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Zimmerman Trial Closing Arguments Continue

Aired July 11, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: You know, the law doesn't say that. The law talks about accountability and responsibility for one's actions. And that's what we're asking for in this case. Hold the defendant responsible for his actions. Hold him accountable for what he did. Because if the defendant hadn't assumed that, and Trayvon Martin would have watched the basketball game, George Zimmerman, I'm assuming, would have gone to Target and did whatever he does on Sunday evenings and we wouldn't be here.

The law doesn't allow people to take the law into their own hands. It doesn't allow, quite frankly, even the police to take the law into their own hands. If the police had gotten called out there, they would have done -- they would have, OK, are you -- what are you doing here? Can I ask you what you're doing? Do you mind telling me? And under the law, they're allowed to ask somebody that's walking the streets. The person can ignore them or not. That's not a crime. Most people say, listen, I live right -- I'm right here. I'm going home. You know, you want to come?

But this defendant didn't give Trayvon Martin a chance. Recall the testimony of this defendant in terms of the interviews and I'm going to play certain parts for you. But recall how he says that at one point that Trayvon Martin is circling his car. And my point in saying that is, number one, you've got to determine whether that's true. But let's presume that part is true. And he says he's got something in his hands. Why does this defendant get out of the car if he thinks that Trayvon Martin is a threat to him? Why? Why? Because he's got a gun. He's got the equalizer. He's going to take care of it. He's a wannabe cop. He's going to take care of it. He's got a gun. And, my God, it's his community and he's not going to put up with it. And if the police are taking too long to respond, he's going to handle it.

Now, did he go over there and say, I'm going to kill this kid? No. This isn't first degree murder. It's not premeditated. But his actions resulted in the death of a 17-year-old boy. Did they not? I mean, do you have an innocent man before you? Is it really self-defense when you follow somebody? First of all, when you profile somebody incorrectly. When you automatically label him a criminal because he's acting, in your mind and in his mind, excuse me, as suspicious because he's wearing a hoodie, because it's raining and he's walking the streets or not walking fast enough. I thought in this great country, no matter how stupid we might think somebody's acting because it's raining and he's walking or doing whatever, that that's not against the law. He did have his hoodie on. It was raining off and on.

What's ironic in this case and what I want to spend some time talking with you about is the defendant's statements because you might think, well, hold on, you're the state, what are you putting on his self- serving statements when he's denying committing a crime, when he's saying it's self-defense? We wanted to tell you all the evidence. We wanted to put in all the witnesses that saw something of value out there because we wanted you to get the truth. We wanted you to get the complete story. But in doing so, I want to analyze the -- dissect with you the defendant's statements. Why was it necessary for the defendant to exaggerate everything that happened? Why was it that it took him a while, even at the very end, he kept denying something. What? Obviously he kept denying that he intentionally killed him. That it was, you know, he said self-defense.

But what was important even before that? What did he keep denying? That he followed him. Because the defendant knew that if he admitted he followed him, then that showed that ill will, hatred. That put him in that category (INAUDIBLE).

That's why he kept talking about, oh, I didn't know the name of the street. I was looking for an address. You remember that video, and I'm going to show it to you again, the part where he's walking and he goes to the detectives, like the investigators, like they're some fools or something. Look, this is the back of the houses here. There's no addresses. Well, right in front of him is an address. And, by the way, there's only three streets. How difficult can it be? And he's the neighborhood watch guy. He's been living there four years and he takes his dog down to that dog walk but he doesn't know the names of the street? He doesn't know the main street that you go in? Because, see, when he admits something like that, then it proves one thing, that he was following him. That he had profiled him and he was following him. And that shows he's guilt. Because it shows that his actions led, unfortunately, to the death of Trayvon Martin.

So you can't just say, OK, what happened at the actual interaction between them? And, again, we're going to talk about that because, unfortunately, and I stress unfortunately, there's only one person - well, there's two people. One person's not with us anymore. But there's only two really people who knew what really happened out there. And he, the defendant, made sure that other person couldn't come to this courtroom and tell you what happened. He, the defendant, silenced Trayvon Martin. But I would submit to you even in silence his body provides evidence as to this defendant's guilt. And why do I say that? Because from DNA, from lack of blood, other stuff, his body speaks to you and even in death that -- and it proves to you that this defendant is lying about what happened.

Do you recall one of the things we talked about at some point with one of the witnesses? I think it was Dr. Di Maio, you know, the very impressive, distinguished doctor about this photograph of the defendant the defense keeps berating? Recall what I did? I said, what do you expect? Blood. And I'm going to show you the photographs. Not just at the medical examiner's (INAUDIBLE) they're saying, oh, that Dr. Bao, he's incompetent, he didn't know what he was doing. No, I'm going to show you the photographs at the scene which show what? No blood on his hands. And they're going to say, oh, it was raining that night. Wow, and I guess the blood on the defendant's head just stuck there, right? But on the victim they just kind of vanished? Can't have it both -- can't have it like that.

See, because what's important is the defendant, in an attempt to convince the police that he was really shooting this man, this boy, in self-defense, he had to exaggerate what happened. That's why he had to at some point say, oh, he was threatening me. It was almost like the levels of fear escalated. And we'll talk about that, how he was then -- originally he hit him and then he got him on the ground and then there was a struggle and then he got the upper hand. And then, let's see, it got worse. And then he threatened to kill him. And then he put his hand over his mouth, suffocating him and then he pinched his nose. And then he went for the gun. See how he's exaggerating everything? Oh, you don't believe this stuff? Well, hold on, it was even more dangerous. Because you know why? This defendant, as you heard, has studied the law in terms of what's required for self-defense and he's got all those bullet points in terms of what's required.

So if you take one word out of here that I would submit to you shows this defendant's guilt, it's assumptions on the part of the defendant. The defendant assumed that the victim didn't belong at the retreat at Twin Lakes, didn't he? That the victim was committing or about to commit a burglary. He assumed and he profiled the victim as a criminal. He assumed that the victim was one of those that always got away. He assumed also that he was an f'ing punk. And that the victim was going to get away before the police arrived.

Now, what didn't the defendant do? Let's assume he was assuming that and, again, assuming something is not against the law by itself. Unless you're wrong.

Let's assume at that time he legitimately thought that Trayvon Martin might be committing a crime. OK, he called the police. Non-emergency number. That's a good thing. But what did he do? He didn't - you know when this victim is coming up to him and, like, -- he claimed circling his car, like, what are you doing, man? What are you following me for? He didn't say, hold on, I'm sorry, I'm with the neighborhood watch. Are you - you know, can I assist you in some way? You look lost or you look like you don't know what's going on. Can I help you? Can I give you a ride?

Or let's say he was scared of him. but he could have said, do you live around here? Can I call the police? Can I call a friend? He didn't do that. He didn't take any action because he already, in his mind, had assumed that he was a criminal and he wasn't going to give him any benefit of the doubt.

Did he roll down the window and identify himself as a neighborhood watch to say, listen, I've called the police. I'm not a bad guy. I'm not a pervert. I'm not following you for anything, whatever your name is. Like, you mind waiting. The police are on the way. They're going to be here in about 30 seconds or a minute. Sometimes they take a little bit longer. But would you mind waiting here? I'm a little suspicious of what you're doing. Would you mind waiting? He didn't do that. Did he wait for the police? No. Did he wait inside his car? No. He let the victim know he was there (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

So let's talk about weighing the evidence in terms of what the instructions the court will give you an opportunity to see and know. Were the answers that the witnesses gave straightforward? Did anybody have an interest in the outcome? And did the evidence agree with other evidence? Are there prior inconsistent statements? And, again, use your God-given common sense.

What do we have here? Really what does it boil down to? You heard a little bit and we put evidence of the fact the defendant at one point wanted to be a police officer. And I've been in law enforcement 30 years, prosecutor. There's nothing wrong. That's a good thing. We ought to encourage people to be police officers. It's an honorable profession. He applied in Virginia. Didn't get in. And then he's doing other stuff. He's taking criminal justice credits. That's good. But, again, that doesn't say that the law allows a person to take matters into their own hand. If not, why are we here? I mean, let's -- why do we have courtrooms? Why do we have jurors? Let's just let people handle it outside. Oh, they're wrong? Well, you know, sorry.

So I want to talk about the witnesses. And before I do that, I want to take a moment to thank you for your time of service. I think we started over four weeks ago. And in this process that we're all so fortunate to be able to -- to live in, you know, live the Constitution in terms of asking people to come from their everyday lives and give up a lot from work and from family to serve as jurors. So I think I speak on behalf of everybody, defense, the court and everybody, we thank you for your time and your patience. This case is very important to the state of Florida. It's important to the victim's family. It's important to the defendant. And it's also important, obviously, to you.

You probably realized that as you all are watching the juror -- I'm sorry the witnesses and watching the trial, periodically the attorneys will watch you and the court will. And you guys were very attentive. Some took more notes than others. But without a doubt nobody was falling asleep. And, you know, it's a long process. You've been here a long time. And we're towards the end.

But I want to take a few moments and talk about what I would submit is how you arrive at a verdict. Ask (ph) in this great country for people to serve as jurors without really any legal experience. In a lot of countries, they don't have -- they have lawyers or judges that are already automatically plugged in as such and that's what they do. They have professional people that sit as jurors. We ask people to come from their everyday lives and sit as jurors. That's what I would submit makes this country great.

So how is it that if you're asked to come and you really don't have any legal experience, how do you arrive at a verdict that speaks to truth? How do you arrive at a verdict that is just? I would submit to you to do (ph) three things. Number one, you rely obviously on the witnesses, the testimony, the evidence that you have, the physical evidence that you saw, and you'll be able to digest more if you want to of the recordings, all that other stuff. Number two, you rely on the law that Judge Nelson will read to you and you'll actually be provided a copy of it. And number three, and perhaps most importantly, you rely on your God-given common sense. You know, that common sense that we just kind of use automatically without even having to think about it to make decisions at home and at work, the law encourages you to do that in evaluating the evidence, determining what's valid, what's not and what makes sense.

And when you do those three things, when you rely on the witnesses' testimony, the physical evidence and other stuff, when you rely on the law and then when you rely and apply your common sense to (INAUDIBLE), I would submit to you come back with a verdict that speaks the truth. A verdict that is just. And that verdict would be that this defendant's guilty of murder in the second degree.

I mean, do you believe that there is an innocent man sitting over there right now? Do you believe that he just assumed something but he kind of overreacted a little bit but, you know, it really wasn't his fault that Trayvon Martin is dead? Do you believe that this was just kind of a struggle or an argument or a discussion or a fight that just kind of got out of hand? Perhaps, but who started this? Who followed who? Who was minding their own business? And again, of the two, who was the one that was armed? And who knew that they were armed?

I hope you can see that from there. We - and I've got it right here, too. It's a timeline. And it's going to kind of tell you a little bit about what happened there. It's a timeline showing the phone call, and you'll be able to take it back there, it's in evidence. But it's a timeline showing the phone call between Rachel Jeantel and Trayvon Martin. There's two parts to it. And it's color coded. Hopefully we made it fancy so you all can decipher it. You know, I'm old and I'm getting used to now the computer systems, but hopefully it makes sense.

And what you also have is you also have George Zimmerman's calls. You have the exact time in terms of the length of the call. Then you also have it broke up originally with, as you recall, Ms. Jeantel talked that she lost contact and she got it back up. And then you have Ms. Lauer's (ph) call. And that's why I was able to tell you unequivocally as to when the gunshot occurred, because we were able to time when Ms. Lauer made the call and you hear the gunshot, unfortunately, in that call.

And then you have other calls too. Mr. Dyka (ph) you heard speak. And then you have when Officer Smith arrived at the Retreat at Twin Lakes. And you have Mr. Good's (ph) call. So I would submit to you that's relevant in terms of establishing the timeline, as best we can, as to what occurred.

Now, are people off, you know, by a few minutes? Possibly. But the phone records don't lie. Because my recollection was that we spent, I think, half a day one day and possibly half a day the next day hearing from one witness. Her name was Rachel Jeantel.

Now, this young lady, I will submit to you, is not a very sophisticated person. She's not the most educated. But she's a human being and she spoke as best she could. You know, she happens to be, what, Haitian or of Haitian descent. And, you know, made a big deal about, oh, you can't read cursive. Yes, she can't. Unfortunately. She's, what, 18, 19? But did what she tell you as best she could, and maybe her English wasn't the best, maybe her speech, her language was a little colorful. I think she referred to me as that bald headed dude and referred to other phrases to describe other people. But did she speak the truth? Because when you think of it, she was the person that was speaking to the victim. And really the conversation that she had with the victim, nobody would know whether she's telling the truth or not other than her. I mean, we have the phone records that established it. That there's no dispute that they were talking. But what I'm saying is, she didn't have to -- she could have embellished. She could have lied about what the victim said and when she referred to the guy that was following, that creepy guy, when she said to him, he's probably a pervert or a sexual something. Why is this guy following you? And Trayvon Martin said he's (INAUDIBLE) language.

But she didn't come in here and lie to you about that. I mean, she could have and nobody would have known the difference. It wasn't like her conversation was being recorded. But, see, her use of colorful language doesn't mean that her testimony is less credible. Just because she's not a highly educated individual. Again, we have records that establish that that conversation took place. So there's no dispute about that. And those records are up there.

But let's talk about, she spent hours on that witness stand. Why? I guess an attempt to discredit her in some way. You decide whether she was telling the truth. Do you disregard what she said because her family's from Haiti, because she isn't sophisticated and because she can't read cursive, unfortunately? I mean is that what you should - what you should do? I don't think the instructions are going to tell you that, but you could decide, well, she's not very educated. I don't think she's - and I'm not saying that you will but, I mean, why did we take so long in asking her questions? Because we're trying to get to the truth. Both sides.

But I think the other witnesses, I guess, were many more sophisticated. It didn't take six hours or whatever. Anyway, you decide. But did what she say comport or match up with the evidence that the other people were talking? I would submit it -- it did. I mean, think back, and it happened a while ago, but think about what she said. What she said Trayvon Martin said. And isn't it consistent with the evidence? I mean, is there any dispute that this defendant profiled, that's my word, you can use whatever word you want to use, but isn't it true that this defendant assumed that Trayvon Martin was a criminal? I mean he even tells the police that. Why -- isn't that consistent with what Rachel Jeantel tells you? Didn't even the defendant, in his statements to the police, say, yeah, the kid, or however he referred to him, the guy, whatever, he's running away. Didn't she say that?

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 she referred to me as the bald headed dude or whatever, that doesn't mean her story, her statements, aren't accurate. Was the evidence consistent with what she said? Wasn't she on the telephone with the victim? Isn't it true the defendant was following the victim? Didn't the victim attempt to get away? Didn't this defendant confront the victim? I don't think the defense will admit that. The defendant and the police didn't admit that. But what did he say? Oh, I was just looking for an address. Oh, I was just looking for the street. Oh, you were minding your own business and all of a sudden this victim that you were following just decided to, all of a sudden, attack you out of nowhere.

In fact, she went a little further, I would submit. She warned the victim that maybe he was a sexual pervert. And again, colorful words were used by her to describe the defendant in terms of what the victim had described the defendant as. I would submit to you that that's an example that she's telling the truth.

Now, she did lie about funeral and about her age originally to the police, to me, to the mother. Why? OK. She's guilty of that. She didn't want to go have to see the body. She didn't want to deal with it. And she lied to the mother of Trayvon Martin. So you could disregard her testimony because of that. She lied about her age because she didn't want to come forward. Maybe she realized that she might have to testify and people would find out that she can't read cursive, unfortunately.

We have the defendant's nonemergency call. No dispute about that. That's recorded. I believe there might be a dispute as to whether the operator told him not to follow or not. You decide. What was in that recording?


To say that under his breath. Doesn't that kind of show, demonstrate, what the defendant was feeling at the time? I mean, that wasn't information that he was providing to the operator, like, OK, he is (INAUDIBLE). Why is he uttering that word? Other than that's how he feels?

Now, defense may get up here and tell you, oh, he was just angry. Well, you decide. I would submit to you on behalf of the state of Florida, that's more than a little angry. That's frustration. That's kind of ill will, hatred, that you've made up your mind he's a criminal and you're tired of these criminals committing crimes. And, my God, he's not going to get away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, sir, what's your name?


DE LA RIONDA: Why was it necessary to, again, utter the words "f'ing punk"? If he hadn't already in his mind determined that he was a criminal? That Trayvon Martin was a criminal and he was not going to get away.

Recall the testimony in terms of the entrance? And, again, we talked about the fact that there's only three streets. This is one. This is the one that circles all the way around and then there's another one. But, of course, he claims to not know the street that he comes in every day, in and out, One Tree Lane, right here. He claims to not know that street. And, ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to show you, in that interview -- with one of the interviews with the detective in the car, leading up to it, he makes reference to the street name. And then, like, a minute later he's talking about, I don't know the name of the street. He didn't advertently let out that he was aware of that street because he let out that that was a lie that he told the police so that it would justify why he is following, why he is profiling, why he is tracking a young man.

And, again, that's the close-up of where this happened right here. You're obviously very well familiar with it. And we've got some more exhibits for that. We have Ms. Lauer's call, the 911 call. And, really, Ms. Lauer, what does she say? She didn't see anything. She stayed inside. I think at some point in that phone call she's telling her husband to be -- I think they're married now, Jeremy Weinberg (ph), Jeremy, get - you know, get away from the window and do something. Don't go out there. But the bottom line is, she recorded it. But what does she say before the actual recording, before she called the police, she heard something going on out there. Because, see, this wasn't like the defendant claims that out of the blue the victim just kind of attacked him and knocked him to the ground and he just started beating him. No, this started, I would submit, further down, but it didn't start right at the "T" where the defendant claims it occurred.