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Jeantel's Testimony Unadulterated; Physical Evidence in Zimmerman Trial; Sinkhole Swallows Car in Ohio; Zimmerman: Murder or Self Defense?
Aired July 4, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFF GOLD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: In substance, she said "creepy ass cracker." That took the air out of this being a racial case, in my opinion. And number two, her demeanor is the only thing today we can associate with Trayvon Martin until his mom takes the stand. We see her challenge. We see her being rude. We think that's maybe what Trayvon was, rude, challenging, attacking George Zimmerman.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Great point.
You know something, Jean Casarez, we talk at length about this kind of thing, and you, my friend, are watching nine people who are the only ones who matter. How did that jury respond to all of these moments?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: They were focused. They were really focused. And I've got to tell you, she has not been released from her subpoena. We potentially could see her again in the defense case, and I'll tell you why, it's limited in Florida law, but someone can testify as to the reputation of someone else in regard to fighting, the propensity to fight. And during her examination by the defense, she said, you know, I didn't think much of it, because it was just a fight, and I know that if Trayvon was going to throw the punch, he would have told me, "I'll call you back." The question is, why would you know that? So, did she open the door to fighting?
BANFIELD: I don't think --
She is not going to be one happy lady if she's called back, certainly, as a defense witness, she will not be happy with that at all, but it will certainly be fascinating if it happens.
I want the three of you to stay in place, if you could please, and when we come back, we're going to do a deep dive through the evidence in the case, the gun, the hooded sweatshirt and the cuts on George Zimmerman's head. When you put them all together, do they add up to murder?
BANFIELD: Welcome back. We are live in Sanford, Florida. You are not missing any testimony in the courtroom. Yesterday, because of Egypt, you may have missed some and we have a lot of it for you today. Trayvon Martin's hoodie, the gun that was used to kill him, and all of those phone records paraded around in court, that's some of the physical evidence -- not circumstantial -- it's the physical stuff that's been presented so far in George Zimmerman's trial. Witness testimony, all of this is up to the jurors whether they want to believe what the witnesses have to say. But it's that tangible stuff, the tangible evidence all of us wonder, will it help piece together what really happened that rainy, fatal night in Sanford?
BANFIELD (voice-over): Painting a picture of a killing. Jurors are hearing first hand from those who saw and heard the struggle between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin that ended in Martin's death. And then there's the cold, hard evidence, the physical evidence that will either confirm or destroy Zimmerman's claim that he shot the 17 year old in self defense.
Here's what the defense says happened.
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The evidence will show that this is a sad case, that there are no monsters here. George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. He shot Trayvon Martin in self defense after being viciously attacked.
BANFIELD: But the prosecution says otherwise.
JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Ladies and gentlemen, that is just some of the evidence in this case. We are confident that at the end of this trial, you will know in your head, in your heart, in your stomach, that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to.
BANFIELD: There are the photos, the injuries on Zimmerman's head. Did or didn't Trayvon Martin slam Zimmerman's head against the sidewalk as he claims? The expert witness, Dr. Valerie Rao, is a medical examiner who studied the images.
UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: Dr. Rao, using your definition of slamming, your common understanding of slamming, are the injuries to the back of the defendant's head consistent with having been repeatedly slammed into a concrete surface?
DR. VALERIE RAO, MEDICAL EXAMINER: No.
BANFIELD: Graphic, blown-up photos of Martin's lifeless body, face down, his legs and sneakers peeking out from under a yellow blanket. These and others shown to the court. The jurors were visibly disturbed and Martin's father, well, it was all too much for him. He left the courtroom in tears.
Zimmerman's gun. He said Martin reached for it during the altercation, but does the evidence match up? Latent fingerprint expert, Kristen Benson.
UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: Did you find any latent prints of value on state's 183? KRISTEN BENSON, LATENT FINGERPRINT EXPERT: No.
MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You mentioned environmental effects can have a negative effect on latent prints, correct?
BENSON: Yes, it can damage latent print.
O'MARA: I think you mentioned rain itself can?
BENSON: It can.
BANFIELD: A map of the neighborhood where it happened, orienting the jurors to the scene. Who was where, and when were they there? And the blood-stained hoodie, the sweatshirt that Martin was wearing on the night that would be his very last. It's certainly has become an icon. Does the forensic evidence show that shirt was pressed up against Martin's chest, or hanging down when he was shot? The difference could show whether or not Martin was on top of Zimmerman during the struggle as he contends.
An expert testified Wednesday about tests that she ran on the hoodie and a second sweatshirt Martin was wearing.
AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS EXPERT: This is a close-up shot of the tests that I had generated with the lighter colored sweatshirt depicting a little better that you can see the tearing and the blackening of the fabric right around the hole.
UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: All right. Are your findings consistent with the muzzle of the gun having been pressed into the dark hooded sweatshirt and then fired through both the dark hooded sweatshirt and the lighter-colored sweatshirt?
SIEWERT: It is consistent with the muzzle of the firearm touching the outer sweatshirt, and the inner sweatshirt being in direct contact, yes.
BANFIELD: Meshing the physical evidence with witness accounts of what happened on that rainy night in Florida. The jurors are taking it all in and ultimately they will decide whose story they believe, the one George Zimmerman tells or the one Trayvon Martin will never get a chance to tell.
BANFIELD: The anatomy of a fight, it matters. Did the scuffle that ended in Trayvon Martin's death happen the way George Zimmerman said it did, and what about those itty bitty inconsistencies, but there were several of them. It's coming up a little later on in this hour.
In the meantime, I don't know if you've seen these pictures, a 15-foot sinkhole with a car. Look down, all the way down to the bottom, underneath that waterfall. Yes, it's a car. And there was a female driver trapped inside. Just ahead, you're going to hear the dramatic 911 call and her cry for help. I've got good news to tell you, she made it out but you would not believe what it took. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Trouble in Toledo. I want to take you to Ohio, because this is worth seeing, a giant sinkhole. And look what's in the bottom. A woman driving her car down the street found there was no street below her and plunged to the bottom of that sinkhole. You can see the water main and gushing water. It's thought that's likely what actually caused the sinkhole, was the broken water main, gushing water, but doesn't look like there was much support for that street to start with. Here is something that's amazing, though, the 911 call from an eyewitness who was worried about the person in the car at the bottom of the sink hole.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: Yes, a car just fell through the -- a car just fell through the street on Detroit and Bancroft. A hole opened up and --
911 OPERATOR: Listen, Detroit and Bancroft. What kind of vehicle?
CALLER: I don't know. Tan Malibu is in the hole. It sunk in.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Unbelievable. So the pictures that you were just seeing -- I'm sorry we're laughing, but I do find out -- what kind of car is it. I don't care. It's a car at the bottom of a sinkhole. It's hard to describe. They were able to get to her. See the firefighter on the ladder? That is a 60-year-old woman. Not hurt. Thank god. Imagine if that water was pouring into the cab of the car. Luckily, it's pouring in the back of the car and deflecting. Repairing that road, though, is going to take some time.
Back in a moment.
BANFIELD: Celebrating America. On July 4th, you're not going to see a better symbol of what people are fighting for in this country than the Statue of Liberty. It reopened to tourists today. The statue had been closed for repairs to the docks and the surrounding grounds because Superstorm Sandy did a real number on that island. The entire island, in fact, was flooded. Lady Liberty herself, not damaged, but what a mess. In fact, such a mess it took months, it cost $59 million to repair it. Millions of people end up coming to this statue, whether they are New Yorkers or visitors to New York, and climb the 300-some-odd stairs to the top. 15,000 tickets for today. Though, if you're thinking, sorry, they are already sold out.
From Ellis Island, all the way to the west coast, everybody has July 4th today, even if they are working. It is the birthday for the country, but for some it's going to be a yucky day. Fireworks could be soggy for some.
Karen McGinnis is watching the weather.
Every day, Karen, there are thunderstorms and copious amounts of rain, yet I have a bit of sun behind me. This is Florida. What's the rest of the country looking at?
KAREN MCGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we literally can divide the nation in half. We've got the hot weather, which is thoroughly entrenched across the west, but it looks like soggy skies across the southeast. This isn't associated with a tropical storm or hurricane. This is tropical moisture that's moving up from the south. Area of high pressure offshore, and that kind of infiltrates the southeast with these heavy amounts of moisture and rain. Nashville expecting two to four. Atlanta, just about the same. Down towards Tallahassee, three to five inches of rainfall expected there. Rivers and streams filling up. But we've been stuck in this very stagnant weather pattern for quite some time. High pressure across the west. That high pressure ridge is gradually breaking down. Those temperatures are not going to be quite as hot, but I'll show you that in just a second. Boston today will be around 95 degrees, and the west temperatures still in the triple digits.
Ashleigh, back to you.
BANFIELD: All right, Karen McGinnis, thank you for that.
When we return, live in Sanford, Florida, the key question in the case involving George Zimmerman, self defense or murder? Does his story match the evidence? It's all coming up.
BANFIELD: Welcome back. We're live in Sanford, Florida. You know, in any -- most any criminal case, you have your evidence. And then you have your witnesses. And most of the time, they are supposed to measure up, and sometimes they don't. What about in the case of George Zimmerman? Does his story match the evidence? Have a look.
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: I kept yelling, help, help, help, as loud as I could. He put his hand on his nose -- on my nose, his other hand on my mouth. He said shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up. And then I tried squirming again, because all I could think about is, when he was hitting my head, it felt like my head was going to explode, and I thought I was going to lose consciousness.
# (voice-over): It's the essential question in the George Zimmerman murder trial, was it murder or was it self defense?
WEST: If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times, that Trayvon Martin was unarmed. What the evidence will show you is that's not true. Trayvon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk, and used it to smash George Zimmerman's head.
BANFIELD: George Zimmerman, 27 years old at the time, 5'9", 194 pounds, versus Trayvon Martin, 17 years old, 5'11, 158 pounds. Zimmerman says it was Trayvon Martin who was attacking him, and one neighbor's testimony seems to back that up.
JOHN GOOD, WITNESS: The person on top, legs were over the person on the bottom that was laying flat on the ground.
O'MARA: OK. So now the person on top is, in fact, like this over the person on the bottom?
GOOD: I would say that's accurate.
O'MARA: OK. And the person on the bottom was laying flat?
O'MARA: Could you tell if he was on his back or not?
GOOD: He was on his back.
O'MARA: He was on his back. At this point, what's the person on the top wearing? I'm sorry, the person on the top, his back you can see, wearing?
GOOD: It was the same person that was on the top when they were T- shaped to the sidewalk.
O'MARA: OK. They did not -- I'm sorry. They did not change positions, did they?
O'MARA: Except one, the one on top in the black actually, instead of laying down on the guy on the bottom, was now straddling him, correct?
BANFIELD: But in later testimony, that neighbor, John Good, told the prosecutor he couldn't confirm the person on top was hitting the other. But the bottom line is, Trayvon Martin was wearing a black hoodie and tan pants. George Zimmerman was dressed in a red and black jacket. And he says he was the one on the bottom getting beaten to a pulp until he finally broke free.
ZIMMERMAN: Somehow I got out from under him. And when he was hitting me, I don't know what he was hitting me with. I thought he had something in his hands. So I grabbed his hands when I was on top of him and I brought his hands away from his body because he was still talking and I was on top of him.
BANFIELD: But what the evidence could be another story. Trayvon Martin was found lying face down on the grass. His hands were underneath his body. A single bullet went through his chest. A teen's life cut short at just 17 years old.
And soon the jury will have to sort through an abundance of forensic testimony from dozens of witnesses before they decide if Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder or if he's not.
BANFIELD: A sequestered jury spending this July 4th sequestered, not fun, not in court, but thinking about what they heard yesterday and probably throughout the last two weeks.
I want to bring back defense attorney, Midwin Charles, and CNN legal correspondent, Jean Casarez, and criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Jeff Gold, back with me live in Sanford, Florida.
OK. Yesterday, a critical witness took the stand. He was a professor of George Zimmerman's. He taught him law enforcement. And here is how he characterized his student for prosecutors. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUY: Do you remember the defendant, George Zimmerman, being a student in that course.
UNIDENTIFIED PROFESSOR: I do.
GUY: Do you remember what kind of grade you gave him?
UNIDENTIFIED PROFESSOR: I gave him an "A."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: I gave him an "A."
Jean Casarez, quickly, the strategy here being?
CASAREZ: His knowledge that he knew all about Stand Your Ground and self-defense because of that course and so he was one step ahead of the officers to say I shot him in self-defense, knowing it was murder. And defense turned it around to say he got an "A" in the course because he really knew what self-defense means.
BANFIELD: Midwin Charles, do you think that the jury made that jump or were they wondering, OK, so he is a good student and he is a good guy? I'm wondering --
MIDWIN CHARLES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, no. I think they made that jump. Not only did they make that jump, it shows he is a liar, because in the interview with Sean Hannity, he said he never heard of Stand Your Ground before, and that professor debunked that statement.
BANFIELD: I found that interesting because they did say that the law is codified into statute, and I was wondering if they were mincing wards, saying maybe he learned about the law in its technical words and not the colloquial Stand Your Ground. It is one of the arguments brought up. Jeff Gold, to you, and this is critical. That witness that may have been a great prosecution witness for a moment turned on a dime when the defense attorney had him describe what self-defense means and he said self-defense means you don't have to be hurt, you just have to think you're going to be in imminent danger if you're a reasonable person.
GOLD: That's right. The judge instructed the jury that she is the one that tells what the law is, and yet the defense was able to have this witness give them a lesson on self-defense.
Look, you know what this jury heard? Jonathan Good say that Trayvon Martin was pummeling, pummeling George Zimmerman. That's what they're going to remember. Not this.
BANFIELD: Yes, but the injuries that George Zimmerman had, there was a medical examiner, strangely enough --
-- a medical examiner, who was looking at the defendant, not the victim, and saying that he wasn't pummeled numerous times into the concrete. But you have the pictures.
And just quickly, Jean, I need 10 seconds on what we will see tomorrow.
CASAREZ: It's going to be an emotional day because the medical examiner has to testify with autopsy photos. And then also we believe quite possibly they call the mother and even brother of Trayvon.
BANFIELD: Then we could wrap up the prosecution by the end of this week.
Midwin Charles, thank you.
Jean Casarez, thank you.
Jeff Gold, also here with me live in Sanford.
Thank you to all three of you expert's expertise. I appreciate it.
And thank you very much, and a happy Fourth of July to you and your family. I hope you have a wonderful day. I hope you have the day off.
But I am going to hand off the reigns to my colleagues who are going to take over with "AROUND THE WORLD" right after this break. Take care. We'll see you tomorrow, live from Sanford.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: The Fourth of July, the United States celebrating its 237th Independence Day and the birth of democracy. The Statue of Liberty standing as a symbol of freedom. FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And tonight, of course, fireworks will light up the skies. But as this country celebrates, another country struggles with the difficult transition --