Return to Transcripts main page


George Zimmerman Goes Free; Hundreds Protest Zimmerman Verdict

Aired July 14, 2013 - 06:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. It is just 6:00 in the east. Good morning. Great to see you this Sunday.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to this special Sunday edition of NEW DAY, because we're here and obviously the big story, George Zimmerman's trial.

He is a free man this morning. The long, legal nightmare over. At almost exactly 10:00 p.m. Eastern last night, after some 16 hours of deliberating, the verdict was announced. The jury of six women decided Zimmerman's shooting and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, on a rainy winter night last year, was justified. The parents of the victim in the case, never to hold their son again, heartbroken with the jury's verdict.

BOLDUAN: Zimmerman stood calmly as he heard the decision. A hint of a smile only at one point. He shook hands with his lawyers, but really remained pretty unemotional throughout, as he has throughout the murder trial.

Trayvon Martin's parents, they were not in the courtroom in Sanford, Florida, when the verdict came in late last night. They do plan, they say, to attend church, though, this morning.


CROWD (chanting): (INAUDIBLE) Nationwide protest! Nationwide protest! Nationwide protest!


CUOMO: The anticipation surrounded the verdict and the reaction to it. Outside the courtroom, what you're seeing, crowds gathered to witness the finale of the murder trial that's captivated and polarized this country. Many chanting "no justice, no peace" amid a sea of signs asking justice for Trayvon. In cities around the country, people gathered and marched in protest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no way justice could have been done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That could have been my son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we explained when you have an all-white jury -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All-white jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have all white women.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have a (INAUDIBLE), you have a man, his father is a federal judge. The system has failed!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody wins tonight. You know, George Zimmerman is free, but he has to come out into society living with a lot of people that necessarily don't like him.


BOLDUAN: Now, prosecutors who argued their case with very much passion, but this clearly was not the verdict that they were wanting, they accepted the verdict, they said, after it was read in press conferences afterward. They were unable, clearly, to prove, as Florida law requires, beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. Listen here.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: I am disappointed, as we are with the verdict, but we accept it. We live in a great country that has a great criminal justice system. It is not perfect, but it's the best in the world and we respect the jury's verdict.


CUOMO: Now, Zimmerman's attorneys had a very interesting spin on this. They said the verdict kept the tragedy, the death of a young man, from becoming a travesty, an unjust punishment of the man who killed him. They also say their client feels that he had the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders last night.


DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful. I am gratified by the jury's verdict. As happy as I am for George Zimmerman, I'm thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty. For that, we are eternally grateful.


CUOMO: Mirrors that line that we were talking about. Also the word used there, "disgraceful." That's how defense counsel felt about prosecution bringing this case in the first place. That's going to be something that will be judged today, for sure, as we give you this broad snapshot of the George Zimmerman verdict this NEW DAY.

BOLDUAN: Now, let's get into more specifics, especially for many of our viewers who did not have the chance to stay up late last night and who are just hearing about this today. It played out late into the evening and our correspondent, George Howell, is in Sanford, Florida. He was there. Alongside him, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, who was also there and has been there all along, a former federal prosecutor. It's great to see you both this morning.


BOLDUAN: George, just to start with you, and as I mentioned, for -- especially for our viewers who are just waking up to this verdict this morning, explain how the emotion, the tension, the drama that really played out as we got news that a verdict had come in and then how it played out when the verdict was read.

HOWELL: Absolutely. There was waiting. There was anticipation. We knew that the jury went to take a dinner break. And then after that, we expected for them to either close for the night, you know, recess and come back the next day. Didn't really expect that that verdict would come through.

And when it came through, you know, you had people outside just in the front lawn here. The front lawn was divided by sort of a gate, a little fence, and you had people on one side very happy, you had people on the other not so happy.

And here's the thing. In the press conference that was held, I was in there and I watched the defense team and the prosecutors basically explain their reaction to that verdict. This was really interesting, very telling. There came a point where Prosecutor John Guy walked over to Defense Attorney Don West to shake his hand. West refused to shake his hand. You remember West saying that he thought the prosecution of this case was disgraceful. There were several, Sunny, you remember, discovery violations, possible violations that, you know, the judge will deal with later, after the verdict, now that we are, you know, past the verdict. But you could tell that there was definitely an animosity between the two.

BOLDUAN: And, Sunny, before -- we've got many questions, but just on that point. I mean we've talked about how there is - it's an adversarial relationship, obviously, between the defense and the prosecution, but that some believe that it had kind of gone beyond that between these two sides, that there was real animosity towards the end. Is that - I mean for our viewers who don't get to sit in courtrooms all the time, is that unusual that Don West wouldn't -- refused to shake his hand?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is unusual. I mean certainly most attorneys that are trial lawyers, especially criminal trial lawyers, we know that it's an adversarial process because you're on both sides, or opposite sides, of a case. But oftentimes you're friends after you leave the courthouse. You go to lunch together. You go to dinner together. There are people that I prosecuted cases against that we're still friends and we still contact each other. Some of them contacted me last night after watching the coverage.

So, I am surprised that you see that sort of discord. And it was obvious throughout the trial, but to not shake your co-counsel - or opposing counsel's hand is something that is just simply usually not done. It's frowned upon as members of the bar, and I was shocked to hear about that.

CUOMO: Right. And -

HOWELL: And the other part of that is, you know, through the -- I'm sorry.

CUOMO: Go ahead, George, please.

HOWELL: I'm sorry about that, Chris.

Yes, through the case, I remember, you heard the defense team basically saying that the prosecution was playing dirty in this case, not turning over evidence in time, not giving them the amount of time to really go through it and prepare, you know, the best case for their client. So, at the end, you know, it was not too surprising, but definitely stood out when you saw this prosecutor, you know, try to shake Don West's hand, and it didn't happen.

CUOMO: Right. Now, look, obviously, the surprising thing there a little bit is the context. Forget about how lawyers get along with each other. A 17-year-old kid with no weapon was killed. To say that that's the kind of case that's going to wind up having charges brought about it is not such a surprise. Whether they had the case to make, we'll talk about all morning long.

BOLDUAN: Got a lot more to talk about.

CUOMO: Sunny, I'll get back to you about that. And we will discuss in detail that instruction on the manslaughter charge. We talked about it yesterday. There were concerns about it and, obviously, the jurors shared them -- the jury shared them. We'll be back to you, George and Sunny. Thank you very much.

We want to broaden this a little bit, though, into more of an understanding about the reaction with Trayvon Martin's relatives saying that they didn't want this case to be about race. That was the big issue that seemed to be in the room the entire time, right? But even their lawyer acknowledged that this issue did loom large.

BOLDUAN: And for many, the racial kind of subtext, the overtones of Trayvon Martin's death and the trial of George Zimmerman is what made this such a national story, which is what drew so much attention and so much passion to this case. Some of the key players, they weighed in on that issue after the verdict. Listen in.


ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: This case has never been about race, nor has it ever been about the right to bear arms, not in the sense of proving this as a criminal case. But Trayvon Martin was profiled. There is no doubt that he was profiled to be a criminal. And if race was one of the aspects in George Zimmerman's mind, then we believe that we put out the proof necessary to show that Zimmerman did profile Trayvon Martin. MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that things would have been different if George Zimmerman was black for this reason -- he never would have been charged with a crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it bother you when people say this case is not about race?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: No, it doesn't. But, you know, the whole world was looking at this case for a reason. And what people wanted to see, as we all said how far we have come in America in matters of equal justice. And certainly, as we have said, we'll be intellectually dishonest if we didn't acknowledge the racial undertones in this case. So we have to have very responsible conversations about how we get better as a country and move forward from this tragedy and learn from it.


CUOMO: Yes, I think Mr. Crump there really seizes on what's most important. If people want to dance around what's going on here, that's fine, it's up to everybody's own choice, but, you know, race played a role in people's perception of why this happened. And the idea now is, what do we do with this? What are the dialogues to have?

Interesting to note, Angela Corey is the state attorney in Florida responsible for this case. She didn't try it, which is an interesting issue -

BOLDUAN: She brought the charges.

CUOMO: But it is her case. She's in charge. She says, we thought he was profiled. That the racial aspect there was enough that we felt confident bringing a murder charge. Something we'll talk about this morning is, confident enough to bring a murder charge on that basis but not to bring a charge that George Zimmerman picked Trayvon Martin because of his race. There's a law on the books in Florida for exactly that. They didn't charge him with that. Why not if they were confident enough in that theory to bring a murder charge? It's something we'll discuss this morning.

BOLDUAN: And the question of racial profiling, the NAACP and many people are actually calling for the Justice Department to now look into civil charges going forward from this case. That's also something else we're going to talk about more this morning.

But across the United States, across the country, as you probably well know, emotions have been running high and continue to run high this morning. In some cities, hundreds of people have gathered, gathered overnight, to protest the not guilty verdict. And we've been watching that very closely.

CUOMO: Now, as we take a look at some of what happened, what is most remarkable may be what we have not seen. There have been rumors of potential violence, but in cities from New York to Chicago and across the bay area in California, there were emotional calls to action. But for the most part, so far, thankfully, peace. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what do you want?

CROWD: Justice!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's his name?

CROWD: Trayvon Martin!


CROWD: Trayvon Martin!


CUOMO: Victor Blackwell is in Atlanta keeping track of the reaction for us.

Victor, good morning to you. And tell us, what are you seeing down there?


We are seeing demonstrations coast to coast, across the country, but what we are not seeing, as you said, is the violence. You know, the police officers, community leaders, pastors, they were all prepared for these demonstrations and the demonstrators indeed showed up. Let's start in San Francisco.


CROWED: Trayvon Martin!


CROWD: Trayvon Martin!


CROWD: Trayvon Martin!



BLACKWELL: You see here police in riot gear alongside hundreds of demonstrators. They're marching through San Francisco's mission district. The organizers called this an emergency demonstration to show their outrage in response to the not guilty verdict. You see the hundreds of people chanting, calling for justice. Police had no reason to use that riot gear. No reports of arrests.

Let's go across the bay to Oakland, California. The protests started peacefully, but this is how it ended. They smashed the windows of this transit worker's car, it's a BART car, tagged it with graffiti. CNN affiliate KTVU reports organizers asked the protesters to wear hoodies when they showed up. Of course, that's the garment that Trayvon Martin was wearing the night he was killed in February of 2012. They set a few small fires, they tipped a dumpster, burned a flag.

Let's go now to Chicago.


CROWD (chanting): Justice for Trayvon Martin not one more.


BLACKWELL: They're chanting "justice for Trayvon Martin, not one more." Hundreds protesting in Daley Plaza. That's in downtown Chicago. Police were there to keep the peace, as they were in San Francisco, in Oakland, other cities across the country. And for the most part, peaceful in Chicago. No arrests there.

No reports of arrests or violence across the country, although we did see the destruction of property. You know, there was the PSA, the public service announcement, in Broward County, Chris and Kate, that was released. It asked people to raise their voices and not their hands. We're going to share later some of the voices that were raised through social media, what some celebrities and just ordinary people who have followed the case have to say.

Also, the protests in D.C., New York and throughout the country.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, Victor Blackwell in Atlanta for us tracking the reaction, thanks so much.


BOLDUAN: I mean one thing that social media allows is for instant reaction, where you can really -- people are -- were making their voices heard in social media, Twitter, FaceBook, all of the above, last night. That's for sure. And that will continue.

CUOMO: Very easy to be incendiary on social media also, so it's something we have to be careful about as we go forward.

BOLDUAN: Giving (ph) that responsible conversation going forward.

CUOMO: Absolutely. And we're going to have a lot of emotion here and we're also going to have a lot of complete coverage of this jury verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial all morning long. It matters to us. But there is a lot of other stories that we have to following as well, one in particular making news overnight.

Actor Cory Monteith, star of the Fox TV show "Glee," was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room Saturday. BOLDUAN: Yes, clearly a huge shock to so many fans of the show. Police said the cause of death wasn't immediately known, but they have at least - they believe one thing that they have ruled out, foul play. Monteith spent time in rehab earlier this year and had been public about his struggles with substance abuse. He was just 31 years old. We'll have much more on the story throughout this morning, including an exclusive interview with the guest director of "Glee."

CUOMO: Our coverage of the verdict in the George Zimmerman case is just getting started. As we said, there are protests.

BOLDUAN: Yes, protests are out there. There are marches as well. This story is not over in the least. Much more still to come in our special edition of NEW DAY. Be right back.


CUOMO: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN's special coverage of the George Zimmerman verdict.

Now, very interesting, everybody wants to know how George Zimmerman is reacting, what's the family thinking? You're going to want to listen to this next interview -


CUOMO: Because his brother, Robert, sat down with our Piers Morgan right after the decision was announced and he was real insightful there. He said that George has some decompressing to do and is still coming to grips with the fact that he is a free man.

BOLDUAN: He also said that he's praying for Trayvon Martin's family, but listen to him in his own words. Here's a little bit more from that exclusive interview.


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: I really can't put into words how relieved we are as a family. That's the first thing my father said. Having said that, I don't think this is a time for high- fiving. I acknowledge, we all have acknowledged, that Mr. Martin, Trayvon Martin, lost his life. It was not an act of murder. It was not an act of manslaughter. The jury has spoken. Our judicial system has spoken, but that does not diminish the tragedy. Death is tragic in any circumstance of someone, a young person, losing their life for any - for whatever circumstances exist.

If Trayvon were my brother and he was the one who was armed, and legally armed, and, you know, able to carry that firearm in a legal way, and my brother blind-sided him by breaking his nose and pummeling his head into concrete and continuing to punch him, I would find, and the jury has found, that, unfortunately, he had the greater hand in his own demise, which was causing, by his own hand, his death. That's unfortunate, but that's the reality and that's what the --

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Do you really believe that, Robert?

ZIMMERMAN: That's what the jury believes. It doesn't matter what I believe.

MORGAN: Do you -- do you believe that?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely, I do believe that. I know --

MORGAN: You believe that Trayvon caused his own death?

ZIMMERMAN: I believe - I believe -

MORGAN: A 17-year-old boy just armed just with a bag of Skittles?

ZIMMERMAN: The jury believes. Look, we can be cynical about it until the end of time.

MORGAN: No, I'm just asking you what your personal view is.

ZIMMERMAN: And I've been very clear what my personal view is and I think so has the jury. The jury has been spoken and they've been very clear.


BOLDUAN: Two families changed forever in a very, I think you could say a strange day for the George Zimmerman family, because they did not know what was going to come next.

CUOMO: But a compelling interview, because Robert Zimmerman, Piers puts the questions to him that you would have on your mind -


CUOMO: About why this was wrong. Why what George Zimmerman did was wrong. And Robert Zimmerman answers every one. And made it very compelling. So much so that we want to have him back on. So this morning at 11:00, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., will join us here on set to share his and his family's perspective on what happened here and why, as well as about his brother's first day of freedom.

BOLDUAN: Yes, very interesting to speak with him about that.

Other news, though, that we are following and another major story breaking overnight, actor Cory Monteith is dead. The 31-year-old Canadian native, made famous on the Fox hit TV show "Glee," was found in his Vancouver hotel room Saturday. But what are the police saying about it?

CUOMO: And another story this morning, the journalist who broke the story of massive NSA surveillance programs says the U.S. should be very careful in its pursuit of Edward Snowden. Why would he say that? We'll tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Hey, everyone. We're continuing our special coverage of the not guilty verdict in the case against George Zimmerman. A very special edition of NEW DAY this morning.

CUOMO: But there are plenty of other stories going on right now And for that we're going to go to Poppy Harlow in Atlanta.

Good morning, Poppy.

BOLDUAN: God morning, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris and Kate. Good morning, everyone.

Well, a warning coming this morning from the journalist who broke the NSA surveillance program story. He says information still unreleased by Edward Snowden, the leaker, could yet be the most damaging. In an interview with an Argentinean newspaper, Glenn Greenwald says that Snowden actually has information that would produce dire consequences for the United States if it is released. He told the newspaper, quote, "Snowden has enough information to cause more harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had." Greenwald went on to say, "the U.S. government should be on their knees every day praying that nothing happens to Snowden, because if something happens, all information will be revealed, and that would be their worst nightmare." Pretty powerful words. On Friday, Snowden said he would ask Russia for temporary asylum, but Russian immigration officials reportedly said yesterday they have not yet received an asylum application from Snowden.

And now to the stunning and tragic death of actor Cory Monteith. The Canadian native who became famous playing Finn Hudson on the television show "Glee" was found in his Vancouver hotel room Saturday dead. Police say they do not yet know the cause of death but have found no evidence of foul play. Monteith's body was discovered by hotel staff yesterday after he missed his check-out time.


ACTING CHIEF DOUG LEPARD, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA POLICE DEPT.: Mr. Monteith checked into the hotel on July 6th and was due to check out of the room today. There were others with Mr. Monteith in his room earlier last night but video and fob (ph) key entries show him returning to his room by himself in the early morning hours and we believe he was alone when he died.


HARLOW: And earlier this morning I spoke with director Adam Shankman. He worked with Monteith as a guest director of several episodes of "Glee," and he told me that Monteith, guys, was just a joy to work with, a consummate professional, and says he had just spoken to his friend yesterday morning. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAM SHANKMAN, DIRECTOR, "GLEE": He was the glue, he was the cheerleader that really held everybody together on that set, I really felt. He was always smiles. He was patient. He was the first one, you know, he always knew all of his lines right away. He was, you know, he was the first to laugh when things were muddy. I had several interactions with him yesterday where he said to me that he was feeling amazing and he even said, I'm feeling fantastic again. And, you know, he was obviously referring to, you know, that moment he had this year with going to rehab and so I'm, like everybody else, really devastated and confused by what happened.


HARLOW: Now, Monteith had checked into a drug addiction treatment facility earlier this year and he has been candid about his struggle with substance abuse. But I want to be clear here, Adam Shankman told me that he does not believe at this point anyone should be making any ties between any potential drug use and his death. We still have a lot of questions and no answers. It is a tragedy. Cory Monteith was 31 years old.

Chris. Kate.

CUOMO: And, Poppy, that's the hard part is what's definitely known, only 31 years old and his life is over. It's terrible. Thank you for giving us the headlines. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Poppy.

CUOMO: Big story that we're on here this morning, of course, George Zimmerman trial, not guilty, the verdict. The reaction, crowds, noise. You're listening to it now. Protesters hit the streets in several big American cities after the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. Luckily, big voices but not a lot of violence, but we'll tell you about the reactions and why they feel this way when we come back.


CUOMO: Welcome back, everybody. Just after 6:30 here on the East Coast. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everyone. And thank you for joining us this Sunday, July 14th. It's great to see you. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're continuing our coverage of the George Zimmerman verdict. George Zimmerman is a free man this morning. A Florida jury could have sent him to prison for the killing of Trayvon Martin. That did not happen.

CUOMO: No, they did not make that decision, and the result for Trayvon Martin's family is heartache, that no one will be punished for the death of their son.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the circuit court of the 18th judicial circuit in and for Seminole County, Florida, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman. Verdict. We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty, so say we all, foreperson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does either side want to poll the jury?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, ladies and gentlemen -- I mean, ladies, I'm sorry. As your juror number is being called, please answer whether this is your verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror (inaudible) 25, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-76, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-37, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-51, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror E-6, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror E-40, is this your verdict?




BOLDUAN: Now, as you saw right there, Zimmerman barely showing any emotion as the jury's decision came in late last night. He did smile slightly, calmly shook hands with his attorneys, but really remaining stoic, just as he has throughout the trial, as everyone, the nation has watched him so closely. Zimmerman's wife, though, was seen clearly emotional, wiping away tears after the verdict -- after the jury had revealed its decision. Shellie Zimmerman smiled broadly, hugged the family members and supporters at her side in the Florida courtroom.


CROWD: Nationwide protest! Nationwide protest! Nationwide protest!


BOLDUAN: Outside the courtroom, though, a more -- a much more emotional response. A small crowd chanted, calling for nationwide protests against the verdict. Protesters has also hit the streets in a number of big cities across the country, but the crowds remained relatively small. Important to note, really, none of the violence. There was -- there is a fear that there would have been violence following the verdict, but no real violence that we've seen so far, and everyone is happy because of that.

CUOMO: Good news on a tough night, to be sure.


CUOMO: Now, the jury of six women deliberated for 16 1/2 hours over two days ...

BOLDUAN: So long.

CUOMO: ... before finding George Zimmerman not guilty and none of them has spoken publicly.

BOLDUAN: But plenty of people are weighing in on why they think the prosecution's case didn't stick this time. Let's bring in defense attorney and former prosecutor Tanya Miller as well as criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos. Thank you both for coming in. I'm sure a late night for you. I guess, Tanya, let's start with you -- everyone we've said they were kind of waiting until the verdict. You had to wait until the verdict, you cannot get into the jury's mind, but when you see this verdict of not guilty and you know the charges, that were -- you know, potential convictions that the jury could have picked, do you see any point where the prosecution failed or where the prosecution lost the jury during the trial?

TANYA MILLER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, I don't really think you can pinpoint it to any particular moment. I, frankly, think that the prosecution did a good job. I think they presented their case well. I think they believed in their case and that came across very clearly, particularly in the closing arguments. The bottom line is this, is that it's not easy to get a conviction in our criminal justice system. It affords defendants tremendous protection under the law. The prosecution had a high burden to meet. And I, frankly, think the defense did a good job of convincing this jury that doubt existed. They held that doubt against the state, as they should. But I also think a testament to how good a job they did is the fact that so many people are divided on this case. So many people watched this trial from their living rooms and they reached a completely different conclusion seeing the exact same evidence. So, I don't know what that necessarily means, but I certainly think that the prosecution did the best they could with what they had.

CUOMO: I think that, you know, what we're dealing with here, Tanya and Danny, is that people pretty much never were able to move off of what we first knew about this case, you know, that this black kid, 17 years old, unarmed, going to a place where he is allowed to be, doing nothing wrong, wound up being killed. And it just seemed unnecessary and wrong, and it's hard to move off that assumption to anyone else. It just seems that it's wrong and it should be punished. And Danny, that's why I come to you now. Our job here is to help people understand this verdict and why it's not just a system that doesn't make sense, that it may well have made sense under these facts. What should people know about why this case was so difficult for the prosecution to make and why you're not surprised by this verdict?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, I do hear a lot in the language like what you just said, Chris, that this is about a kid who went and got skittles, but the facts don't necessarily show that. This may have also been a kid who initiated, possibly, a fight. He may not have, he may have. But the facts are more than just walking to 7-eleven to get a packet of skittles. That's the problem. The facts that people have focused on have very little to do with the elements of the crime. No elements of the crime involved being African-American. None involved skittles and none involved iced tea or fruit drink. The bottom line is, the prosecution always had a difficult set of facts. They do not get to choose their facts, and they did an admirable job with what they have. They went forward like warriors and they took the facts they had and they argued them. However, ultimately, I will echo, the burden of proof was simply too high. They had to disprove that self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, and I believe that that was something they could not do given these facts.

CUOMO: And Tanya, you know, the defense counsel said in comments afterwards that this was a disgrace that the prosecution brought this case. What do you think about that? Not about whether or not they had beyond a reasonable doubt of proof, but in bringing this case, charging it, how do you feel about the comments of the defense counsel?

MILLER: Well, I obviously don't agree with those comments, as I have said over and over again that I thought the decision to charge second-degree murder was appropriate in this case based on the facts and supported the prosecution's decision to do so. I think using that kind of language, it really didn't make a lot of sense to me. The bottom line is that there was a teenager who was dead. His parents lost their son. This needed to be aired before a jury, and that's what happened in this case. I, frankly, think that many people view, whether it's right or wrong, this verdict as a disgrace, because they do not understand, as well as us lawyers who work in the system might, how this could happen, how a kid who was minding his own business, walking in a place where he had a right to be, who did not seek out George Zimmerman, did not make it home that night. And so, how do you look at those facts and then conclude that it's a disgrace for our system to take some action? I just didn't agree with that comment.

CEVALLOS: First of all, here's how you look at those facts. You add the additional facts, which are George Zimmerman's injuries and the other facts that suggest that there was an altercation that may or may not have been started by Trayvon Martin. Part two of that is that people are criticizing the attorneys for saying things like it's a disgrace. You have to understand, these gentlemen have been living this case for a year and a half. They've probably fielded hate e- mails, hate calls. Tonight and today they are victorious. And to the victor, for now, go the spoils. We have to forgive them for maybe saying something that isn't said with the slick packaging of a PR expert. They have been living this case, breathing it, and I understand, we should be thrilled as audience members that they -- that we had the opportunity to see the raw moment of a press conference, which probably, maybe they shouldn't have given right after the win, but we certainly, the benefit to us was we got to see the raw emotion, things they may not have said a week from now.

MILLER: I don't know that -- I don't know what the benefit of that necessarily is, particularly when there were no winners in this case. I know that, technically, their client was acquitted, but there are no winners in this case.

BOLDUAN: All right, Tanya Miller, Danny Cevallos, we're going to leave it there for a moment, but with many more questions about the verdict, how they got there, and also, we want to talk about later what they're going to do going forward. We know that NAACP and many others are calling for a civil rights investigation for the Justice Department to be looking into that. We're going to talk about that more in a little bit. Thank you both so much.

CUOMO: Another significant development to talk about, something we learned yesterday. Not necessarily to do with the case, but surrounding the case.


CUOMO: An employee of the Florida state attorney's office has been fired. Now, here's why it matters. This same employee testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from Zimmerman's lawyers.

BOLDUAN: Mm-hmm. Information -- an -- an I.T. director, the information technology director, Ben Kruidbos, was dismissed in a letter Friday, his lawyer said. He had testified -- he testified before the trial that data from Trayvon Martin's cell phone, including photos of Martin blowing smoke, images of marijuana and deleted text messages were not given to the defense. The state attorney's office denied the claims and also accused Kruidbos of deleting public information from a laptop. Again, what his dismissal and his firing, how that's connected to exactly what we're seeing here. It's not entirely clear at the moment. Angela Corey was asked about it last night.

CUOMO: Yeah, and she was very forthright in making it clear to the media and anyone watching that his dismissal had to do with his job performance, not what he testified on in that hearing.


CUOMO: That's her position on it. What does it mean for the trial? Could it be grounds for an appeal? Well, no, because there's going to be no appeal because it would have only affected the defense ...


CUOMO: And they won the case because he was found not guilty. So, but an important detail, development in the story we wanted you to know about it. And obviously, the main focus now in this, understanding the verdict ...


CUOMO: And the reaction to it. A massive outpouring of support for Trayvon Martin at the courtroom last night and social media following the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.

BOLDUAN: We'll have all the reactions from regular folks to celebrities and the results of an exclusive CNN poll following all of this. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman, I have signed the judgment that confirms the jury's verdict. Your bond will be released. Your GPS monitor will be cut off when you exit the courtroom over here. And you have no further business with the court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thank you. Is there anything else this court ...


BOLDUAN: And that is how the criminal case ended. Just really seems like a few hours ago. George Zimmerman a free man this morning.

CUOMO: But you know, as his lawyer said, whether he decides to stay in Florida or move away and start over, Zimmerman's life will never really be the same.

BOLDUAN: And part of the reason his life will never be the same is the national attention that was drawn to this case and the reactions we're hearing from fellow citizens online, really across all social media, Twitter, Facebook, even Instagram and YouTube. People are speaking out, as well they can and should. And the majority, though, of the messages as you're seeing so far are disappointment, supporters of Trayvon Martin. Victor Blackwell is at CNN headquarters in Atlanta following this social media reaction. So, Victor, what are you seeing so far? It really seems to be very passionate dialogue we're hearing on social media.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, Kate, one thing I'd like to add, you said national attention, international attention. We're seeing tweets from overseas from people who have followed the Zimmerman case from the very start, and this is how most authorities wanted people to speak out. Now, as we said, the Broward County sheriff's office, they released a PSA saying "Raise your voice and not your hands." And from what we're hearing from most people through social media and some very well-known people. Let's start with a tweet from Russell Simmons, he is a business mogul and founder of Def Jam. He tweeted about this case, he writes "Prayers for the Martin family. Only God knows what was on Zimmerman's mind, but the gun laws and stand your ground laws must change."

Let's go to co-host of "The View," Sherri Shepherd. She tweeted from the #"sherrishepherd2h," "Going to pray and after I pray, I'm going to hug my son who one day might go to the store in the rain in a hoodie. Maybe it will be different, #jesus." And a lot of prayers, a lot of calls for people to pray for the family and for our country. And let's also go to Lina Dunham, she is the creator of HBO series "The Girls." She writes simply a two-work -- a two-letter start, "No. My heart is with Sybrina Fulton, Rachel Jeantel, everyone who loved Trayvon and has been sent the message that his life did not matter." Chris, Kate?

BOLDUAN: I think everyone agreed that -- everyone -- I think most people would agree that people, their hearts and prayers are with the family of Trayvon Martin and well as with the family of George Zimmerman. As I keep saying, just to remember is that two families are changed forever from this trial.

CUOMO: Right, and I do think that, you know, it is our responsibility to bring up that in a vacuum, these reactions make 100 percent complete sense. They do, anyway, on an emotional level, but we do have to remember, and it's hard to focus on, but we know from that night that George Zimmerman came away with the injuries, OK? He had the nose, he had the injuries on his head, he had a story that his head was being banged against the concrete by Trayvon Martin. The jury accepted that. So, this isn't a mystery. This isn't where we have to search ourselves why a society went so wrong. There was a trial here. The facts and arguments were presented by the prosecution as they wanted. They did everything they wanted to do in this case. They didn't get the result they wanted. But remember, in terms of trying to figure out how this happened, so many people are saying that, the jury believed what George Zimmerman and some of the evidence suggested, which is he took the beating from Trayvon Martin. He may have started the fight, but he took the beating. And when that happens, in the law, the analysis changes. How bad was that beating? Was it reasonable what George Zimmerman says that he feared he was going to be very hurt by this 17-year-old sitting on top of him, pounding him with fists and his head against the concrete? You have to build that into your understanding. I know it's hard. I know it makes you angry, but it also helps make sense of what happened here.

BOLDUAN: And one thing you also -- you've also said, and we've heard in other places as well, is while our system of justice is not perfect, it's still the best in the world.

CUOMO: Right.


CUOMO: And look.

BOLDUAN: Something to remember as we go forward. Victor, thanks so much. I forgot to thank him.

CUOMO: Well, no, I'm sure he'll be back this morning

BOLDUAN: Yes. We'll see him again.

CUOMO: You know, and it's like -- as we've been saying here, the jurors have made their decision in this trial and they took it very seriously.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, they took it very seriously. We're going to have details of the far-reaching reaction of the verdict. We're going to keep watching that as well. You can see some of the video from last night. Take a break, be right back.


BOLDUAN: Prosecutors who tried to send George Zimmerman to prison, they had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt -- and that's the key -- that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense that night in February.

CUOMO: Not easy to do, especially on these facts. And the jurors heard what the prosecution had to present and the defense had to counter with, and they came to a conclusion that what happened in that fight justified what George Zimmerman did. Take a listen.


JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: To prove the crime of manslaughter, the state must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. One, Trayvon Martin is dead. Two, George Zimmerman intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter or committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Technically, it could be a debate going on between manslaughter and second degree. It could be a debate going on between manslaughter and acquittal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the circuit court of the 18th judicial circuit in and for Seminole County, Florida, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman, verdict. We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Complete shock, utter shock. I cannot believe he was not found guilty.

CROWD: (inaudible)

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Obviously, we are ecstatic with the results. George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense. I'm glad that the jury saw it that way.

DON WEST, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: I am gratified by the jury's verdict. As happy as I am for George Zimmerman, I'm thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty. For that, we are eternally grateful. BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: I am disappointed, as we are with the verdict, but we accept it. We live in a great country that has a great criminal justice system. It is not perfect, but it's the best in the world, and we respect the jury's verdict.

ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: To the living we owe respect. To the dead we owe the truth. We have been respectful to the living. We have done our best to assure due process to all involved. And we believe that we brought out the truth on behalf of Trayvon Martin.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: I really can't put into words how relieved we are as a family. That's the first thing my father said. Having said that, I don't think this is a time for high- fiving. I acknowledge, we all have acknowledged that Mr. Martin, Trayvon Martin, lost his life. It was not an act of murder. It was not an act of manslaughter. The jury has spoken. Our judicial system has spoken, but that does not diminish the tragedy. Death is tragic in any circumstance.


CUOMO: We're just getting started this morning with special coverage on this edition of "New Day."

BOLDUAN: A new hour, new guests, new analysis of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial's going to be beginning after a quick break.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the circuit court of the 18th judicial circuit in and for Seminole County, Florida, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman. Verdict -- we, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty, so say we all, foreperson.


BOLDUAN: That was the big moment from the George Zimmerman trial after 16 hours of deliberation, three weeks of trial. It was eight hours ago, that was the verdict.