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PIERS MORGAN LIVE

Zimmerman Trial Day Six; Zimmerman Trial Star Witness; Nineteen Hero Firefighters Killed; Interview with Nik Wallenda

Aired July 1, 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: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, George Zimmerman in his own words. And fallen heroes in Arizona. Two big stories that America is talking about this evening.

In Arizona, 19 brave firefighters lost their lives battling the Yarnell Fire. The deadliest for the fires responders since 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: It just is unbearable. I know for many of you that it is, unbearable also for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I'll talk to Governor Jan Brewer later and one of the firefighter's best friends. But first George Zimmerman describes what happened moments before Trayvon Martin's life ended. Will the jury believe him?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: He goes, now you have a problem. And he punched me in the hose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: We go straight to Martin Savidge with all the crucial evidence from day six of the George Zimmerman trial.

Martin, a gripping day again today. Particularly because we heard everything coming straight out of George Zimmerman's mouth in what was almost real-time interviews.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was. Yes, it was a pretty fascinating day. First we got to hear from an audio expert. But then as you say we got to hear from George Zimmerman himself. And he never actually even took the stand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): For the first time, jurors hear George Zimmerman's version, what happened the night Trayvon Martin died, in a taped police interview. ZIMMERMAN: I was walking back through to where my car was and he jumped out from the bushes. And he said what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is your problem, homey? So he just started punching me in the face. And I started screaming for help. I couldn't see, I couldn't breathe. And I thought he was going for my firearm. So I grabbed it immediately, and as he banged my head again, I just pulled out my firearm and shot him.

SAVIDGE: Another dramatic moment, Officer Doris Singleton's testimony about Zimmerman's reaction when he learned Martin was dead.

DET. DORIS SINGLETON, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: He said, he's dead? And I said, I thought you knew that. I thought you knew he was dead. And he kind of swung his head and just shook it.

SAVIDGE: Lead investigator Detective Chris Serino takes the stand later and on cross-examination seems to tell the defense exactly what they want to hear.

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Did you notice anything to bring to the jury's attention today, that caused you that concern, that spidey sense that something's going wrong with what he's telling you?

DET. CHRIS SERINO, LEAD INVESTIGATOR IN ZIMMERMAN CASE: Nothing I can articulate, no, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: You know, these investigators tried very hard over a period of several days to really get George Zimmerman. And at times, aggressively going after him, and yet at the end as you heard Mark O'Mara question him on the stand, did you believe him? And they all said yes, they did.

MORGAN: Do you think given what happened today, Martin, that there's any likelihood George Zimmerman himself will give evidence now?

SAVIDGE: I would say it'd be highly unlikely. I mean, at my couldn't there were at least five times either in written or recorded testimony we saw or heard George Zimmerman tell what happened. I think that you would have to probably say the defense is feeling pretty good about where things stand right now. And it would be too much of a gamble to let George Zimmerman take the stand. So I would not expect it.

MORGAN: A final question, Martin, how much do you think the police who gave evidence today, and clearly all pretty beneficial really to the defense team's argument -- very supportive of the sincerity and credibility of George Zimmerman and so on. How much of that could be covered, and I stress could be, by the fact that they were criticized so widely for not taking, A, action in terms of charging Zimmerman on the night of this incident, in other words, basically, covering their own position?

SAVIDGE: Well, I mean, it's a legitimate question to ask. They have to have evidence to support any kind of charge. They say that the evidence simply did not exist. But when you listen to the interviews that they did with George Zimmerman, particularly the last one, they sort of say, look, none of this would have happened. We wouldn't be here if you had simply approached Trayvon Martin and identified yourself as a member of the neighborhood watch and said, can I help you with something? But he never did that. And that silence about why George never did do that, still rings quite heavily in the courtroom.

MORGAN: Yes, and if you hadn't gotten out of the vehicle, none of this would have happened either.

Martin Savidge, it remains a gripping case. We will talk again tomorrow. Thank you very much indeed.

Trayvon Martin's parents were in the courtroom today, listening to George Zimmerman's description of the last moments of their son's life.

Joining me now is Natalie Jackson, one of the attorneys for the Martin family.

Natalie, welcome back to the show.

NATALIE JACKSON, MARTIN FAMILY CO-COUNSEL: Thank you for having me, Piers.

MORGAN: The general -- the general feeling seems to be, it was a good day for the defense, because the police effectively corroborated much of what George Zimmerman had told them, and basically said they agreed with him. But there is another view that there were certain parts of what came out today, which were very helpful to the prosecution. And I want you just to highlight those for me, if you can.

JACKSON: There were. First I'd like to put the statement that it was a good day for the defense. And a perspective. The defense -- Detective Serino was asked at each point that he interviewed George Zimmerman, did he change his story? He wasn't asked when he looked at all his interviews together, he said that he did not have a chance to do that until later.

So let's talk about some of the inconsistencies. One of the inconsistencies is that George Zimmerman said Trayvon circled his car after going through the walkway. Circled his car completely. He said that Trayvon, as he got out of his car to look for an address, not to follow Trayvon, but to look for an address to give this set that Trayvon jumped out of a bush and sucker punched him.

Then he said that Trayvon asked him, well -- in another interview, he said, Trayvon asked him, you got a problem? He said, no, man, I don't have a problem, as he was looking down to get his phone out of his pocket, or reaching into his pocket, he said, Trayvon hit him. Then he said that when Trayvon was on top of him, he said, you're going to die tonight, MF. Then he said when Trayvon shot him, Trayvon said, you got me.

And continued to talk as he proceeded to climb on Trayvon's back to pull -- to check him to see if he had any weapons, so those were the things that I thought stood out to the jury. One of the things that Detective Serino said that was very interesting to the jury because I was watching them. He said that the injuries that George Zimmerman suffered were very minor and they were not consistent with being hit 20 to 30 times.

MORGAN: There also is no apparent evidence, and none has emerged so far, that there was any of George Zimmerman's DNA on Trayvon's fists or that Trayvon's fist were bruised in anyway, which is sort of what you'd expect if he had indeed punched him in the face.

JACKSON: Exactly. Exactly. And that was one of the things that I think when you saw the third interview, this is after they've done the walk-through and after they talked to -- talked to George Zimmerman briefly the first night, you start to see them really questioning his story. Doris Singleton, she's pointed out that she didn't see the bush that George Zimmerman -- that Trayvon could have jumped out of it. She said Trayvon was a tall and skinny kid. So where was he hiding?

They question him about being hit, they questioned him about, you know, not saying, when confronted by Trayvon, according to him, he said Trayvon said, what are you following me for? And he said, nothing, and reached into his pocket. They questioned, why didn't you just say, I'm neighborhood watch? And he said that it wasn't his job.

MORGAN: Right. Yes, and it's all very confusing. The thing I found confusing listening to it this morning was, why he didn't know the street names when there are only three street names in that particular area? He knows that area. Why would he feign total lack of knowledge when there's just three street names?

JACKSON: Well, I think that's very telling because the biggest -- the biggest I think piece of evidence against George Zimmerman is his own words to the -- to the nonemergency officer, where he said that Trayvon -- he goes oh, S, he's running, and he gets out of his car. The dispatch asked, are you following him? He said, yes, and he said, we don't need you to do that. He says OK.

Well, he told -- Detective Singleton and Detective Serino that he got out of his car to look for an address. That's very inconsistent and that's very self-serving. And I think that goes to who confronted, who was the aggressor.

MORGAN: How do we settle this? And final question, Natalie, and briefly if you may, having settled this, the problem you have, surely as a prosecutor here, is that the key witness, the one person that can really, really answer these questions is dead, and that's Trayvon.

Under Florida law, if you were just listening to those police testimonies today, you would say that the law of probability now is that they will probably succeed in defending George Zimmerman under the way Florida law works. Unless some new evidence comes to light.

JACKSON: I will refer you balk to Rachel Jeantel who said she was on the phone when she heard it. She said she heard George Zimmerman approach Trayvon and she said Trayvon say get off. I believe that's why the prosecution put her on. And if you question her inconsistencies, which -- she had a few inconsistent wording. So did George Zimmerman. So did Jon Good. So did all of these witnesses. This is a year and a half later. So I think the jury will take all of this into consideration.

MORGAN: Natalie Jackson, always good to talk to you. We'll have Rachel Jeantel's lawyer --

JACKSON: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: -- coming later in the show. Good to talk to you for now.

Now I want to bring in Alex Ferrer. He's a former Florida Circuit Court judge. And also the host of television's "Judge Alex."

Alex Ferrer, a fascinating day mainly because, as I said earlier, you heard everything from George Zimmerman's mouth and he was pretty contemporaneous, recorded on the evening of this attack. What did you make of it in totality?

ALEX FERRER, HOST, "JUDGE ALEX": Well, in totality, Piers, you know, I was on your show just the other day, and I was telling you how it looked like. Every day the state was giving information that was beneficial to the defense through their own -- very own witnesses. Today is absolutely no different.

With no disrespect to Miss Jackson, I know she has her viewpoint on it, but I'm looking at it from the standpoint of a judge. The elements of the crime that have to be proven by the state, it seems like every day in this trial the state calls witnesses, they get a point from the witness, and the defense gets a point or two from the witness. It's like -- it's like the movie "Groundhog's Day." We relive it every single day.

Today was no different. They called the homicide detectives and the other detective -- the other officer who testified today, to testify about the interviews and the interrogation of George Zimmerman. There are inconsistencies in there, there are minimal inconsistencies when you're looking at them from the standpoint of the elements that have to be proven.

Did he jump out of the bushes or did he come out of the darkness? Did he circle the car completely or not circle the car completely? What the prosecution has to prove is that he acted out of ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent in order to get second-degree murder.

MORGAN: Right.

FERRER: The question has been asked to many witnesses, Piers, including the two police officers today, both of whom said they saw no evidence, no trace of ill will, hatred, or spite, whatsoever. In fact, they threw another bon into the defense's tent here because the homicide detective said, when I had learned that he was mentoring African-American children, I realized this had nothing to do with profiling. I don't know how it could get much worse for the prosecution, to be honest with you.

MORGAN: Yes, pretty tough. And the things that I picked up on, which I felt would be useful to the defense, may be completely irrelevant. You know, the fact that he got out of the vehicle, the fact that he should have known the streets.

FERRER: Yes.

MORGAN: Because there are only three streets. All that kind of stuff really, if I take what you told me the other night, is really immaterial, because what matters is when they actually got fighting, did George Zimmerman genuinely fear for his life? And if he did, under Florida law, that he can claim self-defense.

FERRER: You are 100 percent right. You know, should he know the street names, yes. The reason he didn't know the street names, I believe, just between you and me and the millions who watch you, because he got out of the car to see where Trayvon Martin went. Not to look at the street sign. But under Florida law, that makes no difference. That does not constitute stalking, under Florida law. It is not illegal.

You can follow anybody you want. You can walk up to a stranger in your neighborhood and say, what are you doing here? The guy can go --

MORGAN: Right.

FERRER: Can tell you to take a jump off a pier, but it's not illegal. So the parts that really -- the thing that the jury is going to focus on is, did he have to shoot? In his mind. Was it reasonable for him to believe that he was -- facing death or serious bodily injury? If they believe that it was reasonable, regardless of what the seriousness of his injuries are, because he doesn't have an X-ray machine with him to tell him if his nose is broken or not.

If they believe that under those circumstances it was reasonable to fear serious bodily injury, they're going to find him not guilty because of self-defense.

MORGAN: Let's play a clip. This is from the cross-examination by Mark O'Mara of Chris Serino, the detective. Let's see what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'MARA: The fact that George Zimmerman said to you, thank god, I hope somebody did videotape the event or the whole event, what -- his statement, what did that indicate to you?

SERINO: Either he was telling the truth or he was a complete pathological liar.

O'MARA: You think he was telling the truth?

SERINO: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And let me ask you, Alex for your reaction. And also, the question I asked Natalie Jackson, which is, is it naive of me to assume that the police would say this kind of thing primarily because of all the criticism they got after the fact that they didn't charge Zimmerman on the night? In other words, this is really corroborating their own positions?

FERRER: That -- obviously not the least bit naive. That's a perfect question to ask you, and yes, you can always say the officers in this case were motivated to -- to make it look like they were making the right decision when they decided not to charge.

The problem is, if that's what it is, if it's a cover-up, a massive cover-up, they had all this evidence to present that showed second- degree murder and they didn't present it, then where is that evidence? The prosecution can't -- the prosecution can't produce it, it just doesn't exist, and that clip you just played is crucial.

Here you have the homicide detective saying, he did what I've done to people before, I used to be a police officer, and you get somebody there, and you think they're lying to you, you make up evidence, your codefendant just confessed and told us he put it all on you. You make up evidence to see if they crack.

He made up evidence and said, we think we're going to have video of what happened here with all the phones that were here. And what did Zimmerman say? Thank god, I was praying that somebody was videotaping what happened to me. You know, and then, he finishes it by saying, and I believed he was telling the truth. I mean, I really don't imagine how it could have gotten worse for the state.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Right.

FERRER: Now here's one thing, though, Piers.

MORGAN: Very tough. Very -- yes?

FERRER: There is one more thing. Remember, they charged with second- degree murder, but the jury will be instructed on manslaughter. It is possible that the prosecution always, and they're not supposed to do this, intended to shoot high with the hopes that the jury will settle for manslaughter. They're not supposed to do that. But if that happens, if the jury convicts manslaughter, Zimmerman is as done as if he would have been for second-degree murder because for manslaughter of the child or with a firearm, it's 30 years in prison maximum.

MORGAN: All right. Fascinating. Judge Alex, thank you very much indeed.

When we come back the star witness so far in this case, Rachel Jeantel. Could she be called back to the stand? I'll speak to her lawyer after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAYVON MARTIN: I asked him how the man looked like. He looked like a creepy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cracker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Rachel Jeantel on the stand last week. Her testimony turned her into a star witness in the George Zimmerman trial. Will she be called back to testify?

Well, joining me now is her attorney, Ron Vereen.

Ron, thank you very much indeed for joining me. That's the obvious question. Do you think that she will be called back at this stage?

RON VEREEN, ATTORNEY FOR RACHEL JEANTEL: Absolutely not. I think this was just a tactic by the defense to keep her from speaking with the press once she had finished testifying in court last Thursday.

MORGAN: And what do you think about the reaction to her testimony? Particularly the charge, I guess, that lays itself at your door that she was somehow underprepared or underrehearsed?

VEREEN: Well, as you know, Piers, you and I spoke, and I became Rachel's lawyer last week, and that was by request of some individuals that attend church with her, that are former law enforcement officers that believed that she was not really prepared to go to Sanford and testify in the case, that she had absolutely no clue as to what was getting ready to take place.

It is the prosecution's job to prepare the witness. It was not my job to prepare the witness. I do not know the theory that the prosecution is operating under. I do not know what theory they want to espouse before the jury.

It was my job to try to explain to her what the dynamics of the courtroom were going to be. She didn't understand that there was going to be this good cop/bad cop mentality amongst the lawyers. That the prosecution was going to scintilly (ph) coddle her when the defense attorneys were going to try to rip her apart.

And so I tried to get her to understand that this is what's going to happen. You're going to have, you know, the prosecution ask you questions and usually they go over the questions and answers with the witness to make sure that they understand what they're going to ask them. However, when it comes to the defense, they do not know what the defense is going to ask. They usually try to play the devil's advocate and ask the questions. But in this particular case, you know, trying to decide what questions Don West was going to ask was pretty hard for the prosecution.

This is a witness that should have been on the stand for no more than an hour. However, she ended up being on the stand for five and a half hours over the span of two days.

MORGAN: But not withstanding all that, you know, my gut feeling after watching much of it in real time as it happened, was, although she was quite aggressive at times, responding to Mr. West in that way, and clearly didn't really want to be there, that there was a real authenticity to the evidence she was given, that I found very believable. That was just me watching as a viewer.

VEREEN: Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, her testimony was completely unrehearsed and it was obvious that it was unrehearsed. You know, the demeanor that she had in the courtroom was the result of a confrontation that she had with Mr. West at the prior depositions of the two days that she sat down with him when he tried to brow beat her then. So when she walked into the courtroom she tried to maintain her composure.

And Mr. West did exactly what he did in the depositions, that he attacked her and put her on the defense. Now she's a 19-year-old young lady from the innercity and had no experience in the courtroom whatsoever. She's not trained to be a witness. It took a lot of courage for her to come out of her shell to be a witness. She tried to avoid being in the limelight at all costs. She first told her mother that she had information, her mother wanted her to sit down and speak with Mr. Crump.

She told her mother to tell Mr. Crump, no, she didn't want to speak to him. When she decided to write a letter to Sybrina, as to what she recalls happened on that night, she used her nickname Diamond Eugene because she didn't want to reveal her real name. Because she didn't want the media getting hold of that. She told them that she was 16 years old, again because she didn't want the media getting ahold to her name.

And so she tried to avoid being a witness in this particular case. She didn't ask to be there. But once she was placed under subpoena, she did what she's required to do. She came into that courtroom and she testified. She's been attacked in the court of public opinion not because of what she said. But because of the way she looks. The fact that she -- you know, she speaks English not as well as some would expect her to speak, even though that is her third language.

And they tried to make her look like she was, one, stupid, and two, that, you know, somehow she doesn't know what she's talking about. And I think she defended herself very well.

MORGAN: And this one -- this one line, Ron, about the creepy ass cracker which got a lot of attention. When you heard her say that, did you think that was a mistake, that it was obviously a racist comment or a very offensive comment?

VEREEN: Well, unfortunately, that is the vernacular of young teenagers these days. And one of the things I find troubling. OK, and we just go back and talk about inconsistencies and statements made by witnesses in this particular case. When I looked at the videotape of Mr. Zimmerman talking about what Trayvon Martin supposedly said to him, when he said something, I'm going to kill you, homey. And he used the word homey, that is so 10 years ago.

That I knew right then and there that could not have possibly come out of Trayvon Martin's mouth. I'm going to kill you, homey. That is not the term, that is not the vernacular used by these young teenagers today. That is not what he would have said.

And so I have a problem with some of the testimony that I hear coming out now.

MORGAN: Fascinating point.

VEREEN: You know, and when you really want to talk about some of the inconsistencies, look at the videotape of Mr. Zimmerman when he's talking about what took place out in the alley. When he said that he mounts Trayvon Martin from behind. First of all, Trayvon Martin got shot in the heart.

And so it's no way possible that he -- possible that he would have been able to say, you got me, throw his hands up, sit up there for a minute until Zimmerman is able to knock him over to the side, mount him and according to Mr. Zimmerman on the videotape, he said he straddles Trayvon and stretches his hands from left to right. That he pulls his hands out away from his body.

But when the body is found by law enforcement, his hands were tucked up under him. How did that happen? So you want to talk about inconsistencies, just go back and look at the videotape of Mr. Zimmerman, when he's giving the second or third statement to law enforcement about what took place. This -- and so when folks say, this was a victory for the defense, I doubt it, and I differ.

MORGAN: Ron Vereen, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

VEREEN: My pleasure.

MORGAN: Let's bring in now civil rights attorney Gloria Allred and Jose Baez, a criminal defense attorney, represented Casey Anthony. He's also the author of "Presumed Guilty," and he was hired by lead investigator, Detective Chris Serino, to represent him in his deposition.

Welcome to both of you.

Gloria, your reaction to what Ron Vereen was saying, the lawyer for Rachel Jeantel? Said some fascinating stuff.

GLORIA ALLRED, CIVIL RIGHT ATTORNEY: He did. And most fascinating to me was he was only hired last week. And I don't know how much time, though, he spent with her. Apparently he believes that really it is the job of the district attorney to coach or prepare the witness.

I think that she would have benefited if he had been retained prior to her deposition. Because once she gives her deposition under oath, then she's locked in to what she said, unless, of course, she corrects it afterwards, which she has an opportunity to do. But she's going to be cross examined on that. Also, he said that he did not know what the defense theory of the case was. It would have been helpful to whomever was preparing her, to understand the defense theory of the case.

Finally, I would say that he does appear to be an advocate for the prosecution and the witness has to understand that her job is not to be an advocate for the prosecution or to be an advocate for the defense, but to be neutral, just to tell the truth as she recollects it, as it happened and then not to try to advocate for one side or another.

MORGAN: Gloria, stay with me. Jose, we'll come to you after the break. I want to know if you think George Zimmerman should take the stand? Because that remains an unanswered question. Would it now help or hurt him? Particularly after today's quite stunning testimony.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: Somebody here opened the door. And I said, help me, help me. And they said, I'll call 911, I said, no, help me, I need help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: George Zimmerman, in his own dramatic words, describing his confrontation with Trayvon Martin in police video played for the jury in court today.

Back with me now, Gloria Allred and Jose Baez.

Jose, a fascinating day, I think. Probably the most fascinating so far. You're obviously involved a little bit with Detective Serino. How did you think his testimony went down today?

JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY'S FORMER ATTORNEY: Well, Chris is a straight shooter. He's going to tell it like it is, no matter which side it helps. And that's exactly what he's doing. And that's why a lot of people are claiming that well, this was a good day for the defense but Chris is basically good. He's under oath and he's going to tell the truth and tell it like it is.

MORGAN: Isn't he also, though, to play devil's advocate on this. Isn't he also going to confirm really why he and his colleagues took the actions they did on that night? In the sense that there was a lot of outrage that there had been no charge whatsoever laid at George Zimmerman? And because they both come out today and give extensive testimony, saying, yes, we found him very credible, and consistent and so on, that lends sucker to why they didn't do anything?

BAEZ: I would disagree because if you look at the situation, they're not the ones that make the charging decision. That would have been the state attorney's job. They had spoken with the state attorney previously who had rejected to do a direct file. And before they would make a decision on the capeas, the case was taken away and moved to Jacksonville. So if Detective Serino had not done what he had done, we wouldn't have all these statements. If they had arrested him immediately, they wouldn't have the walkthrough where the jury can now see him at the scene and take him through the evidence piece by piece, and all this evidence that the prosecution is using, they wouldn't have it if it weren't for the cooler heads of Detective Serino and company.

MORGAN: We also have of course the evidence from Detective Singleton. Let's listen to what she had to say, and particularly her relevance about the religious aspect of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DET. DORIS SINGLETON, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: I remember being in the room with him and I had a silver cross on. And I had a V-neck shirt and you could see the cross. Just small but one that showed the cross. He asked me if I was Catholic, when I asked him why, he said he had noticed the cross. I said, no, I'm Christian, why does it matter? He said, because in Catholic religion it's always wrong to kill somebody.

I said well, if what you're telling me how it happened is true, then I don't think that's what god meant. He didn't mean that you couldn't save your own life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, Gloria, I found that absolutely extraordinary testimony. I mean, basically saying listen, this is all fine because it's god's will.

ALLRED: Well, I don't interpret what George Zimmerman said that way. I interpret it, or I guess one could spin any way one wants. But I interpret it as he is indicating that he feels some pang that perhaps -- you know, it was wrong that he killed even though, of course, his position is he did it in self-defense. Although he didn't say that in that exchange. She then is actually helpful to him by suggesting that god would understand, essentially if you did it in some circumstances.

MORGAN: But that was the --

ALLRED: To save your own life.

MORGAN: Right. But that was the theme of two detective who gave extensive testimony today. Very supportive to George Zimmerman in the sense he was always very consistent with us, he was very calm in his demeanor, you know, that's effectively why we didn't recommend any charges and that's why we believe he acted in self-defense. I mean, powerful weapons for the defense.

ALLRED: Very powerful. And in addition, some of the law enforcement personnel were very, very assertive with him, very aggressive. They were really trying to pin him down and now he's probably not going to have to testify, because there's a video re-enactment. There's the audio, there's the video also of him speaking to a law enforcement officer. He's also, though the defense, of course, laying out his defense through the prosecution witnesses saying, for example, that Trayvon Martin said, you're going to die tonight.

And so establishing a reasonable belief of imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, great harm. And that's what he's got to show. And then the prosecution is going to have to show that he was not in a reasonable belief of imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, so it's interesting that his defense is being laid out through these law enforcement prosecution witnesses.

MORGAN: Right. And Jose Baez, I mean, probably highly unlikely given that situation that he will give evidence now, George Zimmerman, and as I keep saying, regardless of what anyone thinks of this case, the reality is that probably the key witness Trayvon Martin is dead, and without that, you're left with George Zimmerman's version of events.

BAEZ: Well, there's no reason to put him on. All of his statements are already in, and you've got him on video making these statements, and the whole walkthrough. There's more that he's done through these statements to make his case that he could ever do on the stand.

Now bear in mind one critical fact, though. The decision is not the lawyer's decision whether to put him on, it's going to be George Zimmerman's decision. And this is the same person that wild horses couldn't drag away from the police and would make statement after statement after statement, and he actually went on TV and gave an interview.

So, you know, this is a person who wants to be heard and wants to tell his story. So there -- he may actually make that decision. But I certainly -- I certainly wouldn't advise him.

MORGAN: Right.

ALLRED: Well, my guess is that he feels probably at this point that his defense lawyers are doing such a good job for him, that now he will pay attention to their advice and their advice most likely is, don't take the witness stand.

MORGAN: Right. Absolutely.

BAEZ: I would agree with that.

MORGAN: Gloria, thank you both very much indeed. Thank you both very much.

When we come back, the appalling wildfire that killed 19 hero firefighters is still burning tonight in Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer says the tragedy is unbearable. I'll talk to her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The news is heartbreaking. And our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the brave firefighters who were out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama paying tribute to 19 hero firefighters who died on Sunday in Arizona. Massive wildfire that killed them are still burning out of control right now. It's the deadliest event for firefighters since 9/11. Two hundred homes have been destroyed, another 8400 acres have burned. And right now, hundreds of firefighters are putting their lives on the line again, trying to bring the blaze under some kind of control.

Jan Brewer is Arizona's governor and she joins me live from Phoenix.

Governor, thank you so much for joining me. And please accept my deepest condolences to you and everyone in Arizona on this devastating tragedy.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Thank you. It is very much appreciated. I'm sure from everyone that's watching, but certainly from everybody in Arizona. We've had a terrible, terrible tragic day in Arizona. It's painful.

MORGAN: These men were some of the bravest firefighters and most highly trained in America. Do you know yet what happened here to cause such a calamitous loss of life?

BREWER: Well, don't really actually know. There's going to be an intense investigation taking place. But we assumed that the fire burned up, and then because of the thunderstorms and the wind, it turned on them, and then there was no way for them to leave the area in which they were in. In other words, their exit area was now on fire, so there was nowhere for them to go, so they sheltered down, putting the shelter over them, and holding it down with their hands and feet and hoping that the fire would blow across them, and it did not. It was not successful at this time.

These were experienced, well-trained courageous boys that knew what they were doing, but it just didn't help them today. You know, they were out there defending neighbors and friends and family. They're all from the Prescott area. So lots of people in that community knew them personally, so today when we were up there, it was very bitter. Very, very bitter.

You know, Piers, it's heartbreaking to think that the normal age of these young men were -- I think they said 22 years old, just starting life. And yet they had that courage, they're truly heroes, and they've traveled across the country to other places, and then to have them lose their lives in this terrible day, this terrible tragedy, in their own backyard just is -- just unbelievable. Unbelievable.

MORGAN: I've seen how profoundly it affected you being by this. In all your time as a governor, have you had to deal with anything that's hit you quite as hard as this in the state?

BREWER: No, I don't believe so. You know, we've had many challenges in Arizona, terrible things that have happened, but there is certainly something to be said that 19 people that are out there trying to protect people, and that are well-trained, and then to be caught in a fury of flames and not being able to get out and dying, it's just -- it's got to be -- every time I think of it, I know how painful it is for me to think about it.

I can't imagine how painful it must be for their family and the people that knew them. It just -- I said earlier today, it's just -- it's almost unbearable. Unbearable. I don't know if that's the mother in me or the governor in me, or just the humanity in me. But it's just terrible. Just terrible. Nineteen young men giving their lives.

MORGAN: Governor, I really -- just a horrendous, horrendous thing.

Governor, I really appreciate you taking time from what's been a very, very busy day for you to come on the show tonight and pay tribute to them. Thank you very much.

BREWER: Thank you very much, Piers.

MORGAN: Now I want to bring in Wade Ward. He's a spokesman for the Prescott, Arizona, Fire Department. Also Dav Fulford-Brown, close friend of fallen Hotshot Chris MacKenzie, he joins me by phone.

Wade Ward, obviously as the governor said there, quite appalling and devastating tragedy has befallen the area today. And these firemen, these Hotshots, to lose so many in one incident like this, a terrible blow for you?

WADE WARD, PRESCOTT, ARIZONA FIRE DEPARTMENT: Yes, it's an absolutely horrible situation, a tragic for all of us.

MORGAN: In terms of the investigation into what happened, do you have any more insight into how they found themselves in such an awful situation?

WARD: No, at this point the fire is still under investigation. Unfortunately, now we have three incidents in our hands. One, we're dealing with an active fire that's still growing. And we have an incident within the incident and we're trying to deal with the investigation of how this acts really happened. And we're dealing with our families here at home, so this is compounded for us, and it's a very tragic situation.

MORGAN: How much does this fire -- the scale and power of it being exacerbated by the incredibly high temperatures we've been seeing in the last few days? We heard that temperatures could go as high as 102 degrees. Is that making it a lot worse than a fire like this normally would be at this time of year?

WARD: Yes, the temperatures actually in Prescott are reaching 102 degrees down in the valley where Yarnell is. I don't know exactly the temperatures, but they get into the, you know, 105 to 110 degrees. And I can't speak exactly as to how this happened because we don't know at this point, but I can tell you that when you've got hot dry conditions and hot flashy fields like we were fighting the fire down there, there's a lot that can happen.

MORGAN: Wade Ward, I'm so sorry to all of you down there connected with these heroes. It's an awful, awful thing to have happened. And you have our deepest condolences.

WARD: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: Now I want to speak to Dav Fulford-Brown, one of his friends, Chris MacKenzie, was one of the elite Hotshots who lost his life.

Dav, you must be devastated by what's happened?

DAV FULFORD-BROWN, FRIEND OF CHRIS MCKENZIE (via phone): Absolutely. I mean, I've lost a brother, and it's unreal. It's unbelievable, we're all in shock. And when something like this comes up, you're never prepared to get that call.

MORGAN: You were a childhood friend of Chris', you were a former roommate of his, and you and he were firefighters together in your hometown of Hemet in California. Tell me about him, what kind of man was he?

FULFORD-BROWN: He was the best kind. I mean, outgoing. You know, his father was a fire captain for California truck fire. And, you know, I think he really enjoyed falling in his father's footsteps and making his dad proud. And he loved the outdoors. He loved being active. In, you know, the offseasons, he was an avid snowboarder. And just an all around great guy, and just one of the best friends you could ever hope for. And it's just such a terrible loss. And I just left from his mother's house. And everyone's just -- it's just really heavy and it's hard to handle this.

MORGAN: These men were known as the Hotshots. They were the best of the best firefighters that America has. Do you have any inkling yourself as to how so many of them have lost their lives in this situation?

FULFORD-BROWN: That's not something that I could really comment on. I'm just as in the dark as everyone else. I mean, being a former firefighter myself, you know, the training you go through is incredible, and for this to happen, and for an entire crew to be taken from us, it just --it blows my mind. I can't even imagine what could have went wrong. Because this -- it's unbelievable.

MORGAN: Absolutely terrible. Dav Fulford-Brown, I'm so grateful to you for calling in, and I'm just so sorry for your loss and the loss of everyone who had any connection either friends or family of these 19 heroes. Thank you for joining me.

FULFORD-BROWN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Such an awful story.

Coming up, death in Vegas. A Cirque du Soleil acrobat forced to her death in front of a stunned audience. Master wire-walker Nik Wallenda tells me what it's like to risk your life on the high wire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling, Nik?

NIK WALLENDA, TIGHTROPE WALKER: Good. A lot of wind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know it's out there. Just -- you're doing the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Extreme tightrope walker Nik Wallenda risked his life above the Grand Canyon last week on Discovery. Now just day later a tragic accident during a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas claims the life of an acrobat. I'll ask Nik Wallenda what it's like to face danger every time he performs.

Nik, thank you for joining me. Obviously we all watched in great awe your stunning performance last week. Really one of the most extraordinary things I've seen in a long time. And then we get reminded over the weekend of when these things go wrong, how tragedy can just be so close to these kinds of things.

What was your reaction when you heard about this poor woman and her death?

WALLENDA: Well, of course, deeply saddened and my condolences go out to her and her entire family, as well as the Cirque du Soleil family.

You know, it's always sad to see a tragedy like this in any industry and, of course, in our industry it -- you know, it hits close to home for sure. You know, I think the biggest issue and the biggest thing we can learn from this is really -- you know, my father's my head rigger and safety coordinator. The reason is, is because rigging is so key.

Many people have seen the video of my great grandfather losing his life walking across two buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And the cause of his death was really rigging failure. And from what I gathered the first bits of information that I've gotten is this was a rigging failure again that cost this woman her life.

But I have to say Cirque du Soleil has done an incredible job in 30 years and thousands of shows around the world. This is the first death that has ever happened in the history of their company on stage.

MORGAN: That's right. And the woman's name is Sarah Guyard-Guillot, and the Cirque du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte, gave a statement. Listen -- watch the statement.

Actually, we don't have it on tape. I'll read it to you. He said, "We are heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We're completely devastated with this news. Sassoon was an artist with the original cast of KA since 2006, has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family. We're reminded with great humility and respect how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus is now to support each other as a family." As you say, they have an amazing safety record, Nik. You yourself, your family suffered tragedy in this area. Your great grandfather Karl Wallenda fell to his death during a high-wire act when he was 73. And you could easily have done the other day. You were just one trip away, aren't you, from calamity?

WALLENDA: It's -- it is true. But really it comes down to training and preparation. The reason my great, grandfather lost his life which is that wire was rigged improperly and very unstable under his feet, which caused him to do what I was taught my whole life, which is go down to the safety of that wire, and he did that. The sad part was he was 73 and had a double hernia and an injured collarbone and just couldn't hold on.

I've trained my entire life since I was 2 to actually go down and grab that wire. If there were any issues while crossing the Great Canyon, that wire is always a safe haven. It's always at my feet. And gravity is always going to pull me down. We knew the winds weren't going to be strong enough to pick me up and blow me off that wire. And I would have went down and held on. I have rescue teams standing by. But you're right. I mean, it is dangerous what we do for sure. And this, you know, sad loss of life is just proof of that.

MORGAN: It has. Very sad for her and sad for Cirque du Soleil.

And Nik Wallenda, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

WALLENDA: Thanks so much.

MORGAN: And we'll be right back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: And Anderson Cooper, CNN's special "Self-Defense or Murder: The George Zimmerman Trial" starts in a moment. Before we go, I want to pay tribute to 19 real American heroes, the Granite Mountain Hotshots who gave their lives fighting the Yarnell Fire.

Good night.