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Self-Defense or Murder?: The George Zimmerman Trial

Aired June 27, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening. And welcome to this A.C. 360 special report, "Self-Defense or Murder?: The George Zimmerman trial."

Every night at 10:00 this week, the best place to go, we hope, for all the key moments from court, none of them dull.

Today, the prosecution's star witness facing another day of withering cross-examination, the defense seeking to turn her words and demeanor to their advantage, trying at one point to turn the prosecution's racial narrative that Trayvon Martin was profiled on its head.

Martin Savidge was in the courtroom today, joins us now with the latest on that and the other key developments today.

So, this captivating testimony from Rachel Jeantel today, talk to me about it. What really stood out to you?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were a number of things.

First and foremost here, this is a young lady who is going up -- a very season defense cross-examiner, Don West. And at times, they were really going toe to toe. We should point out that Don West was able to question the credibility of the some of the statements that she has made, implying that she said certain things in previous testimony, maybe in deposition, and she was saying something different when she got up there on the witness stand. Sometimes, it was the words she attributed to George Zimmerman. Sometimes, she left out the racially derogatory remarks that Trayvon Martin allegedly made of Zimmerman.

And it went back and forth like that. But, at other times, it seemed like it became less about the testimony and more about a test of wills. Take a listen.


DON WEST, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: So the last thing you heard was some kind of noise like something hitting somebody?

RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAYVON MARTIN: And Trayvon got hit. Trayvon got hit.

WEST: You don't know that, do you? JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: You don't know that Trayvon got hit.

JEANTEL: He could...


WEST: You don't know that Trayvon didn't at that moment take his fist and drive it into George Zimmerman's face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please lower your voice.

WEST: Do you?

JEANTEL: No, sir.


SAVIDGE: The "No, sir" could be interpreted as not that she didn't know that. She is actually denying what Don West is saying. It really went back and forth.

COOPER: And in her testimony today, there were a lot of questions and clarifying about race. How did that play out?

SAVIDGE: Well, you know, race, of course, has been a key factor in this story ever since the beginning.

In fact, many say that's what took it from a local tragedy and propelled it to a national debate. But today what Don West was trying to say was that, look, it's been George Zimmerman that's been portrayed as the racist here, but it sounded like he was trying to say the shoe is on the other foot and he was pointing in the direction of Trayvon Martin. Listen.


WEST: What did he tell you that made you think it was a racial event?

JEANTEL: A person that was watching and following him, and that was kind of strange, and a person keep watching you and following you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like he was being stalked from that person.


WEST: What's one thing about what Trayvon Martin told you that made you think this was racial?

JEANTEL: Describing the person.

WEST: Pardon me? JEANTEL: Describing the person.

WEST: I just didn't...

JEANTEL: Describing the person that was watching him and following him, sir.

WEST: I see. And that's because he described him as a creepy- ass cracker?


WEST: So it was racial, but it was because Trayvon Martin put race in this?


WEST: You don't think that's a racial comment?


WEST: You don't think that "creepy ass cracker" is a racial comment?



SAVIDGE: And I have got to say, Anderson, that was a jaw- dropping moment, because, to just about everyone, certainly me, that is a very strong comment. She did not see it that way.

COOPER: All right, Marty, thanks.

Let's dig deeper now with our panel of professionals, legal analysts, and former federal prosecutors, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, at the defense table, attorneys Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos, co-author of "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works, and Sometimes Doesn't."

Sunny, let's start with you.

Her on the stand today, especially the defense spending a lot of time on the subject of race, how do you think that played out?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it was hard to tell from the courtroom. But I have got to tell you, it didn't seem to advance the ball to me very much for the defense.

They made much ado about this comment that Trayvon Martin apparently said to Rachel. But what was also interesting was that he also described George Zimmerman with the N-word. And so certainly he described him in two ways. He described him with a derogatory white term and he described him with a derogatory black term.

And so the defense in this case took such pains to make sure that the prosecution didn't talk about race in its opening statement, didn't say the words racial profiling, yet they took what was the elephant in the room, painted it bright pink and then threw it back out there. And I just don't think it stuck.

COOPER: Mark Geragos, what do you think?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I will tell you, Sunny, you put on a spin on this that is mind-boggling.

This sounds like a very sweet girl. I'm sure her parents love her. And, by the way, Sunny, everybody keeps texting me. They want to know where you got your necklace.



GERAGOS: The thing that remains is, this was a disaster. And the family realizes -- Trayvon's family realizes it's a disaster. Crump was quoted today as saying that they're prepared for any verdict. They know where this is headed.

This was the star witness, the star witness. The wheels came off and it was a train wreck. And there's no other -- there's no way to soft-pedal it. This was a complete, unmitigated disaster.

COOPER: Do you guys agree?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think it was that bad.


TOOBIN: I think it was a problem. She is a problematic witness, there's no doubt about it. But I don't think...

GERAGOS: You think?

TOOBIN: ... she is as -- I don't think she's as critical to the government's case as Mark is making him out to be. And we're calling him the star witness -- her the star witness over and over again. The prosecution isn't calling her the star witness.

She establishes one thing I think convincingly, which is that Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin and he was nervous about that. I think later in her testimony, when she talks about Trayvon saying get off me, that's much more questionable testimony. I'm not sure the jury is going to believe that.

But she's not the whole case. She's part of the case. I don't think this was a train wreck. I do think she's a problematic witness.


COOPER: ... the jury will pick and choose what they believe from her, Danny? (CROSSTALK)

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Number one, the jury will instructed to pick and choose. In essence, the jury will be told you can choose to believe part of her testimony, you can choose to believe none of it. And that is their power. They're empowered to do that.

And more than that, when they get into that jury room, they're going to ask themselves, as I have said before, do I even relate to this person? Because we find people credible that we can relate to. And is this person someone they can relate to? And I don't think that they will. Ultimately, what do you have?

Let's take racism and all this race talk and throw it out and look at what this witness -- because, first of all, those are not elements of any of the crimes or any of the self-defense here. Look at what this witness tells us. She gives us a glimpse into Trayvon Martin's mind, if she is to be believed. And those words are derogatory.

They're spoken in anger. They're spoken -- they're words of -- they give us an idea of what Trayvon Martin is thinking at the time. Contrast that with the 911 call, the dispassionate 911 call of George Zimmerman, and then you look at that against what Trayvon Martin -- again, beyond that, if you believe this witness, she says that Trayvon Martin says, why are you following me? And George Zimmerman says, what are you talking about?

Does that sound like the language of somebody who is hunting someone down?

COOPER: I want to play another part of the testimony where the defense specifically asked her about racially charged language that Trayvon Martin allegedly used that night when describing George Zimmerman to her on the phone. Let's listen.


WEST: Do people that you live around and with call white people "creepy ass crackers"?

JEANTEL: Not creepy, but cracker, yes.

WEST: So the creepy is the pervert part that you were talking about?


WEST: So forget that for a second. You're saying that in the culture that you live in, in your community, people call -- people there call white people crackers?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And do they use the N-word regularly? JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And you're saying so did Trayvon Martin? Trayvon Martin referred to white people as crackers, correct?

JEANTEL: I don't recall, sir.


COOPER: So, Mark, to you, what is the defense trying to do here and did they succeed?

GERAGOS: Of course they succeeded.

I really am at a loss as to how anybody is going to say this was a good day for the prosecution. Understand what happens here. You have only got an audience. Your audience is not the people watching TV, your audience is not us here on TV. It's the six people in that jury box. The six people in that jury box are not going to relate to this young lady.


HOSTIN: And I completely disagree with that, because I was in the courtroom.


GERAGOS: Sunny, I will just explain it to you. They are not going to relate to her. They're not going to relate to this woman saying that cracker is not derogatory. They're not going to relate to the mumbling, the stumbling and the other things that are culturally different.

HOSTIN: That's wrong.


GERAGOS: OK. It's wrong.


GERAGOS: As I said yesterday, save the tape, Sunny, because you're going to see when this verdict comes out that this has been an absolute train wreck.


HOSTIN: I'm already four for four on this, Mark. So, the bottom line is, I was in the courtroom.


COOPER: OK, Sunny, you're saying because she's authentic, you're saying she's relatable? HOSTIN: Absolutely. I took a look at the jury. I sat in there. They were engaged, they were taking notes, they were leaning in. They didn't seem to have any trouble understanding her. And I have got to tell you, I think today was an even better day for her on the witness stand than yesterday.

Yesterday, yes, she was combative. Yes, she seemed fidgety, today, much more comfortable in the chair, answering the questions. And one thing for sure, she never strayed from the fact that she said that George Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin, was pursuing him and approached him. And I think that is so significant.


TOOBIN: Yes, I would like to take a little bit of a middle road between Mark and Sunny here.

But I do think she's a problematic witness and I think the jury is going to have a lot of problems with at least some of what she says. But, remember, this case is about Trayvon Martin being shot, and there's a 911 call where George Zimmerman is told, don't approach him. That's the key evidence in the case.

I don't think it matters whether he says cracker or uses the N- word. I just think that's just a sideshow, it's an attempt to get the jury focused on something else. This is a case about a kid who got shot, and that's what the jury is going to have to ask their question -- have to answer, who is responsible for that?


CEVALLOS: It's not exactly about -- this case is not exactly about Trayvon Martin being shot. It's more than that.

First, Jeff said they told him to stop following him. What he didn't tell you was the next word that you hear, which is OK. Now, do we know what he did when he said OK? We don't know. And any time you hear those words, we don't know, that translates to reasonable doubt.

COOPER: But he did end up following him.


CEVALLOS: Secondly, it's not about shooting. We know that -- we know George Zimmerman shot.

This case is not about a shooting. We already know that. That's stipulated. This case is what about what was in George Zimmerman's mind at the time of the shooting, what he reasonably perceived. And if the prosecution cannot disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, that is a D-verdict.

COOPER: Mark, I want to play a clip from an interview I did with the Martin family attorney, Daryl Parks, about an hour ago where he said race is not an issue in this trial. I just want to play that.


DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: I think you have to distinguish that when you have a situation where we see that George Zimmerman is talking in the 911 tape and describing what he was seeing in Trayvon Martin and calling him suspicious, we don't believe the focus was really race.

Additionally, the charge that he is facing has nothing to do with race. Bringing race into this situation does nothing but make people pick sides and invoke some prejudice into the proceedings. We don't want that. We want Mr. Zimmerman to have a nice, fair and just trial.


COOPER: So, we're going to have more of that interview coming up tonight, Mark.

But that's a completely different position from what he said at a House Democratic forum just last year. Let's listen to that.



PARKS: He was another unarmed black boy whose life was lost because of unfounded stereotypes, suspicions and fears.


COOPER: What do you make of that contrast, Mark?

GERAGOS: I know -- I think I know exactly what is happening here.

Look, the reason this case was galvanizing to begin with is because if anybody else other than a police officer had shot somebody dead, you get arrested first, they ask questions later. And anybody in the African-American community and frankly in any minority community understands that.

So there's obviously a -- kind of a bubbling up of emotion, because he didn't get arrested and they figure that it's because he's white and the kid is black. Now, once he does get arrested, the idea that they now have a jury, which has, you know -- is woefully deficient, in terms of having a minority presence, the last thing that anybody wants to do if you're looking for a guilty verdict is to inject race into it, because if you inject race into it, which, by the way, is injected all the way through this case, and that is precisely why you see the way people react today to this young lady's testimony.

Those of us who have some familiarity with the culture understand and get her and can relate. Those of us who don't thinks she's a disaster. So race is the great underbelly, if you will, of the criminal justice system. To say it has nothing to do with it, you have never sat in a criminal courtroom. Race has everything to do with the criminal justice system. COOPER: Sunny, you agree with that?

HOSTIN: Yes, I mean, I do think again it's sort of been woven through this trial. And while they didn't use racial profiling, profiling in a sense is code for racial profiling.

And we have got these 911 calls -- or 311 calls that came in from George Zimmerman and he describes every single person that he's watching as young, black and suspicious. Apparently, white kids walking around his neighborhood, they aren't suspicious. Latinos walking around his neighborhood are not suspicious, just young black men.

And so to say race may not have been a part of this at all, I just -- I don't buy that.

COOPER: All right, we have got to take a break. Stick around.

Next, we're going to have more on Rachel Jeantel, who she is, what she thinks of all the attention she's been getting, why she's been less than truthful about a number of things in the past.

And later, a 360 exclusive, as I mentioned, inside perspective tonight from Mark O'Mara, George Zimmerman's co-counsel, and more from the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family.


COOPER: Well, cross-examination has been described as a kind of jujitsu, the art of turning your courtroom opponent's strength into a weakness.

Tonight, we want to give you a look at how it's done and how a witness can either help or hurt the effort in that regard. The defense cross-examination of Rachel Jeantel has been a textbook example. And so is her demeanor compared to yesterday.

I want to show you two clips, one showing her tone on the witness stand yesterday, then something from today.


JEANTEL: Do you watch "First 48"?

WEST: I couldn't hear you.

JEANTEL: Do you watch "First 48"? They call the first number that the victim talked to.

WEST: I'm sorry, "The First 48"?

JEANTEL: A show.

WEST: Had you seen any press conferences or news or whatever where his attorney spoke?

JEANTEL: I had told you, I do not watch news. I do not watch news.

WEST: And then we met again the next month?

JEANTEL: No, we met again that Friday, when you did not want to interview me that Friday?

WEST: Hmm.

Are you finished?

WEST: I'm sorry?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much more time do you think that you need to finish your cross?

WEST: Well, I certainly wouldn't -- I don't know for sure. I would think we should plan on at least a couple of hours.



COOPER: Clearly, she was not happy about that. That was yesterday.

Now here is a moment from today.


WEST: Are you OK this morning?


WEST: You seem so different than yesterday. I'm just checking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a question?


WEST: Yes.

Did someone talk with you last night about your demeanor in court yesterday?

JEANTEL: No. I went to sleep.


COOPER: Rachel Jeantel today, her second day in the spotlight, her performance on the stand more polished than yesterday's, but still raising eyebrows. She said she got sleep last night.

That was the difference, according to her.

360's Randi Kaye reports none of that attention is especially welcome for this young woman.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rachel Jeantel never wanted any of this, no media glare, no attention, and no tough questions about her phone call with Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot. That may be why she lied about her age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you say that you were 16 so that you could try to maintain more privacy?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you wanted to make yourself seem like a minor so that maybe there wouldn't be as much public disclosure, as if you said your true age of 18?

KAYE: Today, Rachel Jeantel is 19 and her life story from what we can piece together is more exposed than she had ever dreamed.

She attended Miami Norland Senior High School and according to her Facebook page, took classes in criminal justice at Miami University, though the school tells us they have no record of her. She's from North Miami, where she says she and Trayvon Martin met in elementary school.

(on camera): Why do we care so much about who this woman is? Because her testimony about what Trayvon told her the night he died could make or break the case. If what she says is true, Trayvon Martin was scared and trying to get away from a man pursuing him, a man who later turned out to be George Zimmerman.

(voice-over): But Jeantel may have some credibility issues. She's already been caught lying about her age and about her reason for not attending Trayvon's funeral. And then there's her vanishing postings on her Twitter page.

According to The Smoking Gun, tweets referring to Trayvon and the case were removed just hours before her testimony, like this one from June 21, "Sixteen months later, wow, I need a drink." Jeantel had also tweeted about having -- quote -- "jackass lawyers on my ass."

It's unclear which lawyers she may have been referring to, but she's certainly has held her own with Zimmerman's attorneys in court. She took some heat from the defense for this audio interview she gave the Martin family attorney early on in the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what could you hear?

JEANTEL: Like a little, get off, some stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You heard get off?

JEANTEL: Like a little, get off.

KAYE: But watch how she puts Don West on his heels in court about delaying his interview with her.

JEANTEL: When you did not want to interview me that Friday?

WEST: Hmm.

I didn't want to interview you? We didn't have an interview, did we?

JEANTEL: No. But we agreed to that Friday.

WEST: I'm sorry that you were inconvenienced, but we did not have the interview on Friday because of scheduling issues. Would you agree with that?

JEANTEL: You should have picked me up on Thursday.

KAYE: Rachel Jeantel was hoping to put this behind her with this simple handwritten letter to Trayvon's mother. A friend helped her write it. She sent it about a month after his death, and in it explains what she remembers from that night.

"The man started getting closer. Then Trayvon turned around and said, 'Why are you following me?' Then I heard him fall. Then the phone hung up."

When the defense asked her to read the letter in court, she said she couldn't read cursive handwriting. She later explained she's of Haitian descent and grew up speaking Spanish and Creole.

On her Facebook Monday, two days before her testimony began, she posted "I know I have a lot explain to do."

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Well, it never really fails. There's always one witness, sometimes more, who no matter which you take is very fascinating.

Back with our panel, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos, and Mark Geragos.

So, Sunny, we saw Rachel Jeantel's demeanor change obviously from yesterday to today. Some say she was less combative. She said, yes, sir. You saw a -- you were in the courtroom. You actually saw the jury smiling at her at times?

HOSTIN: Yes, they were certainly engaged. She looked directly at them at one point, which I don't believe she had done the day before. And it just seemed more relaxed. She seemed more relaxed.

She was a different witness today, quite frankly. And that happens sometimes. I have had witnesses that I have put on the witness stand, first day a disaster. They're uncomfortable, they're combative. The second day, they're used to it, they know they can do it and it's much better. And I think that's what happened today.


COOPER: Mark, when you're doing cross-examination of a witness like her, any witness, you want to I guess undermine her credibility, but at the same time, you don't want to come off too harsh, right? How do you go about it?

GERAGOS: Right. And I'll tell you, Sunny, the reason -- and I think I said it last night -- the prosecution took her to the woodshed last night, and that's why she was different today.


HOSTIN: I don't think to.

GERAGOS: She got schooled.

HOSTIN: That would be improper, Mark.


TOOBIN: Come on, Mark.


TOOBIN: You don't have any evidence of that.


GERAGOS: You mean, a prosecutor in this case acting improper? That's shocking to me. But one of the things that I will say...

HOSTIN: That did not happen.


GERAGOS: Were you there in the prosecutor's office yesterday?

HOSTIN: Were you there? Were you there?

GERAGOS: No, but I predicted it, and I would bet you that they schooled her.

I will also tell you that Don West went probably an hour too long, because at a certain point, you get in, you get out. The jury had had enough of her would be my guess. And at a certain point, the worm turns and you're going to have a feeling of maybe starting to feel sorry for her. So at a certain point, you don't need to beat the living daylights out of her.

She had shown that she really didn't have a great handle on it. She's not going to appeal to this jury, unless you put her in a position where she will. So, I will agree with that.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: There's another exchange between her and Don West I just want to play.


JEANTEL: He told me the dude was close to him.

WEST: Right. At that point, he decided to approach this man and say, why are you following me?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And he could have just run home if he wasn't there.

JEANTEL: He was already by his house. He told me.

WEST: Of course, you don't know if he was telling you the truth or not.

JEANTEL: Why he need to lie about that, sir?

WEST: Maybe if he decided to assault George Zimmerman, he didn't want you to know about it.

JEANTEL: That's a little retarded, sir.


JEANTEL: That's very retarded to do that, sir. If you don't know the person, why risk it? Trayvon did not know him.



COOPER: The defense also tried to trip her up by suggesting or implying that Trayvon Martin started the fight that night. Let's play that.


WEST: But the reason you didn't do anything about it, tell anybody what you had heard, come forward to the police, is because in your mind it was just a fight, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And, in fact, it was just a fight that Trayvon Martin started. That's why you weren't worried. That's why you didn't do anything. It was because Trayvon Martin started the fight and you knew that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, compound question, badgering the witness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may answer. JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: But you thought it was just a fight, because it was one you knew that Trayvon Martin was planning to start.

JEANTEL: No, sir. If he was going to confront the man, he would have told me, I'm about to confront the man and see what he wants. He did not tell me that, sir.


COOPER: What do you make of that, Danny?


COOPER: They tried to get her to say...


TOOBIN: I think that's good cross-examination. Here, he's putting the defense theory in front of the jury in a very explicit way. Her answers, she looks like she's kind of making stuff up as she goes along, the idea that, well, he would have called me -- he would have said he was going to call he later if he was going to start a fight.


COOPER: Well, she said repeatedly, no, sir, he did not start this fight.

TOOBIN: That's right. But the jury is now going to understand the defense theory of the case in a very direct way.


CEVALLOS: More than that, and style points to attorney West. I mean, look at the subtleties here. First he asks her, was he -- would he have followed him? Would he have fought him? And she says, you don't know the kind of guy Trayvon Martin was.

And almost a second later, she says, oh, well, if he was going to start a fight, that's the kind of thing he would have told me, which implies that she knows that this is the kind of thing he would have done before. I think those are very subtle points and I think it demonstrates to a jury that she's improving this as she goes along.

She's writing this as she goes and giving the answer that she thinks best helps the case. Again, she's already been caught fabricating to make a better story for the person present. And we look at that first interview when Trayvon's mom was present, and she admits to fabricating, leaving out words.

Now, is it the end of the world for her? Probably not, those minor details. But I think you have to give the attorney credit. This is some masterful cross-examination, and he's advancing the defense theory of the case by using the techniques of cross- examination.

COOPER: We have got to leave it there. We're going to have more with our panel coming up with Sunny, Jeff, Danny, and Mark. Stick around.

Coming up, a 360 exclusive -- I'm speaking with Zimmerman's defense attorney Mark O'Mara about how he thinks Rachel Jeantel's testimony played with jurors today and about how his client, George Zimmerman, is feeling in the early days of the trial. We will also hear from Daryl Parks, who is handling legal issues for the Trayvon Martin's family and sitting with them in court every day -- what he told me about how Martin's parents are doing next.


COOPER: Attorney Darrell Parks and his partner, Ben Crump, have been handling legal matters for Trayvon Martin's family. Darrell Parks has been sitting with the family in court. I already played a bit of my interview with him tonight. Here's more of that conversation.


COOPER: Appreciate you being with us, Mr. Parks. As the Martin family attorney, how do you think Rachel's testimony went today?

DARRELL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: I think Rachel's testimony was great, Anderson. She stood fast. Her testimony was consistent and as you see, she, through various attempts to impeach her, held her own.

COOPER: She seemed less combative in her testimony today than yesterday. Did you or any of your colleagues prepare her for today's testimony or give her advice on what to do differently?

PARKS: Now she has her own counsel in this case. However, remember yesterday she came in the latter part of the court day. So she was tired and most people sitting in the courtroom were tired. We went fairly late. So I believe that she was just tired. Obviously, once she was given a chance to rest overnight, came back and she was a great witness. She was very respectful to the court and gave very concise answers.

COOPER: So you're just saying that neither you nor Mr. Crump gave her advice about what to do differently today on the stand?

PARKS: No, as a matter of fact, I believe that she was in the custody of the agents. We had no access to her whatsoever.

Did you feel that the defense attorney Don West was too harsh with her today?

PARKS: Well, I think Mr. West's presentation spoke for itself. I try to make sure that I don't criticize lawyers and their styles. But I think that, you know, I don't believe Mr. West is really connecting with that jury. But we'll see from the verdict. COOPER: You gave a press conference after court today where you say that the Martin family wanted to make it clear that, quote, "race was not a part of the process." But a lot of the prosecution's opening statement was about George Zimmerman profiling Trayvon Martin.

PARKS: Anderson, I think you have to distinguish that. When you have a situation where we see that George Zimmerman is talking in the 911 tape and describing what he was seeing in Trayvon Martin and calling him suspicious, we don't believe the focus is really race. Additionally, the charge that he is facing has nothing to do with race.

COOPER: So you don't believe that George Zimmerman felt Trayvon Martin was suspicious because he was African-American?

PARKS: No, I think he saw a person who had a hoody on, who was walking. He didn't know who he was. It was a rainy night, it was dark. So he thought that maybe he was seeing some of the previous conduct that he had seen in his neighborhood. So he decided at that particular point that these people always are getting away with it and on that night he was not going to let it happen.

COOPER: And when he was referring to, you know, "these people" or "blanking punks" as he said, you don't think that was in all a reference to African-American youth?

PARKS: Well, I think he saw someone that he thought was highly suspicious. Someone he thought was up to something bad, that he wanted to do something about it.

I think it's important, though, for purposes of where we are now, we're in a court case, bringing race into this situation does nothing but make people take sides and invoke some prejudice into the proceedings. We don't want that. We want Mr. Zimmerman to have a nice, fair and just trial.

COOPER: You're sitting with Trayvon Martin's parents. How are they holding up? We've seen them get up a number of times at various points when some the testimony is very graphic. How are they holding up?

PARKS: It's very tough. So they're taking it piece by piece. I think the state is making sure they try to give them some advance notice about some of the sensitive parts. You've had examples, for example, where Trayvon's face was shown. It was tough for Tracy, because that was one of the pictures he used to identify Trayvon's body and showing that picture in court invoked that. So that was a sensitive moment.

And mom has had some issues, just hearing some of the 911 tapes and hearing the gunshot that killed your child is very tough. So they're maintaining. They are here to see it through. They are very encouraged about what they see and hear in court and the job the state of Florida is doing to present this case.

COOPER: Mr. Parks, I appreciate your time. Thanks for being on. PARKS: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: On the other side, attorney Mark O'Mara is defending George Zimmerman. I spoke with him. A 360 exclusive.


COOPER: Mr. Mara, it's good to have you on again. Rachel Jeantel has been on stand for two days do you she her testimony went well for the defense? She was billed as the prosecution's star witness.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think she was a reticent witness, I don't think she wanted to be involved. She waited so long and was found out almost by happenstance. I was most concerned with her testimony but the way she started with it, with Mr. Crump's interview, sort of off record without law enforcement there.

And even more problematic, I think, was Mr. Delriana's interview of her when she was sitting right next to Trayvon Martin's mother, when she was supposed to be giving her first law enforcement statement. And then we hear even in that statement, she didn't tell the truth on a number of issues.

O'MARA: But I think she didn't want to be there. She was reluctant and that sort of showed up in her testimony today and yesterday.

COOPER: Stressing in the court today about the presence of Trayvon Martin's mother during that interview with law enforcement, to you that says what? That there's potential that either she was changing her statements to the police based on the family being present?

O'MARA: Well, she testified that she did. She testified that, when she was talking to Ben Crump and the bomb was there, and when she was talking to Mr. Delriana (ph) and Trayvon's mother was right next to her on the couch, tearing up and crying, that she lightened up on her testimony.

You have to wonder why any law enforcement officer, particularly a prosecutor with 30 years of experience, would risk taking a statement from a witness in front of the deceased's mother. You have to know that there's going to be some impact.

And as she testified yesterday and today, there was some impact, because she didn't say what she heard on the -- on the telephone. She actually went light. She sort of modified it herself. And we don't know to what extent she modified it with curse words and also who she wanted to blame while talking in front of her mother.

COOPER: Have you ever heard of police interviewing a witness or a potential witness in front of the parent of the victim?

O'MARA: Let me think for a moment? Absolutely not. It is Cop 101, and it's Prosecutor 101. You have to maintain the individual nature of a witness's testimony, make sure that they are absolutely not impacted or biased by the situation that they're in. We know you can't do it, you know, with bright lights and a rubber hose. You also can't do it with a sympathy in parents, taking a statement in front of the decedent's mother.

COOPER: You held a press conference after court today and you stated you may have to ask her additional questions. Why?

O'MARA: Well, there are certain issues that may still become relevant, and that's talking about Trayvon Martin's history and his background. My hope, as I said from the beginning, is that we don't go there and that we try this case simply on the seven or eight minutes that happened around his passing or just before his passing.

However, if in fact the state tries to present something that needs to be rebutted by a sort of looking into Trayvon Martin's past, then this witness, who knows pretty well and actually gave some fairly colorful statements as to what Trayvon Martin said as far as some race and some fighting, may well become relevant. I hope not, but we may have to get that on the record.

COOPER: How is your client, George Zimmerman, feeling about how the trial is going. Can you say?

O'MARA: Well, he's very afraid. He's frightened, because he felt that he did something he had to do to protect his own life, and now other people are trying to put him in prison for the rest of his life because of it. So he's been stressed for a year and a half, trying to get to this point. And now he's dealing with the reality that he's got the state of Florida trying to say that what he did to save his own life was a crime. And that's a frightening position to be in.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, it's good to have you on the program again. Thank you.

Coming up, another witness on the stand today, someone who made a 911 call after hearing the screams the night that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. Now, the key issue, was it Zimmerman or Martin who was heard screaming? We'll tell you what they said on the stand. We're back in a moment.


COOPER: What's made this case such an ink blob test is that so much of the evidence is open to interpretation. Do George Zimmerman's injuries suggest a life and death struggle or not? Who was on top of whom in the fight? Whose scream was heard on the 911 tape? What did the neighbors see and hear? So much can be seen either way.

Today, jurors heard the 911 call made by neighbor Jenna Laur and heard from Ms. Laur as well on the stand. Here is that recording.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, do you need, place, fire or medical? JENNA LAUR, NEIGHBOR: Maybe both. I'm not sure. There's someone screaming outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the address that they're near? And is it a male or female?

LAUR: It sounds like a male.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you don't know why?

LAUR: I don't know why. I think they're yelling help, but I don't know. It sounds like shots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look hurt to you?

LAURA: I can't see him and I want to go out there, and I don't know what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he's yelling "help"?

LAUR: Yes. There's gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just heard gunshots?



LAUR: Just one.


COOPER: She testified she muted her TV after hearing voices take part in what she described as a three-part exchange. She said she cannot identify what exactly was being said.

Then she said she heard scuffling, which sounded to her like sneakers on pavement and grass. The scuffling turned to yells, she said, which then turned into cries for help. Now the question is what can be gleaned from the testimony and the tape? Back with our panel: Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos.

So Sunny, you were in the courtroom. Do you think either side made progress in identifying or convincing the jurors whose voice was on that tape?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't. I think that both sides sort of left it out there. We know that there are screams on the tape. But no one really definitively identified who the screams were coming from. And I think that really laid the groundwork again for really a showdown in court between Trayvon Martin's family members and George Zimmerman's family members. I know that they will have to get on the witness stand and identify those voices.

And we'll see who the jury believes. And perhaps the jury will just come to a conclusion on its own.

But I want to say something, Anderson. Everybody ridiculed Rachel for saying that she heard wet grass. This same witness discussed hearing wet grass -- sneakers on wet grass, yet no one is talking about that, and I wonder why.

COOPER: Mark, what about that? And also the defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, eventually got the witness to admit that it could be George Zimmerman calling for help. I just want to play that from the court today and then have you comment.


O'MARA: You said that it was difficult for you to identify that screaming voice as that of George Zimmerman, correct?

LAUR: Yes, I couldn't tell whose voice that was.

O'MARA: Have you ever heard George Zimmerman scream like the person was screaming that night?

LAUR: Never.

O'MARA: Would you consider those screams to be life-threatening screams?

LAUR: Yes.

O'MARA: Did it seem that it was the screams of somebody who was getting beat up?

LAUR: They were being hurt somehow, yes.

O'MARA: Maybe somebody who was having this done to them?

LAUR: It's possible.

O'MARA: Have you ever seen this picture before?

LAUR: Yes.

O'MARA: Could those screams have come from somebody who was having this done to them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, speculation.


COOPER: Mark, what do you make of that?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I was wondering how long it was going to take the prosecutor to object to speculation. I'll go back to Sunny's point. I agree with Sunny about the wet grass, and it's precisely the point I've been trying to make. The prism through which you look is going to inform how you look at this case. So you hear one witness or see one witness say something, and if you're white, you view it one way. If you're black, you view it another way.

When you hear these screams, it's going to be the same thing. The prism through which you look or hear those screams, if you believe that George Zimmerman was the attacker, you're going to believe it was Trayvon Martin. If you believe that Trayvon was, you're going to say that it was Zimmerman. It's one of the fascinating things about this case. It's like a racial Rorschach test, when you're watching...

TOOBIN: Wait a second, Mark. I'm not sure that's true. Who's to say that black people and white people see these things differently? Do you have evidence of that?

GERAGOS: Yes, I...


GERAGOS: ... racially.

TOOBIN: You do?

GERAGOS: And it is my hypothesis, and I think -- I think that this case does break down not strictly along racial lines but along racial and political affiliations. I think it's like every other case.

When I say this, it's informed based upon what I see going on in criminal courtrooms throughout this country every day. You know, one of the great -- as I said earlier in the show, one of the great untold stories, maybe not told enough, is that racism informs the criminal courts. It just does.

COOPER: Do you argue with that?

HOSTIN: I reject that notion. I reject that. I think that a black juror can find a white person guilty and a white jury can certainly find -- find that George Zimmerman is guilty.

GERAGOS: It happens every day. Right. I agree -- I agree with both of those, but I think that, Sunny, one of the reasons that the Supreme Court came up with Baxon (ph) challenges, one of the reason they came up with challenges based on race is because prosecutors have, for almost a century, exercised their pre-emptory challenges, their challenges on jurors, based upon race, which the Supreme Court has said you cannot do.

Now, if racism was not informing the criminal justice system, why would the U.S. Supreme Court have to go to all that extent? Why did cases get reversed because prosecutors are exercising pre-emptory challenges against blacks, when there's a black accused of a crime.

Sunny, I -- it's mind-boggling that anyone is even discussing the fact or having a problem with the idea that racism is alive and well in the criminal court system. TOOBIN: Mark, I don't think anyone is disagreeing with the fact that there is racism in the family. The issue is can white jurors decide this case? And that I think is very different from the larger issue of racism. I think your conclusions about how people react to this evidence solely on racial grounds, I just don't think it's supported.

COOPER: We're out of time. It's a good discussion. We'll have it again. Danny Cevallos, appreciate it. Sunny Hostin, Mark Geragos, Jeff Toobin. Thanks.

Just ahead, former NFL star Aaron Hernandez charged with first- degree murder. Now he's also being investigated in connection with another case, a double homicide. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Let's get caught up on some of the other stories. Susan Hendricks has a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, HLN ANCHOR: Anderson, the former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, retired Marine General James Cartwright, is the subject of a Justice Department investigation involving material in a book by "New York Times" correspondent David Sanger. That's according to a source familiar with the probe.

NBC news is reporting that Cartwright was told he's under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about a U.S. cyber-attack on Iran's nuclear program. Now CNN has not confirmed that detail. In his book, Sanger wrote about the computer virus that affected Iranian computers.

Officials from the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney's office have not commented. Nor have Cartwright and his attorney.

Late word tonight that Massachusetts police are seeking an additional man in the murder of Odin Lloyd. His name is Earnest Wallace. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Aaron Hernandez is already charged with murder in that case. And there is potential new trouble for him. A source says the former NFL tight end is also being investigated in connection with a double homicide in Boston a year ago.

And a Massachusetts grand jury returned a 30-count indictment against Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charging him with using weapons of mass destruction and killing four people. Seventeen of those charges carry the possibility of the death penalty -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Susan, thanks very much.

That's it for us. Join us again tomorrow night at 10 Eastern for a special 360 coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. Another edition of 360 is coming up in about three minutes from now just after this break. Stick around.