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Special Report -- The George Zimmerman Case

Aired October 13, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. It's been three months since George Zimmerman was cleared of murder charges in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and allowed to walk freely from the spotlight. Instead he appears to be unable to escape that spotlight. He's helped a family from an overturned car, been pulled over for speeding while carrying a gun, and is now involved in an ugly divorce played out before the public in a nasty confrontation caught on camera.

What emotions and circumstances have contributed to making him one of the most recognized men in America today?

David Mattingly puts it all in perspective in this investigation into the case and the trial that riveted a nation.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, SHOT AND KILLED TRAYVON MARTIN: There's a real suspicious guy. Looks like he's up to no good.

911 OPERATOR: 911. Do you need police, fire or medical?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone screaming help. There's a gunshot. Hurry up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a black guy down. It looks like he's been shot and he's dead.

ZIMMERMAN: He sat up and looked and said you're going to die tonight. And I pinched his arm and I grabbed my gun and fired one shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have anything to dispute his claim of self-defense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're hearing that another young black man is killed and nothing is going to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the tensest situation I'd ever walked into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were a tinderbox. We had people referring to us as racists, as no good cracker town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me Sanford is a good ole boy town. They only look out for their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want an arrest! We want an arrest!

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: By now, you're probably already familiar with the story. On a rainy February evening, an African-American teenager Trayvon Martin is shot and killed after getting into a fight with a gun-carrying neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman. Many react angrily. Martin is only 17. He's not armed. And he's not breaking the law. He's just walking home from a convenience store after buying a cold drink and some candy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice!

MATTINGLY (voice-over): That anger soon takes on a life of its own. And the case becomes much more than a murder trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case is about racial profiling.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But why this case? Why here?

To understand you only need to start looking a couple of miles away from where Trayvon Martin is killed, the Goldsboro section of southern Florida.

FRANCIS OLIVER, RUNS COMMUNITY MUSEUM: The murder of Trayvon Martin seems to tell black young men, I am Trayvon Martin, I am being targeted. And I live in a small city like Sanford.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Francis Oliver runs the community museum. She says people here distrust police.

(on camera): How far back does this distrust in police go?

OLIVER: 1911.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): 1911? What happened then?

OLIVER: That's when the city of Sanford dismantled the Goldsboro charter.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Goldsboro was the second all black city in Florida when it was swallowed up by the growing white town of Sanford. In 1946, minor league rookie Jackie Robinson was supposed to play here.

OLIVER: Ku Klux Klan said he couldn't do it. Not in Sanford. He was in the stadium getting ready to play. The Ku Klux Klan had gathered across the street in the stadium. And he told the chief either they bring him out of there or they'd go in and get him.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): In 1970, 16 years after segregated schools were ruled illegal, a federal court forced Seminole county to integrate.

OLIVER: The federal government had to send to Seminole county to say desegregation will take place in '70.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And most recently in Sanford, there are several unsolved murders of young black men.

(on camera): We're talking about a hundred years of tension?


MATTINGLY (on-camera): Animosity?


MATTINGLY (on-camera): Lack of trust. And it all comes out when Trayvon Martin is killed.

OLIVER: Yes, like pots. It can't keep the secrets anymore. Sanford doesn't have secrets anymore. We're letting Pandora out of the box.

ZIMMERMAN: We've had some break ins in my neighborhood. There's a suspicious guy that looks like he's up to no good.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The retreat at Twin Lakes is a gated community of condos, a place recently troubled by break ins. 28-year- old George Zimmerman calls it home. Trayvon Martin is just a visitor, staying with his dad's girlfriend for a few days while he's suspended from school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A phone call to police marks the moment the two paths cross.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see what he was wearing?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. Dark hoodie, like a gray hoodie and he's just staring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is just walking around the area?

ZIMMERMAN: Looking at all the houses. Now he's just staring at me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me know if this guy does anything else.

ZIMMERMAN: OK. These assholes, they always get away. He's running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don't need you to do that.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): A series of panicked 911 calls describe what happens next.

911 OPERATOR: 911. Do you need police fire or medical? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe both. I'm not sure. There's someone screaming outside. I think they're yelling "help," but I don't know. Just send someone quick. Please, fast.

911 OPERATOR: Do you think he's yelling "help"?


911 OPERATOR: All right. What is your --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's gunshots.

911 OPERATOR: You just heard gunshots?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just heard a shot right behind my house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's someone screaming. I heard gunshot. Hurry. They're outside my house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty sure the guy's dead out here. Holy (bleep).

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Zimmerman shoots Martin in the chest. The bullet hits his heart.

ZIMMERMAN: And I just pinched his arm and grabbed my gun and fired one shot.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Martin is not breathing and police can't revive him. Searching his pockets they find a pack of skittles and a can of fruit punch. George Zimmerman is also (INAUDIBLE). His nose is broken. Police take his gun and he tells them he pulled the trigger because he feared for his life.

ZIMMERMAN: He took my head and slammed it into the concrete several times. I felt like I was going to lose consciousness. And then I really -- I started screaming for help.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Coming up, a fire storm.

OLIVER: I said chief, there is a stream coming to Sanford that's going to run over Sanford and you're not going to be able to control it.




MATTINGLY (voice-over): Trayvon Martin's young life ends with the bullet to the chest. George Zimmerman, the man who kills him is immediately taken in for question.

ZIMMERMAN: And he took my head and slammed it right into the concrete several times. I couldn't breathe. I was suffocating.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The next day, Zimmerman takes police back to the scene and delivers a detailed story saying he acted in self- defense.

ZIMMERMAN: And then when I got to right about here, he yelled from behind me to the side of me. He said, you got a problem. I turned around and said I don't have a problem, man. He said you got a problem now and then he was here and punched me in the face.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And when it comes to pulling the trigger, Zimmerman says he did that only after Trayvon Martin tried to take his gun.

ZIMMERMAN: He said you're going to die tonight. And he reached for it, he reached like I thought was an armed going down to my side and I grabbed it and he was on top of me like this and I shot him.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: I made a promise that I won't stop until justice is brought to me son.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Days pass with no arrest. Trayvon Martin's parents plead for action.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTI'S MOTHER: I'm a normal mother. I just want answers from the police department about what's happened with my son.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): And the longer Zimmerman remains a free man, the louder the voices grow. Soon the ongoing police investigation struggles to continue under mounting pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence and testimony that we have so far does not establish that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. We don't have anything to dispute his claim of self-defense.

FULTON: This whole situation is a nightmare. And I don't understand why this man has not been arrested.

BILL LEE, FORMER SANFORD POLICE CHIEF: Based on the evidence and testimony that we collected on scene, we didn't have probable cause to arrest George Zimmerman that night.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): When you hear that, what are you hearing?

OLIVER: We're hearing that another black man is killed and nothing is going to be done. And it's just going to be swept under the rug.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A simmering anger begins to boil.

BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: It was clear that this was the tensest situation I'd ever walked into.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a nephew that was killed. There was no arrest. JEALOUS: It was clear that Sanford is a town that was really in many ways two towns. We have the town of Goldsboro which is the old black town that has felt disrespected that the people that were sworn to protect them weren't doing any of that.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The story is getting bigger by the day stretching across the country as it touches a cord with people from New York to L.A. and everywhere in between.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Bowing to pressure, Sanford city officials make the 911 recordings public. Police chief Bill Lee tells CNN's George Howell he asked him not to do that.

LEE: My recommendation was not to release the 911 tapes. And it was for the reason to maintain the integrity of the investigation. You have to keep the evidence confidential.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's someone screaming outside.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Do you see anybody?

MAYOR JEFF TRIPLETT, SANFORD, FLORIDA: Mr. Bonaparte and I made that decision. We just felt it was the right thing to do.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Did you give any consideration as to what sort of impact you might have on the judicial process by putting this inflammatory piece of evidence out in the public?

TRIPLETT: We went back and forth on why would we do it and it came back to why wouldn't with do this?

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Florida attorney Mark Nejame believes making those recordings public tainted the legal process.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Like wildfire, it spreads through the internet and people have preconceived notions about what did or did not occur.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): City manager Norton Bonaparte later fires police Chief Bill Lee.

Did the police chief do anything wrong in this investigation?


MATTINGLY (on-camera): Why is he unemployed now?

BONAPARTE: The city commission took involved to say that they have no confidence at him. And in my opinion, it is expectedly impossible for any police chief to the truly affected in the community when the elected leaders have already publicly state they have no confidence in him. MATTINGLY (on-camera): Even the Florida governor gets involved. Rick Scott ordered state attorney Angela Corey to handle the case. Corey is in Jacksonville, 120 miles away from Sanford.

NEJAME: We have this out of town prosecution who said I'm not going to grand jury when one was scheduled so I'm going to make the decision. That just smashed of a political prosecution.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): April 11, 2012, Trayvon Martin's parents get the announcement they have been waiting for.

ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: Today, we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree. A (INAUDIBLE) has been issued for his arrest.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): George Zimmerman comes out of hiding and turns himself in. Nine days later, Zimmerman takes the stand in hid bond hearing and surprises Trayvon Martin's parents with an apology.

ZIMMERMAN: I wanted to say I am sorry for the lost of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was armed or not.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): It is just the beginner of Zimmerman's plan to argue self-defense.

Up next, the trial, outside protests focus on issues of race and racial profiler. But inside --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was sort of the elephant in the room.




MATTINGLY (voice-over): Sixteen months after the death of Trayvon Martin, after hundreds of thousands of people raised their voices against racial injustice, many are expecting to hear how Trayvon Martin is a victim of racial profiling.

NEJAME: It was the elephant that was sitting in the room that nobody was talking about.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Race.

NEJAME: Race that everybody knows was there. Race was central to every aspect of this case. There's no question about it.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Shortly before jury selection, there is no question about the message George Zimmerman's attorneys are sending when they make these photographs public. Unflattering images of teenage Trayvon Martin along with text messages from his phone saying he's no stranger to pot, to fighting, to guns. MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm not sure of his recreation whatever, but he is very used to fighting, that he has used some drugs in the past. And again, many 17-year-olds have, but that he has as well.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Who was on trial here? Was it George Zimmerman? Or was it Trayvon Martin?

JEALOUS: George Zimmerman was actually the person on trial. The defense was extremely creative in their defense. And one of the things they chose to do was to use the most frightening photos of Trayvon Martin they could find to trigger the bias of jurors as a way of trying to scoot the outcome.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And in pretrial motions, a victory for George Zimmerman. The judge actually discourages attorneys from using the term racial profiling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That the term racial profiling alone is a close call and probably should not be used.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Legally was this about race?

NEJAME: Well, the way that the court's rulings came out, no, you know. If you just stick to the four corners of the law, there was really no mention of race whatsoever. That's why it was always done by innuendo and it was always done very subtly by both sides.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): There is nothing subtle, however, about the jury. The challenge is to find six people who had not formed hard opinions after months of relentless media coverage. But when jury selection was over, no one predicted the jury would look like this. No men. No African-Americans. All women. Five are white. One is Hispanic.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: The jury has been selected in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Sunny Hostin is with me. She is our legal analyst.

So Sunny --?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Sunny Hostin is a former federal prosecutor.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It wasn't that there weren't any black juror, perspective black jurors, potential jurors that could have made it on this jury. But somehow they did not.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): When you saw this final jury, what went through your mind?

NEJAME: First thing I said, I actually said it, you know, as we were covering it on CNN. I sure wish it was a better cross section.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): It all comes down to which story this jury believes. Was George Zimmerman acting in self-defense or was he out to kill the moment he encountered Trayvon Martin? The prosecution comes out swinging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. (Bleep) punks. These (bleep), they always get away. Those were the words in that grown man's mouth as he followed in the dark a 17-year-old boy who he didn't know.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Attorney Don West then counters with a shocking approach to begin the defense.

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Knock, knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good. You're on the jury. Nothing?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The jury isn't laughing.

HOSTIN: I don't think in any of my years as an attorney I ever heard a joke being made in opening statements.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The joke bombs and the prosecution drives its point home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): They call witnesses to craft an image of Zimmerman as a reckless wannabe cop then taking the law into his own hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was said at every meeting do not get close to anybody, stay at a safe distance, and call 911.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Then the state's star witness takes the stand.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Jeantel is on the phone with Trayvon Martin and hears when he and George Zimmerman come face to face.

JEANTEL: He says why are you following me for. And I heard a hard breath man come say what you doing around here.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Jeantel testifies that Zimmerman is following Martin and Martin is afraid. But her choice of words and demeanor seemed to help Zimmerman instead.

JEANTEL: I had asked him how the man looked like. He looked like a creepy ass cracker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Make sure we got that. Creepy, ass cracker.

NEJAME: She brought the issue of race front and center.

JEANTEL: And then he says he's following me now.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): How did she do that? NEJAME: Well, think of the terms that she used. She used the "n" word ending with an "a" instead of an "er." and she used the word cracker. And she was talking about them all being non-racial words, that it is just commonly accepted within her group.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Was there a possibility that it was Trayvon racially profiling Zimmerman than the other way around?

NEJAME: I think by Miss Jeantel's statements, I think absolutely.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And the defense exploits this in a long combative cross examination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take as much time as you want. Read the whole thing if you want. Make we can break until the morning if --

JEANTEL: No. I'm leaving today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you refusing to come back tomorrow?

JEANTEL: To you?

O'MARA: I think Miss Jeantel came across as being not wanting to be there. I think she has an attitude because she was there. I don't think she took kindly to the way Mr. West was examining her.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But the most critical piece of evidence, a series of 911 calls can still make or break the case against Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to play a recording for you, Ma'am.

911 OPERATOR: Is someone yelling "help"?


911 OPERATOR: All right what is your --

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Who is that screaming for help when the gun is fired? Expert testimony hired by the prosecution has deemed it inadmissible. So the state relies on the emotional testimony of Trayvon's mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, that screaming or yelling, do you recognize that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who do you recognize that to be, ma'am?

FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): If only the state could have stopped there.

WEST: OK. What you're saying today to me and to the jury is that you have no memory of any of the events surrounding the autopsy itself? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I try very hard.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The medical examiner who performs Martin's autopsy is the state's final witness and he is a disaster.

HOSTIN: I've just never seen anything like it. He was so incompetent.

NEJAME: And then to end their case with that is -- I mean, you want to start with a high and end with a high. You sure don't want to end with a thud.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Coming up --

HOSTIN: I think that by calling Olivia the defense was masterful in vocalizing every juror's fear.




MATTINGLY (voice-over): Nine days into the trial of George Zimmerman and issues of race and racial profiling are yet to surface. The defense launches into its best hope for acquittal.

NEJAME: What the defense did was make it more of an old fashioned self-defense case.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The question of who is yelling for help on the 911 tapes is again front and center. The defense calls George Zimmerman's mom.

911 OPERATOR: Do you think he's yelling "help"?


911 OPERATOR: All right, what is your --

O'MARA: Do you know whose voice that was screaming in the background?


O'MARA: And whose voice was that?


MATTINGLY (voice-over): And Mrs. Zimmerman isn't the only defense witness to make that claim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only I heard his scream, I felt his scream like my nephew is screaming for his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, it's my son George.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely it's Georgie.

O'MARA: Do you have an opinion whose voice that is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was George.

HOSTIN: I think the defense was very effective with calling person after person after person after person to testify that it was George Zimmerman yelling for help.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): It's an effective strategy because if the jury believes that is George Zimmerman screaming for help, then it's reasonable to believe he feared for his life and pulled his gun in self-defense. In all, the defense calls nine witnesses who say that is George Zimmerman's voice.

But it's the tenth person who draws all the attention. Sanford police investigator Christopher Serino tells jurors Trayvon Martin's own father suspects its George Zimmerman pleading for help.

Serino played Tracy Martin the tapes soon after his son was happened.

CHRISTOPHER SERINO, SANFORD POLICE INVESTIGATOR: I inquired if that was his son calling for help.

O'MARA: What was his response?

SERINO: He looked away and under his breath as I interpreted said no.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): It sounds like Tracy Martin inadvertently helped his son's killer. In a surprise, the defense puts Martin on the stand. And he does his best to push back.

MARTIN: If I didn't tell him no, that wasn't Trayvon, I think that I kind of pushes away from the table and just kind of shook my head and said I can't tell.

O'MARA: So your words were I can't tell.

MARTIN: Something to that effect. But I never said no, that wasn't my son's voice.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The defense then tries to prove Martin is the aggressor in the fight, the man on top.

WEST: So you're saying Trayvon Martin had to physically be on top like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm saying that physical evidence is consistent with Mr. Martin being over Mr. Zimmerman.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The prosecution actually helps the defense make its case. When prosecutor John Guy recreates the fight with a life size dummy and puts Martin on top.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: As the defendant described it to you --

MATTINGLY (voice-over): It's a stunning flip-flop.

NEJAME: They came in with all the range of witnesses and said what? They said that George Zimmerman was really on top. And then when that completely fell apart almost towards the end of the trial when they had that dummy presentation, what did they have? They had George Zimmerman on the bottom. Never even gave the jurors a hypothetical that George Zimmerman could have, in fact, been on top.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And from there the defense borrows the dummy and steals the show.

O'MARA: Were the injuries on Mr. Zimmerman's back of his head consistent with someone doing this?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): All that is left for the defense to do now is to try and erase that image of George Zimmerman as an out of control neighborhood watchman. A Zimmerman neighbor testifies about being robbed in her home by young black men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was locked in my son's bedroom and he was shaking he doorknob trying to get in. I was sitting there with a pair of rusty scissors and my son in one arm. The police came and they ended up leaving.

Olivia (INAUDIBLE) says in the end it is George Zimmerman who makes her feel safe.

O'MARA: When Mr. Zimmerman came to you to talk to you about having been victimized by a home invasion, did you consider that strange?


O'MARA: Were you appreciative of his efforts to help you out?


MATTINGLY (voice-over): She draws the picture of Zimmerman as a caring neighborhood friend. But when you look between the lines, some say another picture emerges.

HOSTIN: By calling Olivia, the defense was masterful in vocalizing every juror's fear of the looming large black male that the defense wanted to portray Trayvon Martin as.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): When all is said and done, George Zimmerman doesn't have to say a word. The question of whether or not he will testify is almost a foregone conclusion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you made a decision?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what is your decision, sir?

ZIMMERMAN: After consulting with counsel, not to testify, your honor.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): When we come back --

WEST: Just when I thought this case couldn't get any more bizarre.




MATTINGLY (voice-over): If the lead up to George Zimmerman's trial is all about race, then the end is all about age. Trayvon Martin was 17 when he died, legally a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When one commits an non-enumerated felony of child abuse and the child dies, that too constitutes, it can constitutes felony murder in the third degree.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Just before closing arguments, the state surprises the defense by asking the judge to let the jury consider the lesser judge of third degree murder. That's murder while committing a felony. The state argues that by killing Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman committed child abuse.

WEST: Just when I thought this case couldn't get any more bizarre.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The new wrinkle outrages defense attorney Don West.

WEST: The state is seeking third degree murder based on child abuse?

HOSTIN: It was almost a sign that the prosecution may have detected that they were losing this case and they needed somewhere else for the jury to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that the evidence supports --

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The judge denies the question, but does allow the jury to consider manslaughter which is killing without premeditation. It's the charge many court watchers believed the prosecution should have focused on instead of second degree murder.

NEJAME: I think they could have done a better job if they honed in on the manslaughter by showing that George Zimmerman overreacted to the situation. They should have gotten into the potential fight he had that night with his wife. That he was in a passionate emotional state. That he was irresponsible by following somebody while carrying a firearm. Although legal, it was irresponsible.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): With the possibility of manslaughter now on the table, the prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda moves in for a conviction.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, STATE PROSECUTOR: A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own because this defendant made the wrong assumption. He profiled him as a criminal. He assumed that Trayvon Martin was up to no good. MATTINGLY (voice-over): De La Rionda also defends his star witness saying Rachel Jeantel may not have been eloquent, but that doesn't make her a liar.

DE LA RIONDA: Her using colorful language doesn't mean her testimony is less credible just because she's not the highly educated individual.

Hostin: Perhaps she isn't the most eloquent witness.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin believes its much-needed damage control.

HOSTIN: There wasn't anything about Rachel Jeantel that seemed not credible. You don't get to choose your witnesses as a prosecutor. So witnesses that are out at 3:00 a.m. watching someone get killed, I put those witnesses on the witness stand all the time. They don't speak the king's English either, but they know what they saw.

O'MARA: This is what really matters.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But when it comes down to the last words in the trial, both sides end as they began.

O'MARA: Proving to you beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted in self-defense.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Arguing self-defense versus murder.

GUY: The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him because he wanted to. That's the bottom line.

O'MARA: Trayvon Martin that night --

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Mark O'Mara using visual aides to help make a point. He holds some concrete to demonstrate a key defense's point that martin was armed.

O'MARA: That is a sidewalk. And that is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but skittles trying to get home. That was somebody who used the availability of dangerous items from his fist to the concrete to cause great bodily injury.

HOSTIN: The defense made it seem as if Trayvon Martin was sort of this tall, large, looming black child -- black male. Not even child.

GUY: Was it not fear?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The prosecution counts on an emotional reaction from the jury, reminding them George Zimmerman took the life of a child.

GUY: Isn't that every child's worst nightmare? To be followed on the way home in the dark by a stranger.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But Florida law could be on Zimmerman's side. Self-defense is his only path to freedom.

O'MARA: Do you have a reasonable doubt that my client may have acted in self-defense? And if you reach that conclusion, you get to stop. You really do. Why? Because self-defense is a defense to everything.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Powerful words and under Florida law, seemingly inescapable logic. But what will the jury say? A conviction could send George Zimmerman to prison for 30 years to life, an acquittal risks reigniting the anger and outrage that launched the case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand that we have a verdict.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The courtroom goes quiet. Outside anticipation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice!

LEMON: Live in Sanford, Florida, where we are awaiting a verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

JEALOUS: In 2013, it was my conviction he would be convicted of something.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): When we come back --

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

MATTINGLY (on-camera): When the verdict came back, what was the reaction?

OLIVER: We did have some people that actually went down on their knees.




CROWD: Justice for Trayvon! Justice for Trayvon!

MATTINGLY (on-camera): After countless demonstrations, the end of the George Zimmerman trial can be measured in numbers. Fifteen days of courtroom drama, 56 witnesses, 16 hours 20 minutes of deliberations. And it all comes down to eight words.

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

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Aside from a few smiles and quiet tears from his wife, the reaction from Zimmerman's side is subdued. Trayvon Martin's mother and father are not in the courtroom.

They later speak to CNN's Anderson cooper. FULTON: It came as a complete shock for me, and the reason I say that is because I just look at people as people. When I heard the verdict, I kind of understand the disconnect in that maybe they didn't see Trayvon as their son. They didn't see Trayvon as a teenager. They didn't see Trayvon as just a human being that was minding his own business.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Worried predictions about a jury that is all women with no African-Americans seemed to come true when George Zimmerman goes free. Most jurors stay silent hoping to disappear and remain anonymous. But the juror known as b-37 speaks so Anderson Cooper and says Trayvon Martin's race was never discussed.

COOPER: Did you feel that George Zimmerman's racially profiled Trayvon Martin? Do you think race played a role in his view of Trayvon Martin as suspicious?

JUROR B-37, JUROR, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN CASE: I don't think he did. I think just circumstances caused George to think that he might be a robber or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood.

COOPER: So nobody felt race played a role.

JUROR B-37: I don't think so. I can't speak for them.

COOPER: That wasn't part of the discussion in the jury room?

JUROR B-37: No. We never had that discussion.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The only other juror to speak publicly b-29 tells ABC News she believes Zimmerman is guilty.

JUROR B-29, JUROR, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN CASE: For myself, he's guilty because the evidence shows he's guilty.


JUROR B-29: Killing Trayvon Martin. But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't find -- you can't say he's guilty. George Zimmerman got away with murder. But you can't get away from God.

O'MARA: George Zimmerman was victimized by a publicity campaign to smear him, to call him a racist when he wasn't, and to call him a murder when he wasn't.

CROWD: Justice for Trayvon!

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Disappointment at the verdict hits home in Sanford. The Goldsboro community is where outrage over Trayvon Martin's death first erupted.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Was this community defeated by this?

OLIVER: Yes. It was like it had hit them in the chest. We did have some people here that actually went down on their knees. We had grown men crying.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But there is some consolation as the Zimmerman case brings changes to Sanford.

BONAPARTE: People were hurt and angry and they felt that the Sanford police department was not adequate in how it investigated murders particularly those of African-Americans and how the Sanford police department policed the African-American community. So we've made changes.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): As for Zimmerman himself, he can't seem to escape the spotlight. Four days after he's found not guilty, Zimmerman is seen at an accident helping a family out of an overturned car. Later he's pulled over by police three times, once because his window tinting is too dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to check your window tint here.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And twice for speeding.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Pulled over in Texas, Zimmerman reveals he is again carrying a gun.

JEALOUS: If I was advising George Zimmerman and his family, I would say trial's over, stay out of the spotlight.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But the nation's most notorious murder case has turned into the nation's ugliest divorce. Arguments with his soon-to-be ex-wife keep George Zimmerman in the news.

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S WIFE: He continually has his hand on the gun saying step closer. He's just threatening all of us with the firearm that he's going to shoot us.

Get on your knees! Cross your feet!

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Shellie Zimmerman later says she never saw a gun. No charges are filed. She goes on the "Today" show doubting her husband's innocence.

S. ZIMMERMAN: I think anyone would doubt that innocence, because I don't know the person that I've been married to.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The final chapter has not been written when it comes to the killing of Trayvon Martin.

JEALOUS: The justice system isn't done here. We've hit a comma, maybe a semicolon, but not the period yet. There is a state phase criminal and civil. There is a federal faith, criminal and civil. We have not heard the final word yet.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The U.S. justice department continues to investigate trying to determine if George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights. And parents all over the country take the lessons of this case to heart.

CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: They used to telling boys don't run because they think you're suspicious. But now don't walk slowly because that also means you're suspicious. Well, actually, now I have to say don't walk slowly because that also means that you may be suspicious. We have to figure out what is the pace which a black man can walk in America and be beyond suspicion.

COOPER: What would you tell parents out there?

FULTON: That's a very difficult subject for me, because my oldest son, he likes to go out with his friends. He likes to go to the movies and things like that. I'm very afraid right now because I have no clue what to tell him.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): He was just a teenager walking home from a convenience store after buying a cold drink and some candy.

But the killing of Trayvon Martin hit too close to home for too many to be easily forgotten.