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Prosecutor Uses Dummy in Zimmerman Case; Zimmerman Case Continues.

Aired July 10, 2013 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: John Guy, who is no dummy, brought out a dummy because so much of this case focuses on who was on the top, who was hitting whom. And this is what John Guy wants to get out of this expert who's on the stand right now. His name is Dennis Root, a use of force expert. He's been testifying because of the interviews he did and the evidence that he looked at and the analysis that he did. Not because he was there. And it's been critical to see what he's been saying because he's been trying to verbalize a recreation of how this fight went down between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. We've had other witnesses who have given evidence and testimony to suggest that it was not George Zimmerman on the top, that it was Trayvon Martin on top. We heard about how science proved it was Trayvon Martin on top, despite an incredible prosecution by the prosecutor.

I know you want to be in the live testimony but you have to see this moment. We're just literally pushing the buttons to re-rack this incredible demonstration for you. Let me remind you, this is John Guy doing the cross-examination of Dennis Root. He's gone over the issues of conflicting witnesses, that he is a former cop, knows witnesses get it wrong. Witnesses need to be separated when they're interviewed or they can be poisoned in their memories. Number three, Zimmerman was not fit. Trayvon Martin was fit. The fight wasn't fair.

Have a look at how he showed us what the fight was like. Take a look at John Guy with the demonstration. That, you're going to see a lot of.


JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: You recognize this as being a human type figure? Right?


GUY: OK. It's actually got a belly button.

ROOT: It surely does.

GUY: Does it appear to be anatomically correct.

ROOT: For the belly button, yes, sir.

GUY: So as the defendant described it to you, is this the way he described it in the area of the belly button. ROOT: What's important right now, number one, you've got your knees up pretty high on his waist. Slide down just a little bit more. There you go. Have a squat. I can't see your crotch, but in the area of his belly button.

GUY: Here's his belly button. Am I in the area?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: Did you have the defendant do this?

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: When you talked to him.

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: You didn't have him do that?

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: If this person, this mannequin were carrying a firearm on their waist, where would the gun be right now in relation to me?

ROOT: Would be at your left inner thigh.

GUY: Right here, right?

ROOT: Yes. If he was right handed it would be at your inner thigh.

GUY: Underneath my leg.

#: Right, inside your leg.

GUY: Were you aware that the defendant described to his best friend that when he slid down the defendant slid down, that Trayvon Martin was up around his armpits? Were you aware of that?

ROOT: No. I heard that. No, sir.

GUY: Where would the gun be now?

ROOT: Now the gun would be behind your left leg.



BANFIELD: See, I told you I would make sure you didn't miss any testimony in that courtroom. That was during the commercial break, John Guy straddling a dummy, a mannequin, but very effective. You saw where the knees were, right? You saw what he was trying to suggest.

Here we have attorneys standing up at defense table making sure they have a good view of this. Look at those defense attorneys, Mark O'Mara and Don West, watching what's going on in the well of this courtroom, talking amongst themselves about this, almost ready for an objection. They're transfixed by all of this. They can't miss a moment. Listen in.


GUY: -- entry. So as this event is transitioning and you're coming back, if this comes back, then we maintain that.

ROOT: Right.

GUY: If it's a struggle that's forward, the 90 degree reference, I want to be clear. The manner in which you're describing, I don't know how you can get a 90 degree entry if you're sitting straight back like this.

ROOT: Well, I'm not sitting straight back. I'm just --

GUY: From my perspective, it looks like you're more vertically upright. Like the two of you form a 90.

ROOT: Right. And if the two of you form a 90 where you're straight up and he brings a gun to bear, just based on the dynamics of his arm, there wouldn't be a way for it to go straight in. There has to be mutual movement.

GUY: As if the defendant started to sit up and Trayvon Martin was getting up, you're saying there couldn't be a 90-degree angle.

ROOT: Am I saying there couldn't be a 90-degree angle with him in a half up position and you trying to get up? If the bodies become in line -- my understanding, to maintain the entry, we'll have to maintain relativity between the two persons. Right?

GUY: Right.

ROOT: So the relativity, I can sit here and say the same thing, if I'm laying completely back and you're more forward I can get a 90- degree entry. If we're both coming up, you're asking me to bring up conclusion. Could it happen that way? The answer is to the question is yes. If he's getting up and he's getting up together, sure. There's no way I soon sit here and say you couldn't have two people that are maintaining alignment not have that entry.

GUY: You were also provided the firearms report, right? You learned it was a contact wound with the clothing that Trayvon Martin had on?

ROOT: Yes, sir, the clothing.

GUY: But it wasn't a contact wound with his chest.

ROOT: Correct.

GUY: That would be consistent with Trayvon Martin leaning over when he got shot?

ROOT: Yes, sir. Sure. GUY: You were asked -- you actually spoke about the lighting. Right?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: Did you -- you actually went to the scene for the purpose of getting idea of the lighting, right?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: But you didn't get an idea of the lighting, did you?

ROOT: No. I failed to go take into account the change in season. So when I got there, it was still daylight or dusk area.

GUY: When was that?

ROOT: Off the top of my head, I can't remember the exact date. I think I might have told you in deposition but I don't remember exactly.

GUY: Could you ballpark it? Was it in July?

ROOT: July, no.

GUY: Was it in June?

ROOT: Maybe early June. I really -- I don't remember the exact date.

GUY: So you went to the scene to try to get an idea of the lighting.

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: The sun had not gone down.

ROOT: Correct. It was not completely set.

GUY: You didn't wait until it had set?

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: You didn't go back?


GUY: When it was dark some other day?



BANFIELD: Back into the live trial as prosecutor John Guy continues to cross-examine the defense expert.

ROOT: The creative side of our brains will fill it in and find a way. That is another reason why if you wait too long and get people with too many other reactions, now they have outside influences. What they said adding more importance at that point, that would be inaccurate because the information they need is about that night, not somebody else's interpretation about what somebody else said.

GUY: You talked about the use of force continuum, right?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: And that's -- explain that for the jury, what that is.

ROOT: Like I said, it's a force containment, systematics approach to escalation and de-escalation of force, taking into consideration background training, if "X" happens you can't respond with "Y." The idea is to give an objectively reasonable objection to two behaviors.

GUY: If Trayvon Martin was backing up as I demonstrated a moment ago, that would be a de-escalation of force.

ROOT: If a person is disengaging it would be a de-escalation as long as they're not going to another weapon. A backing up, if I were giving up, that's a de-escalation.

GUY: You also mentioned in the force continuum there are options, right?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: OK. You would agree with me that someone in the defendant's position had other options?

ROOT: I would disagree with you, sir. You're telling many he that somebody in the defendant's position, the moment that perception became a deadly force encounter, the only option that's justifiable would be that, would be the actual application of that level of force. I mean, we can sit here all day long and come up with a thousand things that may have been able to have been done but the reality comes back to what a person is perceiving to be their reality and what the approved responses are for that given reality.

GUY: OK. You don't know what was in his head, did you?

ROOT: Based solely on the information that I reviewed, based on what I heard from the 911 calls, based on the inclusion of the physical evidence of the injuries to his face and the back of his head, and the fact that in my opinion, most of that information meshes together, so I can draw my opinion and I can come to the conclusion of what I believe the perception to be. And based on that perception, I know what a generalized outcome could or should be.

GUY: When you said one, are you talking about the ones with the screams on it.

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: You're not telling this jury that George Zimmerman is the one screaming, are you? ROOT: I'm not telling the jury anything other than what I just told you. If you take into consideration the 911 call, you take into consideration whether it was him or not. I wasn't there. I couldn't tell you that. I can tell you, based on Mr. Good's statements, the screams for help were coming from the bottom, otherwise, he would have been hearing an echoing sound. If you take that concept and include it in, you would come away with those screams were Mr. Zimmerman's screams. If somebody is coming out saying, hey, stop, and there's no indication from you as the person on top trying to hold somebody back that you need help and that your inference is that those screams were his help, why was there no acknowledgement behind him? Again, any one of these things don't tell the whole story. It's about taking all of the information and considering all of the components and coming to a conclusion.

GUY: Let me ask you this. In your experience, if Trayvon Martin or anyone would have been in that situation and would have been aware of the defendant's gun, either seen it or felt it, would you expect them to scream for help?

ROOT: You're asking me if somebody saw -- if I am beating the crud out of you and I suddenly know you have a gun, would I suddenly be screaming for help.

GUY: Would that be unusual? (INAUDIBLE).

ROOT: If I was Trayvon Martin in that situation, and we take it to the place that we've gone with the physical evidence where I'm the aggressor, I'm on you and suddenly I see you have a gun, my first instinct as the aggressor is not going to be to scream for help. My first instinct as the aggressor, if I'm the one being the aggressor, is to go for the help that will help me continue my aggression. Not prevent it.

GUY: It would be unusual for a person who saw someone that they were in combat with a firearm, would it be unusual for that person to yell for help in your experience?

ROOT: I want to make sure I'm clear. Because you just said would it be unusual for a person involved in a combat situation to suddenly see a gun and scream for help? Is that the question? I want to make sure I'm clear. I don't want to misinterpret this. I want to be careful on what I say with what you're asking.

GUY: I'm trying to make it more simple. If a person sees a firearm, would it be unusual for them to yell for help?

ROOT: If an average individual saw a gun and it was pointed at them, I would say absolutely not. Anybody looking down the barrel of a firearm, if you're able to vocalize something, would probably yell for help. If you're looking down the barrel of a gun -- I would hope if you're looking down the barrel of a gun, you'd be in fear for your life.

GUY: Back to the options, we kind of got away from that. There are other options that George Zimmerman could have used to get out -- (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Defense expert in the George Zimmerman murder trial has been on the stand now for, I think the better part of two hours. And the cross-examination has been relentless with props, with aggression, and the questioning has been tough. They're talking about the verbal aspects of a confrontation. Let's listen.

GUY: The purpose is, right? I'm a neighborhood watch person and I'd like to know what you're doing.

ROOT: Yes.

GUY: If you forward the bill, you communicate with somebody. It's always a good idea to introduce yourself.

ROOT: You would do that before using force, right?

GUY: Sir, again, you're asking me what I would do. If I was in that same situation, there are things I would have done differently. The reality comes down to, when somebody is going off -- again, based on 911 calls, this gap, whatever it happens to be, he's in an environment -- the golden rule of community oriented type programs, if you see something, say something. That's the whole idea. Mr. Zimmerman has a history of that. He's had numerous calls from a variety of reasons from children to suspicious persons. The interaction component, is he responsible for when you walk up to somebody and if they're in a suspicious area, hey, I'm a crime watch person. If you have the distance and ability and that comes to mind, that's fine. Buy that also takes training and thought on the forefront. However, on the other side of that coin, if I'm surprised by something, communication may not be the first thing to come to my mind, especially if it's a blind side of some type.

GUY: You did talk to Adam Pollock, right?

ROOT: I did, sir.

GUY: You talked to the defendant about some of those classes?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: You didn't ask the defendant how long he had been taking those classes.

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: You would agree that should have been asked?

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: Did you not say that not getting that information was a failure on your part?

ROOT: Yes. As I would say anything I don't ask I always take on as my responsibility. It doesn't change the outcome of an event. It doesn't change the total influence. If he had spent three years and barely able to get into a grappling ring and he can't get in the ring with another person it's a moot point about how long he's been doing it. The end result is I got the information from the source that can give me a neutral opinion because he was the one doing the training.

GUY: Because the defendant is not neutral?

ROOT: Sir, just like you said it yourself, you have to take it with a grain of salt. The only way that I can come up to a neutral opinion on anything is by giving minimal weight to Mr. Zimmerman and trying to find the information from some other source. Depending on the variable we're asking the only source may be Mr. Zimmerman but sources I can get information from somewhere else I would seek that because that gives me more possibility of getting the truth.

GUY: You didn't ask him for how long he had been taking the classes?

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: You didn't ask him how long each class was, like two hours?

ROOT: Generally speaking, when you look at any combative support your looking at an hour and a half to two hours because of warm up, stretching, the actual activities, cool down and stretching again. I probably didn't ask that because the general guidance on that for physical technique type classes seems to be the norm.

GUY: You talked a bit about Trayvon Martin. You wanted to know about his physical ability, right?

ROOT: I would love to have known totally about it, yes, sir.

GUY: I believe your words were, "he was physically active"?

ROOT: That was my understanding, yes, sir.

GUY: You had information in middle school he played football?

ROOT: Again, and I believe I said it before this case began, there was information in the media.

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your Honor, can we approach for a moment?



BANFIELD: We had some fortunate timing. We went to break as they have gone to side bar. They have come out. Let's listen.

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: Isn't a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm supposed to disclose that to the police when they talk to them?

ROOT: There's no law about it.

GUY: Aren't they advised to do that when you speak to law enforcement?

ROOT: You mean in person?

GUY: I mean over the phone, in person, at all.

ROOT: Not over the phone. Whenever you interact if you're carrying a concealed weapon, traffic stop, interaction on the street, we tell everyone that when you interact with law enforcement, make sure your hands are clearly visible and you have a weapons permit when carrying a firearm. We don't address something over the phone. I guess it would be nice.

GUY: To be clear the defendant did not advise the dispatcher he was carrying a firearm?


GUY: You said you have a criminal justice degree, correct?

ROOT: Yes.

GUY: Were you taught the law of self-defense in any of those courses?

ROOT: Yes, sir. I'm sure we covered that.

GUY: Were you taught fact scenarios that constituted self-defense?

ROOT: I can't say fact scenarios. Every instructor that's responsible for relating information is differently in every class. I can't speak to everybody does it. I know how I relayed the information. I can't speak to how everybody else does it.

GUY: It was your opinion that a weapon was not used on the defendant?

ROOT: Are you talking about Mr. Zimmerman? There was no weapon?

GUY: I believe that's what you said.

ROOT: Yes. I didn't see any indication that a weapon of any type was used on him.

GUY: You did see any indication that a weapon was used on Trayvon Martin?

ROOT: Did I see --

GUY: Did you see any indication that a weapon was used on Trayvon Martin?

ROOT: Of course. He was shot. Yes, sir.

GUY: Your Honor, can I have just a moment?

NELSON: You may.

GUY: Mr. Root, in listening to the non-emergency call, in your conversation with the defendant he told you he was following Trayvon Martin.

ROOT: I think the term he used was "trailing," which to me means following. It's the same thing.

GUY: Do you remember when the dispatcher asked him are you following him and the defendant said --


ROOT: Yes, sir. In the 911 call. He said yes. He said, "We don't need you to do that."

GUY: Did you read the defendant's written statement?

ROOT: I'm sure I would have.


GUY: It's handwritten.

ROOT: I'm confident I did. I just don't recall what he had written. If you asked me a question about it, if I don't know, I'll tell you I don't know. I've read so many of the documents, it's --

GUY: I understand.

Do you recall the term that the defendant used to refer to Trayvon Martin in that written statement?

ROOT: No, that I honestly don't recall the term.

GUY: You don't recall the term "suspect"?

ROOT: OK. I don't directly recall it but I would take your word he wrote "suspect" there.

GUY: You would agree that's a police term, right?

ROOT: Sure. It's a term that we -- it's also a crime prevention term. Anybody you interact with they utilize the same verbiage. In law enforcement terms, every individual is a civilian. So for "suspect," we refer to the other person, the bad guy.

GUY: That's all I have. Thank you.

O'MARA: Yes, sir. So I'm clear, could you consider a big, old piece of concrete a weapon if I hit you on the head with it?

ROOT: If you hit me in the head with it, I would.

O'MARA: If I took your head and smashed it onto concrete?

May I use this for a moment?

GUY: Of course.

O'MARA: I want to follow up on some of Mr. Guy's questions.

So, George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin. Were the injuries on Mr. Zimmerman's consistent with someone doing this on cement?

ROOT: I don't think so.

O'MARA: How about this? How about someone resisting the intent? The injuries from two lacerations, could that have come from cement? If someone was resisting me, pushing down like this?