Return to Transcripts main page


Trayvon`s Shooter Appears in Court

Aired April 12, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from Los Angeles.

Wow! Huge developments tonight. George Zimmerman`s first court appearance. This man is facing a possible life sentence, and he looks, well, a little worse for wear.

We now have what prosecutors would call the goods against Zimmerman. This is the paperwork that outlines what they say happened the night Trayvon Martin was shot dead. Is this an open and shut case? Or is there room for reasonable doubt?

Stay right where you are. We are covering all the angles with the experts next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight as Trayvon Martin`s shooter, George Zimmerman, makes his first appearance in court, Trayvon`s mother says it could have been an accident. Does that change everything?

And we`ll dive deep into George Zimmerman`s new hotshot attorney`s past. Why is he working for free? And what are his new revelations about George`s mental state.

Plus, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla joins us to tell us whether he thinks George will ever get out on bail, and we`re taking your calls for the full hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many across the country were waiting to see the moment, to see George Zimmerman appearing before a judge. And those people got their wish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice! No peace!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice! No peace!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice! No peace!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are here for your first appearance, a court appearance at this time for murder in the second degree.


MARK O`MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: He`s gone through some tribulations of his own. He`s facing second-degree murder charges now.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOTHER: It has been a nightmare, but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that justice will be served.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, it was a horrible interception of two young men`s lives, and it ended in tragedy. We`ll have to figure out how it happened, why it happened and who might be responsible for it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight as we get our very first real look at shooter George Zimmerman, secrets are spilling out in the case against the man who killed Trayvon Martin. We`ve got the prosecution paperwork -- It`s right here -- that lays out exactly why they charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. And it states that Zimmerman profiled, confronted and then fatally shot Trayvon Martin in the chest.

Now, today we got our first up-close look at George Zimmerman at his first court appearance in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman had a buzz cut and was wearing a one-piece gray jump suit, and some said he looked pretty darn nervous. His new attorney, Mark O`Mara, was by his side.

Let`s listen to what Zimmerman told the judge.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are here for your first appearances and it`s the charge for murder in the second degree and you are represented by Mr. O`Mara, is that true?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your right to remain silent. All the other rights that he has told you about is to say nothing. And we`ll go forward here on some procedure matters only at this time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And here`s Zimmerman`s brand-new mug shot, the judge scheduled Zimmerman`s arraignment for May 29. We can expect a "not guilty" plea at that time. But there could be a bond hearing before that.

Right now Zimmerman is behind bars in protective custody for his own safety. Zimmerman in a cell by himself as we speak and only allowed three hours of recreation time per week and no TV. Maybe that`s a good thing in this case. Only books and magazines. Given the nature of this case, maybe he doesn`t want to watch TV, frankly.

Zimmerman`s new high-powered attorney told reporters how his client is holding up.


O`MARA: It`s been a very long period of time for him, and he`s gone through some tribulations of his own being, you know, the focus of the intensity of this event. He is, you know -- he`s facing a second-degree murder charges now. He`s frightened. That would frighten any one of us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Trayvon`s parents are relieved their son`s killer is behind bars, but you might say that Trayvon`s mom threw a curveball this morning when she made this comment on NBC`s "Today Show" about what happened the night her son was shot and killed.


FULTON: I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control, and he couldn`t turn the clock back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did she really mean that? Trayvon`s mom later clarified her statement. We`re going to play you exactly what she told our own Nancy Grace about what she really meant.

We`ve got so much to talk about tonight and some new theories in the case. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my buddy -- got to say that -- bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, who is also a bail bondsman.

Leonard, you have seen a slew of defendants make their first appearance in court because you bail people out. Everybody wants to get inside this guy`s head. As we show you the first court appearance today, what`s your impression of George Zimmerman based on your years of experience?

LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER: Let me correct something. I`m not a bail agent and never have been. I`ve never been a bail bondsman. I`m a bail expert.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you bailed Casey Anthony out, didn`t you?

PADILLA: No, my nephew did. My nephew posted the bond.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, all right. It`s in the family. Continue.

PADILLA: There`s a difference. Department of Insurance, I don`t want to get them upset.

Here`s the situation with him right now. He`s looking at second- degree. Obviously, that`s a lot better than first-degree, but what`s going to dictate a lot is the firearm forensics experts: where the firearm was when it was fired, what angle, how far from the victim, things of that nature are going to be the telling situation. In other words, nothing else is going to be as important as that.

The mother misspoke when she said she thought it was a mistake. What she said was it started out, and it just built. And I`ve seen these things where somebody pulls a gun, and the next thing is it gets out of hand and somebody fires a shot. And then somebody`s dead. That`s what you have to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ve got to say this. I`ve got to say this. This affidavit of probable cause is essentially our glimpse into the prosecution`s case.

And I want to go to Mark Nejame, the criminal defense attorney. You`re our legal analyst. Somebody who has covered many cases gave me a theory, and I think it`s a good theory. And they say that this entire charging document is based on what the girlfriend said, because Trayvon Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend shortly before the shooting occurred.

So does the entire case against Trayvon Martin [SIC] hinge on the girlfriend? And could what Trayvon told the girlfriend be hearsay and be inadmissible?

MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, we`ve got a couple of issues. The answer is, yes, she could end up being the critical witness in the case. Why? Because what was occurring, we don`t have any actual eyewitnesses to the best of our knowledge. We have, after the fact, witnesses and witnesses who came in at certain point, but nobody from start to finish saw this as far as we know right now.

But we do know contemporaneous and whatever action was occurring, we know that between Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin, we know that Trayvon was on the phone with his girlfriend. So she is likely the best witness who can give us a real-time glimpse of what was being said or what was occurring. So yes, she`ll wind up being very valuable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I think the key is who was pursuing who? And that`s really crucial in this case.

Today we learned what prosecutors concluded after their investigation, and it`s in this very short report.

On the 911 call the dispatcher tells George Zimmerman, "Please stop following Trayvon Martin." Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We don`t need you to do that.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. This prosecution document says, quote, "Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin." And prosecutors also say Zimmerman confronted Martin, and a struggle ensued. That means prosecutors do not buy Zimmerman`s story that he stopped following Trayvon Martin, and the teen then approached him and punched him first.

So I want to go out to Natalie Jackson here, the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family. Unless there`s a smoking gun and unless there`s a secret witness, is it possible that this charging document is based on what the girlfriend said and what do we know about Trayvon`s girlfriend?

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN`S FAMILY: Well, I think the charging document is based partially on what the girlfriend said. I believe that there is some other evidence that will come out during the course of this trial that we are -- we`re not privy to yet.

This prosecutor, she based those targets based on what she believes she could prove beyond a reasonable doubt. So she`s privy to a lot more information than we are.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now let me talk a little bit about this other aspect of the case that`s huge today. Trayvon`s mother ignited a firestorm this morning when she suggested that Trayvon`s shooting was an accident. Now she later clarified her comments to HLN`s Nancy Grace, but first, let`s listen to her original remarks on NBC, and then you`ll hear her clarification.


FULTON: I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control, and he couldn`t turn the clock back. I would ask him did he know that that was a minor, that that was a teenager, and that he did not have a weapon?

The point that I was trying to make was that, if Zimmerman had never gotten out of his vehicle he would not have met Trayvon, and I said that encounter was accidental. That Trayvon meeting Zimmerman was accidental. It was -- in no way shape, form or fashion did I imply that this was an accident, that the shooting was an accident.

O`MARA: They went through a horrible tragedy. They lost their son, but we`re not going to be talking about using words against the mother of a deceased child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can see the entire emotional interview Nancy Grace conducted with Trayvon`s mom tonight at the top of the hour.

And Joe Episcopo, criminal defense attorney, you heard Zimmerman`s attorney say we`re not going to use the mother`s words against her. We certainly can`t imagine the torment this mother is going through, but did that potentially give Zimmerman a defense to use accidental/self-defense?

JOE EPISCOPO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, even if it is accidental, that can be manslaughter. That`s what manslaughter`s all about. It`s some sort of accidental thing that you caused, so that`s the lesser included that the jury will consider. It carries 15 years, and a lot of attorneys think that`s the appropriate charge. So she might not be off the mark at all. She may be right onto it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think it was harmful, Natalie?

JACKSON: Miss Sybrina, she`s been under a lot of stress. She`s clarified exactly what she meant. This lady, she`s been 40 days nonstop trying to get justice for her son. She`s tired and she`s stressful. I think that people took something out of context of watching that, and they ran with it.

She said that she thought the initial encounter was accidental and, had they not met each other, this would never have happened. I -- you know, and she`s also -- she`s not a witness in this case, so no, I don`t think it`s harmful. And I think that, you know, I really think that it`s kind of a -- the people should not keep repeating this when she`s clarified what she said.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re just talking about all of the day`s events. That`s why we`re asking you, and we`re also taking your calls at home: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

On the other side of the break, we`ve got more: more analysis and some new information. Stay right there.



ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re appearing here for first appearances and the first appearance at this time for the charge of murder in the second degree, and you are represented by Mr. O`Mara.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Sanford police department said there was never enough evidence for an arrest and to support the claim of self-defense. And now we have the prosecutor`s office saying there`s enough evidence for the second-degree murder charge. There`s a discrepancy. How do you explain that?

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: I will tell you that we live in the greatest country in the world. We have a process, the rule of law and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We look forward to pursuing the evidence at that time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Get used to seeing that guy`s face. He is the prosecutor in this case, Bernie de la Rionda, 27 years of experience; prosecuted 67 homicide trials; 22 of those defendants got the death penalty.

OK, that versus Mark O`Mara, who is the big-time defense attorney. Now Mark O`Mara, OK, there is the prosecutor. Now we`re going to show you Mark O`Mara, who is the defense attorney. He`s the president of the Seminole County Bar Association and has a slew of credits.

He was legal analyst for central Florida`s WKMJ -- G, helped with the Casey Anthony trial coverage. He -- he`s an incredible lawyer. Wow! We have got a head to head against these two men that is going to be pretty absolutely astounding.

Now, I want to go out to Derek Brett. He is an attorney. We`ve been talking about this case and what was in this charging document and what`s it based on, right? This is what the prosecutors say happened.

And so witness accounts are going to be very, very important when this case goes to trial.

Now, before we get to the attorney, let`s listen to his client. One person who called 911 the very night that Trayvon Martin was shot, this is a potential, crucial witness. Listen to this.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: Before those couple of seconds at the moment the gun shot went off, what happened with the larger man?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, obviously the other man, the boy was dead, and the other person got up and was walking away from the body.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Derek Brett, you`re the attorney for that witness who is anonymous at this point. The charging document says that Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin, and Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued. What did your witness see?

DEREK BRETT, ATTORNEY FOR WITNESS: She actually saw the struggle actually going on. She saw two men lying on top, literally of one another in this darkened area on this grassy area. Not -- it wasn`t a sidewalk. It was a grassy area. The entire struggle took place on a grassy area.

As the struggle continued to ensue, she was watching as the gunshot went off, and in fact, she believed that she had actually heard multiple shots. That`s always been a source of -- for issue over the past couple of weeks. And then she saw -- she saw one individual get off the other individual, and that individual eventually walked into -- better into her line of sight, and that individual was...


BRETT: That individual was George Zimmerman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So the person on top of the other guy -- George Zimmerman was on top of the other guy? Then the gun shot rings out or a shot, and then George Zimmerman gets up?

BRETT: George Zimmerman gets up, walks -- walks in the -- walks in the direction of my client`s view. And she at that time is able to see that it is -- excuse me, an Hispanic male who turns out to be Zimmerman. Yes.

What`s fascinating, Jane ...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What does that mean for the case? We`re going to analyze that on the other side.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More Trayvon Martin in a moment, but first, your "Viral Video of the Day."






O`MARA: A very, very frightened 28-year-old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s very sorry.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zimmerman has been in hiding for 47 days now. Nobody got as much as a still photo of him since the night of the shooting until his arrest, so the whole country was anxious to see how this man looked in court today. His former attorney said he had lost a lot of weight over the last few weeks. Several observers said he looked scared, bewildered.

Now, what I can tell you is that his physical appearance doesn`t show any obvious signs of injuries. Remember, the police report said Zimmerman suffered bleeding from the nose and the back of the head. I know it`s 47 days later, but as far as I can see, no sign of injury.

I want to go out to Frank Taaffe, George Zimmerman`s neighbor and one of his lone public defenders.

What did you make of his appearance in court, given that this is your friend?


I`m glad that, you know, he`s in a safe custody with the Seminole County Department of Corrections right now. He was -- I spoke with him Monday. He was subdued, and he did not appear to be -- to have any frustration. He was very clear and concise what he was delivering to me when he was speaking to me on Monday regarding his Web site.

Jane, I want to go back to what the attorney for saying about...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold on one second, Frank. Can you just answer this question? You know this person. I don`t. I`ve never met George Zimmerman. You see his expression there. What does that tell you? People say he`s nervous; he`s scared. I think he looks a little stoic. But I`m not sure; I can`t read him. Can you read him for us since you know him? What do you think he`s going through at this moment?

TAAFFE: Jane, he looks bewildered. He looks bewildered.

He`s saying, you know, all I was doing was trying to ensure the safety of a community. And here was a boy, a young male, 17 years old, who is a football player, who ran track in football and probably could outrun the best of the best.

And what this charging affidavit is saying that this man, George Zimmerman, 28 years old, inhibited a 17-year-old young male from going 30 yards in three seconds? I would be -- I`d be just like him, looking like a deer in the headlights, saying what is wrong with this system? What is wrong here?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Frank, let me say this. The gun is the great equalizer.

TAAFFE: He had -- he had a concealed...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t matter how tiny you are or big you are, if you`re holding a gun.

TAAFFE: Constitutionally, he had a right to carry that weapon. There are certain venues that he cannot...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not talking about a right. You`re saying why didn`t he -- if somebody has a gun, it doesn`t matter how big the other person is. A gun trumps everything. It is the great equalizer, as they say. I didn`t make up that phrase.

TAAFFE: Yes, Jane. Let me share this with you. There was one shell casing found at the scene of the crime. I don`t know where these witnesses are coming from, but they seem to be coming out of every crack and crevice in Twin Lakes, and every one of these so-called lawyers are jumping on the bandwagon to get their name out there.

This is preposterous. I`m livid over this last witness, who said he saw George Zimmerman on top of Trayvon. This is getting to be a little out of hand.

And this charging affidavit, I will tell you, the special prosecutor sold us out. She sold us out, and they`re going to punch holes into that charging affidavit like Swiss cheese.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you, Frank. The other side on the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marching for Trayvon!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are appearing here for your first appearances -- our first appearance at this time for charge of murder in the second degree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is our obligation in the law to only file charges we can prove, second-degree murder we found was the perfect charge and that`s why it was filed.

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: My son left Sanford, Florida in a body bag while George Zimmerman went home to go to sleep in his own bed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racism still exists and injustice to the black community is still there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prosecutors always want to prove intent.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Another huge day today in this case. George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin`s shooter makes his first court appearance. We get to really see him for the very first time since this terrible tragedy occurred 47 days ago and I`m also holding in my hand a newly-released document, the probable cause affidavit which is the prosecution document that gives us first clue as to what the prosecution`s case might be.

Now first, before we analyze these really important, crucial allegations in this document let`s listen to parts of Zimmerman`s 911 call because the special prosecutor specifically cites this -- what you`re about to hear in this document.


ZIMMERMAN: These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they always get away.

This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something.

Something`s wrong with him.

Yes, he`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hands. I don`t know what his deal is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. We don`t need you to do that.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: And those are -- some of the key elements in those 911 calls. The charging document quote Zimmerman from the 911 call, "These a-holes, they always get away."

It also states, Trayvon was quote, "profiled" -- they used the word "profiled" -- by George. And that George, quote, "assumed that Martin was a criminal".

So straight out to Kelli Goff, contributing editor,; is that enough to prove that Zimmerman acted with a depraved mind defined as evil intent, hatred, spite or will because that is what you need to get a conviction on second-degree murder. You need to prove he acted with a depraved mind, defined as evil intent, hatred, spite or ill will. Kelly?

KELLI GOFF, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, LUKE21.COM: Let me start by saying this, Jane. You know, if nothing else comes out of this terrible tragedy, I think the one upside -- I even hate to use that word calling it an upside -- is that the issue of racial profiling finally has a spotlight cast on it.

You know, I actually ended up speaking with Geraldo after he made his hoodie-gate comments. And when I pointed out to him that Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, and myself -- not that I put myself in Oprah and Condoleezza Rice`s category -- have all been victims of racial profiling in stores, I think it sort of put things in a new context for him because guess what, Jane, we weren`t wearing hoodies when it happened.

So to get back to your fundamental question, I think there`s no doubt in anybody`s mind that had Trayvon Martin been doing exactly what he`d been doing, Skittles in one hand, drink in another, wearing a suit and tie and news flash, Jane, wearing a different color skin, I think we all are under the impression that this likely would not have gone down the way it did. And that is why you see that mentioned in the case against Zimmerman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But Joe Episcopo, criminal defense attorney, in order to prove second degree you have to prove that he acted with a depraved mind defined as from ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent. Is there anything you`ve seen in this case or in the charging document that leads you to believe that they can prove that beyond a reasonable doubt?

JOE EPISCOPO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, they can`t prove that beyond a reasonable doubt based on those things. And this profiling of him, I don`t know if that automatically translates to racist. These are just -- these are not enough. They`re not sufficient to make that hatred, ill will that they`re trying to do. It`s a stretch.

They have a problem with this. I don`t think they`re going to be able to prove second-degree murder.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natalie Jackson, attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family.

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN`S FAMILY: Well, first of all, no one said "racism". That`s the jump that always gets made from racial profiling. Racial profiling means that you thought something negative of someone based on the way what they appeared in their race. That doesn`t mean that you`re a racist. I think this prosecutor is a smart and ethical prosecutor who would only bring forth this information and this affidavit if she could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And I think she has the evidence to back this up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me go to the phone lines because we`ve had some folks waiting a long time. First, Denise in New York -- your question or thought, Denise?

DENISE, NEW YORK (via telephone): Hi, Jane. Love your show. Love your book.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. Thank you.

DENISE: Just got a couple of quick points.


DENISE: Why didn`t George Zimmerman just friendly introduce himself to Mr. Martin? We wouldn`t be here. I do neighborhood watch in my community for over ten years and I don`t take my gun that I have a I permit and a constitutional right to carry. I don`t take that to neighborhood watch -- it`s not called.

And they can`t seem to say who`s doing the screaming. To me, I`m quite sure that`s Trayvon. George Zimmerman had a gun. Why would he be screaming for example help? He has a gun and he has the power. Why would he be screaming for help? That`s Trayvon screaming for help.

That`s my thought.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me bring Zahra Umansky in, you are a criminal defense attorney who represented George Zimmerman in an earlier case and this was when he was arrested because he got into a dispute with a cop over an attempt to arrest a friend.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now what do you make of this debate involving George Zimmerman`s behavior?

There is this gap of time where it`s in dispute what happened, but we do know he was packing heat, walking around and sees somebody who is minding his own business with Skittles and an iced tea and going back to his dad`s house. And takes it upon himself to point this person out as suspicious which is the main reason why there is such outrage over this case. Is that the George Zimmerman you know? You`ve dealt with him.

UMANSKY: Jane, no, I don`t think -- what George was doing on the 911 tape, remember, he`s not pointing out Trayvon`s race. He`s pointing out his behavior. He says this man, this guy is acting suspicious. He`s walking with something in his hand. He`s pointing out behavioral traits. He`s not saying this is a black man. He only responds to that when the 911 operator --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: With all due respect, Zahra, ok, here I am and now here I am. Does this make me suspicious in any way? Here I am, now here I am. I don`t get the connection, holding something in his hand.

UMANSKY: But Jane he says there`s something in his hand and he couldn`t see, it was dark. So remember for profiling you`re focusing on the person`s race, the color of their skin. He never brings that up until the 911 operator says is he black, white, Hispanic and then he says he`s a black male. He`s focusing on the behavior.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me bring in another aspect -- all right. Let me bring in another aspect of that debate because there was a huge debate over whether Zimmerman in his 911 call used a racial slur or said the word "punks". Now one audio expert weighed in and he analyzed the audiotape and he says he`s convinced that Zimmerman is saying "punks". Let`s listen to that very quickly.






VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now the probable cause statement which is the prosecution document specifically says Zimmerman used the word "punks". I guess that means that the prosecutors don`t think George used a racial slur. So my question, and I`ll throw that out to Natalie Jackson. You`re the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family. Does that mean there`s no -- the federal hate crime investigation isn`t going to go anywhere? That that`s over, that the state hate crime enhancements that could enhance the time served if convicted, that goes away? Is it case closed on the racial aspect or not?

JACKSON: Well, you know, that`s up to the state department, and what I will say about the profiling is that he actually says "these a-holes" and then even if he says f-ing punks, that puts Trayvon in a category of what makes Trayvon an a-hole? What makes him a punk that you see? All he`s doing is walking home with Skittles and a hoodie on. So why is he being called that? That`s the question. And that`s the point here.

And I also want to make one other point, Jane, the legal definition in Florida of "depraved" is that you have a disregard for life. So you don`t care if you kill someone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re having a very healthy debate, and the whole point is that we`re all going to try to learn something from this. And it`s -- it should be a healing debate; that`s what I hope and pray.

Let`s go out to the phone lines quickly. Desmond, Ohio, your question or thought, Desmond?

DESMOND, OHIO (via telephone): Yes. My thing --


DESMOND: I have to turn this TV down. My thing is the man -- he was stalking the little boy. Why was he stalking him? The lady told him specifically not to pursue the little boy. You can hear the man get out of the car and run toward the little boy. The little boy had to be running because you can tell when somebody`s walking fast or running. You can hear the wind gushing through the phone while he was running towards the little boy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Well now, Leonard Padilla bounty hunter, this is the key to this charging document. It says Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home; that Zimmerman confronted Martin. Now, the defense claims, no, he did not pursue after the cop said not to and walked in the other direction and was attacked by Trayvon. How do they know this? How does the prosecution know this?

LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER: Well, I think they`re going by the sense that they have of the situation more than anything else. But I`ll tell you this, in California, if a dispatcher tells you to back off, even if the guy is a fugitive, you better. Otherwise you`re going to be arrested the minute an officer gets there.

So we have always followed the rule that you back off when dispatch tells you to stop. And furthermore, if you pull a gun, even though you have a permit -- we`re all licensed -- you can have serious complications and serious problem. And I think that`s one of the things that they`re looking at.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And on the other side we`re going to talk about the crucial role of Trayvon Martin`s girlfriend.

Stay right there.



ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR., BROTHER OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: As the family, we`re devastated. I will say we`re a strong family, and we have been living a somewhat altered reality for quite some time, and we have had to prepare ourselves for an outcome such as this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was George Zimmerman`s brother talking to Piers Morgan last night on CNN. Zimmerman`s attorney will try to convince a jury that he acted in self-defense.

So the big question was also who was yelling "help" moments before George Zimmerman fired his gun? Listen to the 911 call where you can hear somebody yelling and then a gun shot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know why. I think they`re yelling "help", but I don`t know. Send someone quick please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look hurt to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there. I don`t know what`s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you call them to help.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Derek Brett, you are an attorney for someone who says that she witnessed the confrontation between these two men. You heard Zimmerman`s -- one of his lone public defenders Frank Taaffe saying oh, these witnesses are basically blowing hot air. What`s your response to that, Derek?

DEREK BRETT, ATTORNEY FOR WITNESS: You know the witnesses saw what they saw. My client wanted to get out her statement for the sake of doing that. She did it once in order to maximize her privacy. She heard -- she believes that she heard Trayvon Martin actually give out this excruciating yell. Mr. Taaffe better watch out if he`s going to be talking with Mr. Zimmerman, too, because he can be called in as a witness right now.

The problem is, Jane, and I have to say this. The state`s investigators never really got into this; did not even swear my client in. And the concern is when you`re relying upon in Florida an information instead of an indictment, if the same state investigators didn`t swear anyone in, then these are grounds to dismiss this entire action. Beyond the immunity defense that they`ll have on a motion to dismiss, there are a lot of things going on here and it`s absolutely fascinating. But that doesn`t guarantee that this isn`t going to end up in a trial. My prediction is it won`t.


BRETT: I don`t believe that there will be a trial in this case.


BRETT: I believe that -- that -- that Mr. Zimmerman`s attorney Mr. O`Mara is going to file motion to dismiss based upon an immunity defense. That immunity defense is by a far lesser standard in Florida called preponderance of the evidence. That immunity defense theoretically could occur at any time as early as a bond hearing. If the only person who can come forward during this immunity argument is George Zimmerman testifying, arguably, immunity would vest and the case against him would have to be dismissed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. I have to interrupt you, Derek, because you talking legalese. And we have, you know, a general audience here --

BRETT: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So are you saying in plain English that the "Stand Your Ground" law is going to be effective in his defense? In other words, he`s going to say I used the "Stand Your Ground" law appropriately and the judge is going to dismiss this case. Is that what you`re suggesting?

BRETT: Without regard to whatever any witness had seen including my own, "Stand Your Ground" may be the cover that George Zimmerman needs to have this entire case against him dismissed. That`s exactly what I`m saying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natalie -- I want to get to some other guests -- but briefly, your response to that, briefly if you can.

JACKSON: My response is that goes back to your first question Jane about the 16-year-old that was on the phone. She`s an ear witness that contradicts George Zimmerman. That`s what people keep forgetting. Is that there is a witness who George Zimmerman was the person that initiated the first contact and the aggressive action. And she`s going to be the lynchpin in getting over any justification in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But are there potential problems with a young witness like that who could be a hearsay witness. And I`m wondering if there could be a problem with her saying to a jury what Trayvon told her?

JACKSON: No, that won`t be a problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think the prosecution would love Trayvon to be able to speak from the grave and tell what happened using this witness. Will that happen?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More Trayvon Martin in a moment. But first, you deserve a laugh break.






MARK O`MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Seminole County Sheriff on their own properly so have him in protective custody. It`s a standard security measure that they put in place in cases like this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. We`re going to show you all the stuff that Zimmerman has bought in the jail commissary. He started out with $121 yesterday. In one day he`s down to 40 bucks. And he is in the isolation and protective custody.

Straight out to Rich Dool, monitoring real-time feedback on Facebook and Twitter -- Rich.

RICH DOOL, HLN PRODUCER: Jane, attention has been building around this case and social media erupted last night with the news that George Zimmerman was going to be charged with second-degree murder. But today in the wake of all that emotion, people want to know about the trial. They`re looking forward to the trial, and we`re getting a lot of questions on Facebook and Twitter about that.

Robin on Facebook is asking, "This case has been covered so much. Where is the impartial jury going to come from?"

Larry tweeted to us the same idea, "Where will the trial be held? I can`t think of anywhere in America. Impartial -- I don`t think so."

And then an interesting question from Jackie on Twitter, "Can Zimmerman`s previous lawyers, the two that withdrew, be called as witnesses? They never signed with him."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. There`s a whole problem with those other lawyers potentially.

Listen, I want to go back out to Kelli Goff, contributing editor. You know, we just got through the Casey Anthony case not so long ago in the very same area, Orlando. And we all know that that was just a media frenzy and one of the reasons was that they released so much information.

Right now the judge has sealed all documents but this one charging document. But you know there`s going to be a huge battle from the media over that. I think we have a little bit of Casey Anthony to show you, how crazy that got.

What do you expect to happen down the road with this case? Is it going to be at the level of intensity as the Casey Anthony case was?

GOFF: I`m actually going to go back a little further, Jane, and compare it to another case you may recall, the O.J. Simpson trial because we forget that that happened in the age of -- can you imagine if O.J. had happened in the age of Twitter? Can you just imagine that, Jane?

And you know, Daily Beast, just released a poll that showed that there`s a huge racial divide in this case, which is why I`m drawing the comparison to O.J. Simpson. Their poll shows 80 percent of African-Americans like myself believe that race played a role in the shooting and in him targeting Trayvon Martin while only 35 percent of whites feel that way. So I think there are going to be a lot of challenges that are more comparable to the O.J. Simpson case than the Caylee Anthony case in terms of trying to find the right jury.

I mean I think it would be surprising if George Zimmerman`s attorney doesn`t try to make this jury look a lot less like Trayvon Martin`s family and a lot more like George Zimmerman`s family, if you know what I mean. That`s just the reality.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zahra Umansky, I certainly hope it doesn`t harden any divide. I hope we all have a chance to talk and air out grievances and toxic secrets about our culture and heal and come together. There is an opportunity.

UMANSKY: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If we approach it with the right intention. I do hope it doesn`t harden differences.

Zahra Umansky, you represented George Zimmerman. Based on what you know about him and his desire to control things, do you think he`s going to take the stand in his own defense if this does indeed go to trial?

UMANSKY: Absolutely, Jane. With a "Stand Your Ground" defense how could he not? He has no choice. I mean he will have to. He`s going to be prepared by his attorney. And let`s see if this even goes to trial. I really agree with the other attorney that you have on your panel today -- tonight, that there`s some problems the state`s going to come up against

And the girlfriend you mentioned. That could definitely be hearsay. I think that`s going to be a problem for the state. If that evidence would come in even about what she said and what she heard Trayvon say.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the experts disagree. More predictions on the other side.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Predictions starting with bounty hunter Leonard Padilla. What do you expect next?

PADILLA: I think it`ll drag on for about six months with pre-trial motions. He`ll cop a plea to manslaughter with a lid of five years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Ok. Joe Episcopo, criminal defense attorney -- predictions.

EPISCOPO: The girlfriend`s statement`s hearsay. I can`t think of an exception to get it in. The state is going to try to fight that "Stand Your Ground". They`re showing that he followed the victim, that he confronted the victim, that he`s the aggressor.

I think the judge will deny the "Stand Your Ground" and let it go to the jury and let them decide whether it was "Stand Your Ground".

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we are getting our first look tonight at this man at the center of really a worldwide storm. What is he thinking, and why did this have to happen? What an avoidable tragedy. Let`s hope we can all learn from it.

"NANCY GRACE" is up next.