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THE SITUATION ROOM
Law Enforcement Source: Zimmerman To Be Charged; Interview With Newt Gingrich; North Korean Rocket Provocation; Announcement in Trayvon Martin Shooting
Aired April 11, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, breaking news, the man who shot Trayvon Martin is expected to be charged in his death after weeks of national outrage. You're looking at live picture of the room where the special prosecutor in Florida will make an official announcement in the investigation of George Zimmerman.
Our correspondents, our legal analysts, they are all covering all the angles to this breaking story. Stand by.
Also, a North Korea rocket could launch at any moment and trigger a dangerous new confrontation with the west. We're all over this story as well.
And this hour, I'll ask Newt Gingrich about a campaign check of his that bounced and why he's refusing to follow Rick Santorum's lead and bow out of the presidential race. Stand by for my interview.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: We begin with the breaking news. Trayvon Martin's family and supporters soon may get what they've been demanding, the arrest of George Zimmerman. A senior law enforcement source tells CNN the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the unarmed Florida teenager, only 17 years old, will be charged in his death.
The special prosecutor will hold a briefing about one hour from now in Jacksonville, Florida. You're looking at live pictures where that briefing will take place. Let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. He's joining us also, our other legal analyst, the former prosecutor, Sunny Hostin.
Let me begin with you, sunny. What do we know exactly, if anything specific, about the charge or charges that will be filed?
SUNNY HOSTIN, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we're hearing, Wolf, that one single charge will be filed. That's what's being reported. I haven't confirmed that, but that does make sense when you look at the facts as we know them. And again, to be sure, Angela Corey who, in my view, by now, must have conducted a very thorough investigation knows a lot more about the facts of this case than I know, but in looking at the facts that are sort of in the public domain at this point, it would appear to me that manslaughter would be the type of charge that one would file in a case like this.
That's a non-intentional killing, and I think anything more than that could be perceived as overcharge in this case and would possibly be difficult to prove especially in light of Florida's stand your ground law.
BLITZER: What kind of years in prison if convicted of manslaughter would he face?
HOSTIN: Depending on how they charge it, Wolf. I'm looking at the statute now, and I believe it would be about ten years.
BLITZER: Ten years. So, Jeffrey, manslaughter is clearly easier to prove, as Sunny points out, than murder in the first or second degree. I guess, the question is -- do you agree with Sunny that it's likely to be manslaughter?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Probably. And the definition of -- of manslaughter is unintentional homicide, and I think given the circumstances, I -- I think it's very unlikely that anyone could argue that Zimmerman premeditated that he went out there that night to kill Trayvon Martin or anyone else, but it is still, obviously, a very serious crime to kill someone recklessly which is usually the word used when it comes to manslaughter.
The facts are going to determine this case. The jury is going to determine this case. You know, the one thing we know for sure is that it shouldn't be determined on cable news. The jury should hear evidence and that looks like where we're going to have on this.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by for a second. Martin Savidge is in Sanford, Florida for us. He's been reporting on this story from the beginning. We're going to go to him in a moment. Actually, we've lost connections with Martin, but we'll get back to him.
Sunny, tell us a little bit about this special prosecutor. We know that the Florida governor, Rick Scott, appointed her back in March, March 23rd, I think, to be the special prosecutor in this case. We know that she decided earlier in the week not to seek a grand jury action as far as the George Zimmerman is concerned. What else do we know about this woman?
HOSTIN: Well, we know she's a career prosecutor, Wolf. She's been doing this for quite some time. Apparently, she's tried hundreds of cases, including over 50 homicide cases. Many people say that she is -- has a sort of very tough prosecutorial bent.
And in the time that she's been the state attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, even though the crime rate has gone down, there's been an increase in the county jail prison population, and many people attribute that directly to Angela Corey. She's a devout Episcopalian and something that's sometimes considered a no-no for prosecutors, when she is making statements about her cases, she often says things like "I'm praying for" or "we are very blessed."
So, that's something that seems to be rather unique for Angela Corey. Also interesting is that her career hasn't been without controversy, because she is responsible for charging 12-year-old Christian Fernandez (ph) as an adult in a homicide case. He is the youngest person in Florida ever to have been charged as an adult. She took a lot of heat for making that charging decision.
BLITZER: What happened with that case?
HOSTIN: It's still pending. It's still pending. Again, in speaking to her detractor, she stood firm by that decision to charge him as an adult, and that tells many people that she won't be persuaded by public opinion, by political pressure. She really is considered to be someone as a prosecutor that stands by her own gut.
BLITZER: Yes. She's obviously a tough prosecutor. I think Martin Savidge is now joining us from Sanford, Florida. Set the scene for us there, because Sanford is where all of this took place.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, and this is a community that is, I guess, you can see, at the epicenter now, very anxious to hear what is the decision and what's coming down from Angela Corey. At this particular moment, I had a conversation with the mayor. I asked him, you know, were they ready? Were they standing by?
His single answer back to me was, we are prepared. That preparation has actually been weeks in the undertaking. They have been talking to other aspects of law enforcement, whether it'd be on the county level, Seminole County in particular. The EOC they've been meeting regularly there. That's the emergency operation center.
They've been reaching out to other police departments should they need any kind of backup reinforcement, reaching out to fire departments. They are, of course, hoping that things will be for the best, but they do have to prepare, just in case. So, they say that they're ready. We've noticed here, we're on the edge of Goldsboro. That is the historically Black part of Sanford, Florida.
There's been a lot more traffic here. A lot of people going back and forth. They understand the people are beginning to gather or will soon be gathering at a church just down the street because they will be waiting to hear. So, definitely, there's a charge going through this community. A lot of people are now aware something significant is going to be revealed, and like everyone else, we'll wait.
BLITZER: Yes. Because, as you point out, they say they're prepared for the reaction. I saw the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, issued a statement saying I trust in the goodness of all Florida citizens to allow our justice system to reach an appropriate conclusion in this case.
Is the implication here, Martin, that if, in fact, he is charged, let's say with manslaughter, in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin, that Zimmerman's supporters might react negatively in the sense of being angered by all of this, and there could be protests from Zimmerman's supporters and friends? Is that what the concern might be?
SAVIDGE: I think, you know, the greatest concern is that if -- if in any way Zimmerman could be cleared of all charges, and that, of course, is a possibility that could be out there. Emotions have been running high. No one is suggesting that there will be violence either way. The mayor certainly doesn't believe there will be violence.
They've had many demonstrations. They've had thousands of people through this community. Every one of those demonstrations has been peaceful. There has not been a single. There was an attempt by a group. They have a number (ph). Their members arrested here with the police station. That confrontation was totally avoided.
The only serious consequence, we should point out, is the Sanford police car outside of the neighborhood where Trayvon Martin was shot was itself shot up by someone very early in the morning yesterday, and that is of concern, no doubt about it, but it's the only incident, so far, in 44 days of what's been a very emotional case on both sides.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment, Martin. Mark Nejame is joining us on the phone right now. He's a Florida attorney, well familiar, very familiar with all the Florida laws and the connection like this. So, what's going through your mind, Mark, right now, as we await the formal announcement from the special prosecutor?
MARK NEJAME, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is obviously a very serious case. And, I'd like to, if I may for a second, (INAUDIBLE) she was flipping through the statute, and she was very right except we've got provisions in Florida which really make this charge far more serious than ten years.
And, although, she was looking at guidelines and all of that, she was right on, but because of certain aggravating factors, Florida law is even more aggravated than the ten years. So what that is is that Trayvon being 17 years old, he would be a minor, and it's an aggravator if, in fact, there's a manslaughter charge would be aggravated manslaughter taken this with a second-degree felony to first-degree felony.
Moreover, we have 10, 20 life, and because there was a firearm use which caused great injury or in this case, death, that in fact, we're probably looking at a mandatory minimum 25 years to life if convicted.
BLITZER: But if she charged a 12-year-old as an adult, I assume, if she's going to ahead and charge George Zimmerman, a 17-year-old, he will be charged as an adult, don't you think, Mark?
NEJAME: What I'm saying is that because of the special status given to the victim, because Trayvon was under 18 years old then, in fact, a manslaughter would be elevated to an aggravated --
BLITZER: I see. Because Trayvon martin was only 17 years old.
NEJAME: Right. If it's battery, it's one level, but if it's battery on a law enforcement officer because of the status of the victim, the charge is aggravated. The same thing would be applicable here.
BLITZER: I understand. So, your sense is and you know Florida law as well as any attorney down there and you've represented some high- profile clients over the years that if, in fact, it's a one count of manslaughter, he potentially could face, what, 20, 30 years in prison, is that what you're saying?
NEJAME: Twenty-five to life. Yes.
BLITZER: Twenty-five to life.
NEJAME: If they charge him with manslaughter with the firearm causing death, then, yes, which would be very serious. So, just because there's a manslaughter charge, I think people might think that's a lot less than second degree. When all the facts have come out and we don't have all of the facts, but it does appear that manslaughter would be the more appropriate charge.
There's a lot of discussion about how Angela Corey in Duval County where Jacksonville is located, they typically charge the highest offense which would be in this instance, second degree. Well, there's not a great big difference between second-degree and aggravated manslaughter where the death was caused by a gun.
So, to me -- so that they would avoid charges of overcharging as Sunny very appropriate brought out earlier. Then, it should be a manslaughter charge, but because of Trayvon being 17 and a gun caused the death, it's been a massive penalty if convicted.
BLITZER: All right. Mark Nejame, I want you to stand by, Sunny Hostin, Jeff Toobin, and Martin Savidge. We're watching what's going on. A dramatic moment right now in the Trayvon Martin case. We're standing by to hear from the prosecutor in the case. She's widely expected to announce at least one criminal charge, if not more, against the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin. We talk about George Zimmerman.
Also this hour, Newt Gingrich's campaign. A bounced to check. So, what, if anything, does that say about the state of his presidential bid. I'll speak with Newt Gingrich this hour. The interview coming up.
BLITZER: All right. Remember, we're waiting the news conference, the special prosecutor in Florida about to file a charge, at least, one charge in the Trayvon Martin case against George Zimmerman, the shooter. We'll have live coverage. That's coming up here on CNN. Stand by for that.
We're going get to some other news right now, political news, important political news with Rick Santorum now formally out of the Republican race for the White House. Mitt Romney holding a huge delegate lead. The general election certainly appears to be under way. Romney versus Obama. There's one catch, though, two candidates, Republican candidates are still in the race. Joining us now is one of those candidates, the former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich is joining us -- he'll be joining us in just a moment. We had a connection with him.
Unfortunately, I think we just lost that connection. As soon as we reconnect with Newt Gingrich, we have a lot of questions to ask the former speaker. Stand by. We'll take a quick break.
Also, other news we're following any minute, literally, potentially North Korea could launch a long-range rocket. Much more on what the U.S. is calling a grave provocation.
We're awaiting as well the charges against the man, once again, who killed the teenager, Trayvon Martin. We also have new details about the tough Florida prosecutor investing in the case there. You see there, Angela Corey. We know she's tried hundreds of murder cases, everything else. So, a lot of other information coming up as well.
I think we've re-established our connection with the former speaker, Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, are you there? Can you hear me?
I can hear you fine, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for joining us. I want to get to some politics, some substance in a moment, but the Trayvon Martin case, we expect fairly soon the special Florida prosecutor to file a charge, maybe manslaughter, maybe second-degree murder against George Zimmerman in the killing of the 17-year-old teenager, Trayvon Martin.
What do you make of all of this, because it's caused a huge emotional uproar around the country?
GINGRICH: I think she's got to do what she thinks is professionally right. I think we have to have faith in the criminal justice system. There will be, I presume, a trial. The jury will have to look at all the evidence and render a decision. I think we can talk about it on cable TV forever or on talk radio forever.
We don't have access to the evidence. We don't have access to the witnesses, and I think it's always dangerous to jump to conclusions.
BLITZER: I know you were critical of President Obama when he said, I guess a couple of weeks ago, that if he had a son, that son potentially could have looked like Trayvon Martin, and he was expressing his empathy for the family of Trayvon Martin and God only knows what they are going through.
They lose a 17-year-old son who, in the middle of the NBA all-star game, goes to a7-11, buys some Skittles, buys an Arizona iced tea, and is killed on his way back home. What was wrong with what the president said?
GINGRICH: My only point was we ought to have equal empathy for every American who gets killed. We've had lot of Americans killed in the last few weeks in a variety of terrible circumstances. Each of them deserves our empathy and our concern, and we should be concerned about every single one of them.
And I think this particular case has become sort of a national case where the national media can talk about it, but there are tragic cases around the country involving Americans of every ethnic background and of every age, and they deserve some real concern, too, and some real effort to understand what happened to them and why. That's my only point.
BLITZER: Is it appropriate, in your opinion, for a president, and today, the Attorney General Eric Holder, spoke out about this case, as well. Is that appropriate?
GINGRICH: I think it's very dangerous. I don't know that they have any more information than you and I do. And I don't know if they are in any better position to render judgment. I think you would hope that the attorney general of the United States would be in favor of the system of justice, and you would hope that the president who is a Harvard law graduate would be in favor of the system of justice.
And, I think at some level, you have to believe that the people of Florida and the state of Florida are going to handle this in a serious way. Apparently, this prosecutor is a very serious person. She has a considerable track record. I'm not a lawyer. She's handled 50 homicides.
I'm inclined to just -- to rely on her judgment, unless, there's some overwhelming reason by some other expert to second guess her, and since I'm not an expert, I'm not going to second guess her.
BLITZER: Let's get to politics right now. When Rick Santorum announced yesterday he was dropping out of this race, you tweeted, "It's now a two-man race," yourself and Mitt Romney. You tweeted this, "It's now a two-person race. Donate now to Newt.org for the last conservative standing."
You know, everyone else, except you and maybe Ron Paul -- I suspect not even Ron Paul thinks it's no longer a two-man race that Romney has it sewn up. He's way ahead in the delegate count. Now, that Santorum is out, he's going to get to that 1,144 delegates needed. Why do you think you still have a chance?
GINGRICH: You know, it's fascinating to me, Wolf, you say everyone else. I was in North Carolina yesterday. Not a single person asked me to drop out, and many, many people asked me to stay in. We've had over 4,200 people go to Newt.org and give money since two o'clock yesterday and encouraging me to stay in.
I was in Philadelphia last night, not a single person asked me to drop out. A number said they're proud that I was staying in. I've been campaigning in Delaware all day today. Not a single person has asked me to drop out. Many have said they're glad I'm staying in.
I think it's fascinating that the voters in the states that have not yet voted think it's good to have a contest, and the only people who asked me about dropping out are the elite media. So, I think this is a Washington-New York fixation. These are often the same people who wanted me to drop out back last June.
I didn't do it then. I'm not doing it now, and I'm very happy to be campaigning. And anybody who wants me to continue, I hope they'll go to Newt.org and help us.
BLITZER: Listen to the chairman, the leader of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, after Santorum announced he was dropping out yesterday. He said this. He said, "Today, Senator Santorum has made a commendable decision. He has decided to put his country, party, and desire to defeat President Obama ahead of any personal ambition."
As you well know, Mr. Speaker, that was seen as a direct reference to you, I guess, he's suggesting that maybe it would be wise if you put yourself, the country, the party ahead of everyone else in order to beat President Obama in November.
GINGRICH: And because it was misinterpreted, Reince Priebus, an old friend of mine, called me to say that it should not be interpreted in any way except as exactly what it said about his effort to be (INAUDIBLE) about Rick Santorum's decision. And Reince and I talked clearly about my staying in.
I think he's quite happy with my staying in. And he understands that this brings new ideas and new energy to the party, and that's been my role for my entire career. I'm going to continue to talk about things like $2.50 a gallon gasoline, creating a national debt retirement fund with oil and gas royalties, developing a program that would make us energy independent.
I'm here tonight, and I'm going to talk at Wesley College about a personal, Social Security savings account for young people, much like the Chilean model. If we had that system today, if we'd adopted that in 1983, we'd have 26 -- I'm sorry, we'd have $16 trillion in savings in those Social Security savings accounts today if we'd adopted it back in 1983.
So, I want to continue doing what I do best, which is talk about big solutions and big approaches. I want to keep campaigning. We'll see what happens. As you yourself admitted, Governor Romney does not yet have the nomination despite every effort to get people to concede it. And I have every right to continue the campaign until he gets the majority.
BLITZER: I'm not suggesting you don't have a right to continue or Ron Paul, for that matter. We were only assessing given the delegate count. But very quickly, what does it say about your campaign which has some financial problem, I think, right now that a $500 check in Utah from your campaign bounced?
GINGRICH: Nothing. That check was issued four months ago, and the account that it was issued to was closed in the interim. When the state (ph) finally got around to cashing it, that account was closed. We simply re-issued it, and they have the money. That was entirely a technical error in the banking system and had nothing to do with how much money we have in the bank.
BLITZER: Because to a lot of people, it makes you look like you're in deep financial trouble. I know you're going into debt like that. Go ahead.
GINGRICH: Wolf, I think, the nature of the media is Jerry Ford who was a great athlete was decided he was a bungler, and "Saturday Night Live" made him a bungler. Therefore, every time that he sleep (ph), he was bungling, although, he's, in fact, a very, very good athlete. The fact is the news media picks up a certain story and reinterprets everything into it.
If they called our office and anybody asked to verify it, we would have told them the facts, because it's purely a technical mistake. It wasn't in our part. We issued the check in December.
BLITZER: I think your think tank and I know you've spoken about it often over the years. The Center for Health Transformation, that too, has now filed for bankruptcy. I know you must be really sad about that, but what happened here?
GINGRICH: Well, I am sad about it. These are good people. And it turned out that one side left over a year ago. It was very, very hard for them to sustain it. It was very unfortunate particularly if Obamacare is repealed, the ideas and the concepts of the Center for Health Transformation, the books they'd written, the material they accumulated, the network they had would have been very, very valuable, but this is a very hard economy.
And what happened to them happens to a lot of small businesses, and because I had been gone for over a year, they simply weren't able to sustain the membership and the momentum that we had while I was there. It was a great operation. They're very good people, and I feel very sad they didn't work out.
BLITZER: I know you do. Mr. Speaker, as usual, thanks very much for coming in.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're awaiting that news conference in Jacksonville, Florida with Trayvon Martin case, the special prosecutor about to file at least one charge against George Zimmerman. You're looking at live picture. She'll be showing up there, we believe, in about half an hour.
BLITZER: We may be only a short time away from an act of North Korean defiance that could have terrifying consequences for the region, even for the world. That's when the launch window opens for a long-range rocket that U.S. officials are calling a grave provocation.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us now more on the risks of what the U.S. military can learn from this launch. What's the latest information, Barbara, you're getting?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the launch window actually opens about 30 minutes from now, and there is plenty for the Pentagon to be worried about.
STARR (voice-over): Even as the North Korean rocket sits fueled up and ready to go, the U.S. wants it stopped.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me make absolutely clear that any launch by North Korea would be a serious, clear violation of their obligations.
STARR: But if and when this rocket is launched, the U.S. will get critical intelligence on North Korean technology that could risk U.S. security.
DAVID WRIGHT, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: The technology that's used for the launch or that would put this into space is also the kind of technology you can use for a long-range ballistic missile. And so that's really the concern is once North Korea shows that they have the ability to do this, and they have the technology, it puts them a step closer to doing something for military purposes if they decide to.
STARR: And that means North Korea might be able to fly a missile with a warhead. The U.S. believes Hawaii and Alaska could be potential targets for those long-range missiles. North Korea says this rocket will fly over South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. Various stages will fall into the water, but U.S. satellites, ships and the huge ex- ban radar will be watching.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The United States intelligence community will know what's happening. It will be monitored just like you on an operating table.
STARR: Both Japan and South Korea have missile defenses ready for the launch. If the rocket should veer off course or if debris should threaten to hit land then they would likely try to destroy the debris before it landed, but the real question for the U.S., if this launch works for Pyongyang how did they manage it? Who helped them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their science and technology certainly is connected to the Chinese, certainly the Iranians, wouldn't be surprised if there are Pakistanis involved in this development, as well.
STARR: No one can say for sure who has really been helping the North Koreans, of course, but already the next worry up front, the North Koreans it is said may now be preparing for a third underground, nuclear test -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Tensions are clearly rising, Barbara, thank you. We're also standing by to hear from the special prosecutor down in Florida with the Trayvon Martin case. You're looking at live pictures. We expect to hear from Angela Corey (ph). She's the special prosecutor. We expect that she will charge the shooter George Zimmerman. Stand by. We're going to take a closer look at the background, her experience as she prepares to make this major announcement.
BLITZER: Less than a half an hour away from a pivotal announcement in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Let's go back to Sanford, Florida where it all took place. CNN's Martin Savidge is once again joining us. Tell us a little bit more about Angela Corey, the special prosecutor because pretty soon she's going to be at that microphone in Jacksonville, Florida, with this huge announcement.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she will indeed. I mean some have described her actually as the perfect woman, the perfect state attorney to be in position to make a very difficult decision. There's a lot of high praise, but there's also some controversy. Angela Corey, 57 years of age, she's a Republican. She's held the post of state attorney for about four years now.
She's up for re-election, so far running unopposed. She's the first woman to be the state attorney in the district that oversees Jacksonville, Florida, which, by the way, is her hometown. That's where she is born and raised. She is one of five children. She's Episcopalian, said to be deeply religious, relies on her faith in helping to make difficult decisions.
She was appointed you remember by Governor Rick Scott March 23rd to investigate the Trayvon Martin shooting case. That after the Sanford Police Department decided not to press any charges. She is tough. She works closely with law enforcement according to those who know her, doesn't like to use the grand jury. We already know that because she said she wasn't going to rely on the grand jury in this particular case.
She did have a controversy last year when she decided that she was going to charge a 12-year-old boy in adult court after he was accused of beating his half-brother to death. Both sides in this particular case, though, have described her as courageous, and now she's got a very difficult announcement to make, whatever it may be -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly is a very, very special announcement. A lot of folks are going to be wondering what she's doing. We've been told by a law enforcement source that she will file at least a charge against George Zimmerman in the connection with the killing of Trayvon Martin. Stand by, everyone stand by. Our special coverage leading up to this press conference will continue in a moment.
BLITZER: All right. We're watching what's going on in connection with the pending charge we expect to be filed right at the top of the hour. We'll learn word of that from Angela Corey the special prosecutor in Florida. She'll go to that microphone there. But let's bring in CNN's newest legal contributor Mark Nejame. He's a criminal defense attorney in Florida.
He's joining us on the phone now from Orlando. A lot of people expect that she will file this charge, manslaughter potentially, we don't know for sure, obviously, but tell us what you're learning because I understand, Mark, you're well connected. You're getting some new information as well.
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via phone): Well, we have just gotten confirmation that he is in custody. George Zimmerman is in custody right now with the Department of Law Enforcement in the state of Florida. He's been in communication with them and has apparently voluntarily surrendered. Significantly he has new counsel, Mark O'Mara (ph), who is in the process of meeting with FDLE and Mr. Zimmerman and they're in communication. The terms of the bond are unknown at this time.
There will be discussions with them regarding that and there will be more information. I suspect Ms. Corey will give us more specifics as it relates to the specific charge and the amount of the bond in your upcoming press conference, but it is confirmed that he is in FDLE custody. He is in the state of Florida and he has new counsel, Mark O'Mara (ph). Mark O'Mara (ph) is a very excellent attorney in the Central Florida area. He is board certified in criminal and I think the only lawyer in the state who is both board certified in criminal and domestic, excellent counsel and I think the case is now going to be proceeding accordingly.
BLITZER: Do we know if Zimmerman actually left the state -- ever left the state of Florida or did he come back voluntarily over the past, let's say, 24 hours?
NEJAME: He was out of the state of Florida as I understand it for his safety. When he heard that this was likely happening, as I understand it, it's been relayed to me, that he came back in and was in contact with FDLE and voluntarily has surrendered himself.
BLITZER: Do we know what city he's in right now?
NEJAME: I've been -- I've spoken to Mr. O'Mara just a few minutes ago. He asked that I not disclose that information so I'm going to honor that information mainly for safety and allow Ms. Corey to disclose that which she believes is appropriate, but he is absolutely in the state of Florida. He is in -- he did a voluntary surrender as I've been advised by Mr. O'Mara and FDLE, Mr. O'Mara, Mr. Zimmerman will be in contact throughout the rest of the day.
BLITZER: In your conversation with Mark O'Mara, the new attorney representing George Zimmerman, did you find out if he knows and if he shared with you what specific charge or charges the special prosecutor will file against Zimmerman?
NEJAME: He has not seen that. It's speculation, so he's simply awaiting direct information from FDLE or Ms. Corey's office. Greater likelihood Ms. Corey will go ahead and announce that herself.
BLITZER: And what's the general formula, procedure, after she announces the charge or charges she's filing against Zimmerman? At what point do we actually see Zimmerman in court or walking into court or at a precinct at a police station? When will we actually, in your experience, and you have a lot of experience, Mark, in Florida? When will we see him?
NEJAME: Well, the way it would typically work is you get arrested and then there is a bond. You can either afford to post that bond or you can't afford to post the bond. If you cannot afford to post a bond then -- and you don't get out of court within the first 24 hours then the first 24 hours you have what's called the first appearance. You have an initial appearance and you go before a judge, and that's -- and then there will be a probable cause determination and then either they'll keep the existing bond or you're under Florida law entitled to a bond hearing. And then, in fact, the judge will make a determination.
I think that the mere fact that Mr. Zimmerman has voluntarily turned himself in and when he heard this was going on would strongly suggest that a lower bond would be reasonable in this case, that he's not a flight risk to the extent that he apparently turned himself in voluntarily, and I suspect Mr. O'Mara will be speaking to the state attorney's office, Ms. Corey's office or Ms. Corey and they will attempt to work out a reasonably agreeable bond and if they're unable to do so then they'll proceed to a hearing where a judge will make a determination. If the IA (ph) judge is not satisfied with the fact that it should be lower or if he wants -- she wants to defer to the judge assigned to the case then that will be heard by the judge. Now we don't know where he -- when he will appear in Sanford, so it's likely that we'll know more after we hear Ms. Corey's press conference.
BLITZER: Yes, and we're waiting about 15 minutes or so from now. That's when she is expected to speak there in Jacksonville. How quickly under normal circumstances they file a charge, they've arrested him, he's in custody, would the whole issue of whether or not he would be free on bail, on bond. How quickly does that take place?
NEJAME: It should be taking place now. There -- with this warrant there will likely be a bond amount, either a no-bond situation or a bond, and whatever the bond is, if Mr. Zimmerman, if it's within his ability to meet the amount of the bond and the special conditions if any of the bond then they'll be processing that like they would any other -- any other case and then they would post the bond and then he would -- another (ph) case would be going on. In the event there was a no bond, or a bond that he could not afford then they would appear before a judge for a bond reduction or to set a reasonable bond and that would take place at a day other than today.
BLITZER: Mark Nejame is our newest CNN legal analyst. He's a famed criminal defense attorney in Florida. I want you to stand by Mark. We have more questions. Thanks for the information; the breaking news is that Zimmerman is in custody now in Florida. He had left the state of Florida according to Mark, but now he's back in Florida and he has a new attorney named Mark O'Mara who is now representing him after his two other attorneys made that dramatic announcement yesterday they were dropping out.
I want to get quick reaction from our Roland Martin right now who has been watching this case unfold dramatically. Assuming, Roland, that Zimmerman is charged let's say with manslaughter, how will that play? How do you think that will affect the family? I know you've been close to the family. What's going to be the reaction?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well remember, first and foremost, Wolf, the family made it perfectly clear they wanted to see him charged and so they were not specific as to whether or not it was first-degree murder or second-degree murder or even manslaughter. They felt he should have been charged and they had been saying it, including attorney Ben Crump there was probable cause to arrest him.
I talked to Crump about 30 minutes ago. They had not gotten any word about the specific charge, but he made it perfectly clear that the family was happy to see justice moving forward. I've also been in contact with of course civil rights leaders as well as they have been monitoring this case, as well. But again, the most important thing from them was simply that he be charged and arrested and that this go before a jury and a judge to have all of the facts come out to find out what took place on the night their son Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26th.
BLITZER: And we will expect to get reaction from the family, the parents of Trayvon Martin, Roland, fairly soon after Angela Corey makes her announcement.
MARTIN: Right. Right. Right. The news conference will take place right after that. And so they also have several other attorneys across the country who will also be speaking as well. Darryl Parks (ph) is one of the attorneys along with Ben Crump. He is there in Washington, D.C. Natalie Jackson (ph) is another attorney. She is in Orlando. She is scheduled to talk about this on Erin Burnett show "OUTFRONT" at 7:00 p.m. and also Jasmine Rand (ph) is another attorney. She is right now in Tallahassee. They have her in position as well to also share their thoughts on this case and so, you know, the family right now they're in Washington, D.C., because they have been attending Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network Conference where they also met a little bit earlier today with Attorney General Eric Holder.
BLITZER: Roland Martin will be watching all of this unfold. He'll be standing by as well. Lots of anticipation in Florida right now and indeed around the country for an announcement by the special prosecutor Angela Corey. We'll have complete coverage, live coverage of that announcement once the special prosecutor shows up there, we expect her to announce she's charging the shooter George Zimmerman. You'll see her remarks live. And we'll also look back at how the death of a Florida teenager, a 17-year-old boy unleashed national protests and outrage.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're only minutes away from the top of the hour. That's when Angela Corey, the special Florida prosecutor, will announce the charge or charges against George Zimmerman in connection with the killing of Trayvon Martin, a story that has generated huge, huge emotional reaction across the country.
We will have live coverage of that, but first, let's take a closer look right now at the timeline of the events that got us to this point. Here is CNN's Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 7:11 p.m., February 26th, a rainy night in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman calls 911 to report a suspicious person in his neighborhood. That call would last four minutes.
ZIMMERMAN: Hey, we have had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there's a real suspicious guy (beep) --
The best address I can give you is (redacted). This guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something. It is raining and he's just walking around looking about.
DISPATCHER: OK. Is this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?
ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.
DISPATCHER: Did you see what he was wearing?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, a dark hoodie like a gray hoodie and either jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes. He's here now. He's just staring.
LEMON: 7:12, phone records show Trayvon Martin is on the phone with his girlfriend. 7:13, Zimmerman is giving the dispatcher directions when he says, the subject took off.
DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
DISPATCHER: OK. We don't need you to do that.
LEMON: 7:15, Zimmerman hangs up with 911.
DISPATCHER: OK. No problem. I'll let them know to call you when they're in the area.
DISPATCHER: You're welcome.
LEMON: At the same time, at 7:15, Trayvon Martin's girlfriend tells "ABC News" she is still on the phone with him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said this man was watching him. Trayvon said what are you following me for? Then the man said what are you doing around here. Then somebody pushed Trayvon because the headset just fell.
LEMON: 7:16, the line goes dead. At about the same time, a neighbor's call to 911 reveals background screaming and then a gunshot.
911: Do you need police, fire, or medical?
CALLER: Maybe both. I'm not sure. There's just someone screaming outside.
911: OK. And is it a male or female?
CALLER: It sounds like a male.
911: And you don't know why?
CALLER: I don't know why. I think they are yelling help, but I don't know. Just send someone quick, please, fast.
911: OK. Does he look hurt to you?
CALLER: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
CALLER: They're' sending --
(YELLING IN BACKGROUND)
911: So you think he's yelling help?
911: All right. What is your --
CALLER: There's gunshots.
911: You just heard gunshots?
911: How many?
CALLER: Just one.
LEMON: 7:17, Officer Timothy Smith (ph), the first to arrive and according to the partial police report, the officer says, I was advised by the dispatch that the report of shots fired. And in the span of two minutes, Smith canvases the scene, spots George Zimmerman wearing a red jacket and blue jeans, observes a black male wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt laying face down in the grass, questions a man in the red jacket who admits to shooting the subject and still being armed.
Secures a 9-millimeter gun and places the man in handcuffs. The officer observes the man in handcuffs bleeding from the nose and the back of his head, according to the police report. All of this in about two minutes. The police report says a very tight time window according to senior law enforcement instructor, Alex Manning.
ALEX MANNING, SR. INSTRUCTOR, STATE POLICE ACADEMY IN GEORGIA: You really want to know what happened in those couple of minutes? Were they still running? Was he walking around looking for Trayvon or was Trayvon heading out of there? So in those two minutes, you really don't know what exactly happened.
LEMON: 7:19, two minutes after Smith, a second officer arrives, Ricardo Ayala (ph), who observes Zimmerman already in Officer Smith's custody. Sometime between 7:19 and 7:30 Ayala (ph) says he tries to get a response from the subject on the ground. A sergeant arrives, checks the pulse. There is none and both officers begin CPR. Another sergeant arrives and takes over chest compressions from Officer Ayala (ph).
The fire department arrives, attempts to revive the subject. And at 7:30, a paramedic pronounces the subject, Trayvon Martin, dead. Then, the police report says Zimmerman is placed in the back of Officer Smith's patrol car and given first aid. But exactly when that happened is a matter of dispute. Criminal Defense Attorney, Holly Hughes.
HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look at him and we don't even know what time the EMTs arrived it took the EMTs arrived. If it took them five additional minutes to arrive, you are now down to five minutes for them to perform a complete medical examination on him. If he is in that bad of shape, they are not going to do something that takes five minutes. They are going to bandage him if he has got a gushing gash on the back of his head.
LEMON: The timestamp on this Sanford Police surveillance video shows Zimmerman and officers arriving at the station at 7:52, 35 minutes after the first officer arrived at the crime scene. The police station is a 15-minute drive away.
BLITZER: Don Lemon reporting for us. We are only moments away from that news conference at the top of the hour with the special prosecutor, in this the case of the slain Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin. A senior law enforcement source says Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, will be charged. That's it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.