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George Zimmerman Verdict

Aired July 15, 2013 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Tonight, public outrage as people take to the streets over the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict.

Tonight breaking news. Zimmerman is getting his gun back and he plans to wear it wherever he goes. Yes, the exact same gun he used to kill unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. And his lawyer says he needs that gun now more than ever. A comment many find offensive.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.

CROWD: We want justice! We want it now!

DEBRA NELSON, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN MURDER TRIAL JUDGE: Your GPS monitor will be cut off. You have no further business with the court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think he`s yelling help?


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S BROTHER: He has more reason now to than before because there are so many more people who want him dead.

CROWD: Not one more! Not one more!


CROWD: What do we want now?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Protests in cities coast to coast in the wake of this controversial verdict. After 16 hours-plus of deliberations, the jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder, not guilty of manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Protests erupted. Within seconds of the not guilty verdict as George Zimmerman was set free.

Tonight, Zimmerman is a free man. But a free man in hiding. We do not know where he is right now. But we are learning that he will get all of his confiscated possessions back, including that Caltech nine semiautomatic pistol that fired the bullet into Trayvon Martin`s chest.

Zimmerman`s attorney, Mark O`Mara and George`s brother, Robert, say Zimmerman`s in danger. And Attorney O`Mara says George needs a gun now more than ever.

ZIMMERMAN: They are Vicious, they are disgusting, and they are sometimes in person like people wearing shirts with my brother`s face on it and crosshairs or encouraging others to act out violently against him.

I think he has to live mostly in hiding. He got to be able to protect himself from that periphery. That is still believed that he is some racist murder.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: With Trayvon Martin`s parents described as devastated over the verdict, hundreds of thousands of people are signing online petitions calling for hate crime charges to be filed by the federal government. Should that happen? We will debate it. Should Zimmerman get his gun back? We will debate that, too. What do you think? Call me. 1- 877-JVM-SAYS. 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to the lion`s den. Should George Zimmerman be allowed to carry a gun again? The same gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. Just FYI, starting with Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean, the obvious answer is under what possible fake version of some legal code that purports to allow you to take it away are we debating this? In other words, you can`t justify not giving it to him. He has a right to it. He had a right to it. He lost a lot of rights while he was facing these charges. He`s been acquitted. He was found to have acted in self defense. You can`t take his gun away. You can`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal Gordon, attorney out of D.C.

J. WYNDAL GORDON, ATTORNEY: I think George Zimmerman places the public and himself in danger by carrying a gun. What people know when they run into George Zimmerman is that he`s armed and dangerous and has a hair trigger finger. So if he gets in an argument with anyone, anyone whatsoever in the state of Florida, if someone else has a gun, guns are going to be drawn. George Zimmerman is a ticking time bomb child killer. He does not deserve to have a gun.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank Taaffe, former neighbor of George Zimmerman, speaking to us exclusively, HLN exclusive. Zimmerman`s friend and supporter, you know him. Do you think he is a ticking time bomb?

FRANK TAAFFE, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S FORMER NEIGHBOR: Absolutely not, Jane. And the rest of your panelists, if they haven`t heard, an acquittal at has been announced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn`t mean he is innocent. It means the state didn`t prove their case.

TAAFFE: I`m here and going to respect this panel tonight to get my point across. Here is where I`m going with this. A jury of his peers in Seminole County acquitted him. He had lost his rights while he was being arrested and in custody by the state. All of his rights have been reinstated. He is not a criminal. He has not been convict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was arrested for assault on a police officer and arrested -- cited for domestic violence twice.

TAAFFE: Excellent point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He was arrested. So, for to you make yourself -- or pretend to believe that George Zimmerman is just angel or this choir boy --

TAAFFE: Sir in the state of Florida -- OK. I will address that. Please. In the state of Florida, in order to receive a concealed weapons permit, you cannot be a convicted --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not talking about being convicted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I understand what you are saying. Let me bring Tanya Acker in here.

Is there anything, Tanya, that can be legally done to give him any kind of psychological test? I mean, what`s the criteria? Is there anything that would reveal whether or not he has the psychological mindset that`s appropriate for carrying a gun?

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Right now, Jane, I mean, there`s no basis for imposing any such test. He was found not guilty, not innocent, by the way. Jury didn`t find him innocent but he was acquitted of these charges. Unlike perhaps your panelist -- it doesn`t mean, excuse me, sir, it doesn`t mean he is a hero. It doesn`t mean that he is a civil rights victim. But, he was acquitted. And as a consequence, the state really has no basis for just sort of imposing psychological testing after this verdict.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, even if George Zimmerman is getting his gun back, is it such a good idea to be advertising that? Why did Zimmerman`s attorney feel the need to tell the world that Zimmerman is getting a gun, will wear it, along with a protective vest, a bulletproof vest, in essence, and that he needs a gun now more than ever because there are a lot of people who hate him. Listen to this attorney. Not connected to the case.


JOHN PHILLIPS, ATTORNEY FOR JORDAN DAVIS FAMILY: What if we are in a situation where George Zimmerman could become the first legal serial killer? He has all these people that want him now. Want -- you know, want to attack him and he`s able to one by one defend himself. That`s where we are headed with a law like stand your ground.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the lion`s den.

Jon Leiberman, lot of people are upset about this, the gun aside, did George Zimmerman`s legal team need to announce to the world that he`s going to be wearing the same gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin? It sounds like salt to the wounds.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look. I think it is two points. Lawyers on both sides said things that have been inappropriate both, you know, before the case and after the case. So, we know that. The Stand Your Ground discussion is a completely other discussion that can be had and if we all choose to have it like the attorney just said. But suggesting that George Zimmerman somehow shouldn`t have a gun, a, and everything reverts back to before he was charged with these crimes. So, of course, he is allowed to have a gun and it is not our will to say that he shouldn`t or anything like that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m asking if it is a good idea. I`m saying --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hasn`t lost his civil rights. He hasn`t lost any of his rights. They have been reinstated. Right to bear amendments. Second amendment.

LEIBERMAN: I`m going to set it straight. Listen. This is not a question of law. This is a question of good taste. And quite frankly, after you have been acquitted in a major national trial, an national trial even, where everybody has --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me?

LEIBERMAN: Has very strong emotions -- hold on, excuse me. It is bad taste to walk into the courtroom and ask for the gun that you used to kill a 17-year-old with. Even though you are not guilty, and, yes, you have the same civil rights as anybody else and, yes, you have the right to own and bear firearm in Florida. What he should have done is if he really peels it is necessary, and by the way, if I was George Zimmerman, I would never touch another gun again for the rest of my life. Go buy a baseball bat. OK. But, he can walk into any gun shop in Florida and buy a new gun and nobody would know about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We are going to continue this debate in a second. We have -- our own Vinnie Politan from HLN`s "After Dark" joining us now.

Vinnie, first of all, kudos on your incredible sit-down interview with the prosecution team. Well done. They are still fresh off their defeat. What surprised you most about what they told you?

VINNIE POLITAN, HOST, HLN`S AFTER DARK: I think it was how they told it to me as well. I mean, they really, really to this day still believe in their case. They are not backing down at all. As a matter of fact, Jane, when I asked Angela Corey the state attorney, the boss, right, Bernie De la Rionda`s boss, I said, give me one word to describe George Zimmerman. She paused for a moment. Then called him a murderer.


POLITAN: One word to describe George Zimmerman.


POLITAN: George Zimmerman.



POLITAN: I told you. They are confident. They are confident. They are not backing down. They still believe in the case and -- the sense you almost get in the room with Bernie De La Rionda is he can`t believe the jury came back not guilty, number one. And it is almost as if he -- can`t understand it because he`s so convinced and anyone that questioned their beliefs in the murder charge, watch the interview. And -- it comes through. It absolutely comes through had believe 100 percent this was a murder case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinnie, we are watching some of the protests that have occurred here and what strikes me is that all the powers that be are calling for everyone in America to respect the verdict that was handed down by the six women. But yet, the special prosecutor is still calling him a murderer. Is that not respecting the jury`s decision?

POLITAN: No. I think it is having -- confidence in what you did in bringing this case because people questioned the charge. People questioned the charge. They said it is not a murder case, not a murder case. Well, you know, they brought this case because of what they believed. And they have to believe in it and have to believe that they could prove it. And -- while this jury didn`t agree with them, it is not going to change their mind about what happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just want to say, excellent interview. Great having you on. Vinnie, hope you come back more often and well done.

I want to quickly go to former prosecutor Wendy Murphy. Do you think it was appropriate for special prosecutor Angela Corey to use the word murderer after this verdict of not guilty given what the sheriff and the police force and everybody is saying about respect the verdict?

MURPHY: I mean, of course it was ridiculous. It was wrong. It was prosecutorial. In my opinion, misconduct, unethical. How many words can I use? She knows better. Her job as a prosecutor is to respect not only the system but the jury`s verdict and to protect the rights of the accused.

Murder is a term of art. He was not convicted. You can`t use the word. She can call him a bum. She can call him a scoundrel but I think it is unethical to refer to him as a murder. And you know, I hope somebody calls her on that because she should not be saying that out loud.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sure others on our panel have a very dash various views. We will debate that on the other side. And we are taking your calls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Circuit court of the 18th judicial circuit, Seminole County, Florida, state of Florida versus George Zimmerman. Verdict, we, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.




POLITAN: One word to describe George Zimmerman.

COREY: Murderer.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the lion`s den.

You heard it there. Special prosecutor describing George Zimmerman as a murderer post-conviction. J. Wyndal Gordon, when he said that --

GORDON: Acquittal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sorry. What did I say post acquittal, post acquittal, post acquittal. J. Wyndal Gordon, do you think that was appropriate? Because Wendy Murphy said it was inappropriate.

GORDON: Well, she was asked what her opinion was of George Zimmerman. And -- you have to understand that she has evidence that never saw the light of day in that courtroom. So, she has evidence that was filtered by the judge, filtered by the rules of evidence and other things. But if you take all of those things into consideration, in her mind, based upon what he knows about the case, he is a murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You brought up a good point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But -- here`s the thing.

MURPHY: She is the government. She is the government! She is not a regular person.

GORDON: I know exactly who she is but that`s --

MURPHY: She is the government! She has no right to say what she said.

GORDON: He asked her what her opinion of George Zimmerman was.

MURPHY: You should be proud to condemn her.


MURPHY: Because it is unethical.

GORDON: It is not unethical asking her opinion.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the other thing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: After this not guilty verdict, most protests were peaceful, by and large. There`s 800,000 people asking for a federal hate crime charges on the Internet. But, the vast majority of people, wonderfully peaceful, dialogue, just exercising their constitutional right, to freedom of speech. But unfortunately, there `some protests, a tiny, tiny fraction, turned violent. Let`s take a look.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, in light of these kinds of situations, and with law enforcement holding news conference, before the verdict saying let`s everybody accept the decision of these jurors whether we like it or not, again, I`m wondering, Brian Silber, is that the to take by calling him a murderer even though he was acquitted?

BRIAN SILBER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely not. It is slanderous. It is wrong for a position -- someone in a position of her authority to be using words like that and I think it shows behind the veil what she really thinks of the system and that`s the biggest problem of all.

I think Wendy hit it right on the head. She`s 110 percent correct. This prosecutor represents the law. And she more so than other people need to be telling others with everything that she does and everything that she says that there is a verdict here that must be respected. And she has failed to do that. And I find that disgusting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, Tanya Acker, briefly. Then I want to get to Frank.

ACKER: She was -- she thought he was a murderer before the verdict came in. The jury -- verdict didn`t come back and say oh, he`s not a murder. The jury verdict was a declaration that she had not proven that beyond a reasonable doubt. I think a lot of this is some sort of hysteria about her word choice. What do we expect her to say? She was asked what she shout of George Zimmerman. She went to trial and --

SILBER: I expect her to be professional. I expect her to be a leader in the community and say the right thing and be the person that everybody should look up to. Not someone who incites more hatred.

MURPHY: That`s not a lot. Be ethical. Is that really that much to ask?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is she doing giving the interviews in the first place? It is totally self-centered.

TAAFFE: Hold on. Let`s go back to the night that Zimmerman was charged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never heard of a prosecutor doing this ever.

TAAFFE: Let`s go back to the night Zimmerman was charged. OK. Let`s go right back to the source. She got up there in front of this nation and said -- that she -- she -- prayed with the family that night. That was your first indication that something was wrong. You had a special prosecutor that showed bias, she showed bias --

GORDON: Bias? She is an advocate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She showed bias.

Now, let me ask you a question. Had that been George Zimmerman who got killed and Trayvon was arrested, would she have prayed with the Zimmerman family? Ask yourself that. We are free. He is free. Acquittal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, more debate on the other side. We are just getting started and taking your calls. Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That mother`s heart is bleeding. Can`t none of us patch that mother`s heart up. That woman -- parents hurting. This is a sad situation.




CROWD: Not one more! Not one more!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are joined exclusively by George Zimmerman`s friend, former neighbor, Frank Taaffe. You and I have not had a chance to speak. Even though we were both down there in Sanford, Florida, since the verdict came down. Have you spoken to George Zimmerman?

TAAFFE: I have spoken with his attorney, Mark O`Mara. And he assures me he is spending time with his family which is rightfully so and I have been given word he`s doing very well and when he is ready he will call me. But, you know, he knows I`m here. I have been there every day for him since day one. When everybody wanted to string him up and --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Thank you for pausing because I think I know where you are going there. You have made controversial statements on our show. We want to stick to the content here. And part of the content is that brand new ABC interview, George Zimmerman`s parents, actually gave -- and they revealed the very first thing that George told them after the not guilty verdict came down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: When you finally got a chance to talk to your son in the courtroom after the verdict, what did he say to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He -- I hug him, I kiss him, and -- he said thank you, mom. I want to go home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He wants to go home but -- Frank, you are his buddy. He can`t go home because of the intense focus, the international focus on this case. Is he in hiding? How long do you think he will remain in hiding? We, obviously, have already debated that he is getting gun back he used to kill Trayvon Martin and plans on with wearing protective vests wherever he goes.

TAAFFE: The security is outmost right now. You would agree with that, Jane. And I personally feel that, you know, when is America going to let go of this? You know, he is been struggling for the last 17 months. Sure, it has been a dead teenager but you know, let`s not have, you know, let`s not have would tragedies on our hands here. You know, if he had been wrongfully convicted which he was not. He was acquitted, we need to move forward and this civil rights action, it is just -- you know, a question of acceptance. You know, acceptance is the answer today. You know, for me, you know, if it looks like it, feels like it, smells like it, it is usually it. So, you know, we have to take this. You know, it -- lot of people --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. I was asking you a question about how long he`s going to remain in hiding.

TAAFFE: I can`t answer that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think he will stay in Florida?

TAAFFE: Personally, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think he is going to stay in the United States?

TAAFFE: I wouldn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think he will move to another country?

TAAFFE: I would.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think he going to change his look? Maybe dye his hair, grow a beard?

TAAFFE: Maybe get it gray like mine. Yes. I think so.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, part of the problem is if he wants to disguise himself, he`s very heavy now. He was thinner when he was arrested. So, the public -- has would totally different visions of him. So, it is not like he can lose a lot of weight and look different because we know what he looks like. He was much thinner when he shot Trayvon Martin dead.

TAAFFE: Well, I told Robert to share with him on the day of the acquittal that when we get together we can do three things. We are going to do gym, tan and slim fast. So, he has got that message. I`m very happy today. I`m ecstatic. I`m still sad for the Martin family that they lost their son, but I`m very happy for George today. Ecstatic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we have not stopped debating. We have not stop taking your calls. We have so much more to go over. We are just getting started. More on the other side.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ACQUITTED IN THE KILLING OF TRAYVON MARTIN: I can walked all the way to dash the street. Back there. They said are you following him? I said yes. I was in the area. He said we don`t immediate you to do that.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your GPS monitor will be cut off. You have no further business with the court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he`s yelling help?


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: I don`t know that he`ll carry a gun. He has more reason to now than before, because there are so many more people who want him dead.

CROWD: Not one more!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did this man just shoot him?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Protests coast to coast in the wake of the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. And hundreds of thousands of people signing online petitions demanding the Department of Justice file federal hate crime charges against George Zimmerman. We are going to debate that. George Zimmerman may be free, but he`s not necessarily off the hook. There`s also now the possibility of Trayvon Martin`s family filing a civil wrongful death lawsuit against George Zimmerman.


SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER: It is important to remember that Trayvon was a minor. He had just turned 17 years old. He was just a kid up against a grown adult.

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER: Not only did I lose a son, I lost a dear friend. He will be sadly missed. And I made a promise that I won`t stop.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The parents of Trayvon Martin. This is a tough time for them.

A lot of us remember what happened to O.J. Simpson when he was found not guilty in his criminal murder trial in the death of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. A civil suit was filed by the Goldman and Brown families. They won an award of $33 million, but they have collected very little of it from O.J. Simpson over the years. He of course now back behind bars.

Straight out to the lion`s den. Can the parents, should the parents of Trayvon Martin file a civil wrongful death lawsuit? And if so, what chance do they have of winning that? We will begin with J. Wyndal Gordon, attorney out of D.C.

GORDON: How did I know you were going to begin with me? I think they should do whatever they need to do to bring themselves peace. Can they do it in the state of Florida and be successful? I`m doubtful. Florida is the gun shine state of the United States. So I`m not sure what they will be able to do there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gun shine. Did you just coin that this second, right here on our show?

GORDON: The gun shine state. Yes. They are.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. Jon, go ahead.

LEIBERMAN: Jane, Frank used the word acceptance. And I think it is pretty clear that Trayvon`s family hasn`t yet accepted what happened in that courtroom. So I would fully expect them to file a civil wrongful death suit. They know that the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence in a civil suit, a much lower threshold than in the criminal court. And I don`t think it would be about the money for them. I think it would be about them feeling as if they got some sort of justice for their son`s death.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy. Go ahead.

MURPHY: You know -- well, a couple of things. First of all, they have every right to file, and I would have -- if I were them. Apparently it has been reported they already settled some other suit with the homeowners association. So they would have to set off whatever that settlement amount was--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, they can`t file because the state --

MURPHY: Zimmerman may not ever have the funds to be able to pay them. Plus, they may not want to be near him. They have to engage people in a civil lawsuit. They may want to cut that cord. And I would respect that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. Wait a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me answer that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. A couple of things. One, is there a legal action by George`s side against an unnamed network and -- in other words, he could write a book, he could win a lawsuit? There`s ways he could come into a lot of money. I just wanted to state that, but you wanted to say something. Jon Leiberman?

LEIBERMAN: That`s what I was going to say. I was going to say with the pending lawsuit that Zimmerman has, potentially writing a book, maybe other deals, I mean, there could be money there. But I don`t think money is the end game for the Martins potentially filing a wrongful death suit. I feel as if they just want justice in their heart, and they are not going to accept what happened.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Zimmerman can hide money just like O.J. Simpson.


SILVER: He is not going to get much of anything. The truth of the matter is, even if they got a judgment, to go and enforce it against him is going to be very difficult. And I think John is correct. For them, this is not going to be about dollars and cents, it is about getting a sense of justice. But if they really do want to collect those dollars and cents, then the proper defendant would be that homeowners association. You know, for negligent supervision, negligent security.



TAAFFE: I would like to clear this up now. I was part of the probe by the FBI that they were looking into. I was personally interviewed by the FBI, not once, not twice, but three times. Because three times they tried to look into a hate crime against George Zimmerman. And they came up with zilch, nada, zero. Niente, niende (ph).


TAAFFE: The determination was made he was not a racist.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank, you have spoken. Let J. Wyndal Gordon have a chance to respond, no interruptions, go ahead.

GORDON: If they are interviewing people like Frank Taaffe to determine whether or not a hate crime has been committed, sure they will come up with nothing. Prank is incredibly biased in this case.


GORDON: You have to interview other people who are unbiased, who are objective and can give their honest opinion. I don`t think Frank can do that, not on his own, because quite frankly he is his best friend. Give me a break.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this legal question. The bottom line, according to the attorneys I`ve talked to, is that they would have to charge him with a hate crime and try to prove George Zimmerman shot Trayvon because of his race. Given the verdict, which said not guilty on second- degree murder, which the criteria was did you kill him out of spite, hatred, or ill will, Tanya Acker, do you think that not guilty verdict could pose a challenge to a federal hate crime charge?

ACKER: Oh, I mean, to say the least. I think it would be really hard on these facts and under these circumstances for the federal government to proceed with the federal hate crime charge. Btu I think even more importantly, that`s not even the best use of federal resources in this case. We have to remember what happened right after Trayvon Martin was shot. You are looking at a police department that seemingly gave somebody who had just shot and killed a kid the benefit of the doubt. We saw a dead body drug tested, we saw a potential criminal defendant who was shielded purportedly by stand your ground, by the police. We saw the police department who kind of led -- fed him questions, you know, they didn`t sit back and let him tell an open-ended story.

I think the bigger story here is really about how this crime was prosecuted, the fact that George Zimmerman was able to tell his story unchallenged for so long. Frankly is what I think led to this acquittal. So I think when you are talking about the injustice in the case, it really goes beyond Zimmerman. It goes to what happened, what did the police department do, when this case -- when Trayvon was first killed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor.

MURPHY: You know, I totally disagree with that. I think the prosecution has been overtly political. There`s been just a dog and pony show. It has been --

TAAFFE: Absolutely.

MURPHY: -- playing for the race card from day one. And the only reason I`m saying that is because I believe that the American legal system is structured to be unfair to black people in this country. I believe in much of what the anger is about. We need a fairer legal system. But this case is not an example of what is wrong. To the contrary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.

MURPHY: This is insulting, in my opinion, to black people to watch a prosecutor pander the way she has when she knows the objective medical evidence showed self-defense. Her witnesses --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to give J. Wyndal a chance to respond, quickly, then we`re going to take a break and we`ll debate some more.

GORDON: I agree with her, but for different reasons. I feel like this was a poorly tried case. Defended against by some mediocre attorneys before a gullible jury. That`s why we got the jury -- that`s why we got the verdict that we had.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on, Frank.

GORDON: There was plenty of evidence there for a manslaughter charge, and we didn`t get it. We did not get it. I`m not necessarily upset. I`m not surprised by it. I am disappointed about it, but I am not surprised by it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well -- Tanya Acker.

ACKER: I was going to say I can appreciate Wendy`s outrage on behalf of black people, but I don`t think that to suggest that this case was about the prosecution playing the race card, I think that`s pretty short-sighted. I think that`s disrespectful to people who see in what happened to Trayvon Martin a mirror of what`s happening to lots of kids around the country who are regularly being profiled. Whether or not you think that happened here, wait a second, whether or not you think that happened here, that can be an open debate. But to suggest that this doesn`t resonate with something that lots of people in this country experience, I think that`s insulting.

MURPHY: Profiling, profiling is not the same as murder.

ACKER: Well aware of that. Well aware of it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: If we learned nothing from this case, people don`t get angry for no reason. Irrespective of how you feel about this case, I really do feel we need to look at our two-tiered system of justice in this country. I have been saying it for a long, long time. We have more people behind bars than the entire populations of some Eastern European countries. And many of them are behind bars on non-violent drug offenses. Non-violent drug offenses! And that`s exactly what one woman who was demonstrating outside of the courthouse said to me. She says, I know people who were doing hard time for having drugs on them. They didn`t shoot anybody, and they are doing decades behind bars. So that`s one of the things we really need to look at.

And let`s face it. More people are O.D.`ing from legal prescription drugs than from illegal drugs. So that`s another aspect of the unfairness. I think a lot of anger --

MURPHY: And Jane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about these prosecutors that withhold discovery?

MURPHY: Civil rights is not only a black versus white issue. Those - -

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course not.

MURPHY: -- girls that were rotting in a basement, enslaved in a basement in Ohio of Ariel Castro`s home, how come my president didn`t talk about that as a violation of their civil rights?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. We are going to take a break. We are going to be back on the other side with more fiery debate. And Brian, thank you for waiting. We`ll get to you on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know? How did you come to that opinion?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can tell. Being African-American, you encounter people who are racist, and I just know that he is not.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty on all counts.

DE LA RIONDA: I am disappointed as we are with the verdict. But we accept it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: George Zimmerman`s parents responded to claims that their son, George, is a racist in their first sitdown interview since the verdict. Listen and we will debate it on the other side.


BARBARA WALTERS: What do you say to people who are demanding vengeance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s nothing I can tell them, but there is something I can do. I can pray for them.

WALTERS: Is your son, George, a racist?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, SR.: Absolutely not. He has never been taught to be a racist.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the lion`s den. I have been thinking about this a lot. And here`s my analysis. I believe -- and I always look at things from a psychological perspective, since I did many years of therapy. I think he is a cop wannabe. I think his whole psychological problem is that his father was a judge. He wanted to impress daddy, which so many boys strive to impress their father when they feel less than. And so he was trying desperately to do something that would win his father`s approval. And this became an obsession with him. And I personally believe it is more about that and his -- I think he was -- I think he was behaving in an inappropriate fashion that night, but I think it is a lot more multi- determined and has a lot more nuances than simply he is a racist. And I would like to start with -- well, why don`t we start with J. Wyndal Gordon on that.

GORDON: Well, I would -- I would respectfully disagree. One of the things that people don`t like to recognize in this country is that certain people can be racist even though they are not taught that in the home. They learn it. His mother -- she doesn`t really know him. She lives in Virginia. He lives in Florida. And -- I just don`t buy into this I`m not a racist thing. If he`s not a racist, he just hates young teenage boys--

TAAFFE: Can I ask you a question?

GORDON: Excuse me. If he is not a racist, and he just hates young teenage boys who wear hoodies. So whether you are white or black, if you have on a hoodie in the rain, he hates you. Do you see how absurd that sounds?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or he was trying to play cops and robbers. This is the same guy who is very involved in with somebody in a neighborhood had -- was a crime victim. Yes, it is nice to go over and offer your help, but he talked to her 20 times. To me, that says his obsession is with the -- I do believe he is a cop wannabe. And I will throw it out to Frank Taaffe. You know him.

GORDON: He`s wound up tight and ready to recoil.

TAAFFE: I would like to pose a question to this venerated attorney out of D.C. Can only a white person be a racist?

GORDON: Can only a white person be a racist? I`m not even going to dignify that question. Ask me another question.

TAAFFE: Can only a white person be a racist?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, guess what. To quote prosecutor Martinez in the Jodi Arias case, I get to ask the questions around here. We are talking about his mental state. I don`t want to broaden the conversation out. Brian Silver, what do you think?

SILVER: I`m not a psychologist. I got no idea. I know about evidence and I know about law. OK?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All good attorneys are psychologists. Let me tell you something, they should make all attorneys get psychology degrees because --

SILVER: I can`t tell you if he wants to impress his father.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: His father was a judge!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: His father was a judge. Do the math.

SILVER: Maybe he wants to rebel against his father. Who knows.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on! I have got to go to Wendy. I might be right. Wendy.

MURPHY: You might be right, because when I think about what he could have -- what was going on in his mind, to me he`s sort of a schlumpy guy. He does not come across to me as a particularly macho guy. But I put --



VELEZ-MITCHELL: We will be back on the other side. Fun conversation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the lion`s den once again, and we`re talking about what could happen as we go forward, and all these calls, 800,000 people reportedly signed online petitions calling for the Department of Justice to file federal hate crime charges against George Zimmerman. And my question to you, and I have to start with you again, J. Wyndal, I know you laugh every time I ask you, but could it be successful? If it`s not successful, will that be adding salt to the wounds?

GORDON: Well, if they bring federal charges, you know they`re going to have to use the same witness, the same witnesses, the same evidence. A lot of those witnesses I got the feeling didn`t want to be in the first trial. For them to have to appear at the second trial, I think it`s just going to be a very difficult undertaking to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman and be successful.

Now, if you`re just looking for the fight and the will or the desire to take George Zimmerman to task for his wrongful conduct on the evening in question, then, yes, just go ahead and do that. If you don`t fight, you`re bound to lose. I mean, if you don`t fight, you`re bound to lose. If you fight, you might lose.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, do you think it`s a good idea or if they do it and they lose, could that make the Martin family and supporters feel even worse?

MURPHY: That`s a good way to frame it. It`s not going to happen, not even a slight chance that it`s going to happen. And I think it`s wrong to give especially this victim`s family false expectations about results that just aren`t ever going to be there.


MURPHY: But I do want to say one thing about moving forward.


MURPHY: Can I say this quickly? My son is 17. He identifies so strongly with Trayvon Martin. He wears the hoodies, he`s got the pants hanging down, his boxers are showing. I said to him, I`m worried about you. Because what if someone disrespects you, you`re going to a store, and because of how you`re dressed? Mind you, he`s quite pale skinned. But he dresses in this manner that I think is --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t buy it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was Florida. It`s Florida. Let me tell you, I`m going to reveal that Frank Taaffe walks around in shorts. Everybody wears shorts and flip-flops in Florida.


MURPHY: Part of the story going forward --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. More on the other side.


JODI ARIAS: I didn`t commit a murder, I didn`t hurt Travis. I would never hurt Travis, would never harm him physically. I may have hurt him emotionally, and I`ll always regret that.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: In less than 24 hours, Jodi Arias will be back in court, and the state says they do plan to seek the death penalty. They were supposed to decide when to retry that life or death issue at a hearing last month. That hearing abruptly canceled. At her last court appearance, the convicted murderer was all smiles, grinning, dressed in prison stripes and shackles. Travis Alexander`s family wants this retrial to start right away. Jodi wants it in 2014. Jon Leiberman, what can happen tomorrow?

LEIBERMAN: Well, tomorrow they could set a timetable for it. And I mean, the prosecutor, Juan Martinez and his boss, they`ve been laser focused this whole time. There was no doubt at all that they were going to continue to push for the death penalty, that they wanted this sentencing phase redone, and that they weren`t going to take a plea deal. And then on top of that, it appears they consulted with Travis`s family, and they too agreed that they wanted to go forward. So we could have a timetable in this case announced at tomorrow`s hearing, or, and probably more likely, it will get continued yet again as both sides continue to argue about when this thing should happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why? Why continue it again? We know both sides. And we just saw how fast the judge in the Zimmerman case moved. How come? I mean, when do you think this trial is actually going to start?

LEIBERMAN: Look, my hope is that it starts next week. I mean, of course we all want justice for Travis and his family as quickly as possible. But with the defense attorney saying their schedules are jammed and all sorts of other strange circumstances that they can`t possibly get to this until early next year, the judge could in fact agree with them and push this off.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll have to see. Jury selection is going to be very difficult in this case. Finding people who don`t have an opinion about this case? Whew. We may all find ourselves back in Phoenix for more. "Nancy Grace" is up next. And we`ll cover it tomorrow big time.