Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
The Prosecution's Closing Pitch
Aired July 11, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.
Good evening, everyone.
Jurors in the Zimmerman trial have a lot to sleep on tonight or perhaps a lot to keep them awake. Closing arguments, the state's lead prosecutor seeking to make Trayvon Martin almost a living presence in their eyes even as he led them through the state's theory of his killing. A frightened teenager, he said, pursued and murdered by a wannabe cop.
Tonight we'll look at the prosecutor's courtroom performance and the prosecution's case behind it. We'll focus as well on closing arguments tomorrow for the defense and the impact of Judge Debra Nelson's ruling today allowing jurors to consider a lesser charge than just second-degree murder. And of course the best legal panel around.
We begin, though, by catching you up on yet another big day in court. Here's Martin Savidge.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unlike his profanity laced opening, the state's closing began with more reverent tones almost like a eulogy.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: A teenager is dead, through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions.
SAVIDGE: Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda condensed the state's nine de case into two hours, emphasizing its claim that George Zimmerman actively profiled Trayvon Martin.
DE LA RIONDA: He profiled him as a criminal. He assumed certain things, that Trayvon Martin was up to no good, and that is what led to his death.
SAVIDGE: The state contends Zimmerman is a want-to-be cop and self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who had grown increasingly frustrated by a series of break-ins by criminals who always manage to get away.
DE LA RIONDA: Because the defendant knew. SAVIDGE: And De la Rionda's narrative pause just once for a recess and was interrupted at another point for an objection. The defense attorney Mark O'Mara said the state was wrongfully interpreting the law. The state often returned to its tactic of using Zimmerman's own words against him.
DE LA RIONDA: He does not want to admit at all that he is following him or chasing him or profiling him.
SAVIDGE: While the jury sat impassively for much of De la Rionda's delivery, Zimmerman's parents in court for the first time as spectators since the trial started looked at times incredulous. As the state concluded for the day a rare reaction from George Zimmerman himself.
DE LA RIONDA: The man who's guilty of second-degree murder. Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Earlier the court heard arguments on lesser charges that could be presented to the jury. It was no surprise the state asked for the lesser charge of manslaughter, but the defense was stunned when it also wanted to add third degree felony murder. Prosecutor Rich Mantei argued the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman was, among other things, child abuse.
RICHARD MANTEI, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: The non-enumerative felony in this case alleged as child abuse, obviously, the information alleges that the defendant shot and killed the victim, that the victim was under the age of 18, and child abuse must be, according to the third degree felony murder instruction, defined.
SAVIDGE: Defense attorney Don West was outraged.
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh my god. Just when I thought this case couldn't get any more bizarre.
SAVIDGE: The debate brought more testy exchanges between West and Judge Debra Nelson.
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: I understand. I've already ruled, and you have -- you continually disagree with this court every time I make a ruling.
SAVIDGE: In the end, the judge ruled third degree felony murder would not be an option for the jury.
NELSON: I just don't think that the intentional part of that is there for the child abuse charge, and it's not alleged in the information that way. And I just don't think that the evidence supports that.
SAVIDGE: The pressure now on Mark O'Mara to close out the defense's case Friday before it heads to the jury.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Sanford, Florida.
COOPER: There's a lot to talk tonight -- talk about tonight between the fight over lesser charges. Judge Nelson once again tangling with the attorneys and the prosecutor rewriting a line from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech trying to redeem witness Rachel Jeantel in the eyes of the jury to the lesser charges ruling, there's a lot to talk about, as I said.
Legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin join me, also criminal defense attorneys Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos. Mark's latest book is "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works and Sometimes Doesn't."
We'll talk about the MLK reference a bit later in the conversation.
Mark, let me start with you, though. The lesser charges, defense attorney Don West obviously very upset, outraged about the prosecution's move to introduce this lesser charge of third degree felony murder, a child abuse charge, resulting in death. Did he have a right to be upset?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I think he does. I think it was frankly outrageous and he's been upset all along. I don't know that it was a good idea to channel that anger towards her honor, but ultimately, the manslaughter was going to be given, no matter what.
I mean, we had that argument yesterday about the propriety of lesser includeds and the judge did what she -- you know, what the law calls on her to do.
COOPER: Jeff, did it surprise you to -- the idea of bringing up this third murder charge?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It was outrageous.
COOPER: Outrageous, really?
TOOBIN: And that's a really outrageous attempt by the prosecution. Look, you can say what you want about this case. It's not a child abuse case. It has nothing to do with child abuse. I thought, again, the judge was exactly right in her rulings that she said manslaughter is an appropriate lesser included offense but this third degree murder with child abuse was not. So she did the right thing. I mean, she fought with the defense attorney, but he won that key -- that key ruling.
COOPER: And, Sunny, I know you've been favorable toward the prosecution throughout this. Did you think that was -- that was a bridge too far for them.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, that was a stretch. I mean, I think it was a surprise to everyone. I was in the courtroom when they announced it, and you could hear the lawyers in the courtroom sort of gasp. I was among those. They was --
They were really shocked. So I think the judge made the right ruling. You know, that the government tried for it. They tried for ag assault at one point but the case law didn't support them and the case law didn't -- or the facts of this case don't support felony murder child abuse. And I think the judge got it right.
COOPER: Danny, how do you think the prosecution did in their closing?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Overall, look, the prosecution I've said from the beginning is doing very well with some really difficult facts. I think they did a good job bringing emotion in and they did something I thought was very interesting. They are making this case suddenly about George Zimmerman's character, and by that I mean, they -- he says outright, this case began months ago when George Zimmerman was frustrated about people breaking into the -- places in the neighborhood.
COOPER: You're saying it began before Trayvon Martin -- the day Trayvon Martin was killed.
CEVALLOS: Right, so they are grafting that frustration into his intent on the night of. And, you know, historically, the general rule is you don't introduce character evidence, people's prior acts or behavior to prove action and conformity with what they on a particular night. But I thought this was a brilliant way of sort of backdooring in character evidence, which, by the way, taken in the abstract isn't that -- is relatively benign.
He's a guy who started a neighborhood watch --
COOPER: But it's very open to interpretation, and Jeff, you have been saying this last night, I think, on the program that you can look at this either way. You can either look at George Zimmerman wanting to start a neighborhood watch as a good, decent thing for a citizen to do or if you think he's a racist and a profiler, you can look at it that way.
TOOBIN: And I thought that was the most interesting, -- and in many ways the most effective part of the opening statement, which was -- which was the beginning part where he sort of set the stage. Where he said this guy was out to get and he almost -- you could tell the implication he's out to get black people although he never said that. He said profiling but didn't say profiling by what or about what.
The problem with this summation, which is to me the problem with the prosecution's case, is it never answered the question, what happened? You know, how did this -- how did this death unfold?
COOPER: Whereas we know the defense is going to have this video and a very clear interpretation of what they say happened.
TOOBIN: Exactly. And it's not even the defense's burden to prove what happened. It's really the prosecution's burden and this issue of who took the first swing, who was on top, how were the shots fired? That I think is a gap in the prosecution's case that this summation didn't fill.
COOPER: Mark, there was a moment I want to play that for our viewers where the prosecutors pulled out George Zimmerman's gun for the jurors. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA RIONDA: He's got this gun and this holster and you'll see in a few minutes, maybe more than a few minutes, one of the things that he does, he demonstrates to the police where he had the gun, and it wasn't right here in the front. It was towards the back and it was hidden. And he'll demonstrate to the police out there where it was.
Look at the gun. Look at the size of this gun. How did the victim see that in the darkness? Where was it? It wasn't outside. It was tucked in behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sunny, do you think that's one of the -- sorry, Mark. Sunny, let me start with you, do you think that was one of the weakest parts of George Zimmerman's defense that Trayvon Martin went for his gun, that's what he told police?
HOSTIN: Well, absolutely, and I think that the weakest part is all the inconsistencies, all the different versions of what happened that night. And I've got to disagree with Jeff. I mean I think the prosecution has answered the question as to what happened that night. They are -- what is before the jury is that George Zimmerman chased, profiled Trayvon Martin as a criminal and shot him. You know, and they've dispelled I think George Zimmerman's version of events.
You can't believe what he says because there are so many inconsistencies. He exaggerated so much. So what are you left with? You're left with the forensics and the forensics show that Trayvon Martin was shot by killed by George Zimmerman.
So I've got to tell you, I mean, I thought the closing was masterful, I thought it was brilliant. I thought they really changed the narrative, the focus was on Trayvon Martin's death and George Zimmerman's actions on that night. I was looking at the jury and they were captivated.
TOOBIN: The second half of his summation was devoted almost entirely to Zimmerman's various statements, and pointing out what he said were the contradictions and the lies. I thought that was a little -- that was frankly somewhat confusing and in too much time on that issue, not enough reconstructing what actually happened.
Yes, there are inconsistencies but, you know, I think Mark O'Mara is going to talk about what happens when you repeat stories a lot. I mean, I'm sure Sunny disagrees with me but I didn't see inconsistencies that looked like devious lies.
COOPER: And, Mark, the police have testified that they didn't really see glaring inconsistencies that pointed to lies. They saw the regular inconsistencies that you see when somebody has repeated their story multiple times.
GERAGOS: That's exactly what they testified to. It's interesting that it would be characterized as a masterful change of the narrative, is what I think Sunny called it. What had struck me was that old saw about if you've got the law, pound the law. If you've got the facts, pound the facts. If you have neither, pound the table.
This guy just sat and yelled and yelled and yelled and I don't understand how this was masterful. If anything, it was comical in a bizarre way. I mean, yes, there is a dead 17-year-old and everybody regrets that and that's a tragedy but at the same time, this to me was an abomination. I just didn't understand what they thought was being accomplished.
Sunny says that the jury was captivated. OK, the jury was captivated.
HOSTIN: Maybe they were captivated by what is this guy on because I don't understand why he's yelling at us.
COOPER: Danny, do you think it was effective, the sort of the theatrics of it?
CEVALLOS: Well, there were a lot of theatrics. And again he's maximizing what he has. A good example would be the Skittles and the iced tea. The Skittles and iced tea are not an element of any crime. They shouldn't have anything to do with the case but De la Rionda uses these because we think of Skittles as sort of a childlike thing to eat and iced tea, the fruity iced tea.
I guarantee you, if Trayvon Martin had been buying a pack of smokes and some motor oil at the store, it doesn't capture the childlike imagination. No one would care about it as much. But De la Rionda takes that instead. And instead of it being a non-issue, he shows it to the jurors. This is what this child was buying.
Like I said, he's doing -- I think he's doing a terrific job with tough facts and that's an example of the style points he gets for using something that's basically irrelevant and turning it into a plus.
COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We're going to have more from our panel. Everybody stick around. A lot more about the closing arguments, including the way the prosecutor tried to boost one of the witnesses, Rachel Jeantel, in the eyes of the jury. We'll also look ahead at defense attorney Mark O'Mara's closing arguments tomorrow.
You can follow on Twitter. Talk about the case right now at andersoncooper.
And later, 911 recordings just now coming a light after the terrifying moments after that Korean jumbo jet crashed in San Francisco.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just spotted a plane crash and there are a lot of people that need help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have people over here who were -- weren't found and they're burned really badly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're almost losing a woman here. We're trying to keep her alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back. We're talking about what the prosecution was trying to achieve in closing arguments today and whether in the eyes of the six-women jury they succeeded. They're of course the final authority. Tonight we're trying to play as many of the highlights from today as we can so you can decide for yourself.
Here's a moment that caught everyone's ear, the lead prosecutor talking about the witness, Rachel Jeantel, and channeling Martin Luther King Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA RIONDA: I had a dream that today a witness would be judged not on the color of her personality but of the content of her testimony. On the content of her testimony. Just because she's got a colorful personality, just because he referred to me as a bald-headed dude or whatever, that doesn't mean her story, her statements aren't accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're back with the panel. Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos.
Danny, you're shaking your head.
CEVALLOS: Yes, I -- I don't agree with this. I don't agree with the injection of -- look, you can out there, you can listen to Rachel Jeantel and you can conclude that she's not a credible witness. It doesn't mean you need sensitivity training. It doesn't mean we need to bring out a podium and start talk about race relations in America.
You can, as a reasonable person, conclude that someone is either credible or they're not, and Rachel, when you put Rachel Jeantel against the parade of witnesses that George Zimmerman called, it's not about race. It's about credentialed people who just came across as more credible witnesses.
So I think it's a little risky to point at Rachel Jeantel and say, oh, you know, ignore all her problems and believe her just outright.
TOOBIN: Is she really that important? I mean, that, you know, obviously, she's a very colorful witness --
HOSTIN: Very important.
TOOBIN: How so? How so, Sunny?
COOPER: Sunny, why do you think she's --
HOSTIN: I think she's very important because she was the person that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when the confrontation happened and she is the person that said Trayvon Martin was afraid. He believed that George Zimmerman was creepy, was following him and that George Zimmerman confronted him by saying, what are you doing around here when Trayvon Martin asked why are you following me?
George Zimmerman didn't say, I'm the neighborhood watch guy or anything like that, and then she says that she heard -- she heard some sort of bump and she heard Trayvon Martin say get off, get off. That's very important testimony.
And, Danny, you were one of the people that said that she wasn't relatable. I don't know what you meant by that but I took that to mean that somehow because of the way she spoke.
CEVALLOS: I'll tell you what I -- I'll tell you what I meant.
HOSTIN: Perhaps because of her colorful testimony.
CEVALLOS: No, no.
HOSTIN: She was not relatable.
CEVALLOS: I'll tell you I meant. I meant she said she couldn't read cursive. I think some people are going to have trouble relating to someone who can't read cursive.
HOSTIN: That makes someone -- that makes not relatable? That's ridiculous.
CEVALLOS: When you -- when you assess the credibility of a witness, you look at what you can relate to in them. I picked one item and it's someone who can't read cursive.
HOSTIN: Half the children in America grew up on computers can't read cursive.
CEVALLOS: If that's your -- hey, if that's your --
HOSTIN: Are you kidding me?
CEVALLOS: If that's your political issue, great. Because this is a trial, a murder trial, so I'm focusing on that.
COOPER: I want to help the wall flower, Mark Geragos, get in here.
Mark, go ahead.
GERAGOS: Well, I was going to say, can I focus on one thing? And I don't understand this. First of all, besides the -- let's put aside for a second that the prosecution is injecting race and everybody has been injecting race. It's one of the reasons it's got traction. More fundamentally, that isn't the law. You get a jury instruction, take a look the jury instruction.
A witness' demeanor, a witness' attitude in giving testimony is absolutely irrelevant. I mean, is relevant. Why? Mark O'Mara or Don West wasn't objecting and asking for a curative instruction is beyond me because what he told that jury is not the state of the law. That is absolutely not what the jury instruction reads.
You can absolutely take a look at her attitude, you can take a look at her demeanor, like any other witness, and if you feel that there's a problem with that, you can discount or you take that testimony with a grain of salt. That is --
HOSTIN: Can you discount her testimony because she can't read cursive? Can you discount her testimony --
GERAGOS: No, no, that has nothing --
HOSTIN: Because she's not relatable?
GERAGOS: No. If she says -- I -- did I argue that? I don't think I did, Sunny. I'm not Danny.
COOPER: But --
GERAGOS: What I'm telling you is they should have objected at the time that that is not the law because it clearly is not what the jury is going to get in a jury.
COOPER: But just -- you have all argued at one time or another that a -- that a defense -- that a person on the stand was relatable.
I mean, Sunny, you've argued for Trayvon Martin's mom that as a mother, she's relatable to everybody on the jury because they are -- they are moms. I mean --
COOPER: Isn't relatability something that a lawyer look at?
HOSTIN: But I certainly didn't say that someone is not relatable because she can't read cursive. I mean I think that that's code for, you know, these women on the jury --
CEVALLOS: It's code to you, Sunny.
HOSTIN: -- who can't relate to someone --
CEVALLOS: It's code to you.
HOSTIN: -- like, you know, Rachel Jeantel.
CEVALLOS: OK, Sunny, you're bringing your own things to the table.
HOSTIN: I found it to be very credible and I --
CEVALLOS: It's code to you.
HOSTIN: And I -- that's not true. And I understood her very well.
COOPER: OK. Let me -- now I just want to play this --
GERAGOS: Sunny, you have been bringing your own stuff to the table in this case and you know it.
HOSTIN: Not true.
GERAGOS: Sunny, I understand that.
HOSTIN: Not true.
COOPER: Let's move on. Let's move on.
HOSTIN: All of you have been bringing your stuff to the table.
GERAGOS: You've been bringing --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: All right. You guys can talk about this later. Let's -- I do want to play the moment that Danny talked about playing -- bringing out the Skittles, bringing out the drink, that -- you know, an effective moment Danny was saying that the prosecutor used. I want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA RIONDA: Trayvon Martin. He was staying. He was there legally. He hadn't broken in or snuck in or trespassed. He was there legally. He bought Skittles and some kind of watermelon or iced tea or whatever it's called. That was his crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mark, do you find it effective in closing arguments to use props, to use things like that, to use the gun, et cetera?
GERAGOS: Yes, I think it is effective when you use props. I don't think it's effective to be yelling the whole time. I think that if you modulate, it's a lot more effective, and I think at a certain point it looks like, as I said before, that there is something wrong with your case if you have to scream at the jury the entire time.
TOOBIN: I think that's an over statement of what he --
GERAGOS: I mean, in a certain point emotion is good. Really?
TOOBIN: But that part of the summation was so effective, I thought, because it brought us all back to why this case got national attention in the first place. You know, what kind of a country do we live in that a 17-year-old boy can't go to the corner and buy candy and buy soda and come home for the NBA All-Star Game without being killed?
COOPER: It is --
TOOBIN: And that's -- that's a troubling aspect --
COOPER: Well, and that's why -- I mean I think it is very -- easy to lose sight of that essential fact in all of this. I mean, in all the talk about, you know, what the jury is thinking and how Mark O'Mara did and the back and forth on it, the essential core issue here is the death of this young man for no reason.
COOPER: I mean, there is no --
TOOBIN: Now what we're going to hear tomorrow is the issue of self-defense, so maybe there was a reason.
TOOBIN: And that's the intent -- that's the, you know.
TOOBIN: Guiding conflict of this case.
COOPER: Yes. But as you pointed out, we don't know and still after all this trial, there is no definitive way of saying exactly what occurred.
TOOBIN: And I -- I followed this trial closely. I mean, Sunny disagrees with me, she thinks it's clear. I don't know what happened here. And I think that's bad for the prosecution.
CEVALLOS: You may remember from the Casey Anthony trial, that was one of the things the jurors, I think, said in interviews afterwards, where they just said the prosecution couldn't tell us exactly what happened.
Now does that mean that that's the way the law is supposed to be applied? Maybe not. But jurors do focus on that. If they can't come up with a narrative and I respect that Sunny believes they proved that narrative. But if you weigh the narratives, fair or not, George Zimmerman's narrative is much clearer than what exactly happened according to the prosecution, and I don't think they're conceding anything. I'm with Sunny on this.
But they are offering alternatives or at least counters to the idea of who was on top of whom. I think they are not quite as clear of George Zimmerman. After all one is still alive and one is not., though.
COOPER: The dummy that came in the other day made a second appearance in the courtroom today. Prosecutors suggested that the way Zimmerman was pinned down made it unlikely he'd be able to reach his gun at his side. Just take a look at this demonstration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA RIONDA: Guess I might as well do what everybody else has done. Using whatever we call this. But do you see what he is saying now? He is saying that armpits, how does he get the gun out? Armpits. How does he get the gun out? The truth does not lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sunny, to Mark's point it does sound like he's yelling a lot. Did you find that off putting at all? Or you think it's effective?
HOSTIN: You know what's interesting, I was in the courtroom and I did not feel like the entire closing argument was yelling, and I was right there.
HOSTIN: I mean, there were parts that he was -- he was passionate. There were parts that he certainly was trying, I think, to drive the point home. He raised his voice. But I didn't see the women on the jury --
COOPER: So in the courtroom --
HOSTIN: -- coil. I didn't see anything like that.
COOPER: -- itself it didn't feel like that?
HOSTIN: Not at all, and I want to say this also, what I bring to this case is the fact I'm a former prosecutor, have been in many courtrooms, I'm a woman, I'm a mother, I'm a Latina, I'm African- American, I'm part white, and I bring the same stuff into the jury room to this case that this jury brings. And I can tell you with bringing all of that and that perspective, I think the prosecution was masterful today.
COOPER: All right. Everyone, stick around. It's next -- it's the defense's turn obviously tomorrow. Our panel is going to weigh in on how Mark O'Mara and his team have done throughout the trial so far. And what they're going to be looking for in the closing arguments.
I spoke to Mark last night on the program. He gave us some insight on how he prepares for a closing argument like this.
Also ahead, we're going to look at the judge, Debra Nelson, laying down the lay throughout the trial. She's been tough on attorneys on both sides. Tonight we're taking a closer look at how she presided over this trial.
COOPER: Well, even critics can see that George Zimmerman's defense team turn in a strong performance, all that's left is the finally, of course, the chance -- well, it's going to be quite dramatic. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE LAWYER: Knock, knock? Who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good, you're on the jury. Nothing? That's funny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Remember, that is how it all began for the defense, clearly, they won't be telling knock, knock jokes in the closing statements. Tomorrow Mark O'Mara is going to doing the close, not Don West. Our panel meantime is here, Sunny Hostin, Jeff Toobin, Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos. What do you think, Mark, is the most important thing that O'Mara needs to try to convey to the jury tomorrow? We know he's going to be using that, what Jeff, calls a cartoon, that animation.
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right, the -- he's going to use the recreation and the animation, but I don't think you're going to see him yelling at the jury. I don't think you're going to see him getting into or trying to play on emotion. I think what he's going to try to do is he's going to try to emphasize, this is what the facts are, this is the law, and if you follow the law and do what you're supposed to do, you will find Mr. Zimmerman not guilty.
And I think he's going to just passionately at least for a large portion of this, go through what it is to have reasonable doubt. I think he's going to detail exactly what the facts show, and I think he's going to do what I was saying last night, the definition of reasonable doubt is. If there are two reasonable interpretations, one that points towards guilt, one that points towards innocence, you must adopt the one that points towards innocence and find him not guilty. In this case I think that's what he's going to do.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He's got one very specific assignment, I think. He's got to show that self-defense is a defense both to murder and to manslaughter. He's got a big problem with this manslaughter. The jury might want to compromise somehow and convict him of manslaughter that would be a disaster for George Zimmerman. So he's got to make the argument that self-defense is an absolute defense to both charges, and try to persuade the jury not to compromise.
COOPER: It's interesting, Sunny, when you compare Mark O'Mara's style to the prosecutor today. I mean, O'Mara, you've been in the court more than anybody, how does his style play in that courtroom? Because on television, he seems very methodical, very calm and he's been able to score some real points with prosecution witnesses.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it plays very well, especially when you compare him to Don West. The judge likes him. The jury likes him. He's a very likable lawyer. He's got a really great demeanor. His voice is soothing, and I think he comes across as sort of professorial, which a lot of jurors like. I expect his summation to be very, very good.
I'm interested in seeing how he incorporates the animation into his presentation. Now he did say, Anderson, I think he said it to you that he isn't going to write out his summation because he sort of breathes this case. He's been living this case. He is just going to speak from the heart. This is a tough case with a lot of elements using, using demonstrative aids to speak from the heart. I'm interested in seeing how that comes across to the jury.
COOPER: That's the animation we were showing that is controversial. It's all from George Zimmerman's perspective, what the defense is saying happened. I spoke as Sunny mentioned, I spoke to Mark O'Mara last night and I want to play some of what he talked about. I find it surprising, the point Sunny raised, that he doesn't pre-write or write out his final thoughts. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE LAWYER: The most important point I think is to make sure this jury looks at this case and decides whether or not George acted in self-defense. I think there is overwhelming evidence that he did act in self-defense. There is very little evidence that he didn't and if the jury listens to the instructions given by the court, looks at the evidence and compares the two, not to do anything else, don't give us more than what we deserve, what the facts in the law than they will conclude that George acted in self-defense.
My fear is that because of bias or sympathy they may get from the state's closing arguments where they try to bring up the expletives the way they yelled at him and George and mentioned the loss of the 17-year-old that a jury may consider a compromised verdict. We don't want a compromised verdict like we don't want a jury pardon. We want a verdict based upon the facts of the law and that's an acquittal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Danny, you say that the defense should not waste time tomorrow responding to the prosecution's argument.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There are two schools of thought. One may say you have a defense that's pretty solid and the prosecution may be arguably on weaker ground, that you're better off sticking to your own case. The prosecution could essentially lay a trap for you. If you spend your time responding to their argument, there is the idea you're giving it more credibility.
An good example might be the MMA expert that we heard from. Some critics said why call an MMA guy? All your doing as a defense, why would you call -- people would think more about mixed martial arts and that to the defense should be a red herring. Mark O'Mara is so polished and such a pro.
I don't think he's changing up what he's doing too much because he doesn't need to. They have enough good facts and good law that he can stick to what he knows. He's been doing it so long. He doesn't need to write anything down. I still use plenty of yellow notepads, but when you get to his level, you don't have to write anything down. It's all up here.
COOPER: Jeff, how does it work when you have two counsels, Don West and Mark O'Mara, and Mark O'Mara is doing the closing, does Don West give his points of what he wants in the closing?
TOOBIN: Well, the way it often works is that one lawyer handles legal issues and Don West dealt with all the issues about the charge and the prosecution is dividing things up in a fairly common way when there is more than one prosecutor. One prosecutor will give the opening summation as we heard and the other will give the rebuttal summation. That's I think fairly standard.
COOPER: All right, we got to take a quick break, a lot more to talk about. Judge Debra Nelson kept both attorneys on her toes. We'll look at her tough style in the courtroom and where she came from.
Also ahead, new photos just released from inside the Asiana Airlines plane that crash landed in San Francisco and the dramatic 911 calls from passengers moments after it happened.
COOPER: Throughout the Zimmerman trial Judge Debra Nelson has been tough. She has also shown herself to be a no nonsense judge who repeatedly had to call out lawyers on both sides for not obeying the rules of her courtroom. Tonight, we want to take a closer look at how Judge Nelson lays down the law. Randi Kaye reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Judge Debra Nelson hardly seems to notice the cameras in her courtroom. She's too busy see putting attorneys in their place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to making a speaking objection.
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON: You can't make an objection to your own question. Stop this right now. I have told counsel before, first of all, nobody talks over the other. Please don't go off focus here.
O'MARA: No, no, no --
JUDGE NELSON: Don't no, no, no me, either.
KAYE: Her no nonsense style may be a turnoff to some, but to CNN legal analyst Mark Nejame who has presented cases before Judge Nelson, it's a breath of fresh air.
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This case could have easily unraveled. This case could have easily imploded. The judge was going to have no part of it. She will let everybody know who is in charge and it will be her.
KAYE (on camera): Judge Nelson wasn't originally chosen to hear this case. She replaced another judge who the defense claimed had a bias against Zimmerman. She's been serving on the bench in Florida's 18th judicial circuit since 1999. Before that, she practiced law in Orlando. She earned her law degree from South Texas College of Law.
(voice-over): Nejame says Judge Nelson tends to agree more with the state, which is not uncommon for a judge, something that was on display again today as she clashed with Defense Attorney Don West over jury instructions.
JUDGE NELSON: I am not giving that instruction.
WEST: It's an error to not instruct this jury properly on the law.
JUDGE NELSON: You continually disagree with this court every time I make a ruling. If I have made a mistake in this case, you will appeal. This is my ruling on this issue.
KAYE: But it was this moment after a hearing late into the night that will forever be cemented in trial watcher's minds. WEST: I'm not physical able to keep up this pace much longer. It's 10:00 at night. We had full days every day, weekends, depositions at night.
KAYE: She simply decided it was time to go. She may not be warm and fuzzy, but Judge Debra Nelson is always on her game.
NEJAME: When there is a difficult argument, she said I'll go study it. That night she did or that weekend she did and she came to court prepared.
KAYE: Prepared and ready to rule as she thought the rule dictated. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Joining me once again, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos. So Mark, the judge certainly runs a tight ship. What do you make of her style?
GERAGOS: Look, the -- what most people don't understand is in the last 20, 30 years, there's been a swing, a pendulum swing in the types of people that get appointed to be judge and the overwhelming majority are ex-prosecutors, so they come to the bench with that perspective. Having said that, there is something, I think, endearing about this brisk style.
I think she's a great judge in the sense that she takes no non- sense. She keeps everybody on board. The only thing I would ask about her and what I think I really like about her is she's an equal opportunity person. She gets -- she gets in the prosecution's face. She gets in the defense's face. That's all I ever ask.
Now I know she's got issues with Don West and I don't know if there is a history there. Maybe somebody else can tell me. A lot of times I just respect a judge. I don't mind if they get into my face, as long as they do it the same time with the prosecution, and I think she's handled this case as well as anybody could have.
COOPER: Does it ever pay to argue with the judge?
TOOBIN: Sometimes, yes, most judges will listen to you and some of these legal arguments could go either way. But what I have liked about what Judge Nelson has done is she's always been aware that there is a sequestered jury. These jurors are in a hotel away from families. They want to get back. That's why she's kept this trial moving along. That's why she was sitting at 10:00 at night so that she wouldn't have to use the trial day, use the jurors time to deal with legal arguments. You know, that is something that is hard to do for judges, and she's done great at.
CEVALLOS: You know, there is a theory about life with referees. If you argue about a bad call, the idea is maybe later on he'll cut you a break and I don't know if that's true or not with judges but it feels true. I have so much sympathy for Don West when he felt he had to object to the judge asking questions. We've all had judges ask questions and I think that's devastating to my case, but the decision to object or question a judge's decision like that is a tough thing to do.
COOPER: Sunny --
GERAGOS: Danny, I've actually had cases where I've objected to the judge's questions, and they have actually sustained the objection so there is an upside and downside.
COOPER: Sunny, she certainly seems to move, you know, be very conscious of wanting to move this case along.
HOSTIN: Yes, and I think Jeff is right on this. It's because the jury is sequestered and she's their advocate and almost their lawyer. She wants to make sure they are comfortable, but they are not kept waiting and waiting and waiting while they are away from families. I got to tell you, I think the reason that this case has moved so quickly is because of this judge. Another judge perhaps we would be here for weeks and weeks and weeks so I think she was certainly the right judge for this case, and she's really just done a terrific job of keeping everyone in line.
COOPER: Is there any -- I mean, at this point did anybody see any reasons for appeal or grounds for appeal, if in fact, there is a conviction?
GERAGOS: Absolutely. There are absolutely --
GERAGOS: Many grounds for appeal in this case.
TOOBIN: Name one.
GERAGOS: Name one? I can give you a --
TOOBIN: Well, start with one.
GERAGOS: The prosecution discovery, I'll start with one. I'll start with the prosecution's late breaking discovery, the constantly dumping upon the defense of discovery that should have been given before.
COOPER: Jeff --
GERAGOS: Violations --
TOOBIN: No conviction. Murder conviction will be overturned because of late discovery.
COOPER: Jeff, do you buy --
GERAGOS: Jeff, Jeff, aren't you in Washington?
COOPER: The defense is saying the prosecution has lied, that they have been incredibly late giving over evidence. Do you buy that?
TOOBIN: Look, I have seen many criminal trials where there are a lot of fights about discovery. As long as the defense gets it eventually, no conviction will be overturned. If it turns out that there is exculpatory --
GERAGOS: Are you kidding me --
TOOBIN: Can I finish, Mark? If it turns out that there are evidence withheld that the defense never saw, that's grounds for overturning a conviction.
COOPER: We got to leave it there. Mark clearly disagrees. I sense we'll have more time to talk about this, maybe in an hour and 10 minutes from now. Stick around everybody. Thank you Jeff, Danny and Mark. We'll see you at 10:00 Eastern for our special report on the Zimmerman trial AC 360 special report, "Self-defense or Murder," in about an hour and 10 minutes or so.
Passengers aboard the Asiana Airlines jet that crashed in San Francisco desperately pled with 911 operators for help. We got the calls. Remarkable and will play them ahead.
Why Massachusetts investigators say they are close to declaring the killer in the last Boston strangling case.
COOPER: Welcome back. Big developments tonight in the investigation of the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco, fresh and horrifying look inside the fuselage provided tonight by investigators, the interior gutted by fire. Look at these pictures. It's amazing that 305 people survived the crash.
The cockpit voice recorder show the crew called for a go around and aborted landing twice in the final seconds before impact. The pilot in control told investigators he saw a flash of bright lights moments before the disaster.
Also tonight, 911 calls for help made in the immediate aftermath by people near the airport who witnessed the crash and by passengers themselves. The latest now from Dan Simon.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two minutes after the Boeing 777 crashed, fire trucks raced to the scene but a newly released 911 call.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: We just got in a plane crash and there are a bunch of people that need help and there is not enough medics out here.
SIMON: Passengers are heard begging for more ambulances.
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: 911 emergency, what are you reporting?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There is a crash, people injured on the tarmac. No ambulances.
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Ma'am, ma'am, we have reports of it. We're aware of the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There are no ambulances here. We've been on the ground 20 minutes. Critical injuries. Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Yes, I'm still here. Were you on the plane, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Yes, I was on the plane. We've been on the ground, I don't know, 20 minutes, a half hour. There are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries. We're trying to keep her alive.
SIMON: Another caller describes a badly injured passenger desperate for help.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway who is pretty much burned very severely on the head and we don't know what to do.
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. We have help started that way. You said they are there, but there is not enough people, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: She is really burned. She will probably die soon.
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: I'm getting additional ambulances to you.
SIMON: The San Francisco Fire Department today explained its response protocol saying that in a mass casualty event, ambulances wouldn't race to the runway instead the procedures for paramedics to triage patients and then later transport them to the hospital.
ESTHER JANG, PASSENGER: So it was like we were bouncing all over the place. I just remember there being dust everywhere and I was freaking out, and then it just stopped.
SIMON: By all accounts, the medical response was successful as all but two passengers survived. The families of the two girls who died visited the scene last night. Investigators have mostly finished the inspection of the aircraft and have to literally cut it up to haul it away.
DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRMAN: They will be cutting through the wings to remove sections of the wings and then cutting through the fuselage to remove sections of the fuselage. That work will begin this evening and go on until it is completed.
SIMON: NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman told reporters that no faulty equipment is detected which fuels more speculation that the pilots made a mistake.
COOPER: Dan, one of the pilots said he saw a bright flash before impact. Was there any explanation from the NTSB would that might have been?
SIMON: Well, this is something that first came up yesterday where that pilot reported seeing a bright light and led to speculation he was temporary blinded. Hersman wanted to set the record straight and said he was not blinded and this may have been a reflection from the sun. He could see the controls quite clearly and this appears to be a non-issue -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Dan Simon, appreciate it. Thanks.
Let's get caught up in some of the other stories we're following. Randi is here with the 360 Bulletin -- Randi.
KAYE: Anderson, Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Edward Snowden. That country's foreign minister told Reuters today that Venezuela has yet to receive a response on the offer of asylum made last week.
The last killing by the Boston strangler may soon be solved. Investigators have secured DNA from a nephew of prime suspect Albert Desalvo. His body will be exhumed for a final DNA match.
Stocks hit another record high today. The Dow Jones rose 169 points to close at 15,460 that broke the former record set back in late may by 50 points. The S&P 500 closed at a record high today.
And Justin Bieber called former President Bill Clinton to apologize. The singer was caught on video walking past a photo of Clinton spraying cleaner fluid on it while shouting the f-bomb to the photo. We're told Mr. Clinton accepted the apology and Anderson, I saw that Bieber tweeted apparently saying thanks for the conversation, Mr. President and put the hash tag great guy, go figure.
COOPER: I like that you're following Justin Bieber on Twitter. Randi, thanks very much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Ran out of time for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, a reminder, we'll see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of 360 in the George Zimmerman trial. Hope you join us for that. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.