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Special Coverage: Jury Continues Deliberations in George Zimmerman Trial
Aired July 13, 2013 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. I am Poppy Harlow.
You are looking at live pictures of the Seminole County courthouse there in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman taking the seat there once again on day two of jury deliberations. It may be today that he could learn his fate. Will he be convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter or will he be found not guilty by a jury of six women. We have full coverage on CNN throughout, all day.
I'm Poppy Harlow joined by my colleague, Victor Blackwell.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. 9:00 here on the East Coast; 6:00 out West -- this is NEW DAY SATURDAY. And we are beginning as we said in Sanford, Florida and what could be a decisive day in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
HARLOW: At any moment that jury of six women will be return to work. You see Judge Debra Nelson there sitting, the attorneys on both sides seated as well.
DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING JUDGE: State versus George Zimmerman. Is there anything we need to take up before we bring the jury in?
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: No your honor.
MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, your honor.
NELSON: OK, let's go ahead and bring them in.
HARLOW: All right. As we wait for the jury to come in, we also want to bring in our colleague, George Howell who has been there the entire time, covering this final -- you see that shot of George Zimmerman, sitting next to his attorneys. Today again could be the day that we get a verdict. Let's listen in.
NELSON: Please be seated. Good morning, ladies. Welcome back. I am going to ask you my questions, and if your answer is yes to any of them, please raise your hand. During the overnight recess did any of you have any discussions amongst yourself or with anybody else about the case? No hands are being raised. Did any of you read or listen to any e-mails, text messages, tweets, social networking blogs or social networking pages about the case?
Did any of you create any of those items? Did any of you read or listen to any radio, television or newspaper reports about the case? OK. We're going to send you back to deliberate. All of the evidence, if it isn't already back there will be back there with you in just a moment.
Let us -- if you have any questions or any requests, please put them in writing and hand them to the deputy. Thank you very much and you are excused.
BLACKWELL: The jury now is going back in the deliberating room to decide the fate of that man on your screen, George Zimmerman. I want to bring in our George Howell. Judge Deborah Nelson mentioned there if there were any questions, any requests that they would be passed on to the judge, and she would get them what they needed. There was one question, one request yesterday, and tell us about that?
HOWELL: Victor, absolutely. The jury requested an inventory of all of the evidence. They wanted to basically get a list of everything that they have seen, everything that they have heard about in this trial, and you saw these attorneys the other day come together, and start to build that list for the jury. So you can imagine that is what they are going to be looking first thing, you know, as they get into that process of making a decision here.
BLACKWELL: They go back with a sheet of paper with just three lines and a place to put a check mark, one of them being second-degree murder, and the other manslaughter, and the third, not guilty. We know George, we talked a lot about the makeup of this jury, six people, and inside that room there will be a foreman chosen, I'm sure already chosen, and the strategy begins of coming to where that check mark will go?
HOWELL: Absolutely. Here's the thing, we have been talking about those charges, but let's talk about those charges mean. If you talk about second-degree murder in the state of Florida, you are talking about 25 years to life. And there is a gun enhancement. If a weapon is used, 25 years mandatory. So 25 years to life, obviously that decision is at the discretion of the judge. If it's manslaughter, it's a minimum of 10 years and up to 30 years, and maximum of 30 years. Obviously, if he is released and found not guilty, he could be released the moment that verdict is read.
Also, in the state of Florida, there is no parole. So if it's a life sentence, victor, it is a life sentence. There is no parole here. If he is convicted of one of these crimes he would be taken into custody immediately, although the judge does have discretion to allow him to turn himself in later. So we will have to see how the judge Deborah Nelsen plays that out.
HARLOW: And we know the jury deliberated for just over 3 1/2 hours yesterday, and at ten to 6:00 they sent a note saying they would wrap up for the night, at 6:00, they did. They just began deliberating just a few moments ago.
So we want to dig into this -- delve into this with the top legal minds and talk about the jury, the Zimmerman jury and, Victor, let's bring them in. We have three legal analysts for you. BLACKWELL: We do, let's start with Darren Kavinoky, a criminal defense attorney, joins us live here in Atlanta. We also have Chris Chestnut, the attorney who represented the family of Florida A&M band member who died in a hazing accident in 2011, and I am sure he would call into question the word accident, and in New York, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. Good to have all of you.
I'm going to start with their and the central question, the jury has to answer -- did the state meet that burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt? What's your word on that?
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's fascinating, obviously, and it's an enormous issue, and whether or not the state met their burden on the murder case I think is something that can be very hotly debated, the most dangerous charge here in my view has to be that manslaughter charge.
It represents the potential for a compromise outcome for these jurors. I think it's a far more likely conviction than that murder charge. And, of course, we do have the not guilty option, as you mentioned, and there is yet one more option, and it doesn't get a box to check, but there could be an option of no agreement.
And, of course, given the issues that surfaced in the case, and how closely held and polarizing some of the racial issues are that divide not just this case but this entire country, it would not surprise me at all if these six women were unable to reach unanimity, if they were unable to reach a consensus and it turns out that we got no verdict at all.
HARLOW: You know, and it's interesting. This is a jury of six, remember, not a jury of 12. And as Paul Callan has been telling us, you see fewer hung jurors with six. Before I get to Paul Callan in New York, I want to give our viewers some color. We are getting this from our producer, Grace Wong, who is there in the court room, talking about how the jurors walked in.
And it's always important to learn anything you can, learn you can about these jurors. Apparently, they just walked into the courtroom a few minutes ago. She says they were staring straight ahead. They did not look at George Zimmerman or the defense team or the prosecution's team. She also noted that Trayvon Martin's parents were not in the courtroom for the inquiry. So that is a bit of color scene setting for you. The jurors walking and staring straight ahead, not looking at either the prosecution or the defense or George Zimmerman.
Paul Callan, to you. The issue here with the second-degree murder charge, ill will, spite, hatred, and that has to be proved. Your take on whether the prosecution was able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They shifted this theory in kind of an interesting way. You know, that count was added at the beginning of the case because there was a claim that there was racial profiling going on here that Trayvon Martin because he was a young, African- American wearing a hoodie was presumed because in part because the color of his skin to be a criminal.
The judge said eventually you can't refer to this as a race profiling case, and the prosecution basically shifted to a different kind of unusual theory, I think. They said he was profiled as a criminal improperly, and that that was a demonstration of hatred, ill will and spite, that, you know, George Zimmerman had for criminals and that he hunted down this criminal and killed him, sort of a vigilante kind of killing or at least it started out like that.
Now I don't know whether the jury will buy that or not. I mean, I can see some argument in the jury room about "Hey, you know, a lot of people don't like people they think are criminals, and does that make me a criminal." The debate in the jury room will be very, very interesting, on whether they had proven that profiling and ill will and spite claim.
BLACKWELL: (INAUDIBLE) before we come to you, I want to play a bit of some sound from Mark O'Mara, the lead defense attorney for George Zimmerman and then come to you with a question about the styles of the closing arguments and the rebuttal. Let's listen first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: You will fill in the gaps when you are not supposed to, you will make assumptions, (INAUDIBLE) closing you will do that, because you know what? It's natural. It's very natural. But not in a criminal courtroom. It is not only unnatural, it is inappropriate.
JOHN GUY, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: There are only two people on this earth who know what really happened, and one of them can't testify, and the other one lied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Mark O'Mara's closing argument was really reminiscent for me, Chris, of the Cheney-Mason closing in the Jodi Arias case. Not the Jodi Arias case, I'm sorry, the case the Anthony case where he pulled out the charts, again the range of reasonable doubt, and in this case, he said that you should not come to those conclusions, the state should have to prove those, and then we heard from John Guy, although it was very emotional, a lot of proverbs and sayings and things you should remember going in. Did O'Mara poison the water for that rebuttal before John Guy even spoke?
CHRISTOPHER CHESTNUT, ATTORNEY: I don't think he did. I think the closing argument for the defense was an opportunity to really hone in with a jury on not guilty and I think there may have been some missed opportunities to really issue a cause of action to the jury, not guilty, not guilty, not guilty. I found the closing argument to be littered with sarcasm? Really? Do you believe this? Really? Did they prove this, really? I think that was a missed opportunity. I think the rebuttal was very engaging. It was emotionally riveting, I think it was done very well, and the jury seemed to react personal acts in the courtroom and I think the jury today will spend a majority of their time analyzing the evidence, comparing it and basically between manslaughter and murder two.
HARLOW: Darren, I want to ask you about that, that four-minute pause and guys you can also weigh in on his and looking at it.
That four-minute pause that the defense used in the closing argument, trying to say what happened in the four minutes, between when Trayvon Martin's last phone call ended and when a gunshot was heard, he was trying to make a point there. What happened in those four minutes. Do you think it was effective? Do you think it was a stunt? Do you think it was confusing?
KAVINOKY: Well, it may have been a little bit of all of the above. For me, I found it to be effective. The use of silence can be a very, very effective tool in the courtroom. And certainly it opens up this question about, well, what was Trayvon doing and why was he not using that time as an opportunity to make the short walk home, he must have been sticking around to initiate the confrontation is where the defense is going with all of this.
And one of the things that they have to their advantage in this case and I think this is one of the prosecution missteps as we look at how they structured their case, there are a lot of wonderings, a lot of could haves, and what ifs, and it's the prosecution who has got the only burden in the courtroom to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are a lot of questions about how things could have unfolded, all of that spells reasonable doubt.
So I think it was effective in bringing that home, but it was so interesting in the closing arguments, just like athletics where great match-ups could make great competitions. This was really a study in contrasting styles with the frenetic initial prosecution opening, and of course Mark O'Mara was kind of at times, kind of like a human Ambien and very, very monotone in his delivery and then Paul Guy, at least according to the social media was 50 shades of Guy. The women apparently find him hunky.
HARLOW: Oh come on. We don't have to go there with who -- I mean, this is a very serious trial, but yes, people are talking about that on social media.
Guys, stick around, please. Darren Kavinoky, Paul Callan, Christopher Chestnut, thank you for helping us out, breaking down this case. Stand by and stay with us. We are keeping an eye on that live camera in the courtroom.
BLACKWELL: Coming up, the reactions to the killing of Trayvon Martin and throughout this time as the trial has gone on, expand the emotional spectrum. After the break, I will talk with a pastor in Miami who is trying to keep the peace no matter the verdict.
HARLOW: All right. And also, you are looking at live aerials of the courthouse in Sanford, Florida. There you go. Live aerials. That is the courthouse in Sanford, Florida, where the jury in the George Zimmerman trial have resumed with a second day of deliberations. We are all on top of this and we will be right back.
BLACKWELL: Welcome back. 15 minutes after the hour. Jurors now are deliberating the fate of George Zimmerman. They returned to the deliberation room 15 minutes ago. And civic and church leaders across the country, not just in Florida, they are urging calm. However, the verdict comes down. Listen to this public service announcement from Florida. It was put out by the Broward County sheriff's office, community groups and NBA star and Miami native, James Jones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your patience will be tested, but law enforcement has your back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's back up and choose not to back up, and deputies are with us so no need to act up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) don't lack composure because in one instance it could be over. So let's make the choice to raise your voice and not your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now from Miami is the Reverend Anthony Reid, he is the senior pastor at Memorial AME church. Reverend, I know you've met with more than a dozen local pastors and police officers to prepare for public reaction to this verdict. What was discussed at the meeting and what was the fruit that came out of it?
REV. ANTHONY REED, SR. PASTOR, MARTIN MEMORIAL, AME: Yes, good morning, and thank you for having me on. Part of the discussion was making sure there is peace in our community. Our goal is to make sure that whatever the verdict is that the community is able to respond not reactively but from a proactive measure, and we will put programs in place and how we can keep the peace through prayer vigils and worship services where people can come and talk and share and have the opportunity to alleviate themselves from carrying the force and energy that we know is very emotional right now in our community.
So all collaborations are happening with churches to make sure that we are all able to meet the people where they are.
BLACKWELL: We are 15 minutes into deliberations today and the jury met for about three hours yesterday, 3 1/2 hours, and if a verdict comes down today, you are going to have to preach tomorrow. Are you preparing two sermons or is the sermon the same regardless of the verdict?
The sermon will be the same regardless of the verdict, and in our community, it's always important to dispel the negative stigmas where people think that we will respond with force and fighting. Our response and posture in our community has always been reconciliation, love and peace. So there will be one sermon tomorrow, and it's all about worship experiences, which is forgiveness, love, peace and reconciliation. BLACKWELL: So you met last week with law enforcement officials in Miami, tempers flare, and tensions can rise between citizens and the police. Do you think police in Miami right now are operating in good faith?
REED: I believe that they are operating in good faith. There is a lot of anxiety in our community right now, however, the people do trust the justice system, and we're praying and believing that justice will be served. I think it's really important to not be premature in our emotions, but to definitely allow the process to take place and the full process of justice to have its course.
BLACKWELL: All right. Reverend Anthony Reed of Martin Memorial AME Church in Miami, thank you.
HARLOW: Yes, thank you much for joining us. We appreciate it.
As we know, all weekend CNN is on verdict watch. The jury is in deliberation this hour at the (INAUDIBLE) court house in Sanford, Florida. The decision could come at anytime, and when that happens you will see it live right here on CNN. We're back in a moment.
BLACKWELL: Twenty two minutes into day two of deliberations in the George Zimmerman trial. Want to bring the panel back in. Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney join us here in Atlanta. We also have Christopher Chestnut, the attorney who represented the family of the Florida A&M band member that died in a hazing incident in 2011.
HARLOW: And in New York, our legal analyst, Paul Callan, joins us. He's been on top of this I from the beginning as well all of our guest. Paul, I want to go to you first I want to talk about the jury because you and I had an at-length discussion about the makeup of this jury being an all women jury, and should that be a focus that it's all women, and do the styles of the prosecution and the defense, especially in their closing arguments, do they matter with this makeup of the jury?
CALLAN: Well, you know, in this day and age, this is always a dangerous question to discuss, because we have tried to I think in American society minimize gender differences with education and with laws, the equalizing of the sexes, and we like to think we all view the world the same way. But I have to tell you lawyers in their secret enclaves, when they discuss these issues and they're picking juries, view man and women very differently in jury selection.
One of the things I have heard a lot of lawyers say and maybe I have seen myself a little bit in court, female jurors seem to react to aggressive cross-examination style in a different way than men do. Men sort of -- it's like a boxing match between the lawyers, and they might admire to a certain extent a lawyer taking down a witness in a very, very aggressive way.
My experience has been that female jurors kind of resent that, and they think that, you know, you could have gotten to that same place without the nastiness and the cruelty. So the style of the lawyer, I think, can have an effect on the jury. I think in this case when I found to be interesting, O'Mara has the sort of a gentle style and approach, which might work very well with this jury. His partner, Don West on the other hand, tends to be more aggressive and you have two very aggressive prosecutors. So it's really going to be interesting to how the female jurors react to these different styles and they're very, very different, the styles.
KAVINOKY: Paul, sorry to step on you there but just to amplify the point, I think the difference shows up in deliberations and having an all-female jury is a really risky move in the sense that women may either, when you get the six women in a room, it may be that they are better at building consensus which is great for the prosecution if that happens because obviously they need unanimity. But I have seen how some women are, where there can be some judgment, the look at the purse and the look at the shoes and then judgment of one another --
KAVINOKY: And if that shows up that could be great for the defense.
HARLOW: You know, first of all, I want Christopher to jump in, and honestly you are saying women looking at each other's purses and shoes in the deliberation room, I man, from people on the courtroom that these are jurors that have been taking this very seriously. (INAUDIBLE) very seriously and taking notes.
BLACKWELL: I want to get in to, get to Chris. We talked during the break, you said that an all-female juror is possibly a risk for the defense. Why?
CHESTNUT: I believe that. I think you have mothers on this jury. These are people who have been emotionally engaged and very focused on the evidence, and I think this is a risk. I think that the defense thought perhaps because Trayvon was black that this jury of all white women would fear him. He could reverse the roles. That may have backfired. Some of the reports in the courtroom yesterday were that the jurors were crying during the prosecution's rebuttal. I think this jury is going to analyze the evidence and I think they are emotionally engaged and they are mother's on the jury, I think that was a very risky call. So I am not sure it played to the defense' favor.
HARLOW: We know that five of the jurors are white women. We know that one is either as black or Hispanic. We know that five of the six are mothers, and we know that they have all been paying very, very close attention. Mark O'Mara told our Martin Savage, this was his -- he was happy with the jury.
BLACKWELL: Yes, he said that in a sit in with Martin Savidge. Listen, we have to wrap it up for us today but Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan will be here at the top of the hour for a special coverage of the Zimmerman verdict watch.
LEMON: All right. Coming up next though, Christine Romans sits down for a fascinating and revealing interview with New York's former governor Eliot Spitzer who is jumping into politics again. And we promise if there is a verdict in the Zimmerman trial we will bring it to you live immediately here on CNN.
In the meantime, "Your Money" starts after the break.