attorney, is saying, well, he should have gone home. I don`t know -- if that`s fair, why should somebody have to go home? George Zimmerman didn`t go home.

TAAFFE: Jane, it`s a good question. I will just answer this way. He had stated -- Dee Dee had stated in the state`s testimony that Trayvon said that there was some creepy old white dude chasing him. And if I was young and escorted and unchaperoned 17-year-old up from Miami, on my way back from the 7-eleven, my main goal is to get home safely.

Albeit, we know through Dee Dee`s testimony that she told the state, particularly to Mr. de la Rionda that in her testimony she testified to the fact that she said that Trayvon, you need to run. And he said he wasn`t going to run. She stated because he was right next to his dad`s house. That`s in -- that`s a factual statement. If anyone on the panel wants to refute that have at it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Sheryl Lee Ralph, my point is, is it fair for defense to say, well, why didn`t the victim go home?

Why should he have to go home? Why should he have to run home? And another thing he just said, he was right at his father`s home. So he wasn`t going to run anywhere. He was going to stand --

TAAFFE: He was home.

RALPH: -- his own ground on his own property. So -- who standing who`s ground?

TAAFFE: He was a guest in --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second.

RALPH: Mr. George Zimmerman was not at his home. What are you trying to say now, Frank? He`s saying he wasn`t going to run --

TAAFFE: Mr. Zimmerman was in prevent defense.

RALPH: Listen, listen -- do not start speaking another language here, Frank. Now listen -- this young man does not need to run and go anywhere - -

TAAFFE: I`m trying to keep it real, too. I`m keeping it real too.

RALPH: Oh, there you go. Are you profiling me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. One second.

RALPH: Are you trying to profile me Frank because I don`t appreciate that.

TAAFFE: I`m just keeping it real.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

TAAFFE: I`m just keeping it real.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman, weigh in.

(CROSSTALK)

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I will tell you, Jane -- look at the end of the day -- at the end of the day, this case is going to come down to credibility. Does this jury believe George Zimmerman`s stories? Do they believe this girl that Trayvon was talking to on the phone? It is going to come down to credibility like most cases do -- credibility and the forensics. And that is what the jury will decide here.

RALPH: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Heather Hansen?

HANSEN: Listen, I think the important point as to whether or not Trayvon went home is the time line and you saw him -- Don West defense in his opening and he used that timeline because a period of time, if you believe that Zimmerman was chasing after Trayvon, if he had just gone home, he never would have caught him.

But if he stopped to perhaps confront Mr. Zimmerman, to perhaps wait and see what Zimmerman was going to do, that changes the timeline. So I think it is important to that point and I think that`s the point that West was trying to make in his opening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to thank my fantastic panel for having the courage to go in the lion`s den and have a very healthy debate. We`re going to have you all back as this trial progresses. We are all over it.

And I`ll tell you one thing, you think this is controversial. Fasten your seat belts. We are going to Jodi Arias. You will not believe what is happening in that case? It is a stunner. Is she thinking about a plea deal? How`s that possible?

Stay right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY MURPHY, REPORTER: You went to his house, what were you expecting was going to happen?

JODI ARIAS, CONVICTED MURDERER: I really expected us to just hang out like we had always done and -- that would be the day.

MURPHY: And it turned so horribly wrong.

ARIAS: It really did. Yes. That`s not what I was expecting at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ciaro, meow -- muy guapo Ciaro, oh, my gosh. Time for pet of the day. Send your pet pics to hlntv.com/jane. And we`re moving on to Brewster. "I`m an all American dog and I`m out here on the range, running around." And Kaine says "I just had a fabulous, fabulous lunch and you`re invited to join me next time." Zoey says "Maybe I will do that. I`ve got a dress for the occasion."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: You`re the person who actually slit Mr. Alexander`s throat from ear to ear.

ARIAS: Yes.

(JODI SINGING)

ARIAS: Is it because I`m not crying?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight break news. Jodi tweeting up a storm from jail, implying she may be open to a plea deal to save herself from death row. Just hours before the blockbuster Lifetime movie based on Jodi and Travis` relationship premiered this weekend, the convicted murderer posted this tweet. "I`m not currently accepting donations for appeals. Don`t know just yet if I will plea or appeal."

There`s no plea deal, is there. I mean she`s a pathological liar but is Jodi implying there should be a secret offer on the table?

Straight out to prosecutor, Stacey Honowitz; we know that they were supposed to start a retrial on the life or death issue. Will she live or will she die. The last hearing on June 20 abruptly canceled. Could something be in the works?

HONOWITZ: Well, we never know what goes on behind closed doors. But certainly they have come out and said that they are ready to proceed on the death penalty phase. But things do change.

I think that this is a desperate attempt. You know she likes to be relevant. She likes to be in the news. George Zimmerman has kind of taken over her spot these last couple of days. And so that`s why she`s tweeting up a storm.

Quite frankly, I don`t know how she has access to her Twitter account. But we will have to see as this progresses; certainly, there has been wide debate as to whether or not she should be offered life without parole, take death off the table and not have to go through it again, but, again, it`s part of the family`s decision along with the prosecutor. So we`re going to have to wait and see.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: all right. On the other side, the Lifetime movie based on Jodi and Travis` relationship, blockbuster ratings. We`ll tell you about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who the hell is Marie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A girl that I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How well do you know her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well enough that she`d text from time to time. This is crazy. You`re acting crazy. This is like insane jealousy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like a prostitute Travis, a piece of toilet paper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is way too soon to be discussing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s the Lifetime movie based on this case, the Jodi Arias case. That premiered this past weekend. More than 3 million people tuned into the premiere of this highly anticipated lifetime movie based on Jodi and Travis` toxic relationship.

The film ranked number two this year on original cable movies, right behind the Casey Anthony movie -- unbelievable.

So the public cares. We`ll bring you more.

Nancy Grace up next.

END