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Judge to Allow References to Trayvon Martin`s Drug Use; Who Was Screaming on 911 Tape?

Aired July 8, 2013 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight breaking news. A huge win for the defense as evidence that Trayvon Martin had marijuana in his system and had, therefore, recently smoked marijuana is now going before the jury. The judge rules Trayvon Martin`s toxicology report is fair game. Will this be the end of the prosecution`s hopes for a murder conviction?

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from right outside the courthouse in very, very, very, very hot Sanford, Florida.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRIAL FOR SHOOTING TRAYVON A. MARTIN: This guy looks like he`s up to no good. On drugs or something.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOTHER: He has never been in trouble. He has never been arrested.

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Last fall your opinion was the level of marijuana would have no physical or mental effect, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. At the time.

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING OVER TRIAL: I`m going to deny the motion and I`m going to allow the testimony.

WEST: Now your opinion is that it would, indeed, have at least some mental effect?

S. FULTON: They killed my son and now they`re trying to kill his reputation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does this give the defense a chance to change the image of the victim from an innocent boy with Skittles to a drug-using teenager? We don`t know when this particular photo was taken or what he was smoking, but it does show Trayvon blowing smoke.

All right. Now, after George Zimmerman did claim the reason he thought Trayvon Martin was suspicious from the start was that he looked like, quote, "he was on drugs or something." Remember this?


ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he`s up to no good. On drugs or something.


ZIMMERMAN: He kept looking around. Looking behind him. Just kept shifting where he was looking.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Will this be a game changer for the defense or will it backfire? Because four of the five female jurors have children. And perhaps some of those children may have experimented with marijuana themselves.

A study shows at least 42 percent of the population admits to smoking marijuana. So there`s a very good chance that somebody on that jury has some experience with somebody they know or perhaps even themselves having smoked marijuana. Could it backfire?

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 877-586-7297.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. Our debate begins with this question. Is this a huge win for the defense? Or could it backfire and I`m going to start with Areva Martin.

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: This is not a huge win for the defense, Jane. You know, we`ve known about this issue of the marijuana. And just because someone might have been smoking marijuana doesn`t give George Zimmerman the right to profile and to shoot him.

Trayvon was not doing anything suspicious. We`ve seen through the testimony that`s already been established he wasn`t peering into windows. He wasn`t checking doors. He wasn`t doing anything that would be criminal that would give George Zimmerman the right to follow him.

So this is just a way to taint this young man`s reputation, to mar his reputation and to distract the jurors from the real issue here, which is he was profiled and he was shot without justification.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank Taaffe, a supporter of George Zimmerman`s, a friend and former neighbor.

FRANK TAAFFE, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Are you kidding me? You know, they always say where there`s smoke there`s fire. And guess what? There was a lot of fire that night.

Hey, you know what? How is it that the prosecution has yet to disprove the self-defense wounds that George Zimmerman encountered that night? I still haven`t heard anybody refute that testimony yet. And yet, you guys keep saying that he was minding his own business.

It seems like George`s statement to the 911 operators were consistent -- hold on. That he looked like he was on drugs. And -- guess what? Where there`s smoke there`s fire.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: George [SIC], let`s be frank about one thing. I mean, the small amount of marijuana that was apparently in his system...

TAAFFE: It`s Frank. It`s Frank. It`s Frank.

LEIBERMAN: Frank, let`s be clear: the small amount of marijuana that was in his system that night is not going to make him aggressive...

TAAFFE: Listen...

LEIBERMAN: ... as they`re going to argue. Let me finish. Frank, I`m not -- I`m not finished. I`m not finished.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let him finish.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank Taaffe, let him finish.

LEIBERMAN: So that`s one point.

Now, where I do think this does help the defense is that this is going to be -- their underlying theme here is going to be, look, he was smoking marijuana. Therefore, he must be a thug. They`re not going to come out and say that.

But I think the prosecution has to face this head-on and say, "Look, they`re trying to indicate that Trayvon was a thug, but guess what? A small amount of marijuana," they have to say to the jury, "your kids could have smoked marijuana when they were 17. This doesn`t mean he deserved to die that night. Nor does it mean that he engaged George Zimmerman in an altercation."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, the medical examiner said that Trayvon Martin had THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, in his system at the time of his death. That is something the defense believes could have impaired Trayvon`s judgment.


WEST: It`s now your opinion that, based upon additional research, consulting with other experts in the field, that indeed there was some physical or mental effect by the level of marijuana that was in Mr. Martin`s system?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. That`s your opinion. My opinion is marijuana could have no effect or some effect.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight to the Lion`s Den. Michael Skolnick, should the judge have allowed this marijuana evidence in?

MICHAEL SKOLNICK, ATTORNEY: Well, I -- certainly, I don`t think Trayvon Martin is on trial here. Any portrayal of Trayvon as a thug is a wrong portrayal on the night that he was killed by George Zimmerman. And such a small amount of marijuana and, frankly, most of this country thinks marijuana should be legal anyway. So having that conversation, because he had marijuana in his system, therefore he was aggressive? Marijuana has the opposite approach.

TAAFFE: It doesn`t matter. It`s what was his behavior like on that night? And we know, according to...

SKOLNICK: Behavior walking home to his house.

TAAFFE: ... leading scientists and addiction specialists that marijuana creates paranoia. And it could have been, and it might have been...

SKOLNICK: Not the amount of marijuana he had in his system.

TAAFFE: He was paranoid.


SKOLNICK: What are you talking about?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, let me tell you something.

LEIBERMAN: Jane, let me say something.

A. MARTIN: Jane, can I say one thing?

LEIBERMAN: Factually...

TAAFFE: I`m waiting.

LEIBERMAN: Factually, where...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Areva Martin, because she`s been waiting. Let`s keep everybody with their -- Areva, hit it.

A. MARTIN: The thing that Frank keeps saying is "could have," "may have been." That`s speculation. Trials aren`t about speculation. They`re about facts. They`re about evidence.

TAAFFE: But guess what? The jurors are going to hear it now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let her finish.

A. MARTIN: Trayvon Martin is going to...

TAAFFE: The jury is going to hear it now. It`s going to be up to the jurors.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa. Let her finish.

TAAFFE: The jury is going to hear it now, whether you say it or not.

A. MARTIN: ... any evidence introduced today.

TAAFFE: The jury is going to hear it. The jury is going to hear it.


LEIBERMAN: Jane, Jane, let`s talk factually.

A. MARTIN: ... do anything suspicious.

LEIBERMAN: Factually where -- it helps the defense, Jane. Factually, it helps the defense, because it does corroborate in some ways...

TAAFFE: Thank you.

LEIBERMAN: ... Mr. Zimmerman`s statements that it appears that this person was on drugs.


LEIBERMAN: Whether or not that`s true or not or whatever, it does corroborate Mr. Zimmerman`s statement. Therefore, it could tell the jury that Zimmerman`s other statements are credible, as well.


LEIBERMAN: That`s factually where it helps.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in Jean Casarez, because I don`t want to use a specious phrase like "what`s good for the goose is good for the gander," but I can`t think of another one right now. Jean Casarez, what about George Zimmerman? I understand that there were reports that he was taking medication. He had revealed to Chris Serino, the lead investigator, that he was leading medication for ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Now we know some of those meds can be mood-altering. I`m not saying he was taking Adderall, but I`m saying that is one of the drugs that is treated -- that treats ADHD. So what do we know about what he might have been on?

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that did not come before the jury. A lot of medical records did, but as far as medications he was on, on that particular night, I heard that, but I never heard it come before the jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, it didn`t come before the jury. But that`s what I`m saying. Is it fair if both individuals have something in their system. And they have a confrontation, and Trayvon Martin has THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system.

And George Zimmerman has told the investigators, reportedly, "I had medication, I take medications for ADHD." That -- medications that could be mood altering; therefore, could have altered his mood. Wouldn`t it be fair for the jury hear about that? And let me throw that out to Michael Skolnick.

SKOLNICK: Sure. I think that`s a problem. The night Trayvon was killed, Trayvon was tested for drugs and George was not. George was taken to...


SKOLNICK: ... the police station and let go. He was let go...


SKOLNICK: He was sent home.

TAAFFE: Oh, my gosh.

SKOLNICK: So Frank -- so, Frank -- before you jump in here, that`s a fact.


TAAFFE: No. I`m going to tell you. I`m going to state -- listen...

SKOLNICK: ... toxicology report of George Zimmerman that night. There is none.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What he`s saying, the point he`s making is that they tested the victim. They did not test the shooter.

TAAFFE: In the state of Florida...

SKOLNICK: Could have been drugs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They don`t have the right, according to law, to test the shooter if he`s not pulled over for a DUI. That`s not fair.

TAAFFE: Michael, let me share some facts with you. In the state of Florida, the only time blood is drawn is in a DUI manslaughter case where it`s mandatory.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or if you`re dead.

TAAFFE: Or if you`re dead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because you`ve been shot.

TAAFFE: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is that fair? That`s what I`m asking.

TAAFFE: So you guys are squawking about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you Areva. Let me ask Areva. Do you think it`s fair? Do you think it`s fair...

TAAFFE: Write your congressman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... that now we`re finding out about Trayvon`s THC, but we may never know what, if anything, George Zimmerman had in his system?

A. MARTIN: Jane, the law is the law. As lawyers we have to live with the law the way that it exists.

But in terms of whether it`s fair, of course it`s not fair to test the victim and not test the shooter and to bring in evidence about something that may have impaired the faculties of the victim but not do that as it relates to the shooter.

But the prosecution has to live with the law. And I think the prosecution, despite that law, has done an outstanding job of proving that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin without justification.

So you know, and I`ve said this on your show before. Trials aren`t won on the basis of one, you know, witness testimony. So the testimony about the marijuana is not going to be decisive, I think, in a guilty verdict for George Zimmerman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You don`t know how the jurors are going to react to it. Like I said, they are four out of the five of them -- all of them are women. Four of the five of them are moms. And it`s very possible that they`ve had teenagers who tried a little pot, too, and so they might have a very understanding attitude toward that information. It may mean absolutely nothing. And if the defense plays too strong a hand with that information, it could boomerang on them.

We`re going to take a short break. We`re going to take your calls. We are here in very hot Sanford, Florida. The talk is hot; the weather`s hot. The trial is hot. And we`re going to be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): OK. Does he look hurt to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there. I don`t know what`s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell them to call the cops.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think he`s yelling "help"?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. What is your...





ZIMMERMAN: I looked. I didn`t see anything. I was walking back to my truck. And when I got to right about here, he yelled from behind me. He said, "You got a problem?"

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S FATHER: Tell him that I didn`t -- I didn`t tell him that wasn`t Trayvon. I kind of -- I think that -- I kind of pushed away. Away from the table. And just kind of shook my head and said, "I can`t tell."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In a very risky move, the defense called the victim`s father to the witness stand today. He was obviously a hostile witness and asked him, "Hey, what did you hear? Who did you hear when you heard that 911 call for the first time? Because two cops said that you said, `It`s not my son`s voice.` What are you saying you did say when you first heard that 911 call and those cries for help?"

Listen to this and then we`ll debate it.

All right. Well, you just heard it. So we`re going to debate it. Let`s go to the Lion`s Den.

You just heard Tracy Martin, the father of the victim, Trayvon Martin, saying that he essentially said, "I can`t tell whose voice it is." He did not say, according to him, "No, that is not my son."

However, today, two law enforcement officers, the lead investigator on the case, Chris Serino, and another cop, testified that they were right there when he said, "No, that`s not my son`s voice" or words to that effect. So who are the jurors going to believe, Wendy Murphy, two law- enforcement officers, or the father of the victim?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, I thought he came across well. And he is obviously a very sympathetic person in the room.

Nevertheless, it`s not just two cops against one man clearly motivated to say things in a certain way. The report was written right after that happened. So the jurors really are going to be saying to themselves, the thing happened. He said it wasn`t my son. Two cops heard. They wrote a report right then and there. They`re going to forgive him for lying but no way are they going to believe him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Skolnick.

SKOLNICK: Yes. Look, I think Tracy was remarkable on the stand today. I think he did an incredible job. This was a man -- it was less than 24 hours after he learned his son was murdered. And here he is in the police station confused, upset, saddened, can`t believe -- hears the gunshot of the bullet that goes through the heart of his son and is asked a question and frankly doesn`t know how he answers the question.

And Detective Serino today said he wasn`t even sure if Singleton was even in the room. These are two officers who didn`t charge George Zimmerman. They believed George Zimmerman. So of course they`re going to say, oh, Tracy said it wasn`t his son.

This was an emotional moment for Tracy. He wasn`t sure what he heard. And I can`t blame the guy for less than 24 hours after his son was murdered...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait. Michael Skolnick...

SKOLNICK: ... not sure which way is up and down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... with all due respect, are you suggesting that these law-enforcement officers were not telling the truth, that they were perjuring themselves on the witness stand?

SKOLNICK: No, not at all. The law enforcement officers didn`t hear the exact answers. Their answers were different on the witness stand.

TAAFFE: Timeline. Look at the timeline.

A. MARTIN: Jane -- Jane...

TAAFFE: Tracy Martin was interviewed. It was 72 hours later. It wasn`t the next day. So that`s strike one against you.

SKOLNICK: It was 24 hours.

TAAFFE: It wasn`t -- it wasn`t...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excuse me. He was interviewed several times and he was interviewed -- go ahead.

LEIBERMAN: And on the 30th day...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Areva.

A. MARTIN: Jane, you know, I think that the whole issue of this voice, obviously, it`s a big issue in this trial. We`ve had riveting testimony from the family of Trayvon Martin that that is his voice. We`ve had testimony from George Zimmerman`s family, friends and his uncles, saying that it`s his voice.

But I think one thing we should focus on is listening to the tape ourselves. There`s screams on the tape. There`s a gunshot, and the screams stop. So jurors are going to use their common sense. The common- sense explanation is the person that`s screaming after that shot is now either A, incapacitated...

MURPHY: That`s absurd.

A. MARTIN: ... or B, dead.

TAAFFE: That`s absurd.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. One at a time. Wendy Murphy.

TAAFFE: Look, look...


MURPHY: Listen, that is not -- that is not the common-sense answer. The common-sense answer is George Zimmerman`s head, which by the way, was bloodied and damaged and his nose was broken; was screaming because he thought he was about to die. He pulled the gun in self-defense, shot Trayvon Martin dead, and that`s why George Zimmerman stopped screaming. He was no longer about to have his head splattered on the cement ground.

SKOLNICK: We should point out...


TAAFFE: ... he didn`t know he`d shot him.

SKOLNICK: We should point out...

MURPHY: It was not Trayvon. It was not Trayvon screaming.

LEIBERMAN: Put the bomb down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go to the phone lines.

MURPHY: Don`t tell me to calm down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what? I`ll say this. I don`t think we know who was screaming.

MURPHY: Yes, we do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I think that, when you have so many people say this one is screaming and that one is screaming, it`s like they`re each rooting for their own team and they are all saying what they feel is going to help their side.

If you listen to the scream, the scream itself is very vague. It`s off in the distance. It`s interrupted by dialogue on the 911 call and I think that...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... it`s fair to say that it is very hard...

SKOLNICK: It`s a wash. It`s a wash.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... to say one way or another.

LEIBERMAN: Jane, we`re even -- we`re forgetting one other thing. We`re forgetting -- we`re forgetting that three days later -- let me make a point. We`re forgetting that three days later, even George Zimmerman says, "That doesn`t sound like me" when they play the same tape for George. So there`s a lot of confusion...

TAAFFE: Well, George...


LEIBERMAN: Frank, come on. Frank! I let you speak! Let me finish, Frank! I`m making a factual point, Frank!

TAAFFE: Calm down. OK. Put the bomb down.

LEIBERMAN: Put the bomb down? I am making a factual point, Frank.

TAAFFE: Put the bomb down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Enough. Enough, Frank.

LEIBERMAN: You know what?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Taaffe, enough. Let me say this. I`m going to go some sanity. And that means I`m going to go to a caller. Lois, Kentucky. Your question or thought, Lois, Kentucky. And thanks for bringing some sanity to these proceedings.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lois, please be there. Hopefully, be there, Lois.

CALLER: I`m here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. What`s your question or thought, my dear?

CALLER: I think the defense is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill as far as the marijuana goes. And it`s -- from what I understand. I`ve never had a personal -- don`t smoke. But a trace of marijuana would not make you aggressive as far as I understand it. It would be the opposite. It would not make you aggressive. So I think that this is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, hold on.

CALLER: ... for trial (ph).

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think she makes a very good point. And we`re going to debate it after the break. Listen, we all know marijuana has a tendency to give you the munchies, which obviously, George Zimmerman -- well, that`s a subject for another day.

But marijuana gives you the munchies. Experts say it doesn`t make you aggressive generally. It doesn`t make you more likely to fight. We`re going to debate that on the other side. Thank you, Lois, Kentucky.

Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were those abrasions life-threatening?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like it was a boy`s voice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you recognize that to be, ma`am?

S. FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): He said he`s got a gun. The guy`s lying on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you saw...




VELEZ-MITCHELL: A lot of people think, at the end of the day, there was really no way to say for sure who is screaming for help in that fuzzy background of the 911 tape. Trayvon`s side says it`s the teenager. George`s side says it`s George. Listen.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): So you think he`s yelling "help"?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. What is your...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose voice do you recognize that to be, ma`am?

S. FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose voice do you recognize?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose voice was that?


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE`S FATHER: It was George screaming for his life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, definitely, it`s Georgie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was George.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My immediate reaction was that`s George screaming for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George Zimmerman`s voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s absolutely no doubt in my mind that it`s George Zimmerman.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And straight out to the Lion`s Den. I thought the one friend of George Zimmerman who actually said "Georgie" was laying on a little thick, but the question is, Wendy Murphy, if the jurors cannot say for sure who is screaming, do they have to give the benefit of the doubt to the defense, because the burden of proof is on the prosecution?

MURPHY: Look, if the issue that the entire case turns on was whose voice was it, yes, the answer would be yes. But it really doesn`t matter. The question is not who was screaming. It`s whose head was bloody, lacerated, whose nose was busted? Who was on the bottom getting their head pummeled into the ground? Because that`s the person who had the right, under Florida law, to kill in self-defense.

If you fear serious bodily injury, you can kill in self-defense. That`s all the jury is going to care about. Then don`t really care whether one family was more sincere than the other when they claim it was one voice or the other.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

LEIBERMAN: I agree with Wendy in terms of the way the self-defense law is written in Florida. It`s a very specific law. And if Zimmerman can show with reasonable doubt -- and I think that his legal team so far has shown reasonable doubt, especially in the second-degree murder case. Now, we can talk later about some lesser -- some possible lesser charges, maybe manslaughter or something else.

But so far, I believe his legal team has muddied the water enough...

TAAFFE: Can`t do manslaughter. Can`t do manslaughter.

LEIBERMAN: ... which is what they are trying to do is muddy the water.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why not? It could be a lesser included.


TAAFFE: In order -- in order for manslaughter to be established, it`s Florida statute 782 in conjunction with 776.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, please. Forget the number.

TAAFFE: Here it is. Here`s the connection. Here`s the deal. OK. Here`s the deal. The state has to disprove self-defense before either one can be given to the jury.


SKOLNICK: And that`s what they`re doing, Frank. And that`s what they`re doing.

TAAFFE: One of the things...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Areva. Come on. Go ahead.

MARTIN: Florida self-defense law is very specific. But it doesn`t give you the right to cause a confrontation, to be the initial aggressor, and then to...

TAAFFE: Nobody knows that.


MARTIN: ... seek refuge behind the self-defense law. So the prosecution, if the jurors believe their case and if they believe that -- that George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor, then they -- absolutely can find that he wasn`t acting in self-defense.

MURPHY: There`s no evidence of that. There`s no evidence of that.

LEIBERMAN: Yes, there is evidence. There`s material evidence of that. Yes, there is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... or not the Florida law is. You know what? They don`t define by serious bodily injury. It`s hard to define who the aggressor is. When does the aggression start? Does the aggression start when the person is first following or when they first meet? There is a lot of ambiguity in the Florida law.

TAAFFE: Look, unfortunately -- I know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the lawyers agree on that. We`ve got to take a short break. Hang in there. More on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marijuana could have no effect or some effect.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just a kid up against a grown adult.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: You believe when he uttered the words, pardon my language, "These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) punks." -- it`s just an observation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think he`s yelling help?





JAHVARIS FULTON, BROTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Shock and denial and sadness. I didn`t really want to believe was him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No only I heard his scream I felt his scream.

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Not only did I lose a son, I lost a dear friend.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Jane Velez-Mitchell back with you live from a very, very hot Sanford, Florida; the courthouse right behind me where all of this is going down. And it was about that that courthouse just a little while ago that the judge issued a stunning ruling that many consider a huge win for the defense. Saying essentially Trayvon Martin, the victim`s, pot use -- or alleged pot use the fact that THC, an active ingredient in pot, was found in his system, that evidence can come in and be heard before the jury.

Straight out to our own Jean Casarez who has been in the court for the duration -- how is that going to play out and how soon?

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the defense is going to have an expert take the stand and he`s probably going to read from the toxicology report. I knew that she was going to let it in because I was there at the pretrial hearing where she said that if it is relevant, and you can determine it is relevant, it will come in.

But here is what the defense is go to go for. They are going to try to show habitual use because I heard that in the hearing. I don`t know how they are going to get there because it is very, very small amount one to two days before this incident.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, now, Jean, is it not true and correct me if I am wrong, that the victim and this is -- jury does not know and shouldn`t know, they are sequestered so they`re not going to hear this, the victim, Trayvon Martin, had been suspended at the time of this deadly shooting and that there was marijuana residue involved in that suspension -- explain that.

CASAREZ: That`s right. But they don`t know a thing about it. All they`ve heard is that he was visiting his father here in Sanford. But he was suspended from school because of marijuana residue. That`s why he was here. The jury doesn`t know about it and that`s as far as I think we know about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me go out to Wendy Murphy. You are a former prosecutor. Is there any possibility that this judge`s ruling that they can talk about the toxicology report where Trayvon Martin had evidence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is there any way the defense can use that to somehow open the door to bring in this suspension because of pot residue allegedly been found in his backpack?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Boy, I hope not, you know. As much as I have been very pro-defense in this case, I think this is so wrong and unfair. I don`t think it matters that Trayvon Martin had a minor amount of marijuana in his system, taken a couple days beforehand. I don`t think it elucidates the truth. I think is unfair except that it goes to one very imp for issue which is that George Zimmerman is -- heard saying on the tape "Oh, there`s that creepy guy. Boy, he looks like he is on drugs." Well, you know, I think that the jury should know in fact, he was on a small amount of drugs.

I don`t think it is going to help the defense at all and I wouldn`t let it in and if I`m the judge I`m not letting anybody know that this kid had problems in school. I don`t care what kind of problems you`ve had in your life. You don`t deserve to die. It is not relevant. I don`t think it is fair.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: George Zimmerman has also had problems in his life. I believe that he had a restraining order taken out by an ex-fiancee. He had all sorts of other problems. He got involved in an altercation with somebody from law enforcement, who was trying to arrest his friend. He had problems in his past.

MURPHY: Also not relevant, though; also not relevant, Jane -- also not relevant and not fair. We have to judge this case, these facts, this moment in time. We have to be fair to both sides.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: George Zimmerman`s friend took the stand today and said he knows, he knows, that George was screaming for help in the background of the infamous 911 call because, he, he claims is the expert because he learned to distinguish screams in combat situations in combat situations in Vietnam. Listen to this and then we`re going to debate it.


JOHN DONNELLY, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Obviously when someone is in dire straits, whether it be combat or anything else, your voice obviously changes. I have heard a 250-pound man, I mean sound like a little girl screaming. And you -- but before you get there, you know who he is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to "The Lion`s Den". Is this an absurd extension of somebody`s so called expertise, Michael Skolnik, that he served in Vietnam -- you know, all the power to him. I applaud his service to his country. But does that really make him an expert on who was screaming on the 911 call?

MICHAEL SKOLNICK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: With all due respect to Mr. Donnelly and his military service to this country, I thought this was an insult to the men and women in uniform who serve valiantly in battle and to compare men and women who are in the middle of war to a guy who chased a kid and gunned down a child and yelled -- potentially yelled for help is no comparison whatsoever to the middle of a battle of a war, whether in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan to what happened in Sanford, Florida in February 26, 2012. It was offensive.

FRANK TAAFFE, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Michael, hey, Michael, I agree with you. Are you ready for this? I agree with you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just fell out of my chair. Let me get back in my chair again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, does there have to be a but? Let Areva weigh in?

TAAFFE: All right. Here is the deal.

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: You know what -- Jane, when I listened to that testimony it reminded me of testimony on Friday of the uncle. And although the uncle is a law enforcement offer and his credentials were very, very impressive, his story about how he heard George`s voice, looking at, you know, his computer and he hears a voice in the background, was a very odd story. It seemed like a really big stretch to try to provide favorable testimony to George.

TAAFFE: Let`s use --

MARTIN: When I look at this gentleman today it conjures up that same image.

MURPHY: Can I just say something --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait. Let`s see our panel.

MARTIN: Don`t be so mean Wendy.


MURPHY: Just quickly -- don`t be so mean to this guy. All he is saying, when you are in trauma, when you are in stress, your voice goes up. And I agree, the guy you hear screaming on the tape sounds like a girly man. Oh, oh. It doesn`t look like the big fat George Zimmerman. He is just saying your voice went up --


MARTIN: Girly-girl or it`s a 17-year-old teenager.

MURPHY: That`s ok.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank -- Frank wants to say something before we go to break. Go ahead.

TAAFFE: Here is the deal. If you are the deliverer of pain to another human being, are you yelling out "help"? Or if you are the receiver of that pain, are you the one yelling for help? I will let you decide on that one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want Areva to answer that and then we`re going to go.

TAAFFE: The gun was not seen until he was -- head being pounded, Michael. You know the facts.

SKOLNIK: That`s according to your friend`s story. That`s according to your friend`s story.

TAAFFE: My friend, witness number six.

MURPHY: According to the evidence.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I will say -- I will say one thing. For the prosecution their goal needs to be presenting an alternate version of events. Because George Zimmerman told the story so many times after the shooting, talking to the detectives, doing a video re-enactment, writing down his version and doing his version again on audiotape, we have an idea what he is claiming. We have a picture in our minds. We need to also get a picture in our mind of how the event unfolded according to the prosecution. At this point that portrait is still fuzzy and the prosecution`s case over. So they better do that in their rebuttal case. We are going to take a short break. We`re going to be back with more debate and your phone calls.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors, investigators, family, relive that rainy night. Who saw what? Who heard what? Who do you believe? If you are not watching it, you are missing it. On the only network with the most coverage -- HLN: America is watching.




DE LA RIONDA: -- as saying "He took his hand that was covering my nose and went for the gun saying something at that point." Correct?


DE LA RIONDA: He said -- what words did he utter?

OSTERMAN: He says "You are going to die." And he used the MF term again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Many questioned whether it was fair for the defense to call the victim`s father, Trayvon`s dad, to the witness stand as a hostile witness. At first he admitted that when he first heard the 911 call he couldn`t tell whose voice was screaming on that call. But he added he was traumatized by the entire event. Imagine what it is like to hear that scream, those screams, and the gunshot ringing out. He said he just wasn`t thinking straight.

Listen to this and then we will debate.


T. MARTIN: I was listening to my son`s last cry for help. I was listening to his life being taken. And -- I was trying to -- come to grips that Trayvon was here no more. It was just tough.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to "The Lion`s Den". Areva Martin, I had heard pundits today saying there is no way the defense would dare, would have the nerve, to call the father of the dead teenager to the stand. Guess what -- they did.

MARTIN: They did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was it beyond the pale? Was it beyond the pale?

MARTIN: You know -- Jane, obviously in these trials, every side, you know, is treating this as if they are in battle. They wanted to show that Trayvon Martin`s dad was going to contradict himself or at least contradict the statement of the two police officers that said that he had previously said that was not Trayvon`s voice.

But Tracy Martin was so poised, was so composed. He was a powerful witness. Not for the defense, think, but for the prosecution. I don`t think anyone listening to his testimony is convinced, you know, in the slightest bit that this man did anything other than what any grieving parent would do which is to say something out of his emotion and out of his grief. And the mom`s testimony, brother`s testimony, I think is still so compelling that that is Trayvon`s voice on the tape.

And the dad, I think, was an excellent witness again showing this family, showing this incredible family that`s going through such an ordeal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy -- somebody is crackling. Wendy Murphy.

MURPHY: There`s nothing -- there`s nothing better for a defense attorney than to be able to put on someone from the other side as their own witness. Theatrically, it is just -- I mean -- I prosecuted so many cases. I have never done that because, number one, you are not sure what you will get. Number two, it is usually not good for you.

At a minimum, what the defense got, was, you know, Tracy hedging. I don`t know. Maybe this. But in a sense what the defense was able to show was this guy really did say it wasn`t his son on the tape screaming. The cops were telling the truth because the most you can get out of this guy was -- I don`t remember what I said. That`s a big, big point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This family has been through so much. Jon Leiberman, is it the right thing do morally to drag this man up on the witness stand and essentially make him squirm and de facto accuse him of lying because he is contradicting what two law enforcement officers said? They have been tortured by their son`s death. Is that the way to try to win?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I mean it is win at all costs. I mean that`s what happens in our courtrooms. But the flip side to what Wendy said was he also, again, comes off as a grieving father and reminds the jury that a teenager`s life was snuffed out in this case. So I think it can work both ways.

It is a stark reminder to the jury about why everybody is sitting there because this is a case about a young man who`s dead.

MARTIN: This is a family, this is a real child`s life. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Let`s not forget that. This is a family, Frank Taaffe. I mean I don`t know -- there`s something about it that just struck me wrong. Again, a lot of the commentators were saying there is no way they`re going to have the nerve to do it and they did.

TAAFFE: Well, Jane, let me just share this with your viewers. I`m a dad who lost two children in the last five years -- both boys. I can understand Mr. Martin`s grief. But, you know, a man is on trial for his life here. And all the forensics and all the evidence are clear right now weighing in George Zimmerman`s behalf. Just like from the beginning. It was self-defense. And Mr. O`Mara is putting on the best defense because we all know the best offense is a good defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, on the other side of the break, we are going to question what Taaffe just said is the defense winning? This is the defense`s case. The prosecution has a rebuttal case coming up. Who is winning at this crucial juncture? We`re going to debate it and we are taking your calls. Angelique, Texas -- hang in there, we`ll get you on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The suspect emerged from darkness and circled my vehicle. The suspect, once again, disappeared in the direction the suspect went. The dispatcher told me not to follow the suspect. Suspect punched me in the face. The suspect got on top of me. The suspect told me shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just physically soft. He is not a -- you know, he was an overweight, large man when he came to us; very, very pleasant, very nice man but physically soft. He was predominantly fat. Not a lot of muscle. Not a lot of strength. He`s still learning how to punch. He didn`t know how to really effectively punch.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That defense witness, George Zimmerman the defendant`s trainer that said when it came to boxing proficiency on a scale of one to ten, Zimmerman was less than a one, about a 0.5. Zimmerman was not in good shape. He was trying to learn how to fight. But look, I mean this guy really called him a softy.

Let`s go straight out to "The Lion`s Den". The obvious point that the defense is trying to make is that he`s not the guy with the good punch who was doing the mixed marshal art ground and pound that witness Jonathan Good claims that she saw on the ground that night. Was this great for the defense or no -- Jon Leiberman?

LEIBERMAN: I mean I don`t think it was the best thing that they`ve -- you know that they put up. They`ve created reasonable doubt in other ways so I don`t think this was the best particularly in light of the fact that Mr. Zimmerman, you know, mentioned MMA to that physician`s assistant or to the doctor that he went in to see at that point. I don`t think this was ground breaking testimony compared so some the other reasonable doubt they`ve brought up about other situations.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: all right. Frank Taaffe, I mean basically the defense is trying to say he`s a softy. He can`t throw a punch. He was a terrible student, he was in bad shape, he was fat. So by insulting him they`re trying to basically get him off.

TAAFFE: You know Jon, I don`t know if you heard Bernie de la Rionda or John Guy but in a lot of the statements that they asked the police it had a lot to do with the MMA -- MMA -- MMA. I think they were trying to reverse the tables to make George, since he went to this so-called MMA club that that word was brought up in witness number six, Mr. Jonathan Good`s statement. So what they were trying do is twist that so it appeared that George had the MMA training and Trayvon didn`t. So that`s where they were going with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Areva Martin.

MARTIN: You know, I agree with Jon, Jane, that this witness didn`t phase, I don`t think, the trial very much. I don`t think he was an impressive witness for the defense. The reality is George Zimmerman had a gun. Trayvon Martin was unarmed. I think that`s the point we cannot lose sight of.

TAAFFE: George Zimmerman had the legal permit to carry that weapon. I don`t know why everybody is off on that tangent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s not a tangent because --

MARTIN: It`s not a tangent -- a young man is dead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- it`s the reason why a young man was dead.

MARTIN: He was shot with a gun not because he was beaten with a fist.

TAAFFE: He had the legal right to carry that weapon --


TAAFFE: He had the legal that weapon, to walk his dog or walk his pet fish. It doesn`t matter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. On that note we`re going to take a short break. We`ll be back with more debate on the other side. Pet fish.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Apologies to Angelique, Texas -- call back tomorrow because I am live all week long right here in Sanford, Florida, the courthouse behind me. It is hot and it is going to be a humdinger of a day tomorrow. So join us 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Nancy is next.