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Continuing Live Coverage of the Zimmerman Murder Trial; Testimony of Eloise Dilligard

Aired July 9, 2013 - 15:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Our timing couldn't be better. Welcome back, live in Sanford, Florida, everyone, I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

On the right-hand side of your screen, the very talented Mark O'Mara and one of his legal assistants, trying to figure out the technicality of bringing in their next witness, again, who remains a mystery, I love this part of a trial, very Perry Mason-esque.

But here's what's critical. Whoever this next witness is is going to be interviewed in a unique way, didn't really say what, didn't say how. They met with the judge about it. That is what the recess was about.

In the meantime, since you are not missing any of the testimony, this is a great opportunity to go to one of my favorites colleagues who's way smarter than I am on all of this. Ryan Smith is the anchor for HLN's "After Dark."

I don't know when you sleep, my friend, because you're gavel to gavel and you work late at night.

But so far, give me your read on the day.

RYAN SMITH, HLN'S "AFTER DARK": Well, I think it's been a great day for the defense. I think it's a great day when you can use science to back your client's story, and that's essentially what they did with Vincent Di Maio.

I mean, think about all that he offered, the fact that George Zimmerman sustained multiple injuries, that fact that he might have had a concussion, the fact that he might have had different wounds that weren't even identified by the physician's assistant.

All of this for the jury could add up to a situation where they feel George Zimmerman was in fear for his life. He thought deadly forces was necessary, and that's what his case is all about.

BANFIELD: So I want to show this moment, Ryan, that I thought was really captivating because, whenever they put blow-up pictures in a courtroom, I think it underscores the evidence and what people talk about, the bloody broken -- maybe broken, at this point not sure, but the very bloody nose of George Zimmerman taken by one of the neighbors at the Twin Lakes Resort, moments after the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

And I want to show you how this played out in court, how it was analyzed and what the response was.

Take a look, everyone.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: The photograph that was taken at the scene ...


DE LA RIONDA: I'm sorry -- of the defendant. I apologize -- where he's got blood there, right?

DI MAIO: Right.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, I put my hand over that, right?


DE LA RIONDA: What do you expect my hand to have on it?

DI MAIO: Blood.


BANFIELD: So this is one of those moments, Ryan, where the absence of evidence may not always indicate that there is evidence of absence.

And I only say that because, at this point, nobody took notes about the rain and what the rain did to the body of Trayvon Martin.

I hate talking about him this way because he is a 17-year-old kid who never set out to hurt anybody that night and he's dead.

And there was no blood on his hands, and, if he did as George Zimmerman said put hands over a punched-out George Zimmerman face, where is the blood?

SMITH: Exactly. And that's the prosecution's biggest point in this examination, the fact that they can point to Trayvon Martin's hands and say, where was the blood?

He was covering your nose and your mouth. There would be blood all over the place.

Now you heard the defense say earlier in the trial that, because he was laying down, George Zimmerman, that the blood could have gone back up into his nose.

But, no, the entire scheme of blood that was on his hand as they're describing it, as you see in that picture, wouldn't have all disappeared. There would have been a trace of that on Trayvon Martin's hands. Now that's a powerful moment, and you saw how prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda stopped talking, walked away, held that hand out. That is his way of making effect for that jury, showing them this is a critical piece of evidence that is missing and doesn't make sense in George Zimmerman's story.

BANFIELD: And you are so clever, my friend, when you say he stopped talking, he let it hang in the air.

He held up his hand and he walked away silently so the jury could have that ah-ha moment. It was very, very powerful. It was very strong.

Then, of course, the wonderfully talented Mark O'Mara came right back and said, how about all that bad autopsy business where they use plastic bags with wet clothes?

How about the fact that they never were actually present -- the M.E. was not present for the entire time that that body was there?

You know, he just listed shoddy practices, one by one.

Ryan, stand by for a second because, as they try to get this witness, this mystery witness, up and running, we're going to squeeze in a quick break so we don't miss a moment of testimony.

Back, live in Sanford, right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?



MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Good afternoon, ma'am, and I first want to thank you.

I understand that you're home sick, and I appreciate you taking the time with us today.

So I think I've asked you your name. Tell me your name again.

DILLIGARD: Eloise Dilligard

O'MARA: OK, and in fact ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spell her last name.

O'MARA: If you would, spell your last name.

DILLIGARD: D, as in "David"-I-L-L-I-G, as in "Gary"-A-R-D, as in "David."

O'MARA: Thank you, ma'am. And back in February of 2012, did you live at the Retreat at Twin Lakes?


O'MARA: How long had you lived there at the point of February 2012?

DILLIGARD: By that time, it was about two-and-a-half years.

O'MARA: You have since moved out of that location, correct?

DILLIGARD: That's correct.


I want to take you back to the time that you lived at the Retreat at Twin Lakes and ask you if you knew somebody by the name of George Zimmerman.


O'MARA: And now long had you known him?

DILLIGARD: Ever since we moved in in October of '09.

O'MARA: Would you consider yourselves friends?

DILLIGARD: He was my neighbor. We spoke on a friendly basis and had no problems with one another.


And were there times that you became aware that he was involved in a program called Neighborhood Watch?


O'MARA: OK. Did you ever see him in a neighborhood patrolling or doing anything like that as part of Neighborhood Watch?


O'MARA: But you did know him as a friend or a neighbor?

DILLIGARD: As a neighbor, a friendly neighbor.


And focus your attention now, if I might, on February 26, which, of course, is the night that Trayvon Martin was shot.

Do you remember that night?


O'MARA: What I would like you to do if you would is to tell the jury what first brought your attention to the event that you eventually came to find out was the shooting we're talking about.

DILLIGARD: I was coming from Walmart down (inaudible) to go to Oregon and make a left, and a policeman approached me from the rear.

And, of course, I thought, well, I didn't do anything wrong, but then only to find out he wanted to go around me, so I pulled over.

And as I was coming up Oregon to go into my neighborhood, I noticed that the police were going into the neighborhood.

So when I pulled in, I looked down from the mail station down to the left and saw that there was crime scene tape going up.

And I didn't want to go directly down so I came around the right-hand side where I live to go around the back way, and asked a couple of guys that were standing outside.

And they told me they didn't know what was going on, but there was another policeman coming, so I think that she had to come back around and go back around by the mail station towards the crime scene area.

O'MARA: OK. And do you recall what the weather was like during that time?

DILLIGARD: It was very rainy that night.


And at some point as you got closer to what you call the crime scene, did you notice any vehicles that were familiar to you?


O'MARA: And whose vehicle ...


O'MARA: And what vehicles were there?

DILLIGARD: It was George's truck.

O'MARA: Could you describe that, if you would?

DILLIGARD: I believe it is a gray Honda Ridgeline.

O'MARA: If you could, tell the jury as best you can where within this area you'd noticed the truck.

DILLIGARD: Because of the way our road is for Retreat View Circle, it was more like on the curb or nearing the curb down by where the crime scene was.

O'MARA: OK, let me ask it this way ...

DILLIGARD: Which I believe was on Retreat View Circle. I'm not really sure exactly. O'MARA: OK.

Do you know the area that has come to be known as the T-intersection which is very close to where the incident itself occurred?


O'MARA: And, though you may not have known the names then, there was a woman who lives in the end unit right by that T-intersection by the name of Jenna Lauer. Do you know her?

DILLIGARD: No, I don't.

O'MARA: OK. If we were to -- I would ask you to accept as a premise that she was living in that first condo or townhome just at the intersection of the T-intersection and the sidewalk, would you know what I was talking about?


O'MARA: OK. And to fast-forward a moment, this was an area where you had testified in deposition that you actually had some conversations with police, so I am just trying to geographically locate -- if we were to presume that Jenna Lauer's townhome was that first one in that row of houses, where was the truck parked in reference to that?

DILLIGARD: If she was in the first one then the truck would have been parked looking towards the east. It would have been slightly south of where her condo would be.

O'MARA: So if you were to walk out her front door, would you be looking sort of right at the truck?

DILLIGARD: Not right at it, but you would have to look more to the right if you were walking out of her condo, if her condo was facing Retreat View Circle.

O'MARA: OK. Because that would then put the truck parked on the curb as you were walking out her front door, parked on the curb on the right-hand side of that street?

DILLIGARD: That's correct.


Now, you say Retreat View Circle, is that the street that actually circles around or is the perimeter of the complex itself?


O'MARAL OK. Is Ms. Lauer actually on a street that comes off of Retreat View Circle?

DILLIGARD: If I'm visualizing exactly where you are talking about, I believe her condo would be facing Retreat View Circle, yes. O'MARA: OK. How would it be, the front door, if I walked straight out her front door, would I eventually walk right into the clubhouse area?

DILLIGARD: No. You would have to walk down the street to the west.


Let's talk, then, about wherever the truck was located. You saw it -- in reference to the crime scene you saw it in that area?


O'MARA: OK. And we may come back to a map in a minute and see if we can show you a map of the area.

But let's move to the point where you came up to the area where the crime scene was. Describe what you first saw.

DILLIGARD: There were quite a few people standing on the sidewalk. There were people who were closer down to where the yellow tape was.

And I kind of looked around, you know, to see if I saw George because I saw his truck.

And after I didn't see him, then I just -- I recognized the lady from one of the HOA meetings and I asked her what happened, and she said ...



O'MARA: Ma'am ...

NELSON: (Inaudible).

O'MARA: Ms. Dilligard, when you hear one of us say an objection, that means the court has to inquire, so just hold on to your testimony for one second.

You didn't do anything wrong. Just want to check with the court.

NELSON: OK, what is the objection?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, hearsay.

NELSON: Sustained, as to what somebody else said.

O'MARA: Your honor -- did you know the person's name who you spoke to?

DILLIGARD: I don't know her. All I know is she was from (inaudible).

O'MARA: OK, so you had a conversation with her about the events that she perceived? DILLIGARD: I simply asked what was going on. And that was her reply to me.

O'MARA: OK. And at some point, then, did you speak to any law enforcement officers?

DILLIGARD: After I could not find or after I didn't see George, I did attempt to talk to some of the other residents that were there, and after I felt like I'm not in harm's way.

I was walking away and a policeman came up and said to me, you don't want to talk to me?

And I turned around and I said, I don't know what I can tell you because I wasn't here when anything happened.

O'MARA: OK. And then what did the law enforcement officer say to you?

DILLIGARD: He then replied, well, we are trying to find someone who may know the people involved in the shooting.

O'MARA: OK. And did he have any further conversation with you or show you anything?

DILLIGARD: He just asked me would I mind staying and he was going to take a picture and bring it back to the group of us who were standing there to see if we could recognize either the victim and/or the suspect.

O'MARA: Did that officer happen to identify himself to you by name, if you can recall?

DILLIGARD: He did not, and I'm usually pretty receptive to look at a name badge, but with everything going on, I don't remember.

O'MARA: OK. So at some point, then, did he show you a picture or two of people who were involved in this event?

DILLIGARD: He came back with what I believe was an iPhone, and I'm only saying that because I own one, with two pictures.

And I, along with the others standing there ....

O'MARA: Let me ask -- I'm sorry, let me interrupt for a moment to ask you if you could identify, either by name or by description, the other people who were present during that time.

DILLIGARD: There was a young Caucasian man. I can't remember his name. It was either Jeremy (ph) or Jonathan (ph).

And then there was a couple there. They were married, but I did not get their names.

O'MARA: OK. And were they then present when these pictures were shown? DILLIGARD: They were.

O'MARA: OK. Were you able to identify either of the people in the pictures?

DILLIGARD: Yes, I was.

O'MARA: Who was that?

DILLIGARD: That was George Zimmerman, my neighbor.

O'MARA: OK, we have seen those pictures here quite a bit in the courtroom. I'm not going to show it to you directly right now unless I have to, but was that a picture where Mr. Zimmerman had a bloodied nose?

DILLIGARD: He did have a bloody nose, yes.

O'MARA: OK. And there was a -- describe the difference, if any, that you saw between the picture that you saw that night and the George Zimmerman who you knew before that night.

DILLIGARD: His nose was very bloody and to me it looked very disfigured, like it was -- let's see. I'm looking at him, so then it looked like it was somewhat to the left or right.

But I know it was not the way I knew him. His face was very -- the nose was very disfigured and a lot of blood coming from it.

O'MARA: OK. Did it take you a minute or two or how long did it take you to even figure out that that was the same person?

DILLIGARD: I mean, I -- his face still looked the same. The only difference was the disfigurement and the blood in his nose.

O'MARA: Did you advise the law enforcement officer who was present of, this person, George Zimmerman's name?

DILLIGARD: Yes, I said, that's my neighbor, George.

O'MARA: OK. And did anybody else, as you can best recall, identify the person as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection as to hearsay.

NELSON: Sustained.

BANFIELD: We'll go right to break. Don't take me out.

O'MARA: After you identified George Zimmerman as the person in the picture, were you shown a second picture?


O'MARA: And that was somebody -- was that anyone who you identified?

DILLIGARD: I did not know the person's name. I had seen him in passing, probably earlier that day, but I didn't know who he was.

O'MARA: And do you know now ...

BANFIELD: I want to take to you a quick break while we're getting this incredibly important testimony down. We want to squeeze in a quick break.

When we come back, we'll try to figure out where he's going with this former neighbor of George Zimmerman.

Back after this.


BANFIELD: So we are at sidebar here live in Sanford, Florida. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting live, and the sidebar, I believe, is over a hearsay issue.

There's been a lot of that. In case you don't know, listen, they could teach an entire year in law school about hearsay.

It is tough to catch sometimes, but on occasion when a witness says, I asked so-and-so this and he said to me -- objection, because whatever he said, he needs to come into court and say it, not a witness, so there could be an issue with an element of hearsay.

What's interesting, though, Mark Nejame, jump in with me, if you will. This witness, Eloise Dilligard, she's sick, so she's testifying via Skype. There was your mystery.

And she's being asked about the night Trayvon was killed. She was driving. She saw George's truck. She got out. She saw the crime scene tape. She talked to her neighbors.

Hearsay issues as to what the neighbors said to her, but no hearsay issue when the cop was talking to her. Why is that?

NEJAME: Because there's various exception to the hearsay rule, so there's many times that you can get hearsay in. And if there's an exception, then it's not hearsay anymore.

BANFIELD: Do police get an exception?

NEJAME: Well, and also, what you just heard the defense argue and they were get being ready to get a speaking objection, basically, you have to show -- you want to show that it doesn't prove the truth of the matter asserted.

So there are times when you get around it. And the judge -- this judge is very strict. You've heard her comment and say, "I do not take speaking objections."

BANFIELD: And, by the way, just quickly, speaking objection is like, objection, I don't like blah, blah, blah. No. Objection, reason, stop talking.

NEJAME: So that you're not educating the jury.


NEJAME: And we all want to do it as much as we can.

BANFIELD: It's objection, legal reason, not ...

NEJAME: State your legal grounds, objection hearsay, objection outside the scope of cross examination, whatever or direct examination, whatever it might be. And then that's it.

And if the judge wants argument, she'll call you to the bench and then you'll make your argument or she'll ask you, if it's a big issue, she'll ask the jury to leave.

But she does not want the juries influenced because can you make very good arguments.

You can lose the battle and win the war.

BANFIELD: Just in your speaking objections.

NEJAME: Exactly.

BANFIELD: Real quickly, I know, Ryan Smith you're watching this at the same time.

Do you know much from the discovery in this case about Eloise Dilligard because, up until now, I'm waiting for the ah-ha? I'm not getting it.

SMITH: Well, right now, it seems like she's an after-the-fact witness. Notice how she says she's not a friend of George Zimmerman; he's just my neighbor. It suggests she doesn't have any bias here.

What I'm seeing so far is she's describing his injuries. This is critical for his self-defense claim. George Zimmerman's argument is I was in fear for my life. My perception was that I had to act in deadly force.

So all these people coming up talking about his injuries helps to bolster that argument. She's not a doctor or an expert so expect the prosecution to pick on her and try to analyze what she saw and make the connection of, hey, that doesn't necessarily mean he was in fear for his life.

BANFIELD: I mean, we've seen George Zimmerman in photographs before and after the fact. Did we really need this neighbor to say that looked like George Zimmerman with a broken nose?

Ryan, stand by for a moment. They're getting ready to get back at this testimony, deal with that hearsay issue.

My time, though, is up. I'm flat out of time.

So at one minute to the top of the hour, I'm going to turn things over to my colleague Jake Tapper, who is going continue our coverage live here on CNN with "THE LEAD."