Return to Transcripts main page
Live Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial; Analysis of the George Zimmerman Trial; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Expected to Enter Plea Today
Aired July 10, 2013 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Come from cement. If somebody was resisting me pushing down like this?
DENNIS ROOT, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: I -- I believe so. I believe it was a culmination of downward force, whether it was from pushing or striking. And I know clearly by the injuries to his face and that drive -- would drive him back, his head striking hard into the concrete.
O'MARA: Would you expect, based upon your training and experience, that somebody getting their head struck on the cement would attempt to resist it happening?
ROOT: Yes, of course, they would -- you know, normal human instinct would try to move away from the pain stimulus, which would just create another gap be driven back.
O'MARA: And would that occur not only the first time, but every subsequent time?
ROOT: Every -- whether it's a push or a strike, every time you drive a strike or push straight downward, the body goes until it hits an object that will stop it.
O'MARA: Did you see the pictures of the injuries that showed punctate bruising and lacerations on the side of Mr. Zimmerman's head?
ROOT: Those were the -- when I said ring -- blows (ph) ring (ph) down earlier, you know, those were the things that really caught my eye that supported the fact that it was a striking and not a pushing so much because of all of the, lack of a better word, injury or damage that I saw on the side of the head. There's swelling all around his head. It's not just the facial area, it's all around the front portion of his head.
O'MARA: Were those injuries consistent with somebody pushing a head down to the side? You see me move it to the side like that. Is that similar to that hitting cement?
ROOT: It could be. It could be that or it could be punches as well driving those strikes in.
O'MARA: And then, on the other side, would the injuries consistent (ph) with (ph) hitting it down on the side on the left side of Mr. Zimmerman?
ROOT: It could be. And, you know, and just like Mr. Guy (ph) pointed out, if Mr. Zimmerman is on the bottom and he's not just laying there, he is moving, whether he's trying to defend himself, trying to do his sliding techniques or whatever they are, as he's turning his body or his head in those efforts, it's going to redirect and realign. So whatever push or punch comes in next, if he's turned this way it's going to be a strike to a side, the front. That's all indicative of an ongoing combat event.
O'MARA: And talking about the angle. Mr. Guy I think was suggesting that we need to stay focused with the angle of entry of the wound being basically 90 degrees, that's straight in, correct?
ROOT: That's what he said, yes.
O'MARA: Now, that could happen, of course, as Mrs. -- Mr. Guy suggested, maybe something like this if Mrs. -- Trayvon Martin is trying to now back away at the end of the 45 seconds of screaming, correct?
O'MARA: Do you agree that that's a possibility?
ROOT: Absolutely it's a possibility.
O'MARA: Do you have any evidence that beyond a reasonable doubt that is what happened?
O'MARA: Could it have happened this way?
O'MARA: Same angle.
O'MARA: Could it have happened this way?
O'MARA: Could it happen if Mr. Martin is reaching back with his hand for yet a final strike or something like that, could it happen right there when he's coming back over?
ROOT: As long as the alignments of the body stay within those same relative positions where they are within that access of movement, it's a possibility.
O'MARA: Now, you know that Mr. Zimmerman was in fact able to get his gun out of the right side hip, correct?
ROOT: Yes. O'MARA: Now, somehow he got to that, correct?
O'MARA: Do you -- how much weight do you give to Mr. Zimmerman's ability to disclose, to advise exactly how that happened?
ROOT: Not a lot.
O'MARA: Why not?
ROOT: Because when he became aware of the presence of it, the firearm, he reached for it. He -- the transition under stress, the transition of how it got into the hand, is kind of moot. And, you know, my background training and experience, I've interviewed numerous police officers involved in shootings and frequently I hear, I shot -- well, when did you draw? They're not clear on how they got into position, they just know they did it. Instinctually, survival mechanism, whatever it is, the point still remains the gun was in his hand and he did, in fact, discharged it.
O'MARA: And he discharged it in a way that it was in contact with billowing clothing that was two to four inches away from his chest, correct?
ROOT: Correct, which, you know, when we think about the movements, if he's moving with the -- I think it was an Arizona ice tea in his jacket, the hoodie, transition leaning forward, if that body position is there, that tea is going to keep it away as a transition back. If he's leaning -- at some point leaning too far back or whatever trying to get up, that tea is going to be pushing the shirt the opposite direction because it's going with the motion too. At what point and where they were I can't specifically say.
O'MARA: OK. In the context of your training and experience is (ph) the way combat events and how they occur, is it possible that at some point Mr. Martin was, in fact, up here?
ROOT: There's -- there's no question that it's possible because during the event, when he says he's sliding down, I don't expect Mr. Martin to be able to match him move for move. Is it possible that at some point he was up on his chest, yes.
ROOT: Is -- you know, then he slides backward.
O'MARA: Is it possible that at some point he was here?
O'MARA: And how about is this possible that at some point during that dynamic altercation he was even this far down?
ROOT: It's possible. O'MARA: When he's this far down, just over the thighs, where is that hip holster? I'm not going to ask you to get up. Just tell me when to stop my finger as to where the hip holster is.
O'MARA: Right here?
ROOT: Yes, sir. Right at the hip line.
O'MARA: Available to Mr. Zimmerman at that point?
ROOT: Yes, sir.
O'MARA: Is it available to him at this point?
ROOT: Yes, sir.
O'MARA: How about up here?
ROOT: Yes, sir. I --
O'MARA: Even my -- at this point, when you say it's available, what is my tie pointing down towards? Can you --
ROOT: His belly button.
O'MARA: My tie is pointing directly to the belly button?
ROOT: Yes, sir.
O'MARA: Based upon your training and experience, was there just -- how much thrashing or movement was happening in that dynamic event between these two men at that point?
ROOT: I would have to say a lot.
O'MARA: Was that evidenced by the contusions and abrasions on Mr. Zimmerman's head?
ROOT: Yes, sir. And the clothing showing the contact, the wet spots on the clothing. You know, I think that you're not going to be involved in an encounter like this without it being dynamic.
O'MARA: Speaking of weapons and (ph) available, we had talked about -- may I approach the witness, your honor?
ROOT: You may.
O'MARA: Do you consider that this could be a weapon?
ROOT: Yes, sir.
O'MARA: Could be a weapon?
ROOT: Yes, sir. O'MARA: Could be a weapon?
ROOT: Yes, sir.
O'MARA: Most anything that you want to be a weapon, could be a weapon, correct?
ROOT: Yes, sir. I do training classes on improvised weapon systems. Anything can be utilized. It depends on how it's used.
O'MARA: And certainly you agree that this can be a weapon, right?
ROOT: Most definitely.
O'MARA: OK. And you saw evidence of injuries caused by the weapon of a fist, correct?
O'MARA: And the weapon of concrete?
ROOT: Yes. His head striking the concrete, yes.
O'MARA: And just so we're clear, did you see any evidence of any injury on Trayvon Martin from your review of the autopsy that was consistent with him being hit by this?
ROOT: I didn't see anything to that effect, no, sir.
O'MARA: Did you see any evidence of any injuries of Trayvon Martin being hit by anything?
ROOT: I didn't note any injuries on Trayvon Martin except for there was the one point on his hands.
O'MARA: How do you explain that fact to this jury? How do you explain the fact that in an ongoing altercation, I'm going to presume for the point of this conversation that it was Mr. Zimmerman screaming, just for this.
ROOT: Yes, sir.
O'MARA: And it was Mr. Zimmerman screaming 40 seconds. How do you explain to this jury that he couldn't even land a strike in defense of himself?
ROOT: Well if he --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I object, that's calling for speculation.
O'MARA: Your honor, I'm --
DEBRA NELSON, JUDGE: You're asking for an explanation?
O'MARA: I am. And the door has, I think, been opened as to potential analogies that would happen between the two that night by Mr. Guy. NELSON: OK. Overruled.
ROOT: Can you restate the question now, I'm sorry?
O'MARA: Sure. Can you explain to the jury a couple of facts. I'm going to suggest that it was Mr. Zimmerman screaming and you've now testified that Mr. Zimmerman was not able to strike nary a blow on Mr. Martin. Can you explain to the jury how that might have happened, how that occurred?
ROOT: Well, if you're saying that he's the individual screaming, then we could conclude that with Mr. Martin on top of him, Mr. Martin was the aggressor. The strikes were being rained down and he, for lack of better words, was physically incapable of responding, screaming for help, wanting somebody else to help him out of a very bad situation and it's possible that his hands were busy. They were, you know, maybe they were pushing. You know, I wasn't there, so I can't say exactly what his hands were doing. But I know that if you're the aggressor in a fight, there -- you know, how can you be the aggressor and not hurt somebody. So in this situation, if he's the one screaming, the reason that there's an absence of injuries is because he wasn't the one throwing strikes.
O'MARA: Is it -- and you --
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Quickly to the judge as she addresses this jury. Let's listen for a moment.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
NELSON: You're not to read or listen to any radio, television or newspaper reports about the case. You're not to use any type of an electronic device to get on the Internet to do an independent research about the case, people, places, things or terminology. And, finally, you're not to read or create any tweets, e-mails, text messages or social networking pages about the case. Do you -- I have your assurance that you'll abide by these instructions?
JURY: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: OK, with that, put your notepad down, follow Deputy Jarvis (ph). Enjoy your lunch. We'll be back at 1:45.
(END LIVE FEED)
BANFIELD: What a morning. It is just 12 past 12:00 on the East Coast live in that courtroom here in Sanford, Florida. As that expert has undergone a thorough direct examination and a blistering cross. All of it with demonstrative aids, particularly a dummy. And when that happens, you get focus with your jurors because they don't often get to see that, especially in a murder trial. But in this particular trial, what a difference these two attorneys showed with how they treated that dummy on the well of the courthouse floor.
Let me bring in Jean Casarez, our CNN correspondent who's gavel to gavel on this coverage.
Jean, you and I, a little disclaimer, you and I go back a long way. Five and a half years of court TV together. A couple of years of HLN and CNN together. And we have seen a lot of trials where this kind of thing happens and it makes a huge difference. Give me a feel for what you saw and what you heard and what you thought about the demonstration with the dummy.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it was so close to the jury because it was right there before the jury box. So they all could see it very, very well. And this has been a morning of note taking and listening.
But here is what we learned today with this fascinating testimony. We learned, Ashleigh, that the trajectory of that shot is going to be critical in this case because it appears as though the prosecution is going to say that Trayvon Martin was withdrawing. He was trying to get out of that altercation. What does that mean? That George Zimmerman was not in imminent fear of death. And so the trajectory of that shot, how it's angled, that's going to make all the difference.
BANFIELD: But Dennis Root cannot give us an answer to that. And Dr. Di Maio yesterday, a renowned pathologist, forensic pathologist said, he really couldn't tell you other than a slight right angle whether it was directly on or whether it was -- I mean we haven't had perfect testimony to show one way or the other whether there was a retreat there or not. Or tell me if I'm wrong. Did I miss something, Jean?
CASAREZ: No, you are right. You are right. So let's look at the rest of the evidence. The non-emergency 911 call. How close in time to the shot does that last scream come? Because if it is George Zimmerman, if the jury believes that, then he believed at that point that he was still in imminent fear of death. So is it a distinction without a difference? In the eyes of the defense, it will be, that what was in George Zimmerman's mind, maybe he didn't realize he was trying to withdraw. They probably won't even admit he was trying to withdraw. But that will come down to really the jury question here.
BANFIELD: Mark Nejame, renowned criminal defense attorney here in Florida, you've done a lot of trials in this state, you've watched a lot of trials, you've analyzed a lot of trails and you've probably seen a few trials where you get -- you used an aid like this in one of your trials.
MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Actually (ph) many. Yes, many of --
BANFIELD: What did you do? You shot against the --
NEJAME: My first homicide case, I jumped up on top of a chair, pointed a gun at the jurors and -- dealing with trajectory, and then I threw some dice against the judge's bench challenging the jurors whether the lady's (ph) life is nothing but a crap shoot and Pricilla May (ph) walked. So --
BANFIELD: Did you -- was there an objection to that? NEJAME: No.
BANFIELD: I always wonder when you're going to get an objection or not. But the prosecutors' marched that dummy into the well of that courtroom and straddled that in the exact position of what they suggest needed to be argued of those two fighting figures.
NEJAME: Well, let's look at what's happening. Jean brings up an excellent point coupled with which you've said there. The prosecution is now changed its strategy. You're seeing --
BANFIELD: Exactly, they're pretending to be George Zimmerman now or rather Trayvon.
NEJAME: You're seeing that happen. They -- they and -- they started this whole thing that it was George Zimmerman who was, in fact, on top.
BANFIELD: On the top.
NEJAME: And they've realized that they've had their --
BANFIELD: They've lost it. They've lost that argument.
NEJAME: They had their butts kicked. And now they've gone ahead and they're coming in and they're having to change it up.
So the challenge, though, with what they're doing is they're trying to say, but isn't it possible that George Zimmerman was on the bottom and that Trayvon Martin was extricating himself and that put him at a 90- degree angle?
BANFIELD: Check it out. Aren't we two-and-a-half weeks into this trial? Isn't it a bit late in the game to change the strategy?
NEJAME: They should have recognized this from the start. They never had a chance to show that it was George Zimmerman who was, in fact, on top. And then they got decimated by one witness after another, particularly when it came down to, of course, Dr. Di Maio.
Now what's happening is they're trying to set up a scenario, a hypothesis, that couldn't George Zimmerman on the bottom and Trayvon Martin was trying to extricate himself and leave?
The trouble with that is, they're not proving that beyond a reasonable doubt. That's a defense strategy to throw holes into a possible -- it's not the defense's job here to go ahead and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
It's the state's job to prove it beyond a reasonable and now they're just trying to show holes in the defense theory, knowing that there's no way a jury is going to come back believing that it was George Zimmerman on top.
BANFIELD: On top in that fight. But the only thing it seems to me with my very own trained eye is that they're able to elicit from these witnesses, isn't it possible he could have been treating, as opposed to, here is the irrefutable evidence beyond a reasonable doubt he was retreating?
NEJAME: A kind of, would have, should have, maybe, I think so, couldn't have -- no, that's not a standard of proof in any criminal case.
BANFIELD: I thought I was crazy. Honestly, yesterday, I thought I was crazy.
NEJAME: You're seeing an absolute transition taking place at the very conclusion of the defense's case because the state has gone back, counseled with each other, and saying, we're losing on this, and we've got to change that up.
BANFIELD: Paul Callan, real quickly here, you're a former prosecutor. Did you see this coming?
And let's remind anybody out there who doesn't know. Defense attorneys don't have to give all of their stuff away to the prosecutors.
Prosecutors have to give all of their stuff away before trial to the defense attorneys.
So there's not like that reverse-discovery process.
NEJAME: In Florida, there is.
BANFIELD: I'm sorry. In Florida, there is.
NEJAME: Florida's a reciprocal discovery.
BANFIELD: OK, so, Paul Callan, how could the prosecutors not have seen this was coming?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Mark makes a lot of legitimate points, but I've got to say, Ashleigh, this was like the prosecutors finally getting a chance to cross-examine George Zimmerman.
This was a foolish move, the first big error, by the defense in putting this guy, Dennis Root, on the stand because what it did was it allowed the prosecutor to develop every possible inconsistency in the Zimmerman story and have a live witness on the stand trying to explain his way out of it.
They should have rested yesterday after great testimony from the medical examiner. Instead now, they've opened a lot of doors.
Now the use of the dummy is now going to throw a lot of ideas into the minds of these jurors about, you know, maybe that's the way it did happen? And I just think this is going to be looked at as a critical error by the defense in the case, even if they ultimately win it. And it's -- we lawyers sometimes call it over-trying your case.
BANFIELD: That's interesting. You're seeing it the exact opposite way.
CALLAN: Over-trying your case, calling too many witnesses.
BANFIELD: You are seeing it the exact opposite way because I had that impression. I was like, what are these prosecutors doing, pretending to be Trayvon Martin on that dummy. This is crazy. You shouldn't be showing it. But I see where you're going with that.
Hold that thought for a moment, and I'm going to get Danny Cevallos in one this in a moment as well.
But I have to squeeze in a quick break. You're not missing any of the testimony. They're on a brief break in that courtroom, a well deserved break. They were at it until 10:00 last night.
It's been a grueling pace in this courtroom, and the lawyers' nerves were frayed. Everybody's nerves were frayed yesterday.
Some other news that we have coming up? Do you remember Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? We last saw him hiding in a dry-docked boat in a Massachusetts backyard.
That was his last day of freedom. He was arrested, and today, that suspected Boston marathon bomber making one of his first appearances in a courtroom.
He's not only going to face 30 charges there, but also he'll be facing some of the families of the victims.
BANFIELD: Welcome back everyone. Live in Sanford, Florida, I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting on the George Zimmerman murder trial.
You're not missing any testimony. They're in a brief break in that courtroom. And the minute they pop back up onto those cameras and the live mikes are fired up again, you will go right back in live again as well.
In the meantime, some other news, after 11 weeks of sitting in a prison cell, Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is going to be in a courtroom today, facing many of those who were injured in the Boston marathon bombing, and the families of those that he allegedly killed as well as his brother allegedly killed when they allegedly bombed that marathon on April 15th.
He's to be arraigned on 30 charges. Those charges are killing four people, maiming and wounding others, the use of a weapon of mass destruction, deadly bombing of a public place and use of a firearm causing death. Those are federal charges, folks, and this is a federal process. Our national correspondent Deb Feyerick is live from Boston. This must have been a pretty emotional day to start with, knowing that this was going to be the first face-to-face for these families and for this suspect.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, there's no question about that, Ashleigh. In 17 of the counts that you referred to in that 30 count indictment, well, 17 of them are eligible for the death penalty, and that's what his lawyers are going to be trying -- or trying to fight.
About an hour ago, a caravan came with Massachusetts state police and U.S. marshals, a white van followed by an armored vehicle. That was about 11:30 this morning. We believe that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in that caravan.
This entire place was on an extreme state of lockdown, and now it's a little bit easier here. You still have a lot of security, but the mood has shifted dramatically after that caravan and went into the side entrance.
But a lot of mystery about him, you know, Ashleigh, it's always difficult to reconcile the two parts, the image of somebody you've seen so much on television, in the newspapers, in images online, with the man himself.
He's 19. He's going to be 20 this month. He's going to walk into that courtroom, and it will be interesting to see how he conducts himself, how he carries himself, likely be wearing prison garb, and the court has made very clear that any of the victims or their families who want to come can be in that courtroom to sort of face him.
And, you know, Ashleigh, I've been in courtrooms when now-convicted terrorists entered, and it's important for some of the families to sort of -- to see them, to make it even that much more tangible.
So that's going to happen at 3:30, the arraignment. He'll enter a plea, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: I remember, Deb, and you'll have to correct me if I'm wrong on this. It's been 11 weeks, but those initial photographs that came out in the week of the manhunt and then the arrest had Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with very long curly hair.
And then the reports that came in said that he had actually cut his hair very short, perhaps was trying to elude capture and change his appearance.
So this is likely that the person that these families are going to face in court -- and we won't be able to see this. There won't be cameras in this federal courtroom.
FEYERICK: Correct. There are never cameras in federal court. That's always one of the challenges of covering these kinds of cases because you get such an in-depth and personal, intimate look at these alleged criminals, and the only thing you can do is sort of describe what they look like as opposed to clearly looking at a state court in a state case as you're doing now.
But he is likely to look different. One of his roommates said that he had changed his appearance. He cut his hair short. This is one of his friends.
And so, you know, it'll be interesting. Also, keep in mind there's always something that changes about a person's pallor, a person's demeanor, when they walk into the courtroom.
Sometimes they are shackled as is likely he will be shackled. Sometimes they're not.
But again, they call it sort of the prison pallor because he's not exposed to a lot of sun. He's at the Devens prison facility about 50 miles from here, and he himself had to recover from wounds he sustained during the gunfight and also when he went on the run and was found hiding in that boat.
So a lot of loose ends, and it will be interesting to just see how he carries himself and how he pleads.
BANFIELD: Well, let's hope those courtroom sketches are accurate because I think a lot of people want to see what he looks like now, what condition he is in, whether he can move around, like you said, whether he's maimed or limping from his injuries from that arrest night.
But Deb Feyerick is on it for us. Deb, let us know as well if you hear whether the prosecutors finally make public whether they plan to seek the death penalty in this because these are eligible charges, but they have to let that be known.
So, Deb is on the job for us. Thanks so much. Do appreciate it, Deb.
Coming up, we have been waiting for someone to make an appearance in this courtroom down here in Sanford, Florida because he's not been allowed in throughout the last two-and-a-half weeks.
It's the father of George Zimmerman. You've seen the parents of Trayvon Martin, but why not the father of George Zimmerman. He's a potential witness and he's barred from being in the courtroom.
So when might he actually show up as a witness? We'll talk about that in a moment.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to Sanford, Florida. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting live.
There was some action inside this courtroom this morning. If you've been following this, gavel-to-gavel, I have a feeling you're going to want to see this again.
And if you didn't see it, you absolutely must see this. This is a highlight of this trial, folks, as we get into two-and-a-half-weeks of testimony and we're winding down the defense's case.
So here's what happened. A prosecutor decided to bring a dummy into the courtroom, a dummy that would appear as George Zimmerman lying prone on the sidewalk. And then the prosecutor got on top of that dummy, so as to signify Trayvon Martin.
Again, you're not hearing backwards. The prosecutor actually is starting to go with this theory that it was Trayvon Martin on top of George Zimmerman.