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Zimmerman Jury Continues Deliberations
Aired July 13, 2013 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ MITCELL, HLN: Wow, there you have it. The court is in recess. There is the judge walking off the bench. You see Benjamin Crump and, as well, Natalee Jackson and Don West with the defendant.
Let`s take a look for a second at the body language of George Zimmerman. He is so hard to read. I mean, there is such tension in this courtroom and he doesn`t necessarily reflect it in his body language. He seems sort of calm and business-like. If you look at him, it`s almost as if he could be going to a business meeting.
When you look at the expressions of his parents -- and there is his mother in the background in the beige suit, her face shows a lot more -- a lot more concern.
I`ve been in that courtroom. There is Don West walking out of the court, and you see people bumping into each other as they leave. You know, there is the great seal of the state of Florida.
We`re going to have -- they are having some dinner and essentially they`re going to ask these jurors to ask a specific question back. I believe we have Joey Jackson with us right now. Joey, explain this legalese in people terms, what does it mean when the jurors get this yellow piece of paper or whatever was ultimately translated, this piece of paper saying, Ask us a specific question. What do they do to come up with that question?
JOEY JACKSON, ATTORNEY: Sure. What they will do, Jane, is they will just go around and they`ll be clear as to what they mean. Here is what I mean. What happens is, the judge invites both attorneys up to the bench, and when I say both attorneys, I mean both sides, the prosecution and the defense.
From a prosecution perspective, of course, you just want manslaughter itself read back to them. And that`s it. That`s all they want, your Honor. The defense, of course, is saying, no, no, no, no. Manslaughter implicit in that charge, is it justifiable? Is it not? Is it excusable?
Therefore, Judge, the jury should have all of that. But the question itself is as the manslaughter. So I think then what happens, is the attorneys go back and they come up with, you know what? Let`s send a note back to be clear to exactly what that jury wants.
They sent that note back. The jury then will say, "What do we really want? Is it only manslaughter? Do we find that it`s justifiable?" They`ll come back with a note chain, and whatever that note says if it`s just a manslaughter instruction as to what the elements of manslaughter are, that`s all they`ll get.
If they say, "Can I have the instructions as to manslaughter? And if it`s not manslaughter, when is it not manslaughter?" they`ll get that too. And so in plain English, Jane, that`s about the extent of it.
JANE VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, let`s take a look, Joey and the rest of my fantastic panel joining me tonight at the big picture. The big picture is, they`re talking about manslaughter. Does this mean that they have considered murder two, which could have given George Zimmerman life in prison, and concluded he is not guilty of murder two, and then moved on to the lesser included of manslaughter, still a very serious charge.
But is that a de facto possible win for the defense right there? Or is this a possible victory for the prosecution, because he`s not walking and they are considering a very serious charge, manslaughter to be 10 to 30 years behind bars. So we`re going to go to our panel, and we have them in the lion`s den. Let`s start with Janet Johnson.
You and I have been here in sweaty, hot, rainy Sanford, Florida, talking about all sorts of legal issues. Give us the big picture. What does mean big picture-wise?
JOHNSON: Yeah, I think it means that murder two is off the page, because the instruction, regarding lesser offenses, specifically says you first consider the most serious charge, and if that wasn`t proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the word "next" comes up, and it says "next", you go on to the lesser offenses, and consider those.
So to me it means they got to murder two. Whether or not they even talked about self defense, I think is arguable, and they said, "You know, I don`t see the ill-will spite." Whatever it is that they are hung up on, through that, off the table, and now they`re going to the lessers. Obviously, they don`t understand the manslaughter.
I don`t blame them. No one talked about in closing argument, and the instructions are very confusing, what`s justifiable, what`s excusable, and they want some guidance. Unfortunately, they`re not going to get it because the judge is going to re-read the jury instruction to them, after they get this note saying, "Tell us a little bit more."
MITCHELL: Well, is that for sure...
JOHNSON: I personally think (inaudible)...
MITCHELL: ...is that for sure? Is that for sure? And I want to bring in Anahita Sedaghaffar. Is it for sure that there`s no possibility of further elaboration of what is in this jury instruction, which is, is hard. It is a head scratcher. As a lay person looking at this, it`s hard to figure out -- there`s a lot more, let`s put it this way, color to the murder two, ill- will, spite, hatred.
The manslaughter change is very bland, is very milquetoast. It`s hard to figure out exactly what to visualize, to say, yes, that`s manslaughter. So what could happen now? Anahita?
SEDAGHAFFAR: Yeah, Jane, it is, it is very difficult for those jurors and I, again, don`t blame them that they`re asking for clarification. Those jury instructions are so convoluted, they`re so detailed, that even attorneys have a difficult time trying to understand them.
The judge certainly isn`t going to interpret the manslaughter charge for them, so I think it is likely that the judge really will just re-read the instruction to them. But one thing that I can say, Jane, is I would like to say, you know, that this means something good for the defense, or this means something good for the prosecution.
But I don`t think we really can read too much into this, because at the end of the day, we`ve seen that these jurors are very meticulous. They`ve shown to be very methodical.
MITCHELL: No, I thought early on -- I kind of, I kind of disagree. And the reason I disagree -- we`ll get Brian Silver to weigh in on this, is that it tells you in these instructions, consider murder two first, and then, and I`m quoting from this, "if you decide that the main accusation has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you will next need to decide if George Zimmerman is guilty of any lesser included crime."
The lesser crime indicated in the definition of second degree murder is manslaughter. So Brian Silver, does that indicate that they have moved past murder two. They have disregarded that and said, "George Zimmerman is not guilty of that, and now we`re going to consider manslaughter."
SILVER: Jane, nothing is written in stone, and so that verdict form is announced in court. But what I think this means is, that this is a compromise verdict. You know, this is not good for George Zimmerman, because they`re not dismissing the possibility of manslaughter.
They`re thinking about it. And let`s face it, this case comes down to two possibilities. Either you`re in the camp that believes that he intentionally, and unlawfully killed Trayvon Martin, or you`re in the camp that believes he acted in self defense. That means murder two or not guilty.
The fact that they`re talking about manslaughter tells me that they`re divided and they might agree on a compromise. And that`s what I think is going on here.
MITCHELL: Yeah, OK. Once again, the jury asked for a clarification on the instruction of manslaughter. Everybody came into court. The attorneys argued about what to do about that, what wording to respond and the judge, bottom line, said look, we can`t give you a general discourse on manslaughter, but we can answer a specific question, so come back to us with a specific question.
Let`s listen to the last exchange that happened in court, and then we`re going to analyze it and debate it with our incredible top flight legal team.
FEMALE: Just make sure that I write it down correctly. The Court cannot engage in the general discussion but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter. If you have a specific question, please submit.
MALE: Yes, sir.
MALE: Yes, sir.
FEMALE: OK. This will be given by the deputies to the jurors. Just so you know, they have ordered dinner. If counsel wants to have an hour to go to dinner, you may do so.
MALE: Thank you, you honor. If we may want to, you know, stand by (to pilot) (inaudible) the question.
FEMALE: OK. That`s a good idea. We`ll go ahead and do that. Just be on standby for about 15 minutes, if they have a response to that. Court is in recess.
MITCHELL: All right. Court is in recess. I am here with Frank Taaffe. He is also in Sanford, Florida. He is a well known supporter of George Zimmerman. A former neighbor. As you hear all this, what do you think is going on in that jury room?
FRANK TAAFFE: Well, Jane, at first, I had a little trepidation with the fact that they were reviewing manslaughter, which tells me two is off the table, murder two is off the table. The state did not prove (invincing) mind or depravity, and so far, that`s gone.
So now, we have to look at manslaughter, either voluntary -- and that`s the only thing they didn`t get -- involuntary, or murder of a child. I feel very strong, and I still do, right now, that that Jury is five to one in favor of acquittal.
MITCHELL: Well, you don`t know that. I mean, honestly, Frank...
TAAFFE: Five to one.
MITCHELL: ...please, where nobody has a crystal ball, nobody has their ear to a glass to the jury room. Jordan Rose, attorney out of Arizona, we sat through the Jody Arias trial. Briefly, your thoughts, very briefly.
JORDAN ROSE: I guess, you`ve got to imagine that they`re struggling with something. And is it -- you know, an unarmed teenager caused his own death? Is that the question? And I wonder if, they were talking about manslaughter now, because they`ve, they`ve dismissed the self-defense claim.
I mean, now what has -- why in the world would they ask about manslaughter, if they were convinced that he acted in self-defense. And so that`s very interesting. But we have no idea if that`s what`s going on, but it`s interesting to think, no one would ask about manslaughter if they had -- were convinced that self-defense, and George Zimmerman should be acquitted.
MITCHELL: Well, this is breaking news, it is happening right now. We are all in the same situation. Nobody knows what`s going to happen next, except that the jury is likely to come back with an additional question. More specific about what they don`t understand in one clarification on when it comes to the instruction on manslaughter.
So, we are right here. We can hear that any second. Stay right there. We`re going to take a quick break. We have a top flight defense legal panel, on television, anywhere, and we`re going to answer every question. It`s nerve wracking. We can`t eat, we can`t sleep, everybody here, fully invested in what will be the outcome. Stay right there.
MALE: If he would have just stayed in his car, all of this would have avoided. Their son would be graduating from high school, would be celebrating his birthday, will be going on with his life, will get his driver`s license. I mean, there`s so many things that they won`t get to do with Trayvon Benjamin Martin.
MITCHELL: Our own Mike Galanos has been inside the courthouse all day, doing an incredible job, trying to keep track of everything, even as -- everything`s get -- sealed off and secured, and he`s poking in doors, oh, oh, carefully and appropriately. What is the very latest going on there, Mike?
MIKE GALANOS: OK, Jane. It`s just the tale of two sides. The body language spoke volumes on each side, as we came back after that half-hour break. The defense had seven people, yes, Mark O`Mara, (Don) West, five others, helping out. They came armed with papers and laptops.
On the other side, the prosecution seemed loose. Richard (Mantie) was laughing at one point with Bernie (Delarian) and they seemed confident. One other thing, Jane, to note. Someone who knows Mark O`Mara very well, came up to me, after Mark O`Mara left moments ago, and said, "I`ve never seen him like this. I have never seen him look so somber." That, so that is very telling at this point.
MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. I think that this is a very interesting three-dimensional chess game that`s going on. And I want to Jasmine Rand who is an attorney for the Treyvon Martin family, one of several. We are delighted to have you here tonight.
This was a three-dimensional chess game all along, and there was lot of focus on murder two, but could the ultimate end-game have been the manslaughter? And could the defense have underestimated and underthought the manslaughter charge, while the prosecution really thought, "Well, that could be our secret endgame." Jasmine?
RAND: Yeah, I think...
MITCHELL: All right, I`m going to throw that...
MITCHELL: Go ahead.
RAND: I think the juror`s question, the juror`s question is obviously very significant, I think in terms of telling us where the, where the case may be going. And I think that this case all along has been a very simple case.
I think the defense completely underestimated it, you know, borderline arrogance in their closing statement, in terms of talking about fake pass to factual evidence. Well, what is a fake pass? If you have a fake pass, if you have a client that doesn`t tell the truth because you don`t have a true path to the evidence to get your outcome.
So I think what the jury is doing now, is considering what they`re going to convince George Zimmerman of.
MITCHELL: Well, Frank Taaffe, you are a friend and supporter of George Zimmerman. There are those who are now saying that in retrospect, looking at Mark O`Mara`s closing argument that he might have been a little -- he might have been a little overconfident, and kind of like, "Oh, nothing is seeing here", really, seriously, almost dismissing this very serious case and maybe making a false assumption.
Maybe he was in a better position than he was.
TAAFFE: Well, Jane, very significant. The state -- still, well, actually the State still has to disprove self-defense, and self-defense applies for murder two, that was taken off the table. I firmly believe that. And now, it`s being looked at in a manslaughter.
And I think the clarification here that I feel in my gut is that they`re looking to make sure that the one holdout that I think -- this one holdout, and I`m going out there on a limb. I`m saying this five to one, this one holdout right now, that`s not going for...
TAAFFE: ...the acquittal. And they`re looking into manslaughter.
MITCHELL: I would like to have your crystal ball because, from what I can tell, nobody, nobody in the world except the six individuals in that jury room know what`s going on with Trayvon Martin. Anyone who pretends to know, let`s say a breakdown of divisions, is really, completely speculating, in the extreme. Nobody knows, nobody knows except those jurors themselves.
JOHNSON: Absolutely, Jane. Nobody knows what those jurors are going through right now, and I just want to take you back on one of the comments that was made about a low in your show, your panel -- and me included -- talked about the need for the defense attorneys to really address that manslaughter charge.
Because we knew it was coming. We knew the lesser of this would be requested by the prosecution. And they didn`t do that. So although the prosecution went into this case, you know, looking for second degree murder.
Clearly, with the manslaughter charge, George Zimmerman faces, you know, 10 to 30 years, so they still have a victory, even with the manslaughter, if that is the conviction that comes back, or if that`s the verdict that comes back from these jurors. So I do think there was a huge opportunity missed because those jurors` instructions are very difficult, and that was the defense`s time to walk those jurors through.
Even that manslaughter charge and all the time spent on second degree murder, I think they`re going to do some second guessing about that.
MITCHELL: Well, and I always say the first rule of journalism, never assume, and the first rule in jury deliberations, Janet Johnson, never assume. How many people, during the Casey Anthony deliberations when we were waiting, were assuming that it was going to come back guilty.
In fact, the prosecution did high fives and high five slaps on the way into hear the verdict, which of course, was infamously an acquittal, which outraged many people. So I don`t think, Janet Johnson, that you can necessarily say for sure that this means that they`ve automatically moved to manslaughter and that they are about to say yes on manslaughter or no on manslaughter, Janet?
JOHNSON: Yeah, you know -- and well, I thought Casey Anthony was going to be a not guilty, I just want to say that, but if they follow the instructions, it does mean that. But, that`s a great point, Jane. They may not follow the instructions. They might have, you know, worked in a totally different order.
We don`t know. No one`s back there saying no, these are the rules, but technically, these are the rules. And they need to go from the top down, and they don`t consider the lesser until they dismiss the top. You know, I want to go back to what the clip we just saw. I think Mark O`Mara missed a huge opportunity.
They gave them a choice. Do you want us to send the note back, or do you want us to bring them out here? As a defense attorney, I want them to come out here and look my client in the eye, if they are considering convicting him of anything. And I think anytime they`re paraded out there, and they look at him, that could change their mind.
And you need to have them come out there. You don`t send a note back. I have a problem with that.
MITCHELL: I think you`re making an excellent point, because I think what the defense really underestimated, is that there is a person whose life is on the line, in the sense that, certainly in the murder two, he faced the possibility of life in prison, and also, in the manslaughter, the possibility of up to 30 years behind bars, a very serious sentence indeed and there is no parole in Florida.
We`re going to take a short break. The jury could come back any moment with a more specific question about the instruction for manslaughter. It`s nerve-wracking. It`s stomach churning. Everybody on pins and needles, here in Sanford, Florida. What`s going to happen? Is this juror, is this jury close to a verdict? Is this maybe the final question before they reach a decision?
Or are they just getting started? We`ll have to wait and see. Stay right there, don`t move.
FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman is indeed in custody.
FEMALE: We just wanted an arrest, and we got it.
MALE: Mr. Zimmerman?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.
MALE: You`re appearing here in court, with the charge of murder in the second degree.
MITCHELL: So right out to the lion`s den. Let`s debate what is happening. Extraordinary developments. The jury has been deliberating 13 hours, 13 hours and 50 minutes. They are currently on a dinner break till 8:15, but they can work and continue to deliberate through that dinner break, and that is why the clock continues to tick away toward the 14 hour mark.
Now, a little while ago, they came back with a question, and they had a question, and said look, we`ve got these jury instructions here. We need further clarification on manslaughter which is the lesser included. The attorneys huddled and they argued and they decided, "Well, look, here is what we`re going to send back."
The judge said, "We can`t give a general discourse on manslaughter, but if you have a more specific question, perhaps we can answer that. So come back." The jury could come back with a more specific question at any moment now. OK, you`re up to date. So let`s debate. Starting with (Ariba) Martin. What the heck does this all mean?
Does this mean we`re on the verge of a conviction for manslaughter? Or could it mean that this jury is on the verge of moving through manslaughter to a not guilty?
(ARIBA) MARTIN: I think Jane, what it means is that this jury is being very deliberate. They`re being very methodical.
We`ve heard over and over again about these six women and the copious notes that they were taking throughout this trial, and how attentive they were to all the evidence that was being presented. So their conduct today is very consistent with the conduct that they`ve displayed throughout this entire trial.
I think if they have been past second degree murder, and they are considering manslaughter, they`re going to deal with the same level of precision, the same methodical nature in which they`ve taken the last 12, 13 hours, to what we presume to be discussing the second degree charge.
I`m very impressed with this jury, and I think at the end, no matter what the verdict is, you know, there are going to be some people who are unhappy either way but I think they won`t be able to say this jury did not take its time, and did not review at least from what we can tell, all of the evidence in terms of reaching a decision.
JOHN (LEIBERMAN): Jane...
MITCHELL: Absolutely. Jon Leiberman, I don`t think that this means that it`s necessarily going to be another 13 hours. I think they took quite a bit of time to organize getting inventory.
Look at all of the more than 200 exhibits at least, a cursory examination, then look at some of the biggies, like the reenactment video that George Zimmerman did, the interrogations by police, the 9-1-1 calls, and that could have very easily taken a dozen hours.
And then, they got through, perhaps, if they`re going according to what the jury instruction said, murder two, and now they`re onto consideration of manslaughter.
LEIBERMAN: Well, I think I disagree with you, Jane. I actually think this could be the beginning of phase two for them, because these six women appear to be so analytical, they`re so invested in this. So they may have taken that first day, they may have taken, hypothetically, second degree off the table.
Now, they`re just at the very beginning of talking about manslaughter. That`s why they want the clarification. But it should also be said, Jane, I think it`s an important point. These jurors know nothing about sentencing.
So in other words, in their head, if they think that somebody needs to be held accountable for Trayvon Martin`s death, and they want to hold George Zimmerman accountable, they could see manslaughter as a good compromise, not knowing in fact, that it could actually hold nearly the same amount of time as a second degree murder conviction.
I think that`s a very important point and one other quick point, Jane, somebody said that if...
MITCHELL: Well, let me get into that a little bit. Let me get into that a little bit, because you`re raising a very important point. If this jury mistakenly believes that manslaughter is a slap on the wrist, could the defense had done something to better clarify that that is not a slap on the wrist, without specifically discussing the minimums and the maximums with, oh, obviously, they can`t do because they would have done it.
And I want to go back to Jasmine Rand. You are the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family. Obviously, this is never-wracking for them. Weigh in on this.
RAND: I think the family is still very hopeful. We are praying and we are optimistic that we are closer and closer to a conviction. You know, (Tracey) and Sabrina have called for both sides to be peaceful no matter what the outcome is, because they don`t want to see more of the same vigilante behavior that we`ve seen.
So we`re just going to remain strong and await for what we believe will be a conviction.
MITCHELL: Again, any moment now, this jury of six women, of five of whom are mothers, four of the six have a relationship of some sort with guns, of family members who have guns, one used to have a concealed weapons permit. They have having dinner, but they are working through their dinner break, and they could come back, any second with a more specific question about manslaughter.
Are we in the end game here? Is a decision about to be made any moment now? Stay right there, because it could happen any second now. We`ll be right back in just a moment.
FEMALE: Do you think you`re (feeling hope)?
FEMALE: All right, what is your (inaudible)
FEMALE: There is gunshots.
FEMALE: You just heard gunshots?
FEMALE: How many?
FEMALE: Just one. (inaudible)
JOHN GUY, STATE PROSECUTOR: Was that child not in fear?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Dances for Trayvon
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Where is one shred of evidence to support the absurdity that they`re trying to have you buy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZIMMERMAN: It felt like he was hitting my head against -- it felt like my head was going to explode, and I thought I was going to lose consciousness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`MARA: You may have (inaudible) because he`s sitting at the defense table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): He said, (inaudible).
DISPATCHER: So you think he is yelling help?
DISPATCHER: All right, what is your ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUY: Trayvon Martin may not have the defendant`s blood on his hands, but George Zimmerman will forever have Trayvon Martin`s blood on his.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Extraordinary tension, anticipation. It`s nerve-wracking here in Sanford, Florida. Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live and wow, just a slew of very dramatic developments in the last couple of minutes. You can see the jury has deliberated more than 14 hours now. It`s 1930. Yesterday, they called it quits at around 1800. They`ve already deliberated an hour and a half past that. They`re deliberating through dinner. They`re not going to be done with dinner until 2015.
Could we get a verdict at midnight? Could we get a verdict at 2015? Could we get a verdict at 2030? Now, to bring you up to date with what just happened, excuse me, the jury came back with a question. They said, "Judge, look. We need further instruction -- further instruction on manslaughter."
So, of the two sides, the attorneys for both sides argued about it. And here`s what the judge said, let`s listen, and then we`ll debate it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA NELSON, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S JUDGE: We have a jury question. The question reads as follows: May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter? Does Counsel want to come up here and view it and propose their response?
DE LA RIONDA: We`re OK, your Honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go to the Lion`s Den and debate this. Are we barreling toward a verdict here? I certainly don`t think that given that they had to spend some time going over the evidence, that they have to necessarily go over the evidence all over again. Jordan Rose, it`s the same evidence even though they`re considering a different charge, a "lesser included" charge, so maybe they`ve gotten most of their most difficult work done.
JORDAN ROSE: I think you`re right. I mean, they asked for a list of evidence right at the beginning, and that shows that they are going through meticulously, and then they spent -- what -- 12 hours doing that. So no, I would not be surprised if they refine their question, and then we`ll have a lot more information as to what these jurors are really concerned with, but when they refine their question and get an answer, they may speed toward a verdict.
I mean, heck these six -- 10 people have been sequestered for a long time. They want to go back to their family.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s not like (inaudible)
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): This is a difficult case for this jury. I mean, in a lot of ways, they have to fill in a lot of the blanks which, obviously, is good for the defense, but it`s almost a completely circumstantial case. They have to determine what the facts are, in their minds, and that`s why I think they are being so analytical, and I think it`s going to take awhile.
FEMALE: I think the prosecutor closed.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ladies and gents. Go ahead -- go ahead, Red. That`s Jordan Rose. I (called) her Red. Good.
FEMALE: I`m wearing that. I thought you were talking to me.
ROSE: The prosecutor closed very strong. He was pulling on the heart strings, clearly, of these six women, many -- most of whom are mothers by saying, "What`s a kid`s biggest fear?"
It`s walking through the dark in the rain and being followed by someone, and I think someone said there was a tear in the eye of one of the jurors.
SILVER: I disagree with that.
ROSE: ... and nothing really (inaudible) problem, Jane.
SILVER: I`m sorry.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s let Brian Silver speak.
SILVER: I think that minimizes them as jurors. Don`t say because they`re women and they can be mothers; therefore they`re sympathetic. They`re people with brains, and you know what, let`s get back to jury selection because that`s where these cases are won. A lot of these women are married to people who are engineers in the NASA community. There`s someone on that jury panel who`s an engineering technician, and if you know anything about engineers, you know they love to ask questions, and you know they`re analytical. These women are thinkers. These women are thinkers.
To say that they`re going to base their verdict on sympathy alone labels ...
FEMALE: They won`t, but it`s hard to get ... SILVER: It minimizes them as women.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I agree with Brian. I actually agree with Brian.
FEMALE: You guys are missing the ...
FEMALE: Thank you, Jane. I think that that`s a big problem. I think it`s a really big problem that the prosecution did focus their closing on emotion. They were trying to get those jurors to sympathize and garner sympathy for Trayvon Martin. The problem with that is, the jurors are instructed that they cannot base their decision on sympathy or on emotion, and I think that`s where the prosecution really fell short.
And I agree with ...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stop, stop, stop. Let me tell you this. OK. It`s been awhile now since the judge told these jurors to come back with a more specific question. And they haven`t, and I`m wondering what that means. Could the fact that it`s been, I don`t know ...
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): They`re eating dinner ...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, but they could back with a more specific question if they`re even arguing about what question to ask the judge, could that indicate Janet Johnson that there`s a deep division in this six-person jury?
JOHNSON: Yeah, or there`s one ...
JOHNSON: Or there`s one person who they think doesn`t get it. Yeah, I think that`s right, Jane. That maybe there`s one person or two people who understand, and the rest of the jurors say, "Look, ask the judge. She`ll explain it to you."
And when the note came back, they said, "You know what? She won`t explain it to you. Let`s go back to the drawing board."
Because obviously, there`s someone in there who doesn`t understand it. It doesn`t mean all of them don`t understand it. It could be there`s one person who says, "I don`t get it. Let`s have the ..."
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): That`s a very good point.
JOHNSON: ... judge explain it.
FEMALE: Jane, Jane, can I jump in here ...
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): This could be the question of one person.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: (inaudible), hold on a second. (inaudible). Yes .
(inaudible): Jane. I just want to say, too, some of the cases that we`re comparing this to I don`t think that it`s a comparison -- an appropriate comparison. The jurors in this case have to not only get through the second degree murder. They have to get through the manslaughter. They have to consider whether it`s a justifiable or lawful shooting that took place. And some of the other cases that we`ve been looking at and looking at the time span that it has taken for the jurors to come back, they`ve just had to decide, did the person do it or not?
So I think we have to focus on the complexity of this case in terms of what they were charged to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But ...
(inaudible): It`s a very important ...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree, but the judge, quite awhile now, I think it was something like what, 1900? Around then, said, "Come back with a more specific question." And they haven`t. Why is it taking them so long to come back with a more specific question? They`ve been deliberating more than 14 hours now.
Is there a hold-out? Is there somebody there who is giving the others a hard time? Are they divided? I mean, why is it taking so long to come up with this question about manslaughter.
Stay right there. Anything could happen. Anything. You could cut the tension with a knife right here in Sanford, Florida. We`ll be back in a moment.
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O`MARA: George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin. Are the injuries on Mr. Zimmermann`s, the back of his head, consistent with someone doing this on cement?
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GUY: If Trayvon Martin had been backing up, and the defendant raised his gun and shot at 90 degrees?
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Ninety degrees to what, sir? When you talk about 90 degrees we`re talking about this degree.
GUY: Right. Right.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): So if it`s front to back 90 degrees, and you`re standing there and you`re holding a gun up already you`re at least 45 degrees where you are because he`s laying flat on the ground.
GUY: If Trayvon Martin`s backing up, could not the defendant have shot him at a 90-degree angle?
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WITNESS: 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 to prepare to use it if I had to. The guy was -- I locked in my son`s bedroom, and he was shaking the doorknob trying to get in. (Soon), there was a pair of rusty scissors, had my son in one arm, and the police came (inaudible) ...
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the Lion`s Den. That, one of the most effective witnesses for the defense, a young woman, a neighbor of George Zimmerman who testified that she was the victim of a home invasion and that George came and checked on her and offered assistance, got her a lock for a sliding door, and said, "Oh, my wife Shelly is nearby. You can come and stay with her if you need to."
And I think that was one of the most effective witnesses for the defense in this trial. Here`s what we`re going to debate. By the way, this is my very tattered copy of the jury instructions. You can get your own copy on hlntv.com, but they are going through it. They, perhaps, passed murder two if they`re following the instructions and now they`re on manslaughter.
OK. So, you have manslaughter here. If you decide the main accusation has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you will next need to decide if George Zimmerman is guilty of any "lesser included" manslaughter.
What`s the first thing, Brian Silver, that they consider when they go to manslaughter? It`s the same thing they had to consider with murder two, justifiable homicide, excusable homicide. In other words, there are reasons why the jury has to consider that they might not want to find guilty of manslaughter.
It says it right here. The killing of a human being is justifiable and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman. Remember, the defense attorney, Mark O`Mara, had said, had Trayvon Martin lived, he claimed anyway, that Trayvon would have been charged with a felony of aggravated battery for the alleged pummeling of George Zimmerman. Brian?
SILVER: Look. My instinct about this case is that it`s very polarized. It should either be a murder two or be a not guilty. They`re going through the manslaughter because they have to. It`s one of the instructions that are presented to them. That`s their job. They need to either make a decision for it or against it, but again, nothing is written in stone like we keep saying. There`s many possibilities.
It could be that this is a compromise verdict. It could be that there are jurors that don`t understand the law. It could be that are jurors with very strong feelings one way or the other. There`s really no way to know until we hear that verdict, but the sure answer is, they`re going over this because they have to. That`s their job.
FEMALE: I disagree. I don`t think this was ever murder two or self defense. I think this should, from the beginning, been either manslaughter or self defense. So I think they`re just basically ...
SILVER: Yeah, but that doesn`t fit the law.
FEMALE: Well, it does now because they ...
SILVER: A murder two is the intentional killing that was not premeditated. That`s not what manslaughter is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me bring in Jon Leiberman. Jon Leiberman, the clock is ticking away. OK. How long ago was it I had sat down in this chair right around the time, it seems like it`s been almost, what 45 minutes, since the judge said, "Jurors, I can`t give you a general discourse on manslaughter. Come back with a more specific question."
Why do you think they have not come back with that question yet?
JON LEIBERMAN, JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, their initial impression might have been to look at that and be like, "What are they talking about. We said we want a clarification on manslaughter."
I mean, these aren`t lawyers. These aren`t people who, you know, like we do, talk about this case 24/7, up until now. So they might not even understand what the court is asking of them. So they probably have to sit back down. They`re finishing their dinner, and they have to agree on what exactly they are asking because they may have read the instruction and, frankly, either not understood it fully or not understood it in the context of everything else in this case.
But somebody said the defense should have argued differently, you know, in closings against manslaughter. I think the defense is the defense is the defense. They were going with self defense from the beginning, and that fits either murder two or it fits manslaughter. So, I wouldn`t have changed much if I were them.
FEMALE: At the end of the day, it`s not on the defense. And I think someone on the panel, Jane, raised a very good point. It really could be that it`s just juror that is posing this question. That is ...
FEMALE: ... confused. There really could possibly be one hold-out. We don`t know. And if that is the case, maybe it`s one, maybe it`s two. It could be that it`s all of the jurors. If that`s the case, there could be a hung jury here, Jane.
LEIBERMAN: And when they`re going back and forth ...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is a possibility of that. Listen. We`re going to take a short break. Again. Stay right there. We are live in hot, rainy, sweaty, Sanford, Florida. Everybody`s nervous. We`re all on pins and needles. When is this going to come down. I mean, you`ve got a tense city filled with hundreds of journalists, all of us milling around or sitting in our seats talking, wondering, when, when, when, when, when is this decision going to be made? It could come in any second. It could come in right after they finish their dinner.
Stay right there. We`ll be back in a moment.
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WITNESS: I said, "Your husband has been involved in a shooting. He is being handcuffed, and he`s going to be held for questioning at the Sanford Police Department." And around that time, (inaudible) cut me off and he says, "Just tell her I shot someone."
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O`MARA: How many times was it said that Trayvon Martin was (inaudible)? You know, I`ll be held in contempt if I drop this, so I`m not going to do some drama and drop it on the floor and watch it roll around. But that`s cement. That is a sidewalk. And that is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home. That was somebody for years, the availability of dangerous items, from his fist to the concrete to cause great body injury.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: An (inaudible) producing (inaudible) here in Sanford, Florida. Jane Velez-Mitchell back with you live. The jury has been deliberating now 14 hours and 24 minutes. Remember, last night, they broke at 1800. Now they`re already headed toward the 2000, and I`ve been told personally by the officials they can deliberate as long as they want to until, hypothetically 0300 if they want to. Meanwhile, we`re waiting for them to come back with a question which they could any moment now on manslaughter.
And here`s what I don`t understand. OK. We could kind of visualize murder two: Ill will, hate, spite, but this is so milk toast. Here`s manslaughter. You have to decide, one. Trayvon is dead, beyond a reasonable doubt. Tragically, that`s an easy one.
Number 2, George Zimmerman intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin. Well, yeah, he shot him. That`s not in dispute, but it says, here`s the caveat, George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide.
So Brian Silver, it gets back to justifiable or excusable homicide.
SILVER: Exactly. And that has been my instinct about this case the entire time. Either you`re in the camp of people that believe he was not justified in the use of that deadly force or he was. Now, here`s the (inaudible) thing. In Florida, you`re allowed to use lethal force to protect yourself against serious bodily injury, and under Florida law, serious bodily injury has a very low standard. It could be anything that requires multiple stitches, a concussion, a hairline fracture, and if someone`s banging your head on concrete, you are absolutely in risk of getting a fractured skull.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: (inaudible), quick answer. Quick response.
FEMALE: You know, Jane, that may be ...
SILVER: And that`s the law.
FEMALE: That`s the Florida law, but you still have to deal with the incredible inconsistencies in George Zimmermann`s statements that we heard throughout this trial.
SILVER: There`s more inconsistencies on the other side.
FEMALE: You have to deal with the witnesses that -- you have to deal with the witnesses that testify that George Zimmermann`s standard this confrontation. The law does not give you the right to start -- to initiate a confrontation and then cloak yourself in self defense or justifiable homicide. And that`s what George Zimmerman is trying to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Wow. Excellent debate. A short break. We`re on pins and needles. What is this jury going to do? Why are they taking so long to come back with this question? Are they fighting in there over dinner?
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O`MARA: You might have an impression of George Zimmerman (inaudible). You may have an impression of him because he`s sitting at the defense table, and that may be as we talked about, he`s not just a citizen accused, but maybe he is a defendant. Maybe he has something he has to defend. Maybe, in fact, that because (inaudible) decide to charge him, he has to have did something wrong. Maybe that`s he has none.
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GUY: And who`s responsible for the state not being able to ask Trayvon Martin to step forward so I could put my hand on his shoulder. God, I`d love to do that.
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