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Lead Detective On Stand In Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 1, 2013 - 14:29   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, let me bring you back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We're all watching here together this George Zimmerman trial. And it's interesting right now, let me just bring in both of my lawyers this hour. We've all Esther Penich (ph) and Ashley Merchant (ph). And we've all been watching, you know. It's just interesting just conversing with you, as everyone else is sitting here watching this live. So right now you have both defense and prosecution, they've approached the bench. They're talking to this judge, because we've seen this detective on the stand for the better chunk of the day. So here she is. She's testifying. She was crossed. She was redirected. The, you know, back and forth, back and forth. So right now they're trying to figure out if they want to keep her subpoenaed presumably.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Whether she could be remove from her subpoena release and she's free to go or to remain under subpoena and not talk about her testimony to anybody else in case she has to be recalled.

BALDWIN: They may not be finished with her. Here is the other point I want to make and then we'll take you back live. I thought it was interesting when you all were watching the state redirect this witness, supposed to be their witness, and you both looked at each other and you said how hostile he seems to be. Why is that a surprise?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Normally the police are for the prosecution and are actually they are helping the prosecution and don't need to be cross-examined by the prosecutor. Normally the defense attorney is the one doing all the cross-examining. In this case it seems like the prosecutor is cross-examining their own witness.

BALDWIN: You were saying in spite of the witness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. They will try to win their case in spite of their own witnesses. Remember, in this case the police chose not to charge George Zimmerman. It was the D.A. who had to be appointed from another county and then she decided in a press conference to charge him.

BALDWIN: OK, up next on the stand, this is Detective Chris Serino. He was again one of the lead detectives on this case. Let's see what he says because a lot of these questions are specific to George Zimmerman's demeanor the night that this happened whether he was cooperative, whether he was clear in answering these questions. How he felt toward Trayvon Martin that evening. Let's listen. (BEGIN LIVE COVERAGE OF ZIMMERMAN TRIAL)

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, LEAD PROSECUTOR: What are your current duties with the Sanford Police Department?


RIONDA: And how long have you been a patrol officer this time? I know you've gone back and forth.

SERINO: I believe since July or August of last year.

RIONDA: Back in February of 2012, were you assigned to the investigative division or major crime section unit?

SERINO: Yes, sir. I was.

RIONDA: How many tours have you done in that unit and then also back to patrol? Is that a normal thing or -- tell us about that.

SERINO: It's a lateral transfer position. This is my third tour back there.

RIONDA: I want to draw your attention to February 26 of 2012. Were you the on-call investigator and did you respond to the retreat at Twin Lakes?

SERINO: Yes, sir, I was.

RIONDA: Approximately what time do you believe you got there?

SERINO: I believe I got there approximately 8:00 p.m.

RIONDA: And when you arrived there, were there officers already present?

SERINO: Yes, sir. There were.

RIONDA: Was the body of the person later identified to you as Trayvon Benjamin Martin still at the scene, sir?

SERINO: Yes, he was.

RIONDA: And was the person who shot Trayvon Martin, that is George Zimmerman, still at the scene when you arrived?

SERINO: No, he was not.

RIONDA: Did you remain at the scene and later go to the Sanford Police Department?

SERINO: Yes, sir.

RIONDA: At the scene did you speak to officers there?

SERINO: Yes, sir, I did.

RIONDA: And did you also meet with witnesses?

SERINO: Yes, sir, I did.

RIONDA: When you first arrived, had the body of Trayvon Martin been identified at that point?

SERINO: No, sir. He had not.

RIONDA: At that time you didn't know who he was or whether he even lived in that area, is that correct?

SERINO: No, sir, we didn't know.

RIONDA: Were attempts made to identify him at the scene, sir?

SERINO: Yes, they were.

RIONDA: And can you briefly tell us how that was done, sir?

SERINO: By facial recognition of officers that were there, by canvassing the area of potential people that may have known who he was. We ultimately were able to obtain a device. It's called the life scan device and we checked his fingerprints to see if they were on file in our database. And we had no results.

RIONDA: So everything was negative in terms of being able to identify the person you now know as Trayvon Benjamin Martin?

SERINO: Yes, sir, all attempts were negative.

RIONDA: And later in fact, did you further check at the Sanford Police Department and his name did not appear in your records, is that correct?

SERINO: Yes, sir. I did.

RIONDA: Now later that evening, did you end up going to the Sanford Police Department?

SERINO: Yes, I did.

RIONDA: OK, and do you recall exactly what time you got there?

SERINO: It was around midnight.

RIONDA: OK, when you came into the Sanford Police Department, did you end up having contact with the person now known to you as George Zimmerman?

SERINO: Yes, I did.

RIONDA: Can you please identify him by stating where he's sitting and the clothing he's wearing?

SERINO: At the defense table.

RIONDA: When you came into contact with the defendant, George Zimmerman, were you aware that he already had been interviewed by Investigator Singleton?

SERINO: Yes, sir.

RIONDA: And did you have a very brief interview with him right after midnight around 12:05 or so a.m.?

SERINO: Yes, I did.

RIONDA: Was that interview recorded in terms of an audio recording?

SERINO: Yes, sir, it was.

RIONDA: For purposes of the record, I believe we did introduce that Exhibit 179. Defense counsel has no objection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State's exhibit 179.


SERINO: Today's date is Monday, February 27th, 2012. It's now 12:05 a.m. We're at the Sanford Police Department. Present in the room with George Zimmerman, correct?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: Date of birth?

ZIMMERMAN: 10-5-83.

SERINO: Education?

ZIMMERMAN: Associate's.

SERINO: In what? OK. You understand that you're not quite free to go, but not quite going on jail?


SERINO: Just for the record I'm showing you. Do you recognize this face?


SERINO: I don't know who he is. Briefly, I'll give you what I got. You were going to the store.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: And you saw somebody who you felt to be suspicious?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: This suspicious person, because of the break in, in the neighborhood, you decided to call 911?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir, the non-emergency number.

SERINO: The non-emergency number?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: You reported a suspicious person?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: You followed this person?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: You lost visual on the person?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: Where did the whole thing start at?

ZIMMERMAN: The circle.

SERINO: Tomorrow morning daylight hour, do you work?


SERINO: When do you get off work?


SERINO: When do you start?


SERINO: OK, 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, can you call me so we can walk through the scene entirely?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir. I'm taking a class.

SERINO: Which university? What time does the class start?


SERINO: We could probably do this in half an hour. I want to retrace your path. I want to videotape this. The difference between statutes and homicide and justifiable homicide, you're familiar with what we're talking about here, right? OK. You followed this person, you cited this person. You're you can wag in the darkness. You have a flashlight?

ZIMMERMAN: It was dead. I had one, but it was dead.

SERINO: It's on right now. You have to hit it a couple times. This person jumped you from somewhere?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: From the darkness.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: Did he say anything to you?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: What did he say?

ZIMMERMAN: When he came up to me, he said you got a problem and I said no. And then I went to reach for my phone, find my phone to call 911. And then he said you got a problem and punched me in my face, my head, all over my head.

SERINO: You were cleaned up already? Because the officer said you were pretty much battered.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: You mounted you basically and started to get up on you?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: At what point --

ZIMMERMAN: After he hit my head against the concrete several times, I yelled out for help and he tried to smother my help.

SERINO: Who yelled for help?

ZIMMERMAN: I did. And he smothered my mouth and my nose. And when he did that, I tried to slide out and squirm and I realized my shirt came up and I felt him slide his happened toward my right side.

SERINO: You thought he was going for your gun?


SERINO: -- an automatic?


SERINO: What kind of ammunition?

ZIMMERMAN: I think it was hollow.

SERINO: What happened next?

ZIMMERMAN: I shot him.

SERINO: You cleared the holster and shot him one time? What happened next?

ZIMMERMAN: He kind of got up and said you got me. I don't remember if I pushed him or he fell, but somehow I got out from under him. And when he was hitting me, I thought he had something in his hands. So I grabbed his hands when I was on top and I spread his hands away from his body because he was still talking. And I was on top of him. And that's when somebody came and they had a flashlight and I thought it was a police officer, so I got off of him.

SERINO: What was he saying when he was talking to you?

ZIMMERMAN: After you got me, I don't remember.

SERINO: You probably have a hard time with this. That's all I can give you until tomorrow. You can get you help afterwards, but you have to go home and get some rest. So in your mind's eye, this person was committing no good. He jumped you, he attacked you, he reached if your gun, you discharged, only shot once. Police arrived, you surrendered and here you are.

ZIMMERMAN: He told me he was going to kill you.

SERINO: Exactly. OK.


RIONDA: May I approach the witness? Investigator Serino, you mentioned in the interview with the defendant that you showed him a photograph. Is this the photograph you were showing him?

SERINO: I believe so.

RIONDA: Can I publish that to the jury?


RIONDA: When you showed him this photograph, he said he didn't know this person?

SERINO: That's correct, sir.


BALDWIN: Lead detective here in this case, Detective Chris Serino, he is talking about how he gave an interview to George Zimmerman back at the police station after he had initially spoken to Detective Singleton who is the last person to be on the stand. Quick break. Back to his testimony after this.


BALDWIN: Again the lead detective still on the stand, still being questioned by the state, describing George Zimmerman's injuries as minor injuries. Here he is.


RIONDA: Investigator Serino, when you came into contact with Brandy Green and I believe also with Tracy Martin, would that have been a 26- 31.

SERINO: Yes, sir.

RIONDA: Is that what you understood Mr. Martin, Trayvon Martin, was staying the day he got killed?

SERINO: Yes, he was.

RIONDA: I want to make sure I get the right place. It's right here?

SERINO: Yes, sir.

RIONDA: Did you end up showing Tracy Martin the photograph and did he identify that person as his son?

SERINO: Yes, I did.

RIONDA: Sir, I want it draw your attention to February 27th. That same day, did you later come into contact with the defendant, George Zimmerman, at the retreat of Twin Lakes, sir?

SERINO: Yes, sir, I did.

RIONDA: And were you present when the defendant was put this a car with Sergeant Randy Smith and you followed with Investigator Singleton and then later end up at the defendant actually gets out of the vehicle and demonstrates to you or describes what he claims occurred?

SERINO: Yes, sir.

RIONDA: OK, have you reviewed that video?

SERINO: Yes, I have.

RIONDA: For the record, your honor, it's state's exhibit 181. And before we play it, we do have an instruction that we request the court to read at the time. It's entitled state's proposed jury instruction regarding redaction of defendant's interview with Sanford police investigators.

JUDGE NELSON: Ladies and gentlemen, at the direction of the court, certain portions of the defendant's interview with the Sanford Police Department investigators have been excised or redacted based on legal determinations made by the court. The parts excised or redacted are not relevant and you are not to concern yourselves with why this occurred or with the content of any excised or redacted portion. Thank you.

RIONDA: May we publish that to the jury now? You said this right here will be defendant in Sergeant Smith's car, is that correct?

SERINO: Yes, sir.


SERINO: Today's indicate date is February 27. It's now 5:20 in the afternoon, 17:20 hours. And this is reference Sanford case number 20125000, 1136.

ZIMMERMAN: Right here in front of the house.

SERINO: In front of 1460.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: And he was walking in between the buildings?

ZIMMERMAN: He was walking like in a grassy area like up towards kind of between these two poles. And it was rainy and he wasn't -- he was leisurely looking at the house. Like I said, my wife -- I left for the grocery store and I just felt like something was off. I had called previously about this house.

When the police arrived, I called the first time, the windows were open and the door was unlocked. Police came and secured it. So I said it's better to just call and I kept driving. I passed him and he kept staring at me and staring around, looking around to see who else was -- I don't know why he was looking.

SERINO: Did he walk off from there or stop?

ZIMMERMAN: He stopped and he like looked around. That's what threw me off. It was raining. I didn't understand why somebody would be stopping in the rain. It wasn't like he was trying to run to get out of the run. And I had never seen him before and I don't know if he was exercising --

SERINO: Where was he standing when you stopped, on the sidewalk?


SERINO: Right in front of where the car is?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: And then you --

ZIMMERMAN: I drove past him and went to the clubhouse.

SERINO: Parked up there?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

SERINO: And he called you up here or --

ZIMMERMAN: I called the non-emergency line and when I got through, I parked at the clubhouse and they asked me where I was. And I told them and I think I gave him the address to the clubhouse.

SERINO: Where did you park?

ZIMMERMAN: Up to that green truck. I don't think that truck was there. I just pulled up.

SERINO: And this is where got out?

ZIMMERMAN: No. This is when I just stopped to call, to call and -- and he walked past me. And he kept looking at my car and still looking around at the houses and stuff. So then dispatcher said what direction did he go and I said I don't know. Because he cut down here and made a right and I said I can't see him. And they said can you get to somewhere where you can see him. And I said, yes, I can. So I backed out, a left here. And I parked right about where that sign is in the yard.

SERINO: In front of the truck?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. And I saw him right about there. And I saw him walking back that way and then cut through the back of the houses. He looked back and he cut back through the houses. I was still on the phone with non-emergency. And then he came back and he started walking up towards the grass and then came down and circled my car.

And I told the operator that. He was circling my car. I didn't hear if he said anything. But he had his hand in his waistband and I think I told the officer that. And they said where you are you. And I could not remember the name of the street because I don't live on this street. And I said I don't know. And he goes we need an address. And I said I don't know an address.

Think I gave them my address. And they said give us directions to get to you. And I said if you tell the police to go straight at the clubhouse and make a left, my truck will be there. And again they asked me where he went, what direction. And I said I don't know. And then I thought to get out and look for a street sign. So I got out and started walking.

SERINO: OK, go ahead.

ZIMMERMAN: I was still on the phone with the no-emergency and I started walking. Because I didn't see a street sign here, but I knew if I went straight through, that that street should be Circle. And I could give an address. They said give me an address in the front and there is no address because this I the back of the house. So I walked through here and I didn't see him at all. I got to about here and I had a flashlight but it was dead, though.

And I looked around and I didn't see anybody. And I told non- emergency I said he's gone. He's not even here. So I still thought I could use their address, so I walked all the way through. And I actually walked all the way to the street. And I was going to give them this address. And he said if he's not there, do you still want a police officer. And I said yes. And they said are you following him?

I'm sorry, back there, they said are you following him. And I said, yes, I thought he was in the area. They said we don't need you to do that. And I said OK. So that's when I walked straight through here to get the address so that I could meet the police officer. And then they said -- I said he's not here.

Do you still want a police officer, and I said yes, him to come and I said yes. And they said where. And I said just tell him to meet me at my truck next to the clubhouse. If he makes a left, I'm parked right there. So I started walking back. I didn't see anything again and I was walking back to my truck. When I got to right about here, he yelled from behind me to the side of me. He said, yo, you got a problem? And I turn around. I said, no, I don't have a problem, man.

SERINO: Where was he at?

ZIMMERMAN: He was about there, but he was walking towards me. Like I said, I was already passed that, so I didn't see exactly where he came from, but he was about where you are. And I said I don't have a problem. He said you got a problem now and then he punched me in the face.

SERINO: Right here?

ZIMMERMAN: To be honest, I don't remember exactly. I stumbled or he pushed me down. Somehow he got on top of me.

SERINO: On the grass or the cement?

ZIMMERMAN: Somewhere over here. I think I was trying to push him away from me. That's when I started screaming help, help, as loud as I could. And then is when he grabbed -- I tried to sit up and that's when he grabbed me by the head and tried to slam my head down. My body was on the grass. My head was on the cement. That's the best that could I feel from my jacket. I felt like my body was on the grass and my head was on the cement. And he kept slamming and slamming. And I kept yelling help.