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Closing Arguments in Zimmerman Trial Continue

Aired July 11, 2013 - 14:30   ET


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: Ms. Surdyka. You heard from her, too. And you've got the vantage point in terms of there of where her place was. My recollection was she's got a cat, I think his name was Leo, who's got a ledge there. She was looking out. She was reading. She got up. She looked. She had a good vantage point. She did observe something. And what does she tell you?

That in her opinion based on what she saw, she thought the bigger man was on top. And she told you that the voice she heard, she thought was of a child versus an older person. Now, is she an expert? Had she ever heard these voices before? No. She's just telling you what she believes.

Just like you've had a bunch of other people come in and say, that is George Zimmerman's voice and that is Trayvon Martin's voice. You decide, but she told you as best she could what she observed. And what's consistent in terms of what she observed and what happened. Because, see, the issue is at that time, when there was contact between the defendant and the victim, did it occur as the defendant claims?

First of all, you really have to believe he really wasn't following him and he was just kind of minding his own business. He was going out for a walk. His walk got interrupted because some guy attacked him. You've got to believe that. You've got to believe he wasn't following anybody. He wasn't up to doing anything. He was just kind of minding his own business.

As he was walking back, the victim for some reason just decided to go attack him. So you've got to have that assumption. It's got to be accurate and then you've got to assume that then the victim just hit him and knocked him to the ground and just started beating him and -- and poor defendant, poor George Zimmerman, he just kind of took it, boom, boom, just getting whacked over and over.

He never did anything. Compare the sizes. And then, at the last moment, he was able to take out that gun, his concealed gun, and was able to just shoot him. You had the testimony of John Good, who did call 911. The time frame is important in terms of when his call was made.

I think in opening statements the defense told you that -- represented to you that he is the eyewitness, he is the crucial eyewitness. He's the only eyewitness. I'll beg to differ. Again, what's important is what you think. Let's talk a little bit about John Good. What did John Good tell you? He saw what he believed was the victim on top of the defendant.

Now, he did not see the shooting. He saw prior to the shooting. I will submit to you when you kind of put all the witnesses together, that there wasn't just, like, the defendant knocking the victim down to the ground, staying on top of him, beating the hell out of him. I would submit to you there was contact between them, that there was a fight. There was a struggle.

Ironically, of the two, one of the individuals is the one that's had, what, 18 months MMA fighting? Oh, but, of course, he's just a pudgy, overweight man. Is, I think, what Mr. Pollack said. He really didn't progress beyond the first level. He's the one that's had MMA training of some type. But, anyway, they interacted. They rolled around and they fought. But, again, you can't just take that in a vacuum. Why did this occur? What led up to this?

And at the time of the shooting, was it necessary to shoot him? Well, the defense is going to parade the photographs of the injuries. I don't think I need to show you the one photo that counts, do I? The M.E. photo? Who suffered the most serious injury of all? You heard from Mr. -- what does she tell you?

I apologize. Mr. Good. He said he saw a struggle out there. He saw the victim, who he believes was the victim, based on clothing description. He didn't know him on top of the defendant and he saw the victim doing something to the defendant. He originally said it was MMA style. But when asked specifically, did you actually see blows, he said no. I saw movement there.

He may have been hitting him, but I don't know. What's also very important about what Mr. Good told you? He told you he could not see the defendant's hands. So did the defendant have the gun out at that point? Was he trying to get it out? And was Trayvon Martin at that point, which is about, what, 25, 30 seconds or so before the shooting, was he trying to protect himself from that gun? Is that what the struggle was about?

That at some point this defendant had the gun? The defendant claims at the very end, right before, unfortunately, he had to shoot the victim, that the victim grabbed the gun. Unfortunately for him, the truth comes out. And it refutes what the defendant says. Rule the testimony in terms of the DNA. There wasn't any on the gun.

Recall what he told his best friend, Mr. Osterman. What the defendant told Mr. Osterman not, like, a month later, that same evening meaning the morning after when he picked him up at the police station and drove him to his house. That he -- the victim had grabbed the gun. Not the holster, grabbed the gun. Excuse me.

In fact, Mr. Osterman told you he wrote a book about it with his wife. Miss Bahador told you she heard something out there. Ms. Bahador or Ms. Surdyka heard something like, no. I think that kind of matches up with what Rachel Jeantel told you about like get off me or something to that effect. Again, you took great notes. You paid attention when the witnesses were out there. I'm not going to cover every minor point. It's consistent with what Rachel Jeantel told you. My recollection was she described she lives right here at 2841. She described movement this way. Was the victim headed home as Ms. Jeantel told you? I need to show you the victim. You know what's ironic? Is recall even the defendant from the defendant's own mouth, they always got away from this exit over here, this other exit.

The victim you might recall was staying over here. Was he head there had and the defendant kind of cut him off? But it's consistent with what Ms. Bahador told you in terms of from her back, left to right. And what did she see? She saw them struggling. That is the defendant and the victim struggling up right.

Defendant claims that Trayvon Martin is the strongest guy in the world because he grabbed him, picked him up, then transported him, what, 20 yards? You saw the pictures. I'll talk about the diagram. He claims he pushed him, you know, or pulled him all the way over here. Recall where all the items are in connection to where the victim ended up?

The Manalos, Mr. and Mrs. Manalo talked to you about what they observed. What they really didn't observe. My recollection is Ms. Manalo said the bigger person was on top. They made a big issue the defense in cross examining her, hold on. You did see photographs on TV. Photographs of Trayvon Martin showed him playing football, in a football uniform. Yes, that's true.

But I still think the person on top was the bigger person. Now, she didn't see the shooting. My point is that there was a fight there. There was a struggle. At some points, it appears, based on the evidence, that the defendant was on top and at some points the victim was on top, wrestling, struggling, whatever you want to call it. But why did it occur? Why did it occur?

If you believe he's an innocent man, then you believe that the victim just decided to come up and just smack him. Smack the defendant. The defendant fell to the ground. The victim just started beating him up for -- we don't know but for some reason. And that the defendant really wasn't following him. The defendant really was just kind of walking back to his car. The defendant was truthful when he was telling the police that he was kind of trying to find out what the address was or he was trying to find out what that street name was. I apologize.

Mr. Manalo told you he went outside. Within seconds, I think it was like 20, 30 seconds of what he stepped outside, he observed the defendant -- and he said he thought the defendant was beaten up. He said the defendant was doing something acting then he said he asked him about the phone and talking about calling his wife. That's when he made that remark, just tell her I killed him or shot him.

You might be thinking, hold on. If there was a fight, if there was a struggle, how does that factor? Well -- and who started it? Who was following who? Who was chasing who? Who had the right, if they were being chased? Does the defendant have the right to self-defense? I'm sorry, does the victim? When he's being chased by this person? You'll hear the facts in this case.

And you'll hear in terms of whether the defendant was chasing him or not. You know, it was dark out there. There's no dispute about that. It was raining. No dispute about that. That's what these photographs show. It shows the distance from one sidewalk or dog walk to where the body was. You've got the diagrams and photographs.

One thing I will submit these photographs show is the absence of blood on that sidewalk. The other big thing is, if the defendant was really having his head bashed in as the -- he claims to the police, and he has some injuries to the back of his head, and we'll talk about that. But I think, they were what, centimeters or less? Why isn't his jacket all torn up or at least scratched up if he was being picked up over and over?

Why is his jacket all right, the back of his jacket? You think about that or is he exaggerating what happened, flashlight with the key ring. That's the one that was still on. State Exhibit 10 showing another angle in terms of the evidence out there. In terms of there apparently was some slope. We'll talk about the significance of that. Based on what defendant told police.

And, again, this is State's Exhibit 15. So the body was covered up. That's the other flashlight that the defendant had. I think he's told the police that it stopped working or something. If you want to, check again his statements to the police. Was he carrying it in one hand? Why was he carrying it in one hand? OK. I guess he took it out there to see, track down Trayvon Martin.

Then it just stopped working so he didn't put it in his pocket, I guess he just carried it in his hand. That's the victim's phone. There's no dispute that he was talking on the phone. And this is -- I'll show you this photograph not to show you just that, but I'll show you that because I want you to focus on this. He was speaking on the phone and he had ear plugs, whatever you call them.

State's Exhibit 22 is a close-up of where the gunshot was and also this photograph button. One thing I'd suggest to you that might be important to note on that is it was a big deal made about the jacket or the hoodie or the sweatshirt. How it had to be consistent with the can and how to do that. Well, that button might have something to do with the way that sweatshirt was kind of hanging.

It's a little big on him. But also that might affect the angle of how much is sticking out, the sweatshirt. You decide. State's Exhibit 23, why is that important? Do you see any blood on his hands, on the victim's hands? State's Exhibit 24, do you see any blood on his hands? I mean, is there any dispute that the defendant's mouth, nose -- I'm sorry, he had some blood on it. How come there isn't any blood on the victim's hands?

Because the argument was made or suggested to you in terms of the cross-examination of the medical examiner and all that, he had to wash his hands. You all didn't know what you were doing there. Right there at the scene, where was the blood? The other interesting thing is that I will submit to you just based on the evidence, I don't know what you call this. I don't know if it's a draw string or what. Why is one of them a lot longer than the other one?

Was the defendant maybe pulling on that as the victim was trying to back out? It's ironic that you see how one is pulled all the way down and which side is it on? State Exhibit 29 shows some of the other exhibits out there. State's Exhibit 33, I've put this in here because I thought and we talked about it, I believe we came up with the testimony that there's a street address right there. That's where the defendant claimed he didn't know, "a," the street name or he couldn't find an address even though he's lived out there four years.

He takes his dog out there or dogs out there to walk, but he doesn't know that there are street addresses. Because his isn't just, like, some fancy or regular neighborhood that all the houses are different. These are kind of cookie cutter. They're all the same. But he didn't know the addresses were out there. That's why he had to walk that long distance, to find the address or find the street for the police.

State Exhibit 36, some daytime photographs kind of showing the area in terms of what happened out there. State's Exhibit 76, there's been a big issue about that photograph. Shows how the defendant was bleeding. I believe Mr. Manalo took that photograph. Why was the blood still on there and why would the blood not be on the victim's hands?

It's interesting, too, the direction of the blood. We'll talk a little bit about that in terms of what happened. State's Exhibit 77, this was, again, Mr. Manalo before the police got out there. Where are the victim's hands, but under his body? What did the defendant claim to you? He used police jargon in terms of suspect and, well, the police, of course, they always spread out the arms, hands to make sure there's no weapon there.

He's trying to tell the police that what happens is he was scared, and he at one point said, oh, I thought he had something in his hand so I was checking for that weapon. That's what I was doing. It's inconsistent with the physical evidence out there. Defense may argue, hold on, didn't Dr. Di Maio said you could take out a person's heart, you could live for 15 seconds, and the person could walk or do all this other stuff?

Take out the heart and the defendant moving him and spreads out his hands so he's taking even more blood pumping out. The victim happens to kind of lift himself up and put the hands underneath? I don't know. You decide. Why did he have to say that? Because it's part of him wanting to be a cop, that's what police officers do. He wanted to shoot somebody. They usually handcuff them even if the person is dead. They handcuff them just for security purposes.

The other interesting thing is, you recall the flashlight the defendant had in terms of the relationship with the body was. Again, the photograph I showed you, state's Exhibit 79 I was showing. And State's exhibit 80, those were the two photographs that were shown out there. Do you recall what we heard about that from an expert regarding DNA? Swab of the pistol grip matches the defendant.

And Trayvon Martin's excluded. That is inconsistent with what the defendant claimed to Mr. Osterman. Told the police he was going for the gun. He told Mr. Osterman that he had the gun or grabbed the -- I think he described what part of the gun he grabbed. Then there were other test results. No determination made on the other side, on the holster. You had it shall I would, I would submit, relevant fingernail scrapings of the victim in this case. What were the findings? No DNA foreign to Trayvon Martin.

No DNA results at all pup so the victim in his struggle that defendant claims he had with him when he was trying to kill him basically or shut him up so that he couldn't speak, where did all the blood go? Where did all the defendant's blood go? While we're on that subject the defendant claims he was the only one yelling out there. All the cries for help were only him. Decide whether it was him or Trayvon Martin or both of them, had to be one of them or both.

But if he's yelling and if he's down and if he's got all this blood and he's swallowing the blood, how is he able to do all that? And why is there a consistent in terms of yells of help, help, help? Why is it muffled down? How is he going to talk or is he lying about that? I will submit to it's another lie. You saw that the hoodie jacket was checked. I'm giving you quickly the DNA results.

You've got an exhibit there that's got them all in there. Just to demonstrate to you how thorough the investigation was in terms of the Florida Department of law Enforcement doing their thorough analysis of the case in terms of the evidence -- your honor, may we take a --

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON: If you're ready -- if you're ready to take a break?

RIONDA: I'm ready.

NELSON: We'll take a 15-minute recess. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your note pads face down on the chair and follow Deputy Jarvis back into the jury room.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The jury now being excused during this break in the closing argument by counsel for the state of Florida, the lead prosecutor in the case, Bernie De La Rionda. Let's listen to what's happening in court now was the jury heads out of the courtroom.

JUDGE NELSON: Please be seated. Court will be in recess for 15 minutes.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go for a quick break. We will be right back with some legal analysis by our legal experts in just a moment.


KEILAR: I'm Brianna Keilar. You are watching special coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial. The court right now is taking a break. The lead prosecutor in the case Bernie De La Rionda has been giving his closing argument in the case. As soon as he comes back, we're expecting that to be in about 10 to 15 minutes, the court will resume. The jury will come back in. We will bring that to you. But in the meantime, let's see how things are going. We'll talk to CNN legal -- pardon me, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joining us from New York. The question at this point, Jeffrey, how do you think Bernie De La Rionda is doing?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think he's doing a good job. It's an aggressive job. There have been problems in this prosecution's case. I think everyone recognized that, but he is not backing off from the murder charge. That is, the top charge in this case. He is making the case that George Zimmerman's conduct that is relevant here is not just the night of the murder.

It's his building anger about finding people in the neighborhood who don't belong there, these punks. These people he doesn't like. And the murder of Trayvon Martin, he's claiming, is the culmination of weeks of frustration. I don't know if the evidence is there for that. But I think it's -- it's very significant that this prosecutor is going for the murder charge, not just urging the jury to settle on manslaughter.

KEILAR: All right, let's get some comments now from our legal analysts who are here in studio with me, Tanya Miller, Holly Hughes. Let me start first with you, Tanya. One of the things we saw Bernie De La Rionda doing was try to kind of revive what was supposed to be, you could still argue was, his star witness, Rachel Jeantel. Was he able to do it, you think?

TANYA MILLER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think he did what he had to do with Rachel Jeantel. Look, the jury is going to have an opinion one way or another about whether or not they liked Rachel Jeantel, whether or not she was an effective communicator. What he's telling them is, look, put aside whether or not you think she spoke well and whether or not you'd invite her to your house for dinner and evaluate whether or not she's credible. Is she telling the truth? Is she corroborated by independent evidence? He's telling them, yes, she is.

KEILAR: Holly, big issue in the case was George Zimmerman's state of mind as he was in the car, as he obviously came into contact with Trayvon Martin. We heard Bernie De La Rionda say he didn't even try to revive the kid. Was he effective in, do you think, building this case against George Zimmerman?

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, because he's not just talking about the actions. He is talking about the words of the defendant. Brianna, trials and closing arguments are about facts in evidence, but they are about themes and universal truths, and what he is saying to this jury is something we all know to be true. From the depths of the heart, the mouth speaketh. He is saying to these women, listen to what he said and listen to what he didn't say. OK? He didn't say, I'm concerned about my neighborhood. He's using strong, incendiary language, dropping the "f" bomb. This is his attitude. Then when he talks to John Manola, just tell her I killed him.

KEILAR: Was he too cavalier? We'll see if the jury considers that. We will be right back after a quick break. We will bring you closing arguments continuing in the George Zimmerman case in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)