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Defense Rests, No Zimmerman Testimony; Dummy Makes A Court Appearance; Judge Sets Closing Arguments Schedule; First Interview with Ex-Chief of Police; Home Invasion Survivor Testifies

Aired July 10, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, George Zimmerman's trial clearly crunch time. It's winding down. The defense has rested its case after the judge pressed Zimmerman to make a crucial decision.

Tempers, in the meantime, flared. A lot of drama in the courtroom today, with lawyers using a dummy to demonstrate the fatal fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

And the former Sanford police chief tells CNN why he believes he was the fall guy in the Trayvon Martin shooting. He's speaking out publicly now for the first time.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


George Zimmerman's lawyers have rested their case after a testy and dramatic day of testimony in this second degree murder trial. We're standing by for a news conference by the defense after the court recesses for the day. They have not done that yet.

Zimmerman did not take the stand to personally explain his claim that he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. The judge reminded him several times that he had a right to do so.


JUDGE DEBRA NELSON: Did you now have sufficient time to discuss with your attorneys whether or not you wanted to testify in this case?


NELSON: And I don't need to know what was said, but after those discussions, have you made a decision?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, Your Honor.

NELSON: And what is your decision, sir?

ZIMMERMAN: After consulting with counsel, not to testify, Your Honor.

NELSON: OK. You understand that no matter what counsel says to you, it's still your decision?

Do you understand that?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, Your Honor.

NELSON: OK. And I need to know, is it your decision to not testify in this case?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, Your Honor.


BLITZER: The final witness on Zimmerman's behalf was his father. He testified that his his son who was heard screaming on that 911 call made on the night Trayvon Martin was short and killed.

And he had this powerful visual today -- we did, as well. Both the defense and the prosecution used a mannequin during their questioning of an expert on the use of force, demonstrating how Zimmerman says he was straddled by Trayvon Martin during their scuffle.

Let's bring in CNN's Martin Savidge and our legal analyst, the former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin, and the defense attorney Mark NeJame -- Martin, first to you.

Right now, the jurors are not in the courtroom, but the proceedings are continuing with the judge, Debra Nelson. They're discussing the testimony earlier from John Donnelly, a Vietnam War veteran.

Explain what's going on right now and why this is significant.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the prosecution, Wolf, would like to see this testimony struck, essentially that the jury would be told to ignore it, basically because John Donnelly apparently had been in the courtroom several days before he gave his testimony. So that's what the prosecution is contending that should not have happened if he's being called as a witness.

As you point out, he is a friend of George. He was a powerful witness because he was a Vietnam era medic. He was in Vietnam. He was asked if he could identify that screaming voice in the darkness, which he did, as George Zimmerman.

He is the only witness, you could say, who was asked to make such an identify, who would hear voices under stress, which is why he was so powerful.

So that's what this hearing is about.

BLITZER: And he clearly was emotional, as well, in that testimony, his eyes welling up.

You know what, let's listen in briefly to what this argument is all about inside the courtroom.


MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We had our own sort of interesting take on the evidence presented and our view of it.

And then Sergeant Raimondo came in, sort of just to bring in just information. He had no substantive testimony. Similar with Diane Smith. She came in and identified a lot of exhibits. So he was able to sit through that.

But there was nothing having to do with voice identification whatsoever.

The second day, she -- he heard, I guess -- or at least he was in the courtroom for Mr. Dyker's (ph) testimony. It was during that break that -- and I'll proffer that Mr. West noticed that Mr. Donnelly was in the courtroom and had to leave. We'll proffer that if necessary.

So he was able to hear at least the first half of Mr. Dyker's testimony, during which he didn't say anything about anything. It was the second half.

But even if he was here for that, you know her testimony to be that she heard somebody scream. She had listened to the 911 call. She had opined regarding the 911 call.

So he was out of the courtroom at that point.

And he's, of course, present and waiting all day to testify, to acknowledge this. But just so we're clear as to the violation.

We also need to be clear as to what he changed, because I contested the state's suggestion yesterday that he changed his testimony. You could say, well, he added to it. But the case law that we talk about and that I'll talk to you about in a moment really speaks to the infection of that testimony. It really speaks to how witnesses change their opinion regarding something.

What he did was not change his testimony, he added to it by, for whatever reason, waiting until two or three days before trial, a jury trial, to make the -- whatever that emotional decision was he went through to actually listen to something which he listened to.

But that was not a change in testimony, though it has added to it.

And then the question is, did the violation of the rule that obviously occurred infect that testimony?

And I would suggest to you, since what he heard had nothing to do with what he eventually testified to, that it didn't.

Did it prompt him to finally come to grips with the fact that he should listen to the tape?

Yes, maybe so. Maybe it did. But to the substance of the effect, we then have to look to some of the cases that I presented to you.

"Del Monte", which is a 1985 sort of DC Ag (ph) case which interprets 61 -- 616.1 sort of gives us some insight, because you need to make a determination whether or not the rule has been violated and you need to look into the circumstances to what you should do with it.

And Mr. Mantei was straightforward when he talked about the...


O'MARA: -- the sort of seminal case talking about this, which is the "Dumas" case in 1977, a Florida State Supreme Court case.

And basically, what that means that you need to look into is to get an identification of whether or not there's been some connivance or con -- collusion between the two, and whether or not we did this in some form or fashion to just, in effect, violate not only the geography of the rule -- was he in the room -- but the underlying substance of the rule.

And I would suggest to you that under the "Dumas" case, the state has woefully failed to suggest any case law that identifies that a willful violation occurred, nor a substantive violation that may have occurred.

The other case law, if I might have just a moment to find it, deals again with this core sort of requirement to make an identification of the violation, the substance of the violation and whether or not it is appropriate to issue any sanctions.

If so, then you have the right, at least the most significant of which, or the most severe of which, is that you can exclude the witness from testifying. Certainly, there's nothing in the way this matter occurred as to Mr. Donnelly that suggests not only was it not the defense collusion or connivance or even knowledge, but neither either Mr.

Donnelly -- and you'll hear testimony from him in a moment -- but to proffer it, if the court were to allow, when the family -- he -- oh, I'm sorry.

We weren't calling him as a witness. He was on the witness list, but as you know from what we did call him for, specific to the voice, that we were not calling him for any other reason. You know, there was no -- nothing that we were bringing him for substantively until Saturday came and I found out that he had relevant testimony concerning the voice, that he was even being called as a witness, just so we're clear about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he was on the witness list.

O'MARA: But he was definitely on the -- I'm not suggesting that that takes him out. But I think that it does affect our presentation and what we were going to do so that the idea that he may have been around would not have even sort of been effective to us in the way we're handling our witnesses.

And I think what happened was once the state invoked the rule and refused to allow Mr. -- Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman to be here -- and Shelley Zimmerman was here by herself -- that she requested Mr. Donnelly to join the seat -- I guess the -- the row behind her. And that was just so you understand sort of how this whole thing began with Mr. Donnelly coming in to offer support to Miss. Zimmerman.

And, again, since I had never met him, Mr. West, I think, met him at his deposition, but we had certainly not pre-tried him as a witness as, you know, we've heard some testimony here before, because just so you're clear, we had no intention of calling him. He just had nothing substantive to offer.

So that just sort of comes in mind with this suggestion that we had any knowledge or connivance or collusion with the witness.

So if, in fact, there was a -- and there was a technical violation of the rule, then the question is, what is the remedy?

Before you consider any remedy, I think that you need to find that, in fact, not only was a there a technical violation, but there was a true substantive violation, that, in effect, having violated the rule, he gained some knowledge that he was able to sort of mold into his testimony before the court. And there's been no finding of that. There's been no evidence or suggestion of that.

And in reality, we know what his testimony was, because it was quite limited. It was limited to testimony that he created, if you will, on Saturday.

BLITZER: Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney for George Zimmerman, making the case why the testimony of John Donnelly on behalf of George Zimmerman should remain as evidence, should remain -- be allowed for the jurors to consider, even though the state, the prosecution, is arguing that Mr. Donnelly violated the so-called sequestration rules by watching the trial, talking about the case after -- at least until he had been excused -- he had not yet been excused. And as a result, this debate is going on.

That testimony from Donnelly was very significant, a Vietnam War veteran. He testified that it was, in fact, George Zimmerman's voice crying out for help on that 911 tape.

Whether or not that will be allowed to remain as evidence, that's what they're arguing about right now.

We'll continue to watch what's happening inside the courtroom.

Stand by for that.

Also, there was a dramatic demonstration in the courtroom earlier in the day -- dueling lawyers with dummies.

What did both sides accomplish?

And later, the former Sanford, Florida police chief speaking out now to CNN for the first time. He says he was a scapegoat in Trayvon Martin's shooting and the racial tensions that followed.


BLITZER: Take a look at this. They're getting ready for a news conference out in San Francisco.

We're told the pilots who were in the cockpit, the Korean pilots, will be speaking, will be explaining what happened. They will have live coverage of that. Stand by. It should be dramatic. We'll hear from the actual pilots who crash-landed that Boeing 777 in San Francisco on Saturday.

Also, inside the courtroom in the George Zimmerman second degree murder trial, the judge, Debra Nelson, hearing arguments pro and con, whether or not to allow one of the defense witnesses, John Donnelly, whether or not to allow his testimony to be used as part of this case because he violated what's called the sequestration rule that calls for witnesses to avoid watching the trial and talking about the case until they have been excused from the trial. He had not yet been excused. This is important because he had made the point that it was George Zimmerman's voice on that 911 audiotape that was crying out for help. And he's a Vietnam War combat medic who has heard people crying out for help many times.

All right, stand by. We'll go back into the courtroom shortly.

Meantime, earlier, a dummy had a cameo role in the George Zimmerman trial earlier in the day. Both defense and prosecution lawyers straddled the mannequin to try to demonstrate the fatal fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. It happened during a questioning -- when they were questioning a witness who's an expert on the use of force. Watch and license to this.


MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin. Were the injuries on Mr. Zimmerman's back of his head consistent with someone doing this on cement?


O'MARA: How about this? How about somebody resisting the attempt, the injuries -- the two lacerations -- if somebody was resisting the pushing down like this?

ROOT: 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 would drive him back his head striking hard into the concrete.

O'MARA: Would you expect based on your training experience if somebody getting their head, struck on cement would attempt to resist in happening?

ROOT: Of course. 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: 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.

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

ROOT: Yes, sir.

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

ROOT: It surely does.

GUY: Did 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 his belly button?

ROOT: What's really important right now, sir, number one, you get your knees up pretty high as waist. If you want to slide down just a little bit more so that your -- there you go -- have a squat. I can't see your crotch, but in the area of his belly button, yes, sir.

GUY: Here's his belly button. Remind the area?

ROOT: Yes, sir.

GUY: OK. By the way, did you have the defendant do this?

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: When you talked to him you had --

ROOT: No, sir.

GUY: OK. 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 left inner thigh. Yes, sir.

GUY: Right. Underneath my leg?

ROOT: Yes, inside your leg.

GUY: OK. 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've not heard that. GUY: OK. Where would the gun be now?

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



BLITZER: Significant point. Let's discuss what we just saw in those two demonstrations. Martin Savidge is with us, our legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin, and the defense attorney, Mark Nejame.

Sunny, if his knees were above George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, it would be hard, the state is arguing, for him to reach inside his pant where his gun was and get to it and then shoot him if he were on top of it. That's the whole point of the demonstration from the state attorney.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. And it would just show that inconsistency that physical impossibility of Zimmerman's story. And that's been thematic for this prosecution. I mean, not only would Trayvon Martin not have been able to grab it. He wouldn't have been able to see it.

Remember, in one of George Zimmerman's statements, he says that the reason he shot Trayvon Martin is because Trayvon Martin, one, either saw the gun and was reaching for it, or saw the gun and tried to grab it. It's a bit difficult to see a gun that is behind your leg. And that was one of the first accounts that he gave his best friend.

So, the notion is, why would you lie to your best friend? Perhaps, this is really what happened. So, I think the prosecution did a very good job of taking what was a defense witness and turning him into a prosecution witness.

BLITZER: The argument being, Mark, that if Trayvon Martin's knees, if you will, legs were over his shoulders, he wouldn't be able to reach in and get that gun. Who got the better of those two demonstrations, in your opinion, Mark?

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it was a bit of a draw, but I think what we really saw come out of that, Wolf, is that the state changed its prosecutorial tactic, because they realized, you know, for the first three quarters of this case, the opening argument, all throughout, they basically were trying to indicate that it was George Zimmerman who was on top of Trayvon Martin.

Now with the way that they portray this, they're pretty much conceding that it was, in fact, George Zimmerman on the bottom. They know that they've lost that issue. So, now, you see a transition going on and they're trying to establish that, in fact, maybe Trayvon Martin was trying to get away, and hence, that has to do with the 90-degree angle that they keep on referencing now.

So, they really changed up their tactic, a good smart thing to do, they need to be flexible. If they continued on the road, though, that it was, in fact, Trayvon Martin who was on the bottom, they would have no chance. They've now transitioned, and they're now trying to take the fact that they believe that the jury is believing and make them follow a direction that they hope they can get a conviction on.

BLITZER: The private investigator, the expert who was testifying named Dennis Root, Martin, I want you to listen to what he said in the course of his testimony about this altercation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.


ROOT: We have a golden rule that if you have not successfully completed the fight, if you have not won the fight in 30 seconds, change tactics, because the tactics you're using aren't working. The average person's adrenalin done (ph), the endorphins are get pumped in under stress. Within 30 seconds, you've depleted just about everything you have as far as giving 100 percent of your physical ability.

If you haven't physically been able to succeed in the first 30 seconds, from that point forward, you are now diminishing on return physically. In this particular case, just going off the timeline of the 911 call, given the period of time, you know, and I personally have sat there and timed it myself where it's about 40 seconds of time, that's a very long time to be involved in any kind of physical altercation. And that most certainly plays in to the decision making of any individual involved.


BLITZER: Martin, the argument he was making is that 40 seconds could be an eternity, and if it was self-defense, if he thought he was saving his own life, George Zimmerman, reaching out, getting that gun may, in fact, have been justified. I guess, that's the upshot of what Dennis Root is trying to say. I wonder if that was your reading of his testimony.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think it was. I mean, I was very surprised to how long that witness actually was on the stand. I mean, I think it was quite clear, as Sunny point it out, that the prosecution was able to take his testimony and really bend it to their advantage. And I'm not sure why he was called at all, because he certainly was no Dr. Vincent Di Maio.

That was the expert that the defense called yesterday. And many people believed that he really nailed it on the part of the defense as showing quite clearly that the body, Trayvon Martin's body was the key evidence that verified George Zimmerman's story here. So, you had that very powerful witness. That could have been the time for the defense to essentially say, that's it. We rest, but they didn't.

They brought this person on. It went on for hours. It had mixed statements about what he really was able to determine, and you weren't quite sure what sort of expert witness was he? What is a use of force expert? So, I'm not sure that they gained a lot by putting him on the stand. I'm talking about the defense.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Stand by. Everyone, stand by. We're going to continue to monitor what's happening inside the courtroom.

Right now, they're arguing whether or not some key testimony from earlier in the week should be allowed to remain testimony for the jurors to consider, even though, the person who delivered that testimony, John Donnelly, a Vietnam war combat medic, violated what's called that sequestration rule to avoid watching the trial, talking about the case until he had been excused. We're listening to the judge, Debra Nelson. We're monitoring what's happening inside.

Also a former neighbor of George Zimmerman gives emotional testimony about her terror when someone broke into her home. Might that -- how might that have swayed the jury? Stand by for that as well.

And later, the former Sanford, Florida, police chief speaking out for the first time. He's telling CNN why he resisted pressure to arrest George Zimmerman.


BLITZER: All right. The judge in this trial, Judge Debra Nelson, has just denied the state's motion to sanction John Donnelly (ph), the Vietnam war combat medic, who testified earlier on behalf of the defense, saying it was, in fact, the voice of George Zimmerman on that 911 call crying out for help. Judge Debra Nelson saying that for all practical purposes, there was no violation, not enough to make his testimony go away.

Sunny Hostin, Mark Nejame, let's get your quick analysis on what this means. Are you surprised, Mark, by her decision or you think you anticipated that she would allow John Donnelly's testimony to stand?

NEJAME: Well, the state was asking for the most severe sanction, that is a complete elimination of the testimony. Of course, you're loathe to do that, but I did think that it was possible that she would have said something to the jury to say that, in fact, he was there, and then, that could have been a sanction that was less than the complete exclusion of the testimony.

So, I thought that might be a possibility. So, I think it could have gone either way, and it's not an unfair ruling. Remember, to exclude testimony completely could be a strong appellate issue if, in fact, there's a conviction in this case. So, I think she took the safe route.

BLITZER: Yes. I think it's pretty apparent that -- Sunny, it's pretty apparent that that testimony from John Donnelly (ph) was pretty effective, pretty powerful testimony. He got very emotional. He heard men crying out for help in a time of warfare in Vietnam, a combat medic if you will. And as a result, he said he had no doubt that was the voice of George Zimmerman crying out for help. That testimony the judge has now ruled will stand.

HOSTIN: Yes. It was very important testimony for the defense, no question about it. That I think is one of the reasons why the state argued so vigorously in terms of sanctions. They wanted it completely stricken from the record. I agree with Mark, though. I thought, perhaps, that she would split the baby here. I thought, perhaps, she would give some sort of curative instruction to the jury and explain to the jury that he had, in fact, been in the courtroom and had the opportunity to listen to witness testimony, other witnesses testify.

I don't know that that would have been a huge appellate issue, and I think that would have been more appropriate than doing nothing, because it really is significant that he was in the courtroom during parts of witness testimony and seemed to have changed his testimony from what he said at deposition to what he said on the witness stand. So, I'm surprised that the judge is refusing to do anything.

BLITZER: Let me just listen in quickly to see what the next order of business she wants to do.


NELSON: -- some of the substantive once, the court wanted to go through just the general instructions at this time to see if we can at least have an agreement to those. First one, although it's not numbered, just thanking the jury for their attention during the trial and paying attention to the instructions I'm about to give. Is there any objection from the state to this instruction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, your honor.


And Mr. Zimmerman, you don't have to stand up. Do you have a copy of these instructions that you can look at them with us?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: OK. If you'll please do so, I'd appreciate it. The very first page is the style of the case. The second is what I just read. Yes. I wanted to make sure Mr. Zimmerman had a copy in front of him.

O'MARA: He does and he's reviewing it with us, your honor.

NELSON: All right. Then the second page is the statement of the charge. Any objection from the state?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Neither one of you have to stand while we go through these. We'll reserve to the homicide instruction because it's substantive. And any suggested changes by either side, if you could give them to the other side tonight via e-mail, so we can discuss them tomorrow. The same would be second-degree murder instruction. The next, we'll reserve that until the morning. The next one is possession of the firearm and discharge causing death. Is there any objections to this by the estate?


NELSON: By the defense?

O'MARA: Substantively no, your honor. I believe that it's appropriate based upon the charge. Might we address that, we go over second-degree, but I think it's accurate.

NELSON: OK. The next one is when there are lesser included crimes or attempt and what the state has listed in the proposed instruction as manslaughter and aggravated assault. Is the state requesting these lessers?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: Any objections from the defense?

O'MARA: We object, your honor, and I think that would be something to take up tomorrow.

NELSON: All right. Manslaughter is a substantive one, we'll bring up tomorrow. Aggravated assault is a substantive one. Possession of a firearm and discharge causing death is that a -- is that the same as the one that --

O'MARA: I don't see second time, your honor. I thought we just addressed that one.

DE LA RIONDA: It is, as it relates to the aggravated assault lesser is where it is.

NELSON: But it's the same --


NELSON: -- instruction and when the instructions are read, would there be any objection to not reading it a second time? OK.

DE LA RIONDA: I think that as long as there's a reference made and we can sort of -- if the aggravated assault lesser is given, as long as there's a reference made to the use of a firearm or because that's the 1020 Life Enhancement, and there are separate ones for aggravated assault than there are for second-degree murder.

NELSON: All right. The next instruction is the justifiable use of deadly force. And that's going to be subject to discussion tomorrow.

Please both sides take into consideration the changes that are currently before the Supreme Court on that instruction. So we need to have some agreement as to how that's going to be presented to the jury.

A plea of not guilty, reasonable doubt, and burden of proof, any objection from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Date of crime, any objection from the state?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Venue, any objection from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Weighing the evidence. There's 1 through 5 are always given, and then we have 6 through 10. Is the state requesting any of the 6 through 10?

DE LA RIONDA: I believe certainly 8 should apply. And -- I believe that is the only one the state would be requesting.

NELSON: Is the defense requesting any others of 6 through 10?

O'MARA: None of those, your honor. A presentation by the state on the inconsistent testimony.

NELSON: Well, both sides have tried to impeach by deposition testimony or other testimony of certain witnesses, so I do think that does apply.

O'MARA: Fair enough.

NELSON: Are there any, 6, 7, 9 or 10, neither side is requesting?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Can you please prepare a new instruction that has 1 through 5 and then number 8 as number 6?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: Thank you. Expert witnesses, any objection from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor. NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Defendant testifying will not be given, so defendant not testifying. Any objections from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Defendant's statements, any objection from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

NELSON: Rules for deliberation, any objections from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

DE LA RIONDA: Other than -- I think I don't know what we want to do with possibly 7, I don't think there were any questions written that were not asked by the court. A couple of the jurors asked oral questions more along the lines of could a witness speak up, or that sort of things, I don't think 7 needs to be there.

NELSON: Does the state -- I mean, sorry, defense agree with that?

O'MARA: We do, your honor.

NELSON: So number 7 will not be given if I can have an instruction that takes out number 7?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: Next instruction is regarding notes, any objection from the state?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

NELSON: From the defense?

O'MARA: No, your honor.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Judge Debra Nelson going through the formal charges that will be read out, the instructions that will be read, I should say, to the jury tomorrow morning, as they begin the closing arguments. One significant difference between the state and the defense over whether or not a lesser -- a lesser charge or charges might be allowed to be considered by the jury, manslaughter, for example, as opposed to second-degree murder, you heard the defense, you heard Mark O'Mara saying they will resist that.

Sunny, let's get you and Mark to quickly, quickly weigh in on this. How big of a fight is this going to be? Because it's clearly a lot easier to convict someone of manslaughter, if you will, as opposed to second-degree murder.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's right. I mean, these are -- these are lesser-included offenses that are generally asked for, and judges generally, if there's evidence to support, giving the instructions to the jury, the judge gives the instructions to the jury. And so I suspect, I'm going to defer to the Florida lawyer that practices here in Florida, but what is surprising to me is not only did the prosecution asked for manslaughter, they also asked for aggravated assault, which is something I don't think we've talked about before, so now the jury, if the judge so instructs them, now they have sort of a cornucopia of possibilities in front of the them.

BLITZER: And that's --

HOSTIN: They've got murder 2, they've got manslaughter, they've ag assault. I mean, that's pretty good for the prosecution.

BLITZER: If they get that, though. They're going to resist that, the defense. Very quickly, Mark.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Sunny is correct. And these -- category 1 lessers are going to be included. The defense is going to make a record but they're going to get in. The interesting thing is, and ag assault, as you heard there, has mandatory minimums applied to it whereas manslaughter doesn't. So they could end going to the lowest aggravated assault with a firearm, and that subject because it's an enumerated offense with 10, 20 life.

BLITZER: All right.

NEJAME: Whereas if they get manslaughter, it's not necessarily a mandatory minimum sentence. So it was not a mandatory minimum sentence so it's really interesting. The jury will never know this when they get told this.

BLITZER: Yes, the jury --


HOSTIN: So in other words, they could --

BLITZER: All right.

HOSTIN: If he's convicted of a lesser, he could even get more time.

NEJAME: Yes. They might think that they're doing a favor by coming up with a compromise verdict, and it could end up being more time. So it's an interesting question. The defense is going to fight this real hard. But I think it will be a fight --


BLITZER: We're going to continue to --

NEJAME: They still need to make the argument.

BLITZER: All right, guys, hold on for a moment. We're going to continue to monitor what's happening in the courtroom.

Also, the former Sanford, Florida, police chief is now for the first time speaking out. He's telling CNN why he resisted pressure to arrest George Zimmerman. Stay with us.


BLITZER: The judge in the Zimmerman trial, Judge Debra Nelson, has just announced that the final arguments, the final statements by both the prosecution and the defense will begin tomorrow, tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. Eastern. That's when both sides will make their final arguments before the jury.

Earlier they'll have some preliminary instructions that they will go through with the judge, beginning in the morning, but the jury won't be present for that.

The judge will deliver the jury the instructions, 1:00 p.m., and then -- actually, there will be the arguments, the final closing arguments by both sides, then the instructions, and then they'll go forward. The jury will deliberate on the guilt or innocence or not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman.

We'll of course have live coverage of that. For today they've wrapped up their coverage in the courtroom. They've wrapped up the session in the courtroom. Judge Debra Nelson has released all the attorneys and everyone else from this courtroom, at least for this day.

The former police chief of Sanford, Florida, Bill Lee, was fired after he let George Zimmerman walk free right after the shooting. Now Lee is speaking out publicly for the first time in an interview with CNN's George Howell.

George is in Sanford, Florida. He's joining us now live.

How did it go, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening. Yes, so Bill Lee tells me that he's been watching this trial throughout. You'll remember that he himself had to testify in court. And he says when you look at what his then officers said on the stand it came out in court, he believes, that they did their job to the letter. And though unpopular at the time, he believes that he upheld his oath, but he lost his job.


HOWELL (voice-over): There were protests and heated rallies. Anger echoed throughout the nation because the man who shot and killed 17- year-old Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, wasn't immediately behind bars. The criticism built, the pressure increased to make an arrest. And it all came down to this man, former Sanford Police chief, Bill Lee.

(On camera): When you look at what happened, was there a lot of pressure on you to make an arrest?

BILL LEE, FORMER SANFORD POLICE CHIEF: There was pressure applied. You know, the city manager asked several times during the process, well, can an arrest be made now? And I think that was just from not understanding the process, the criminal justice process.

I had one of the city commissioners come to me on two different occasions and say, you know, all we want is an arrest. And I explained to them, well, you just can't do that. You know. You have to have probable cause to arrest somebody. And it was related to me that they just wanted an arrest. They didn't care if it got dismissed later. And you don't do that.

HOWELL (voice-over): On the night of the shooting, February 26th, 2012, police took Zimmerman into custody for questioning, but later let him go.

(On camera): Your lead investigator, Chris Serino, suggested manslaughter on that initial police report. Why is it that, you know, for 40-plus days George Zimmerman walked a free man?

LEE: The laws of the state of Florida and the Constitution require you to have probable cause to arrest someone. The evidence and the testimony that we had didn't get us to probable cause.

HOWELL (voice-over): Police passed the case on to the State Attorney's Office. The governor then assigned the case to special prosecutor Angela Cory, who charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder, but it was too late for Bill Lee, pushed aside after only 10 months on the job, then fired.

(On camera): There was political pressure on one hand, would you agree?

LEE: Sure.

HOWELL: There were outside influences on the other?

LEE: Yes.

HOWELL: Did you get a fair shake?

LEE: I don't think so. I upheld my oath. You know, I upheld, you know, my oath to abide by the laws of the state of Florida and the Constitution. And I'm happy that at the end of the day, I can walk away with my integrity. I'm at peace with it on most days. I'm a man of faith, and -- but it stings.


HOWELL: Lee also talked to me about that 911 audiotape and the non- emergency tapes that were played for Trayvon Martin's family at city hall without law enforcement present. He said that he advised city officials not to play those tapes, that they should have been played individually for each family member, and certainly with a law enforcement officer present to see it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: George Howell, with a good exclusive interview, thanks very much, George, for that report.

Coming up, a former neighbor of George Zimmerman gives emotional testimony about her terror when someone broke into her home. How might that have swayed the jury? Stand by.


BLITZER: All right. Here's the schedule that Judge Debra Nelson just announced for the remainder of this Zimmerman trial. The court is in recess now until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. That's when attorneys will meet with the judge to go over final instructions, making sure everyone is on board as to what the instructions should be to the jury from the judge. The state will then at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, the state will deliver its closing arguments, the prosecutors will deliver their closing arguments.

The defense will deliver its closing argument Friday morning. Friday morning. Then there will be the state's rebuttal. In effect the state will get the last word later on Friday. The jury will get the case for deliberation Friday afternoon. We don't know how long that jury will deliberate.

So certainly one of the most gripping witnesses of the day today was a former neighbor of George Zimmerman. She testified she was home with her infant son when two young men broke in, an incident that happened before Trayvon Martin was killed. Here's some of her testimony.


OLIVIA BERTALAN, ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER NEIGHBOR: I was home on a Wednesday with my son. He was I think 9 months at the time? And I heard someone ring my doorbell repeatedly. So I went to check upstairs because I didn't have a peephole. And I saw two young African-American guys ring my doorbell repeatedly and they kept on looking up at the window. And I called my mom because I didn't know what to do.

And they left. Then after a while I went back upstairs to check one more time. And they're walking in front of my house. One came towards my house. And I called -- I was on the phone with my mom at the time, and I started crying. And I called the police. They broke into my house. I heard some bangs downstairs. The dispatcher told me to grab any weapon I had, because I had my son in my arms. He had woken up. And just prepare to use it if I had to, the guy was -- I was locked in my son's bedroom. And he was shaking the door knob trying to get in. And I was sitting there with a pair of rusty scissors and my son in one arm. And the police came and they ended up leaving.


BLITZER: Let's discuss what we just heard. Joining us, our CNN legal correspondents, Jean Casarez, along Sunny Hostin and Mark Nejame.

Jean, this was powerful testimony because she was later comforted by George Zimmerman, who spent a lot of time with her as a result of this break-in into her house. How important was her testimony?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it was important. The jury had already heard from the lead investigation about this home invasion. Now they got to see the victim. And they also learned how close in time it was to February 26th. Now take the state of mind of George Zimmerman. That was freshly on his mind. And of course they got some character evidence in the back door because George was right there to help her.

BLITZER: What about that, Mark? How important was her testimony?

NEJAME: Yes, Jean hit it on the head. Basically, it showed that he was a good guy, a good neighbor. And that he was a reasonable -- he had a reasonable thought that there would be somebody in the neighborhood. There had been break-ins and such. And look, he is fighting for his life. I misstated something earlier, with the ag assault, it's a mandatory minimum three years, even with a lesser if the state is seeking, so even if they get the very smallest he's got mandatory prison time.

So the defense is pulling out everything to go ahead and show that his actions are reasonable. They don't want to leave any stone unturned and settle for a manslaughter and ag assault. Those -- that's going to be prison time even if lessers come in.

BLITZER: All right. Sunny?

HOSTIN: I thought it was actually helpful for the prosecution because it shows what he had on his mind. He had on his mind that Trayvon Martin was a criminal, was perhaps one of the other African-American teens that had broken into the neighbor.

I got to tell you. I don't understand why the defense called that witness. I don't think it was helpful at all.

BLITZER: All right, guys, hold on for a moment. We'll continue our analysis of what happened.

Coming up, what happened in and outside when the Boston marathon bombing suspect went to court today. We'll have full details of that. First time we've seen Tsarnaev, obviously in weeks and weeks.

Plus the shocking hit-and-run, all caught by a security camera.


BLITZER: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Mary, what else is going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, a federal judge has ruled that Apple took part in a conspiracy with publishers to team up against Amazon and fix the price of e-books. Apple denies any conspiracy and says it was just trying to break what it calls Amazon's publishing monopoly. The five publishers accused of colluding with Apple previously settled with the Justice Department. Apple is expected to appeal.

In Arizona, flagpole now marks the spot where 19 members of an elite firefighting squad died last month. It's visible for anyone driving on U.S. Highway 89 north of Phoenix. The 19 were members of the Prescott Fire Department's elite Granite Mountain Hotshots Wildfire crew. They died June 30th when a wind shift blew the fire back over them.

To see how you can help support the families of the fallen firefighters, go to our "Impact Your World" Web site at

And police in Muskegon, Michigan, are asking for help tracking down the driver whose minivan backed into a woman and stroller. The van dragged the stroller a short way then drove off after the woman pulled her 1-year-old son to safety. Both are OK. Police found the van that day but haven't found the driver. He's the young man on the surveillance camera photos.

And really is so fortunate that both mother and child are OK -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we're really happy about that. What a mess, though, what a horrible, horrible situation.

All right, Mary. Thank you.

When we come back, we're going to reset the George Zimmerman trial. We'll take a closer look at the closing arguments set to begin tomorrow. We'll continue through Friday. We'll profile the two colorful lawyers on the defense team.