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CNN NEWSROOM

George Zimmerman Trial; Markets Open Higher

Aired June 27, 2013 - 10:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The defense is trying to determine exactly what Rachel heard on that phone call, right before Trayvon Martin died. She said that Trayvon Martin said a man was following him in the car and the man on the car was on the phone so he decided to run to the back of the dwellings to get away from him. Rachel testified that she knew that because of the sound of wind in the phone and then she said the phone went out.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

DON WEST, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Present to you those times were taken from the actual phone company records.

RACHEL JEANTEL, STAR PROSECUTION WITNESS: Yes, sir.

WEST: So you don't have any argument with that.

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: Well, take a look at the second to last call.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: It began at 6:54:16 p.m. and disconnected at 7:11:47. Do you see that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: The next call picked up at 7:12:06. Do you see that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And disconnected at 7:15:43? Correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So let's work backwards. Let's assume that at 7:15:43 the phone cut off.

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: When you were describing the interaction between Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman. Ok?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So that call had started at 7:12:06 which was a little over three minutes, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And there weren't any interruptions in that phone call?

WEST: No, sir.

WEST: And frankly you don't know at 7:15:43 when the phone cut off, whether it cut off for any reason other than it was just one more lost call?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

JEANTEL: So look at the other call though, the one before it, where it says it disconnected at 7:11:47. Do you see that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And that the next call started at 7:12:06.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: If you do the math and figure out how long it was between 7:11:47 and 7:12:06, to me, that is --

JUDGE: If you need to take a copy of that.

WEST: Step back. That's about 19 seconds, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So does that seem to you to be about right if, that when Trayvon Martin ran, ran towards the back of his father's house, while George Zimmerman was in the car, that about 20 seconds elapsed before your call reconnected?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: So the only time from before 7:00, before any part of this case actually started.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: You were on the phone with Mr. Martin for all of that time except about 20 seconds?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And it was the 20 seconds we're talking about where Mr. Martin had decided to run and then you reconnected with him?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: Would this be a good time for a short recess?

JUDGE: Only a brief recess, yes. OK we're going to take a 15-minute recess. If you'll just remain seated, Miss Jeantel. Ladies and gentlemen, put your note pads face down on the chair and follow the deputy --

(END LIVE FEED)

COSTELLO: All right the court is going a recess for a short time. So let's bring in our panel of legal analysts.

Page Pate is a defense attorney; we also have Attorney Paul Butler he's in Washington, D.C., he's a prosecutor and of course Sunny Hostin is in Sanford, Florida, where the trial is taking place. She's also a former prosecutor. Thank you all for being here.

What the defense is trying to do is they are trying to shoot holes in Rachel's story about what exactly she heard Trayvon Martin say that night. There were differing accounts. In fact, when Rachel talked to Trayvon Martin's mother she neglected to tell her that someone on -- Trayvon Martin said on the phone to someone, get off, get off.

She also neglected to tell that to the Martin family lawyer, Benjamin Crump and then suddenly, maybe she remembered or maybe she thought to tell prosecutors and police that oh, yes, I heard Trayvon Martin saying, get off, get off.

What do you make of this, Paul Butler?

PAUL BUTLER, ATTORNEY: Well, again, I think she's quite sympathetic. Yesterday she was kind of combative. Somebody got to this girl overnight and told her to lose the attitude and today, frankly, the longer you see her, the more sympathetic she is. She says that she didn't tell everything to the lawyer or to the mother because she wanted to spare the mom the gory details of the last moments of her teenage son's life before he was gunned down.

Is that a credible sympathetic reason to the jurors? You bet it is.

COSTELLO: Something that's really making the rounds on -- in the Twitter verse and on-line, Page, is that when the defense attorney asked Rachel, because supposedly Trayvon Martin called George Zimmerman a "creepy ass cracker" and he asked her if she thought that was a racially offensive term and she said no. Now the Twitter verse lit up saying "You got to be kidding because that obviously is." Why is that important?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't know that it is ultimately important. Obviously this witness does not like this lawyer. She does not like being cross-examined. She does not like being questioned. But I think at the end of the day the jury is going to sift through her testimony, they're going to focus on the small inconsistencies -- and there have been some -- but they're also going to focus on the big inconsistencies like not saying that Trayvon said "get off, get off." I think that's critical and I think it's going to hurt her credibility.

COSTELLO: And she gave two differing accounts of that too, didn't she Sunny? Sometimes she said Trayvon Martin said "get off, get off," sometimes she said that Trayvon Martin said "what are you talking about?" I mean there are even a differing accounts of what she overheard Trayvon Martin saying to George Zimmerman.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well look, certainly there appear to be inconsistencies and that's what a defense attorney's job is, right to make sure that those inconsistencies are highlighted. And I think Don West is doing that.

But I will tell you, I don't understand the trial strategy of having a teenage witness who heard what she is saying was the last moments of Trayvon Martin's life on the witness stand for so long. This is really reminiscent for me of his almost three-hour long opening statement in comparison to the 32-minute prosecutor's opening statement. He doesn't seem to have a great courtroom sense into when it's too much.

I think with this kind of witness you get in, you get out. Make the point, make the point that she has been inconsistent and leave her alone. The longer she stays on the witness stand, I've got to tell you, Carol, she does seem to me to be more and more sympathetic. She's very authentic. I don't think she's the type of witness you can coach. I've had witnesses like Rachel and the jury tends to get endeared to the plight of someone who's a reluctant witness on the witness stand. I think Don West really needs to tighten this up and get her off the witness stand.

COSTELLO: Well one of the most heart breaking things that came out in testimony was apparently she wrote a letter to Trayvon Martin's mother. It was written in cursive. And Don West, the defense attorney, gave the letter to Rachel and said, read this, and she said, I don't read cursive. I can't read cursive. And your heart broke for her.

And then at other times, Don West actually -- and Paul you pointed this out, because it seems that Rachel's demeanor had changed from yesterday. She wasn't as combative.

And at one point, the defense attorney asked her about that. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON WEST, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Are you ok this morning?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: You seem so different than yesterday. I'm just checking. Did someone talk with you --

JEANTEL: Is that a question?

WEST: Yes did someone talk with you last night about your demeanor in court yesterday?

JEANTEL: No. I went to sleep.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So Page, as a defense attorney, did you wince?

PATE: I did.

And I think at that point Mr. West did the right thing he just leave that issue alone and go into the substance of what she actually said. And I agree a little bit with Sunny here. I think you can do this too much. I think at some point the defense has to say look, we've pointed out the inconsistencies, now it's time to back off and not continue to confront this witness or she will become a sympathetic witness.

COSTELLO: So how much longer do you think this testimony will drag on? Because you know, we just said that Rachel's demeanor had changed and for the most part it has, but there was one point where she got a little snippy with Don West. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANTEL: First of all, Crump is not law enforcement. He's not an officer. I knew that he was not an officer. So like I told the mother, from the beginning, if an officer wants to talk to me, know the exact story, everything about what happened, that night, they will reach me at my number. You got it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So Paul, do you think that Don West is deliberately trying to rattle her to make her angry?

BUTLER: If he is he's doing that at his own peril because it's going to make him look like a bully. This is a 19-year-old high school senior who was talking to a friend when he was brutally shot down. Is she sympathetic? Yes. He if he keeps badgering at her the jury is going to feel like he's bullying her and wasting their time.

And Carol, let's remember what she testified yesterday, that George Zimmerman was this creepy guy who was virtually stalking Trayvon Martin and then he jumped Trayvon and Trayvon tried to run away saying "get off me, get off me." There's really very little that the defense has done to discredit that testimony.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Ok. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back we're going to actually take you live to the New York Stock Exchange because the DOW is up 165 points. We'll explore that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: 44 minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories now, Nelson Mandela is now on life support. The South African president, Jacob Zuma says the anti-apartheid icon is actually much better today, though Zuma did cancel a foreign trip because of Mandela's declining health. Mandela, as you know, is fighting a lung infection. His daughter says anything is imminent. In the meantime President Obama is set to visit South Africa this week.

Speaking of President Obama, he weighed in this morning on U.S. officials' hunt for Edward Snowden. Speaking to reporters in Senegal the President said of the NSA leaker, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." But the President added that he's particularly concerned about other documents Snowden might have.

An American businessman who claimed he was held hostage by his Chinese employees has now been freed. Chip Starnes spent six days trapped in the suburban Beijing factory of specialty medical supplies in China. Starnes' release comes after he and his workers inked a new compensation agreement.

Under way now in New York City, a public funeral for actor James Gandolfini. Celebrities from Broadway to Hollywood turning out to mourn the "Sopranos" star. Last night Broadway theaters dimmed their lights in his honor and flags in New Jersey have been flying at half staff. Gandolfini died last week at the age of 51.

Stocks edging higher this morning, much higher, going for a third day of gains after a rocky start to the week. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. What's going on?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Look at that. The Dow back above 15,000 after dropping below that marker last week. You know, nothing like a little bad news, Carol, to get the market moving. Remember when fed chief Ben Bernanke said he would consider scaling back at the end of the year the amount of money the fed is pouring into the financial system. He said this all last week. It's an idea by the way that investors aren't sweet on.

Well, he said that wouldn't -- that would happen if the economy showed improvement. Well, guess what? Yesterday an important number came out showing the economy isn't doing so terrific. It showed that economic growth here in the U.S. is anemic. So what you're seeing happen now is investors are buying into the market. They're buying stocks again on hopes that the fed will go ahead and delay that scaling back.

So for this morning you're seeing investors buy in not so much on the data that came in today, because we did get jobless claims numbers and data that came in ok but you're seeing them buy in on I guess the thought that bad news is good news which is so skewed but that's how Wall Street thinks -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So bizarre. Bad news is whatever. Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

The George Zimmerman murder trial set to take up in just about three minutes at 10:50 Eastern time. We'll take you back to the courtroom after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: All right. We're still awaiting court to resume in Sanford, Florida; of course, George Zimmerman on trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Rachel Jeantel the last person to talk to Trayvon Martin alive has been on the stand now for just about two hours, ten minutes shy of that.

And she's been undergoing tough questioning by defense attorneys about what exactly she heard on the phone and whether her story changed depending on who she was talking to.

I have Page Pate with me. He's a defense attorney; Paul Butler, a former prosecutor and a law professor at Georgetown; and Sunny Hostin, she's our legal analyst here at CNN, also former prosecutor. She's live in Sanford, Florida.

And Sunny, I wondered what the mood was in Sanford these days?

HOSTIN: I'm not seeing a lot of protesters. People are, though, talking about it. I just went this morning to get some tea at Dunkin' Donuts and everyone is aware of this trial. I will tell you though, interestingly enough, I've been asking folks have you seen Rachel's testimony, what do you think? Everyone that I've spoken to here in Sanford said I find her credible. I find her believable. She has said things that aren't helpful to Trayvon Martin -- and why would she make these things up?

So that certainly has been interesting to me. And -- but the mood here is pretty somber. The courtroom as you can see is packed -- it's completely packed. But not a lot of activity outside of the courthouse.

COSTELLO: And, of course, the defense is trying to blow holes in her story saying that she's changed her story several times, but she's been on the stand for such a long period of time not only this morning, but yesterday too. Page Pate, this jury is full of moms. What do you think they're thinking right now, because after all, this is a teenager on the stand?

PATE: Right. I think we always have to keep in the back of our minds that the makeup of this jury is critical. And that's always true in a criminal case. There are going to be some jurors who are going to side with this witness who are going to believe the story that the Martin family is telling and they're going to want to give her the benefit of the doubt. They're going to defend her when the defense attacks her.

So I think by having moms on the jury, that's important. The racial makeup of the jury is important. Those things are critical in almost any criminal defense matter.

COSTELLO: You talk about the racial makeup of the jury, It's an all- white jury, they're all women. I guess one of the jurors is either Hispanic or part African-American, we're really not sure. But mostly it's an all white jury. One of the comments made inside the courtroom today had to do with that cracker comment. I mean it's all over Twitter. It's all over the blogs. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEST: Describing the person is what made you think it was racial?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: That's because he described him as a creepy ass cracker?

JEANTEL: Yes.

WEST: So it was racial but it was because Trayvon Martin put race in this?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: You don't think that's a racial comment?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: You don't think that creepy ass cracker is a racial comment?

JEANTEL: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So Paul Butler, I wasn't sure where the defense was going with this? Was he trying to say that Rachel injected race into this matter and then he was trying to prove that no, it was really Trayvon Martin? What was he trying to prove?

BUTLER: You know, what defense attorneys do in a case like this is to put the victim on trial. They try to dirty them up in million different ways, little micro ways and I think that's what he's doing. But, you know, everybody knows young people today they talk about race and think about race differently than a lot of the rest of us.

For example, she also said that Trayvon described Mr. Zimmerman using the "n" word and Mr. Zimmerman is white and Hispanic. So that seemed like a bizarre way to talk about him. But again, that's just the way that young people now talk about race. It's a whole different lexicon.

COSTELLO: I'm sure that African-Americans would take this one way and perhaps white America would take it another way.

So Page, you're a member of white America, I'll put you on the spot -- if you were on the jury how would you take that? Would it even matter?

PATE: Well, I certainly don't want to put myself in that position but there are a lot of people who, depending upon their background are going to have a hard time relating to this witness's testimony. And I think what the defense is trying to do is to show to the jury that she's biased and that everyone on that side of this issue has already assumed this was a racial matter and they're injecting race into the case.

It's dangerous. Obviously it's really important now as to how the jury is receiving this information. We're not going to know that until we see a verdict.

COSTELLO: Why do you say it's dangerous?

PATE: Because whenever you start talking about race in the middle of a criminal trial you're going to upset some folks and you're going to offend possibly some jurors. So you don't want to go too far with that. You want the jury in their own minds to come to their own conclusions as to whether this was racially motivated or not. You don't want to tell them that.

COSTELLO: Which is strange Sunny because didn't defense attorneys fight to keep the term racial profiling out of the proceedings?

HOSTIN: They sure did. I mean they were successful in getting the term "race" removed from racial profiling but certainly the prosecutor opened on the fact that this was a case in which they believe George Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin

What I do think is interesting is that listen, race has been the elephant in the room from the very beginning. When George Zimmerman was first arrested, the government used the term "profiling". That's code for racial profiling. And so I think that, you know, while we know that Don West is now asking her about race, I don't know that she has injected race into this case or that Trayvon Martin injected race into this case.

Bottom line is that the government alleges that it is George Zimmerman who injected race in this case by profiling Trayvon Martin because he called 911 several times to indicate that young, black males were burglarizing his home and he profiled as the prosecution alleges -- he may have profiled Trayvon Martin as a young African-American male in his community up to no good.

COSTELLO: All right. We're still awaiting trial to resume. So we're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with much more in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)