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George Zimmerman Trial Coverage And Analysis

Aired June 26, 2013 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Breaking news tonight. An explosive day in court as the prosecution`s star witness takes the stand in the George Zimmerman murder trial, spilling tears and talking back. She`s the young woman Trayvon Martin was on the phone with seconds before he was shot dead by Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Tonight, her explosive testimony describing the moments right before George Zimmerman fired the deadly shot.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live.

Her testimony clearly paints Zimmerman as the aggressor. But will her lies and her attitude make jurors discredit her?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): He said he`s got a gun. Somebody is screaming help me, help me.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He kept screaming, "Help me, help me!" And this man killed him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Martin was lying face down with his head oriented generally towards the north and his hands underneath his body.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s the controversial witness everybody is talking about: Trayvon`s friend, Rachel Jeantel. Until today, we have only heard her voice. She testified today about those crucial final moments talking to Trayvon on the cell phone just before he dropped his cell phone and was killed. The dramatic testimony was very hard for Trayvon`s parents, in the gallery of the courtroom, to listen to.


RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAYVON: He said, "Why are you following me for?" And then I hard-breathed man come and say, "What you doing around here?"

Then I started saying, "Trayvon, Trayvon, what`s going on?" Then I heard a bump. Then I started hearing grass sounds. I kind of heard Trayvon saying, "Get off, get off."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then what did you hear?

JEANTEL: Then suddenly the phone hung up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On cross-examination, Rachel Jeantel and defense attorney Don West got into a war of words. She did not hold back her feelings towards Zimmerman`s defense attorney. But did her attitude go too far? Watch and then we`ll debate it.


JEANTEL: I had told you -- are you listening?


JEANTEL: I had told you what happened to me in Crump`s interview. I had returned it. Are you listening?

WEST: Maybe we can break until the morning with that.

JEANTEL: No. I`m being done today.

WEST: What`s that?

JEANTEL: I`m leaving today.

WEST: Are you refusing to come back tomorrow?

JEANTEL: To you?

WEST: Are you refusing --

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING OVER TRIAL: We need to keep this question and answer about her testimony.

How much more time do you think that you need to finish your cross?

WEST: I simply wouldn`t -- I don`t know for sure. I think we should plan on at least a couple of hours.


NELSON: Ladies and gentlemen, we`re going to break for the evening. Everybody still remain seated. Including you, Ms. Jeantel. Please remain seated.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, you will hear key portions of her blockbuster testimony.

And I want to hear from you. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

This friend of victim Trayvon Martin is the prosecution`s star witness, because what she says she heard talking to Trayvon on the cell phone makes the defendant, George Zimmerman, sound like the aggressor.

But did this witness hurt the prosecution by sounding disrespectful on the witness stand?

Straight out to the Lions` Den, my extraordinary panel. We begin with Natalie Jackson, the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family. Let`s debate her, too, Natalie.

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON`S FAMILY: Jane, you know what? I understand how people feel about this witness, but I`m going to defend her.

She`s 19 years old. She`s been harassed and doctored (ph) on the Internet. She`s been called everything but a child of God by people who do not know her for the last year and a half. She`s been -- she`s sat through depositions. She`s been harassed.

And, you know, I think that we all know we have to remember that she`s 19 years old. And really just look at the context and the content of her testimony, which was totally consistent with every testimony that she`s given.

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

FRANK TAAFFE, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I loved her. She`s going to be the catalyst to setting George free. She`s laying out a foundation for the defense. It`s clearly that her testimony is contrived. You could see that she`s being led.

In essence, she reveals in her testimony -- and you guys can quote me if I`m wrong -- she said that when she said to Trayvon that "You need to run," he said, "I`m not going to run." And he said, "Why not?" He said, "I`m right next to my daddy`s house."

What does that mean, he was right next to his daddy`s house? She is awful.

JACKSON: Well, since you said I can tell you if you`re wrong, I`ll tell you that you`re wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Hold on a second. Jon Leiberman.

TAAFFE: That`s what she said on the stand.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s give everybody a chance to talk tonight. Jon Leiberman.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: I have to disagree when Frank said that her testimony was contrived. It`s pretty clear that she wasn`t polished; she wasn`t a coached witness. And sometimes, that can come off as credible to juries.

The fact of the matter is, this woman was this is who you get. You know, she wasn`t putting on any sort of facade. She let her demeanor show. And that can come off --

TAAFFE: Have you ever heard grass? Have you ever heard grass?

LEIBERMAN: Frank, let me finish!

TAAFFE: Have you ever heard grass?

LEIBERMAN: Come on, Frank. Let me finish.

TAAFFE: Go ahead. I just want to know have you ever heard grass?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re referring to the fact that she said, and we played it a second ago, that she heard sliding on glass. I think what she was trying to say --

TAAFFE: Grass.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- was something else, and I`ll throw it to Dana Swickle. Do you think that she was trying to say she heard a scuffle when she said, "I heard grass"?

DANA SWICKLE, ATTORNEY: You know, that`s part of the problem with her testimony today. She is the messenger, and she`s the main messenger. And if you can`t hear her, and you can`t understand her and you can`t follow what her message is, then that`s what`s going to be a problem for the jurors.

You hit it right on the head. What was she really trying to say? Was she trying to say this or was she trying to say that? No one really knows.

And yes, she was not polished, and maybe she`s been harassed. Maybe she hasn`t been harassed. But the bottom line is that the prosecution should have, you know, prepared her better and made her a better witness. She came off as disinterested at times, cavalier. I thought that she was very rude --

TAAFFE: Star witness.

SWICKLE: -- to the defense counsel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Young Williams.

TANYA YOUNG WILLIAMS, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I think that this young lady came off as just what she is: a very young lady who hasn`t been in these -- this position before, in a very --

TAAFFE: She lies.

WILLIAMS: -- tough spot. And she`s -- she`s traumatized by the situation.

TAAFFE: She`s lied in her testimony.

WILLIAMS: Excuse me. Excuse me, Mr. Taft [SIC], you`re going to respect me whether you want to or not.

TAAFFE: I`ll try.

WILLIAMS: This young lady is traumatized and therefore, you see her nervousness.

TAAFFE: She lies.

WILLIAMS: What I liked about her, Jane, most importantly --

TAAFFE: She lies.

WILLIAMS: -- there was no facade. You get what you get. And I think she was credible, and her testimony was consistent and believable.

TAAFFE: She lied under oath to the state!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Hold on a second, Frank. You know what? There are rules to this game, and the rules are, people come on our show. We give everybody a chance to talk. So you had your chance. You can see that there`s one, two, three, four five people. And so we`ve got to spread it out. OK, we want to be fair.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rachel Jeantel, this is the witness we`re talking about, the last person to talk to Trayvon Martin before he was shot. She talking to him, and he`s on his cell phone. She testified that she told Trayvon to run, because he said somebody was following him. Let`s listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANTEL: "Now the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is following me." And then I just told him "run." And he said, "No."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told him to run?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what, if anything, did Mr. Martin say?

JEANTEL: He said no, he`s almost right by his daddy`s fiance`s house.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we need to warn you, the video we`re about to show you is very graphic, but it is evidence in this case.

Rachel said she heard Trayvon speaking moments before he was shot dead by George Zimmerman. There is the victim, Trayvon Martin, lying on the grass. So that`s where the grass comes in, the scuffle on the grass. The gut- wrenching photos shot in court of the 17-year-old, who was unarmed. And coming home to his father`s girlfriend`s house with -- from the 7-Eleven with Skittles and a soft drink, while talking on the phone to Rachel when he was killed by George Zimmerman, who was carrying a .09 millimeter Kel Tec pistol that was also shown in court. Trayvon shot once in the chest.

So I want to go out to Jean Casarez, HLN legal correspondent. You`ve just gotten out of court. Explosive day in court. This witness, very controversial. Some people saying she`s effective. Others say she has no credibility. What are the key facts that can help us figure out where the truth lies?

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: The truth is going to be somewhere between George Zimmerman and this witness, because now it`s a credibility contest, and the jury is going to have to believe one or the other.

They`re probably going to look for things that are independent of these voices. For instance, the nonemergency 911 call that George Zimmerman made. There are time codes on that call. There are times of the call that she had with Trayvon. When she is that Trayvon is saying, "I`m being followed" by George Zimmerman, is that a time when George is standing still talking to nonemergency or a time when the car door opens, you hear the chimes, and it appears as though he is following Trayvon?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s the point. This woman is speaking, in essence, for Trayvon Martin, because Trayvon Martin is no longer here to speak for himself. So we have -- and I think we have some of the reenactment video -- we have video of George Zimmerman telling his side of the story. OK? A lot of video, and a lot of sound of George Zimmerman telling his side of the story. He went with police, and they videotaped an entire re-enactment of what he says happened.

Trayvon Martin doesn`t have anybody speaking for him, and here`s the video of the re-enactment by George Zimmerman. So essentially -- and you hear -- you hear George right now talking. Essentially, this is the other side of the problem, Natalie Jackson.

JACKSON: Yes. It is. And I think you hit the nail on the head, Jane. There are time stamps. We have a phone record that shows that this phone call to George -- I mean between Trayvon and Rachel ended at 7:15 and I forgot the seconds, but we have all those time stamps. And we also have George Zimmerman`s own testimony where he says Trayvon is running from him. And that coincides with what Rachel Jeantel said.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Now, on the other side of the break, we`re going to talk about whether or not she has a credibility problem, because the defense attorney said that there were inconsistencies that he brought out in testimony today, a couple of what he called lies that she said and inconsistencies between what she said on the stand and her deposition. We`re going to debate that on the other side, and we`re taking your calls.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): Oh, my God. And I just heard people screaming, "Help me, help me." And this person shot him. He was, like, wrestling with him, you know what I mean? On the ground. From what I could see, it was very dark. I`m just scared. I can`t -- I can`t even believe it. This is -- the person -- oh, my God. I hope -- it`s a young boy or something. I can`t imagine. I`ve never seen anyone killed.




ZIMMERMAN (via phone): Something is wrong with him. Yes, he`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hands. I don`t know what his deal is.

These (EXPLETIVE DELETED), they always get away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Are you following him?


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



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Key prosecution witness on the stand today, Rachel Jeantel. She was on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot dead. She is the closest thing to Trayvon Martin being able to tell what happened that night.

But the defense, in cross-examination, pounded at her, grilling her about lies she told. Listen to this and then we`re going to go into the Lions` Den and debate.


WEST: You told Mr. Crump that you had lied -- no, I`m sorry you told Mr. Crump that you`d gone to the hospital instead of the wake, which was a lie?


WEST: And you also lied and said that you were 16?

JEANTEL: I don`t remember saying that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jean Casarez, explain what these two lies are that the defense was hammering her about today.

CASAREZ: Well, you know, the prosecution brought it up first. I think they wanted to preempt the defense, because they knew the defense was going to go after her, because if she lied, then how can anything be believed?

But she had a very seemingly honest explanation. She said that she couldn`t look at the body, and she didn`t have the heart to tell the family that she couldn`t go to the funeral because of that. So she said she was in the hospital and that`s why she couldn`t go to the funeral. It was a lie.

But she cried on the stand. She had to take Kleenex and put them to her eyes. She was the last person that saw him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the age?

CASAREZ: The age, I don`t think there was really an explanation for that. She said she was 16. She was actually 18, and now she`s 19.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, let`s go into the Lions` Den and debate it. Do these lies impact her credibility? And I`m going to start with Tanya Young Williams.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely not, Jane. The supposed lies that we`re speaking about, as been said, she`s given very valid explanations as to why a teenager would say she did not go to a wake, and made up an excuse. Not only would a teenager do it; I would also may maybe adults. That`s a tough place to have to be.

Additionally, the issue of her age, we don`t know why she said -- I don`t think these two statements are going to make a real big difference in the eyes of the jurors when that comes up against everything else she said that has been consistent with her testimony and what she heard on the phone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Dana Swickle.

SWICKLE: You know, I disagree. I think these jurors are listening and waiting and watching. And any lie, whether it`s one or ten, is going to make a difference. How much of a difference I don`t know.

But I can tell you that there`s going to be at least one or two or maybe three jurors that are going to go, "Gee, if she`s lying about something as simple as her age, then what else can she lie about?" And if she`s lying to the family about not wanting to go to the funeral for the reason, and now all of a sudden, she`s coming up with the fact that I didn`t want to see the body.


SWICKLE: Who knows if that`s really true? And that`s the question. Who knows what she`s saying is true, because she`s been caught lying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natalie Jackson, attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family.

JACKSON: Well, in any case, you know, the jury gets to evaluate the credibility of the witness.

And one of the things that the judge will instruct them to do is that they can take that credibility, and they can accept part of the story or all of the story.

Here you have a 19-year-old girl who said that she wanted to remain anonymous. That`s why she said she lied about her age; she didn`t want anybody to know who she was. And she also said that she did not want any - - she didn`t want to explain to Sybrina that she was the last person that talked to Trayvon and that she didn`t want to face that body. And so I think that these are all sympathetic reasons.

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

TAAFFE: I get to speak now? OK. Is that you backstroking, Natalie? Yes, that sounds like it.

JACKSON: I`m not backstroking, Frank. What am I backstroking about?

TAAFFE: It sounds like you`re backstroking on me. Here`s the deal.

JACKSON: If you can`t tell me what, then you can`t talk.

TAAFFE: OK. Are we talking about a white lie? I think I heard that in the Jodi Arias trial. I mean, what kind of lie is a white lie?

JACKSON: I wasn`t in the Jodi Arias trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stick with this trial.

TAAFFE: Listen -- listen, OK? What type of lie are we talking about? Oh, she`s 19, she was 16. She told Mr. Crump, and Mr. Crump went on the air with you, and you stated in full view of the nation, you said she was so upset that she had high blood pressure and she was in the hospital. That`s why she did it.

In actuality, she was having her hair did the day of the funeral.

JACKSON: You are so wrong.

TAAFFE: OK. That`s a fact.

JACKSON: And that`s the problem.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: You said your piece. You said your piece. Now I want to go back to Natalie.

LEIBERMAN: -- don`t exist.

TAAFFE: I`m wrong. Excuse me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me -- let`s give Natalie a chance to respond to that, because that sounded a little personal, Frank.

Go ahead, Natalie.

JACKSON: He`s wrong. Frank is quoting blogs who made up stuff. This is one of the reasons this girl wanted to remain anonymous.

TAAFFE: You didn`t go in front of the nation and --

JACKSON: Those people were harassing her for a year and a half.

TAAFFE: Mr. Crump -- you and Mr. Crump didn`t go in front of the nation and tell everybody on record that --

JACKSON: That she went to the hospital? Yes, we did.

TAAFFE: -- she couldn`t go to the funeral because she had blood pressure. High blood pressure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Guess what, Frank? You asked a question. Give Natalie a chance --

TAAFFE: Go away. You`re giving me -- you`ve giving me high blood pressure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, you`ve giving us -- you`re giving all of us high blood pressure. Luckily, I don`t get high blood pressure, because I`m a vegan.

Go ahead, Natalie.

JACKSON: This -- this girl testified today that she lied about that to us. So she said she lied.

TAAFFE: What kind of lie is that, a white lie, middle of the road lie?


LEIBERMAN: Bottom line -- here`s the bottom line.


LEIBERMAN: It`s going to be --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Jon Leiberman --

JACKSON: It`s a lie that the jury will take into consideration.

LEIBERMAN: Here`s the bottom line, she admitted --

JACKSON: As it should be. The jurors will take into consideration all the lies that your friend George Zimmerman made.

LEIBERMAN: Here`s the bottom line.


LEIBERMAN: She admitted -- she admitted to lying twice. Ultimately, it`s going to be up to the jury to either accept all of her testimony --

JACKSON: I agree with you, Frank. You and I can agree on that.

LEIBERMAN: No, this is Jon. It`s going to be up to the jury to either --

JACKSON: Sorry, Jon.

LEIBERMAN: -- find the rest of her testimony credible or find it not believable based on these two lies.

Now will the jury believe that this was just a scared girl thrust into this situation because she was the last person to hear Trayvon Martin alive? They may chalk up the lies to that or they may not. But ultimately, it will be up to this jury to decide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it`s very important to remember she is 19 years old. She`s a teenager, and she was much younger when all of this happened. So that`s a lot of pressure -- national pressure, national exposure -- for a teen.

More on the other side.



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


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

ZIMMERMAN (via phone): Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If that jury isn`t diverse, this could be troublesome, nationwide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin!




ZIMMERMAN: I was just calling because we`ve had a lot of break-ins in our neighborhood recently, and I`m on the Neighborhood Watch. And there`s two suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood. I`ve never seen them before.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. A huge day in the George Zimmerman trial. He has told his side of the story of what happened that night, and now a star witness for the prosecution, the very woman who was on the phone with Trayvon moments before he was shot dead. This woman telling what she heard. And she paints George Zimmerman, the defendant, as the aggressor.

But did this woman`s attitude on the stand and some of the things she said, inconsistencies, undermine and undercut her message?

Straight out to the phone lines. Lynn, Michigan, your question or thought, Lynn?

CALLER: Hello, Jane.


CALLER: I love your program.


CALLER: And I don`t miss it.


CALLER: And I wanted to agree with some of the things that are being said. They ought to get her for perjury for lying on the stand under oath.

But I was wondering, to me she came off as kind of -- like a hostile witness. Would you consider her to be a hostile witness?


CALLER: And could you define a hostile witness?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If it were the defense case I would consider her to be a hostile witness. But she was hostile primarily on cross-examination.

And I want to go to Jean Casarez, HLN legal correspondent, to clarify that. Tell us what she did for the prosecution. Lay out quickly the points that she made for the prosecution.

CASAREZ: Well, she said that she was on the phone with Trayvon, and she said that Trayvon said when he got back to the complex that this man was watching him, staring at him, watching him. She thought it was a joke. She also said she was doing her hair the whole time that they were talking.

But then Trayvon said, "He`s following me. He is following me."

And so she said "Run," and he said that he`d got back close to where his father`s place was with the future stepmother, but that he kept being followed. So he was followed the whole time. That`s what she -- the point she made on direct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I think we`re going to have to go back in the Lions` Den, people, because our caller raised a, I think, controversial question. So let`s go back into the Lions` Den.

And I want to start with you, Tanya Young Williams. You`re an attorney out of Los Angeles. Could she have possibly be charged with perjury, as this caller has suggested, because of -- if she`s not entirely truthful on the stand?

WILLIAMS: No, of course not. She`s not going to be charged with perjury.

Jane, I want to tell you that she is a good witness, because she is drumming home a theme that the prosecution started with today. Trayvon Martin is a kid. You had a witness take the testimony said she heard a kid`s voice.

Now you have this young lady who seems immature, very much like a kid, but she said, "He used to come over and we would ride bikes and play games." Trayvon Martin is a kid. She drummed that home, and that`s what the prosecution is trying to show. It was a kid against a bully. So she did her job today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman?

LEIBERMAN: Well, and frankly, you know, she showed on the stand as well that she, too, you know, has pieces of immaturity and she, too, is a kid.

I think the only way that this potentially hurts the prosecution is, they pretty much need a perfect case in order to show second degree. It is an uphill battle in this case for them to show second-degree murder. It`s an easier kind of slog for them to show manslaughter, in my opinion.


LEIBERMAN: So I think any questions about her credibility hurt on that front.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to debate that on the other side. We`re also going to talk about what the defense said were inconsistencies in her testimony that conflicted with the deposition that she gave. Is that the case? And what`s the impact of that? More on the other side.

Give me a call, too. I want to hear from you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s the neighbor that everybody would want to have.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON`S FAMILY: If he`s Neighborhood Watch, watch and call. But don`t go try to take the law into your own hands.

TAAFFE: I think George had a call of duty. I think he had a call of duty for the neighborhood. And I think he was not going to let another burglary go down on his watch.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, we don`t need you to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The neighborhood watch, it was said at that meeting and said every meeting we had after that, do not get close to anybody. Stay at a safe distance.

ZIMMERMAN: The operator said, "Are you following him?" I said "Yes." He said "We don`t need you to do that." I said "Ok."

This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something.

He said, "Are you following him? I said "Yes." Because I was, you know, in the area. They said "We don`t need you to do that." I said "Ok."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neighborhood watch is neighborhood watch, not neighborhood shoot.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Huge day in court today as the star witness took the stand. Rachel Jeantel explained to the jury exactly what Trayvon told her while he was on the cell phone with her during the final moments of his life about George Zimmerman, using some very colorful language to describe the stranger who would turn out to be Zimmerman. Listen to her testimony.


RACHEL JEANTEL, WITNESS: I asked him how the man looked like. He just told me the man looked creepy.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: He said the man looked creepy?

JEANTEL: Creepy white. Excuse my language, cracker.

DE LA RIONDA: Ok. And what did you say? They`re having trouble hearing you. So take your time.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. This was a very emotional day for Trayvon Martin`s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. They sat in the gallery, often sobbing. You see the father dabbing his eyes right there, as Rachel described some of the last words her son said before he was killed.

We`re going to talk about this language, language aside, she`s making a point. And by the way, we could also say that we know on the 911 call that George Zimmerman used some expletives, as well.

I want to go to Jon Leiberman. Is she making the point for the prosecution that essentially George Zimmerman was the aggressor?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely. I mean that`s the major reason why she`s on the stand. The reason why she`s on the stand is to independently show that George Zimmerman was the aggressor. And she knew this based on her conversation with Trayvon Martin. That is really the singular reason why she`s on the stand. If the jury believes that, then this witness will have been a success for the prosecution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go out to the phone lines. Steve, Indiana, your question or thought -- Steve, Indiana?

STEVE, INDIANA (via telephone): Yes, ma`am. Thank you for having me.


STEVE: I`m one of probably millions watching from home, and I try to put myself in what the actual juror may think and hear. We`ve heard a lot regarding maybe the mindset of George Zimmerman being the neighborhood watchman and what he was thinking when he saw Trayvon. My question is why is the description that Trayvon Martin gave being a creepy -- excuse me my language -- a-s-s cracker, why is that not being talked about? Because to me that`s very relevant, because that to me shows a hostile attitude towards the man that turned out to be George Zimmerman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Well, Steve, let`s just do one question at a time. I want to throw that out to Tanya Young Williams, you`re an attorney, and I want to give you an opportunity to deal with that one.

TANYA YOUNG WILLIAMS, ATTORNEY: Well, I think -- no one wants to hear that type of language. However, when someone is following you, and you are afraid, very often you will say things that you might not other wise say. So the fact that Trayvon allegedly called this man that word, I don`t think that`s a big deal. I don`t think it`s something for us to look at. But it seemed to be a hostile environment with Trayvon trying to hide from George Zimmerman, who was hunting him down.

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

FRANK TAAFFE, FORMER NEIGHBOR OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I`m a cracker, and you know, that language, I`m wondering in that scenario who had the depraved mind.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? I want to jump in here --

WILLIAMS: Come on Frank. That`s ridiculous.

TAAFFE: That`s ridiculous? You heard what Rachel said today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this, Frank.

TAAFFE: I`m just curious as to who had the depraved mind during that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just say this --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just say this.

TAAFFE: I wonder who the aggressor was. I wonder who had the injuries sustained to the back of his head.

WILLIAMS: The depraved mind doesn`t really matter right now --

TAAFFE: Ok. Documented, injured.

WILLIAMS: -- because Trayvon Martin is dead and not on trial. So Zimmerman`s state of mind is relevant, not Trayvon Martin because he shot and killed him.

TAAFFE: Let`s see -- broken nose, yes, ok.

LEIBERMAN: Frank, come on, Trayvon is dead, if you want to talk injuries.

TAAFFE: I`m not dehumanizing Trayvon. I myself have lost two sons in the last five years. Hear me out. I`m not dehumanizing Trayvon at all. Let me make that clear. I`m saying that at that moment in time, he became the aggressor. The thug that he was, he went MMA style on Papa George and started pounding George. George`s statements are consistent with his injuries.


WILLIAMS: Frank you haven`t said anything --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. Frank, you have said your piece. You have to let other people talk.

TAAFFE: Well, I want to hear it. I want to hear it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve said your piece. I want to give Tanya a chance to respond, then Jon, then Dana. Tanya.

WILLIAMS: Ok. Thank you very much, Jane. My position is this, it`s not about Trayvon having a depraved mind, because right now he`s not on trial, he`s dead. So we`re more focused on what was on Zimmerman`s mind. That being said, if you have someone who is following you and you are scared, your mindset is I`m going to protect myself. Your mind set is I probably won`t like that person.


TAAFFE: Why would you? Why would you need to defend yourself? He was home. He even said he was home.

WILLIAMS: No, Frank, that`s not what he said.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this -- I want to point something out.

TAAFFE: Why would he be afraid?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Hold on. Time out, time out.

TAAFFE: It don`t make sense. Use common sense. He was home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to point out something. Because you said something that I saw on tape that we played in a bump and I thought -- you were saying that George Zimmerman was trying to stop burglaries in the neighborhood.

Let`s make it clear. Trayvon Martin was not doing anything but buying Skittles and a soft drink, and walking back from the 7-Eleven to the home where his father was staying with his girlfriend.

TAAFFE: Let me finish. And he had ear buds on and he was talking to his girlfriend. That is established and nobody is challenging that. He`s talking to not girlfriend, friend on the phone, this star witness. Now, that is not something somebody does if they`re up to no good. People don`t talk to friends on the phone in the rain if they have something -- another agenda. They would not be talking to a friend on the phone. Do you see what I`m saying?

TAAFFE: Will you allow me to retort? The first place he sees Trayvon is up in my yard. It`s a rainy night. What is Trayvon doing in my yard? He`s cutting through the buildings and he looked suspicious. And yet on February 2, which is one of the 911 calls that was played in court today, George called in another young black male that was prowling and loitering up at my house and looking at my house.

And Mr. O`Mara asked on cross to Ramona Rumpf (ph) if she knew that the suspect was apprehended and she had no idea.



WILLIAMS: Frank what made him look suspicious -- what made him look suspicious in your mind, just because he was walking through your yard?


TAAFFE: Because he was out of place. George knew he didn`t live there. He was out of place. He was out of place.

WILLIAMS: He had a right to be there, Frank.

TAAFFE: He`s out of the place. He`s on private property. That`s my property.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to take a break. We`ll be right back into the "Lion`s Den" on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was not a racial incident. This was an incident of a good man trying to do the right thing who, like he had countless times before, called for help.

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: You`ve got a neighborhood watch person packing a gun, on prescription medication, going around trying to say who belongs in the neighborhood and who doesn`t.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then I heard, like from my window, pop, pop, pop. I don`t know what a gun really sounds like, I just know like it was about three popping noises.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that just shows you how hard it is to be a witness. There was one shot fired. But some people heard three pops. It`s been a long time. It`s not hard to remember everything. Frankly, if somebody asked me what I did yesterday, I wouldn`t remember.

Now we`re talking about this star witness, Rachel Jeantel, the woman you see here. And she could be the key to the prosecution`s case. But the question is, is she consistent about whether it was Trayvon`s voice screaming for help that rainy night.

Listen to this then we`ll analyze it.


DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Today, you told Mr. de la Rionda that it was Trayvon Martin`s voice.

JEANTEL: I had told you in the depo it was Trayvon`s voice.

WEST: Let me show you this. Do you admit then you were asked who was screaming for help and your answer was it could be Trayvon?

JEANTEL: Yes. He had told me -- I told you it sounded like Trayvon, because Trayvon had a kind of baby voice.

WEST: The question is: "Well, who was screaming for help? It`s not Trayvon, is it?" And your answer, "It could be Trayvon." And the question: "You know his voice so well, was that Trayvon Martin -- was that Trayvon screaming for help or wasn`t it?" Your answer, "It could be. Like I said, I don`t know. But it could be. The dude sound kind of like Trayvon. Trayvon do got that soft voice and that baby voice sometimes."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go out to Jean Casarez, who has been in court for the duration, knows a lot about this case. Jean, the defense was making a big deal about inconsistencies. Tell us -- explain what that was all about.

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they just started. I think one of the biggest points that they tried to make were the words that George Zimmerman allegedly said right before the phone went dead, because when she testified in court today to, she said when Trayvon said "Why are you following me." George Zimmerman responded, "What are you doing around here?" But in her previous deposition testimony, she said that George Zimmerman said, "What are you talking about?" Now, that`s close, but it`s different.

And the defense is going to make every point they can to say there`s inconsistency here. That she really didn`t hear what she`s testifying to or what she testified before in deposition.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Young Williams, who remembers to the nth degree what somebody said on a phone so long ago?

WILLIAMS: No one, Jane. It would be ludicrous for us to assume that she would have everything correct. What is telling is that she did not hear George Zimmerman identify himself. That`s what he should have done as the watchman in his community, following procedure. He should have said in response to Trayvon Martin, I am George Zimmerman -- whatever his title is -- that`s why I`m following you. He didn`t do that. And that`s what he should have done. To me, that was key in her testimony.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And by the way, this killing happened February 26, 2012. So it`s well over a year ago. Not this past February, but the February before.

Let`s go to the phone lines. Shanequa, New York, your question or thought -- Shanequa?

SHANEQUA, NEW YORK (via telephone): Hi. Thank you for having me.


SHANEQUA: My question is, how did we get so far away from the facts? The facts that we do know for sure is that Zimmerman was given a direct order not to follow this man by the non-emergency 911 operator. I don`t understand how we get mixed up into everything else, when he clearly was given a statement and he disregarded it completely.

In my opinion, had he stayed in his vehicle and followed the rules, we wouldn`t be here talking about Trayvon right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman?


LEIBERMAN: Bottom line is, the caller is probably right. Had George Zimmerman never gotten out of his vehicle, Trayvon Martin would still be alive. Now, there`s a legal standard, however, you know to me; and because he pursued Trayvon at some point, does that show depraved mind? Does that show, you know, intent and in the second degree murder realm? That`s a different story. So I think we all agree that had Zimmerman stayed in his car, this wouldn`t have happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to get to more of the key issues in the crucial testimony today. A short break -- we`ll be right back.



ZIMMERMAN: I was calling because we had a lot of break ins in our neighborhood recently and I`m on the neighborhood watch. There`s two suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood. I`ve never seen them before. I have no idea what they`re doing. They`re just hanging out, loitering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman can you describe the two individuals?

ZIMMERMAN: To African-American males.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the judge today made a very crucial ruling -- ruling that five calls to police that Zimmerman made in the past reporting suspicious activity are admissible, will be admitted.

Straight out to Dana Swickle, criminal defense attorney -- how big a win is that for the prosecution?

DANA SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, clearly that`s going to be a big win for the prosecution but it`s the defense`s job obviously to spin it. I think you can spin it in the following way. Listen, five times before he made a call, five times before he followed the rules, five times before he didn`t get out of his car. What was it that Trayvon Martin was doing or what did he see that caused him on this sixth occasion to get out of his car? Did he see something different?

I can bet you if I was the defense counsel that`s how I would spin it. That`s all that they need to do at this particular point, is ok, it`s coming in, you deal it with and you move on. And that`s how they can do it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Young Williams.

WILLIAMS: Well, if Trayvon was doing something suspicious I would guarantee you that Zimmerman would have stated it. Therefore, I can`t assume that that`s an issue. I think these 911s getting in are key because as the prosecution has said that George Zimmerman had a growing frustration with, his words, punks getting away with it. So that`s why in the prior times, he did nothing. But this time he was fed up and he followed Trayvon Martin and this is why we`re in this trial right now. He should have stayed in his car and followed the rules, but he didn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. More to come. So much controversy. So many highlights. We`ll bring them to you. Stay right there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A huge day in the George Zimmerman trial with the prosecution`s star witness taking the stand. Straight out to the phone lines -- Shannon, Ohio, your question or thought -- Shannon.

SHANNON, OHIO (via telephone): Hi Jane, how are you today?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fine, thanks.

SHANNON: Ok. My point that I want to get across is I believe it was premeditated. I believe that it was premeditated because George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin knowingly that he had a gun on him. I believe that he went after Trayvon Martin to cause (inaudible) harm and that`s exactly what he did. He killed him and now he`s playing self-defense. Even if Trayvon Martin did defend himself, George Zimmerman prevented, he could have prevented all of this by just letting the police do their job.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that wraps it up for us. A very passionate, passionate story.

Nancy has more coming up right now