Return to Transcripts main page


Live Coverage Of The George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 1, 2013 - 15:30   ET


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: The only thing I can tell you is the streets, those streets, I don't -- I can't even remember the names now.

But I know that they change names. When it branches left, it's a different name. Once it branches right, it's a different name, so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, but I guess that that's going to be, uh, uh, one of the issues that I have to clarify and that's why we're here today.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your holster, what kind of holster do you have?

ZIMMERMAN: It's just one I bought at a gun show, like a nylon in a waistband --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like an Uncle Mikes? With a --

ZIMMERMAN: Kind of, yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a nylon retainer.

ZIMMERMAN: It did not have a retainer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's an unsecure holster, basically?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. No locking mechanism, no safety feature, nothing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was inside your pants?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Nine millimeter inside your pants.

He was mounted on you, you were able --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's just pull away from this. You can see this continuing obviously in the courtroom of the George Zimmerman trial there in Sanford, Florida.

We have Ashleigh Merchant, criminal defense attorney; Ryan Smith, back with us once again here, host of HLN's "Evening Express," "After Dark," et cetera; and also Sunny Hostin who is down in Sanford, Florida, covering this all for us.

Let me just begin with you since you are newest here to the table this afternoon. Listening to all of this, because we've seen -- we've heard from, so far, two detectives, the lead detective and the woman who initially Mirandized George Zimmerman, initially gave that interview.

Of course, it's audio because we don't have the video and I know a lot of people are saying that that's frustrating, that video does not exist and you can't actually see the behavior. You know, they're questioning. That's frustrating.

RYAN SMITH, HOST, HLN'S "EVENING EXPRESS": It is frustrating, and people want to see it. It gives them a better read of what he's really thinking, what's going on. It's like one thing to say the words, another thing to see his expression.

But when I see this, it doesn't necessarily help the prosecution as you might think in a lot of investigations. You see, in a lot of investigations, you bring in the lead detective, they give the testimony from speaking to the defendant, and it's kind of like you -- it's one of your slam dunk moments as a prosecutor.

BALDWIN: Not so much in this case.

SMITH: Because he's consistent in many of his statements. He does have small inconsistencies, but it's him in the flesh, talking about everything that happens.

And I think the defense has got to be pretty happy about this because the more people see him talking in court about what happened, you have to start wondering, are they going to put him on the stand or not?

BALDWIN: Let me go -- Sunny, let me go to you because I'm curious. Put on your former federal prosecutor hat for me and tell me as the state is -- you know, we've seen the video re-enactment of the crime scene the day after.

Now we're seeing this police interrogation a couple of days after Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old. What do this? What is the state trying to achieve?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is all about comparing what George Zimmerman said happened to what the forensics may show, to what the scene may show, to what other witnesses are saying.

They're going to try to poke holes in it because really what is going to happen at the jury instruction level, the jury is going to be told, listen, you've heard a lot of different things. You can -- if you don't believe a part of a statement, you can disregard all of the statement. And so I think ultimately they're going to say, look, what he said just doesn't make sense. This is what he said? Well, there weren't any bushes out there when he says Trayvon Martin was hiding behind some bushes.

The dispatcher told him not to pursue, not to follow. He did it anyway because look at where he was in this time frame.

And so I think it's going to be not so much about what he says, but the manner in which he said it and comparing that to everything else in the case

So this is very much like putting a puzzle together, and what you're seeing is all the little pieces.

And many people are seeing them like they're separate, but the prosecution knows what the picture is supposed to look like at the end of the day. We don't know what it looks like yet.

BALDWIN: Ashleigh, from a criminal defense attorney perspective, I'm also wondering, this is really the closest -- this is George Zimmerman in his own words, right? I mean, we saw the re-enactment as he was walking through and trying to show the bushes and trying to say, hey, I saw this kid standing in the rain around this area where they've had a lot of break-ins and I thought that was suspicious and that was what started this whole thing to begin with. I think it's important to remember why.

But this is the closest to George Zimmerman in his own words. At what point does the defense team say, we don't need to put him on the stand?

ASHLEIGH MERCHANT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, they don't really need to put him on the state at this point because, like you said, it is the first and the closest re-enactment, so to say, that he's given of it, his events.

And that is the most consistent, and that is probably the best version of the story.

What they might want to put him up for, though, is to humanize him, and so that the jury actually sees him in action, sees him actually saying those words, not on video.

BALDWIN: But it's risky. There is a risk involved in that, is there not?

SMITH: Huge risk. Cross-examination.


SMITH: And that's going to be a heck of a cross-examination.

There are things that he's mentioning. Sunny made a great point about how they're going to take these statements and then compare them to other statements. And there are some things that don't add up completely, so he does have to explain those.

Also, you can never think enough about the idea that two people got into a fight and only one is alive. Jurors, a lot of times, want to hear that person's story.

In self-defense cases, many times, almost most of the times, I would say, most times, people get on the stand and they explain their side because the other person isn't there.

So if he doesn't get up, you kind of are missing part of the story.

MERCHANT: And I think the jury will wonder if he doesn't get up, why is he not getting up?

Juries are always obsessed with what they're not hearing. They always think that you're trying to hide things from them. And so if you don't put him up, they're going to wonder why. What is it that could come out?

BALDWIN: Let me play something. This is Detective Singleton. This is the woman who initially Mirandized George Zimmerman. She's the woman who initially sat him down and questioned him. She's the one who didn't videotape this whole thing.

So you're going to hear his voice. And we thought this was interesting and I just wanted to play it for you because it's the two of them talking. This was the night after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin and he notices the cross she's wearing around her neck. Watch.


DET. DORIS SINGLETON, SANFORD POLICE: I remember being in the room with him and I had a silver cross on, and I had a V-neck shirt so you could see the cross, just small, about a one inch silver cross.

And he asked me if I was Catholic and -- do you want me to just tell the whole story?


SINGLETON: He asked me if I was Catholic, and I said no, and I asked him why he would ask me that. And he said because he had noticed the cross.

I said no, I'm Christian, and I said so basically why does it matter? And he said because in his religion, in the Catholic religion that it's -- no matter what, always wrong to kill somebody.

And I said, well, as far as what you've said to me, if what you're saying is true, then I don't think that's what God meant. I don't think God meant you can't save your own life.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Right. We noticed that, and a lot of questions, too, about, you know, ill will, how George Zimmerman spoke, the words he used to describe Trayvon Martin.

And we were talking about in Florida, in order to prove and convict on murder two, on second-degree murder upon which George Zimmerman is facing, you have to prove depraved mind.

And that may help the defense in proving that lacked.

SMITH: That it wasn't there because where is the hatred? Where is the ill-will? Here is a man who's in there with the detectives saying it's always wrong to kill somebody, almost as if -- at least according to her story --

BALDWIN: According to the story.

SMITH: -- that he is feeling depressed, sad, maybe he violated his faith, and she's essentially trying to console him in some way.

On the other hand, what else does that say? Does that say he did something wrong by killing Trayvon Martin?

So I think there is a couple of different ways to look at that, but it does humanize him in some way, as you said.

MERCHANT: And he's never come out and said anything bad about Trayvon Martin, where some people in some situations like this might have gone out and said hurtful things about him or things to sort of bolster his case. And he's never done that.

SMITH: Well, some would say that by taking the position that taking, he's saying something bad about Trayvon Martin.

Look at a lot of the words we heard used in the courtroom, the things that Trayvon Martin said, which, by the way, are opposite of what Rachel Jeantel said Trayvon Martin said in the call with her.

So there's a lot of interesting room in here, and I think it's another reason why he has to take the stand because keeping him off the stand leaves a lot of that open to interpretation to the jury.

And, if you're the defense and you think you have a strong case, why not make it even stronger by getting him to get up and explain his side of the story, which you whole-heartedly believe?

BALDWIN: To your point, it's jurors sitting there, wondering. It's not what they're hearing, but it's what they're not hearing that is top of mind.

Let me hit pause on this because, coming up next, I'm going to bring in my colleague Don Lemon.

You mentioned some of the language in the courtroom. Don Lemon is taking a very real look at the "N"-word. It's a special tonight, 7:00 Eastern time. Why are we doing it? Why is this pertinent not only in this trial, but in another major national news story that percolated last week.

We're going to go there with Don, next.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to CNN. We have been following this second- degree murder trial, George Zimmerman on trial in Sanford, Florida.

Right now, they're still playing this police interrogation for the court and for the jury. We've been listening to it. You've been listening to it. The audio is sort of tough to understand at some points.

We're going to pull away from that momentarily. I promise we'll come back to it.

In the meantime, though, and sort of related here, is a special that we're airing tonight at CNN that we encourage you to watch, to DVR, and it all revolves around the 14th letter of the alphabet, that being "N," the "N"-word.

In recent years, it has come to represent one of the most hateful words in all of the English language. I'm not going to use this word. I know you know what I'm talking about.

The term is so toxic, cuts straight to the bone. It can crush careers. It can crush empires. Just ask Paula Deen.

She admitted using the "N"-word in her life time and it cost her millions in endorsements and untold embarrassment, not only for her, but for her family.

The Food Network kicked her off the air. She's lost a bunch of sponsors. But we've also seen the flip side of the "N"-word here in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

As far as we know Zimmerman never used the "N"-word in relation to 17- year-old Trayvon Martin, but we did just last week hear a friend of Trayvon Martin's. It was Rachel Jeantel who was on the phone with him the night he was shot and killed, referred to Trayvon Martin referring to Zimmerman as a, quote, "crazy-bleep cracker."

We'll see how that language plays with the jury in the weeks to come, but the power behind the "N"-word is the subject behind this hour-long special tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, hosted by our own Don Lemon.

And as a prelude, Don addressed the volatile issue on his show just this past weekend. I want to play part of that.

But just a warning, a fair warning, some of the language is absolutely offensive. But take a listen.


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've watched the Jeffersons and they would say -- you know, remember back -- what was the saying that they used to say? Niggah, please. Like they said that on television in the '70s. But we can't say it now.

MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: But black people said it because we moved into this post-racial ideology, this color blind ideology that says if we don't talk about race, if we don't name race, if we don't speak certain racialized terms, somehow the world will be racially better. And it's simply not true.

I don't have a problem with a sitcom or with you as an esteemed journalist using the "N" word in context because it has explanatory value.

Do I think that white people should be using it? Absolutely not. Do I think someone with a biracial son could be confused about this? Absolutely not.

I'm always -- I always find it remarkable that white people find the "N"-word usage such a complicated puzzle. It's not that complicated. Just don't use it.

WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: Wait, wait. I have to disagree with you.

HILL: Let me finish the thought, though. You just have to accept that there are some things in the world, just at least one thing, that you can't do that, black people can. And that might just be OK.

WALSH: Wait, wait. I'm not talking about me in particular. But what about the huge consumers? What about the huge consumers of hip hop who have been exposed to a new sort of reclaimed usage of the word through music?

So when a teenaged boy uses it with his teenaged friend as a term of endearment, I'm not -- he's a consumer of hip hop.

LEMON: I have to tell you, I was in Ohio in October coming up on the election. And I was with a white kid in his late-teens/early-20s, in college.

He was talking to another white friend, and they both were calling each other that term.

And I was like -- at first he was on the phone with him and I thought he was talking to his black friend.

And then we went and met him and he was talking to his white friend. So it's not just black people using that word as a term of endearment.

HILL: I would be happy if no one used the word as a term of endearment.

All I'm saying is that that white teenager or that white 20-something should learn that, yes, you can listen to the music, yes, you can hear those words, but it doesn't mean you have to repeat them because the truth is they can turn that music down --

WALSH: But you can't sing along?

HILL: Why are white people fighting so fiercely for the right to use the "N"-word? Just let it go.


BALDWIN: Don Lemon, you should see everyone in the studio here sort of reacting to this conversation.

I watched this conversation you had over the weekend. I mean, my goodness, the word is powerful. It's toxic. You're going there tonight.

LEMON: I am. I'm going there tonight, and I'm going to say this word on television. Right?

And I'm not sure at this time of the day, but you know what, here is the thing. Here's the thing, Brooke. I just went out. I just left the streets, talking to people. You'll hear a little bit of it.

But there is a distinct difference for some kids, especially young people between that word and that word.

I mean, to most of us, it's kind of the same thing. But young people make a distinction. This one is a term of endearment. This one obviously is not.

But a lot of young people don't think it's so bad. Are they ignorant of their history or maybe just not respectful? That's a question.

But I went out and spoke with young and old about these words. Take a listen and you and I will talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're both derogatory and they're both racist, but the feeling I get inside from when I hear that word is different. I guess it's a psychological thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If someone were to call me a honky or a cracker, I don't think this would offend me as much as this word offends other people from my experience.

LEMON: And if you hear other people saying this word or this word as opposed to that word, this still offends you more?


LEMON: Even if it's a black person calling a white person those words?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. LEMON: Someone saying the "N"-word?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm being completely honest, yes.


LEMON: Yeah, so, Brooke, just a question for you.


LEMON: I know you're young, hip and cool. You and I have hung out.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Do you listen to rap music?

BALDWIN: Occasionally.

LEMON: Do you listen to Kanye West?


LEMON: OK, so, "Jesus Walks?"

BALDWIN: Yep. Yep, yep, yep.

LEMON: He says the "n" word might steal your necklace, whatever.

BALDWIN: Yeah, I'm not singing that.

LEMON: It's all over rap music.

BALDWIN: I was just saying to these guys in the studio. This is like that Chris Rock bit where he talks about, you know, he's sitting around with a bunch of his white friends. They're listening to Dr. Dre and the "N"-word pops up and everybody is like -- you know?

And there he is yelling it out. No way am I using that word. No way.

LEMON: Yeah, but here is the thing that people don't realize when they're talking about a term of endearment or a term of affection.

As I said, maybe kids are not knowledgeable of the history. Maybe they are. There is a difference between being knowledgeable about something and being respectful about something, about the word.

As I was researching this story, you know, I didn't want to get -- at first you get caught up in the why do black people say it, why do rappers say it.

But then when you look at the history, when you start looking at archival footage of the civil rights movement, of the KKK, of slavery and lynchings, and also Lavar Burton is going to be on tonight who played Kunta Kinte in "Roots."

And when you look at people being auctioned off on a block, on an auction block as slavery -- during slavery and people are going, I'll give you $100, $50, whatever, and they're auctioning them off as if they are property and then at the end and I'm going to say the word now, the auctioneer after he beats Kunta Kinte into saying his name is Toby, which is his given name, once he finally succumbs, he says now that's he a good nigger.

So do you really want that to be a term of affection? One has to ask himself or herself that question, and you can come up with the answer yourself.

Personally, I don't think so.

BALDWIN: I mean, I just would be interested to see what the younger generation has to say and if they comprehend the history that backs this word.

Don Lemon, we'll be watching, Don Lemon's special report, "The N Word," tonight at 7:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Don, appreciate it. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to come back to the George Zimmerman trial here in just a moment.


BALDWIN: OK, back to the George Zimmerman trial. Again, they are still playing this police interrogation from a couple of days after the man you're looking at here shot and killed a 17-year-old in Sanford, Florida, in this community. We're going to come back to that.

Ryan Smith, just back to you here, just curious, because I constantly have these six female jurors in my head as I'm watching all of this play out, and when you go back to that re-enactment video where see George Zimmerman and you see the lead detective, Detective Serino, and a couple other people out there walking through the crime scene, one day after this whole thing happened, no lawyer --

SMITH: No lawyer.

BALDWIN: How is this sitting for the jury?

SMITH: I think it's incredible for the jury, and I think it's incredible for the defense because essentially this is the picture you want them to get and you don't always get it.

At the beginning of this trial, even before the trial began, they tried to bring the jury out there. That was one of the arguments that was made --

BALDWIN: To the crime scene.

SMITH: -- and it was rejected by the judge, the idea being, let's walk them through. The prosecution wants to show what doesn't add up. The defense wants to show what does add up.

Here you've got George Zimmerman voluntarily doing this. This is a huge point for the defense because it shows that he had nothing to hide. He didn't need a lawyer there. He walked everybody through it.

This is the kind of thing that I think a lot of defense lawyers say, I wish I had a client who did this kind of thing, and their story stayed relatively consistent.

He does have problems, the bushes, the hand over the nose and mouth, like he claims. He's got some story issues, but still, he makes it seem -- he just walks it through calmly, and he doesn't seem afraid, doesn't seem like he's hiding something. And that could be a strong point for the defense.

BALDWIN: Ryan Smith, thank you.

Quick break. Back to the trial in two minutes.


BALDWIN: All right, let's take you back to this trial, and what you're hearing, they're still playing this police interrogation tape involving George Zimmerman, who you're looking at, sitting there in the courtroom.

And they're also playing some of the 911 call that he made that night. Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is important, OK? I almost got to reconstruct this.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): The back entrance. (Inaudible).

911 (via telephone): Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah.

911 (via telephone): OK, we don't need you to do that.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): OK.

911 (via telephone): All right, sir, what is your name?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): George. He ran.

911 (via telephone): All right, George, what's your last name?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Zimmerman.

911 (via telephone): And George, what's the phone number you're calling from?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): 407-435-2400.

911 (via telephone): All right, George, we do have them on the way. Do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah.

911 (via telephone): All right. Where you going to meet with them at?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): If they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the clubhouse, and straight past the clubhouse and make a left, and then they go past the mailboxes. They'll see my truck. The keys are in the ignition.

911 (via telephone): OK, what, what address are you parked in front of?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): I don't know. It's a cut through, so I don't know the address.

911 (via telephone): OK, do you live in the area?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, yeah, (inaudible).

911 (via telephone): What, what's your apartment number?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): It's a home. It's 1950 --

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Oh crap, I don't want to give that out loud. I don't know where this kid is.

911 (via telephone): OK, do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes then?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, that's fine.

911 (via telephone): All right George, I'll let them know to meet you when they're --

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): I think -- could you have them --

911 (via telephone): -- out there.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Could you have them call me, and I'll tell them where I'm at?

911 (via telephone): OK. Yeah, that's no problem.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): You need my number or you go it?

911 (via telephone): Yeah, I got it, 407-435-2400?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, you go it.

911 (via telephone): OK, no problem. I'll let them to know to call you when they're there.

BALDWIN: As we continue to listen, I just wanted to bring back in Esther Panitch, criminal defense attorney who has been watching and listening to all of this, the audio and the video, et cetera.

Ryan Smith, sitting here a moment ago, saying that this is helping the defense because here he is very willing to speak, very willing to bring the cops back to the crime scene, seemingly compliant. Do you agree?

ESTHER PANITCH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I do. I absolutely do. And I do not think, as Ashleigh said before, I do not think they need to put him on at this point with the evidence that's been brought.

You've already seen a human side of George Zimmerman, and one thing that I was especially taken with was when he commented on the cross that the officer was wearing.

And it shows a religious side of him. It shows that ..

BALDWIN: Another camp could say, so what? He's sitting there with police. of course, he's going to make some comment.

I'm just saying there could be another side of this, you know?

PANITCH: Of course, there's probably three sides, the police side, George Zimmerman's side and the truth.

BALDWIN: But you're saying that was the real George Zimmerman?

PANITCH: I think there are parts of him that came out of -- that show his humanity and that he did not -- he's not laughing about killing another human being. He takes this very seriously.

He's worried about what God will do, even though he felt he acted in self-defense. He recognizes he took the life of another human being.

And so it shows a -- you know, it shows a more human side to him.

BALDWIN: OK. Esther Panitch, thank you very much.

PANITCH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And we'll continue following the trial, of course.

I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Jake Tapper and "The Lead" starts right now.