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Zimmerman Cleared of Murder, Manslaughter Charges
Aired July 13, 2013 - 23:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is midnight, Eastern Time, and I have breaking news for you in case you missed it. Just a short time ago, this happened inside the courtroom where George Zimmerman was standing trial on murder charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit, in and for Seminole County, Florida, "State of Florida versus George Zimmerman," verdict, we the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty. So say we all --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Two words, not guilty. And George Zimmerman was told he could go home, that he was a free man, all charges against him were dismissed.
The jury is six women deliberated for more than 16 hours, Friday and most of Saturday. They could have found him guilty of second- degree murder or manslaughter. They chose to find him not guilty.
It is the caper of a case that has inflamed racial passions across the country and polarized opinion on race and profiling since the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February of last year.
George Zimmerman found not guilty in Florida.
I want you to listen to Judge Debra Nelson speak directly to George Zimmerman right after he learned that he was cleared of all those charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Your bond will be released. Your GPS monitor will be cut off when you exit the courtroom over here and you have no further business with the court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: "You have no further business with the court." And with those words, George Zimmerman shook hands with his legal team, calmly put some papers away and made his way right out of the courtroom.
And outside the courthouse, reaction was quick and for a while it was quite loud.
There were demonstrators outside the courthouse chanting justice for Trayvon, there were some -- there were very emotional moments outside the courthouse. There are those protesters, demonstrators outside the courthouse.
Our David Mattingly was out there right after the verdict was read, speaking with people. There were George Zimmerman supporters out there as well.
Justice for Trayvon. Talking about the 17-year-old who was shot to death by George Zimmerman last February. The jury Saturday night, finding George Zimmerman, of course, not guilty.
I want you to listen now to attorney Don West speaking after the verdict was read.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful. I am gratified by the jury's verdict. As happy as I am for George Zimmerman, I'm thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty. For that we are eternally grateful. But it makes me sad too, that it took this long, under these circumstances, to finally get justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right, Martin Savidge is here. Martin is our man inside the courtroom.
You covered the entire trial from inside the courtroom. Let's talk a little bit more about what Don West said. He called the prosecution disrespectful.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's quite clear and I don't think this has been any secret that the defense has been very angry. Especially Don West at times.
SAVIDGE: With how things have progressed. And Mark O'Mara has openly stated that he believe there could have been some tactics on the part of the prosecution that were not above bored. You know, he feels that some of the discovery was held back, some of the evidence they should have had.
Don West was clearly frustrated with Judge Nelson, with the way the rulings were going. You saw that tension inside the courtroom. The night that she walked out. You know, that almost -- you really rarely do you see that kind of verbal confrontation that was happening. The judge at one point said, you are overruled. And it was almost like a judicial, you know, wham, you know, that's it, buddy.
LEMON: Well, and then once with Mark O'Mara, she said listen, every time the court has ruled, you continue to come back and I have given you the rules of this court.
SAVIDGE: Yes. A number of times it seemed that, you know, you could see the defense was pushing it.
SAVIDGE: And --
LEMON: Was that on purpose?
SAVIDGE: Well, they were frustrated. They were angry. The judge, this trial -- moved along very quickly. I would have to say. You know, they kept it -- we're six, what are we? We were a year and a half. I think that the judge did a very good job of keeping everybody on time. The defense clearly always, their tactic was delay, delay, delay, delay. And even right up to the beginning of this trial, they wanted a delay.
SAVIDGE: The judge said no, this is time to -- to adjudicate the case. And that's what they did.
LEMON: And let's talk a little bit more about Don West and that knock-knock --
SAVIDGE: Yes. I think Don West, even tonight, hard to imagine but he's still trying to say that was a funny joke.
LEMON: That's OK. Do we have that where he stands by his joke? Can we listen to that and then Martin and I will talk about it? OK, they will work on it. They'll work on it.
SAVIDGE: I mean, it wasn't funny. There was never a time it was funny. And I think what he was trying to say is that the passion that John Guy delivered the opening statement for the prosecution, that he was trying to diffuse some of that somehow, and that somehow that joke was going to do it.
And I don't think there's anybody that would say, Don, you're right. No, it didn't work. It never worked. And for him to say, you know, tonight he still thinks it's funny. I don't think there was ever a time it would have been considered funny.
LEMON: I think -- and I'm paraphrasing here. He's sort -- he sort of needed to break the ice so to speak or break the tension or --
SAVIDGE: Break -- I think what he is implying is sort of break the spell. That he believes that John Guy may have really sort of captured the offensive there. Because John Guy did deliver a very strong, very powerful, very concise, and passionate opening argument on the part of the prosecution. So Don West was a very different kind of lawyer. And he wanted to come out and did come out with this very methodical three-hour breakdown of what the defense was going to do.
But it started off badly. There was a moment where he was immediately objected to right at the start and I think that threw him off. He seemed to fumble a bit and fell on the joke and the joke went flat.
LEMON: Yes, let's listen, Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEST: Sure, stop me if you heard this one before. No. I'm not going to talk about that. No. This trial is about George Zimmerman, not about pictures of ice cream cones or -- now I still think the joke was funny. I'm sorry about that. I am sorry I did not tell it better. But there was an important reason for it. There needed to be a disconnect, frankly, a disconnect from an act that was hard to follow. But, I knew Mr. O'Mara knew, and you all soon found out that it was indeed just an act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: "I wish I had told it better."
SAVIDGE: I don't think it would have worked. I mean, by all accounts, Don West is an excellent attorney. But I think Mark O'Mara and others on the team felt that he wasn't at his best during certain moments of this trial. Some of which, you know, we talked about already the joke. We talked about the ice cream tweet which has become notorious. We talked about the showdown, if you will, between himself and Rachel Jeantel, which, you know, you began to see, this was less about the testimony of a witness, and more like a test of wills between two people.
And there was a huge divide between them and I think the problem for the defense on her particular cross examination was that more and more people began to watch to see how these two faced off over two days, rather than really understanding what one witness was saying and what the defense was trying get her to either take back or somehow misstate.
LEMON: Let's go back into the courtroom, the -- after the verdict was announced. I was in the courtroom, but from the camera angles they were giving out, watch the body language. Clearly, obviously, relief from George Zimmerman and the families.
I said the first time I've ever seen the mother smile. I had never seen her smile and then the father as well. And everyone there.
Give us a reading of the body language inside the courtroom.
SAVIDGE: Well, I mean --
LEMON: The temperature --
SAVIDGE: We were -- you know, when you get to a major trial like this, when the verdict comes out, it is always difficult to describe the electricity that is in the air. But there is. Everybody in that courtroom feels it. Whether you're a -- you know, an observer or professional observer, as a journalist, whether you're a family, you know that this is what everything has built to. Is this moment.
And there is that silence that is almost beyond any measure as you wait after the judge has said, has the jury reached a verdict, yes, we have, your honor, and then they read that verdict. It is so powerful. And it was in this case, it caught people off guard because you expected to hear, you know, regarding second-degree murder, how do you rule? You know, then usually it's manslaughter. How would you rule?
SAVIDGE: We thought we might hear two different takes.
LEMON: Yes. We the jury have and above entitled action, that's what you're used to hearing. Yes.
SAVIDGE: All we got was not guilty.
SAVIDGE: Now, that's all that needs to be said. But still it was -- I think for a moment everybody was like, OK, is it not guilty for everything or not guilty -- you know, it was. It was not guilty for everything. There was no gasp. There was no shock. And the judge had warned there shouldn't be.
I think with the Zimmerman family, there was, you know, as you say, palpable relief, but George did not seem to, you know, burst into a smile or anything. I think because everyone knows this is a verdict but it's still a tragedy.
LEMON: Was there some indication as to what might have happened? Because the Martin family wasn't in court.
SAVIDGE: In court there. Yes.
LEMON: That's interesting, don't you think?
SAVIDGE: And it was. They have not been in the courtroom all day today. We've been called in a couple of times. Jury questions, things like that. We looked -- George Zimmerman's family was there. And not to equate in any way, I'm just making an observation. But we certainly expected.
I was going up the elevator, it was very crowded. A lot of journalists racing to get up to hear the verdict. One arm reaches in, Ben Crump, you know, so we get the doors open, Ben, you know, joins what is already a very crowded car. He's the Trayvon Martin family attorney. And rides up with us and, you know, we said how are you feeling, what are you feeling, and he said, he was feeling confident, you know.
And he looked confident. But of course the ruling did not go the family's way. It is not the way they would have liked it. And they weren't there. It was noticeable. You couldn't help but notice because we see the family every day in that courtroom and watch and know that they have to, you know, suffer as they do seeing the imagery and hearing about the death of their child.
So, you know, that you knew, and you figured at this moment, where were they? Did they know in some way? We don't know.
LEMON: Yes, it was very different in his mood when he entered. He did an interview with me a couple of hours ago and then again at the post press conference after the verdict was read, Ben Crump, I'm talking about.
SAVIDGE: Yes --
You know, I just resonate in my mind, listening to the closing arguments, this sort of play back in my head. And of course the defense and the prosecution both did their very best in those statements. John Guy had a line and the last part of his line was George Zimmerman will always have the blood of Trayvon Martin on his hands.
SAVIDGE: There's a lot of truth to that. Whether you are the prosecution or the defense, I think everyone acknowledges that this was a tragedy.
SAVIDGE: And George Zimmerman will always have to live with that.
SAVIDGE: He will have to live with it.
SAVIDGE: Regardless of being exonerated. That is on him. He knows that. That was a statement that range true for everyone in that courtroom.
LEMON: Martin Savidge, thank you.
What is next for George Zimmerman? He is a free man. And just hours ago, an all-female jury found Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman has been in the spotlight since Trayvon's death. Now this is the moment, just hours ago when the judge released Zimmerman.
How will he resume life after all the drama of the last 18 months? Well, his wife wept in court after the verdict was announced. One of Zimmerman's lawyers says Zimmerman wishes he could get his old life back. The trial has changed Zimmerman's life forever.
Next our legal team, our legal experts weigh in tonight on the verdict. Also this hour, an exclusive interview with the brother of George Zimmerman, his reaction to the verdict that set his brother free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: I am disappointed as we are with the verdict, but we accept it. We live in a great country that has a great criminal justice system. It is not perfect, but it's the best in the world and we respect the jury's verdict.
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: This case has never been about race, nor has it ever been about the right to bear arms. Not in the sense of proving this as a criminal case, but Trayvon Martin was profiled. There is no doubt that he was profiled to be a criminal. And if race was one of the aspects in George Zimmerman's mind, then we believe that we put out the proof necessary to show that Zimmerman did profile Trayvon Martin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And some of the reaction following the verdict has been just as interesting as the action in court during the testimony.
I want to bring in now our legal experts. Sunny Hostin, Mark Nejame, Paul Callan, Holly Hughes, Faith Jenkins, former criminal prosecutor, Manhattan District Attorney's Office in New York, Loni Coombs, former prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, and attorney Brian Kabateck in Los Angeles.
We've got a huge team here joining us to help us get through this.
I want to go to Brian Kabateck first.
Brian, as you have been watching this, you've seen the reaction coming out of the courtroom, reaction really pouring in from around the country. What do you make of the verdict and the reaction to it?
BRIAN KABATECK, ATTORNEY: Well, I'm not surprised by the verdict. I think the first thing we have to look at here is the question of where did the wheels come off of the prosecution? And I'm not sure the wheels were ever on the bus of the prosecution in this case.
Let's look at the jury instructions. We've spent an awful lot of time talking about the manslaughter jury instruction. We've talked about that, we've talked about what it looked like, but we haven't spent a lot of time talking about the self defense. The Stand Your Ground jury instruction in this case.
And that's really where you have to look and you see that the evidence that came into this case, in this trial, even the evidence that came in in the prosecution's own case, through the detective, through the police officer, through their witnesses, through the eyewitness who saw Trayvon apparently on top beating George Zimmerman, all of this evidence comes together and it fits right into that self- defense jury instruction.
So I think that from the very first witness in this case the prosecution was in deep trouble. And I think the jury did a good job, they spent a lot of time. There's no question it wasn't a rush to judgment. But at the end of the day, truly at the end of this day, the verdict that came out is what I thought the verdict was going to be a couple of weeks ago when this started.
So I'm not surprised. I'm focusing just on the trial. We are not looking outside the trial. We are not looking at the other issues. The emotional issues. The loss of somebody. We are just looking at this case. And what happened here is about what you can expect given the law in Florida. Given the state of affairs there. Given the Stand Your Ground law and ultimately given the instructions that the judge gave.
Everything was very well run. There's no criticism of the system here, probably the case shouldn't have been brought in the first place.
LEMON: Holly, you're shaking your head. Is that an agreement or disagreement?
HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, I think they had to bring this case and they had to let a jury decide. But I think the problem was they overcharged it in the very beginning. Had they started with manslaughter and sort of led the jury into that and explained what it was, I mean, I've made this comment since closing arguments.
Nobody talked about the manslaughter. You know, everybody went whole hog, both sides with the prosecution saying, this is absolutely second-degree murder. You know, and then George, or Mark O'Mara on the other side saying there's no ill will, hatred or spite, and he repeated that over and over and over.
And you saw that so clearly in the style of the prosecutor versus the style of O'Mara. We've talked about it. O'Mara appeal to the intellect of those jurors. He said to them, this is the law and if you honestly take emotion out of it, not that you're not going feel it, but don't apply it in your deliberations.
Look at the self-defense law as it is written in the state of Georgia, and he had that fantastic chart. And he went from, do you suspect it might have been self-defense? Do you think it could have been self-defense? Did the state prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn't? It was absolutely -- and when you break down the law and you make it that clear for the jurors, they are going to rely on the law and they are not going to go with emotional reaction, and that's what John guy was basically begging them to do. Because they didn't charge it properly and they didn't prepare their witnesses. There was no excuse for witness after witness after witness saying to the prosecutor's questions, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.
LEMON: I want to --
HUGHES: How do you ask a question, you don't know the answer to? And it wasn't just one witness, Don.
LEMON: I want to bring in -- I want to bring in Faith Jenkins here.
Faith, I think Mark Nejame earlier brought -- made a very good point, and I want to get your reaction to it. He said George Zimmerman was found not guilty, but he wasn't necessarily found --
FAITH JENKINS, ATTORNEY: Right.
LEMON: -- innocent under American law.
JENKINS: Right, and Don, very early on as a prosecutor, you learn that there's what you believe happened in a case, and then there's what you can prove in court. Those are two very different things. And sometimes even though you really believe that a crime has occurred, when you don't have the evidence, you don't go to the grand jury, you don't indict a case.
But in this instance, I think there was enough evidence to go forward with a second-degree murder charge based on the facts and everything that the prosecutor knew. However, still, you go into court and you make that presentation.
Trials are not necessarily about the truth all the time. It's about what you can prove in court and meeting your burden in court.
And the second thing I want to say about race, I've heard a lot of comments about this case wasn't about race and this trial wasn't about race. I often find when people talk about that in the criminal justice system, it's people who have perhaps never worked in the criminal justice system, because the two greatest influencers in the criminal justice system I found in my experience are race and money. Two huge factors here.
And as you can see with -- most people don't -- can't afford the defense that George Zimmerman was afforded in this case. This case, this defense is an exception to the general rule.
LEMON: Loni Coombs, do you think that this case was -- this particular was overcharged? Should they have gone for manslaughter instead of second-degree murder?
LONI COOMBS, FORMER L.A. COUNTY PROSECUTOR: You know, I don't have a problem with the second-degree murder charge, Don. I think that there was evidence of this ill will and hatred that the prosecution could put on and argue to the jury. I do think that the basic problem with this case was reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt about was there the ill will and hate? And reasonable doubt about whether George Zimmerman had a legitimate right to self-defense or not.
So that was the biggest hurdle for the prosecution. The prosecution did what they could with the evidence that they had. But we all saw, as that evidence came out in front of the jury, the holes in the evidence, which is what happens when you have all of these difference eyewitnesses and ear witnesses, but no one witness to the entire thing except, of course, the defendant, and you have this credibility issues there.
But I want to go back to something you said about the innocence versus not guilty. I think this is so important to be said at this time. The jury did not find George Zimmerman innocent. I know that Mr. O'Mara kept saying that in his closing argument that George was absolutely innocent. But this not guilty verdict did not say that the jurors believed he was innocent. All it says is, they could not find beyond a reasonable doubt every element of that crime. And that's a very different standard.
And I think that might have been probably the hardest thing for this jury to overcome because as many people have looked in this case, in their gut, they feel that something wrong happened here. In their gut, they feel that George Zimmerman did something wrong. But under the law, which is very cold and dispassionate, could they look and say, the ominous proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and if they can't, they have to say, I'm sorry, you are not going to be held liable under the criminal justice system.
So it's then jump and say, OK, well, now, they're saying he is innocent I think is a jump that people should not take. That the defense shouldn't say. That no one should say and I think when we hear from these jurors if we ever do they'll probably make it very clear --
COOMBS: -- that they were not saying he's innocent, they're just saying they couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And therefore the law gave them no choice --
LEMON: And Loni -- COOMBS: -- but to write not guilty.
LEMON: Loni, you took the words right out of my mouth. I was just going to say, when we started, if we do hear from these jurors that is no doubt probably what we're going to hear from some of them here.
So stick around, more legal analysis coming up. Plus this. Those who have been riveted by the trial, speaking out tonight, reaction from social media, unbelievable. You're going to hear that next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything, except for protecting himself in self defense. I'm glad that the jury saw it that way and I hope that everyone who thinks, particularly those who George's reasons and doubted his background, now understand that the jury knew everything that they knew. It was enough for them to find him not guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was defense attorney Mark O'Mara. After that not guilty verdict was read in court. And here's that moment inside the courtroom when the verdict was read.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit in and for Seminole County, Florida, "State of Florida versus George Zimmerman," verdict, we the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty. So say we all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Two words, not guilty. George Zimmerman was told he could go home, that he was a free man, all charges against him were dismissed. The jury of six women deliberated for more than 16 hours on Friday and most of Saturday.
They could have found him guilty to second-degree murder -- of second-degree murder. And I'm reading through Twitter tonight. Just some of the reactions from social media from Trayvon Martin's family and some famous Twitter users tonight.
Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, she writes, "Lord, during my darkest hour, I lean on you, you are all that I have. At the end of the day, God is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever, Trayvon, in the name of Jesus."
This is from Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin. He says, quote, "God bless me and Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby is proud of the fight we along with all of you put up for him. God bless. Even though I am brokenhearted my faith is unshattered. I will always love my baby Tray. Thanks to everyone who were with us and who will be with us so we together can make sure that this doesn't happen again."
And this is from Russell Simmons. Russell Simmons wrote, "I know many people are very upset about the verdict, but we must remain peaceful no matter what." Remain peaceful. And from singer John Legend tonight, simply, "My heart hurts."
And this is from the NAACP, they have responded to the George Zimmerman verdict, they said this from the president, Ben Jealous. He says, "We are outraged and we are heartbroken over today's verdict. We stand with Trayvon's family and we are called to act. We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice. We will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your ground laws in every state. And we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed."
So more reaction coming. More from our legal experts. We will go back in the courtroom as well with our man who was inside the courtroom and that is none other than Martin Savidge on the other side of the break.
LEMON: Welcome back to our coverage now of the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict, I want to bring in now our team of legal experts. Sunny Hostin, Mark Nejame and Paul Callan. All former prosecutors and all now CNN legal analysts.
Sunny, I want to go -- I want to speak with you about this. What did we do with this conversation? Where do we go next?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean I think we have to have a conversation, and that may be one of the good things that -- that have come out of this. I think people are going to talk about race relations. They are going to talk about Stand Your Ground. They are going to talk about how is it that in 2013 you have someone able to profile a young teenager, follow them, pursue them, make all the wrong assumptions -- because let's remember that all of the assumptions were wrong -- and not be culpable in any way shape or form.
But you have someone let's say like Michael Vick who was put in jail for, you know, for dog fighting. You have people that were put in jail for tax evasion. You have people put in jail for shooting themselves in the leg. But you have no culpability here. And I think that's just a discussion that people -- that we have to have. And hopefully we will open up that dialog.
LEMON: Yes. Mark Nejame, I keep wanting to change your job and make you a former prosecutor, and I know that you are not. So forgive me for that. So where does this discussion go next? What happens next? We've been talking about what should happen with George Zimmerman. Obviously his brother said he needs to decompress, he needs to heal now. Is this over? You hear calls from the NAACP and the Justice Department and what have you. What happens next here?
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as I said, when this first came out, this is not a time for jubilation, it's not a time for blame, it's not a time for high-fiving. It's a time for reflection and figuring out how we can do better because as we know history is good enough that if we keep making the same mistakes, we're doomed to repeat the failures the first time.
But, you know, I'm really bothered, as we said many times, Don, we've covered this for quite a while now. You know, this whole case is upside down. You know, one of the things to be discussed is the prosecutors overcharging people. And interestingly, we have the complete reversal here in that George Zimmerman, in my opinion, should never have been charged with second degree.
I understand the manslaughter and that's what they should have charged. But you don't start high and hope and play a crap shoot with somebody's life on maybe that the jury will come back lower.
And this often affects young African-American men who disproportionately are in our prison system. So this is the game, and if you take a look especially at this prosecutor's office in Duval County, and you take a look at their record as it relates -- in their philosophies as it relates to prosecutions, we've got a real issue here. So now, all of a sudden, you know, I'm real bothered by the fact that this prosecutorial team is seemingly in some ways coming in on their -- on their horse saving the day.
Take a look at their policies. We've got over charging that happens all the time to young people, young black men in this country. And from -- in my opinion, from the very office that prosecuted this case. If this case had been handled efficiently with a manslaughter charge, and alleged the fact that there was -- George Zimmerman was irresponsible, that he over reacted, that he should not have been carrying a gun while all this took place, and keep it clean, keep the eye on the ball.
They might have had a better chance of a prosecution. But no, they went ahead --
LEMON: Yes. Yes.
NEJAME: And flexed their political muscle and look at what happened. And I think people need to be upset about that who are concerned about an acquittal in this case. That was one of the things that need to be looked at.
LEMON: Hey, Paul, there are some people who are upset with the members of our team here. Our panel here for saying, hey, listen, not guilty doesn't mean innocent. There are people who are upset, saying, it does mean, it means that George Zimmerman is innocent.
What do you say to that, Paul?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as a matter of law it doesn't innocent, and it doesn't mean innocent in any case. It just means the prosecution unable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes it means innocent. Sometimes an innocent man is found not guilty. But other times a guilty man, there just isn't enough evidence to prove he's guilty.
But, you know, in this case, I think when you look at it overall, it was, the prosecution just didn't have the ammunition here to present to the jury. And essentially, I think when these jurors are interviewed, I'll be very interested in what they have to say, and I'm sure a lot of them will consent to be interviewed.
I think they're going to say there was wrong on both sides here. Certainly George Zimmerman improperly thought that Trayvon Martin was a criminal. And he thought he was protecting his community so he was following him. And I think they may say Trayvon was very angry that this guy had the audacity to be following him when he was in his own community and maybe he turned and punched him in the face. Punched George Zimmerman in the face.
Zimmerman thinking that he was dealing with a criminal, then acted in self-defense to defend himself from what he thought was a deadly threat. There was -- you know, there was fault on both sides but unfortunately, a 17-year-old young man is dead, and why is he dead? Because there was a gun in the picture.
And you know what I take away from tonight, and I listen with sympathy to what Sunny has to say and what Faith Jenkins had to say, every African-American that I have spoken to, sees their own children in Trayvon Martin, and says is, in America today, do we have to worry when our kid goes out that he will be shot? Because somebody thinks he is a burglar?
And I know, if this case, I tried cases like this in New York, as a prosecutor. And we used to call it, if you bring a gun to a fist fight and you kill somebody, you're going to get convicted of manslaughter in New York and you will. And there won't be a prosecutor, by the way, holding a press conference, as Angela Corey did earlier this evening, saying, we support the right to bear arms. This isn't about the right to bear arms. You'll never hear New York prosecutors talking about that.
They don't believe in arms of any kind in New York. So it shows how different juries react in different areas to having a gun. And I think it shows how different America is in many regions about the use of guns and the use of disproportionate force, which I think this case is really about. It was about bringing a gun to this fight.
LEMON: Yes. Yes. And -- all right. Paul Callan, thank you. Next a CNN exclusive, the brother of George Zimmerman -- the brother of George Zimmerman talks to our Piers Morgan. His reaction to the verdict that set his brother free. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: Welcome back now to our coverage of the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict. Right after the not guilty verdict was announced in the courtroom, George Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., he talked to CNN's Piers Morgan live right here on CNN and here's part of that conversation.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN LIVE": I'm here with Robert Zimmerman. We're live. You've just heard the verdict within the last hour. I have interviewed you six or seven times in the last year, but always in very tense circumstances. I'm now interviewing you when you know your brother is a free man. How does that feel?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: I really can't put into words how relieved we are as a family, that's the first thing my father said. Having said that, I don't think this is a time for high-fiving. I acknowledge -- we all have acknowledged that Mr. Martin -- Trayvon Martin lost his life. It was not an act of murder. It was not an act of manslaughter. The jury has spoken.
Our judicial system has spoken, but that does not diminish the tragedy. Death is tragic in any circumstance of someone -- a young person losing their life for whatever circumstances exist.
MORGAN: I know you've just spoken literally in the last moments to your sister, Gracie, who has spoken directly to George after the verdict. How did she describe his mood?
ZIMMERMAN: He is still processing the reality or notion of being a free man, of having what the judge described as no further business before the court. As you know he's had an ankle monitor on him, a GPS monitor monitoring his every step, his whereabouts, and his curfew.
None of those things exists anymore. So I think, you know, he has -- he has some decompression to do, some decompressing, and he has to align himself with himself again as the free George.
MORGAN: Was he emotional? Did Gracie describe how he was on the phone?
ZIMMERMAN: She didn't. Our family was. George is just now getting around to processing. I think as -- most of our family is just now getting to process the reality that we're not on the other end of this mountain of misinformation that now the jury has spoken and that now we are exonerated as a family but more importantly, George is exonerated as a defendant.
And we are going to process that. It takes time. You know, we've been on the other end of this for the better part of a year and a half now, and it's going to take us some time to heal.
MORGAN: What will he do? I mean, he's a free man. He's come out tonight into a world where many people despise him, you know that. They will continue to because of this result. It's an incredibly polarizing case. Does he fear for his safety? Does he have concerns about the quality of a life for the rest of his life?
ZIMMERMAN: He has always feared for his safety. We have always feared for his safety and our safety as a family. Clearly, you know, he is a free man in the eyes of the court. But he is going to be looking around his shoulder for the rest of his life. There are factions, there are groups, there are people that would want to take the law into their own hands as they perceive it or, you know, be vigilantes in some sense if they think that justice was not served.
They won't respect a verdict no matter how it was reached and they will always present a threat to George and to his family.
MORGAN: Let me replay for you the moment that your brother heard that he was a free man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit in and for Seminole County, Florida, "State of Florida versus George Zimmerman," verdict, we the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty, so say we all, court person.
NELSON: Does either side want to poll the jury?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would, your honor.
NELSON: OK, ladies and gentlemen -- I mean, ladies, I'm sorry. As your juror number is being called, please answer whether this is your verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Junior B-29, is this your verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-76, is this your verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-37, is this your verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-51, is this your verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror E-06, is this your verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror E-40, is this your verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It was extraordinarily calm, George, on hearing that. Let me ask you the difficult questions here.
MORGAN: Many people have reacted with fury tonight. You know, many people have acted thinking this is a right decision, but many have said it's an atrocity, it's an outrage, nobody has been made accountable for the death of Trayvon Martin.
What do you say to those people?
ZIMMERMAN: You know, I think that we don't make people accountable simply for death, you know, as it were because there is a death. Death is unfortunate. Death is a byproduct of -- as the law ascribes, you know, returning force with appropriate force. The jury found that he acted appropriately in defending his life in accordance with the law.
I would say to them that we're a country of rules. We respect the rule of law and that that respecting this verdict as we called for before the verdict was in, is the only appropriate thing to do as Americans.
This is our system, this is what we have. It's the best in the world. And I think that conjecture and speculation and emotional reaction to what people think may or may not have happened has been dominating the conversation for a long time now. But, you know, people called for an arrest. They called for his day in court. They have had their arrests. They have had their day in court. They have seen blood, they have seen what Trayvon Martin did to my brother.
And it's time -- it's high time that they accept that the jury system that we have in this country is a system that we should respect.
MORGAN: But they've also seen, of course, what your brother did to Trayvon Martin and many people feel, why did your brother pursue him? Why did he get out of the vehicle and pursue him? Why did he carry a gun? Why is he not in himself feeling any responsibility for what happened because --
ZIMMERMAN: That's --
MORGAN: Without those two things --
ZIMMERMAN: Sure. I don't --
MORGAN: -- Trayvon Martin would probably still be alive.
ZIMMERMAN: I don't think it's true that he doesn't feel responsibility. George was completely sorrowful after this happened. And just because he's calm or because he's not over-the-top, you know, emotional doesn't mean he doesn't feel terribly about it as we saw in court when he asked Doris Singleton are you a Catholic, yes, because in my religion it's bad, no matter what when some loses life. Abortion, self-defense, what have you.
But I would tell this people that they are again, from my previous answer, they're not paying attention to facts. You said pursued, which is a very key word, which comes from Benjamin Crump. He had been into following that came out in court.
The state of Florida never proved that he continued to follow. So any reference to George following Trayvon Martin, catching up to, confronting him is simply conjecture to format and narratives.
MORGAN: But the truth, though, is it, is that we don't know.
(CROSSTALK) ZIMMERMAN: No, we do know.
MORGAN: There were too many unanswered question.
ZIMMERMAN: No, in this -- in this country --
MORGAN: You know what your brother told you.
ZIMMERMAN: No, no, no. In this country, we know when there's a verdict. In your country we may not know and we may be subject to continual speculation until the end of time.
MORGAN: No, no, no. I totally respect the judicial system and I respect the verdict of any jury under that. I think that's the only way you can respond to these things. But you know my view about this from the start. But I do respect the jury.
I would just ask you this, I guess. If the situation was reversed, if you were the brother of Trayvon Martin and -- or say you are the brother of George Zimmerman and he'd been killed by Trayvon Martin in the same situation reversed.
MORGAN: That Trayvon had got out of the vehicle, had a gun, been a neighborhood patrol man, and had -- got involved in some altercation, pulled the gun out and had killed your brother dead.
ZIMMERMAN: What the jury found is --
MORGAN: How would you feel on a human level and an emotional level about that?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, two things, obviously, you know, that is tragic. You know, and -- but if Trayvon were my brother and he was the one who was armed and legally armed and you know, able to carry that firearm in a legal way, and my brother blindsided him by breaking his nose and pummeling his head into concrete and continuing to punch him, I would find and the jury has found that unfortunately he had the greater hand in his own demise, which was causing by his own hand, his death. That is unfortunate, but that is the reality. And that's what the --
MORGAN: Do really believe that?
ZIMMERMAN: That's what the jury believes. It doesn't matter what I believe.
MORGAN: But do you believe that?
ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely. I do believe that. I know --
MORGAN: You believe that Trayvon caused his own death?
ZIMMERMAN: I believe -- I believe --
MORGAN: A 17-year-old boy just armed --
ZIMMERMAN: The jury believes --
MORGAN: -- with just a bag of Skittles?
ZIMMERMAN: Look, we can be cynical about it until the end of time.
MORGAN: No, I'm just asking you what your personal view is.
ZIMMERMAN: And I've been very clear of my personal view is and I think so has the jury. The jury has spoken and they have been very clear. Self-defense means you were defending your life from a real perceived threat. Whether or not you were injured to the degree that somewhat have you been injured to in order to shoot someone or not, you actually perceived an eminent threat of great bodily harm or death.
And that is what the circumstances were that surrounded George in the moment he fired his pistol. That's the law in this country. The jury has been very clear. They agree with George. It is unfortunate that someone lost their life. But having said that, you asked me if this -- the role were reversed.
ZIMMERMAN: I would -- I don't begrudge anyone for trying to get to answers as to why their son died. I just -- what I do take issue with is when those answers are not immediately forthcoming, throwing the race card on the table and accusing everyone from George, the Sanford Police Department, the chief of police Bill Lee, the State Attorney's Office in the 18th Circuit, everyone in between of being racist or sweeping a murder under the rug.
MORGAN: Well, Mark O'Mara tonight said that if George Zimmerman had been black, he would never have been charged with any offense?
ZIMMERMAN: Perhaps not, that happens in Chicago every day. You know, there are many people who would go out and shoot other people who are black, and they'd shoot other people who are black, and they are not charged for whatever reason.
MORGAN: Well, some of them are, obviously.
ZIMMERMAN: Some of them are. There are many more who are not. There are many more unsolved homicides in Chicago than there are in Sanford, Florida. But, you know, we are where we are as a family and George is where he is as George. And we're going to have the right conversation that we need to have going forward.
You know -- Trayvon is a victim of many things. He's certainly not and the jury has found that he is now. Our system has found that he is not. He is not the victim of a murder. He is not the victim of a manslaughter and as much as you want to spin it or talk about Skittles or trash George on your program or any other CNN program, he is an innocent man.
MORGAN: It's not about trashing. It's not about trashing. It just -- it turned out to be a fact after George pulled that trigger and killed Trayvon Martin that Trayvon had been unarmed and just had a bag of Skittles.
ZIMMERMAN: No, he was armed with the sidewalk, he was armed with his nose breaking fist and he was armed with whatever aggression he brought to that moment. You know what, bag of Skittles or bag of M&Ms' or bag of whatever you want.
LEMON: I'm Don Lemon live in Sanford, Florida. Good night.