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George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 3, 2013 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We saw George Zimmerman enter the courtroom and he is seated, but that means the jury still has to come into the court and then the prosecutors have to prepare their first witness, who will also walk into the court. The seal is still up. As soon as the court proceedings begin, we'll take you back to Sanford, Florida. Let's talk about those pre-trial motions and this victory for the prosecution. Drew said you think this will backfire. That prosecutors have been allowed to introduce college records of George Zimmerman. As far as his criminal justice courses and his knowledge of your stand your ground law.

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There is an expression is that you cross to close. You do your cross-examination to set up your closing argument, and you have to be arguing at some point, really, this is how much they're stretching. They are working so hard to just convict this guy, instead of pursuing justice, that they're looking at how he did, this 1.5 student.

COSTELLO: Yes, but come on. Isn't it important if in his mind he was a wannabe cop, which meant he may have followed Trayvon Martin that night, not in the best interest of the neighborhood, but because he wanted to be a hero, isn't that prosecutors are trying to prove?

FINDLING: Absolutely, Carol. That's what they're trying to prove. And the question is how do we know? Okay, it's just more conjecture. Conjecture -- this judge has been pretty free and these attorneys have been pretty free about the conjecture. Now, I will tell you --

COSTELLO: But most trials are based on circumstantial evidence and not hard core evidence.

FINDLING: Well, circumstantial evidence is finding the footprint and then surmising that somebody was there and it is the same shoe size as the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator. Here's where I think it helps the prosecutor, in this case the prosecution. That is to those of us who have worked in profile and issues, profiling only, only applies to the actions of law enforcement and private security agencies. It does not apply to citizens.

We all profile. You know, it's our first amendment right to profile. That's a stretch that they're using the word profiling. Now, I think where the prosecution can use this to benefit them is by saying, look, we know that you're probably thinking this is a little weird that we're using profiling, but maybe it does make sense that if in his mind he's law enforcement, then he's profiling the same way that a cop would. That's where I think it helps them. Other than that, the profiling thing makes no sense to me.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Jason, you talked to one of George Zimmerman's professors at Seminole State, right? You are a professor yourself. To take the stand and talk about a student in this particular way, that has to be weird.

JASON JOHNSON, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: There are FERPA laws about what you are not supposed to release. So, they're going to have to really, really draw the line. I can't talk about my students' grades in any way, shape or form. What you can talk about. This is what they should have learned. This is what you -- at the end of every syllabus you have, at the end of this class you should understand how. They can ask a professor, can someone who at least occasionally went to class understand stand your ground laws if they get out of here. Can someone who attended your class put together a story at a moment's notice if they thought they were going to be in trouble. That's a good case.

COSTELLO: All right, wo we're going to go back live to the courtroom because court proceedings are about to get underway. I hear voices, let's listen.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you answer is "yes" to any of the questions. Please raise your hand. During the overnight recess, did any of you have discussions amongst yourselves or with anybody else about the case? No hands are being raised.

Did any of you listen to any television, newspaper reports about the case? No hands are being raised.

Did any of you use an electric device to get on the internet to do independent research about the case, people, places, things or terminology? No hands are being raised.

Did any of you read or create any e-mails, text messages, twitter, tweets, blogs or social networking pages about the case? No hands are being raised. Thank you very much. State, you may call your next witness.

UNIDENIFIED MALE: Thank you your honor, the state will call Sonja Boles-Melvin (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you tell is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

SONJA BOLES-MELVIN, WITNESS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SANFORD FLORIDA: You may proceed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, your honor. Do me a favor. Spell your name and tell us who you are, where you work and what you do. BOLES-MELVIN: My name is Sonja Boles-Melvin. It is spelled S-O-N-J-A, B-O-L-E-S dash M-E-L-V-I-N, and I am the registrar for Seminole State College of Florida.

RICHARD MANTEI, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: What is a registrar?

BOLES-MELVIN: The registrar is responsible for all the educational records, academic records of the institution.

MANTEI: And I assume that your institution keeps academic and institutional records.

BOLES-MELVIN: Correct.

MANTEI: I'll show you what has been marked state's exhibit 209 for purposes of this proceeding. Do you recognize that document?

BOLES-MELVIN: I do.

MANTEI: Is that the type of record that is kept in the course of your business?

BOLES-MELVIN: Yes.

MANTEI: Does it pertain particularly to the defendant in this case George Zimmerman?

BOLES-MELVIN: Yes.

MANTEI: There are two sections along with this. If I may, your honor. The first is what I'll call a grade change form. Do you see that?

BOLES-MELVIN: I do.

MANTEI: Okay. And this was actually submitted for a particular course in a particular department, what is that department, ma'am?

BOLES-MELVIN: Legal studies.

MANTEI: And it is course of which title?

BOLES-MELVIN: Criminal litigation.

MANTEI: And the second is a diploma or certificate application, also in the name of the defendant. Can you tell me, is this something that -- when would a person fill out a form like this?

BOLES-MELVIN: When they are ready to be awarded a degree from Seminole State College.

MANTEI: They fill this out to ask, to apply for a degree?

BOLES-MELVIN: Correct.

MANTEI: And tell me when, A, when this form was filled out and, B, if you can tell when the degree was actually supposedly going to be conferred or being requested for.

BOLES-MELVIN: It looks like Mr. Zimmerman applied for graduation during the term of fall, which would have been our fall commencement. And he applied on October 17th, 2011.

MANTEI: That's when he submitted the application. Does it tell us when he was requesting or thought he would have the degree?

BOLES-MELVIN: Yes. He thought he would graduate by spring 2012.

MANTEI: Okay. Thank you, ma'am. No other questions, your honor.

NELSON: Cross?

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, thank you very much.

NELSON: May Ms. Boles-Melvin be excused?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

NELSON: Thank you very much, ma'am. You are excused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I would move that state's exhibit 209 (INAUDIBLE).

NELSON: Based upon the court's ruling it's submitted into evidence, state's exhibit 209. Call your next witness, please.

MANTEI: Thank you, your honor. Lieutenant Scott Kearns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you shall present will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

LT. SCOTT KEARNS, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

NELSON: You may proceed.

MANTEI: Thank you. Morning, sir.

KEARNS: Morning.

MANTEI: Would you please go ahead and spell your name for us, tell us who you are, where you work, and what you do.

KEARNS: Lieutenant Scott Kearns, Prince William County police. Last name spelled K-E-A-R-N-S, first name S-C-O-T-T. Currently assigned to operations Prince William County Police -- Prince William County Police, and prior to that I was the bureau commander for the Prince William County Police Personnel Unit.

MANTEI: Prince William County where, sir?

KEARNS: In Virginia, sir. MANTEI: And does the Prince William County, is there a particular name of that agency, are you the public city police --

KEARNS: It would be county police.

MANTEI: And is that agency normally keep records of people who apply for jobs in that agency?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Jobs both civilian and as a police officer?

KEARNS: With the police department, yes, sir.

MANTEI: And in your capacity as the manager of personnel unit would be the person who would normally calling custodian records of that type?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: How long does the Prince William County Police Department keep the actual applications of records?

KEARNS: Well, in accordance with the Virginia Records Retention Act, what we do is we keep them for the mandated three years. After which time it is standard practice for us to destroy the records after that period.

MANTEI: Were you asked to investigate if you had any records as it relates to an application to become a police officer in Prince William County by the defendant in this case, George Zimmerman?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Were you able to locate the actual application?

KEARNS: No, sir. It was destroyed.

MANTEI: Show you what's marked as state's exhibit 211. And do you recognize this exhibit, sir?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: Okay. What is that?

KEARNS: That's an extract. What we do after we destroy -- you are talking about the first document? After we destroy the records, after the period of three years, we create a very cursory amount of information on the record that was to be destroyed. Basic information, name, address, date of applied, et cetera. And additionally we also send out a letter for those individuals that are not considered further into the process, we send them a dated letter with my name at the bottom regarding their status and they're not going to be considered further.

MANTEI: In this case, what was the date of that letter?

KEARNS: The date was July 8th, 2009.

MANTEI: Now, lieutenant, I'd imagine you get a lot of people who apply.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

MANTEI: So, is there anything unusual or sinister about people not getting the job as an officer?

KEARNS: No, sir.

MANTEI: Thank you. No other questions.

NELSON: Thank you. Any cross?

UNIDENIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would move at this time state exhibit 211 into evidence.

NELSON: It will be admitted, state's exhibit 211.

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Morning, Lieutenant Kearns.

KEARNS: Morning, sir.

WEST: Your position in the police department is because you are a sworn police officer and have full privileges as such?

KEARNS: That's correct, sir.

WEST: Are you currently serving in any kind of investigative capacity?

KEARNS: No, sir.

WEST: It's more administrative?

KEARNS: I just recently changed assignments just over three days ago. I'm now the watch commander for the western district evening squad. But prior to that, I was with the personnel bureau.

WEST: So, it's not uncommon, I take it, within a given police department to change hats from time to time.

KEARNS: No, sir.

WEST: Maybe patrol, maybe investigator, maybe behind the desk.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: How long were you in the administrative position prior to your current assignment?

KEARNS: Six years, sir.

WEST: So, you were the administrator then at the time Mr. Zimmerman applied?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: Do you have any -- you have no copy of his application, I take it?

KEARNS: No, sir, it was destroyed.

WEST: You couldn't tell me, for example, who he used as a reference on his application?

KEARNS: No, sir.

WEST: You don't have a personal memory of the contents of the application?

KEARNS: No, sir.

WEST: Because, as me Mantei (ph) said, you get a lot of them?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: A lot of people want to be police officers.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: As did you, obviously.

KEARNS: I did.

WEST: So, if I understand the process then, there is an application, obviously. And then under your records retention policy after a period of time, the actual record is destroyed and there is a brief extract or excerpt from the application or from the process rather.

KEARNS: That's correct.

WEST: In this exhibit, which is marked as 211, you are certifying here that you are the records (INAUDIBLE).

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: What is attached to it is a business record.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: I noticed, for example, that it's not on letterhead and it's not signed. And it doesn't have any more information on the document other than the actual written contents of it.

KEARNS: That's correct, sir.

WEST: This isn't a copy then of the actual letter that was sent in the mail.

KEARNS: It's not the actual copy. That was destroyed. That's the document that was used to create the original in terms of later my signature was placed on it along with the letterhead.

WEST: This would have been basically the word processing document that was printed?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: And you don't have a specific memory of reviewing or signing the disk?

KEARNS: No, sir.

WEST: This is just one of among other documents that are kept in the system?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: And then this other page of the document, if you can see it well enough from here just to help me know what it is. Is this the extract you're talking about?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: And in this extract it includes, of course, Mr. Zimmerman's name and Social Security number and his address at the time. That would be the address at the time he filed the application?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: It would indicate ethnicity.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: It would indicate gender.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: Is that what that means? G?

KEARNS: I'd have to, some of them were rather abbreviated and cryptic. Yes, sir. That's correct.

WEST: G would be gender and then Mr. --

KEARNS: Yes.

WEST: A guy?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: Spanish?

KEARNS: That would be any languages spoken other than English.

WEST: So that it would indicate that Mr. Zimmerman is bilingual.

WEST: It would indicate that he stated that he knew another language other than English. In other words, we didn't confirm that. So this is all self-disclosed information on the application. And we just transpose it on to the spreadsheet. So we didn't validate anything in terms of his Spanish-speaking is skills. That was self-disclosed.

WEST: I see. Well as would be the birth date and the social and everything else. Right?

KEARNS: Well, some of those things can be confirmed up front. The driver's license and et cetera but Spanish would be an actual test that will be performed later in the process.

WEST: I see, got you. Then at the end, there is a column that says "COLL, credit history."

KEARNS: Yes sir.

WEST: Do you take that to mean that Mr. Zimmerman had a problem with his credit?

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: And that would be a reason why you wouldn't be accepted as a police officer?

KEARNS: That's the reason why we did not consider him further based on that record, yes, sir.

WEST: It makes sense if you think about it, doesn't it? Because a police officer who has credit problems would be vulnerable to criminals, wouldn't they?

KEARNS: Possibly.

WEST: They could be put in compromising situations where they may make -- make a bad decision because of their financial concerns.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: So, if somebody has bad credit because of their age and not having a clear established work history or any other number of reasons that shows up as bad credit, he would be, in fact, was rejected.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: So, that would mean, I take it, that when his credit got better or he was able to fully address that issue to the satisfaction of the department, he could re-apply?

KEARNS: It's possible, sir.

WEST: In fact, you know of people that have applied once and been rejected and maybe applied, again, even with other agencies and ultimately gotten on.

KEARNS: Yes, sir.

WEST: Can I have just a moment, Judge. Thank you. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Any redirect?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May Lieutenant Kearns be excused? You said yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much you are excused. Please, call your next witness.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, two witnesses fairly quick, although we were sort of puzzled why Don West was cross examining that last witness so much. But these witnesses -- and I'll go to Sunny Hostin on this.

The prosecution just sort of setting up testimony to come, right?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, they're setting up the admissibility of the records to come in. So they want his application to the police department in Virginia which was denied and they want his school records to come in. So that's what we've seen so far. They've got to lay those foundations.

COSTELLO: All right, the next witness is about to take the stand let's listen.

DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDENT JUDGE: You may proceed.

RICHARD MANTEI, PROSECUTOR: Thank you, your honor.

Capt. Carter, if you would, please, introduce yourself to the jury. Tell them who are, your name, rank, serial number, where you're from.

CAPT. ALEXIS FRANCISCO CARTER, U.S. ARMY, JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL PROSECUTOR: Roger that. Captain Alexis Francisco Carter, the United States Army, assigned to Third Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, United States officer, JAG Corps.

MANTEI: Tell me what JAG Corps means.

CARTER: It stands for Judge Advocate General. I'm basically a military prosecutor in the Army.

MANTEI: So you're yet another lawyer?

CARTER: Yes. Yes.

MANTEI: Capt. Carter, do you also teach courses?

CARTER: I did at one point but not currently.

MANTEI: Ok would that have included back in spring of 2010?

CARTER: Yes, I taught a course. MANTEI: Where did you teach that course?

CARTER: Seminole State College.

MANTEI: And what was the name of that course?

CARTER: Criminal litigation.

MANTEI: Do you remember the defendant George Zimmerman being a student in that course?

CARTER: I do.

MANTEI: And actually do you remember what kind of a grade you gave him?

CARTER: I gave him an "A".

MANTEI: All right, tell me a little bit about what type of course that was?

CARTER: Well, when I -- when I got the book or when I, you know, got wind of the course, Criminal Litigation, I automatically assumed that I will be teaching it from a more practical standpoint, trial advocacy, things of that nature. But the way the course book was set up, it wasn't really like that and the time frame in which I had to teach the course, I couldn't really teach it from a trial advocacy standpoint.

So it was mostly like a criminal law, criminal procedure course. We talked about the law, elements of the law, we talked about criminal procedure, the constitutional rights, 4th and 5th Amendment, things of that nature.

MANTEI: Ok did you almost do any kind of what I'll call mock trial sort of thing?

CARTER: Not really, not in that course. We didn't have the time for it. Again, it just kind of focused on the elements of the crime and we would go through hypotheticals where, you know, we would ask the students certain questions regarding certain cases and things of that nature.

MANTEI: You mentioned your course book. I'm showing you just what's -- is that your course book titled "Criminal Law and Procedure?"

CARTER: Yes. That's --

MANTEI: And I'm showing you what's in evidence now what has been marked as state's exhibit 210. Is this a sort of subsection, a very small section of this very big book?

CARTER: Yes.

MANTEI: Ok.

And that's the chapter specifically pertaining to what?

CARTER: Self-defense.

MANTEI: Ok and the second part of state's exhibit 210 is what?

CARTER: It's an e-mail, homework assignment from George. It was the first homework assignment that I gave to all the students.

MANTEI: Ok. And is that --

MANTEI: The rest of it actual additional homework assignment?

CARTER: Yes.

MANTEI: Your honor, I want to enter state exhibit 210 into evidence at this point.

NELSON: The book or the excerpt?

MANTEI: Just the excerpt then.

NELSON: Ok they'll come in as composite exhibit 210.

MANTEI: Thank you, your honor.

Talk to me a little bit, professor, about what kind of student you remember the defendant to be?

CARTER: You know, you always kind of remember your smartest student or the one that stood out the most, the one that probably wasn't the best student and he was probably one of the better students in the class.

MANTEI: You mentioned that and we talked about state exhibits 210 as an excerpt from the book about self-defense, obviously, you were teaching this course in Florida so tell me what sort of things you addressed as it relates to the law of self-defense in Florida.

CARTER: Right so you know the way the book is comprised, obviously the publishers are from Florida. They didn't really put Florida- specific things. But I wanted to teach the class from a practical standpoint where these students can really relate and take something from it and apply it to their own lives. You know, with Florida and other states, they have what's called the Stand Your Ground law, which evolved from the Castle Doctrine through case law.

MANTEI: And did you cover that specifically?

CARTER: Yes.

MANTEI: Did you discuss specifically self-defense and Stand Your Ground laws in the connection of violent crimes such as murder?

CARTER: Yes.

MANTEI: And did you address the particularities of -- strike that question, bad question. Professor Carter, what can you tell us about how long you spent as part of that course covering ideas like self- defense and Stand Your Ground?

CARTER: Right. You know self-defense is an affirmative defense. It's a big self-defense. It's not one of those things that you're going to just whisk through in a day or you're -- after you teach it, you're going to neglect from bringing it back into the classroom. So it was something that I constantly reiterated.

I was the type of professor that before I gave any test, I gave a review for the test and it was something that I think the students really wanted to know about. It was so practical that it was, there was, they were very much engaged in class discussion regarding the issue.

So I remember, you know, talking about it you know quite a few times, not just on the one particular occasion.

MANTEI: No further questions, your honor.

NELSON: Can you take your cross?

WEST: Just give me a second.

CARTER: Sure.

WEST: Good morning, Mr. Carter.

CARTER: Good morning.

WEST: My name is Don West. I'm one of the attorneys for Mr. Zimmerman. Do you see George over here?

CARTER: How are you doing, George?

WEST: And Mr. O'Mara is co-counselor on the case.

CARTER: How are you doing?

WEST: How long have you held your current position in JAG Corps?

CARTER: October would be three years.

And you taught at Seminole State College, was it beginning of the semester of January, 2010?

CARTER: Yes, it would have been from January 2010 time frame until probably, I don't know, May.

WEST: Was it just the one term?

CARTER: Yes. I only taught one class and that was it.

WEST: And what did you do after that?

CARTER: Right around that time, well, I was also working at a PD. I was at the public defender's office during that time full time as an orange county 9th circuit. So I went back to work and I left for the JAG Corps for training October, 2010, so I went back to work full time to the PD's office, then went off to the JAG Corps.

WEST: Were you working for the public defender's office in January of 2010 while you were also doing the adjunct?

CARTER: Yes.

WEST: I got you. Do you remember when you started with the PD's office?

CARTER: So, that would probably be November 2009.

WEST: Was that shortly after you became admitted as an attorney?

CARTER: Yes.

WEST: Admitted to the bar?

CARTER: Yes.

WEST: So that was your first job?

CARTER: It was.

WEST: As a lawyer? With the public defender's office?

CARTER: It was.

WEST: And then you took on the responsibility of the class as kind of a side job?

CARTER: Yes. You know, I hopefully one day I could be a law professor and I like teaching. And you know the cool thing about that job teaching was a lot of things that I have to know or had to know every day for my job as a PD was reinforced by educating others.

WEST: So when you made the comment that your approach to the class was really from a practical standpoint, you were talking about how this stuff works in real life?

COSTELLO: Good morning, everyone, I'm Carol Costello with "NEWSROOM." Thank you so much for joining us.

We are keeping an eye on Egypt. I just want you to know that. The thousands and thousands of protesters now protesting at Tahrir Square; the Egyptian military has have given an ultimatum to President Morsi, Egypt's president to either reform the government or something might happen. We're keeping a close eye on that.

And of course, we are continuing our live coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial. On the stand right now is one of George Zimmerman's professors at Seminole State. His name is Alexis Carter. He teaches criminal litigation, including Florida's Stand Your Ground law. He has testified that Zimmerman was a good student, actually got an A in the course.

It is now cross examination time. This is defense attorney Don West. Let's listen.

WEST: It could be just one or two that may have significance.

CARTER: Well, no. All facts have significance. You generally look at things from the totality of the circumstances. But there are certain things that, you know, through case laws have been seen to give more weight.

WEST: Sure.