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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
George Zimmerman Trial Continues; More of Eloise Dilligard's Testimony
Aired July 9, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DILLIGARD: -- once I completed my conversation, she sped off around to the crime scene.
Now, I may have taken you out of time a little bit. I want to go back.
When -- when you were there with the police -- well, let me ask you this. Did you go back --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD. You're watching live, continuous coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial, which has brought a new focus to issues of race, racial profiling and self-defense, captivating the country.
It's the defense's second full day of calling witnesses. Yesterday, it was all about the 911 calls, the screams for help. Today, it seems to be all about the gunshot. We're listening right now to George Zimmerman's neighbor, Eloise Dilligard (ph).
Let's listen in.
MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: ... any other witnesses' discussions with law enforcement?
ELOISE DILLIGARD, ZIMMERMAN'S NEIGHBOR: Yes. The young man that was there alone and then the other couple spoke to the policemen in terms of what they knew.
O'MARA: OK. I don't want to you tell us precisely what you heard them say because law enforcement may have already testified to that, but were you there when those people gave their statements to law enforcement?
DILLIGARD: I wasn't there when they gave their verbal statement, but I was there when they gave their written statements.
O'MARA: OK. I'm going to ask you if you could be a bit more precise. I know you don't recall names. I believe you said one might have been Jeremy and another one Jonathan. Was that correct?
DILLIGARD: That's what I think I remember about the names but, again, I'm just not sure. O'MARA: That's fine. But do you recall, were there more -- were there three people -- I think you said one female and two males, or were there any more than that who gave their verbal statements to law enforcement in your presence?
DILLIGARD: In my presence, there was a couple, a male and a female, and then there was a gentleman who was by himself.
O'MARA: Did you give any verbal -- except for what we have talked about so far, did you give any verbal or written statements to the police that night?
DILLIGARD: No, but then he asked me my name and I gave it to him and I gave him my phone number.
O'MARA: OK. And then -- and now we move back to the time you left the area of the event, first ran into Mrs. Zimmerman, went back looking for her, didn't find her and left the second time?
O'MARA: OK. At some point, then, did you give statements to law enforcement regarding what you knew or heard about the event?
There was an FBI agent who left a card on my door and requested I call him, so I called.
DILLIGARD: And he and another agent came to my house and interviewed me.
O'MARA: And you gave them a statement about whatever information they asked you about, I presume?
DILLIGARD: That is correct.
O'MARA: OK. At some point, did you have an opportunity to listen to what we call and have been calling during this trial the Lauer 911 tape? And for your purposes, that is the tape that has the voices in the background screaming for help. Have you had an opportunity to listen to that?
O'MARA: OK. Could you tell me the circumstances or the setting around the first time that you listened to it?
DILLIGARD: The first time I heard it was when it was played on one of the local news channels.
O'MARA: OK. Were you by yourself or with anyone else?
DILLIGARD: I really don't -- I don't remember. O'MARA: OK. How many times have you listened to the tape?
DILLIGARD: Besides that time, well, it was played over and over, but I would probably say maybe two or three times.
O'MARA: OK. Did you hear a voice screaming for help in the background that you were able to recognize or identify?
DILLIGARD: I heard the voice screaming in the background. And of the two that we're discussing, the deceased, Trayvon, and George, I only heard George talk.
O'MARA: OK. Whose voice do you believe that was in the background screaming for help?
DILLIGARD: Based on the fact I have only heard George's voice and it's a light male voice, I would say that it was his.
O'MARA: And by his, you mean who?
DILLIGARD: George Zimmerman.
O'MARA: And when you say you have heard him talk, tell us again about how long you have known him.
DILLIGARD: By that time, it was two-and-a-half years.
O'MARA: An opportunity to hear him both speak to you and speak to others in your presence?
DILLIGARD: That is correct.
O'MARA: Ever hear him yell for his dog or laugh at a joke or anything like that that you can recall?
DILLIGARD: Never heard him yell at the dog. I mean, whatever commands he gave the dog were very -- you know, just like a voice talking to someone next to you, but again, from what I heard, he has a light male voice.
I'm going to ask you then -- I'm going to try something that may work. I'm going to show you an exhibit, State's Exhibit 1, and just see if there's any chance that this can be done in a way where you can identify the picture. And then I'm going to have you try and walk us through a location where you may have seen George Zimmerman's truck, OK?
O'MARA: So what you're seeing now should be blocked pretty soon by a picture. Can you see that picture?
DILLIGARD: I can see the picture.
O'MARA: OK. Let's just see if this works in any form or fashion.
DILLIGARD: You need to bring it up a little. It's going out of my focus.
O'MARA: OK. Let me try something else, then.
DILLIGARD: That's better.
O'MARA: OK. For you, maybe.
O'MARA: Hold on one second.
O'MARA: Does that work? Can you at least...
DILLIGARD: That works.
O'MARA: All right. I'm going to move it a little bit to an area. OK. Can you describe what is barely on the screen at this point? Can you see that?
DILLIGARD: The only thing I can see is a blue line, a little bit of grass and the white border on the picture.
O'MARA: Can you see the pool that's in the center of the photo?
DILLIGARD: I can.
O'MARA: OK. Unless we start talking about mirror images, Your Honor, that's not going to work, so I'll move on to another area of inquiry.
Ms. Dilligard, I'm going to try to do verbally what we were just going to do visually and ask you this. You are familiar with the complex, correct?
DILLIGARD: I am.
O'MARA: OK. You sort of gave us a walk -- a drive-through as to how you entered into the complex. Can you tell me what entrance you came into that night?
DILLIGARD: I came in the entrance that is directly from Bentley Elementary School.
O'MARA: And is that the one that when you walk, when you drive in, you have the clubhouse immediately in front of you and just to your right?
DILLIGARD: That is correct.
O'MARA: OK. From that point, and I know we're testing your memory since you don't live there anymore, but from that point, as you're coming in Oregon, I know that you took a sort of back route over to your complex because you took a right on Retreat View Circle, correct, when you first came in.
DILLIGARD: Well, if you say the back route, then you're talking about the part of Oregon that goes up to 46th or (INAUDIBLE)
O'MARA: I confused it by saying that. My understanding -- one moment. Sorry about that. Can you hear me?
DILLIGARD: That's OK. I can hear you.
O'MARA: All right.
I think I confused my question a moment ago. My understanding was that when you first came into your subdivision, you realized that there was some crime scene tape, correct?
O'MARA: As you're coming into the main entrance with the clubhouse off to your right, which way was the crime scene tape from where you were driving in?
DILLIGARD: To the left or to the east.
O'MARA: OK. And that would have been -- is that the normal way you would go from that main entrance to your residence; you would go to the left?
DILLIGARD: No. I would go to the right.
O'MARA: OK. All right.
Now, what I would like to do is start at the Oregon main entrance with the clubhouse on your right, and, if you can, sort of walk or drive us to the area where you did drive up to see -- to get a better view of the area of the crime scene itself.
DILLIGARD: If I were to drive into the entrance that was directly across from Bentley Elementary, I would have made a left rather than a right to go down to where the crime scene was.
O'MARA: OK. And where on that scene, then, would you have seen George's truck?
TAPPER: We will be right back with more live coverage from inside the courtroom of the George Zimmerman murder trial.
Plus, did the prosecution overreach with a second-degree murder charge? We will discuss this with our legal experts coming up. Stay with us after this quick break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
We're now listening to the cross-examination of a defense witness, Eloise Dilligard, who is a neighbor of George Zimmerman and has verified and validated various parts of his testimony.
Let's listen to the prosecutor as he cross-examines this witness who is at sick at home and testifying via computer.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: ... Trayvon Martin, correct?
DILLIGARD: That is correct.
DE LA RIONDA: OK. And you said you had seen him earlier in the day in the retreat at Twin Lakes, correct, just walking around?
DE LA RIONDA: OK. And then, finally, you were asked about the voice. You mentioned you saw it on TV, correct?
DE LA RIONDA: And you didn't have a point of reference. All you knew was George Zimmerman's voice, but you had never heard Trayvon Martin's voice, correct?
DILLIGARD: That is correct. I have never heard his voice.
DE LA RIONDA: Thank you very much, ma'am.
DILLIGARD: You're welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any redirect?
O'MARA: A sick woman in her bed who came with us, I think we are done with her and do appropriate her.
O'MARA: Ms. Dilligard, we are done. I appreciate your time. Thanks very much for doing this from your home. And I apologize for the interruption. I hope you feel better.
DILLIGARD: It's OK. All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May Ms. Dilligard be excused from being recalled?
O'MARA: Excused by the defense, yes, Your Honor.
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL: You're excused. It means you don't have to appear ma'am.
ELOISE DILLIGARD, NEIGHBOR: Thank you, Your Honor.
NELSON: Yes, when you're finished with that, approach for that one moment. JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: While the court goes about some of its house keeping, let's talk briefly with our panel about what we've seen today. We have with us today, criminal defense attorney, Linda Kenney Baden, who was on Casey Anthony's legal team and also defended Phil Spector. In Sanford, Florida, we have CNN legal correspondent Jean Casarez, who's been inside the courtroom, watching every minute of this case. And also, of course, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Sunny Hostin.
Jean, I want to start with you.
What was the point of calling this witness, this neighbor, Eloise Dilligard?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think one of the main reasons she was there that night, she came in to the complex, as we heard through the testimony. And I think the defense wanted her to corroborate where George Zimmerman's truck was, because he had said where he parked and then where he walked to try to find an address. She places it exactly where George said it was. So, I think that was the point, the major point of this witness. She also identified his voice, by the way, on the 911 call.
TAPPER: And, right.
And, Sunny, I want to talk to you about that. Her testimony that she believes it was George Zimmerman's voice calling for help on the 911 call, although she says she's never heard Trayvon Martin's voice. Do you think that that testimony carries more weight than say the testimony of one of Zimmerman's relatives making the same claim?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so. I don't think it carries more weight but it certainly buttresses the testimony of the other witnesses, right? Because if you not only have his family members saying, yes, that is his voice yelling and screaming on the 911 tape and then you just have people that he knew, people who don't have a dog in the fight also saying, yes, that sounds look George Zimmerman to me. I think the cumulative ticket is the jury may think, well, one or two may have bias, but seven, eight people, unlikely.
So, I think that -- the fact that the defense keeps on asking that question of all of the defense's witnesses is pretty effective.
TAPPER: Linda, these witnesses who testify not in person but via Skype or via Internet in some way, in your experience, are they any less effective with a jury testifying that way? Do you try to avoid this?
LINDA KENNEY BADEN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, you do try to avoid it. I mean, it's very common in our practice to take video depositions, for instance, of experts who aren't available and we hate it because the experts just aren't as effective because they can't relate to a jury. So, I did find myself nodding off a little bit. But I don't think she had enough significant things to say, whether she was in person or live in front of the jury.
TAPPER: All right. Linda, thank you so much.
While the lawyers confer with the judge, we're going to take a very quick break. We'll be right back with more live coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial and our legal analyst of course as well. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD and our live continuing coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial.
The jury is right now being dismissed for the day. One undisputed fact is that this trial -- in this trial is that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. The question of course that they've been debating for days now, did he do it under duress or not? Was Trayvon Martin leaning over him, reaching towards Zimmerman's gun when he took it out of the holster and fired?
The defense today called what could be described as a star witness, forensic pathologist Vincent Di Maio. He went over the autopsy report, photos and other forensic evidence. He says by looking at the evidence surrounding the gunshot, in his view, George Zimmerman's story adds up.
Let's take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. VINCENT DI MAIO, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: It's my opinion that the muzzle of the gun in this case was two to four inches away from the skin. So, the barrel of the gun was against the clothing, the muzzle of the gun was against the clothing, but the clothing itself had to be two to four inches away from the body at the time Mr. Martin was shot.
This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman's account that he -- that Mr. Martin was over him leaning forward at the time he was shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I want to bring in our legal panel to go over some of these key moments of the day. Specifically, Linda Kenney Baden is our guest, as well as Sunny Hostin and Jean Casarez.
Sunny, I want to start with you.
If you're the prosecution, you're hearing this expert tell the jury that Trayvon was standing over him and leaning forward, not pulling away from Zimmerman. Considering how respected Mr. Di Maio is, literally the guy who wrote the textbook on forensic pathology, how do you counter that? How do you counter what he is saying?
HOSTIN: Well, I think you do exactly what the state did. They countered him using their theory of the case.
For the defense, Jake, this is all about self-defense so they want their experts to get into how close they were, who was on top, who was on the bottom.
For the prosecution, their entire theory is about who started this fight, who was the initial aggressor. So that is what the prosecution did the minute they got up. Right of the gate, he said, well, you're not testifying about who started the fight, isn't that right? You can't tell who threw the first punches, isn't that right? And it went on and on and on like that. He even -- the prosecutor even got this witness to admit and concede that, you know what, maybe he was over him, maybe he was standing back, maybe he was pulling away from George Zimmerman, if indeed he was on top.
So I think they needed to do that to neutralize him and I think they did it.
TAPPER: Let's take a listen to what happened when the prosecutor, Bernie De La Rionda, visited the issue of the angle of the gun with Dr. Di Maio. This was a big moment in the case today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DI MAIO: I'm saying that the physical evidence is consistent with Mr. Martin being over Mr. Zimmerman.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, LEAD PROSECUTOR: And is it not also consistent with Mr. Martin pulling away from Zimmerman on the ground and you would have the same angle, he's pulling away and Zimmerman shooting him at that time?
DI MAIO: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jean, how big of a deal is it for prosecutors to get a defense witness to concede, especially a defense witness as experienced as Dr. Di Maio to concede that George Zimmerman may have been on top when Trayvon Martin was shot or that Trayvon Martin was pulling away, trying to get away? It seems like basically the prosecutor got Di Maio to say that this theory might be consistent and this theory also might be consistent.
CASAREZ: Right. It's a very big deal for the prosecutor to be able to get the defense expert to concede to a point. And also, I think it allowed the jury and those of us sitting in the courtroom to listen to what the prosecution's theory is going to be. We now know that the prosecution's theory most likely is going to be that they both were standing and that George Zimmerman pulled the gun and that Trayvon Martin with the hoodie that is normally worn loose that, shot could have been standing up, so there was no imminent fear of death.
And then the second theory maybe, just as you said, that Trayvon Martin was pulling away from George Zimmerman on the ground, and therefore, no imminent threat of death. They are going to try to show beyond reasonable doubt, no self defense.
TAPPER: Linda, just reminder, you're a former criminal prosecutor and criminal trial attorney who represented Phil Spector and also, initially, Casey Anthony.
You know Dr. Di Maio. You know this witness. When you defended Phil Spector, Di Maio was an expert witness for you. How much cache does he have co compared to other witnesses, for example, the medical examiner who testified last week and came to a very different conclusion than Di Maio? Do you think the fact he comes in with the fact that he is so respected in this field, has written textbooks about criminal and forensic pathology, rather, that the jury automatically relies on him, more so than other conflicting witnesses?
BADEN: Well, let's say that he is the go-to guy for gunshot wounds and he has written a book. I have his book right here because I was looking at it to see how I could cross-examine him today if he were on the stand and he were against me. He's a very effective witness.
I thought what made him most effective today was the fact that he didn't go out on the limb like Dr. Bao did. He didn't guess. He gave up things to the prosecution.
Now, you may think that's a big deal for the prosecution and it is, but it's also a big deal for the defense to have a witness who unlike Dr. Bao would tell the jury like it is. And so, he gains that credibility for what he says and they'll use what he says that helps them and his credibility in their final arguments.
Actually, both sides will do it, but the defense will say, hey, we're the ones who called him.
Coming up, we're going to take a quick break but when we come back, would manslaughter have been a more appropriate charge in this case? I will ask our legal experts.
Plus, we're following other news as well, including that San Francisco plane crash. Investigators today interviewed the pilots. What are they learning about the final moments before the crash?
We'll be right back.