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CNN NEWSROOM

Live Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 8, 2013 - 11:00   ET

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


LEE ANN BENJAMIN, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: -- pay attention.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTION: On purpose.

BENJAMIN: On purpose. I was trying not. I know that the news was going to be covering it. I just, and plus my work schedule, I'm not always home anyway.

DE LA RIONDA: Sure. OK.

If I play something for you, would you be able to recognize the voice that's on there, do you think?

BENJAMIN: I'll try.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

You haven't heard that recording where he's calling the police?

BENJAMIN: I don't think so.

DE LA RIONDA: Where there's profanity being used?

BENJAMIN: I don't think so.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

BENJAMIN: Unless you played it in a deposition, I don't ...

DE LA RIONDA: That wasn't a trick question. I'm just asking.

May I approach, your honor?

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, you may.

DE LA RIONDA: I'm going to play the whole thing, and then I'll play a certain part.

For the record, that's state's 173.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 (via telephone): Sanford police department, (inaudible).

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT (via telephone): Hey, we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood. And there's is a real suspicious guy (inaudible) Circle.

The best address I can give you is 111 (inaudible) Circle.

This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's walking around, looking about.

911 (via telephone): OK. Is this guy -- is he white, black or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): He looks black.

911 (via telephone): Did you see what he was wearing?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a gray hoodie, and either jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes.

He's (inaudible) and he's just staring.

911 (via telephone): He's just walking around the area?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Looking at all the houses.

911 (via telephone): OK.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Now he's just staring at me.

911 (via telephone): OK. (Inaudible) 1111 or 111?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): That's the clubhouse.

911 (via telephone): That's the clubhouse? Do you know what the -- are you near the clubhouse right now?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, now he's coming towards me.

911 (via telephone): OK.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.

911 (via telephone): OK. How old would you say he is?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): He's got a button on his shirt.

Late teens.

911 (via telephone): Late teens? OK.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Something's wrong with him. Yep, he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is.

911 (via telephone): OK, just let me know if he does anything else.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): OK.

When you come to the clubhouse, you come straight in, and make a left. Actually, you go past the clubhouse.

911 (via telephone): OK. This is on the left-hand side from the clubhouse?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): You go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left, yeah. You go straight in -- down towards the middle, the other entrance to the neighborhood.

911 (via telephone): OK. Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): The back entrance.

911 (via telephone): Yeah, OK. We don't need you -- OK.

All right, sir, what is your name?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): George.

He ran.

911 (via telephone): All right, George, what's your last name?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Zimmerman.

911 (via telephone): And, George, what's the phone number you're calling from?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): (Inaudible) 4-0-0.

911 (via telephone): All right. We do have them on the way. Do you want to meet with the officers when they get out there?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah.

911 (via telephone): All right, where are you going to meet with them at?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): If they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the clubhouse and straight past the clubhouse and make a left and then they go past the mailboxes, it's my truck.

911 (via telephone): What exactly are you parked in front of?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): I don't know. It's a cut-through, so I don't know the address.

911 (via telephone): OK, do you live in the area?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, yeah.

911 (via telephone): What's your apartment number?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): It's a home. It's 1950 -- oh, crap, I don't want to give it all out. (Inaudible).

911 (via telephone): Do you want to meet with them near the mailboxes, though?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, that's fine.

911 (via telephone): All right, George, I'll let them know to meet you (inaudible).

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Could you have him call me, and I'll tell them where I'm at?

911 (via telephone): OK. Yeah, that's no problem.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Do you need my number or you got (inaudible)?

Yeah, you've got it.

911 (via telephone): OK. No problem. I'll let them know to call you when they're in the area.

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Thanks.

911 (via telephone): You're welcome.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DE LA RIONDA: Miss Benjamin, I played the whole thing because you indicated you had not heard that, correct?

Is that the first time you heard that?

BENJAMIN: That's the first time I have not heard the whole thing, but I realize I heard bits and pieces as a part of news.

DE LA RIONDA: All right, so you had heard parts of it through the news?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: And do you recall at this time what parts you heard of that?

BENJAMIN: Perhaps the part where he was trying to give an address.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. All right.

But I'm assuming you recognize at least one of the voices on there?

BENJAMIN: Absolutely.

DE LA RIONDA: And that is definitely George Zimmerman?

BENJAMIN: Definitely George.

DE LA RIONDA: No dispute in your mind?

BENJAMIN: No dispute in my mind. DE LA RIONDA: And when you listen to it now, was there a change in his voice in terms of -- did he appear to be excited or doing something besides just a normal monotone?

BENJAMIN: To me it sounds maybe like he's walking outside and perhaps winded or it's windy.

DE LA RIONDA: Or maybe even running, right?

BENJAMIN: I don't know.

DE LA RIONDA: You weren't there?

BENJAMIN: No.

DE LA RIONDA: But I'm just going on based on his voice, his voice does change, you acknowledge, when, after he says he's running and then you acknowledge that Mr. Zimmerman's voice does change, correct?

BENJAMIN: Yes, it seems to change.

DE LA RIONDA: Right. And, in fact, you heard some profanity there, didn't you?

BENJAMIN: I didn't picked it out.

DE LA RIONDA: I'm not asking you to repeat it.

BENJAMIN: I don't know.

DE LA RIONDA: You want me to play that part again? I'm not asking you to repeat it, please. I'm not.

BENJAMIN: Perhaps, but, well, go ahead.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, well, he used -- pardon (inaudible) hearing that?

BENJAMIN: I don't recall hearing that.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Do you want me to play it again? I don't mean to ...

BENJAMIN: No.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Do you acknowledge that his voice changes in -- when he's speaking ...

BENJAMIN: It sounds like maybe the environment he's in changed to me more.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, so he's moving.

BENJAMIN: Like me might be walking or it might be windy.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. But would you acknowledge -- and the reason I ask, because you mentioned you had heard his voice change on prior occasions when he was ...

BENJAMIN: Yeah.

DE LA RIONDA: ... I think you described whooping it up, like celebrating, correct?

BENJAMIN: Yeah.

DE LA RIONDA: Is that what you were making reference to a campaign, when you and a bunch of other people were there, you know, I think you used the words, "whooping it up" or getting excited, correct?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: So you acknowledge that in this conversation that you heard between Mr. Zimmerman and the 911 or non-emergency operator that his voice does change in some manner?

BENJAMIN: Yes. Not like the pep rally.

DE LA RIONDA: He's not going, hey! Right? He's not screaming.

BENJAMIN: Correct. His voice seems more matter of fact to me.

DE LA RIONDA: In this one?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

BENJAMIN: Than ...

DE LA RIONDA: You don't notice -- go ahead. I apologize.

BENJAMIN: Well, it just seems to me that it may have been outside while he's walking or it's windy or something.

DE LA RIONDA: All right, well -- will you play the -- I'm going to play a part for you because (inaudible) -- and obviously, you weren't there, so ....

BENJAMIN: Correct. I was not there.

DE LA RIONDA: I'm just asking you based on the voice, on Mr. Zimmerman's voice, I want to play one snippet of it for you that you heard.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): OK (inaudible).

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DE LA RIONDA: Do you recall hearing that now?

BENJAMIN: Yes. DE LA RIONDA: Were you able to hear it clearly?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: You agree his voice does change there, correct?

BENJAMIN: No.

DE LA RIONDA: You don't think it changes from what he was saying before? I know the words weren't change. I'm talking about -- you don't think his voice inflection changes at all?

BENJAMIN: Not necessarily right there.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

And then do you recall hearing this?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): You go straight in (inaudible).

Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.

911 (via telephone): OK. Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): The back entrance.

(Inaudible).

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DE LA RIONDA: Did you hear that last part?

BENJAMIN: Yes, I did.

I was listening more for the backgrounds noise.

DE LA RIONDA: You were hearing noise?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: So you heard the defendant say (inaudible)?

BENJAMIN: I'm sorry. I was listening very carefully for the backgrounds noise.

DE LA RIONDA: Let me do this, if I could, may I approach this witness, your honor?

BENJAMIN: Yes, you may.

DE LA RIONDA: I'm going to get closer to you. I'm going to put it right in front of you. If you want, we can get you some headphones if you need. I just want to make sure -- well, let me play it again, and then just focus on what was (inaudible) said.

BENJAMIN: OK.

So you want me to pay attention to more what he was saying?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, ma'am.

BENJAMIN: Than the backgrounds noise, whether it's wind or he's walking?

DE LA RIONDA: Right. Or he's running, yes.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): Yeah, you go straight in (inaudible).

(Inaudible).

911 (via telephone): OK. Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?

ZIMMERMAN (via telephone): The back entrance.

(Inaudible).

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DE LA RIONDA: Can you hear it now?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, so (inaudible) language, these (inaudible) punks.

Did you hear that?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, and you would agree that there is also background noise?

BENJAMIN: Yes, and that seems to be between where he said that and running, or he's running, and the next thing he says.

DE LA RIONDA: Right.

BENJAMIN: That it sounds like either the wind picked up or he was walking to me.

DE LA RIONDA: But you agree that he's uttering that in terms of he's trying to follow somebody or do whatever?

BENJAMIN: No, I don't take it that way at all. I think he was just observing.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, so he's just observing and making a (inaudible) -- when he's referencing the person that he is following or observing.

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Let me object, if I might. Speculation, your honor.

NELSON: Overruled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I approach the bench? May I have the question read back? I thought he was asking ...

NELSON: You can have the question read back, if you need it read back? But no need to approach the bench.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) -- when he's referencing the person that he's following (inaudible).

O'MARA: And I renew my request that there's speculation as to what the speaker of the words was speaking.

NELSON: No. No speaking objections, and based upon her previous answer, the objection is overruled.

DE LA RIONDA: Do you believe when he uttered the words (inaudible)?

BENJAMIN: I think it was a comment he was making.

DE LA RIONDA: About the individual he was following or chasing, correct?

BENJAMIN: I don't know how to answer that. I think he was making an observation at the beginning. He may have had a comment to make.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

But you agree ...

BENJAMIN: But I don't think he was in an extremely excited state at that point based on my experience with him.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. All right.

And you did something when you listened to that.

BENJAMIN: I closed my eyes.

DE LA RIONDA: You closed your eyes.

Did you close your eyes when you listened to the other 911 recording originally?

BENJAMIN: Originally, no.

DE LA RIONDA: So this time you really wanted to focus on what was being said, who was uttering it. You closed your eyes.

The first time where you were watching, you were doing stuff around the house, so you didn't close your eye. You weren't prepared for it, correct?

BENJAMIN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

Now are you saying that in those campaign things and all that he (inaudible).

OK. So you agree there is a distinction, correct?

BENJAMIN: A distinction between ...

DE LA RIONDA: In terms of that language that was being used?

BENJAMIN: Well, yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

And you heard the part already -- you clearly made out the other language, the part (inaudible)?

BENJAMIN: Yeah.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

And his voice didn't change at all there?

BENJAMIN: It may have been starting to change a little bit. But I think that he was commenting and giving out or trying to give out information.

DE LA RIONDA: About the person he was observing?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK.

And so, in other words, based on what you observed and based on his knowledge of hearing his voice, you believe he was just making comment like - referring to --

(CNN MUTING SOME LANGUAGE)

BENJAMIN: I heard those words, but I don't -- I don't think it was in a heightened state of alert. I think it was just more conveying information.

DE LA RIONDA: Just like an observation like I would say, you know, Joe, and referring to some profanity when I refer to Joe, right? Just like an everyday observation of somebody?

BENJAMIN: Yes, I've heard that before.

DE LA RIONDA: Right? Usually, it's expressed in ranger, isn't it?

BENJAMIN: Not necessarily. DE LA RIONDA: So it's a complimentary term?

BENJAMIN: Not necessarily. But I have encountered people who use language like that in a conversation and it doesn't necessarily come across to me as angry or excited, just conversation.

DE LA RIONDA: Like a matter of fact.

BENJAMIN: Especially with my kids.

DE LA RIONDA: With your kids, OK, in terms of you're talking about -- I don't mean to get personal.

BENJAMIN: Well, when cussing.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, all right. Profanity.

BENJAMIN: It does not always indicate that there's, you know, an alarming situation.

DE LA RIONDA: But it could.

BENJAMIN: It could but n this situation it did not to me.

DE LA RIONDA: And that's all you can go on because you weren't there you agree -- I apologize, I cut you off. You finishing?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: Did I interrupt you?

BENJAMIN: I don't know, go ahead and ask another question.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. My question is, you agree that in this case, based on what you heard, he was observing somebody and he was making comment about the individual he's observing, right?

BENJAMIN: Yes. Or about the situation.

DE LA RIONDA: Or about the situation. And he's wanting to make sure the person doesn't get away?

BENJAMIN: I don't know that. I think he was just reporting on what he saw.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. So the bottom line is you believe he was just making an observation to report in terms of using those words to describe the person he's reporting about?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: Now, why, when he was originally asked about the individual and asked in terms of what's his race, he referred to him as a black male, why didn't at that time did he --

(CNN MUTING OUT SOME LANGUAGE) JUDGE DEBRA NELSON: What's the objection?

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Speculation.

NELSON: Sustained.

DE LA RIONDA: I have no further questions.

NELSON: Thank you. Any redirect?

O'MARA: Yes, your honor. That's OK. Thanks, though.

Good morning again. So now you have heard the second tape?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

O'MARA: You have not heard that before in its entirety?

BENJAMIN: Correct.

O'MARA: Now, you've had a listen, can you tell me anywhere in that tape where you heard George Zimmerman speaking in an angry way?

BENJAMIN: No.

O'MARA: In a way that evidenced to you that he had ill will or spite?

BENJAMIN: No.

O'MARA: That he was acting with hatred for whoever may have been the subject of his conversation?

BENJAMIN: No.

O'MARA: When you heard Mr. Zimmerman use (MUTED LANGUAGE), was he saying it the same way as Mr. De La Rionda said it in his questions?

BENJAMIN: No.

O'MARA: Tell the jury, if you would, how you noticed the difference between the way Mr. De La Rionda just said it to you and that you heard Mr. Zimmerman say it?

BENJAMIN: It seemed to me like Mr. De La Rionda was trying to highlight it, make it sound heightened. Yet I don't feel it was that way at all. I think it was more a statement, a comment.

O'MARA: You mentioned that you have children?

BENJAMIN: Yes. I have two sons.

O'MARA: Their ages?

BENJAMIN: 30 and 33.

O'MARA: OK. In conversations with them, have you heard them use such words as - and let me premise this. In a courtroom, we're bound by the evidence, and when the evidence is curse words, we use the curse words, just so you know why I'm questioning you about curse words, OK.

Have you (MUTED LANGUAGE).

BENJAMIN: Yes, I have (MUTED LANGUAGE).

O'MARA: Does that always connotote (sic) anger, ill will, spite?

BENJAMIN: Not at all.

O'MARA: And do you think it did from listening to George Zimmerman's voice in this recording?

BENJAMIN: Not at all.

O'MARA: You've heard the words and you closed your eyes. Why did you close your eyes to listen to that tape?

BENJAMIN: Since I had been asked about a question and Mr. De La Rionda asked or said something about running, I was trying to listen very carefully to see if I could hear that.

O'MARA: And was it only by concentrating that you could even the third time (MUTED LANGUAGE). Describe for --

BENJAMIN: I didn't hear it the first time.

O'MARA: Describe for the jury the difference that you noticed in a way (MUTED LANGUAGE) Mr. De La Rionda presented it to you in his cross examination?

BENJAMIN: I think Mr. Zimmerman said it more as a matter of fact, kind of casual comment type thing. And I got the feeling Mr. De La Rionda, while I could hear it in his voice, his voice was louder and he was highlighting those words.

O'MARA: When you were talking about this change in voice, were you indicating to the jury that you believed that it was apparent that George changed his emotional status or just his location?

BENJAMIN: Not at all. It seemed more locational, perhaps that he was walking or it was windy.

O'MARA: Was there ever a time in that that you thought that the tape evidenced that Mr. Zimmerman was acting in an angry way?

BENJAMIN: Not at all.

O'MARA: So when asked the question by Mr. De La Rionda, did you hear - I'm not going to keep repeating - but did you hear those words being yelled by Mr. Zimmerman in a campaign event, I think you said no?

BENJAMIN: No.

O'MARA: But you have, in fact, heard him yell? BENJAMIN: Absolutely.

O'MARA: Maybe happy yelling? During a campaign?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

O'MARA: Vote for us, vote for my guy, down with the other guy?

BENJAMIN: Pep rallies, and such.

O'MARA: Matter of fact, that's sort of part of the campaign?

BENJAMIN: Absolutely.

O'MARA: Get everyone motivated.

BENJAMIN: Get everybody excited and motivated. So, yes, I have heard him in that setting.

O'MARA: And is that a part of the experience level you bring to your testimony level here today having heard Mr. Zimmerman scream, even though in a happy way?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

O'MARA: Of course, you've never heard him scream for his life before, have you?

BENJAMIN: No.

O'MARA: But you did hear him on that 911 call?

BENJAMIN: Yes, I did.

O'MARA: We talked about -- you were asked about the continuous nature of the calling. I'm going to posit two different possibilities to see if we can vet through them a little bit. If I were to scream one scream over the next until my breath ran out, 30 seconds, you know, aah. Compare that to if I were to scream in segments, sort of with a cadence. Do you know what that is?

BENJAMIN: Let's say that it sounds more like.

O'MARA: Which one?

BENJAMIN: The second one.

O'MARA: More like several screams in cadence?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

O'MARA: Maybe times for breathing in between?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: Objection. Leading. O'MARA: Nothing further, Your Honor, thank you.

NELSON: Thank you. Any further recross?

DE LA RIONDA: (INAUDIBLE) Briefly, your honor.

I was spiking louder, so you could make sure you heard the words. You're saying that Mr. Zimmerman, since he was aware he was being recorded, was uttering it under his breath, correct?

BENJAMIN: I don't know about that. I think he was just talking.

DE LA RIONDA: Right. But you agree that the f-ing punks profanity, the first word, I'm trying not to repeat it, was uttered his breath, in other words, because he knew he was being recorded?

BENJAMIN: I don't know that at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FMALE: The second half had some speculation.

NELSON: Sustained.

DE LA RIONDA: You agree that it was hard, difficult to hear it, the f'ing and then punks, you agree to that, correct?

BENJAMIN: I heard it.

DE LA RIONDA: I had to play it for you a few times. Right?

BENJAMIN: Yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Thank you, ma'am.

NELSON: Any re-redirect?

O'MARA: One question. If you wanted to say something when you were on a phone call with somebody, let's say that you knew was being recorded. So if you wanted to say something under your breath to make sure it wasn't recorded, what would you do with the phone that was at your mouth?

BENJAMIN: I'd take it away from my head.

O'MARA: Nothing further.

NELSON: OK. Thank you. May Ms. Benjamin be excused?

O'MARA: Yes, your honor.

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: OK, thank you very much, you are excused.

It's 11:25. Do you want to break or go straight through to lunch?

They're good. Call your next witness. O'MARA: George Singleton, your honor.

I'm sorry, your honor, may I switch up my -

NELSON: Sure.

O'MARA: Thank you very much. I'm going to call just a second.

NELSON: Yes, you may.

(END LIVE FEED)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We have rolled over the top of the hour. I'm Ashleigh Banfield reporting live in Sanford, Florida, as the defense continues to call witness after witness.

And you just heard something that is really telling about this trial and about this judge. She wants this jury to make decisions as to when they need a break and when they don't. They want out of there. They've been sequestered going on three weeks. As we get our next witness called, just as he's getting sworn in, we're going to squeeze in a quick break and be right back so you don't miss any testimony.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Defense witness number five today, John Donnelly just took the stand. And the reason you're seeing him, he is married to Lee Ann Benjamin, who just got off the stand. They are both friends with George Zimmerman. He will continue with his testimony now.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

JOHN DONNELLY, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: We met George -- my wife is a real estate broker and she owns her own business and we had an office in a building, kind of a one-story ranch type building on Lakemer (ph) Boulevard. And the insurance company was on side and her real estate office was on the other side.

I have my own business. And my wife had an extra room in there so my office is right next to hers and we get along pretty well so that worked out very well for us. We have worked right next to each other for 15 years now.

O'MARA: OK. Would you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

O'MARA: Would you just give us a feel for how the friendship between yourself and Mr. Zimmerman and/or his wife has grown over the past several years?