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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
George Zimmerman Murder Trial
Aired June 28, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, a potentially huge turning point in the racially charged George Zimmerman murder trial, with graphic and explosive testimony, witness after witness takes the jury back to the night Trayvon Martin was killed.
And who some are calling a major blow to the prosecution, a neighbor told the prosecution about two men struggling to the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GOOD, WITNESS: Going back to when they were vertical, I could tell the person on the bottom had a lighter skin color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Defense attorney Mark O'Mara then kneeled down to demonstrate the tussle between Zimmerman and Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The person on the top was back against where?
GOOD: It was the same person that was on top whether they were T- shaped to the sidewalk.
O'MARA: OK, so they did not --
O'MARA: I'm sorry. So, they did not change positions, did they?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Jury is shown a picture of the back of Zimmerman's head. Did today's testimony backfire for the state?
A lot to get to tonight, pretty new detail involving star witness Rachel Jeantel, the high school classmate, joins me in a moment for an exclusive interview.
This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE.
We'll begin with CNN's Martin Savidge in Sanford, Florida. Martin, what a dramatic day today and if to date we felt that perhaps the state was beginning to win the argument, today very much a better day you would say for the defense?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and ironically, Piers, the witnesses were supposed to be on the stand for the state, but it appears the testimony they gave very much benefits the defense.
The question has been who was on top? What I mean by that is that the defense has maintained that it was George Zimmerman on the ground being beaten by 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But up until now, the witnesses we had have really only said what they heard.
Today, Jonathan Good took the stand, and he says he actually saw the struggle that took place between those two men, and he says from his vantage point, he could tell who was on top and who was on the bottom. He was talking about their race.
Listen to the testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTION: In terms of describing the individuals, are you able to describe their faces or anything, or just clothing descriptions?
GOOD: Well, going back to when they were vertical, I could tell the person on the bottom had a lighter skin color, correct.
O'MARA: What you saw was the person on top in an MMA-style straddle position, correct?
O'MARA: That was further described, was it not, as being ground and pound?
O'MARA: All right. Explain what ground and pound is in your mind.
GOOD: The person on top being able to punch the person on the bottom, but the person on the bottom also has a chance to get out or punch the person on top. It's back and forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: That witness, essentially is saying not only was it George Zimmerman on the bottom, but also describing the severe of what he seemed to imply was that a very severe beating, MMA mixed martial arts style that was being used.
MORGAN: Well, Martin, here is where I get a bit confused about this because we were told earlier in the week that it wasn't Trayvon Martin that had been training in MMA. It was George Zimmerman, and we think other witnesses who claim they thought that Zimmerman was on top. Is it not more consistent if the person on top is performing this ground and pound maneuver? That it's more likely to have been the guy that's been training in that very form of martial arts?
SAVIDGE: Well, that is certainly the way the prosecution wanted to end the day and they were able to do that by talking to a physician's assistant, George Zimmerman's physician's assistant, who said on his medical records that he had listed, he had been keeping fit by doing training. The training he was doing was MMA, mixed martial arts. So, it definitely planted that doubt in the minds of the jury as to who really had that training.
MORGAN: Martin Savidge, another dramatic day. Thank you very much indeed. I'm sure we'll talk again on Monday night.
So, who made the best case today, the prosecution or defense?
With me now: Jane Velez-Mitchell, host at HLN's "JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL", and civil rights attorney, Gloria Allred.
Welcome to both of you.
Jane, it's a dramatic day because Jonathan Good was a pretty good witness, and as his name indicated. But having said that, there were inconsistencies, weren't there, in what he was saying. Walk me through what you felt about his testimony.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: There are inconsistencies in everybody's testimony. Everybody who claims to be an eyewitness or ear witness, Piers, because it was a dark, raining night and it was very murky, and people saw little fragments, and they really didn't see very much, and what they saw was in the dark and they can't be 100 percent certain. That's what this guy said. I can't say with 100 percent certainty.
But I do think this was a great day for George Zimmerman's defense team. You know, when this case started with opening statements at the beginning of the week, it seemed like a slum dunk for the prosecution. They had a great opening statement, filled with, oh, a baker's dozen of lies they said George Zimmerman told. The defense bungled their opening with that terrible knock-knock joke.
It seemed they turned the tables today, anyway, with this witness. But I have to stress there were other residents who testified earlier this week that said the exact opposite.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That said that the people -- that the person on top fit the description of George Zimmerman. So the basic point is if everybody is contradicting each other and even themselves in various testimony that they've given in depositions, is that enough for reasonable doubt?
MORGAN: Right. I mean, Gloria. It is fascinating.
I mean, when you get to the weeds of the detail, because Jonathan Good was a good witness. I watched it live. He was pretty consistent and pretty compelling. But then you compare what he said in the first statements with what he said today, and he find a few interesting things.
For example, he originally said he heard the person on the bottom who he indicates was Zimmerman was screaming for help. Today, he said he can't say for certainty who he heard scream for help. He said in his first statement, he saw the person on top who he indicates is Trayvon Martin holding the person down and throwing strikes, punching, striking him.
Now, he says he can't say with certainty that he was doing that. At the MMA hold, in my view complexity, we're told Zimmerman is the guy training for MMA but apparently it's Trayvon Martin doing that maneuver on top of George Zimmerman.
Put it all together, what are you thinking?
GLORIA ALLRED, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think he was a strong witness and a good witness for the defense, even though he was put on as a prosecution witness. Here he testified he sees Trayvon Martin on top or basically, a person dressed the same way Trayvon Martin was. He testifies to the MMA. He testifies that he saw ground and pound.
He testifies that he saw the injuries, that he heard essentially the cries for help. No one came, and that there did not seem to be any will -- ill will or spite evidenced by George Zimmerman, which is really important that the prosecution has to prove that, to prove the killing was done with the depraved mind to have second degree murder.
So, overall, no, he's not 100 percent a good witness for the defense, but he comes very close.
MORGAN: Jane, I mean, we get down to injuries, some of the medical experts that gave evidence today didn't think they were too severe. He never actually had an X-ray to prove he had a broken nose, the assumption is he may have done but the picture certainly looks rough there but the medical experts played that down a bit, which I thought was quite significant because the defense was trying to say look, he was clearly pounded into the concrete. They said, well, he may have been, but they have seen a lot worse injuries than this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure, but it seems like we spent a lot of awful time in the prosecution's case talking about George Zimmerman's injury. Where was the focus on the victim, on Trayvon Martin? The defense I think very cleverly bringing it back every single witness, whether EMT or physician's assistant or the resident that came out and snapped the cell phone photos always bringing it back to George Zimmerman's injuries.
Ultimately, I think the prosecution has to come up with a good explanation of why George Zimmerman has those injuries and explain it in a way in the jury's mind.
MORGAN: Gloria, they have got to prove that. I mean, the advantage the defense has in this is Florida's law plays really to the Zimmerman camp, unless there is compelling evidence that he was not fearing for his life, and I haven't seen it yet, you just can't say for sure either way, it's hard to see now where this conviction comes.
ALLRED: Well, right, and I mean, some people think that George Zimmerman has to take the stand and testify that he was in fear of imminent danger to himself in order to be successful with his case. But I think that's a judgment call the defense has to make. I don't think they want to put him on the stand because he does have inconsistent statements, and I'm not completely convince that he has to take the stand in order to prevail in this matter.
You know, the question is why did the prosecution put this witness on when he was so helpful to the defense, Mr. Good? Well, I think for two reasons. One, they really need to put all the eye and ear witnesses on - because otherwise it's like hide the ball or it attracts attention to the fact they are leaving somebody out that helps the defense. They're not there in the interest of justice, they are there to prevail and a D.A., state's attorney is supposed to be there in the interest of justice.
And then the other reason is, of course, he did -- he didn't see the slamming of the head on the concrete --
ALLRED: -- that Zimmerman or the defense team alleges took place, so that helps the prosecution.
MORGAN: Gloria, you stay with me.
Jean, I know you got to leave. Before you leave me, one word, is he going to be found guilty or not, George Zimmerman?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don't think you can tell at this point. I well say this, there were points that the prosecution made today that seem to be overlooked by everybody, for example, in his reenactment tape George Zimmerman says after he shot Trayvon Martin he didn't know what happened and spread his arms out.
Well, the first people on the scene and officers found George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin like this a complete contradiction with what George Zimmerman said. So, I just wish somebody had brought that to light and shined a spotlight on that contradiction because it came and went.
MORGAN: I'm sure they will get around to that. Jane, thank you very much, indeed, for joining. I know you have to go. Gloria stay with me.
Day five ends with a lot for the jury to think about over the weekend. With me now is Mel Robbins, a criminal defense attorney and HLN contributor.
Mel, you were there again. Another compelling day. My sense was, watching it all, that the pendulum was moving a little bit more towards the defense case today. MEL ROBBINS, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: A hundred percent. I mean, as you just heard everybody else talk about. John Good was a fantastic witness for the defense, even if you take into account, Piers, the fact that we had two witnesses over the course of the week that said they thought that George Zimmerman was on top and one of them was discredited quite skillfully by getting her to admit she, in fact, was making that assessment based on seeing the pictures of Trayvon Martin when he was a young kid. We know this was a tussle, they were rolling around.
And John Good, while his testimony was different, it was a little more pulled back and restrained today than it was when he first gave the testimony. He was very clear. I was in the courtroom with him this morning as he was testifying. The jurors leaning in, Piers, taking in every word, as he flat-out said, yes, I can't say 100 percent but my gut, who do I tell you who was yelling? It was George Zimmerman.
He said very clearly, it was George Zimmerman on the bottom. So, that was unbelievable.
You know, the other thing I didn't hear you talk about, Piers, is witness number 21 who was the officer Zimmerman. He said something that also was unbelievable gift to the defense. He said that when he asked and when he was talking to George Zimmerman after arresting him, that George had a very confused look on his face as he was describing the fact that he was calling for help and nobody came, which also corroborated not only George Zimmerman's story that he's been calling for help, but also John Good's story that he came out, saw George Zimmerman calling for help. He yelled, they didn't respond, he went back in and all of a sudden, you know, we have this terrible tragedy.
And then, finally, I heard y'all say that the prosecution ended on a strong note. That may be true, but the defense was able to establish that there were wounds all around his head. Why? Well that supports the rolling around theory on the ground in the scuffle. He also held up that photo of George Zimmerman with the nose that's like 20 times bigger than it should be a dozen times for the jury to see.
And finally, what's the last thing that that physician's assistant said? She said -- she basically agreed with O'Mara and said, well, yes, you know, if he didn't stop the fight, he would have been injured much more seriously.
So it was kind of shocking, actually, what the prosecution let the defense get away with today, Piers.
MORGAN: Right. Mel Robbins, thank you very much indeed. I'm sure we'll talk again on Monday.
Coming up, my exclusive interview with the classmate of star witness Rachel Jeantel. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O'MARA: He was a black man with a black hoodie on top of the either a white guy or now I found out, I think is a Spanish guy with the red sweat shirt on the ground yelling help. One guy on top with the black hoodie was pretty much throwing down blows kind of MMA style. Was that the context in which that happened?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Maybe Jonathan good's testimony could prove damaging for the prosecution. Is it enough, though, to create a reasonable doubt?
The Martin family have been watching the hearings all week. With me now is Daryl Parks, co-counsel for the family.
Mr. Parks, thank you for joining me.
The general consensus seems to be a difficult day for the prosecution today. Would you go along with that?
DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: No, I really wouldn't. I think, Piers, it's really important, if you listen to the testimony of Mr. Good, the way he described the person on top was holding the other person down, so even if he's correct, the whole MMA style that Mark O'Mara put forth is not totally true. If you listen to the testimony he described the person on top wasn't whaling away, you may recall in opening statement, he was whaling away with punches. That's not what he described.
I think what happened, they have taken this theory, tried to put it forth as if it really happened. Yes, there was a scuffle and rolling around on the ground.
But let's go back to what is important here. The important thing is the fact that George Zimmerman got out of his truck, profiled and went after, meaning he was trailing behind Trayvon Martin, and so people sort of forget that part because that's the major part of this case, the fact that this would have never have happened if George Zimmerman would have stayed in his truck.
MORGAN: Do you know if Trayvon Martin ever trained for MMA style martial arts himself?
PARKS: I can't -- I can't confirm that or deny that at this time, but I think what is important here is they have put forth that and I think Mr. Good's testimony is real important. If you look at the details of him describing the fight, he -- he actually even in the clip that you just played right, he actually talks about the person on the bottom fighting back to some degree, too.
So the notion that he said at one point in trying to say that in putting forth the theory of MMA style, the person's legs were held down the arms of the person on the ground is simply not true.
They were fighting and in this situation, they -- when he was also asked about the part of being on the concrete, he doesn't describe a situation where someone was just being pounded and pounded into the concrete step after step. So I --
MORGAN: Right, that is true --
PARKS: The prosecution --
MORGAN: Let's watch another -- sorry, let's watch another clip from his testimony, Jonathan Good because a lot of what you're saying is correct. Let's watch this again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, LEAD PROSECUTOR: You mentioned you, the second positioning or the change in positioning we call it, they were horizontal. At that point, you could tell it was two individuals, the same people.
DE LA RIONDA: OK. In terms of describing the individuals, can you able to describe their faces or anything or just clothing descriptions. Well, going back to vertical, I can tell the person on the bottom had a lighter skin color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, I think you could take it some of the way that you were saying. You know, he definitely reined back from his initial statements on some key parts of this. Let me ask you a difficult question, Mr. Parks, one that struck me watching today, is the jury seemed much more engaged, this predominantly white female jury seemed engaged today with Jonathan Good than they did with one of the key witnesses for the prosecution yesterday, Rachel. Is there a racial element to this that you're now concerned about, in the sense that were they just not engaged with a young black girl giving evidence in the same way that they were engaged, apparently, with a eloquent, middle-class white man?
PARKS: Piers, I'd have to respectfully disagree. I watched this jury the whole time, both of the days that Rachel was there. They watched her the same. Obviously, the first day was tough for her.
But the second day, they were very engaged how she responded to answers. I watch how. She stood firm on her core believes that Trayvon was scared of the guy, described him as creepy and followed Trayvon. Additionally, most importantly, though, when it got to the point when they were confronting each other, she stood firm in that Trayvon and George Zimmerman had this encounter.
So they paid attention. I watched them. I have one of the best seats in the house watching the jury and I saw them writing intensively.
So I believe firmly, that most importantly, they watched all week and saw countless numbers of witnesses who have put George Zimmerman on top. Yes, Mr. Good has a different version of it, but even his version wasn't devastating to the prosecution's case.
I mean, when he talks about, he couldn't really tell who was yelling 100 percent sure, then he is beginning to step back a little bit in what he was saying.
MORGAN: Right. Daryl Parks, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
The star witness in this riveting case is Rachel Jeantel who, depending on your opinion, either helped or hurt the case.
Moving now in an exclusive interview with Deborah Fakanlu, a high school classmate of Rachel's.
Welcome to you. Thank you very much for joining me, first of all.
You went to middle school with Rachel. Tell me about the kind of person she is.
DEBORAH FAKANLU, HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE OF RACHEL JEANTEL: Yes. Well, when I met her in middle school, I never talked to her, but after I had my son, I came back to Norland and she was in my fifth period class.
MORGAN: Did you speak to her at all?
FAKANLU: I sometimes talked to her, but not -- nothing serious. Like she would leave stuff on my Facebook, like a lot of inspirational stuff. If we did talk, it would be about the class.
MORGAN: When she gave evidence, what was your reaction to the criticism and support she received?
FAKANLU: I was shocked. I mean, they was saying that she was rude and that she was disrespectful, and I didn't feel like she was disrespectful. I just felt like they asking her a lot of questions, and she didn't know how to react to all of them.
MORGAN: When she talked about, you know, creepy ass crackers and that kind of thing, did you think she was using terms that are racist or just terms that young people use these days in the era that she comes from?
FAKANLU: Well, you know, we go to Norland that's how we talk. I'm sure a white area, they would call black people niggers and stuff like that.
MORGAN: Is it in terms of your experience, is it a racist term against white people?
FAKANLU: I'm not racist because I'm from England but that's just how people in Florida describe white people, that's what I know.
MORGAN: Did you know Trayvon Martin at all? FAKANLU: No, he -- I just know he went to my middle school, but I never seen him before.
MORGAN: I want to play you something, one of the clips from Rachel's testimony, when she talked about the letter that she sent, that she couldn't actually read back because she hadn't written it herself. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CXLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you unable to read that at all?
RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAVYON MARTIN: Some of it I do not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you read any of the words on it?
JEANTEL: I don't understand cursive. I don't read cursives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: What was your reaction to that part? I mean, it was a pretty damning illustration I guess of the education that she's had. Were you surprised she couldn't read her own letter?
FAKANLU: No. No, I'm not surprised because we are in an intensive class because we failed (INAUDIBLE). So, I'm not that surprised. Not everybody knows how to read, as well, if you're in an intensive class.
MORGAN: In terms of the reaction that Rachel has had, a lot of very nasty criticism has come her way as somebody that knew her, not that well but you knew her, what do you feel about that, that this young woman has been put through so much real attack from many quarters?
FAKANLU: It's sad. It's devastating. It's probably had a lot of effect on herself esteem, that, you know, she's come to court and he's, you know, testifying and people just put her down, just not really -- I know it's not a nice feeling. I know it must hurt a lot.
MORGAN: Deborah Fakanlu, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
FAKANLU: OK. Bye.
MORGAN: Coming next, a closer look at Zimmerman's injuries and the fight that left Trayvon dead. What did today's testimony tell us about it? That's coming up next.
MORGAN: Day five, so more fireworks from the witness box. What would it mean for the jury? With me now, jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, jury consultant, Alex Ferrer, former Florida court judge and host of "Judge Alex", criminal defense attorney Page Pate, and Gloria Allred is still with me.
Welcome to all of you.
And, Gloria, thank you for staying with me.
Jo-Ellan, let me bring you in here. You're an expert in this thing. It does seem to me and it has been from the start, that in the end, this could welcome down to this jury of women predominantly white women just making a personal judgment call as to whether they think George Zimmerman acted in self-defense and genuinely feared for his life or not.
Is that how you're seeing this?
JO-ELLAN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, certainly that's going to be the bottom line in their reviewing each one on these witnesses that comes forth is that they're going to rely upon their own life experiences, and I think what was interesting about Rachel is that for many of these people, the jurors, they may have needed a cultural anthropologist to explain some of her responses but that's not going to happen. The fact that maybe they were paying less attention to Rachel and will more attention to the fellow today, I think goes to how each person, each witness comes through in the courtroom.
So, on balance, at the end of the trial after they have heard all of these witnesses, they are going to look at who they think was the most credible and they are going to look at what their own life experiences in coming to an ultimate determination.
ALLRED: Yes, Piers, I just want to say I am very concerned because I know learned from your show yesterday that Rachel, in fact, had private counsel. If she had a private attorney, then that private attorney really should have prepared her for her testimony. Should have helped her to understand the rules of courtroom etiquette, how to answer a question, how not to be combative with the attorney asking the question, how to give a clear answer.
And I think she was very bright. She just wasn't well educated and not used to being in a courtroom, and I think she could have been better prepared. She was better prepared the second day. Did she talk to that attorney between the first day and second day? I don't know. But I put a lot of responsibility on that person.
MORGAN: Judge --
DIMITRIUS: Piers --
MORGAN: Sorry, yes, go ahead --
DIMITRIUS: No, I totally agree with Gloria, the way the manner in which she came in the courtroom with the attire she had on. I referred to that last night. The fact we know over the weekend and maybe before she was tweeting information about here are my nails. These are my courtroom nails and by the way, here is the bottle of booze that I consumed.
Any lawyer, lawyering 101 would have been for them to reach out to her well before she even became a witness in court this week and said, you know, looked at what her social media footprint was and to say to her, stop, you cannot do anything further. That did not happen and granted, the jurors didn't -- maybe didn't necessarily hear that because they became sequestered as of this weekend, but if there is anything before this they might have had access to, we have no way of knowing.
MORGAN: Let me bring in Judge Alex Ferrer.
Judge Alex, what is your take on how the week has unfolded? The general perception is it was going well for the prosecution, but today they hit the buffers a bit.
JUDGE ALEX FERRER, HOST, "JUDGE ALEX": I think saying it was going well for the prosecution is a massive over statement. This was a devastating week for the prosecution. At this point in the trial, it's the prosecution's case. We should all be going wow, he did it. This is -- he's definitely guilty, and then you get to the defense's case and it starts to shift and you start to wonder whether there is reasonable doubt of not.
The prosecution is calling witnesses who make a point for them and make one or two points for the defense. You're -- if anything, the doubt, the reasonable doubt is as to the prosecution. It's almost like they are trying to create a reasonable doubt.
Did the MMA thing mean that he's on top? That more creates a doubt than anything because the witness that saw him the best was Mr. Good, who was the closest, 15 feet away. None of the other witnesses saw colors of shirts or anything. The other witnesses said Trayvon was on top was basing it on the fact she saw a picture in his football jersey which was the one when he was 12 years old, and said, oh, the guy on top was bigger than that.
So, this guy is seeing the color of the red jacket and saying he's on the bottom. The guy dressed in black is on top. He says that Zimmerman was screaming. He says, I can't swear he was screaming but I could hear him like if he was looking at me screaming and the guy on top was facing the opposite way, it would sound like more much distance.
When you put all of the bricks together it's like the defense is building their defense case completely in the prosecution's side of the case. It's been a disaster for the prosecution.
MORGAN: Fascinating assessment there, Judge Alex.
Page Pate, what is your view? Because that flies against what many are saying. What do you think?
PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I certainly agree that the defense had a great day today. It's not the common situation for a defense attorney to be able to use prosecution witnesses to prove their own case in the middle of the prosecution's case. And that's what is happening right now. I do think the prosecution had to call those witnesses warts and all, you got to get fact witnesses in front of the jury. You don't want to leave that for the defense lawyers, but all and all the defense is well ahead. FERRER: They absolutely had to call John good because under Florida law, there is a case Amos versus state which says if the defense calls a witness who provides beneficial testimony to the defense that the prosecution didn't call and knew about, the defense can get up in closing argument and say to the jury, we have no burden of proof but we had to call this witness because the prosecution was tailoring their evidence, that they were showing you.
State did not want that argument in closing, so they took their lumps by calling him themselves.
PATE: I would agree, but the state hasn't rested yet. We're going to hear more witnesses next week, probably scientific witnesses, technical witnesses, but I would be surprised if the prosecution doesn't have a few very solid, very favorable witnesses waiting in the wings to testify toward the end of their case.
MORGAN: Gloria --
DIMITRIUS: Piers, I have a question.
MORGAN: Yes, Jo-Ellan?
DIMITRIUS: I have a question for the legal analysts on the panel and that is, there's obviously focus on what happened during the -- during the fight. What -- why is the prosecution not focusing on the fact that Zimmerman left his car, left to follow Trayvon, and the fact that people that are in neighborhood watch are taught by law enforcement three things, to observe, to report, and to be a good witness.
FERRER: Yes --
DIMITRUS: They are not taught to take things into their own hands.
FERRER: That's --
MORGAN: OK. Judge Alex?
FERRER: That's a great point.
I'm a former police officer. And we love the neighborhood watch people to observe and report, but not get out and follow anybody because things like this happen, you get killed by somebody who is a dangerous criminal or you accidently do something to somebody who wasn't because you don't have the training.
But the reality is -- and people don't like to hear this but it is the truth -- leaving the car, following him, approach -- even approaching him, which Zimmerman is not admitting, even going up to him and saying what are you doing here is not illegal and it doesn't add no to anything. What really, for the self defense instruction, what really matters is confrontation. When they came together, who started the aggressiveness of the fight? Who through the first punch? And nobody can tell us that.
At that point, if Zimmerman through the first punch he can't claim self-defense unless he made an effort to retreat. Even a person who starts it if they say whoa, whoa, I'm stopping, I'm stopping, I'm backing out and try to retreat, they are pursued, they can still under Florida law claim self-defense.
But getting out of the car, the following, listening to the police officer -- I mean, the dispatcher, as much as people think that should be significant, is inconsequential to this, because it is not a lawful police order. It basically is dispatcher not wanting you to get hurt --
MORGAN: OK. That's a fascinating assessment.
Gloria, you're going to stay with me so I'll come back to you after the break.
To Judge Alex, Page Pate, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, thank all very much, indeed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back to Rachel Jeantel's "yes, sirs" to Jonathan Good's MMA moves. I'll come back to talk to you about his trial, but why? Is it because of race, class, or self-defense?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN ATTORNEY: You described him as a creepy ass cracker?
WEST: So it was racial, but it was because Trayvon Martin put race in this?
WEST: You don't think that's a racial comment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: There's no denying that Rachel Jeantel is a polarizing figure in this trial, as Jonathan Good's testimony today was electrifying. So, is this case fascinating America because of race, class or self- defense?
With me now, Angela Burt-Murray, the former editor in chief of "Essence" magazine, blogger, Sherri Williams is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University and Gloria Allred is still with me.
Sherri, is it about race, this trial?
SHERRI WILLIAMS, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: I think -- well let me talk about the representation of Rachel Jeantel because I think that's important and a lot of that is wrapped up in a lot of the racism, classism, sexism and just a lot of the lookism that's deeply rooted in this country. Because I study social media here as a doctoral student at Syracuse University, and when I was looking at a lot of the tweets, a lot of the posts, I saw a lot of ugly, vicious venom spit at her.
And it wasn't just the ugliness, because there is a lot of ugliness on Twitter believe me, because I study social media, but it was just the sheer volume of what people were saying. There was so much of it and came at such a fast pace and it was really based on how she looked --
MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) I tweeted about her and said I found her a pretty compelling witness and quite credible in many ways, and I got bombarded with very hateful tweets, actually and I was taken aback by them. And I think, well, it is a very emotive case and people on both sides are taking big extremes.
Angela, what is your take on this? I mean, the center of it, it's a self-defense case.
ANGELA BURT-MURRAY, CO-FOUNDER COCOA MEDIA GROUP: Right.
MORGAN: But is it impossible to eliminate race from this?
BURT-MURRAY: Absolutely. It is impossible to eliminate race from this conversation, but what's most important at this point and what's missing is the idea of this child Rachel's humanity. People don't want to see her humanity and instead want to focus on negative stereotypes on the way she looks or may speak and you have the keyboard assassins and Twitter terrorist who are attacking a child, who is sharing her very personal and traumatic story of hearing her friend murdered on the phone.
I mean, this -- this young girl is incredibly brave and should be celebrated and instead, she's being mocked and vilified by these people who are just unconscionable. It's just terrible.
MORGAN: Gloria, you represented many victims over the years, certainly young women been through appalling crimes, many of them ill- educated, many of them maybe not the most eloquent of people in the courtroom. So, I imagine you have great empathy for people like Rachel.
When you see the reaction, putting that to one side, what kind of impact would it have on the legality of the court process itself do you think?
ALLRED: Well, I do think that it would have an impact on the jury, how she comes across on the witness stand, and it may be that some people who are on the jury are not understanding some of the issues of race and class that -- that have been brought up by the guests and -- but I might add that, you know, we do have this image of Oprah Winfrey who has been at some point large and African American and female and she's been one of the most loved persons in our country if not the world.
So, but I do --
BURT-MURRAY: I don't think we can compare Oprah to Rachel, though, I mean --
ALLRED: Well, but I'm just saying the comment that was made --
WILLIAMS: -- of black women in this country, Oprah Winfrey is one of the few that we have unfortunately. I don't think that's a fair comparison because we don't have a lot of images of black women on mainstream media, period.
WILLIAMS: Oprah is just one.
ALLRED: Well, I think that the issue here has to do with her youth, has to do with, you know, the fact that she may not have as much education, was not comfortable in the courtroom --
BURT-MURRAY: Yes, absolutely --
ALLRED: She was very vulnerable at times, came across as very authentic, very hurt. I mean, I think most people do believe she was very upset about the killing of her friend.
ALLRED: But, you know, and it may be that she's used to kind of copping an attitude as younger people would say --
BURT-MURRAY: I think that was --
ALLRED: She was confronted --
ALLRED: That's her style.
BURT-MURRAY: But I think that was a self-defense for her.
BURT-MURRAY: This young girl is probably suffering from some form of posttraumatic stress from herring hear friend murdered on the phone, and I don't think anybody is focusing on what that young girl may be feeling. Again, going back to her humanity as a person and understanding that to sit on a stand at 19 years old, to testify in front of the man that you think killed your friend at the most high- profile trial of the year that's being broadcast around the world, I don't think anyone could do a great job under those scenarios, but --
MORGAN: OK --
ALLRED: I think she could have done a better job -- BURT-MURRAY: I think that she was strong --
ALLRED: I think she could have done a better job.
BURT-MURRAY: -- she was compelling, and she was honest, and that's what matters.
ALLRED: If I'd been her attorney, I would have sat with her for probably a week --
ALLRED: And gone through it every single day so she understood how the questions needed to be answered, she needs to answer them truthfully --
ALLRED: -- which from her point of view which she was doing but communicate in perhaps a more effective style.
WILLIAMS: OK, if I can jump in for a moment. Rachel Jeantel and the jurors have something in common. Before this trial they were living their lives as regular women going on their regular way, and now, all of them are at the center of one of the most high profile, racially charged cases of probably the decade and I think all of them have a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure under them because of their role in this and I think maybe the jurors can probably empathize with the fact that, you know, their lives are changed now and they have a lot of responsibility in this case, too, just as Rachel does.
MORGAN: OK. Good point to end on. Sherri, Angela and Gloria, thank you all very much indeed.
Coming up a look ahead to Monday's testimony on the Zimmerman murder trial. Martin Savidge is live in Florida with who will take the stand. It's coming up.
MORGAN: Monday will be day six of the Zimmerman trial. Let's get a look with CNN's Martin Savidge, live in Florida.
Martin, it's been a fascinating week, isn't it? This is a trial that's gripped America more and more every day. Everyone is talking about it. Everybody has a view. It has race, it has class, it has culture, society -- all sorts of things colliding here.
You've been down there. What is your take on it all?
SAVIDGE: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. This is a particular trial that touches upon five or six of the hottest button issues in America right now. As we look forward to the week that is to come, the prosecution probably is going to start putting forward witnesses like the medical examiner, and that can be very interesting, because the body of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin could tell us a lot about what went on.
I would also expect you're going to see somebody who ran that gym of mixed martial arts, which apparently George Zimmerman attended. And then, perhaps, also in a dramatic move, we would see, one or maybe both parents of Trayvon Martin may take the stand. And that will be for the very critical issue of who's voice was heard yelling for help. And, of course, they're going to maintain it was their son.
They will finish right before the Fourth of July, and the defense will begin next Friday.
MORGAN: I mean, Trayvon's parents would be extremely emotional and very powerful you would think for the prosecution. But what about George Zimmerman giving evidence? Could we at any moment be sprung that as a huge surprise?
SAVIDGE: You could, and I will never say it won't happen, but I would be very surprised, and in constantly talking with those, it's unlikely he'd take the stand. There's just too much at stake.
MORGAN: And the one thing we haven't heard much about, which surprises me in the first week, is guns. In the end, you had somebody shooting somebody to death with a gun. Yet we've hardly heard a mention of the word "gun" in the first six days.
SAVIDGE: It's possible that could come up further. But remember, he was licensed to have that weapon, so there was nothing clandestine about it. And, of course, in Florida, there are a lot of people who have weapons that has not so far been an issue. It's whether he was justified in using it. That still to be determined.
MORGAN: Martin Savidge, you've done a terrific job all week reporting from this sensation trial. Thank you very much indeed. We'll talk again on Monday. We'll be right back after this break.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gabriel loves to play but he's trained to serve. He's like hundreds of service dogs that CNN hero Karen Shirk are provided to kids with special needs. Now she's helping disabled veterans.
Back in March, she got an e-mail from a U.S. Army Sergeant Derek McConnell (ph), who lost both his legs in Afghanistan and was desperate for a service dog.
KAREN SHIRK, CNN HERO: I sent a picture of Gabriel and said how would you like this dog? He was so excited. He texts me everyday.
COOPER: Then one day she didn't hear from him.
SHIRK: I went to his Facebook, and I'm like no, no.
COOPER: Derek had died in the night at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Devastated, she spread the word to find another veteran to take Gabriel, that when the wife of Army Captain Jake Murphy (ph) heard about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Lisa said my husband is looking for (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Like Derek, Jake had also lost his legs in Afghanistan. Karen soon realized they had much more in common. They served in the same unit and Derek had helped medically evacuate Jake. And hours later, Derek sustained his own injuries.
Now, the two soldiers share another connection -- Gabriel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if it's fate. But if Derek can't be here, it's almost fitting that I get him as my service dog. Derek will always be in my thoughts.
SHIRK: Derek and Jake lost their independence, giving independence to others, those veterans. That is who I wanted to help. This is bittersweet, but I think it was meant to be.