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Boston Bombing Suspect Charged with 30 Counts; Impression of Zimmerman Weight Gain on Jury; Live Coverage of Zimmerman Case.
Aired June 27, 2013 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The bottom line right now in Washington is, how much damage did Edward Snowden really cause? There is a lot of skepticism in this quarter that what he has done is basically embarrass the administration, that he hasn't revealed all that much that terrorists and others didn't already know, which is that the government conducts surveillance. And others say, no, he has caused grave damage and they say, intelligence officials say they already see evidence that terrorist groups, at least some of them, are changing the way they communicate -- Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And Secretary of State John Kerry says American lives are now at risk as a result of the release of these classified documents.
All right, Barbara, thanks very much.
Barbara Starr, reporting from the Pentagon.
The Zimmerman trial is in recess and they're taking a lunch break. Coming up soon, we'll have continuing live coverage. And we're taking a closer look at the star prosecution witness's compelling testimony on the stand. Could it hurt the prosecution, help the defense? Stand by.
BLITZER: The suspected Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has been indicted by a federal grand jury. They just returned a 30-count indictment. The United States attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. to release the specifics of the 30 counts. We'll have live coverage of that coming up later today. 30-count indictment against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Back to other news, including the gripping testimony from the young woman on the phone with Trayvon Martin only moments before he was killed by George Zimmerman. Rachel Jeantel has struggled through a second day of tough cross-examination. The trial is in recess and they're taking a lunch break. It will resume fairly soon, though. Jeantel will be back on the stand to finish her testifying. She has been testifying for hours.
We're joined by two CNN legal analysts following this trial very closely. Mark Nejame is in Orlando. Danny Cevallos is in Philadelphia.
Mark, first to you.
This young woman's testimony has been going on for hours over two days. What stands out the most to you about her testimony?
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: To me, it is disjointed and simply not credible. If this is the cornerstone of the state's case, I think they have troubles. If they consider this to be a good witness, then we have surely lowered our standards to what a witness should be about. She has given multiple inconsistent statements. She has been hard to follow, and, to me, she does not come across as credible. And I think the state has to change up its game plan a little bit if they're really serious about a conviction here.
BLITZER: Danny, as you know, the defense, their job is to try to discredit this 19-year-old woman. Do you think they have done a good job or a bad job?
DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think they have done a very good job for a couple of reasons. It is not so much discredit, but they have to challenge her credibility, her ability to perceive what she saw. In other words, she may be telling the truth, but she didn't see it the way -- she couldn't perceive it. And actually, she is an ear witness. She didn't see anything. Or that she has a motive or she is not reliable otherwise. She's just not believable, and I think the defense has done a good job. They confronted with prior inconsistent statements. Those are not the end of the world-type inconsistent statements but they tend to show she doesn't have a terrific memory at best. I think the defense has done a very good job. They have stuck to the textbook and cross-examined her very well without getting too passionate and being very at least professional in doing so, I believe.
BLITZER: The defense attorney, Don West, pointed out what he described as several lies that this young Rachel Jeantel has told and, at one point, she was forced to admit on the stand she couldn't read a letter sent to Trayvon Martin's mother. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Are you able to read that copy well enough that you can tell us if it is, in fact, the same letter?
RACHEL JEANTEL, WITNESS: No.
WEST: Are you unable to read that at all?
JEANTEL: Some of it.
WEST: Can you read any of the words on it?
JEANTEL: I don't understand cursive. I don't read cursive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She says she doesn't read cursive. That was an embarrassing, a humiliating moment for the 19-year-old. What did you make of that moment? Was it an effective moment, Mark?
NEJAME: I think it was an effective moment. I think it does cause you to be a bit sympathetic with her simply because she may not possess the intellectual capability that we would otherwise hope. But, you know, it doesn't forgive misrepresentations under oath. On my Facebook or on Twitter, a few people come up, give her a break, she is young. Look, she is 19 and a half years old. She will be 20 years old come January 1st, if I remember her birthday. She has the same obligation to the law as we all do. The law does not say, well, if you are 19 or even if you are 16, you have the right to misrepresent while under oath. We have a court system. We have a tragedy. A young man, a young teenager is dead and we have another fighting for his life. She doesn't get passes. She should have been truthful from the beginning. And this is what she is facing because of misrepresentations that happened in the past. This is the way it goes.
BLITZER: Danny, Sunny Hostin, our legal analyst, inside the courtroom today and seemed to be suggesting that Rachel seemed to be more sympathetic to those six jurors today than maybe even yesterday. They were beginning to identify with her. That was the impression she was getting from being inside the courtroom. Is it fair from your experience, Danny, that sometimes you get a different impression watching something on TV than when you are actually inside the courtroom?
CEVALLOS: That's why Sunny being there in the courtroom and able to evaluate what the jurors expressions are -- because you really never know what a juror is thinking until a case is over. But it plays much differently in a courtroom than it might on TV and even whether it be humor or whatever goes on in the courtroom, people see it differently when they're in there. It is a different room. It is a different vibe.
In this case, though, I think whether we're watching on TV or in the courtroom, you have a witness that I don't know that this jury is going to be able to identify with. They're not going to -- maybe they don't understand someone that can't read cursive or who has told many inconsistent stories. Whether intentional or accidental or she -- they may ultimately conclude she doesn't have the capacity to perceive things or hear things the way she remembers.
BLITZER: Let's listen to another exchange. This one, about a transcript taken from Rachel Jeantil. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEST: According to this transcript you just saw, when Mr. De la Rionda said, can you tell who was saying that, you said, I couldn't hear Trayvon, Trayvon.
JEANTEL: I couldn't hear. Read the next page, sir.
WEST: Could you tell who was saying that? "I could of heard Trayvon."
JEANTEL: I couldn't.
WEST: Here is what this says.
JEANTEL: Trust me, they messed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Mark. This is critical potentially to the case. She says, "Trust me, they messed up," meaning she was misquoted in that earlier transcript. Are jurors likely to believe that?
NEJAME: Look, "could have" does not establish this case beyond a reasonable doubt or her testimony beyond a reasonable doubt. "Could have" is ambiguous. It is maybe yes, maybe no. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard. Could of doesn't cut it. I think during the same exchange, it comes up later, she says she could hear wet grass. I can't imagine that the jurors are going to find her to be credible and this case -- this will be the cornerstone of this case. I think the state will have to change up their strategy. And if they're seeking that prosecution, they will have to go towards other areas. Her credibility, to me, simply just does not exist based on this and many other instances with her testimony so far.
BLITZER: She later explained on that "wet grass" thing she meant that she heard activity on that wet grass. She was not just simply suggesting she could hear wet grass.
All right. There is going to be more testimony coming up from her. We'll have live coverage of that momentarily.
Stand by, Mark, Danny.
Guys, thanks very much. I know you will be back with us, as well.
Also, how Zimmerman went from a fit and trim guy to being way, way overweight. Could this transformation help his case?
BLITZER: The United States attorney in Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, has just announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston bomber, has been indicted. A grand jury returned a 30-count indictment. They'll have a news conference in Boston at 3 p.m. eastern, a little bit more than an hour or so from now, and they'll have more details coming into the CNN NEWSROOM. A 30-count indictment against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial is back in session. We'll continue to monitor it for gripping testimony.
But there is something we want to get to. There is one thing that is very obvious to those of us who have followed this case from the beginning. George Zimmerman has packed on a lot of pounds. He almost looks like a very, very different man.
Randi Kaye reports on how Zimmerman's new look may impact the jury. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is George Zimmerman when he was first questioned about shooting Trayvon Martin. He was 5'8" and weighed 194 pounds. That was February 26, 2012. Back then, Zimmerman was fit. Look at his mug shot and early court appearances. But watch as his look changed over the last year or so and his body ballooned. Zimmerman's lawyer says he gained about 120 bounds.
Does this look like the same man to you?
We asked Patty Wood, a body language expert, to tell us what she sees then and now.
KAYE (on camera): This is a skinny George Zimmerman appearing in court. What do you see?
PATTY WOOD, BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT: Here we see he is very comfortable. See how he elongates his torso here? He is very proud. He feels very powerful and strong, and even in shackles. That's very interesting. He is very comfortable in his body. That's important to know.
KAYE: Do you see the same attitude?
WOOD: Yes. Obviously, his walk is stilted. Notice how elongated he is. Often, I see in the situation, down cast, shoulders over, very, very burdened. In this case, he is not. He is feeling comfortable in his body.
KAYE (voice-over): When we showed Patty the heavier-set Zimmerman that now weighs about 300 pounds?
WOOD: He is agitated. It is more upset. What is remarkable to me is that he is actually comfortable with the excessive weight. That tells me something else, that he is comfortable and not feeling guilty.
KAYE (on camera): How does she think the jury will respond to the more plump George Zimmerman?
WOOD: Weight gain, excessive weight, we have a lot of negative connotations to it, so it can work against him. On the other hand, before he looked like a lean, mean, fighting machine, and very young and fit. So why did he need to pull out a gun? So it may work for him in an odd way.
KAYE (voice-over): That's led to some speculation the weight gain may be a deliberate defense strategy, to make Zimmerman appear less threatening.
But on Piers Morgan's show, Zimmerman's attorney explained his client's weight gain was less about strategy and more about stress.
MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN ATTORNEY: He has gained an enormous amount of weight, over 125 pounds, I think, because he is sitting in a house and stressed and trying to deal with the moniker that's put on him that he is the most hated man in America for taking the life of somebody when he really feels he need to.
KAYE: Fat or fit, during the next few weeks, George Zimmerman, along with the rest of us, will be on a steady diet of courtroom drama.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: Rachel Jeantil, the 19-year-old, is about to resume testimony, cross-examination. We'll have live coverage of that right after this.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to the trial, 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel is being cross examined. Let's listen in.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: I apologize. I'm not trying to make a speaker objection.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGMENT: I understand what you're saying that it would not be impeachment.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: The objection is, why is it going to be played, because it's not impeachment since she's -- since she indicated that that was her answer.
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The court ruled, I thought, a moment ago, when I said, I'd like to play it for the jury, and the court assented.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: There was an objection. And the objection was that that was not -- that statement was not impeachment since she had said that, yes, that's what I said.
WEST: This -- well, this witness squarely denied having said it before the jury.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: OK. You could ask her that question.
WEST: And I want to play the recording for the jury so they can hear it for themselves. Not just the sort of naked answer, yes, I did say that -- you want that, too? I want the context of it. And I want the nuance of the language. And the idea that this witness was, in a sense, saying to Mr. De la Rionda, "Do you want me to give you an answer on that, too," and Mr. De la Rionda's response is, "I want to know the truth."
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: I understand it, because I've heard it, too, and I understand your argument. But for impeachment, you have the witness, in this case, listen to, in other cases, it's read, to themselves what the question and answer was and then you asked them, is that what you said, and they admit it or they say, yes, I did, or, no, I didn't. If they say, no, I didn't, then that's impeachment, and you play it for the jury. And she's admitting that that's what it was. So --
WEST: Your Honor, my response there is --
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: I'm not finished.
WEST: Oh, I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
So to play that in front of the jury is not impeachment. That's the objection. And you can ask Miss Jeantel in front of the jury, did you have an opportunity to listen to your statement? Yes. And do you now, I'm going to ask you the question, again, is that your answer? If she gives an answer that is not what you think is appropriate, then you play it to the jury.
WEST: May I respond briefly?
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Yes, you may.
WEST: When this witness was confronted with a transcript before --
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: She wasn't given a transcript on that. She asked for one, and you said you wanted to play the tape. That's when I said we'd do that outside the presence of the jury. She was not provided a transcript on that, on that questioning.
WEST: Your Honor, I'm sorry, but I believe that she was. I handed her two transcripts, and my transcript said, "You want that, too"? Mr. De la Rionda's transcript said, "You want that, too," but had another word or two after it. The witness, under oath, in front of the jury, said, "I never said that." I want the jury to hear this witness' own words. Now, I have the right to confront her with her own words in front of the jury. And her own words are on this recording. So I want to play the recording for the jury, as to what this witness denied, first of all under oath, which has now been, I think, in disputably proven to be true.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: You can ask her that question, and if she denies it, you can play it for the jury. But you've given her an opportunity to listen to it and review it as if it were a transcript that she would review that had that on there. And she's now given you her answer. If she answers differently when the jury is present, then you may play it.
WEST: Our position is we had the right --
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: I understand your position. That's my ruling. OK.
WEST: Any further?
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: No.
WEST: Thank you, Judge.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: I'll refer you back to the court's rules. Are we ready to bring the jury in?
DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor.
BLITZER: The cross-examination will resume as soon as the jury is seated. Six women, members of the jury. They were out while they were going to lawyers with the judge, reviewing what is admissible, what isn't admissible. And now they are about to resume the cross- examination. We'll have live coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're going to continue our live coverage of the George Zimmerman trial.
I'll be back later today, 5:00 p.m. eastern, in "The Situation Room." Brooke Baldwin picks up our coverage right now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Wolf. Thank you so much.
Good to see all of you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Huge, huge news hour, beginning with our coverage here of this trial under way. This is a friend of Trayvon Martin's. She has been on the stand, let me tell you, for hours and hours. Three-plus, four-plus hours today. This has been cross-examination. It began with the state asking her questions for just about a half hour yesterday. We brought that for you live. And then that cross-examination began with the defense attorney co-counsel, Don West, asking her questions. A lot has been made of how she's responding to some of the questions. She's been asked because she is key, key here. She was the person who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin that night in February of 2012.
Let's dip back in and listen in.
DE LA RIONDA: Let's get first things out of the way. I gather, "I'm the bald-headed dude" -- refers to the record.
Is that correct?
JEANTEL: Yes, sir.
DE LA RIONDA: I've got one of those last names that most people can't pronounce, and so -- anyway.
I'm curious, you grew up, I guess, in a Haitian family?
JEANTEL: Yes, sir. DE LA RIONDA: Your mother speaks Creole or Haitian?
JEANTEL: Creole. Yes, sir.
DE LA RIONDA: And the reason is I ask, I wonder, in terms from a cultural -- just from learning English -- English is not my native tongue either, and spoke Spanish first.