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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Self-Defense or Murder?: The George Zimmerman Trial; Trayvon Martin's Friend Testifies about His Final Moments; Will Previous 911 Calls Make a Difference to Jury?

Aired June 26, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome to our special continuing coverage, "Self-Defense or Murder?: The George Zimmerman trial."

Tonight, a big ruling on audio evidence and high drama in the courtroom, the prosecution putting their star witness on the stand, a female friend of Trayvon Martin who was on the phone with him as the fatal confrontation with George Zimmerman began.

Now, from the initial questioning to cross-examination, it ran the gamut, from wrenching to awkward to downright strange at times, always very compelling. We're going show a lot of it tonight to you.

A warning as well, some of the language today was pretty harsh in the courtroom. So if you would rather not hear it, we will tell you when to turn the volume down.

With that in mind, you might want to again turn the volume down if you don't want to hear that language now. Here's Randi Kaye's report.


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Rachel Jeantel and Trayvon Martin were old friends. They had known each since elementary school in Miami, and contrary to reports, they were only friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You weren't in any way his girlfriend?


KAYE (voice-over): The two reconnected just weeks before Trayvon Martin's death. And on the night he died from the other end of the phone line, Rachel Jeantel was, in a sense, within earshot of the tragedy as it unfolded. That's why she's the state's star witness, the only one they think who can tell Trayvon's side of the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was he complaining about?

JEANTEL: That a man kept watching him.

KAYE: It was clear from the start Jeantel does not relish her newfound fame, mumbling her answers to attorneys' questions, making her difficult to hear. The court reporter had to keep stopping for clarification, and the defense complained repeatedly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give us your answer as slowly and clearly and as loudly as you can.

KAYE: It wasn't easy, but Jeantel did paint a picture of Trayvon Martin that night, a picture of a teenager feeling threatened and on the run from a strange man.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let me make sure we got that. Creepy...

JEANTEL: Ass cracker.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Is that what you recall him saying?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And does that to you mean like a white individual?

JEANTEL: Yes, Caucasian.

KAYE: Jeantel told the court Trayvon Martin tried to walk home and get away from the man, but that he continued to pursue him.

JEANTEL: And then he said, "Nigger, still now, still following me now. That nigger is still following me now."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's still following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he use a word to describe that?

JEANTEL: Now that nigger is still following me.

KAYE: She said she could hear Trayvon talking to the stranger over the phone.

JEANTEL: And then I say Trayvon. And then he said, why are you following me for? And then I heard a hard-breathed man come say, what are you doing around here?

KAYE: Then she said she heard a bump and struggle in the grass. She said she kept yelling for her friend to talk to her. Moments later, Trayvon Martin was dead.

A short break, and then it was the defense's turn. Jeantel seemed annoyed by their questions about the timeline of phone calls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next call starts at 6:30:40 and then ended at 6:43:15. Do you see that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next one starts at 6:41:05 and ends at 6:44:32.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next one starts at 6:45:01 and ends at 6:49:17.


KAYE: She was combative.

JEANTEL: You can go. You can go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. It takes me a little bit of time sometimes to come up with the next question.

JEANTEL: You can go.


KAYE: And she was especially frustrated when the defense pressed her about lying under oath in a deposition, when she said she had skipped Trayvon Martin's funeral because she was in the hospital.

Today, she testified she didn't want to view his body, and felt guilty about seeing his parents since she was the last to speak to him.

You told Mr. Crump that you had gone to the hospital, instead of the wake, which was a lie?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you also lied and said that you were 16?

JEANTEL: I don't remember saying that.

KAYE: Rachel Jeantel may not like that line of questioning, but she isn't done yet. The defense is expected to put her back on the stand for at least another couple of hours tomorrow.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: And she was definitely not happy about that fact.

That prompts the question, of course, which side will benefit more from her testimony?

Let's get more on that and today's other key developments with our team of legal pros, legal analysts and former federal prosecutors Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin join us. At the defense table is Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos, co-author of "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works, and Sometimes Doesn't."

So, Jeff, first of all, what did you make of her, of Rachel Jeantel's performance on the stand today?


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, performance, it sure was. It was just -- it was compelling, even if you couldn't understand half of what you said.

I thought it was interesting that, in Randi's piece, you decided to use subtitles. It was very helpful, but the jury didn't have those subtitles. So it really was hard to understand in places. I thought she seemed like an authentic, mixed-up, resentful, angry kid.

She's in 12th grade. She's 19 years old. She obviously didn't want to believe there. The core of her testimony is that Trayvon was afraid of Zimmerman, as Zimmerman was pursuing him. That's the only reason she's on the stand. And I thought that came across. Obviously, she's got a lot of problems. She lied. She's combative. She's not very communicative. But do I think the jury will believe Trayvon's side of the conversation? I think they probably will.

COOPER: Sunny, this was really the first time that we learned she was only Trayvon Martin's friend. There had been a lot of indications before, after she gave that interview to the Martin family attorney, Ben Crump, that she was his girlfriend. What did you think of her?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I agree with Jeff. I thought that she was a credible witness. I thought it was raw, I thought it was uncoached. I thought that she spoke like a teenager, and what I thought was very important is everything she says, Anderson, is corroborated.

She says she was on the phone. Well, there are phone records. She said the amount of the time that she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin. Well, there are records of that. She is at least the third or fourth witness that contradicts directly what George Zimmerman told police, his version of events.

And so I think when you look at it in context, it's very, very helpful to the prosecution.

COOPER: Let's talk to our folks from the defense.

Mark Geragos, there were several moments today when she was pretty combative with the defense attorney. I just want to play one of them for the viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you watch "First 48"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't hear you.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, "The First 48"?

JEANTEL: A show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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?


Are you finished?



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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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: Mark, what do you make of her tone on the stand, of how she did on the stand today?


I love Jeff, love Sunny. The idea that this was a compelling witness, the idea that this witness is going to play well with this jury, save this tape, Anderson. Please, save this tape.


COOPER: I think it's the exact opposite.


GERAGOS: She seems like a very sweet high school senior, but, please. I mean, I get it.

But come on, guys, listen, you have got to be kidding me. Who are you guys kidding?

HOSTIN: Not at all, not at all.


GERAGOS: Do you have your fingers crossed or something?

HOSTIN: Not at all.


GERAGOS: Not with this jury. Save the tape.

COOPER: Danny, do you agree?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Mark, finally a voice of reason.

This is the prosecution's star witness. It's not their second best. It's not their third best. It's their star witness. And when you just watch her demeanor on the stand, as a juror, if she is -- well, number one, Florida has depositions before trial, which is very unusual.

And it's true. That does yield a treasure trove of inconsistent statements. So, that always inures to the benefit of the cross- examiner, like a case like this. However, the jury is free to evaluate this witness' credibility. They can believe some of it or none of it.

And just looking at her demeanor, just hold it in your mind and let's save this tape, like Mark said. This is their star witness. And they have the burden, not only beyond a reasonable doubt.


COOPER: One at a time.

Mark, go ahead.


GERAGOS: Sunny, when they get that jury instruction that says, if a witness was willfully false, in other words, they lied, and you can disregard everything they said, then come back. As I said, save the tape. That jury is not buying anything.


COOPER: How damaging is that?

GERAGOS: The prosecution will take her to the woodshed. The prosecution will take her to the woodshed.

HOSTIN: Listen, listen, I stand by what I just said.

Bottom line is, she's clearly a reluctant witness. She doesn't want to be there. And I think that makes her even more credible. She's not a witness that wants to be there, that wants all the limelight, that wants to get the sort of book deal. She's not a professional witness. She's a raw, uncoached young teenager who just happened to be on the phone with Trayvon Martin when this happened.

And, again, I hope that we do save the tape, because she is at least the third or fourth witness that directly contradicts what George Zimmerman said. So even if you don't believe everything she says, it is corroborated by other witnesses. That's the bottom line.


GERAGOS: Sunny, why do you think that he was methodically going through the phone records? Because what she is saying was virtually impossible based upon the physical evidence. That's what you're going to see in closing. Save the tape.

HOSTIN: I don't think we're going to see that.


GERAGOS: Wait and see. I don't want to give it away. I'm just saying save the tape. They're going to lay out why -- the reason West was doing that today is because she -- it's impossible for what to have occurred -- for her to -- what she said occurred to have occurred. I don't want to give it away. They have still got her on the stand. Let them see what happens. Let's just see what happens.


COOPER: Let's see about that.

We have got to take a...

TOOBIN: Mark's keeping secrets. That's not fair.


COOPER: All right.


COOPER: Stick around, because there's a lot more to talk to in the hour ahead.

Let us know what you think. You can follow me on Twitter. Let's talk about the case during the commercial break @AndersonCooper.

Just ahead, two other key witnesses took the stand today as well, neighbors who testified about what they say they saw and heard the night Trayvon Martin was killed, their testimony, who it helps most. We will take a look at that. Also, how the deadly night unfolded, from George Zimmerman's perspective. A day after the shooting, he walked police through the fatal encounter. We're going to follow that step by step.


COOPER: Well, Rachel Jeantel is without a doubt the prosecution's star witness, but she wasn't the only witness to testify today. Two other women who live in the townhouse development where Trayvon Martin was killed also took the stand. Now, the prosecutors asked both women about what they saw and what they heard outside their windows on that rainy night.

Now, remember, the prosecution is trying to portray George Zimmerman as the aggressor. During cross-examination, the defense managed to get both women to admit it was too dark for them to see faces that night.

Martin Savidge joins me now.

So, Rachel Jeantel, as we said, wasn't the only witness. Explain what the other witness described hearing.


Jayne Surdyka was the first tone that talked this morning on the stand. And she was brought on by the state basically because of what she said she heard. She's an ear witness. And she said initially she heard a yelp, and that caught her attention.

She began listening more carefully and of course she heard these screams for help, that ones that were captured on that 911 call. And she says that she could ascertain that the person who was screaming for help was Trayvon Martin. Well, that of course would bode very badly for the defense. Here's how she testified.


JAYNE SURDYKA, WITNESS: And as I was pressing 911 is when I heard very clearly that -- I say the two yells for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of the two individuals, the voices that you have described, one a more dominant or aggressive and the other one, what word did you use to describe the other one?

SURDYKA: Higher-pitched.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The yells for help that you heard at that time, could you identify whether it was the dominant, louder voice or the higher-pitch one?

SURDYKA: In my opinion, I truly believe, especially the second yell for help, that was like a yelp. It was excruciating. I really felt like it was the boy's voice.


COOPER: The court heard the 911 call as well.

SAVIDGE: Right. There were a number of 911 calls that were made on that particular night.

But I have to tell you hers has to be the most emotional, because what you realize is that like a lot of people, she was witnessing something, but she was also experiencing something. Listen to this.


911 OPERATOR: Who is saying they shot who?

SURDYKA: The people out there, a guy is raising his hands up. He's saying he shot a person. I think it's a police officer with him right now. Oh, my God. Why would he...

911 OPERATOR: OK. The officer is there. He has somebody at gunpoint.


911 OPERATOR: They're going to handle the situation from here.

SURDYKA: Oh, my God. I know. But I can't believe someone just killed (INAUDIBLE)

911 OPERATOR: Listen, we don't know if they have been killed, OK? We know they have been probably...

SURDYKA: He just said he shot him dead. The person is dead, laying on the ground.

911 OPERATOR: Just because he's laying on the ground...

SURDYKA: Oh, my god.

Maybe somebody, if you don't mind staying, maybe somebody could call me, you know, like something (INAUDIBLE) I have never seen trauma like this. This is almost like a movie.

911 OPERATOR: Now.

SURDYKA: I'm sorry. I'm just, I don't know why, I'm just -- I'm shaking. I can't stop shaking.


COOPER: It is obviously incredibly disturbing when you witness something like this.

Another witness testified about who she believed was on top during the fight, Martin on Zimmerman. What did she have to say?

SAVIDGE: Yes. This is Jeannee Manalo. And you're right. She said that she heard -- this time it was a howl. Both of these women live in the complex of course where this tragedy played out. She heard this howl. She looked out a couple of times and she remembers seeing shadows in the darkness and she said there was one shadow large on top of a smaller shadow, and then she later sort of essentially translated it to mean that it was George Zimmerman on top of Trayvon Martin.

Now, again, the defense did not want to hear that, and they were aggressive going after her on cross-examination. Here's some of that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you recall on March 26, 2012, where I went to your house and took a sworn statement (INAUDIBLE) and I specifically asked you about the individuals, whether you could identify either one?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you recall (INAUDIBLE) statement on March 26, 2012, that you stated that, "I think Zimmerman is definitely on top because of his size?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, in addition, after that, ma'am, do you recall giving a deposition where you questioned by Mr. West where I was present and you were asked about the same matters, and also stating at that time that you could identify Mr. Zimmerman because you had seen him on TV, photograph on TV, and that based on his size, it was Mr. Zimmerman on top?




SAVIDGE: That was actually not the defense. That was Bernie de la Rionda who was going after -- or actually talking to that witness.

I should point out what was interesting, later, defense did go after her, and she did sort of back off that statement. She said, you know what? Now I'm not so sure. So the defense would say that was a win for them.

COOPER: Yes. Marty, thank you very much.

I want to dig in deeper now with our panel, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos.

Danny, what effect do you think these witnesses had?

CEVALLOS: Well, let's take a step back. I think they're credible. They don't have a dog in the fight.

But when we step back, what is our final take? When you think about closing argument, what are the lawyers going to be able to say about this witness, either of them? If you believe everything they said, where does that get us? Somebody screamed. Sounded like a boy, not sure.

Does that take us anywhere? Is it probative of any ultimate fact in this case? Which, again, I keep going back to it, in this case, the prosecution has the tremendous burden, not only of beyond a reasonable doubt, but they must disprove Zimmerman's self-defense claim. The prosecution must disprove it. And do any of these witnesses get us there? Somebody screamed. I think we can conclude that. But if we don't know whom at the end, we're at a draw.

COOPER: Mark, one of Zimmerman's neighbors who was on the stand today, she was interviewed on this program back in April of last year and asked about it on the stand today. I just want to listen to a short clip of that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't you, though, go on national television to tell what you think you saw?

SURDYKA: I was disguised and not shown on television, and they had a distorted voice, so no one knew who I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it was you, wasn't it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you did go on national television to tell, what was it, Anderson Cooper?

SURDYKA: Only with the agreement that it would not be seen and heard or recognized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they respected that?




COOPER: So, Mark, going on TV to give an interview, does it hurt a witness' credibility? Because that certainly seemed to be what the defense was driving at, or is that only because she gave the interview after telling police she didn't want to be a witness?

GERAGOS: I think the thing that hurts is the fact that she wanted to be disguised, that she wanted to have her voice altered.

I think those are the kinds of things -- if you're a willing witness, why are you going to those lengths and having some kind of agreement with A.C. 360 or Anderson Cooper or Charlie or whoever made the agreement?

The thing about these witnesses that you have to remember, this is not a civil case. This is not where it's, we just got to prove something, you know, a kind of clear and convincing or more probable than not or something to that standard. This is beyond a reasonable doubt.


TOOBIN: Oh, come on.


GERAGOS: The quality of the evidence that you're getting here -- I know you can say that, Jeff, but understand something. They have to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is exactly why -- you have seen over three days, this is why this case was not filed initially.


HOSTIN: Oh, come on. That's ridiculous.



TOOBIN: I keep hearing, oh, my God, beyond a reasonable doubt, this enormous standard.

You know what? The prisons are full, and every single one of those people either was convicted or pled guilty, because they knew they would be guilty under the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. So the idea that this is some insurmountable burden for the prosecution, come on, that's ridiculous. I agree that these two witnesses...


GERAGOS: I don't remember saying -- did I say it was an insurmountable burden?


HOSTIN: Well, Danny implied that.


COOPER: One at a time, because everybody hates it when everybody talking over each, I especially.

Sunny, make you're point.

HOSTIN: Yes. These witnesses are reluctant witnesses. Maybe that's why she went on A.C. 360, your show, Anderson, and wanted to be shrouded. They're reluctant. They're not professional witnesses.

They don't want to be there. And I think that makes them more credible. We're hearing witness after witness after witness contradict George Zimmerman's self-defense claim, George Zimmerman saying that he was sucker-punched, George Zimmerman saying that he didn't follow Trayvon Martin. Every single witness is saying something different.

How can you say that what they're testifying to doesn't matter? That just doesn't make any kind of sense. Which trial are you watching?

(CROSSTALK) GERAGOS: I don't think I said it didn't -- I didn't say it didn't matter. But if you're going to tell me that the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt is a witness who gets up there and says, you know what, I could have been mistaken, you know what, I know I said something else under oath, you know what, but today I'm telling the truth, that's beyond a reasonable doubt?

By the way, Jeff, a lot of those people who are in prison are there wrongfully convicted, as you well know, and released by Innocence Project and other people on a weekly basis.

TOOBIN: The Innocence Project has no bigger fan than me, but that's not really what we're talking about today. I agree that these two witnesses were not smoking gun witnesses. They are not going to seal this case, but they are yet more witnesses who seem to suggest that Trayvon Martin was not the aggressor in this situation, and when you add them all together, it starts to have a pretty impressive effect.

GERAGOS: It's quality, not quantity.


CEVALLOS: I mean, really? After all these witnesses, we have added them up, and what do we know? Somebody screamed. We know Trayvon Martin used some really inappropriate language. We had a star witness who was barely understandable.

And, look, it's not a sympathy game. Sure, she's young, I understand, and I think Mark would agree. Those witnesses appear in criminal court every single day of the week. They're not uncommon at all, people who especially want to mix it up with the cross-examining attorney.

But, look, if that's your most credible witness, what do we know? We know somebody screamed, somebody may have been on top of someone else. The prosecution has a long way to prove...


HOSTIN: Not somebody. These witnesses are saying differently.


CEVALLOS: You just made my point for me. The witnesses are saying differently. You just proved my point.


HOSTIN: They're saying something differently than what you are saying. They're saying they thought George Zimmerman was on top. They're saying they thought Trayvon Martin was yelling. They're not just saying they don't know.


GERAGOS: And then they say, yes, I could have been mistaken. So, that's beyond a reasonable doubt?


COOPER: Jeff, to Danny's point, do you feel like at this point -- and again it's early days in terrorists trial, but do you feel like -- you're saying it's little bits here and there, painting a picture. Do you feel the prosecution has a smoking gun? Do you feel the prosecution actually has painted a picture that you know for sure what happened that night?

TOOBIN: The irony is we haven't talked about the most important part of the case, which is that there was a 17-year-old boy shot dead with Skittles and an iced tea in his pocket.

And that's the key factor. There is no evidence -- why would Trayvon Martin be the aggressor in this situation? And the other thing is the 911 call where the operator says, don't approach him, that's a terrifically incriminating piece of evidence. Do I think they have proven second-degree murder? No, not yet. I think that's a very difficult burden. But some sort of lesser charge, I think Zimmerman is in a lot of trouble on that, at least on a lesser charge.


COOPER: It's interesting, Mark, because the argument that Jeff is making, the Skittles and the soda, which is what the prosecution has said, the defense has countered by saying Trayvon Martin was armed with a weapon, it was the concrete sidewalk that he was slamming George Zimmerman's head into.

Those pictures of George Zimmerman's head, the little bit of blood on it, the lump or two, does that paint a picture of someone who had his slammed into a sidewalk repeatedly?

GERAGOS: Remember, we also have the front -- let's get a full picture of what's already come into evidence. It's not just the back of the head. He has a -- it was bleeding profusely from the front.

I believe they're going to put in evidence that says he had a broken or fractured nose. So, I don't know. How much are you supposed to get beat up before you use whatever force? And I know that it's a great -- look, I have great sympathy for Trayvon Martin's family, great empathy. Having kids who just left their teenage years, this has got to be a parent's worst nightmare.

But the fact remains that you're not going to be able, I don't think, to try this case if you're the prosecution on pulling all of the emotional heartstrings. At some point, you have got to put on real evidence and evidence that is going to be credible to a jury. The jurors are not going to go back there and say, we feel bad because he's a 17-year-old who had Skittles and iced tea in his pocket, and so we're going to convict somebody of second-degree murder.


GERAGOS: It doesn't work that way. HOSTIN: He was also unarmed.


CEVALLOS: All right, we can talk about Skittles. We can talk about hoodies. We can talk about iced tea.

None of those things are elements of a crime. Here's what is germane to a crime, the injury. If Zimmerman shows that he was in fear of great bodily injury -- and what we have is evidence of injury. Skittles, race, iced tea, those are all red herrings, and really they're not central issues.


COOPER: But, by Danny's argument, you're saying that it was George Zimmerman who was the victim of a crime. That's what you're...

CEVALLOS: Not at all. That's not his burden to show. His burden is to show that he used force. Now, he committed a homicide. That's agreed. But is it an excusable homicide? Did he act with what we call justification?

In other words, what they need to show -- and the prosecution needs to disprove it, not George needs to show it or prove it -- is that at the time, he believed he was in fear of great bodily injury.

COOPER: We have got to take a break. Sunny, Jeff, Danny, Mark, we're going to be back. We are going to have more with the panel coming up.

Coming up also, George Zimmerman in his own words. A day after the shootings, Zimmerman walked police through what happened. It was all on video, what he said in detail, next.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: I felt like my body was on the grass and my head was on the cement. And he just kept slamming and slamming me. And I just -- I kept yelling, "Help, help, help."

He put his hand on his nose -- on my nose and the other hand on my mouth. He said, shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up. And I tried squirming again, because all I could think about was -- when he was hitting my head against it, it felt like my head was going to explode. And I thought I was going to lose consciousness.




RACHEL JEANTEL, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FRIEND: I asked him how the man looked like. He looked like a creepy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cracker. And I just told him "run."

Then he said, "Why are you following me for?" And then I heard a hard-breathing man say, "What are you doing around here?"

That's when I heard grass sounds, wet grass sounds. I was calling, "Trayvon, Trayvon." Then I heard Trayvon saying, "Get off, get off." Then a second later the phone hung up.


COOPER: Well, that's one side of the story, from one perspective. George Zimmerman, of course, tells a very different version.

A day after the shooting, Zimmerman walked police through the events of that night in the very place that it happened. The police video runs about 12 minutes. We're going to show you a shorter version, picking up where Zimmerman explains he had spotted Trayvon Martin and parked his SUV. Take a look.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRIAL FOR TRAYVON'S SHOOTING: And I saw him walking back that way, and then cut through the back of the houses. He looked back and he noticed me, and he cut back through the houses. I was still on the phone with 911 emergency.

And then he came back, and he started walking up towards the grass and then came down and circled my car. And I told the operator that he was circling my car. I didn't hear if he said anything.


ZIMMERMAN: But he had his hand in his waistband. And I think I told the operator that. And they said, "Where are you?" And I could not remember the name of the street, because I don't live on this street.


ZIMMERMAN: And then I thought to get out and look for a street sign.


ZIMMERMAN: So I got out of my car and I started walking.


ZIMMERMAN: Back there, they said, "Are you following him?"

And I said yes, because I was, you know, in the area. They said, "We don't need you to do that." I said OK.

So I -- that's when I walked straight through here to get the address so I could meet the police officer.

When I got to -- I passed here. I looked. I didn't see anything again. I was walking back to my truck, and then when I got to right about here, he yelled from behind me, to the side of me. He said, "Yo, you got a problem?"

And I turned around, and I said, "No, I don't have a problem, man."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was he at?

ZIMMERMAN: He was about there, but he was walking towards me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So coming from this direction there?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir. Like I said, I was already past that, so I didn't see exactly where he came from, but he was about where you are. And I said, "No, I don't have a problem." And I went to grab my cell phone, but I looked in a different pocket. And I went -- I looked down and he said, "You got a problem now." And then he was here, and he punched me in the face.

I stumbled, and I fell down. He pushed me down. Somehow he got on top of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the grass or on the cement?

ZIMMERMAN: It was more over towards here? I think I was trying to push him away from me, and he got on top of me somewhere around here. And that's when I started screaming for help. I started screaming "help" as loud as I could.

And that was when he grabbed -- oh, I tried to sit up, and that's when he grabbed me by the head and tried to slam my head down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you on the cement or on the...

ZIMMERMAN: My body was on the grass. My head was on the cement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so you're basically facing this way?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir. That's as best I could feel is I felt like my body was on the grass and my head was on the cement. And he kept slamming it, slamming it. And I kept yelling, "Help, help."

He put his hand on his nose -- on my nose and the other hand on my mouth and he said, "Shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up." And then I tried squirming again, because all I could think about is when he was hitting my head against the sidewalk, I felt like my head was going to explode, and I thought I was going to lose consciousness.

So I tried to squirm so that I could get -- because he only had a small portion of my head on the concrete, so I tried to squirm off the concrete. And when I did that, somebody here opened the door, and I said, "Help me, help me."

And they said, "I'll call 911."

I said, "No, help me. I need help." And I don't know what they did, but that's when my jacket moved up, and I had my firearm on my right side hip. My jacket moved up, and he saw it. I feel like he saw it.

He looked at it and he said, "You're going to die tonight, mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)." And he reached for it, and he reached -- like I felt his arm going down to my side, and I grabbed it, and I just grabbed my firearm and shot him one time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After you shot him, what did he say?

ZIMMERMAN: After I shot him, he like sat up -- I shot him, and I didn't think I hit him. He sat up and he said, "You got me. You got it. You got me, you got it," something like that. So I thought he was just saying, "I know you have a gun now. I heard it. I'm giving up."

So I don't know if I pushed him off me or he fell off me. Either way, I got on top of him, and I pushed his arms apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You flipped him over?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't remember how I got on top of him, but I got on his back and I moved his arms apart. Because when he was repeatedly hitting me in the face and the head, I thought he had something in his hands. So I just -- I moved his hands apart.

That's when the police officer came around, and I saw the police officer. I stood up, and I holstered my weapon.

He said, "Who shot him?"

I said, "I did."


COOPER: Well, the question for the jury, of course, is going to be why?

When we come back, more on today's controversial ruling on emergency calls that George Zimmerman made months before the shooting and what they might say about motive.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN (via phone): Yes.

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



COOPER: Well, that's a portion, perhaps the pivotal one, of George Zimmerman's phone call to a local emergency dispatcher the night he encountered Trayvon Martin.

Now, the prosecution seeking to use it to show that Zimmerman exceeded his role as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer and became, in theory, in the theory of the case, a vigilante of sorts.

Now, to bolster that theory, they've been seeking to also put a series of prior emergency calls by George Zimmerman into evidence. Today, the judge said yes. Here's a series of moments from those calls.


ZIMMERMAN (via phone): Hey, our neighborhood got burglarized or robbed today, and my wife saw one of the kids that did it, and we see someone that matches his description in the neighborhood right now again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): OK. And is he white, black or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He's black. My wife talked to Detective Walker and gave him a description of the guy we see now.

Hi, there was a break-in in my neighborhood recently, and two youths that match the description of the people -- my wife I.D.'d them and saw them, they're back in the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what do they look like? Are they white, black or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: Black males. Two black males in their late teens.

We actually just had our Neighborhood Watch meeting yesterday and Sergeant Hertz came out here and Officer Buchanan...


ZIMMERMAN: ... told us to report anything suspicious. And it's just late, and they usually don't have their garage door open all night. So...

Hi, I was just calling because we've had a lot of break-ins in our neighborhood recently, and I'm on the Neighborhood Watch. And there's two suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood. I've never seen them before. I have no idea what they're doing. They're just hanging out, loitering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman, can you describe the two individuals?

ZIMMERMAN: Two African-American males. They look -- I know one was in a white Impala.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old do they look to you?

ZIMMERMAN: Mid- to late 20s, early thirties.

I'm with the Neighborhood Watch, and we've had some burglaries and vandalisms lately. And this gentleman was walking in the neighborhood. And I've seen him before on trash days going around picking up trash. I don't know what his deal is. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he white, black or Hispanic?



COOPER: That's just a portion of the audio evidence. With real questions about how the jury's going to react to it.

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

Jeff, you said yesterday you didn't think that these calls should be allowed in. Were you surprised that they were and what kind of an impact do you think they're having?

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I guess I was a little surprised. I think it was a close legal question. I just don't know what they prove one way or another.

I suppose you could establish, if you're the prosecutor, that he seems sort of obsessed with black kids roaming the neighborhood. But on the other hand, he's on a Neighborhood Watch. This is what he's supposed to do. And he's not confronting these kids. He's actually calling into 911. That's what people on Neighborhood Watch are supposed to do.

So I don't really see why it's probative, as the lawyers say; what it proves one way or the other. It strikes me as kind of irrelevant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark, do you agree with that?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, I don't agree with Judge Toobin. I think it should have come in.

But at the same time, I think that this is more helpful to the defense than it is to the prosecution. I'm at a complete loss, if you're the prosecutor, as to why you want this in. And I'm also a little bit perplexed as to why the defense wants to keep this out.

He doesn't sound rabid. He doesn't sound like some, you know, guy who's out there on a mission. He doesn't -- if the idea is he's building up to a crescendo so that all of a sudden he just explodes, it certainly isn't characterized or it doesn't come through on these tapes.

COOPER: Danny.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, the defense bitterly opposed the admission of these tapes. But now this may be one of those times during a trial, sometimes you get a cloud with a silver lining. Because the admission of these tapes, again I think the panel has got it. What do they show?

They show that a guy called the police, and he did so in a calm way. In any of those phone calls, did he follow up with "I'm going to put the phone down and go hunt some people in my neighborhood"? No. All it shows is there's a person who calls the police several times, and he does so in a calm manner.

I think this is one of those things that the defense bitterly opposed, and ultimately, they may be able to parlay it into a plus for the defense.

COOPER: Sunny, when defense -- when they cross-examined the official who maintains the emergency phone lines about those past 911 calls Zimmerman -- that Zimmerman made, the defense attorney had this question for her, and I just want to play that.


MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: On the 2-2-12 event, let's go to that one for a minute.


O'MARA: Were you aware that the person who was identified in that report was arrested for burglary in that neighborhood, and he lived in that subdivision?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm not aware of that. It's not indicated.


COOPER: So Sunny, to Danny's point, to -- you know, to Mark's point, that could play for the defense, that in fact, one of those calls was -- did lead to an arrest.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't know. I think it just reinforces, actually, that George Zimmerman felt that he was doing the right thing by, you know, always calling and identifying young black males as perpetrators.

He didn't call and watch any white males. He didn't call and watch any Hispanic males. He only seemed to be watching and calling about young African-American males.

And since we're in the habit now of saving tapes about when people are right, I hope we save the tape from yesterday's show, Anderson, when I said that these 911 calls were coming in because they're relevant as to state of mind. They're relevant to show that he liked to call and profile, in a sense, young black males. And that's what he was doing.

CEVALLOS: But Sunny, if 100 percent of the people...

GERAGOS: That's right, Sunny, because I agreed with it.


CEVALLOS: They're all saved in all the tapes. We have all the tapes saved.

If 100 percent factually of the people happened to be black, it's not a racial issue. It just happened that those people were black in the neighborhood. If they were Asian, he would have said that. But we'll never know.

Now the alternate theory that you're proposing is that he was making up black people in his neighborhood so he could call 911 and complain and then do nothing further?

HOSTIN: I'm not -- I'm not suggesting that at all. What I'm suggesting...

CEVALLOS: He's a guy that calls 911.

HOSTIN: ... is the only people he...


CEVALLOS: We should all be so lucky as to have somebody who's keeping an eye out on the neighborhood. Now, I'm not saying factually, ultimately, that's what happened. But don't we want neighbors that call the police? And don't we want neighbors that do so in a calm way?

GERAGOS: I don't.

HOSTIN: We don't want neighbors walking after people, following them, and then shooting unarmed teens.

TOOBIN: Yes, really.

HOSTIN: I don't want a neighbor like that.

TOOBIN: Yes. We should all be so lucky, Danny? Come on.

CEVALLOS: To have people that call 911? On this big show (ph).

COOPER: Mark, you've already expressed your disdain for security guards, so you're on slim standing here, but go ahead.

GERAGOS: And by the way, Jeff was right. I got several letters.

COOPER: I bet you did, as well you should. I'm a big fan of security guards.

GERAGOS: Getting -- getting out of the bureau here was dangerous, as well.

But see, the fact remains, you know, whether -- whether we like or don't like the busybody, you still have six jurors who have had encounters with crime. And now you have proven that this guy wasn't hallucinating, he wasn't under a delusion; that actually, if O'Mara is correct -- and I don't think he could have brought that up if he didn't have it to back it up -- that turned out there wasn't arrests, that's substantial evidence that this guy had a good sense for who was up to no good in that neighborhood. I'm telling you...

HOSTIN: But he was wrong about Trayvon Martin. He was wrong. GERAGOS: That's for the jury to decide. That's for the jury to decide.

And Sunny, you and I might agree what's going on really here, but the fact remains, you have to remember the demographic of this jury.

COOPER: All right.

GERAGOS: And that's what you can't forget.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Sunny...

HOSTIN: I think it's a demographic that...

COOPER: Go ahead.

HOSTIN: ... helps the prosecution.

COOPER: All right.

HOSTIN: I think it's a demographic that helps the prosecution. Those women are riveted -- riveted -- by the prosecution's case.

COOPER: Sunny, Jeff, Danny, Mark, thank you very much. Good discussion.

Coming up, same-sex marriage advocates celebrate after two historic Supreme Court rulings. What the court decided, next.


COOPER: A lot happening tonight. Randi Kaye has the latest on the stories we're following -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, same-sex marriage advocates are celebrating two rulings in the Supreme Court today. The court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples and also cleared the way for same- sex marriage to resume in California.

Aaron Hernandez, formerly of the New England Patriots, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his friend, Odin Lloyd, whose body was found last week, less than a mile from Hernandez's home.

Ecuador has asked the United States to argue in writing why Edward Snowden should not get asylum. The country's foreign minister also said Ecuador had not provided refugee papers to the NSA leakers, as reported by WikiLeaks.

Senior U.S. officials told CNN today that the U.S. is biding its time in that matter.

Vigils continue tonight for Nelson Mandela, with word that he is now on life support in a Pretoria Hospital. That's according to an official who was briefed on his condition. The anti-apartheid icon will be 95 next month.

And a close call for 20 tourists, including two Americans trapped in the Canadian Arctic on a drifting ice floe, much like this one you see here. By a stroke of luck, their sheet of ice, bigger than three square miles, bumped into another one which was touching land, so they were able to walk to safety.

Helicopters, Anderson, were standing by to airlift them out.

COOPER: Incredible. Scary stuff. Randi, thanks very much.

Join us again tomorrow night for our special coverage of the George Zimmerman trial at 10 p.m. Eastern. We have another edition. All the day's top stories are coming up right after the break. Another edition of "360" coming up about three minutes from now.

Stay tuned for that.