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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Self-Defense or Murder?: The George Zimmerman Trial
Aired July 8, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Friends of George Zimmerman testifying. So does Trayvon Martin's father, a reluctant witness for the defense, also a big ruling from the bench this evening.
Good evening, everyone. Welcome to another A.C. 360 special report, "Self-Defense or Murder?: The George Zimmerman trial."
First, the ruling, the judge this afternoon allowing attorneys for George Zimmerman to introduce evidence that Trayvon Martin had THC in his system, that's the active ingredient in marijuana, the night he died. How significant that is remains to be seen.
We will talk about it in the hour ahead. Prosecutors fought hard to keep the evidence out, calling it a backdoor way of tarnishing Trayvon Martin's character in the eyes of the jury. Zimmerman's drug use has also come up, fire and EMS reports showing that he was on anxiety and sleep medications the night of the shooting. There's yet to be a ruling though on the admissibility of that. And there was much more today than just the pot rulings, some powerful testimony as well. A lot to get to in the hour ahead.
Martin Savidge reports.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was another remarkable moment, the father of Trayvon Martin taking the stand, questioned by the attorney defending the killer of his son. Earlier two police investigators testified that just days after the shooting, they played Tracy Martin the 911 call containing screams and a gunshot from that night.
Both said Tracy Martin unequivocally told them it was not Trayvon he heard screaming. But on the stand Martin testified he never said and said he told police he was not certain whose voice he heard.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: What was going through your mind when you were listening to that?
TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Basically, what I was listening to, I was listening to my son's last cry for help. I was listening to his life being taken. And I was coming, trying to come to grips that Trayvon was here no more.
SAVIDGE: The defense had spent much of the morning hammering home a version of who was screaming for help. One after another, five friends of George Zimmerman took the stand and, asked the same question, gave the same answer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely, it's Georgie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was George.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard the tape, my immediate was reaction was that's George screaming for help.
MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Whose voice is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George Zimmerman's voice.
O'MARA: The most powerful affirmation came from John Donnelly, a friend of Zimmerman's, who unlike any previous witness said he had her voices under similar stress as a medic in the Vietnam War.
JOHN DONNELLY, FRIEND OF ZIMMERMAN: When someone is in dire straits, whether it be combat or anything else, your voice obviously changes. I have heard a 250-pound man sound like a little girl screaming, and -- but before you get there, you know who he is.
SAVIDGE: Instead of the scream, the prosecution focused on Zimmerman's language in his call to police, suggesting his use of profanity implied hatred, a key point when trying to prove second- degree murder.
LEE ANN BENJAMIN, FRIEND OF ZIMMERMAN: It seemed to me when Mr. de la Rionda was trying to highlight it, make it sound heightened, and I don't feel that it was way at all. I think it was more a statement.
SAVIDGE: Also called to testify was the owner of the gym where Zimmerman trained in grappling and boxing for less than a year as part of a weight loss routine. Asking him how he would rate his fighting skills?
O'MARA: What number would you assign to his abilities?
ADAM POLLOCK, GYM OWNER: Point-five.
O'MARA: Less than a one?
SAVIDGE: Adam Pollock, a martial arts expert, demonstrated the so-called ground and pound technique of fighting that a witness last week said he saw Trayvon Martin use while atop Zimmerman on the night of the shooting. Pollock, who is also a trainer, said he's seen his shares of fight aftermaths and said that after just days of the confrontation with Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman appeared black-eyed and emotionally traumatized.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Sanford, Florida.
COOPER: A lot to get to in the hour ahead. Let's bring in the panel, legal analysts and former federal prosecutors Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin, at the defense table, Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos. Mark is co-author of "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works, and Sometimes Doesn't," also forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice here in Manhattan.
Mark, let me start with you. Tracy Martin's testimony today, obviously a gutsy call for the defense to bring in Trayvon Martin's dad as a witness. Do you think that Mark O'Mara scored the points that he wanted to?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think at first blush you would say why would you ever do that? But if you think about it, I think what he was trying to do is set up the closing argument.
He wants to argue later on, look, here's somebody who told the police initially that it wasn't him and now he's equivocating. And obviously whoever is listening is listening through the framework of what they want to believe. Mark even telegraphed that's where he was headed the other day in his press conference. I think you're going to hear echoes of that in the closing argument.
It is a gutsy call, high risk/high reward in the sense that you never want to be looked at as having kind of beaten up on somebody who has gone through a tragedy like this. And he didn't beat him up in any sense, but the upside, I think, doesn't necessarily outweigh the potential for a downside here.
COOPER: Danny, what do you think? Do you think the jury believes Tracy Martin when he says, no, the two police officers who testified are essentially wrong, that it wasn't that I said I couldn't identify my son's voice, it's that I said I just wasn't sure?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's a credibility determination. That's why it's so fascinating the decision to call Tracy Martin.
Overall when we look at the defense, their strategy has been -- there's two ways you can go as defense strategy. You can say if there's something we're uncomfortable with, we won't address it or you can meet it head on. There's no question that this defense team has decided to meet every piece of evidence head on. Yes, there is risk in calling Tracy Martin.
Yes, they could be seen as a little too aggressive. However, they're aware he has inconsistencies and when they called one parent to say conclusively that was my son, this one wasn't so sure.
COOPER: His sadness on the stand was so palpable. I just want to play a little bit more of his testimony today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA RIONDA: So they played then the call then of the cries for help and then you actually hear a shot; is that correct? So they played the call then of the cries for help and then you actually hear a shot, is that correct?
DE LA RIONDA: OK. And am I safe to assume that you still at that time were in denial in the sense of not wanting to believe that your son was dead?
DE LA RIONDA: This was a very emotional time for you while this was going on, in terms of -- I'm talking about the day the recording was played for you at the Sanford Police Department, correct?
DE LA RIONDA: OK. And you listened to the recording, and as you stated, described to the jury, you pulled your chair back in disbelief that you were actually listening to voices for help and also, more importantly, also, a shot.
DE LA RIONDA: You realized that that was the shot...
MARTIN: That killed my son, yes.
DE LA RIONDA: Did you really know what to do at that point?
MARTIN: No. I was -- my world was -- from that point, until today, my world has just been turned upside-down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, Sunny, all of us who are watching this trial on television don't see what you see because you're actually in the courtroom. How did the jury respond? Do you think they took Tracy Martin's testimony at face value, that was essentially in denial the first time he heard that phone call?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely.
I think out of all of witnesses of the Martin family that have testified about Trayvon Martin's voice, he seemed to be the most compelling. His sadness was so palpable. He's clearly in so much grief.
He was very elegant on the witness stand and the jury was with him. They were leaning forward. One of the jurors just had her hand over her mouth like this the entire time. I have got to tell you, I think the defense had a really good day today with a lot of their witnesses, but this was a bad call that they made, Anderson.
It's something that you just don't do. You don't call the victim's grieving father as your witness and try to catch him in some sort of discrepancy. It was just such a mistake and it really fell flat in the courtroom. I have to tell you I was watching that jury so closely and they were with Tracy Martin.
COOPER: Mark, you argued the counter, which is at times you don't think you can tell -- a jury can be engaged but you can't -- just from your own experience, you can't predict where that engagement leads.
GERAGOS: Right. If somebody leans forward -- I don't care who you are, you're going to feel for this man's pain. He's lost his son. Anybody who has a son can't even -- it's unimaginable. So I get that. But I don't know that that means they're with him. And that's where I say that I just think Sunny is so at this point emotionally involved in the prosecution's case...
HOSTIN: That's not true. That's not true.
GERAGOS: ... that she just can't see past it.
Sunny, when you talk about this, you have now referred to virtually every single Trayvon Martin relative, you have referred to by the term elegant. You have...
HOSTIN: They are elegant.
GERAGOS: You are completely -- well, you have not referred to anybody in Zimmerman's family that way.
HOSTIN: I also said that the defense had a good day. They had a good day today, except for this.
GERAGOS: And I might agree with that, but I'm saying the idea that somehow you're going to predict the jury by how they're reacting to a grieving father, I just don't buy that.
HOSTIN: They were with him.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, go ahead, Jeff.
TOOBIN: I just think we have now heard a lot of witnesses talk about whose voice this is, and I think the only reasonable reaction at this point is, I don't know. I don't know whose voice it was.
And I can't believe based on this testimony that the jury will be able to decide either, and I think that helps the defense, because unless they can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that it's Trayvon Martin's voice, it really doesn't help the prosecution. So here's an example where I think the burden of proof really does favor the defense, because if it's mysterious, and, frankly, it's mysterious to me, I don't know whose voice it was, I think it's going to be mysterious to the jury. And that uncertainty will help the defense.
COOPER: As we heard from Martin Savidge's report, as I mentioned before with Danny, two investigators testified that Tracy Martin initially told him it was not his son's -- on the 911 call.
Then the defense attorney seemed to imply that maybe Tracy Martin had told his lawyer to lie on his behalf about the exchange. I just want to play it for those who didn't see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'MARA: Do you believe that the police lied when the two officers said that you said no about it being your son?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, Your Honor. It's improper to -- about what somebody else is saying.
O'MARA: Foundation question for another one, Your Honor. I think this is necessary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you will have to rephrase your question, because it's not proper to have a witness comment on another witness' testimony.
O'MARA: I will do it this way, then. Did you ever instruct your attorney, Ben Crump -- you didn't have Ben Crump when you listened to the tape on the 27th, on the 28th, did you?
O'MARA: He was not your attorney at that point?
MARTIN: No, he wasn't.
O'MARA: Later, did you instruct him to say that the police lied when they said that you couldn't tell when they said that you had said no about it being your son's voice? Did you instruct your lawyer to say that?
MARTIN: I never instructed anyone to say anything.
O'MARA: You never instructed Ben Crump to say the police had lied about that?
MARTIN: I never instructed anyone to say anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Danny, do you agree with Jeff that you have friends of Zimmerman, you have Tracy Martin, you have Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, you have George Zimmerman's mother, brother -- do you agree with Jeff that ultimately the jurors are just going to say, look, I don't know?
CEVALLOS: Well, first, the defense put on some tremendous witnesses to counter Trayvon Martin's mother at the opening of their case.
But Jeff is right. Even if we look at this like a wash, we can't figure out who it is, then when the jurors don't know something, they're going to be inclined to acquit. However, let's just assume for argument's sake that it is Trayvon Martin's voice on that call. Then we have to ask what theory of facts does that fit into?
I can't say at the end of the prosecution that they have articulated a narrative. What exactly happened? If Trayvon Martin was screaming, was he being beaten up? Did George Zimmerman hold a gun in front of him? We don't know. The more we say we don't know, when that door closes in the jury room, if they look at each and they say we don't know, that tends to lead towards a walk, a not guilty.
GERAGOS: Well, look, the idea -- and I know that jurors get instructed on it, they're supposed to keep their mind open until they go into the deliberation room. Anybody who practices trial law will tell you is that what actually happens is they make up their mind virtually as soon as the opening statement is finished.
What ends up actually happening is if they have made up their mind -- and almost study shows that and I will tell you virtually ever case I have ever tried shows that -- they're going to look at this case through the prism of what they believe. If they believe -- and they want to found him not guilty, Zimmerman not guilty, they're going to believe that was Zimmerman. If they're going to find him guilty, they're going to believe and say they believe that it was Trayvon Martin.
So I'm not so sure it's as much of a wash as the prism through which they're listening or looking that the evidence.
COOPER: I want to bring in Dr. Kobilinsky here because there is forensic stuff to talk about, the judge ruling that the presence of THC in Trayvon Martin's systems will be allowed in. But the levels, how can you compare these levels?
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, PROFESSOR OF FORENSIC SCIENCE, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, first of all, I think they had to bring it in because it's part of the autopsy report. It can't be separated.
And the level is critical of course, 1.5 nanograms per milliliter from central blood. What that tells me, that's a very low level. It's a baseline level, especially for somebody smoking cannabis on a regular basis. If somebody were not smoking on a regular basis and just perhaps smoked a joint in the morning, about six or eight hours later, they would have that level.
COOPER: But you can't tell whether or not Trayvon Martin smoked that day.
KOBILINSKY: You cannot tell, that's correct.
And, moreover, the typical systems are elevated respiration and elevated heart rate, euphoria, anxiety, paranoia. But this is true if the levels are higher. These levels, 1.5 nanograms is a very, very low amount. And quite frankly I think it's impossible to say whether or not there was any kind of mental influence or physical influence. And certainly if somebody is accommodated to smoking cannabis, they would not have any effect whatsoever with that level.
COOPER: I want to talk more about the pot question when we come back, but we got to take a quick break. Everyone, stick around. Let's dig deep near the pot thing, also the friends and family, the people saying they heard George Zimmerman's voice on the 911 tape, a lot more to talk about.
Also, after Trayvon Martin's father Tracy Martin's testimony today, we will expand on the question of whether jurors, as Sunny believes tonight, are just as moved as court watchers may be.
As always, let us know what you're think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. Let's talk about the trial during the commercial break. We will be right back.
COOPER: A cry for help on a noisy, sometimes garbled 911 tape. Deciding whose voice it is could help jurors determine who was the aggressor, George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin, and ultimately Zimmerman's guilt or innocence.
You will recall the judge has barred expert testimony on the audio, but, as we have talked about, allowed the friends and family of each man to take the stand and say what they heard. Today, the defense called five of Zimmerman's friends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'MARA: Do you know who that is in the background screaming?
SONDRA OSTERMAN, FRIEND OF ZIMMERMAN: Yes, definitely it's Georgie.
O'MARA: And how is it that you know that?
OSTERMAN,: I just -- I hear it. I hear him screaming.
O'MARA: Do you have an opinion of whose voice it is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was George.
O'MARA: Can you identify whose voice that was yelling in the background?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George's.
O'MARA: Do you have an opinion as to whose voice that is in the background?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do.
O'MARA: And whose voice is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George Zimmerman's voice.
O'MARA: Whose voice do you believe that to be screaming for help?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that it George Zimmerman, and I wish to God I did not have that ability to understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, what to make of that?
Back with our panel, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Mark Geragos, Danny Cevallos and Lawrence Kobilinsky.
I want to talk about that voice again, but first we just want to finish off talking about the THC.
Mark Geragos, how significant -- actually, let me start with you, Danny, because during the commercial break you were talking about how kind of the roles are reversed here talking about the presence of marijuana in Trayvon Martin's system.
CEVALLOS: I love self-defense cases because the traditional roles of prosecution and defense are inverted.
And by that, I mean this. If this was a DUI case, you better believe the prosecution, their position is always any amount of marijuana, and, for example, in Pennsylvania, you're driving at -- automatically at the level of highest intoxication.
COOPER: Even if you have that tiny amount of THC?
CEVALLOS: You try making that I only had a weensy-teensy bit of marijuana in my system argument to a judge or to a DA, they're not listening.
However, isn't it interesting in a self-defense case, now it's the operation saying, wait a minute, having -- and it's true. I have to admit the prosecution is correct that just having a presence of THC in your system -- THC is different than other drugs. If you have alcohol in your system, you are on some level intoxicated. If you have THC, that may just mean that you are exposed to it or you took or you imbibed or whatever you want to say. You had marijuana in the last three, four, five days, but it does not necessarily mean you're intoxicated at that moment of time. And in that sense, marijuana is different from other drugs.
COOPER: Sunny, supporters of Trayvon Martin and his family essentially -- and those who are opposed to George Zimmerman say, look, this is a backdoor way of trying to slander Trayvon Martin or suggest something about his character.
HOSTIN: I think that's true.
I mean, why else would the defense want that information, especially given I think the way our society views marijuana at this point. It's illegal in a couple of states. People sort of feel like it makes people more groovy. It, you know, could explain why he was getting candy and a watermelon iced tea. It just -- it doesn't make any sense for the defense to want it to come in, other than trash the victim.
And I think the trash the victim theme, it just never really works, and so I'm confused as to why they would want to put this in, other than to try to argue that he was somehow paranoid or his perception was off in terms of describing Zimmerman as creepy. But as Dr. K. just said, there's so little that was found in his bloodstream, that just doesn't make sense either.
The only thing that makes sense to me is they want to trash the victim. It just -- it generally doesn't work.
CEVALLOS: Sunny, respectfully, law enforcement admittedly you have to admit takes a very different view. If you have any amount of marijuana, for example, that's presumed statutorily that you have bad decision making, especially when operating a motor vehicle. If you have marijuana in your system and the law says you cannot operate a motor vehicle...
HOSTIN: Trayvon was walking, though.
CEVALLOS: My point is our law recognizes, it recognizes that it impairs your decision making; it impairs your decision making. So if it impairs your decision making, isn't it probative of what Trayvon Martin's state of mind was moments before he gets into an altercation? Isn't that possible, Sunny?
HOSTIN: I don't think so because of the level that was found in his blood. I mean, ask Dr. K. He's sitting right next to you. It doesn't make a lot of sense.
GERAGOS: Sunny, the problem is, is there are DUI lawyers all over Florida tonight who have ordered the transcript of the prosecutor's argument in this case, because they're going to throw it in the prosecutor's face every single day, because...
HOSTIN: And if we were talking about a DUI case, that would make sense.
HOSTIN: But this is murder two.
GERAGOS: It doesn't matter. They say they are impaired. That's the whole issue. And I think -- and I'm with you, Sunny, because I have made this argument countless times -- that it probably doesn't impair.
But I guarantee you when you have those jurors and you're arguing to them in the closing argument and you start talking about the things that could be wrong with somebody and the paranoia, they're not going to be experts about all this. They're not going to get into the weeds on all of this, excuse the pun. They're going to understand that he was on something and that something got out of control and he was going out to get sugar, and most people are going to understand what was going on.
COOPER: Jeff, I don't know of too many cases where pot is pointed at as making people violent.
In fact, I think most people know that it tends not to make people violent, but it is illegal and it is a part of the medical report here, part of the autopsy report. And I don't know how the judge could keep it out. I think this is one of the sort of uncomfortable paradoxes of this case.
COOPER: So George Zimmerman, the presence of sleep -- of some sleep drug or anti-anxiety drug in his system, does that then need to be entered to?
TOOBIN: I think it should be. I think it's all part of the case.
HOSTIN: They didn't take his blood that night.
COOPER: OK, one at a time.
Dr. Kobilinsky, but in terms of making somebody violent, I mean, there's not -- pot doesn't -- really doesn't -- unless it's like laced with PCP or something from back in the day.
KOBILINSKY: No, if anything, it calms, generally speaking.
But people can get paranoid. But I think the answer to the question is quite simple. You cannot say to any medical degree of certainty whether he was affected mentally or physically. You simply can't say yes or no. We don't know enough about the history of his consumption of cannabis.
COOPER: OK. Everyone, stay with us.
Up next, show and tell in front of the court. George Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, actually got down on the floor with Zimmerman's athletic trainer to make the point about his client's physical abilities. We will talk about that when we come back.
COOPER: Well, as we saw at the top of the program, part of today's defense strategy was to show that George Zimmerman was not the aggressor by focusing on his physical abilities. This is the defense strategy.
On the stand was his athletic trainer, who calls Zimmerman a nice and pleasant guy, but a man who was large, overweight, and physically soft, who didn't know how to throw a punch after almost's a year of boxing training.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLLOCK: Let's say we figured a scale of one to 10.
If you start off on a scale of one, you're going to do a lot more work to get to 10. Usually, when you see an accomplished athlete, when they come into the gym, they have already had a history as a child of all kind of athletics they have been exposed to.
And if you have an adult that hasn't had that type of background exposure, they're going to have a bit more work and they are probably never going to get to the same degree of accomplishment that somebody who had that childhood background has had.
O'MARA: And on that scale of one to 10, when George Zimmerman first got to you, What number would you assign to his abilities?
O'MARA: Less than a one?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right, let's bring back or panel, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Mark Geragos, and Danny Cevallos. At one point, Jeff, during the testimony, Pollock actually stepped down from the stand to show a grappling move on the defense attorney. I just want to show this to our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLLOCK: That's fine.
So a mounted position -- I was in a position much like this.
O'MARA: You said a moment ago that the -- your legs are outside of my hips, correct?
POLLOCK: Right, as opposed to a (INAUDIBLE) position, where I would be between his legs, which would be much more of this nature.
Where, here, he's going to be able to use his hands and his legs and arms to defend, here, he's not going to have the same ability to use the hands and legs to defend. Here, he'd only be able to use his hands, and he'd be impaired somewhat, because I'm going to have both my hands and legs available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So Jeff, what did you make of this guy as a -- as his testimony?
TOOBIN: Well, it's the wimp defense. George is such a wimp that he was obviously getting beaten up, and that's why he pulled a gun.
I think it's perhaps marginally helpful. It's based entirely on speculation about what went on there. So, you know, I think there's probably not that much to it but, you know, to me what's much more significant is that there were grass stains on the back of Zimmerman's shirt. That means he was on his back. As for whether he was a bad fighter or not, who knows? But the grass stains, that is, I think, very significant.
COOPER: And the defense seemed to really want the jury to hear that Zimmerman was out of shape. I just want to play this other exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: As far as you had testified regarding his athleticism, what words within that context, how would you define George Zimmerman?
POLLACK: Just physically soft. You know, he's not a, you know -- he was an overweight, large man when he came to us and a very, very pleasant, very nice man, pleasant man but physically soft. He was predominantly fat, not a lot of muscle, not a lot of strength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: After a while if I was George Zimmerman I'd be like "All right, I got it. I was out of shape!"
Sunny, how did this play in court?
HOSTIN: It was so weird. The jury certainly listened to him. I thought the demonstration was kind of odd. I don't know that they understood why he was there. Because we know that one of the witnesses testified that he saw some sort of MMA-style fighting. And then you've got someone getting up on the stand saying, "Yes, he was training at my gym. I'm some MMA specialist, and he trained two or three times a week. He was a diligent student, and he was overweight."
I don't know how that helps the defense. Because yes, maybe he knew MMA stuff, and then he was losing so he pulls out a gun. You can't bring a gun to a fist fight. And so I almost think it helped the prosecution.
And the looks on the jurors' faces to me seemed like they didn't get it either. It was an odd witness.
COOPER: Danny -- Danny, Jeff makes the point that, I mean, it is speculation what this guy was saying. He's down on the ground talking about two different kind of leg moves or something.
CEVALLOS: Isn't it fascinating that the only reason in this trial we're even talking about MMA is because of just some off-hand comment that a witness with the last name of Wood made a couple weeks ago?
If he had said, "I looked out my window, and it appeared to be people river dancing down the walkway," we'd have had river dancers dancing on and giving testimony about the finer points of "Riverdance."
It's only because it happened that Zimmerman happened to train a little in MMA and because a witness said, "It looked to me like a ground and pound." Which, as we saw from the demonstration, a ground and pound is really just a modified wrestling move. But it's fascinating.
Trials are amazing because you get this circus of experts coming in. And candidly, I mean, this guy saying Zimmerman was a .05, I suspect everybody's a .05 to this guy.
But it is fascinating when you get in these experts. It's brilliant defense strategy. Because all of these witnesses they use them for several purposes. They use them as a fact witness. "I saw Zimmerman. He was injured." They also use him for other purposes. This is a guy who was too soft. As Jeffrey Toobin said, he's a wimp; he couldn't have done this.
And it's also a great show. Look, now the jurors see this O'Mara. He's the kind of guy that's willing to get down on his back and get involved. Demonstrations sear images into jurors' minds. I think they're very effective and that went very well.
COOPER: Mark, have you found that, as well: Demonstrations have an impact on the jury?
GERAGOS: Yes, I've done the exact same thing that O'Mara's done on at least 10, 15 occasions in murder cases where you have somebody get down off the stage and demonstrate on me how they reenact it. I do it often, actually, with pathologists.
But having said that, this -- what I hate about this and where the defense is right now is that people watching this are going to assume that most judges in most cases are going to let you go to this extent. Most judges will not. Most judge would have said sorry. They would have excluded most, if not all, of this.
COOPER: Why? Because it's speculative? Speculative?
GERAGOS: Because it's speculative, No. 1.
No. 2, its cumulative. It is -- there's no basis for it. I mean, this case would have been over if there were not TV cameras in there. Would have been over three or four days ago...
GERAGOS: ... because some judge would have said, "You're done with this. You've made your case. I'm going to give you just this much more time." This is part of the down side of TV covering these things.
COOPER: That's interesting. Jeff, do you agree with that?
TOOBIN: I don't know if it's about TV. No, I don't think it's TV. I think the judges have different styles. I think Judge Nelson, who has done a wonderful job of moving this trial along, is clearly someone who errs on the side of letting things in.
I mean,, there have been several things in this case that I thought were irrelevant. I mean, you could argue that the THC is irrelevant. This demonstration is irrelevant.
Tomorrow she is weighing the admissibility of a computer simulation of how the attack might have taken place. I think most judges wouldn't allow the jury within ten feet of that. Who the heck...
GERAGOS: I agree.
TOOBIN: Here's a -- it's ridiculous. Here's a cartoon that shows how my client is innocent. I mean, I don't see how you can put that on. Allow that to be evidence in the case.
GERAGOS: You can't allow that in. And part of the problem is you get these cases that become high-profile and there's a tendency. I've been in the middle of it. You get into this psychosis almost of over trying the case. Both sides are guilty of it.
And I think this case has been terribly over tried at this point. It's enough. They've established -- they've established what each of them need to establish. The fact that, as commentators people are getting polarized shows it. I mean, this case needs to get to the jury. Everybody's made their point.
COOPER: We have 20 more minutes.
TOOBIN: You're getting polarized.
COOPER: We have 20 more minutes, so I hope you haven't all made your point yet.
We have to take another quick break. I want to move on to the family: what do jurors see when a mom or dad, close friend of the victim or defendant takes the stand.
Also, I also wanted to take you inside more of today's testimony.
COOPER: Welcome back. So much of this case, before and after the trial, revolves around the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. They've talked to authorities, gone on television, spoken publicly again and again. And now, they've taken the stand.
Today, as we mentioned, the defense called Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy, who may have helped the prosecution with his powerful account of listening to the 911 call that caught the confrontation that left his son dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON'S FATHER: I was listening to my son's last cry for help. I was listening to his life being taken. And I was coming trying to -- trying to come to grips that Trayvon was here no more. It was -- it was just tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's hard, obviously, as an observer not to be moved. The question is, do jurors react the same way? Some answers now from Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dueling testimony from mothers on both sides over just who was screaming during the 911 call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, that screaming or yelling. Do you recognize that?
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON'S MOTHER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who do you recognize that to be, ma'am?
FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know whose voice that was screaming in the background?
GLADYS ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S MOTHER: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And whose voice was that?
GLADYS ZIMMERMAN: My son George.
KAYE: During emotional trials, family members are often star witnesses, put on the stand for their sometimes emotional and personal insight in hopes of gaining favor with the jury. The question is: is it effective? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: A lot of times jurors will simply disregard family testimony, because they simply believe there's so many bias involved that that's not a useful witness or necessarily a truthful witness.
KAYE: But that hasn't stopped attorneys from trying. Sometimes the person testifying helps. After sentencing one of the killers to death, several jurors from a horrific triple murder case in Cheshire, Connecticut, said they were amazed by the strength of the victim's husband and father in court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeing him there, seeing his courage and seeing his strength after everything he's been through, that transferred to us.
KAYE: But it can be risky and backfire. After Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges, jurors said they had a hard time believing the accuser's own mother.
PAUL RODRIGUEZ, MICHAEL JACKSON JURY FOREPERSON: We just couldn't buy the story of the mother for one. We just thought that she was not a credible person.
KAYE: In George Zimmerman's case, both sides clearly see it as a risk worth taking. Two members of his family have testified and three from Trayvon Martin's.
MARTIN: As I said over and over, my best friend in life and to have him gone is -- is tragic.
JORGE MEZA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S UNCLE: I was on the computer, and that voice just came and hit me. It hit me the way that I heard that but more than heard that, I felt it inside of my heart. I says that is George.
NEJAME: They've got to believe somebody and a lot of it simply goes down to credibility.
KAYE: And with a case where the facts remain so elusive, credibility may ultimately be the key.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Credibility, of course, is key for everybody who testifies. I want to bring back our panel, Danny Cevallos, Jeffrey Toobin, Sunny Hostin, Mark Geragos. Also, forensic science Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
I want to talk about the credibility of another person who testified. This Friday, the medical examiner testified, Dr. Kobilinsky. I want to play part of this testify to our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SHIPING BAO, MEDICAL EXAMINER: I believe he was alive for one to ten minutes after he was shot. His heart was beating until there was no blood left. At that point, his heart stopped and it was complete silence.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDE, PROSECUTOR: And so this would be an obvious question. This is a fatal shot. Is that correct?
BAO: There is two holes on the right ventricles of the heart. There is no chance he can survive. No chance, zero.
DE LA RIONDE: Are you saying that his brain is still technically alive, in other words?
DE LA RIONDE: That's what you mean by still alive in terms of consciousness; his brain is still alive?
DE LA RIONDE: He can still feel pain, in other words?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What did you think of this witness? As I recall, didn't he originally say that Trayvon Martin was only alive for one to three minutes? Now he says one to ten.
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: He did, he did. He first said one to three minutes; then he said one to ten. That's correct.
This testimony gave me angina. I just didn't quite follow what he was talking about.
First of all, you know, the heart can stop, but of course, you can resuscitate a person and live. So there's a physiological death when the heart stops, but there's also brain death, which is the legal understanding of death. At that point there are no longer any brain waves. It's irreversible.
And the way it happens is usually four or five minutes without oxygen till the entire brain starts the cells dying. And in a few more minutes, there's brain death.
Now, the issue of whether Trayvon Martin felt pain or not has to do with consciousness. How long was he conscious and feeling pain? So there's a lot of confusion here. The testimony was just awful. You could go unconscious in a minute or two, remain alive theoretically, because there's still electrical activity in the brain.
COOPER: Yes. Mark, what did you make of this witness? Because he was reading from his notes, which I haven't seen any other witness do and, frankly, does that help the credibility of somebody when they don't even know the case well enough that they're reading from their notes?
GERAGOS: If I understood correctly, he says that he changed his opinion because he came across another case that had a longer shelf life, so to speak.
COOPER: Right. Somebody who was alive for ten minutes.
GERAGOS: For ten minutes. And so therefore, he went back and changed his opinion. By the way, without giving anybody any notice except the prosecutor, once again, which tends to be the theme of the prosecution in this case, in a trial by ambush.
What I made of this witness was he was just trying to tailor his testimony to what his pay masters, the prosecution, wanted him to say. I thought it was abysmal. I can't believe that somebody who's a scientist would do that.
Generally when you have either a pathologist or a criminalist or anybody else, they're up there to tell you what the science of it is. They're not up there to be for one side or the other. They're supposed to be taking, somewhat by definition, what science says is an objective view of things.
COOPER: Jeff -- Jeff, what did you think?
TOOBIN: Well, I thought this was another example of how this case has been somewhat over tried. Cause of death is not at issue here. Everybody knows how Trayvon Martin dies -- died. It is not controversial.
And I thought by asking him all these questions about how long did he live, the prosecution just opened doors that they didn't need to open. This is a witness who should have been on and off the witness stand in ten minutes, but by trying too hard to help the prosecution -- and I think he did try too hard -- he opened up attacks on his own credibility when he just shouldn't have had to deal with it all.
COOPER: Sunny, was part of the reason he was trying to establish how long Trayvon was alive for was to support the notion -- or -- well, you know, there's the disagreement over the position of Trayvon Martin's hands, that George Zimmerman -- that apparently his hands had been up front, but then he -- George Zimmerman claimed his hands were over his head or that he put his hands out. But his hands were actually found underneath his body. Is that part of why the amount of time would matter?
HOSTIN: Yes, I think that may go to part of the government's case. But I also think it was sort of the emotional piece of it, that he actually suffered, that there was pain and suffering there. And as a prosecutor, you do want that kind of evidence in front of the jury, because you want to humanize Trayvon Martin. You want them to know what the victim felt, how the victim felt, and that's why prosecutors generally ask those kinds of questions.
But I've got to tell you, I think it was a disaster. I was in the courtroom for his testimony. He started out kind of OK, and then he just became this loose cannon. He was going all over the place.
But again, prosecutors don't get to pick the M.E.'s that conduct the autopsy on the victim. You get what you get. And so I think that they put him on the witness stand and were sort of caught flat-footed by what he said.
HOSTIN: I don't think he was trying to help the -- I don't think the prosecution thought that he was helpful to them. I think it was a disaster for them, and they knew it would be.
GERAGOS: Sunny, there's no reason -- there's no reason in the world that I can think of that he would say ten minutes that would help the defense. The only reason I think of that he would say ten minutes he was still alive was precisely the reason you gave, which most prosecutors would want, is it adds to the emotional drama of the death.
HOSTIN: But you're suggesting that the government...
GERAGOS: I am suggesting...
HOSTIN: ... you're suggesting that the government somehow fed him that or asked him to say that. I don't think anyone could control that witness.
GERAGOS: I am suggesting that what happens in courtrooms all throughout America is that prosecutors put on witnesses and they -- and the witnesses know what the prosecution wants and they testify and they tailor their testimony to it. And I think that's what this witness was trying to do.
COOPER: Everyone don't go away. I want to get your take on where the trial is headed next. Headed pretty quickly so far, especially if you ask -- if you ask Mark. Let's see what he says, how long it's going to be. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Day ten of a trial that was expected to move a whole lot slower than it has. Could it accelerate even more? That's the question.
Back with our panel: Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos, Mark Geragos, Lawrence Kobilinsky. Mark, where do you see this thing going? How quickly do you think the defense is going to wrap this up?
GERAGOS: The defense is definitely going to be done this week. There's no question.
Mark, remember we said early on, he's going to need bodyguards to stop from falling on his head in order to lose this case. He doesn't need to do very much more to win this case. There's no way they're putting on George Zimmerman on the stand. I'll increase the odds from 50-to-1 to 100-to-1, anyone who wants to take that bet. Jeff, I see you smiling. No, they're going to shut this down.
TOOBIN: No, I'm with you on this.
GERAGOS: OK. They're shutting this down my guess is by Wednesday, Thursday at the latest.
COOPER: Sunny, we didn't hear your thoughts on Friday when the prosecution rested. Do you believe they have proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of second-degree murder?
HOSTIN: yes. They've -- they've put enough evidence in to get it before the jury. I mean, the judge ruled that. I think that the only question is whether or not the judge will instruct them on lesser includeds like manslaughter and if there are those on the jury that perhaps don't think that second-degree murder is appropriate, well, then all of them, you know...
COOPER: Very quickly, anybody on this -- does anybody on this panel believe that they have proved second-degree murder? Sunny, you believe they have?
HOSTIN: Yes. I do.
COOPER: OK. Jeff, do you think the jury will -- Jeff, do you think manslaughter or do you think George Zimmerman will get off?
TOOBIN: I think manslaughter is very possible. Predictions are not exactly a great skill of mine, but I think manslaughter -- manslaughter remains a possible verdict. Not guilty altogether remains possible. I think murder two is very unlikely.
COOPER: Danny Cevallos, what do you think?
CEVALLOS: The attorneys will say it: Can you think of any reasonable assert (ph) that is any part of George Zimmerman's self- defense argument that's reasonable? Can you disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt? If not, he walks.
COOPER: Mark Geragos, do you agree with that?
TOOBIN: Was that an answer?
COOPER: I'm thinking he's thinks he's going to walk. I'm guessing that.
CEVALLOS: Not guilty.
COOPER: All right.
CEVALLOS: There you go. I was trying to be dramatic.
GERAGOS: I said this case -- this case was over ten days ago. It's only gotten worse for the prosecution. And as to Sunny's point that the judge let this go to the jury, the standard on a motion for acquittal basically is "Is the client breathing"?
COOPER: All right. We've got to leave it there. Sunny Hostin, Jeff Toobin, Mark Geragos, Danny Cevallos, Lawrence Kobilinsky, appreciate it.
Following other stories tonight. Randi Kaye joins us with a "360 Bulletin."
KAYE: Anderson, video surfaced tonight on YouTube showing two giant flaps (ph) opening outward on the left side of the Asiana Airwaves jet that crashed in San Francisco on Saturday. Investigators are looking at pilot experience and flowing air speed of the plane as possible factors in the crash that killed two.
At least 13 people are dead, 37 people missing in Southern Quebec, where a train filled with crude oil derailed and exploded Saturday. As firefighters put out hot spots in downtown Lac-Megantic, they are finding bodies, some too badly burned to identify.
A bloody day in Egypt. Security forces clashed with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy. At least 51 people were killed. More than 400 injured. Morsy was removed from office last week. His supporters demand he be reinstated as Egypt's leader.
And U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who's been weighing asylum options inside Moscow Airport, may be headed to Caracas. Venezuela's president says his government received a formal asylum request from Snowden today. Bolivia and Nicaragua, Anderson, have also made him offers.
COOPER: All right, Randi. Thanks very much.
That does it for this special edition focusing on the Zimmerman trial. Up next, another edition of AC 360 on Egypt, the Asiana Airlines crash, and the Zimmerman trial. A lot more ahead. We'll be right back.