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Continuing Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired June 28, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And a good Friday morning to you. There is no shortage of action in the courtroom featuring Florida versus George Zimmerman. What you are watching right now is the prosecutor in this case. He has stood up for a second time this morning to examine the witness who is on the stand. This is what you call an eyewitness, folks.

There have been several who have taken that stand in this case so far, this one gives an account that perhaps this prosecutor would prefer not to showcase. But you take your witnesses the ways you get them. That's how it operates.

This is the kind of witness this prosecutor has to try the best he can to make sounds like he could be a prosecution witness instead of the defense witness. So far, not much luck.

This is redirect. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For identification, it's marked for identification purposes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen it, yes, thank you.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: May I approach the witness, your honor?


DE LA RIONDA: (INAUDIBLE) marked for identification purposes 25.


DE LA RIONDA: I'm sorry. 2-S, I apologize.

Just read it, and see if you used the words "ground and pound" there.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if that's what's going on, but ....

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if it's impeachment or recollection. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll withdraw it then until we see where it goes.

GOOD: I say "ground," getting hit.

DE LA RIONDA: But you will agree in that interview with the first officer, you did not use the words "ground and pound?"

GOOD: It wasn't an interview. It was a written statement.

DE LA RIONDA: I apologize.

GOOD: So by the time I probably gave my testimony to Serino, I might have thought that's what it looked like to give a better description.


DE LA RIONDA: And you believed that you used the words "ground and pound" in the better description to Serino, is that correct?

GOOD: I believe that's better described, yes.


So you elaborated a little bit more from the first, correct?

GOOD: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: And you elaborated a little more in the deposition, too, correct?

GOOD: I clarified.

DE LA RIONDA: You had to clarify certain things, would that be accurate?

GOOD: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: And why was it you felt it was important you had to clarify certain things that you had previously said?

GOOD: To give a better visual.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Now (INAUDIBLE). I need to have a moment, your honor.

I apologize. I'm going to ask you a few questions. Then we'll come back to that, if we could.

The porch light, just to clarify, it's not on the ceiling. It's actually outside. It's attached to the wall that's high up.

GOOD: It's like right at the caddie corner of the ceiling and the wall.

DE LA RIONDA: But it illuminates out into the yard?

GOOD: I wouldn't say out into the yard, but it definitely illuminates that patio area.

DE LA RIONDA: The concrete slab?

GOOD: Correct.


I'm going to have another (INAUDIBLE).

You mentioned in an interview you gave to Serino, and that was on February 26th of ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. Could you just identify the document?

BANFIELD: It's fascinating to watch the prosecutor go over and confer with the defense table because there has been a contentious relationship between those two parties in this case.

The defense has accused this prosecution team of withholding discovery evidence and making it far more difficult for the defense to do its job in defending George Zimmerman because they didn't know what was coming.

Not so, though, when you see the working relationship in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that if there were going to be any questions about this, I would ask that the audio be used as the impeachment or refreshing.

And the reason why is because ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, if there is an objection, I need to hear the objection. And I don't speaking objections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm going to be precise, improper foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. He hasn't even have it identified. Can we wait for that?

Don't answer any questions regarding that, but if you need him to identify it, you may do so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I (INAUDIBLE) counsel present it?


BANFIELD: This judge, Debra Nelson, is all business. She's been angry with speaking objections. She wants it formal.





DE LA RIONDA: You used the word MMA. Do you recall?

GOOD: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: Do you believe you used the word "ground and pound?"

GOOD: I believe so.

DE LA RIONDA: Could it have been ...

GOOD: I did say "getting hit on the ground," which would be the equivalent in MMA of "ground and pound."

DE LA RIONDA: Could it have been Serino used the words "ground and pound?"

GOOD: It could have been.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Thank you.

But you as best you could in elaborating what you believe was going on there, you used language based on MMA which you had seen on TV and stuff like that, correct?

GOOD: To give a better description.

DE LA RIONDA: Is that correct?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: To describe the straddling position of one person over another?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Did you mean to imply by that that there were actually blows inflicted like they do on MMA?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: But did you actually see those blows going?

GOOD: I only saw a downward movement.

DE LA RIONDA: You can't say that there were actually blows inflicted on the person on the ground?

GOOD: I could not see that.


You also were asked about the three -- one, two or three times you heard the word "help." You believed it was a person on the bottom, is that correct?

GOOD: I believe that.

DE LA RIONDA: You are not 100 percent sure, but you believe just because -- you believe that the person on the bottom would be the one yelling for help?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Is that your conclusion or common sense or assumptions is based on?

GOOD: And that's when I first saw the person on the bottom, yes.


Now, and you said also because I think if you felt the person on the top was yelling for help that it would not have been -- it would not have come towards you, in other words, the voice, the voice would not have carried towards where you are, correct?

GOOD: Yes.


So could it be that the person on top was yelling "help" and since he was face up, face down, it would have been towards the ground and not you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Object on speculation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can testify as to what he has actually seen.

GOOD: I didn't see anyone's mouth moving, so, no, I can't confirm that.

DE LA RIONDA: You can't say that the person on the top was yelling for help, but his voice would have been gone into the ground and you would not have been able to hear that. You can't say he wasn't yelling for help?

GOOD: That would have sound muffled, I would think.

DE LA RIONDA: But did you hear that?

GOOD: I didn't hear a muffled "help," no.


Then you never saw the person on the bottom's hands in terms of whether he had a gun or not at that time, you couldn't say?


DE LA RIONDA: You couldn't say one way or the other, correct?


DE LA RIONDA: And did I understand you correctly when you responded to Mr. O'Mara's question that you can't say whether the person on the bottom was trying to get up, correct?

You can't say whether he was or not. He may have been. You don't know.

GOOD: I stated the person on the bottom was probably trying to get up, but I couldn't confirm that.

But anyone on the bottom, I would think, would be trying to get up.

DE LA RIONDA: Just from common sense?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Correct?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: In the several statements that you gave, either you gave several statements. I guess you felt the need or you were either asked questions to specify statements that you later were asked, correct? Is that correct, by the investigating agencies or whoever, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Or you felt you needed to clarify or elaborate on certain things? Is that correct?

GOOD: Yes, so words weren't put in my mouth, yes.

DE LA RIONDA: Does that mean you were lying originally with what you said to the final statements that you gave?

GOOD: Can you repeat that?

DE LA RIONDA: Does that mean when you had to clarify or elaborate from the original statement that you gave to the final statements that you gave that you were lying originally?

GOOD: Lying?

DE LA RIONDA: Does that mean that originally you were lying?


DE LA RIONDA: Because you didn't clarify or you didn't elaborate, does that mean originally you were lying because you weren't asked a certain question?

GOOD: No, it was just the question was omitted.

DE LA RIONDA: the question was never asked of you? GOOD: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I may have a moment here?


BANFIELD: So this is how you do what a good prosecutor does, you start taking the witness damaging to your case and making sure that you can back up and change the account that seems to be coming your way.

Yesterday, that young woman named Rachel was saying things like, I didn't say what are you saying because no one asked me. And today this prosecutor is making this witness sound exactly the same.

DE LA RIONDA: ... (INAUDIBLE) Mr. O'Mara's cross examination that you had gone upstairs and I think you stated you looked out and you saw what you now know as the victim, Trayvon Martin, on the ground, is that correct?

GOOD: Correct.


And at some point you saw the person you now know as the defendant, Mr. Zimmerman, standing up, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And then you saw one or two guys with flashlights?

GOOD: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Do you remember that?

GOOD: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, let me show you state's exhibit 77.

Do you recall when looked out, Mr. Martin being like that?

GOOD: No, it was the opposite view, so I would be looking the opposite way, but, yes, the body did look like that.

DE LA RIONDA: The body looked in this position?

GOOD: I was standing over there looking that way, yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. My point is the body was face down?

GOOD: Face down, yes.

DE LA RIONDA: Your honor, may I publish that to the jury?



BANFIELD: Welcome back to our live continuing coverage of George Zimmerman and his second-degree murder trial. Look up at the bench. That's where Judge Deborah Nelson is now conferring with the attorneys in this case, and there's a phalanx of them, two on each side at this point.

While they're in sidebar, I want to get you up to speed on what is so significant about this moment in the trial. We've been hearing plenty of witnesses, ear-witnesses, eye-witnesses. Some people who are both. And the witness is on the stand, not in your frame right now, is a man is Jonathan Good. He not only heard what was going on, but he thinks he saw pretty clearly what was going on as well. And it's not the same as the accounts you've been hearing from other witnesses.

This is why it's critical. He's a prosecution witness, but his story doesn't necessarily follow the prosecutor's narrative.

I want to bring in Danny Cevallos and Mark Nejame, who are our two attorneys who are far better suited than I to tell about the significance of all of this. And Danny, let me begin with you. I did not expect to hear out of this prosecutor's witness what I have been hearing. But the prosecutor has been doing a great job of making sure it's not all a lost case. How has he done it?

DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what he's doing the trying to bring it back consistent with their theory of the case. I mean, overall, this is a terrific witness whether it's prosecutor or defense. He answers well, he's professional. He is overall a good witness. He's very good at testifying, which you contrast, obviously, with yesterday's witness, who was - their star witness maybe not as polished as this individual.

One of the things they're going to try to bring back is the defense's points they made about possibly about Trayvon being on top. And they're trying to bring it back in line with their story. But that's the problem. To the extent each witness tells any story inconsistent with each other, that begins to unravel, little by little, the prosecution's case.

BANFIELD: And the live action to the right of you, just to remind our viewers, you're not missing anything. W hen a judge calls the sidebar, the mics go dead. The rest of the courtroom, including the gallery and probably even George Zimmerman. Now usually in courthouses you're allowed as the defendant to go up and join sidebar. I'm not sure about Florida. But he won't be able to hear what's going on either. Whether the witness, who's on the stand, can hear it is another question. But they keep things fairly quiet.

I want to do something unorthodox here. I'm going to ask our director, who is a lovely man named Danny - or Michael, rather -- if you could play S4 for me; it's a piece of tape that happened just a little bit earlier and it is the crux of what this witness is talking about, the tussle and who was on top and who was on bottom. Have a listen.


JOHN GOOD, NEIGHBOR: It looked like a tussle. I could really only see one person, and I think I described it as possibly being some type of dog attack because there are a lot of dogs that walk in that back area and I could only see an object.

DE LA RIONDA: Okay. What then did you observe after that?

GOOD: It seemed like a tussle. They were vertical to me just like the blinds were. And then at one point I yelled out what's going on? Stop it, I believe.

JENNA LAUER, NEIGHBOR: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're calling for help (ph)?

LAUER: They're sending --

911 OPERATOR: So you think he's yelling help?


911 OPERATOR: All right, what is your phone number (ph)?

LAUER: There's gunshots.

911 OPERATOR: You just heard gunshots?


911 OPERATOR: How many?

LAUER: Just one. Two.

DE LA RIONDA: All right. If you could, could you tell at that time in terms of describing who was on top and who was on the bottom?

GOOD: I could only see colors of clothing.

DE LA RIONDA: But the color of clothing on top, what could you see?

GOOD: It was dark.

DE LA RIONDA: How about the color of clothing at the bottom?

GOOD: I believe it was a light white or red color.


BANFIELD: All right. So there's why this particular witness, while they're still in sidebar, you're not missing court action, becomes very significant for the defense. Because then I think we might have a picture handy of a piece of evidence that's been entered into this trial. It is what George Zimmerman wearing. Take a look just below the banner on the screen right now. You can see the coat, the jacket, there you are. A full shot of what George Zimmerman was wearing that night. This was a shot that was taken at the police station the night that he was brought in. I believe this is the night he was brought in. I want to make absolutely sure that, but I believe this was the night that they photographed all of his clothing from the top right down to the boots.

And the description that this witness has said is the person on the bottom is somebody who is wearing something with likely red on it.

Sidebar's ended. Mark Nejame, after the sidebar, I want to get back into trial and I'm going to ask you about that in a moment. Let's listen to live.


MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think you did four or five statement, altogether?

GOOD: Probably.

O'MARA: They were all somewhat different, would you agree?

GOOD: What do you mean different?

O'MARA: They weren't exactly word-for-word, each one of them, were they? I think many Mr. De La Rionda said you would clarify certain things, correct?

GOOD: Yes.

O'MARA: Add to what you thought needed added, correct? .

GOOD: Add but not change.

O'MARA: Sure. You would, if questions were asked of you that would prompt to you tell more information about the subject that you may not have told before, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: Matter of fact, we talked about this statement, not to show it to you to read but just for the size of it. It was only half a page written, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: And then you have a statement with Serino that was a page - Chris Serino, the investigator - that was a page-and-a-half, correct? It was actually telephoned and it was transcribed. But you had another one with that TLE (ph) that was much longer, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: And all of those statements included some facts that were added to one or just not added to the other, correct? Just because of the way the questions were being asked?

GOOD: I don't know about facts, but they needed more clarification.

O'MARA: Sure. And then, of course, we took your deposition. I think that was 50 pages or so, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: Again, we asked you questions and you just answered the questions as best you can.

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: And Mr. De La Rionda wanted to make sure the jury understands that just the fact that you have statement one, statement two, statement three, statement four, that are not all exactly the same, you weren't lying, were you?


O'MARA: OK. You were just answering the questions that were being asked, right?

GOOD: Correct. Some had more than the other ones, yes.

O'MARA: As best you could remember that vent back then, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: And you even said that the adrenaline was flowing, wasn't it?

GOOD: Yes.

O'MARA: It was an event where you sort of hyperfocused on what was happening once you realized it was serious?

GOOD: For a few seconds and turned and went back inside, yes.

O'MARA: Sure. You called 911, not something you do every day, right?

GOOD: Well, after that, yes, but, yes.

O'MARA: OK. And it was really sort of a traumatic event for to you go through to see what you saw, enough to call 911, wasn't it?

GOOD: It was enough for what I saw to call 911, yes.

O'MARA: OK. So as you recounted the story time and time and time again, things became more expanded as you were asked those questions?

GOOD: Yes, but I believe the groundwork stayed the same.

O'MARA: Sure, the groundwork that you saw two guys outside your house, one was on top of the other beating the other up. That pretty much stayed consistent, didn't it?

GOOD: Well that I clarified that I could not actually see punches, but yes, it looked like, yes.

O'MARA: And a guy with the red -- I'm sorry, I interrupted.

GOOD: Back to clarifying, yes.

O'MARA: And the guy with the red was always on the bottom?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: That never changed.

GOOD: That never changed.

O'MARA: And the -- just to clarify, what was actually talked about with Chris Serino, Investigator Serino, during this what we will call for the moment "the ground and pound" conversation. We have rule called completeness, so I want to do is put it in context for you and ask you if this is what you said to Chris Serino, OK?

"Yes, I pretty much heard someone yelling outside. I wasn't sure it was, you know, a fight or something going wrong, so I opened my blinds and I see kind of like a person out there. I didn't know if it was a dog attack or something so I opened my door, uh, uh. There was a black man with a black hoodie on top of the other - either a white guy or now I found out it I think it was a Hispanic guy with a red sweatshirt on the ground yelling out, "Help." Um, and then, you know, I tried to tell them, you know, get out of here, you know, stop, or whatever. And then, uh, one guy on top in the black hoodie was pretty much just throwing down blows on the guy kind of MMA-style."

Was that the context in which that happened?

GOOD: Yes.

O'MARA: And then Investigator Serino said a word that I have, and the transcripts may differ, "ground,". Couldn't figure it. Maybe he said "ground and pound."

Then you said, "Yes, like a ground and pound on the concrete at this point. So at this point, I told him I'm calling 911."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection. Improper. .



BANFIELD: So, Zimmerman on trial and there he is. He's been listening all morning long as an ear and eyewitness has given his account. And let me just say this, it was nothing like yesterday or the day before.

Instead, the prosecution witness who's been talking today seems to back what Mr. Zimmerman told the police that day and has maintained as his story all along. But that doesn't mean there wasn't good cross examination and then redirect examination, which seems like cross examination.

Very unusual. There is a small break in proceedings right now, which is a great opportunity to go to CNN's George Howell, who's covering this gavel to gavel. George, what a difference a day can make. I want you to summarize for those who are joining us what we've been watching play out today and how it's changed.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, Ashleigh. So we started today with Greg McKinney (ph). He's a technician who monitors under surveillance cameras and we're specifically talking about these cameras outside the clubhouse in that neighborhood. There are cameras inside the clubhouse working. The ones outside were not.

And the ones inside captured some sort of movement outside the windows. And I think we will at some point come back to that video. It was admitted as evidence. But right now, it's unclear exactly what the significance is of that. But, again, I'm sure we'll hear more about it.

On the stand that we've seen just lately is John Good. This is a neighbor who lived in that neighborhood. He says he stepped outside and he saw two people first vertical then horizontal on the ground. His testimony is important because he believes that he saw a person with the red jacket of lighter complexion on the bottom, which would suggest that Trayvon Martin was on the top. This is in direct contradiction with what Selma Morris (ph) said just the other day. She held firm to the idea that it was in fact George Zimmerman who was on top.

I want you to listen to just a bit of what he said in court, John Good. Take a listen.


GOOD: It looked like a tussle. I could really only see one person, and I think I described it as possibly being some type of dog attack because there are a lot of dogs that walk in that back area and I could only see an object.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. What then did you observe after that?

GOOD: It seemed like a tussle. They were vertical to me just like the blinds were. And then at one point I yelled out what's going on? Stop it, I believe.


HOWELL: So I want to point out two things specifically.