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Jane Velez-Mitchell

George Zimmerman Defense Team Rests Case

Aired July 10, 2013 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, unbelievable shockers in court. Punches and tears in the courtroom, as former Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman says, "No, I am not taking the witness stand in my own defense." And with that, the defense rests.

But did the prosecutor blow it big time when he dragged out a life- size dummy and jumped on top of it? Yes, that happened in court. Did that demonstration backfire and show the jury that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was the aggressor in the fight that ended his life?

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from right outside the courthouse. It is right back there, and it is hot, hot, hot in Sanford, Florida.


MARK O`MARA, ZIMMERMAN`S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Were the injuries on Mr. Zimmerman`s back of his head consistent with someone doing this?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRIAL FOR SHOOTING TRAYVON MARTIN: He was hitting my head against the floor, and my head was going to explore.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: If this person were carrying a firearm on their waist, where would the gun be right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their left inner high.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I had my firearm on my right. I looked at it and he said, "You`re going to die, mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING OVER TRIAL: Mr. Zimmerman, have you made a decision whether or not you want to testify in this case?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: No, not at this time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s official. Right before the defense rested, George Zimmerman waived his right to testify in his own defense. Listen to this.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: After consulting with counsel not to testify, your honor.

NELSON: You understand that, no matter what counsel says to you, it`s still your decision. You understand that?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: OK. And I need to know is it your decision to not testify in this case?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: And are you making that decision freely and voluntarily?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: Has anybody promised you anything to get you to make that decision?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: No, your honor.

NELSON: Has anybody threatened you?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: No, your honor.

NELSON: And this is clearly the decision that you yourself have made?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: Thank you very much.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today, there were tears from Trayvon`s mother, and we finally got to hear from George Zimmerman`s father. But the star of the day definitely a dummy. The prosecution trotted out this dummy during their cross-examination of a defense witness. But it might have backfired. You`re going to decide and we`re going to debate it.

The defense was able to slam the dummy`s head on the ground repeatedly, and the prosecution seemed to concede that Trayvon was on top of George during the fight. Watch and listen. Then we`ll debate.


O`MARA: Are the injuries on Mr. Zimmerman`s back of his head consistent with someone doing this on cement?

GUY: If Trayvon Martin had been backing up and the defendant raised his gun and shot at 90 degrees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninety degrees to what, sir? If you`re talking about 90 degrees, you`re talking about this degree.

GUY: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if it`s front to back 90 degrees and you`re standing there, and you`re holding the gun up, already you`re at least 45 degrees where you are, because he`s laying flat on the ground.

GUY: If Trayvon Martin is backing up, could not the defendant had shot him at a 90-degree angle?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hence the question of who was on top? It`s so central to this case. Was it a smart move to give the jurors a visual of Trayvon straddling George Zimmerman?

What do you think? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. We`re going to debate it: Did this dummy demo backfire big-time? And we`re starting with -- let me see, eenie, meeny, miney mo -- Mel Robbins, criminal defense attorney out of Sanford, Florida.

MEL ROBBINS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it was like the dumbest thing he could possibly do.

I mean, what we saw is the prosecution changing and shifting gears today, Jane. Not only did they basically admit that Trayvon Martin was on top, but they also started floating this theory that now maybe he was backing off, which to me started to sound like, wow, wait a minute. So now you`re saying he could have been doing this? Isn`t that reasonable doubt?

So you`ve got the double whammy dummy move of physically showing the jury and conceding that Trayvon Martin was on top. And you`re now feeding doubt, because you`re saying, "Well, maybe he was backing off" without any physical proof of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jawn Murray, editor in chief of (ph).

JAWN MURRAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ALWAYSALIST.COM: You know, Jane, I feel like the visual showed me that Zimmerman would not have been able to grab the fun if Trayvon was really on top. I mean, wasn`t one of those scuffles like we`ve seen in the movies, where people flip around a few times? At some point, how was he able to grab the gun?

I think the prosecution showed that the legs would have blocked the gun. How could he have shot him in the way that he did if he was really on top that way?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And how about Anahita Sedaghatfar, criminal defense attorney out in Los Angeles?

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, this totally backfired on the prosecution. Like your other guests said, it just showed the jurors that, in the 11th hour, the prosecution is suddenly changing their story, changing their theory...

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: They`re not changing their story.

SEDAGHATFAR: ... of the case? That Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman, and now they`re saying that he was actually leaning back at the time he got shot.

The problem with that is not only does that look terrible in front of the jurors...


SEDAGHATFAR: ... because the jury`s going to see that the prosecution has a theory, believes in their case, and is proving that beyond a reasonable doubt.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

LEIBERMAN: That`s another issue. Now, that is another issue. Look, prosecutors...

SEDAGHATFAR: And not to mention, Jon...

LEIBERMAN: Anahita, prosecutors...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let Jon Leiberman finish.

LEIBERMAN: Look, prosecutors have not done a good job at laying out their theory of exactly what happened. That being said, I don`t think...

SEDAGHATFAR: No kidding.

LEIBERMAN: ... the dummy completely backfired, because...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes? You weren`t in the courtroom. I was. Let me tell you what was happening, Jane. Let me tell you what was happening when the dummy was brought out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The dummy was brought out, and the jurors that are sitting in the back row, all five of them, stood up.

LEIBERMAN: They know. No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The four women in the front row leaned forward and were writing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me say this. Hold on a second. Before we jump in with the Taaffer (ph).

When the prosecutor got on top of the dummy to demonstrate the fight, you know what it kind of reminded me of? It kind of reminded me of a certain moment, the O.J. Simpson trial, when the glove demonstration occurred. And I believe that was the prosecution`s idea once again to have him try on the bloody glove in court. It didn`t fit; it must acquit. Remember all that? Remember this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you having problems with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show that to the jury, Mr. Simpson.

JOHNNY COCHRAN, O.J. SIMPSON`S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If it doesn`t fit, you must acquit.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In these cases, there can be a moment that crystallizes everything. So I`m going to go back out to the Lion`s Den. Can cases be won or lost in just one moment, and is this dummy demonstration such a moment?

Frank Taaffe, former neighbor of George Zimmerman and a supporter of George Zimmerman.

TAAFFE: You know what? I don`t know when the last time you got in a fight, but that dummy made John Guy look like a dummy. I don`t know the truth (ph).

You know, the last time I was on -- in a fight for my life, I wasn`t static. First of all, they made that dummy look like it was just lifeless. It looked like Trayvon already put that dummy into a trauma state.

So I think what John Guy was trying to demonstrate is that Trayvon was the aggressor. So you know what? I think they`re trying to go for the lessers now on this one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Tanya Acker, we have heard the possibility of lesser includeds, not just second-degree murder, which is the main charge, but manslaughter, even aggravated assault. Did the prosecution`s case end with a whimper?

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: I think that they`re in really bad shape, Jane.

And going back to the dummy, I don`t think that -- look, they have walked away from the Zimmerman-on-top story. I don`t think there`s any doubt about that. I think the only way that they can salvage this is to tell a bigger story about the fact that the fight -- you know, the altercation did not stop with one or two -- one or the other of these men jumping on -- jumping on the other one. The altercation, the interaction started before then.

So I think that they`ve made some mistakes here. I think they -- I think the dummy was a mistake. I don`t necessarily think all is lost, but I think it would be, you know, naive to suggest.

LEIBERMAN: Look, this is -- look -- look, it`s not a game changer. Look...

SEDAGHATFAR: Jon, let me just respond. Jon, let me respond.

TAAFFE: Stick a fork in that, Jon. It`s done.

SEDAGHATFAR: I actually was law partners -- I actually worked with Christopher Darden for about four years. We were law partners. And I don`t think anyone can deny that that glove moment was the defining moment in that O.J. Simpson trial. And I think, Jane, that was a perfect analogy here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. We`re not talking about O.J. tonight. We`re talking about the dummy.

SEDAGHATFAR: Right. And I think the dummy in this case -- I think that the dummy in this case will be very similar to that glove. I think that`s going to be the defining moment. I think that`s the moment the prosecution finally realized they`ve lost this case, Jane.

LEIBERMAN: What you`re leaving out is the witness that was on the stand, Mr. Root. Again, I believe his testimony was pretty good for the defense.

But keep in mind, he reached out to the defense, because he wanted to be a part of this trial. He waived his fee, because he knew the publicity was going to be part of it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second.

LEIBERMAN: And that does raise into question some of what his testimony was today. So don`t forget that, as well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get to the points that the prosecution did make with the dummy, because they did make some points.

Now, we all know what George Zimmerman`s side of the story is. OK? He has told it on video. He`s told it on audio. He`s told it in writing. They`ve even done an animation that it`s believed they`re going to use in the closing argument.

But the prosecution, what is their version of events? Are they offering differing scenarios about how George Zimmerman may have shot Trayvon and gotten his injuries? Let`s listen to this, and then we`re going to...


GUY: Ninety degrees, if Trayvon Martin had been backing up and the defendant raised his gun and shot at 90 degrees.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: Maybe hitting a tree limb or just rolling around in the dirt? And on the concrete?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s indicative of a hard impact. That`s all I know.

DE LA RIONDA: But you don`t know whether it was a hard impact somebody hitting him on the thing or him rolling around.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Dr. Larry Kobilinsky, famed forensic scientist out of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, it seems like the prosecution has presented several different variations on what may have happened.

Now they are constrained. They can`t be like the defense and they can just make anything up like the Jodi Arias case and say this happened and that happened when it`s total fiction and get away with it. The prosecution has a higher standard that they have to live up to.

Nevertheless, has it been confusing to jurors when they can`t really put their finger on exactly what the prosecution is saying happened that night, because they`ve presented several unclear versions of events and now they seemed to acknowledge that Trayvon Martin was on top.

DR. LAWRENCE, KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: I totally agree with you, Jane. But let`s put this into context.

The whole purpose of getting that dummy out there to do a demonstration, which backfired, had to do with Vince Di Maio, the medical examiner, who basically said that the results of the autopsy and the ballistics evidence indicates or is consistent with having Trayvon Martin straddling George Zimmerman, and that the shot was fired, again, front to back, OK, and from Trayvon Martin`s left side to his right side. So -- and what he said is this is consistent with George Zimmerman`s story.

The whole point that this dummy was about was to show that Trayvon Martin could have been backing up, and he could have been shot that way. In other words, he wasn`t pursuing the fight. He was trying to get away from it.

It backfired terribly. Because not only did the prosecution make dummies out of themselves. But I mean, to watch Mark O`Mara slamming that dummy against the sidewalk just reinforced the entire self-defense case.

Taken that, together with the animation during closing arguments, I think the state`s case is kaput.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. How many times have I sat at this very juncture, at the 11th hour, and heard -- and with all due respect, Dr. Kobi -- I love you, and I respect your opinion -- had people make predictions, smart people make predictions. I`ve seen it in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial. I`ve seen it in Casey Anthony, and you know what? They were wrong.

So we don`t know what the jury is going to decide, and they`re always a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

Let`s come back and debate what the prosecution did right today and also a woman who kind of stole the show. She walked in and talked about a terrifying home invasion and how George Zimmerman was there for her in the wake of that.

So much to talk about. Stay right there. We`ll be right back.


G. ZIMMERMAN (via phone): This guy looks like he`s up to no good. He`s on drugs or something.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: They`ve killed my son, and now they`re trying to kill his reputation.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it was Georgie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was George screaming for his life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you recognize that to be?

FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know whose voice that was screaming in the background?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And whose voice was that?


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: I`ve never said that wasn`t my son`s voice. I just kind of shook my head and said, "I can`t tell."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This trial nearing its crescendo. Tomorrow a huge day. Straight out to our own Jean Casarez, who has been in court covering the trial for the duration. What is going to happen tomorrow? Give us the lowdown.

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well, 9 in the morning the attorneys are going to gather, and it`s going to be final jury instructions, getting all of that together. And we don`t know what, if any, lesser includes are going to come in. Manslaughter normally does. We`ll see if that happens, and aggravated assault.

And then at 1 p.m. sharp, the jury is to return, and that`s when closing arguments will begin by the prosecution, and the judge is actually splitting it, Jane. Because they`ll come back Friday morning for the defense closing argument and prosecution rebuttal, and then they will have the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the jurors could have this case by Friday. So tomorrow, a massive, massive day here. This is really the prosecution`s last chance to bring it all together and make their case.

Now let`s talk a little bit. We`ve talked about what the prosecution did wrong today with the dummy. Let`s talk about what the prosecutor did right with the dummy.

He used the dummy to really demonstrate the idea that George Zimmerman, in their opinion, is lying when he claims, when he is on the ground, that he`s able to grab the gun and shoot Trayvon because, according to the prosecutor, essentially he wouldn`t be able to get to the gun, because Trayvon Martin`s legs would be right over him. So let`s listen to that, and then we`ll debate it.


GUY: Were you aware that the defendant described to his best friend that when he slid down, the defendant slid down, that Trayvon Martin was up around his armpits? Were you aware of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I heard that.

GUY: Where would the gun be now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the gun would be behind your left leg.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Straight out to the Lion`s Den. I thought this was the best point of the day, and I`ll throw to Jawn Murray, editor in chief of Maybe this dummy wasn`t a great idea, but he did make the point that, hey, if you`re straddled by a very tall person, who`s got his legs wrapped around you, how are you going to grab the gun?

MURRAY: Right. That was the point I was making before, Jane. Like, that was the silver lining in this dummy of a presentation. The prosecution really was able to convey that he would have really struggled to be able to get his hand on the gun.

The idea that Zimmerman would have been grabbing the gun in self- defense one, it`s unlikely for him to be able to grab the gun. But two, it`s not self-defense when you went after the kid.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I know Frank Taaffe, you are really dying to roar on this one.

TAAFFE: Jane, the only thing that the prosecution did right with that dummy is point out where the belly button was. That`s as far as I`m concerned. Let me share this with you...

LEIBERMAN: Frank, this isn`t a joke. It`s a dead kid and another guy on trial for his life.

TAAFFE: You know what, Jon? It`s done. Stick a fork in it, it`s done.

LEIBERMAN: No, you listen to me tonight. This is not a joke! This is not a joke.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Wait, wait.

TAAFFE: We`re going to go out and order pizza Friday night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frank Taaffe, let`s stick to the issues at hand!

TAAFFE: We`re going to get pizza.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stick to the issues at hand. We`re here to talk about what happened in court, not what you`re going to eat on Friday night. OK? So Jon Leiberman makes a very good point.

LEIBERMAN: Frank, I`m agreeing with you that prosecutors overcharged here. I`m agreeing with you that prosecutors overcharged.

TAAFFE: Oh, now you are.

LEIBERMAN: But to make light of the whole case like it`s joke, I sense it`s the beginning, Frank.

TAAFFE: I haven`t made a joke out of this. When he walks, I`m taking him and I`m buying the pizza.

LEIBERMAN: This is not a time for anybody to celebrate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. Jawn Murray.

MURRAY: I`m sorry, Jane, Frank, I`m in a place that I can`t speak right now because the things that I want to say you`ll have to bleep most of it. I just can`t do it right now.

SEDAGHATFAR: I can respond, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya. Tanya Acker. Hold on. Tanya.

ACKER: I think that getting away from the idea of celebrating a verdict where a young man has died and getting back to the issues would be a good idea.


ACKER: Whether or not -- whether or not Trayvon was on top, and look, there`s very good evidence. You know, there`s been a lot of evidence in the case that he may have been.

TAAFFE: Whether or not he`s on top. Where did you come up with this?

ACKER: The idea that simply because he was on top he was the aggressor...

SEDAGHATFAR: The prosecution conceded today that he was on top.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second.

Acker: The fact that he was on top does not necessarily make him the aggressor. The fact that Trayvon was on top doesn`t speak to the initial aggression.


MURRAY: He`s not the aggressor when Zimmerman was told to leave the boy alone; don`t follow the kid. You`re the aggressor when you don`t follow the instructions of the authorities.

SEDAGHATFAR: With all due respect, that`s not illegal.

MURRAY: Follow the instructions of the authority that told you to mind your own business.

SEDAGHATFAR: You`re misstating the law. You`re missing the point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll take a break, and we`ll be right back with more.

SEDAGHATFAR: You`re entirely missing...


MARTIN: I was listening to my son`s last cry for help. I was listening to his life being taken. And I was trying to come to grips with that Trayvon was here no more. It was just tough.




NELSON: Mr. Zimmerman, have you made a decision as to whether or not you want to testify in this case?

ZIMMERMAN: No, not at this time.

NELSON: OK. And when is it -- how long do you think you`ll need before you make that decision?

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: May we have an opportunity to speak? The case hasn`t concluded yet.

NELSON: I understand that, but your attorneys have finished with two witnesses before the end of the day. Do you think that you would then know whether or not you want to testify?

WEST: On Mr. Zimmerman`s behalf...

NELSON: I am asking your client -- your client questions. Please, Mr. West.

WEST: I object to the court inquiring of Mr. Zimmerman as to his decision about whether or not to testify, that this...

NELSON: Your objection is overruled.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. I`ve got to tell you, I was inside court today. You could cut the tension with a knife. If you think that tempers are flaring on our Lion`s Den panel, just in court, you just saw it, you just heard it.

Tanya Acker, this is a mega trial, and we know that things get very tense. It`s happened in every case that we`ve covered, whether it be the O.J. Simpson case or the Michael Jackson molestation case or the Casey Anthony case or the Jodi Arias trial. It gets real personal, and it gets real tense, especially at this stage when we`re just approaching closing arguments. Why?

ACKER: No, that`s right. I mean, look, everything is on the line. I think that the prosecution is nervous because of the way the case is going. I think that the defense, as most defense attorneys in almost every case have covered or seen or participated in, they get very aggressive, as they should be. I`ve actually received a lot of tweets about this, because a lot of folks is saying that the judge is being really harsh on the defense.

You know, I think that can sometimes play both sides. But this is very typical. Everybody is watching this case, and the tensions are high, both inside and outside the courtroom. I wouldn`t expect anything any different.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And by the way, I spoke to a group of pastors who arrived here, and they were outside court. I`m going to play that for you in a second, because they`re calling for the exact opposite.

They are calling for love. They are calling for inclusion. They are calling for peace and nonviolence, and they are calling for, in the name of the victim, Trayvon Martin, whatever, whatever the decision by this jury for calm and for peace. That`s what they called for.

We`re going to play my interview in a second with one of those pastors.

Let`s go out to the phone lines. Bonnie Gay, Washington. Bonnie Gay, your question or thought?

CALLER: I was -- George Zimmerman, I believe the nicks on his head, instead of them being called abrasions, I think they happened during the tussle on the ground with Trayvon Martin when they were tussling. I think his head hit the side of the pavement, not his head was being bashed in.

Also, I believe that Zimmerman confronted Trayvon Martin with that gun. He showed that child that gun some way, somehow. And when Trayvon saw that gun, he hit Zimmerman to get away. Zimmerman grabbed that child and held on. Because like he stated, these a-holes always get away. He had it in his mind that this one wasn`t going to get away. So he held onto that child, and that`s how it started.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, ma`am, you raise some very good points. And I want to throw them at Anahita Sedaghatfar, because you`re a criminal defense attorney speaking up for George Zimmerman. Is there an inherent bias in this case where it`s assumed that, well, George Zimmerman was the one who was scared and worried about a suspicious person? Why shouldn`t we take the same exact approach that Trayvon Martin was scared and worried about a suspicious person and maybe even afraid that George Zimmerman was going to mug him?

SEDAGHATFAR: Right. And that is definitely a pivotal issue that the jurors are going to consider.

And I think your caller did raise a very important issue, Jane, that I don`t think we`ve touched upon. And that is that the prosecution has essentially failed to provide those jurors with a cohesive story as to what happened that night. How did George Zimmerman get those injuries? They failed to address that. They failed to provide the jurors with a story to explain that away to them.

Their main theory has been what happened is not what George Zimmerman says happened. Well, then what did happen? I think the prosecution hasn`t answered that for the jurors.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me throw that to Jawn Murray. Do you get a sense that they -- that the prosecution has failed in that matter to paint a real good alternative theory of the case?

MURRAY: I do agree with that. As much as I would hate to, the prosecution has not been as strong as I would like them to be.

I also have to give credit to Zimmerman`s defense team. They`ve been really good at creating the reasonable doubt in this case. The prosecution has not been able to eradicate it at all.

But what I do think, Jane, as you made an excellent point leading up to this, Trayvon Martin was defending himself. This stranger, who he did not know, in possession of a gun, came after him. He was trying to defend himself. He was in a fight for his life.

So no matter what happened to George Zimmerman, if he would have just followed instructions and followed the people on the phone who told him to leave the boy alone, he would have never been in this predicament. This case would never be going on. We wouldn`t be discussing this right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is part of the problem in this case. Everybody says, you know, who is the aggressor? How do you define that? Where does the aggression start? Does it start with George Zimmerman who calls the non-emergency number? Does it start when he gets out of his car? Does it start when they actually come face to face, when words are exchanged? When they become physically entangled? When does the aggression start?

It`s not easy to define the term that you`re trying to fit those terms into the law.

We`re going to take a short break. We`re going to be back. We`re just getting started. Explosive developments in court today -- we`re going to bring you the latest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In light of this, no violent response. We have to protect the memory of this young man. But secondly, it`s time for us to save our sons. To really invest in showing that our sons will be protected and that they can live healthy and prosperous lives.




DR. VINCENT DI MAIO, DEFENSE EXPERT: The physical evidence is consistent with Mr. Martin being over Mr. Zimmerman.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRIAL FOR DEATH OF TRAYVON MARTIN: He pushed me down. Somehow he got on top of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your opinion as to who was on top?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe it was Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re wrestling right in the back of my porch.

DI MAIO: There`s definite evidence of (inaudible)

ZIMMERMAN: He got me by the head and tried to slam my head down.

DI MAIO: The muzzle of the gun in this case was two to four inches away from the skin.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are reaching the crescendo of this extraordinary case. Closing arguments begin tomorrow. Today was really the focus was on this dummy demonstration that a lot of observers, legal analysts said backfired on the prosecutor because they whipped out this dummy to make a point, but it provided a visual that would indicate to the jurors that Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman -- something that has been disputed. Some people said the whole case comes back to who was on top and who was screaming for help.

Meantime -- another pivotal moment, George Zimmerman`s neighbor. This young lady took the stand today and told the jury about a time six months before the deadly shooting that her home in this gated community was invaded while she was inside with her child during this home invasion. She testified that after that experience, George, her neighbor, offered to help. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were terrified when this happened, and we came home after we were having car trouble. We came home and he was just saying that he wanted to make sure we were ok. We weren`t home. My sister was and she didn`t answer the door because she was scared because of what had gone on. So I was just appreciative that he was offering his hand and told me that I could spend time with his wife if I needed to go somewhere during the day because I was so afraid.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to "The Lion`s Den", did this testimony from this young woman, who seemed rather sympathetic turn George from an alleged wannabe come into a concerned resident? Jon Leiberman.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: I actually think this was one of the best witnesses the defense put up because keep in mind, the jury consists of six women. This was an objective woman on the stand. She did two things: number one, she showed them there were crime issues in the community; and number two, she humanized George from somebody who wasn`t a family member or a friend. I think she is key for the defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Frank Taaffe, you wanted to weigh in on the issues?

FRANK TAAFFE, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Sure. Jon, this woman is very compelling due to the fact that it was soon after this home invasion that George wrote a letter to the Sanford Police Department and that led to the inception of neighborhood watch. So when the prosecution said that it would never yield anything. And this suspect by the name of Emmanuel Burgess (ph) was the same individual that was staring and prowling in my house the night that George called the non-emergency line and prohibited a potential burglary that was going on at my house.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Acker, attorney out of Los Angeles?

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Of course she was good for the defense. But again, I don`t think that she really speaks to the issue of what happened that night. No one is arguing here that George Zimmerman just goes around shooting people on sight. People are arguing that something very specific happened in this case with respect to this altercation.

So of course she was good for the defense. I don`t know that she provides me any illuminating information about what happened the night that Trayvon Martin was killed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Jawn Murray, editor in chief of what I thought was a little odd about it, he was being a nice neighbor, but he talked to her about it approximately 20 times. I thought that was a little over the top. Yes, you go and help a neighbor. But to talk to the person 20 times, does that show some kind of obsession?

JAWN MURRAY: I think it shows his fascination with being involved in things that are criminal, that allows him to, you know, act as a renegade cop and display this whole involvement thing. But here`s the thing -- nice story, great witness. I felt for her and I`m sorry she experienced what she experienced but Trayvon Martin is still dead. So, one thing has nothing to do with the other.

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: How do you take anything bad from that?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Anahita quick.


SEDAGHATFAR: Right. I was just going to say how can you take anything bad about the fact that he was a concerned neighbor? I think that she definitely humanized George Zimmerman. And if anything, he checked up on her. These jurors, five out of six are mothers. I think they`re really going to -- this witness is going to resonate with those jurors, Jane.

MURRAY: And the mothers should be concerned that Trayvon Martin is still dead.

LEIBERMAN: Yes, well the one thing --

TAAFFE: We talk about words that he used -- suspect, suspicion. We have to remember that George`s father was a magistrate and his uncle was in law enforcement. So those type of words were being used around the house way before this incident ever happened. So it`s not all of a sudden he decided to call Trayvon Martin a suspicious-looking character or looks like he`s on drugs, which we later found out he was.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, no, wait, THC was found in his system in the autopsy. That is an active ingredient but it can happen --

TAAFFE: Yes, well how did he get it from the Skittles or from the tea? Which one?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Please let`s just lay off the sarcasm.

ACKER: Enough of trying to demonize this boy. I mean really -- is it really necessary to demonize --

TAAFFE: Nobody is here to demonize --


MURRAY: Frank didn`t come on TV to demonize the boy. He has no reason to give --

TAAFFE: Stay with the facts. Stay with the facts.

ACKER: You`re talking about facts that the judge did not -- that the judge excluded.

MURRAY: The facts are you contribute nothing to this conversation --


SEDAGHATFAR: The judge did not exclude that evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I tell you what I`m going to do. I`m going to ask everybody just to hold this for a second while we talk to Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, forensic scientist at John Jay College of Justice. They decided not -- the defense decided after getting approval to go after the THC and to bring it up, THC being an active ingredient in marijuana that was found in the autopsy in the victim Trayvon Martin`s system. Then it turned out the defense even after getting the approval decides we`re not going to go there.

What can you tell us about THC and why was that dicey for the defense?

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Jane, the THC issue is a red herring. The level that they found in the central blood of Trayvon Martin was approximately 1.5 nanograms per milliliter. This is a very low amount. Call it a trace amount. Those levels simply would not affect, would not impact his mental state or physical state.

What it tells me is that either he was a regular user and -- let me finish. This was either a regular user and had -- this is background levels. Or he was not a regular user and had smoked a joint earlier in the day, perhaps eight hours earlier, and this was the residual amount.

Any way you look at it, just medically you cannot say to any degree of medical certainty that this level of THC affected his behavior. It`s a red herring.

ACKER: Jane, Jane --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I think that`s the reason why ultimately the defense decided not to go with it, even though they got the approval because it was in the autopsy report. Somebody said "Jane, Jane" -- yes. I think it was Tanya.

ACKER: That`s me Jane, you`re right. Just going back to I think what was happening on the panel vis-a-vis Trayvon. Yes the judge said the THC could come in. No, the defense decided not to do it. But what we`ve seen here really -- I mean there are two cases here. There is the case where people really have a vested interest in trying to make Trayvon Martin a bad, vicious, violent drug-smoking gold tooth wearing, mean-tex wearing kid who deserved what got to him -- deserved what came to him.

And then there`s another case that`s really about what happened that night. And I think that the reason why the defense didn`t include the THC evidence is because it wasn`t really probative. It wouldn`t be probative of what happened that evening. If you want to suggest that everybody in America who`s walking around --

SEDAGHATFAR: They could stipulated --

ACKER: -- if you want to suggest --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on, hold on.

ACKER: -- If you want to suggest to everybody in America who is walking around with some THC in their blood is a proper target for suspicion, then I think there are going to be a lot of very scared Americans.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: 42 percent of Americans admit to having smoked pot. And those are the ones who admit to it. So there`s an old saying, you know, about a pot or whatever. I don`t think that -- I don`t think you can judge somebody because they have THC in their system. Otherwise you would be judging a lot of Americans in California and many other places it`s even being legalized under certain conditions.

We`re going to be back. Wow. That`s all I can say. More debate and we`re taking your calls.


ZIMMERMAN: I was just calling because we`ve had a lot of break-ins in our neighborhood recently and I`m on the neighborhood watch. 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 and loitering.

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

ZIMMERMAN: Two African-American males.




BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: You have not heard the defendant screaming before, have you?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I recognize it to be George`s voice.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: But you never heard him yell before, right?


GUY: Never heard him scream?


DE LA RIONDA: Had you ever heard Trayvon Martin yell or scream as the two of you were growing up?

JAHVARIS FULTON, BROTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: I`ve heard him yell, but not like that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Closing arguments begin tomorrow, and of course, what will the jurors consider in terms of charges? That`s a big question mark. We know it starts with murder two, but what about those lesser includeds? Straight out to HLN`s Jean Casarez in court for the duration -- probably knows more about this case than anybody, except the lawyers. What is going to happen in terms of those lesser includeds?

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`re going to have argument tomorrow morning. So the prosecution wants to include lessers, the defense does not want to include lessers. But let`s look at the facts, he`s up for second degree murder; that is a life felony. He could spend potentially the rest of his life in prison.

But there was a gun used. So that affects the minimum amount. It`s the possession of a firearm causing death. So it`s 25 to life is really the second degree murder charge.

Manslaughter, if it comes in, 10 to 30 years. And aggravated assault also has that enhancer with the gun. And so it is about three years in prison. And there`s no probation because he used a gun.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. So we`ve got a pretty good range there if you`ve got the aggravated assault. Excuse me. The hot air brings up my asthma a little bit. If you`ve got a range of aggravated assault, three years he said, right, minimum, all the way up to life in prison, Jean, that`s really the range.

CASAREZ: Yes, it really is. And remember, they`re going to get an instruction on justified killing. That if you believe this was a justified killing then that goes to every charge then you have to find him not guilty. So that`s the alternative there, obviously.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me ask, I think I`ll ask Anahita Sedaghatfar. In terms of this idea of lesser included, and who wants them and who doesn`t. What is in the advantage for the state of having these lesser includeds and why does the defense not want them?

SEDAGHATFAR: Well, obviously the state wants the jurors to have other options. If they feel that the jurors can`t unanimously agree that this is a murder two case, that they can possibly find manslaughter, which is essentially an imperfect self-defense or an aggravated assault. But again, like Jean just said, if those jurors find mind that this was self-defense, if they find that the prosecution failed to rebut the defense`s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, then they have to acquit him of all charges.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Jawn Murray, editor-in-chief of the burden of proof is really high on the prosecution to essentially prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self-defense. It`s almost hard to wrap your mind around the legalities of this in terms of detectable things, the criteria that this juror has to consider.

MURRAY: Absolutely Jane. The burden of proof is definitely on the prosecution, and there`s so many legalities in it, which is why in layman terms, the average person watching this trial on HLN, the average person in social media, they don`t understand how the legalities don`t add up with the logistical aspects of it, which are the fundamentals of why did he follow the kid? Why did he go after the kid? Why did he pursue the kid? The logistics aspect of it definitely don`t line up with the legalities of it.

And that`s the thing that`s confusing to a lot of people, which is if Zimmerman does make off in the best case scenario in this case, I think because the logistical aspect does not line up with the legality aspect, there will be fallout.

TAAFFE: Jawn, it`s not logistical it`s just judicial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to take a short break. On the other side, we`re going to debate that and more. We`re going to go back into "The Lion`s Den". Stay right there.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


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


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George is a real person. He`s not just whatever images people flash across the screen.

CROWD: I am Trayvon Martin.

SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: The heart has no color. It`s not black, it`s not white. It`s red.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The judge ruled that the controversial animation the defense created, using technology that`s used in movies like "Ironman" and shows basically George Zimmerman`s version of events of what happened that night will be allowed only as a demonstrative. That means that it can`t really come into testimony but it`s expected to be played by the defense during closing argument by the defense.

Straight out to "The Lion`s Den", Jon Leiberman, some would say that`s a double win for the defense in the sense that they don`t have to be cross- examined about this and they can play it and leave an impression with the jurors.

LEIBERMAN: The flip side is that the jury won`t actually have this animation back in the jury room. It`s hard to keep anything out of closing. I mean closings are the time for the attorneys to throw everything at the wall. And just quickly I wanted to expand upon what Mr. Murray said quickly. Legally you can believe that Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin and even initiated the altercation but the jury can also believe that he acted in self-defense by shooting him. That`s why this is complicated.

SEDAGHATFAR: You`re so right about that. You`re so right about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s take a short break. We`ll be right back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t go anywhere. Nancy Grace is next.