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George Zimmerman Trial; Aaron Hernandez Bail Hearing

Aired June 27, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: So in doing that, did you learn creole first or did you learn English first in terms of -- I'm curious of -- sometimes there's a cultural thing. We say things. It isn't as clear to everybody.

RACHEL JEANTEL: Creole and Spanish.


You also mentioned that you were shown a letter, correct? I believe it's the defense exhibit -- madam clerk, do you have the (INAUDIBLE) - oh, I'm sorry, may I approach the witness, your honor?


DE LA RIONDA: Defense exhibit 17. You recognize this here?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE), can you stand up and leave?

You may proceed.

DE LA RIONDA: It's defense exhibit 17, which is the letter that you wrote to -- actually you didn't write, you had somebody else write on behalf of you to Sybrina Fulton, the victim's mother.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And you need to speak -- it's confusing because there's two microphones here. You need to speak into that one. Do you recognize the letter?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Now, you had a friend of yours write it, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: Because you can't write in cursive, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: And you also can't read in cursive, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection. This is redirect.

DE LA RIONDA: (INAUDIBLE) try to rephrase it. Can you read in cursive? Can you read cursive?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: Can you write in cursive?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: You were asked about the friend that wrote that letter, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: That's a friend that you asked to write it?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. You were also asked about numerous questions about the interview that you gave, made (ph), the statement you gave me when I went down to, and I (INAUDIBLE) me (ph) in terms of with an investigator or two down the state - down to Miami, is that correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And Mr. West asked you about the fact that the state attorney's office from Jacksonville had been appointed by the governor, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. In terms of you found out that we were handling the case.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And you agreed to speak to me, is that correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And, in fact, as you stated, two cars went to a place where you were at, a friend's house, and picked you up and took you down to take a statement, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. You were pretty emotional at that statement, weren't you?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: Was it hard for you to talk about this?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir. DE LA RIONDA: OK. And in that statement, you, as best you could, attempted to tell what you remembered?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), I'm objecting now. This is the third of a series of leading questions. This is redirect. This should (INAUDIBLE) direct question rather than leading.

DE LA RIONDA: I'll (INAUDIBLE) rephrase, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Sustained.

DE LA RIONDA: You recall in that statement stating that -- I'm sorry -- the April 2nd statement that Mr. West asked you about that Trayvon Martin was running away from the person?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: And you also made reference that Trayvon Martin said the man -- described him as a creepy, white --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Object - I object to his -- well, at this point, beyond the scope of the cross examination and not responsive to one of the issues raised during the cross, and it's also leading.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overruled in this - as to the first two objections. As to the leading, I will give a little leeway to get a frame of reference and then make sure your questions aren't leading.

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor. My question is, do you recall Mr. West asking you that Trayvon Martin referred to the man that was following him as a "creepy, white cracker" (ph)?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.


DE LA RIONDA: I didn't say that. That's a mischaracterization of the testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sustained, because I think the words were "creepy-ass cracker."

DE LA RIONDA: I apologize. Were the words "creepy," pardon my language, "creepy-ass cracker"?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And you recall Mr. West asking you about that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And also, and to you, is that a derogatory or is that the way people speak in your culture, your age group?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, leading, suggesting an answer.


JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: You also made reference at some point that Mr. Trayvon Martin also referred to the person also with the "n" word, is that correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: And when I say person, he was talking about the person that was following him he referred to using the "n" word?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: By the way, in that letter, may I approach?


DE LA RIONDA: That letter, defense exhibit 17, you actually read it, Trayvon Martin's name is misspelled. Were you aware of that?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: It's spelled t-r-e-r --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I object. It's leading.


DE LA RIONDA: It's spelled t-r-e-v-o-n. Were you aware of that?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: You mentioned also when asked by Mr. West about the statement that you gave to Mr. Crump by phone, correct?


DE LA RIONDA: Was that by phone, just to make sure of the record? You weren't there in person, or were you?

JEANTEL: By phone.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And Mr. Crump did not ask you specific questions about certain items or certain questions that I asked you specifically on April 2nd, is that correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, leading.


DE LA RIONDA: Did Mr. -- did Mr. Crump ask you specific questions like I did?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: You were asked by Mr. West in terms of what happened and you recall in the interview that you gave to me on April the 2nd, a statement you gave, you referred to the man approaching Trayvon Martin and sounded like a bump. Do you recall using the word "bump"?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection. I guess I don't quite understand what's going on here. Is this - is this confronting the witness with her prior statement that he was present for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your objection?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's leading and it is improper impeachment. If anything, it's bolstering by a supposed prior consistent statement of some sort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overruled on all three.

DE LA RIONDA: Do you recall using the word "bump" in describing what occurred to Trayvon Martin?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: For the record, do you still live -- Mr. West asked you about meeting with two individuals from (INAUDIBLE) in Miami. You still live in Miami, is that correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: You were asked by Mr. West about the phone calls that you had with Mr. Trayvon Martin that day on February 26th. Would you agree that the phone records are the best records about them in terms of the length of the calls, whatever the times are?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: Let me have a moment, your honor.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: As they're taking a quick pause here, and we promise we'll get back to this in a moment, I have Sunny Hostin. She is CNN's legal analyst who is following this.

And, Sunny, quickly here, can we just set the scene? Here we have this young woman, 19 years of age, going into her senior year of high school, friend of Trayvon Martin's, Rachel Jeantel, been on the stand for - oh, I take that back. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miami, is that correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you spoke English at home? JEANTEL: What age are you talking about, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I'm asking you. Are you saying that English is your third language? That you spoke creole and Spanish first?

JEANTEL: I spoke three language first. I learned how to speak English (ph) but creole was the first one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does your mother speak English?

JEANTEL: Not that well, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does she speak English?

JEANTEL: Not that well, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand she may have an accent or some limitations, but do you speak to her in English?

JEANTEL: Sometimes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you're not speaking to her in English, you're speaking to her in creole?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your father, do you speak to him in English?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when you went to school as a child, kindergarten, did you speak English at school?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And have you spoken English to your teachers and classmates in school up through today?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you claiming in any way that you don't understand English?

JEANTEL: I understand you. I understand you. I do understand English.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is, when someone speaks to you in English, do you believe that you have any difficulty understanding it because it wasn't your first language?

JEANTEL: I understand English really well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've spoken it all your life?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's nothing that I've said to you today in English that -- or yesterday -- that you haven't understood, correct?

JEANTEL: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other thing I wanted to ask you about is Mr. De la Rionda said in reference to Trayvon Martin saying "creepy-ass cracker," and using the "n" word, that people like -- people speak like that in your culture. Did you hear that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what culture is that where people describe other people as "creepy-ass crackers"?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand what I mean by the culture, the culture that you were raised in, the culture that you live in?

JEANTEL: The area I was raised in you're trying to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. I'll say it this way. Do people that you live around and with call white people "creepy-ass crackers"?

JEANTEL: Not "creepy," but "cracker," yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the "creepy" is the pervert part that you were talking about?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So forget that for a second. You're saying that in the culture that you live in, in your community, people call -- people there call white people "crackers"?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do they use the "n" word regularly?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're saying so did Trayvon Martin? Trayvon Martin referred to white people as "crackers," correct?

JEANTEL: I don't recall, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thank you. Nothing else.


DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May Miss Jeantel be excused? DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thank you very much. You may be excused. If the state will please call your next witness.

BALDWIN: Wow. So, there she goes, Rachel Jeantel. She has been on the stand all day ever since court began this morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. She was on the stand yesterday as well for just about an hour.

We have Sunny Hostin, also have Mel Robbins standing by and our correspondent Ann Stanford as well.

Sunny Hostin, first, let me just go to you, and we're going to continue watching, folks, don't worry. Also, let me just add one other layer to this. You're looking at a little box on your screen. We are also watching this happening. This is the Aaron Hernandez case out of Massachusetts, just to give you a heads-up on what that box is, as he is asking -- he has now been charged with murder, asking to get bail, to be freed.

But back to what's happening here in Sanford, Florida. And, ladies, Sunny, first to you, what did we just witness?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I've got to tell you, I think that the state recognized that she had been on the witness stand for so very long that it was time for her to not be on the witness stand. And that's a courtroom sense kind of thing.

I think we also witnessed the fact that he didn't ask her, Bernie de la Rionda didn't ask her that many questions on redirect and that's because he didn't think she needed to be rehabilitated that much. I think he felt that she did OK.

And from my perch, Brooke, having been in the courtroom and chatting with people, people like Rachel. At least that's what I have been told, what I can tell you. And she was pretty consistent in that she feels that she heard George Zimmerman following Trayvon, pursuing Trayvon, approaching Trayvon, and that really is what the state needed her to say and to do for the state because this is, again, this is a self-defense case, so they need her to combat that version of events.

BALDWIN: I have to ask you -- let me ask Mel. Mel, I know yesterday you were in the courtroom. I don't know if today you had an opportunity to sit in there as well.


BALDWIN: Because I have to say, you know, she does appear to be changed somehow from yesterday. And I know Don West, you know, said, hey, did someone talk to you yesterday? And she said, no, you know, I just got some sleep. But all this yes, sir, yes, sir, no, sir.


BALDWIN: And, Sunny, with all due respect, I know you say yesterday she seemed much more combative than today. For many perspectives from folks I've talked to, it seems the exact opposite.

Mel, how did you perceive her?

ROBBINS: Well, it was the exact opposite. And like Sunny, I found her to be incredibly credible. I think a lot of the disconnect between her and Don West was a generational issue in terms of him not understanding the way that some teenagers behave and also not understanding her because she speaks so slowly and with such a low voice that sometimes she's incomprehensible.

But, you know, I -- here's the thing that I noticed the most. It was not what she was saying that was turning people off, particularly jurors. It was how she was behaving yesterday. And some of that was coming out. The no, sir, no, sir, no, sir, no, sir. And there was completely attitude in there. There was one juror, by the way, B29, who's the Hispanic juror, would not look at this witness for almost the entire 40 minutes that I was in there, was staring straight ahead at the defense. And so while I found her to be credible, even though some of the stories changed, I didn't buy the one line that nobody had talked to her, because I'm sure she got a talking to last night about how she should behave in a murder two trial.

BALDWIN: Yes, there is so much I want to talk about when it comes to specifically this witness, but also we need to get a quick break in. Mel, stand by. Sunny Hostin is standing by as well. Because coming up now that Rachel Jeantel is finished being questioned, we now know that another witness will take to the stand. We'll take that live.

Also, again, we are watching what's happening in Fall River, Massachusetts. This is a superior court where former New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez is basically asking this judge to set him free, give him bail. We'll see if he is successful here in this criminal case.

Stay right with us. A lot happening on this Thursday.


BALDWIN: Breaking news in the Aaron Hernandez case. The former NFL star may be linked now to two other murders. These are pictures from just a little while ago here as he walked into the superior courthouse in Fall River, Massachusetts. A law enforcement source tells CNN that Hernandez is now being investigated in connection with the double murder that happened in Boston's south end. That was July of last year.

Here, now, live pictures as this is underway. Right now Hernandez, you can - I don't know if you can see him in this picture. There he is in the back row. He is back in court one day after being charged with murdering 27-year-old Odin Lloyd last week. He is appealing the judge's decision to withhold bail. A second suspect, Carlos Ortiz, was arrested yesterday in connection with this Hernandez murder case.

And we have a picture of him. His mug shot. Ortiz is due in court as early as today. This is Hernandez there, obviously. We do not know what Ortiz - this is Ortiz. We don't know yet what Ortiz may be charged with. We're standing by for that.

Also, this. We are hearing reports today of these chilling text messages from the victim, from Odin Lloyd, in the final moments, the final seconds of his life. "The Boston Globe" is reporting that Lloyd texted his sister after 3:00 in the morning while Hernandez allegedly drove him down this dark dirt road toward this industrial complex. So he texted, quote, to this sister, "did you see who I am with?," Lloyd texted. Minutes later, he texted three little words, "NFL." His final text to his sister, "just so you know."

Also, Hernandez's tattoos are being scrutinized for possible gang symbols. A sheriff says some tattoos do raise suspicion and a police gang unit is also investigating. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty on all charges. He faces murder charge on five weapons-related charges here.

Finally, I want to show you one more picture. A shocking photo of who was once this NFL star. Was once a New England Patriot. Aaron Hernandez here showing he was locked and loaded years before this alleged murder took place. So you see this photo. Hernandez is posing with a gun in his left hand and his Blackberry or some sort of phone in his right. He was 19 years of age when he took this self-portrait.

Let me go back to Sunny Hostin, who is also helping us, pulling double duty for us today, also talking about the Aaron Hernandez case.

And, Sunny Hostin, first of all, let's just talk about this bail -- specifically this bail review, because he was in this district court yesterday and he -- the judge said no to bail. And so now here he is at the superior court now asking this judge to hopefully, you know, have a change of mind and set him free. This is this bail review. It's pretty common in criminal cases, is it not?

HOSTIN: It is, but I've got to tell you, he doesn't have a chance at getting bail. I mean, the factors that a judge has to look at is, one, whether or not he is a risk of flight. And two, whether or not he is a danger to himself or to the community. Now, one, he got a $12 million signing bonus, right? That type of money gives you the means to be able to fly out of the United States or to get somewhere where law enforcement authorities are going to have difficulty retrieving you. And so that's the one thing.

The other prong which is, you know, a danger to others in your community. I mean, if you have someone who has been charged with first-degree murder and is now being investigated for -- in connection with yet double murder, I just can't see that any judge is going to find that he can meet either prong. And so I suspect this bail hearing is much ado about nothing. I think he's going to be staying put.

BALDWIN: Sunny Hostin, stand by. I want to bring in one more guest here. This is Rashid Abdul-Salaam. He is a security specialist, private investigator, former law enforcement official. His clients have included the defense team for Ray Lewis, the NFL player who was charged in connection with the 2000 slaying. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and served probation.

So, Rashid, welcome. Nice to meet you.


BALDWIN: Let's just talk sort of generically. I mean you spend a fair amount of time around some of these pro ballplayers.


BALDWIN: And when you read about certain cases, I was even reading about now where Hernandez is being suspected in this double murder from Boston from last summer and that started a club -- this most recent murder started a club. A lot of these, let's say just riffraff, started a club. Some guys around, they're sitting around drinking, someone mouths off, maybe something happened after that. But this, according to the district attorney in Massachusetts here, in Attleboro, this case here is so different, don't you think?

ABDUL-SALAAM: It's very different.


ABDUL-SALAAM: It's very different because it seems that they're getting information from somebody that was involved in this as well because there's too much intimate information that they have about conversations that were in the car and this sort of thing. So unlike the co-defendants in our case, in the Ray Lewis case, no one was speaking. Someone is speaking to the police and giving them these intimate details or conversations. So still the motive, no one knows what the motive is.


ABDUL-SALAAM: And so this is the thing that is the head scratcher. What is the motive?

BALDWIN: Who knows when we'll actually learn a motive, if we ever will. But when it comes to this specific killing, when you hear and read what the prosecutors are saying in Massachusetts, they're basically calling it execution style. I mean here you have, according to the D.A.'s office, this guy is, you know, pulled out in the middle of the night, taken down this dirt road, taken to this industrial complex and shot multiple times. And when -- we were talking about the tattoos. And, who knows, that could be nothing. But if a gang investigation unit is looking into this, I'm just curious, big picture, how much of a gang culture really exists today in -- among NFLers?

ABDUL-SALAAM: It's obviously there. How well those players are masking it, it's probably a case-by-case basis. But this is something that the people who are recruiting or scouting these guys, when they're in college, they know. But it takes a lot to really spend that much time, to thoroughly vet someone when you're looking to bring them into your organization.

I don't think that maybe they have the time and the resources really to put that type of effort into it, but there's a lot of connection on a lot of these campuses with these young men. You've got to keep in mind the element that these young men are come from as well. So it's something that really needs to -- you need to take a closer look at it. It's pretty interesting the parallels between what's going on with this young man and the situation, the circumstances that we faced in the Ray Lewis case.

BALDWIN: So on that, you know, when you go back initially to the Ray Lewis case, initially he was charged with murder. Initially he was denied bail. Initially here we've seen Aaron Hernandez, he's now charged with murder. He has been denied bail, although he's fighting that right now in the superior court. But vastly different in terms of how teams approached it. The Ravens embraced him. They fought for him. And the Pats, after he was arrested yesterday, done.

ABDUL-SALAAM: It's very interesting because the facts that were brought out with Ray initially were much more gruesome than the facts that are brought up in this situation with this young man. And keep in mind, Ray was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, not just one.


ABDUL-SALAAM: And so Art Modell, the owner, was at Ray Lewis' bond hearing, as well as other prominent NFL players that were sitting there in the courtroom during his bond hearing.

BALDWIN: Do you think that played a major role in the end of sort of what sealed his fate?


BALDWIN: Totally.

ABDUL-SALAAM: Major role. There was an exchange between Art Modell and the prosecutor at that time in the courtroom that was very significant. But to show the support that the owner had for that young man, and then even the position that the NFL took, you know, it's under a different commissioner at that time, it was Tagliabue. So the NFL was a different NFL then than it is now.

BALDWIN: OK. Rashid Abdul-Salaam, thank you so much. I truly appreciate you coming in here.

ABDUL-SALAAM: Thank you for having me here (ph).

BALDWIN: And as you've been looking at live pictures inside this courthouse of Massachusetts of what Aaron Hernandez is hoping to be able to be a free man, I want to take you back to another courtroom, back to Sanford, Florida, as this man, George Zimmerman, is on trial for second-degree murder. Another witness is about to take to the stand. We will take that live.

We will also talk much more being two (ph) day, it seems like, day and a half testimony of Rachel Jeantel.

Back in a moment.