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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
George Zimmerman Trial Day Seven; Zimmerman Trial in Black and White; From O.J. to Trayvon; Interview with J. Cheney Mason; Interview with Star Jones; Family's Memories of Fallen Firefighter
Aired July 2, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Tonight, who is the real George Zimmerman?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Do you know a person by the name of George Zimmerman?
MARK OSTERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FRIEND: Very well.
O'MARA: And would you consider him a very good friend?
OSTERMAN: Best friend I've ever had.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: In your opinion, calling somebody in reference to them as -- pardon my language -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) punks?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is ill will and spite.
DE LA RIONDA: It is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Well, the dramatic day in court. My experts break down today's testimony.
Also the man who defended Casey Anthony was in court today. He joins me exclusively.
Plus a case that divides America, issues of race, class, media excess, not on Trayvon Martin. O.J. Simpson, he was acquitted 20 years ago. Have we learned anything since then? The man who tried O.J., Christopher Darden, joins me exclusively.
I'll also ask former homicide prosecutor Star Jones why she says you'll never get a perfect witness in any case, especially this one.
But I want to begin with day seven of the trial America is talking about and debating. CNN's Martin Savidge is live for us outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida.
Martin, another day, another dramatic series of witnesses, testimony. What is your overview of how today went?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly right. I mean, it was a day that had something for everybody in this particular case, whether you're the defense, the prosecution or sitting on the sidelines rooting each.
I think one of the highlights had to be the medical examiner that came and went on the stand. That's Dr. Valerie Rao and she has some very interesting exchanges, both with the prosecution and with the defense. But I want to start off with when she was being asked by the defense about were there any injuries to Trayvon Martin, his body, that were found. This was a particular point for the defense. Were there injuries to his hands? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE RAO, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Those are not cuts, those were abrasions. So, because cut suggests sharp force injury and they are actually where the skin is rubbed off on Trayvon Martin's hand, correct.
O'MARA: Are those consistent with striking somebody?
O'MARA: The only injuries, as a matter of fact, you saw is the gunshot wound, two injuries on his knuckles, correct?
O'MARA: Any other injuries on Trayvon Martin at all?
O'MARA: Any bruising injury?
O'MARA: Any laceration injuries?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Now the medical examiner actually spent a lot of time not talking about the victim in this particular case but talking about the injuries to the defendant, and that's George Zimmerman. And she basically said that the injuries that she saw -- now remember she never actually physical saw him, she's looking at photographs, some medical records, she said they looked insignificant, was the word that she actually used.
And that she said she really didn't believe his head had been slammed onto the concrete as severely as George Zimmerman had said, which a key point for the defense.
MORGAN: The other interesting witness was Mark Osterman who was purporting to be George Zimmerman's best friend. Now he wrote a book in which there was pretty glaring inconsistencies, not least of which the fact that he claimed George Zimmerman had told him that Trayvon had actually grabbed the gun.
SAVIDGE: Yes, right, and we should point out it was Osterman who encouraged Zimmerman to buy that gun in the first place, but you're right. In his testimony on the stand today Osterman says, quoting his book, that at one point George Zimmerman told him that Trayvon Martin not actually just went after the gun but physically got his hand on the gun. That's crucial, again, from the court today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA RIONDA: You didn't refer to the holster when you wrote it down in the book, correct? You just put gun?
DE LA RIONDA: Right?
OSTERMAN: The holster is -- that's exactly the place where the holster holds the firearm in place. So whether it was the actual firearm or holster, I didn't see a difference if someone grabs a hold of the holster and grabs a hold of the gun during intent is probably the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Well, the prosecution sees a big difference because what they're going to point out is that there was no DNA of Trayvon Martin that was found on that gun and no fingerprints of Trayvon Martin found on the gun. Hence, he didn't touch that gun which means George Zimmerman, once again, is caught in this not quite telling the truth or not quite getting it straight.
MORGAN: And very quickly, Martin, what can we expect tomorrow?
SAVIDGE: Tomorrow, I think we're probably going to hear from the person who actually did the autopsy. But the most interesting person is going to be a professor who taught law enforcement law to George Zimmerman. In order words, the prosecution is going to try and point out George Zimmerman knew a lot about law enforcement, thereby he might be able to foil the investigators. That could be very fascinating.
MORGAN: Yes. Could be fascinating.
Martin Savidge, as always, thank you very much. Terrific job you're doing down there on what is a dramatic court case.
Joining me now to break down all the twists and turns in this case so far, Marc Lamont Hill, HuffPost Live host and Columbia University professor, also Jayne Weintraub who's a defense attorney.
Welcome to you both.
Marc Lamont Hill, it's very, very difficult to assess this case, despite everybody's efforts to try and say it's not about race without bringing the race element into it, isn't it?
MARC LAMONT HILL, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Oh, absolutely. This case has been shot through with race from the very beginning. We saw the way the police responded to the killing of Trayvon Martin. We saw their failure to investigate, we saw the slow investigation, the fact that they tested Trayvon and not George Zimmerman for toxins in his body.
All those things were drawn on racial lines. This became a racialized conversation. And since the trial has started, it's only gotten worse when Rachel took the stand, when the term cracker comes up, that become as racial conversation. When -- I mean, it's unimaginable that this trial isn't about race.
The question, though, is can the jurors make an objective determination not from a place where they don't -- where they pretend race doesn't exist, but from a place where they can hold it at arm's length and make a fair judgment.
MORGAN: I mean, let me ask you one thing, Marc. We've heard George Zimmerman in his own words from the various interviews that he gave at the time using phrases like A-holes, effing punks and so on. The one thing we haven't heard from him is any racial epithet. And if you study his background in terms of other people that he had reported and so on, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that he's being a serial racial profiler in that sense. You know, is it -- is it unfair to him --
HILL: Yes, I don't think he is.
MORGAN: To suggest that he is a racial profiler?
HILL: You know, I think those are two different things. There is no evidence that he's a serial racial profiler. George Zimmerman seems to be somebody who takes -- who self-deputizes. Who makes himself a law enforcement agent and who decides who is dangerous and who isn't. And we -- when he saw a young African American male armed with nothing but Skittles in a hoodie, he saw that as dangerous and that is in it of itself a racial profile and that racial profile turned into a killing.
That's the problem. So no, he shouldn't be let off the hook for this. This was racialized determination. Whether it's legally guilty or not, we don't know yet. But it's certainly racialized determination.
MORGAN: OK. To Jayne Weintraub, difficult question for you is if Trayvon Martin had been white, would George Zimmerman have gone to all this trouble to follow him, report him and generally treat him like a criminal suspect. He's been called a suspect even through the attorneys in the courtroom?
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that he would have, Piers, and the reason that I say that is based on who George Zimmerman is. He's the want-to-be cop. He's the guy who wants to be the neighborhood watchman. If he saw somebody in a hoodie on a rainy night, he didn't see the Skittles, he didn't see anything in the person's hand, and I don't think it's about race.
I think it's about what was in his mind at the time that they came into contact with each other and sure, racial profiling, if that happened, is wrong. It awful. It's even a crime. It's a civil rights violation, but that's not what he's charged with. He is charged with second-degree murder, with hatred and ill will, and even the first speaker just now said he doesn't think he's a serial racist. So he doesn't evince the hatred and ill will that's necessary for a murder conviction.
Look the state is trying to prove --
HILL: No, no, again, that two different things. I said he wasn't serial. I didn't say this wasn't serious. Right. He did it the first -- he did it this time. I'm just saying there is no evidence that he's done it many other times.
WEINTRAUB: Look, there was --
HILL: And you're right, I don't think he said.
HILL: There is a black guy. He said there is a dangerous guy but there is nothing inherently dangerous about a hoodie. There's nothing inherently dangerous about his --
WEINTRAUB: And the only people that are talking about race are the prosecution witnesses to evince a motion.
Let's remember what the evidence was. You know, I was a former prosecutor --
HILL: (INAUDIBLE) defense.
WEINTRAUB: I was a prosecutor, hold on. The police determined after a full investigation that there wasn't sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, which is what they need to prove a case. So two weeks later, the prosecutor giving, I think, outside pressure, decided on her own to make the charge of murder, and I believe that she succumbed to the apparent pressure.
Remember that in Florida, we have a grand jury. If it was the community pressure, she could have given this case to a grand jury and decided what, if any, charges to bring. But she did not do that. She's an elected official and we have to put this all in perspective --
MORGAN: But Jayne, Jayne, Jayne.
WEINTRAUB: The --
MORGAN: Let me jump in. Let me jump in.
HILL: But that argument --
MORGAN: Mark, let me just ask Jayne a question. Do you accept, though, having said all this that had George Zimmerman simply stayed in his vehicle -- he'd already rung the authority. They had already told him not to pursue Trayvon Martin. If he just stayed where he was, did as he was told, the police had turned up. They would quickly have established Trayvon Martin was unarmed and harmless --
WEINTRAUB: Then we wouldn't be here.
MORGAN: Minding his own business.
WEINTRAUB: Nobody should be armed.
MORGAN: Exactly. So why -- why should George Zimmerman not be punished --
WEINTRAUB: Because he's not --
MORGAN: -- for ignoring the advice he was given, getting out of the vehicle, following Trayvon Martin, and then getting into some altercation, pulling out a gun and killing him in cold blood?
WEINTRAUB: I'll tell you what.
MORGAN: Surely there has to be --
WEINTRAUB: I'll tell you what.
MORGAN: Whether it's murder or not, doesn't there have to be some accountability?
WEINTRAUB: Piers, Piers, I'll show you why. Because he didn't get out of his car to go kill him. He went out of his car to investigate, to follow him and to check it out. Those are not crimes.
HILL: Against police orders.
WEINTRAUB: That's not what he's charged with. Should he not have had a gun?
HILL: Against police orders.
WEINTRAUB: Of course, he shouldn't have a gun. I don't think anyone should. As a parent of a -- you know, of a 14-year-old and 21- year-old I look at this and what a tragedy, but I'm looking at it as a lawyer analyzing evidence, Piers, and that's what we have to do. We have to look at the evidence. We don't make a moral judgment to punish people.
HILL: Well, let's look at the evidence.
WEINTRAUB: The -- the state -- excuse me.
HILL: He wasn't going for --
WEINTRAUB: Excuse me, the state is trying to refute a case --
HILL: -- from central Florida.
WEINTRAUB: The state is trying to refute a case that they cannot even prove. That is what's going on in this case.
HILL: No, no, no, they're not -- actually, no, that's not -- actually that's not -- that's actually not what's happening. The state is making a case and the defense is attempting to refute it by saying --
HILL: -- that it was self-defense. The fact --
WEINTRAUB: Really they're making a case?
HILL: The fact of the matter, though, is -- well, let me finish -- let me -- let me finish the thought before you disagree with it. The fact of the matter here is that George -- is that George Zimmerman got out of his car against police orders. It's not as if he was just going for a leisure stroll.
WEINTRAUB: That's not a crime. Excuse me.
HILL: He made a decision to do --
WEINTRAUB: That is not a crime. That's not --
HILL: No. That part isn't a crime. You're absolutely --
WEINTRAUB: That's not even a factor to consider.
HILL: But he's not being --
WEINTRAUB: The factor to consider is at the moment --
HILL: No, no. I'm simply responding to your -- no, no, no.
WEINTRAUB: You want to talk about the law or morals?
HILL: No. Let me -- let me --
WEINTRAUB: This isn't a court of public opinion. We're talking about --
HILL: No, no. This was -- we're --
MORGAN: OK, let me -- let me jump in.
HILL: You make --
MORGAN: Let me jump in. Let me jump in.
HILL: Your argument is --
MORGAN: Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this, Jayne. Let me ask you this, Jayne. You mentioned you had children. If this had been one of your kids when they're a bit older, who had been killed in these circumstances, would you really have been happy that the person that did this walked away without any accountability whatsoever for effectively killing your child in cold blood?
WEINTRAUB: Piers, would I be happy? I mean, imagine the question. The question really behooves the answer, is this is a tragedy. There is nobody that's not going to say this isn't an awful, horrible tragedy, and you're right, that shouldn't have happened. However, however, we have laws to abide by in this country and we have laws that keep us in check with one another.
For example, let me tell you about a Florida law, that is a jury instruction that this jury won't listen to when evaluating testimony. Rachel's, the police officers, Valerie Rao, who I've had as a medical examiner on the witness stand many times, and others, this is what the judge will tell this jury in weighing the evidence.
Did the witness have an opportunity to see and hear what they are testifying about? Think about the witnesses that have testified. Did the witness have an interest in the outcome of the case? Think about that.
Do you think Rachel had an interest in the outcome of the case sitting next to Trayvon's parents? I'm not saying it's a racial issue. I'm saying it's a plain credibility issue.
WEINTRAUB: You have to examine what the law is.
MORGAN: OK. Jayne, got to leave it there. Marc, thank you both very much indeed.
WEINTRAUB: Thank you.
MORGAN: We'll bring you back.
This debate will keep going. This is going nowhere until the end of this trial. There are aspects of this case that may sound eerily family to my next guest. He was a prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case. A case that of course ended in acquittal 18 years ago.
Christopher Darden joins me now exclusively.
Chris, you heard the debate there. It's impossible to talk about this case without it turning into a race debate. You had exactly the same thing in the O.J. Case.
CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, O.J. SIMPSON PROSECUTOR: True.
MORGAN: What is your take on the Zimmerman-Trayvon court action we're seeing?
DARDEN: I think it's a race case without question. It was made a race case prior to the case being filed. And the defense played the race card just the other day when they introduced a statement supposedly made by Trayvon when he referred to Zimmerman as a cracker. And so race is -- race is the case.
MORGAN: How do you see it playing out? I mean, obviously, Florida has a particular set of laws, which are pretty supportive of what George Zimmerman did. If you believe his version of events.
DARDEN: Well, how do I see it playing out?
DARDEN: Well, I think that -- I think this is a case for the defense to lose. I think the prosecution has an uphill battle. I'm not sure that I would have filed this case had I been the prosecutor, whether there was political pressure to do so or not. I mean, we do have laws. We do have rules. And the right to self-defense is a law that has existed in this country since the beginning.
MORGAN: But we only actually have George Zimmerman's word for it --
MORGAN: -- that he was truly acting in self-defense.
DARDEN: True. And that's the problem. We only have George Zimmerman's word --
MORGAN: Right. We can't hear from Trayvon Martin and the incontrovertible evidence, him getting out of the vehicle, ignoring the advice he's been given on the phone by the police to not follow him, all that stuff we know is true does not lend itself to a guy who's trying to avoid trouble.
DARDEN: But it doesn't lend itself to murder, either. I mean, the problem here is, as you say, the only person that really knows what happened, who can really speak to what happened and speak the truth, one would hope, is Zimmerman who has every reason not to be truthful and not to be honest.
DARDEN: And I think that as the prosecution picks away at his stories and his prior statements, I think you see that he has not been entirely honest in his description of what occurred, but all the defense has to do is raise a reasonable doubt. The prosecution, on the other hand, has the burden of proof. They have to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
MORGAN: Have you seen anything evidentially that proves that to your satisfaction?
DARDEN: That proves murder?
DARDEN: No, not yet.
MORGAN: What about manslaughter? What about the possibility (INAUDIBLE) they could convict or a lesser charge?
DARDEN: Well, I think if a jury concluded that his so-called belief in the need to use deadly force was unreasonable, then, yes, so you get to manslaughter. A compromise verdict, and that's what it would be, a jury compromising. You know, the prosecution has thrown down the gauntlet. They filed murder, they want murder. And I don't know that a jury would necessarily come back with manslaughter --
MORGAN: Let's talk about the jury. In your case, you had a jury that was predominantly female and predominantly black. Here you have a jury which is predominantly female but predominantly white.
MORGAN: How much of an impact will that have potentially, as we saw in the O.J. case where many people believe there was a miscarriage of justice there, could we see a similar situation here?
DARDEN: It's hard to say, and I've actually given some thought to that issue. The jury makeup in this case and why the lawyers chose these particular jurors. And it's hard to say. Now, to sit in the courtroom and be a lawyer in that trial and even though you're not speaking to the jurors directly, to have an interaction, see them, how they interact with others, you get a sense of who they are and what their views are and how they react to the evidence.
We can't really see that -- I can't really see that. So I'm just not sure. I mean, why these six individuals I suppose to some others, you know, a lot of people will say if the case is lost by the prosecution, that, you know, the racial makeup of the jury was a factor.
MORGAN: One key aspect also could be a lot of people in Florida have guns. I think at least four members of the six-woman jury have family members that have guns and they may believe if you own one, you have the right to defend yourself in that situation.
DARDEN: Well, having a family member who owns a gun is a lot different than owning a gun oneself.
MORGAN: Final question about O.J. Simpson -- obviously got into a whole new heap of new trouble after the trial that you were involved in. What are your thoughts on him today and what's happened to him?
DARDEN: When the trial ended and when I wrote a book about the trial called "In Contempt," on the back cover I wrote this little thing, and I said that we all get ours in the end, you know. And he -- he has certainly gotten his. I mean, he is very lucky --
MORGAN: Do you believe he's serving the punishment he should have served for the case you brought against him or --
DARDEN: No, no he was found not guilty of double-murder in L.A. And there shouldn't be penalty for that. He is serving for what he did in Las Vegas, which was stupid.
MORGAN: Chris Darden, fascinating to talk to you. Good to see you.
DARDEN: Good to see you.
MORGAN: When we come back, my exclusive with Casey Anthony's attorney. He was in the courtroom today for Day 7 of George Zimmerman's trial. I'll be asking him where he thinks it's all heading.
MORGAN: Casey Anthony was a target of intense public anger during her murder trial, as is George Zimmerman now. Today's testimony at his trial focusing on a book written by one of his best friends, describing Zimmerman as the most hated man in America.
J. Cheny Mason defended Casey Anthony and has plenty to say about both trials. He was actually in the courtroom today and joins me now exclusively. Good to see you again. It must be a really interesting experience for you to be in the courtroom with a man who has been described by his own best friend as the most hated man in America. You represented a woman who was described many times as the most hated woman in America, and they're both in very contentious cases. When you were in court today, what were you feelings?
J. CHENEY MASON, CASEY ANTHONY'S ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, I was not in court today. I watched part of it and I told Mr. O'Mara not too many days ago his client is only hated by half the people. Casey apparently was hated by everybody.
MORGAN: What do you think of the case? Do you think that George Zimmerman is going to get away with this? I don't mean that in the sense of he's an innocent -- a guilty man made innocent, but will he get away with the fact that he did kill somebody without any punishment in the end?
MASON: Well, I don't know that, Piers. The fact of the matter, he's been charged with second-degree murder, and I've tried to watch some of this case, as much as I could. And what I have seen is a total absence of the necessary elements to convict him of second-degree murder. There has been no evidence of ill will or spite or actions (INAUDIBLE) a depraved mind. Those are elements that have to be proven to have second-degree murder, and I'm not seeing any of that.
And the case is not over. Every time something goes on, there is good and bad. One side gets some points. The other side gets some points. This is a case of -- like others we've seen, it's not going to be over until it's over. I agree with what I heard Mr. Darden say on this show a few minutes ago, that is a stronger likelihood, I'll say that, of a compromise verdict for manslaughter. And it would be -- if there is, it would be aggravated manslaughter because under Florida law, manslaughter of a child, which is defined of someone under 18, is an enhanced penalty.
The reality that most people don't know and the jury won't know is that while second-degree murder can be punishable by life in prison under the Florida criminal code and the citizen guidelines, there isn't a whole lot of difference between what the penalty would be. It's only just a few years' difference between second-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter.
MORGAN: You famously advised your client, Casey Anthony, not to give media interviews. George Zimmerman obviously did, and we saw some of those being played out today in court. Was that a mistake, do you think?
MASON: In my opinion, it was a horrendous mistake. I don't know what the count is now, but I understand that between Mr. Zimmerman talking to the police on the evening in question, the next day, a reenactment, talking and discussing the facts with a medical attendant, talking with his friend who's written a book, and then going on that TV show that was shown today, there's at least a half a dozen times that he has talked. And from what I have heard, it seems like on each of those circumstances, there have been some inconsistencies.
Now, I don't know how material or important but indeed, there have been little nuances, different things he's said contradicting himself from statement to statement. That's why you don't let them do it. And it should never have been done in my opinion. I can't imagine why the lawyers allowed him to do that. Some of those things were before he had a lawyer. That friend of his that wrote the book, the police officer, if he's a friend, he should have told him to shut up and not say anything until he got a lawyer. But he just talked and talked and talked, and it didn't do himself any good --
MORGAN: Tell me this --
MASON: Possible -- I'm sorry, the only possible good that he could have done is he don't have to get on the witness stand.
MORGAN: Right. Tell me this, though. When you say there is no intent, no kind of evil, malice, and so on and so on, all the criteria you need for a second-degree murder charges, he did used language like a-holes, effing punks, they've got to be dealt with. He ignored police advice to not follow; he got out of his car, he was quite aggressive in following Trayvon Martin. And without those actions and without that attitude in his head about the type of person he believed he was following, then there would have been no altercation and there would have been no death.
MASON: I don't -- Piers, I don't know that even with those things, it rises to the level -- or sinks to the level, which ever way you want to go of evincing a depraved mind. You talk about -- they didn't tell him not to do something. They simply said that we don't need you to follow -- as I understand it. But he also was trained and they want to know -- keep an eye on where this guy is going.
Obviously, it would have been a much wiser deal if Mr. Zimmerman had stayed in his car, waited for the Sanford police to arrive, pointed out where the guy went and then gone about his business. But we cannot undo what happened. We can't change the facts. He made a decision and turned out to be a bad decision.
That, however, does not translate into proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the elements necessary to convict him of second-degree murder. Remember, he doesn't really have to prove anything the way this case is going. The state has a burden of proving beyond an exclusion of every reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman did not have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. Not whether you did or I did or somebody else did, whether George Zimmerman had that reasonable fear of death. If the jury finds he did or there is a doubt, a reasonable doubt as to what he did, then they have no choice but to find him not guilty.
MORGAN: How helpful or unhelpful was the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin's friend?
MASON: You know, Piers, I've been asked that several times, the last several days. I'm reminded of a prosecutor that made a closing argument in the first murder case I tried 40 years ago. And his words were to the effect you can't necessarily pick your witnesses. It would be nice if you could walk around with 20 nuns, so that anything that happened you would have 20 nuns to testify for you.
Now this is what the prosecutor got. They have to deal with her. I think it's unfortunate. I don't know her or didn't talk to her. But what I saw and what I see now is that she displayed an attitude, a personality that doesn't have credibility. And I don't think my personal belief is that -- was she telling the truth or not, I don't believe that any jury, certainly not this jury, is going to convict Mr. Zimmerman based on what she had to say, convict him of anything.
But that's not the end of the case. She's only one witness, and a lot of things she said no matter how arrogant she was or impudent, the fact of the matter is, many of the things she said or seemed to be borne out by the timeline of the events that happened.
So, you know, the jury will have to wrestle with that. They are entitled to judge the credibility of a witness and give it whatever weight they want to. They can believe a witness in part or not at all, or everything they say. And the judge will instruct them about that. So I'm sure they would like to have had a better witness, but that's what they got. They didn't have the nuns.
MORGAN: Attorney, final question about your client, Casey Anthony. How is she doing these days? She's been through a pretty tough time. We've discussed that several times on the show before.
MASON: Well, of course, Casey is still having to live in isolation and in secret. She can't go out in public. There are still morons out there threatening to hurt her, just like there are those from time to time that still threaten me and my family because we won.
She -- Casey is resilient, though. I mean, any woman that can spend three years in solitary confinement, go through the trial that we did and survive as she has, you got to say she's got some good stock in her. She is enjoying some of the small victories in the bankruptcy court, and I hope it soon will be over entirely and she'll be able to have the fresh start that the Federal Bankruptcy Law says she's entitled to and in fact if that works out that way, now we can start talking about what about her -- what her future will bring.
She has some hobbies, some things she likes. She wants to go on with her life. The question is, the real question is, where and when and how? She can't go out in public now and it's been two years. Two years ago this week.
MORGAN: And you eluded to threats that you yourself have received. Have you had death threats, you and your family?
MASON: Of course, hundreds. Been going on since before the verdict was out but after the verdict, yes. I have -- law enforcement pays special attention to various things to monitor my calls to my house and mail as necessary. And we're very precautious about what goes on, as well. Indeed, there are people out there, I think I probably told you this before, Piers, there are some people that are going to keep on wallow in their ignorance and stupidity until they die.
Those who just won't accept the fact that Casey was found not guilty. Now let's move on with it. Still today, you know, why do people do that? And you know what? The same kind of likelihood is going to face Mr. Zimmerman if he's acquitted, is going to be that, as well.
MORGAN: Yes. J. Cheney Mason --
MASON: And his lawyers --
MORGAN: I've got to leave it there unfortunately but it's always good to talk to you. Thanks very much for coming on the show.
Coming up, she's a former homicide prosecutor. She calls the attacks on star witness Rachel Jeantel disturbing. Star Jones is in "The Chair."
MORGAN: Joining me now, a woman that has a lot to say about the George Zimmerman trial and star witness Rachel Jeantel in particular. In "The Chair" tonight Star Jones. She's a former homicide prosecutor, also the national spokesperson for the National Association of Professional Women.
Star, great to have you back on the show.
STAR JONES, FORMER HOMICIDE PROSECUTOR: Thank you.
MORGAN: It is such a contentious case and it really is a case I think dividing America, dividing Americans. Everyone has an opinion, impossible to keep race out of it, but the evidence of Rachel Jeantel has been particularly controversial.
You just heard J. Cheney Mason there being pretty scathing about her, which many people have been. What is your reaction to the performance of that young black woman in a very difficult situation that she didn't really want to be in?
JONES: You know, I'm glad that you pointed out that this is a young woman who was in a difficult situation, that she didn't want to be in. One thing that the previous guest said that I completely agree with is that as a prosecutor, you don't get to pick and choose who your witnesses are going to be. We don't get to pick and choose who our victims are going to be, who saw what, when they saw it or where it took place.
Rachel Jeantel happened to be the young woman on the phone with the victim of a homicide moments before he was killed. She didn't think that that was the last conversation she would have with Trayvon Martin. She was not thinking that she would be put on center stage, and be made to look like -- I don't want to use a word that upsets me, but made her look like an idiot, which is exactly what a lot of people have been calling her and using as a way to really blast her.
And it really disappointed me, Piers, and I'll tell you why. When I saw Rachel Jeantel testify, I saw a 19-year-old woman from a background that may be different than the people who were judging her, that may be different from even the jurors who will evaluate her information and the evidence that she presented.
As I learned more and more about her, I became curious. She was -- she has a Caribbean background which has some of the sensibilities of, say, our southern background. I was born in the south and so I was raised in a similar fashion. These are traditions that we don't go away from, no matter how old we are.
A southern girl, a Caribbean girl would never use foul language in the presence of somebody's mother under any circumstances. I'm 51 years old. I cannot tell you that I have ever used foul language in my mother's presence and I know that she would look at me cross-eyed if I did.
I would never use foul language to somebody else's mother and so the thought that she was in some way being incredible when she left out the sort of language of a teenager talking back and forth to another teenager, and that would impact on her credibility, is incredulous to me.
As a prosecutor, you take on the burden of making your witness relatable to the jury, and you make that witness relatable to the jury by letting the jury get to know who that person is. And you and I have talked several times about need for diversity and not just in juries, but in society because you can go your whole life as a white man and not encounter any of my real existence. You can go to work. You can go to church. You can go get your haircut. You can do all things that make up a whole life.
But I don't have that freedom as an African-American woman. If I want to live and work in the United States of America, I need to know as much as I can about you. And I don't have any issue with that. As a matter of fact I think it makes me smarter and wiser, makes me more worldly.
But we don't have the opportunity for diversity around the table, you're going to get the kinds of comments you got about Rachel Jeantel and it was distressing --
MORGAN: See, here is the thing, Star. Here's the thing. I found her oddly compelling and quite credible, but then I've got, you know, three teenage sons who talk in a completely different language from the one that I do, you know, and they -- they operate in an entirely different world, and that's a different to the one that Rachel is in.
But I get the fact that teenagers, generally, any of them appear in court would operate in a different manner to a fully mature adult and she was clearly pretty unnerved by the experience. Didn't really want to be there and she'd lost one on her best friends in an appalling shooting. It didn't -- it didn't surprise me that she was the way she was.
JONES: It didn't surprise me that she came across sullen. It didn't surprise me that she didn't answer the questions in full sentences. She's 19 years old. In the -- I have -- I have to say, I actually found more annoying the following day when she punctuated every sentence with yes, sir.
JONES: Because I found that to be more incredible. I like the fact that she stood her ground, he stuck to her story. She added the evidence that -- as she recalled it. I did not think they shook her on any of the pertinent issues to the case. And what I really didn't like was the way women took her on. Not just women pundits but women in the media, women on social media.
I found it appalling that women would sort of mean girl her.
JONES: In terms of the way she looked, what she wore, what her weight was, how brown her skin was, how she wore her hair. I think that women and you know in my position at NAPW I shout this through the rooftop. Women have to be supportive of other women. You don't have to believe everything that another woman says. But if you engage in the same sort of misogynistic tactics that men engage in, we are destined to always be thought of as the other gender.
MORGAN: Yes. I completely agree. But we're going to come back here after the break, Star. I'm going to ask you where you think this trial is going and also talk about your friend Rhonda Lee who was found murdered. You got an update for me on that as well. I want to talk to you about that as well.
MORGAN: Back now in "The Chair," former homicide prosecutor Star Jones.
Getting lots of reaction on Twitter, Star, to your stuff on the last segment. Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor, said simply, "Star Jones is speaking for me right now," and I'm sure that you're speaking for many people, particularly about Rachel Jeantel, who has taken a drumming, and in my view, extremely unfairly.
Let's just get to the trial itself. How do you think this is playing out? Because you can have all the views you like and I have views and you have views about whether Zimmerman shouldn't have gotten out of his vehicle, whether he should have been carrying a gun, et cetera, et cetera. Under Florida law, as things stand, most legal experts I spoke to do not believe the prosecution have established second-degree murder.
JONES: Second-degree murder is a very high standard in Florida's law. As I looked -- as I looked at the law, the requirement for ill will, spite or a depraved mind seems insurmountable for a lot of people and a lot of your pundits that you've been speaking to. However, I think a skilled prosecutor can argue the facts of the case to establish ill will.
I think the prosecution can argue spite. I don't have any problem with not being able to prove the depraved mind but an aspect of the murder statute I think can be proved.
You know, good prosecutors know how to argue the law and the facts, and I think that they would not have brought this case if they didn't think they had both on their side. However, I don't disagree that a compromised verdict is something that the jury might be looking at. And this case may be a manslaughter case.
MORGAN: Right. JONES: You know I interviewed Sybrina Fulton several months back and she said she wanted a fair hearing of the facts and a revisiting of the law. And as long as she gets that, I think she will be at peace.
MORGAN: Yes. I agree with you. Let's just turn quickly, Star, to the case that you brought up last time you're with me. This is of your friend Rhonda Lee. She was found murdered. She'd been strangled, almost found floating in a Michigan lake. You haven update, I think, for me on this?
JONES: Yes, Piers, I'm really pleased to tell you that the Oakland County Police Department did in fact arrest and has now arraigned Bobby Lee Taylor, he was a 42-year-old Pontiac man. He has been charged with first-degree felony -- first-degree murder and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. These crimes can get him life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It's so rare, as we talked about, to find and solve a stranger murder, and in this case, we actually were able to do that. I'm not going to say that every T is crossed and every I is dotted but the police are completely convinced that he acted alone and that he is the perpetrator.
So this family has some resolution as of right now. We will, of course, be following this until the trial comes to a conclusion. I'm --
MORGAN: Well, Star, you did a terrific job in raising awareness with that.
JONES: I'm very glad we had on opportunity to do it. Piers, thank you again. And we've had a great reaction to Rhonda's rules which are a comprehensive list for women to make sure they protect themselves and their family in case the unthinkable should happens. And I appreciate --
MORGAN: And quickly, Star, where can they get -- where can they read those? If you want to get to a Web site --
JONES: Just go straight to NAPW.com and click on "Star's Corner" and it's right there for you and it's free to anybody who wants to download it.
MORGAN: That's great. Star Jones, you've been terrific. As always, please come back to soon.
JONES: Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back, the grieving family of a fallen hero who lost his life fighting a massive Arizona wildfire. Now his father and widow remember a man who made the ultimate sacrifice.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: The blaze that killed 19 elite firefighters in Arizona on Sunday is still raging tonight as tributes pour in for the fallen heroes. Joining me now exclusively the family one of those. Dave Caldwell is the father of Granite Mountain Hotshot Robert Caldwell and Claire Caldwell is Robert's widow.
I thank you both so much for joining me and just my deepest condolences on your awful loss. I know that he was a hero, an absolute hero, and that can be I guess of small comfort to you now. But let me start with you, Dave. Tell me about your son.
DAVE CALDWELL, LOST SON IN ARIZONA WILDFIRE: Robert was a brave young man. Always ready to go, spent his whole life devoted to being a firefighter. And answered the call every time, never late, and was willing to put his life on the line and help protect other people.
MORGAN: He was known as the smart one. He had an IQ of over 150. He was a big Philadelphia Eagles fan. Even though he loved Arizona, always remained loyal to Philadelphia.
He had so much going for him, didn't he, Claire? In all sorts of ways. Tell me about your husband.
CLAIRE CALDWELL, LOST HUSBAND IN ARIZONA WILDFIRE: My husband was the bravest, most selfless man I've ever met in my life. And he was a hero. And the thing that I want to say about him the most, and all Hotshots, is that they sacrifice so much for everybody every day. So not just today but we should be saying thank you to our Hotshots.
Because every day, because every day, this could happen. It could have happened every time he left. So don't forget how much they sacrificed for us. He's a hero. They're all heroes.
MORGAN: And Dave, obviously there were 19 of these brave young men who lost their lives in one of the most appalling tragedies imaginable to any team of firefighters. It must have rocked the whole community. How are you all coping collectively?
D. CALDWELL: Well, I'm glad you asked that. I really want to thank the Prescott Fire Department. They've been fantastic helping us out. Senate liaison working with us constantly, answering every question and helping us out the very best they can. And the community, truly proud to call myself a Prescottonian. We've lived here over 20 years. We -- Robert spent his whole life here. Went (INAUDIBLE) all school in here. And it's been hard, but we're dealing with it and the community has helped us out a lot.
MORGAN: And Claire, you have a young son. Robert was his stepfather. And I understand the last time that he saw Dave for dinner, he told his father how much he loved your little boy. It must be just horrendous for you that you lost not just a husband but also such a loving stepfather as well for your son.
C. CALDWELL: Yes, it hurts. Robert was -- the moment he met my son, he fell in love with him. And he fell in love with (INAUDIBLE). He was self-less and you know, all these guys, all of the Granite Hotshots really -- they all were like that. They were all family men. My Robert, Jesse Steed, all of them. They were -- they were such loving parents. They were family men.
MORGAN: How would you like -- how would you like him most to be remembered, Claire?
C. CALDWELL: I would like him most to be remembered as a hero, as a Granite Mountain Hotshot. As a hero. Somebody who gave everything for everyone every day of his life. He sacrificed everything, every day. And they all do. Don't forget about the ones who are living, too.
MORGAN: He was a true hero. They're all heroes. It's an appalling thing to have happened. I'm so sorry again for your loss to both of you and to all the families connected with these brave men. And I thank you very much indeed, both of you, for joining me tonight.
C. CALDWELL: Thank you.
D. CALDWELL: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.
MORGAN: Such a sad story. We'll be right back after the break.
MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper and CNN special, "Self-Defense or Murder: The George Zimmerman Trial" starts right now.