PoliticsNation, Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
Guest Host: Martin Bashir
Guests: Angela Corey; Jonathan Capehart; Catherine Crier; Kendall Coffey;
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation," I`m Martin
Bashir, the Reverend Al Sharpton will be here later. He is at this moment
in Washington at the national action network convention, and he will be
live with an interview with Trayvon Martin`s parents. But here is the
special prosecutor, Angela Corey.
ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, FLORIDA: Good evening, everyone. I`m
Angela Corey, the special prosecutor for the Trayvon Martin case.
Just moments ago we spoke on the phone with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy
Martin. It was less than three weeks ago that we told those sweet parents
that we would get answers to all of their questions no matter where the
quest for the truth led us. And it is the search for justice for Trayvon
that has brought us to this moment. The team here with me has worked
tirelessly looking for answers in Trayvon Martin`s death.
I want to introduce to you Bernie del Yoranda (ph), one of my top homicide
prosecutors, and John Guide, my other top homicide prosecutor who will lead
this investigation. With us also is Jim Madden from the Florida department
of law enforcement, Dominic Pate, also one of our special agents in charge,
our sheriff John Rutherford and our undersheriff Dwaine Centerfit (ph).
We appreciate so much all of their cooperation in this. And I especially
want to thank my two state attorney investigators, (INAUDIBLE) who have
spent countless hours doing what they do best, investigating homicides.
Excuse me, allow me to take a moment to acknowledge our governor, Rick
Scott and his office, attorney general Pam Bondi and his office, along with
our U.S. attorney Bobby O`Neil for their continuing support of our
appointment of this case and their support of the investigation.
We spoke with all of them briefly and informed them of the results of our
investigation and our plan as we continue. I can tell you we did not come
to this decision lightly. This case is like a lot of the difficult cases
we have handled for years here in our circuit. And we made this decision
in the same manner.
Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by
petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case and the laws
of the state of Florida.
When they appointed us to this case less than three weeks ago, I want you
to know that these two fine prosecutors, despite all that is on their plate
already, handling all of the homicides in the fourth judicial circuit and
supervising the other young lawyers, they willingly took this case on and
said they will lead this effort to seek justice for Trayvon.
We launched an intensive investigation building on all of the work that
Sanford police department and the state attorney`s office in Seminal County
had already done. Unless you have been a law enforcement officer or a
prosecutor handling a difficult homicide case, you cannot know what it`s
like to launch this type of investigation and come to the right conclusion.
The Supreme Court has defined our role on numerous occasions as prosecutors
that we`re not only administers of justice, we are seekers of truth. And
we stay to that mission. Again, we prosecute in the laws of the great and
sovereign state of Florida, and that`s the way it will be in this case.
When we took our oath of office in 2009, we pledged not only to look out
for our precious victims of all of our cases, but also to adhere to the
rules of the criminal justice system, and the rules of our constitution and
statutes that protect a defendant`s rights as well. When we charge a
person with a crime, we are equally committed to justice on their behalf as
we are on our victim`s behalf.
So we`re here to do that on behalf of our victim, Trayvon Martin, and on
behalf of the person responsible for his death, George Zimmerman. We`ll
continue to seek the truth throughout in this case. Every day our
prosecutors across this country handled difficult cases and they adhere to
the same standard, a never ending search for the truth and a quest to
always do the right thing for the right reason.
There is a reason cases are tried in the court of law, not in the court of
the public and not by the media because details have to come out in
excruciating and minute fashion. Detail by detail, bit of evidence by bit
of evidence. And it`s only then when the Trier of fact, whether it`s a
judge or a jury, gets all of those details, that then the laws applied to
that and a decision can be rendered. We will scrupulously adhere to our
epical obligations and the rules of evidence in presenting this case that
Today, we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the
second degree. A Capias has been issued for his arrest. With the filing
of that information and the issue Capias, he will have a right to appear in
front of a magistrate in Seminal County within 24 hours of his arrest, and
thus formal prosecution will begin.
We thank all of the people across the country, who, have sent positive
energy and prayers our way. We ask you to continue to pray for Trayvon`s
family as well as for our prosecution team.
I want to especially thank Mr. Crump and Mr. Parks who have stayed in touch
daily with us on behalf of our victim`s family. Remember, it is Trayvon`s
family that are our constitutional victims and who have the right to know
the critical stages of these proceedings. I will entertain some questions,
but remember we have strict rules of ethics, very strict rules of criminal
procedure and we will be adhering to those rules.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One at a time.
COREY: I will confirm that Mr. Zimmerman is indeed in custody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you tell us where?
COREY: I will not tell you where. That`s for his safety, as well as
everyone else`s safety.
I`m sorry --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Can you tell us what led to your decision
today? Was there one single piece of evidence that led you to charge him
with murder in second degree?
COREY: We don`t discuss the evidence in a case, it would be improper to do
so. It was a full investigation, full facts and circumstances that lead us
to any decision in any case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Did he turn himself in or was he arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: He turned himself in or was he arrested?
COREY: Mr. Zimmerman charged himself and by turning himself in was
arrested on the Capias that`s already been issued.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why did it take so long to come up with this
COREY: Well, it didn`t take long. We have many complicated homicide that
are thoroughly investigated. Remember, the prosecutors` burden under our
constitution is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But it`s been 45 days since Trayvon Martin was
killed, you talk about the process leading up to this, did you drop the
ball on the investigation?
COREY: I can tell you the investigation was under way by the Sanford
police department, and Norm Wolfinger`s office, the investigation was in
full mode, and the governor appointed us less than three weeks ago, and we
took the work they had done, which was significant. We carried on with
that work, and we arrived at our decision approximately last week.
And then, of course, following proper Florida law and procedure, we had to
make sure we had everything in place to issue this and make this arrest?
I`m Sorry. Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you tell us what it was about what you
uncovered that lead you to refuse the self-defense claim in "Stand Your
COREY: Well, that`s what will be in court, detail by detail, piece of
evidence by piece of evidence, factual evidence, physical evidence,
testimonial evidence, that`s why we track cases in a courtroom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you tell us if Mr. Zimmerman is in the
state of Florida, is there a bonding process under way.
COREY: I can tell you that in Seminal County, and I want to thank the
chief judge, he was very kind in helping us start setting this procedure up
last week, he informed us they have a bond schedule there. And when the
Capias is issued, there was originally no bond, but that Mr. Zimmerman`s
lawyers will be entitled to request a bond at which point a bond hearing
will be held. Bond hearings are common occurrence, our lawyers assemble
them every day and that`s where that will be determined as to whether or
not no bond, which is the bond set currently on the Capias, will be changed
by the court. Yes, ma`am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Have you determined whose voice is crying
for help on the 911 tape?
COREY: That would be commenting on the fact to the case and we are not
going to do that at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you talk about why your investigation led
you to a second-degree murder charge where the Sanford police investigation
didn`t even made an arrest?
COREY: Well, I don`t believe that question is accurate in the sense that
when you have a homicide, Florida`s jury instructions even say that before
you can reach a degree of homicide, you have to determine whether a person
has committed an excusable homicide or a justifiable homicide.
All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders. And Florida
law clearly says that if there is an affirmative defense of for example,
excusable homicide or justifiable homicide, that should be determined
before you go to the degree of the crime. That`s the process this case
took. The only slight delay was the fact that the governor stepped in and
appointed us to take this case over and handle it and we did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If they had conducted a full investigation, do
you believe Sanford police would have arrived at the same conclusion?
COREY: We worked together with our law enforcement officers here as you
see. I have my sheriff and our undersheriff here. We work with all of our
law enforcement agencies where we try to work these cases together.
Remember, prosecutors are law enforcement as well and we work these with
our investigating agencies and we try to come to as many mutual decisions
as we can. This case informs that process when the governor stepped in and
appointed us to take it over. We have continued to work with the Sanford
police department. We got full cooperation and all of those significant
documents and records from Mr. Wolfinger`s office, and then Bernie and
John, and they`re team took this over, and did a lot more work, and we came
to our conclusion based on the facts and Florida`s law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Yes, ma`am. Obviously, the maximum sentence
for second-degree murder would be life in prison. Is it your desire as the
prosecutor of this case to see him go to jail for life, Mr. Zimmerman?
COREY: We don`t make that determination at this time. What we are
committed to do is get this case to the court system and then -- and if it
goes to the Trier of fact is the judge or the Trier fact of the jury, once
there is a decision then we would concern ourselves with the sentence.
COREY: I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Have you been contacted by Mr. Zimmerman.
COREY: I have not personally been contacted. I do understand that he may
have retained new council in the last couple of hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: When he turned himself in, did he anything
that say, what was his demeanor?
COREY: If he did, I would be able to comment on it. I want you to know
upfront, one of the specific things we`re not allowed to discuss is the
statements of a defendant charged with a crime. And again, it`s a
constitutional protection that you all should be happy that law enforcement
affords every person charged with a crime.
COREY: I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is Mr. Zimmerman --
COREY: I will not comment on where Mr. Zimmerman is. I can tell you, he
is within the custody of law enforcement officers in the state of Florida,
and he will be taken, when it`s appropriate for the appropriate appearance
in front of a judge.
I`m sorry. Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would Norm Wolfinger have arrived at the same
decision? Is that what you are saying at the case?
COREY: I speak for Angela Corey and my prosecution team insisted
conclusion that we came to based on our review of the facts and evidence.
I`m not sure they were through with the entire investigation at the point
where Mr. Wolfinger excused himself from the case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Ms. Corey, are you confident that you have
the evidence for conviction.
COREY: We have to have a reasonable certainty of conviction before we file
charges. Anytime, there is an affirmative defense that there are numerous
affirmative defenses that`s can be asserted before the arrest, immediately
after the arrest, during the trial. We have had them come up in the middle
of trial, haven`t we? My fellow prosecutors that his here we have all
faced this before.
For example, alibi is an affirmative defense. Sometimes that gets put on
us in the middle of a trial. So, when affirmative defense always next to
criminal prosecution more difficult. We do everything within our power to
take the facts we have at hand and prove the case beyond a reasonable
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Ms. Corey.
COREY: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can I get your opinion for what the debate is
about race and justice (INAUDIBLE) in the pursuit of justice?
COREY: I`m going to be quite honest with you, and I have some people who
live through our justice system here and are some of the finest people in
Jacksonville, Florida. They represent a small sample of the people that
know that those of us in law enforcement are committed to justice for every
race, every gender, and every person of any persuasion whatsoever. They
are our victims. We only know one category and that`s a v, it`s not a v,
it`s not b, it`s not w, it`s not h, it`s v for victim. That`s who we work
tirelessly for. And that`s all we know. And we still have to maintain the
constitutional rights. Remember our role, administering justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Can you talk about what according to your
investigation, how much you (INAUDIBLE) retracing the steps of everything
COREY: Anytime we take over a case even from each other, we sometimes re-
interview, we thoroughly go through the reports. We try to gather more
evidence. A lot of the witnesses had already made statements in public
before we took over this case. So a thorough review of all of the
statements made was done, and I can tell you I have the finest prosecution
team ever. I know every boss feels that way, but these people have the
best experience you can ask for.
COREY: I`m sorry. I`ll get to you in just one second. I`m sorry, yes
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: There are new witnesses who you encouraged
in that process?
COREY: Florida is a full discovery state, and when and if the defense
requests participation in the process, the witness list will be released at
Hold on one second. Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Under Florida law, a person is considered to
have immunity under the stand your ground law. I`m curious, what in your
mind -- what can you say about the facts that made you think that that
immunity was waived and not going to be --
COREY: I`m sorry. I thought I articulated very clearly we don`t discuss
the facts of the case for a reason. We`re law enforcement. This is the
criminal justice system. People`s rights have to be protected. And it`s
designed a certain way not only the constitution of the United States and
the state of Florida. We have rules of criminal procedure and rules of
ethic. So much information got released on this case that never should
have been released. We have to protect this investigation and this
prosecution for Trayvon, for his family, and for George Zimmerman, and
that`s what we`ll continue to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Angela, did you talk to George personally at
COREY: I did not, Catherine. We do not talk to any defendant who is
represented by counsel unless he waives his right to counsel, we never had
to address that situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Yesterday, the attorneys who representing Mr.
Zimmerman or at least speaking for and sending Mr. Zimmerman refute
themselves because they had not been in contact with him. Can you shed any
light at all on how Mr. Zimmerman came to turn himself in?
COREY: I cannot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: It`s a coordinating process at all.
COREY: It`s a coordinated process, and law enforcement has had this under
control since we`ve got then case. And I know there was a lot of
speculation about, oh my goodness, does law enforcement know where he is?
Do we have this under control? This is what we do every single day on
behalf of our community. It`s what FDLE does every single day on behalf of
the citizens of this great state. The governor and Pam Bondi put all of
the resources they could on this case, and I don`t think there was ever a
concern that if the decision was made to charge Mr. Zimmerman that it would
be made in a timely fashion and that law enforcement would have it under
control to take him into custody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you expect the trial to be in seminal
COREY: We don`t know that yet. Yes, sir. I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The attorney said yesterday that he
contacted you, can you talk about what happened when you received that
COREY: What happens with every phone call, a message was taken, and turned
it over to Bernie. And Bernie handled it from there, but we called his
lawyers. Because again, we don`t talk to someone represented by counsel
because of our rules of ethics, so no contact was made, specifically
between Mr. Del Reyanda (ph), Mr. Guy who is well, as install prosecuting
of first degree murder case where a victim was a former marine who was
brutally shot for a few dollars at a gas station here. We have
unfortunately brutal homicide that we fight hard for all the time. We will
fight just as hard in this case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Yes, ma`am. (INAUDIBLE).
COREY: The department of justice, thank you for asking, they conduct their
own investigation. I`ve been in contact with Bobby O`Neil, our U.S.
attorney. Tome Battle, one of the department of justice people who has
helped us with a lot of the civil rights contacts and issues. He is
helping us, a whole slew of DOJ lawyers are helping, but they`re not
working on our part of the investigation and we don`t work on their part of
the investigation. We always share information with our federal counter
parts on numerous cases when and if it`s need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You said you don`t want to discuss the facts
of the case, but by the actions you`re taking, you`re basically making a
statement that you do not believe that stand your ground is a plausible
defense, can you at least address the fact that you by taking this action
and arresting Mr. Zimmerman, you are saying stand your ground in your mind
does not come into play in this case.
COREY: This case is just like many of the shooting deaths we`ve had in our
circuit. If stand your ground becomes an issue, we fight it. If we
believe it`s the right thing to do. So if it becomes an issue in case, we
will fight that affirmative defense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How would you say stand your ground is
affected your job?
COREY: My prosecutors and a lot of them are here, and I`m so proud of
them. They have worked tirelessly running this office. They fight the
stand your ground motions. Mr. Moodie just finished a four day full "Stand
Your Ground" motion on another case. We fight hard. Some of them we have
won, and we have to appeal them or the defense has appealed and we won it
on appeal. Some we fought hard and the judge ruled against us. That has
happened in the prosecutions all over the state. It`s the law of the state
of Florida, and it will be applied.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you think it invoke too much?
COREY: Justifiable use of deadly force as we all knew it before "Stand
Your Ground" was still tough to overcome, but we still fight these cases
law. I will not comment on the specific law at this time. We`re law
enforcement, we enforce the laws of Florida, and if that law is an
affirmative defense like alibi, insanity or entrapment, or any of the other
many affirmative defenses, we`ll handle it accordingly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Were you talking about --
COREY: Seminal County is absolutely the venue. When we were appointed as
the prosecutors, we stepped in to the prosecution rolled down in Seminal
County. So right now it`s the court of jurisdiction, it is the venue. The
question was, did we think we would be able to try the case there -- I
thought -- was that your question? OK. Would - did we think it would be
able to trial there that would determination that will be made closer to if
and when we pick a jury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Based on pretrial publicity, tell us your
concerns about what you have heard and seen out there and what affect it
will have on a jury.
COREY: You asked about my concerns, I`ll tell you. There`s been a
overwhelming amount of publicity in this case that does not keep us from
being able to pick a fair and impartial jury. But the state and the
defense are entitled to an impartial jury. We take a lot of facts got put
out. And see, that`s the problem. When I told you come up in front of the
jury, they are not allowed to render a decision until everything is in
front of them. In fact, there is specifically instructed by the judge that
they can`t form a decision until they heard everything.
And so, it`s regrettable that so many facts and details got released and
misconstrued, but we hope that a lot of it, and the media has helped toning
it down and making sure that people understand Florida law and the process,
and we hope that people will continue to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Ms. Corey.
COREY: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You said before that you looked closely at how
the police conducted their investigation. Looking back at the Sanford
police department, would yowl say their investigation was thorough?
COREY: Well, I` not going to comment on that other than they were a
tremendous help to us and had already done a lot of witness interviews.
They did what the police do. Anytime you have a shooting scene, and there
is a person who`s death is caused, the police launch a thorough and an
intensive investigation. That was done here. But before the investigation
could be finished there was a lot of outcry about this case, and then it
changed course, and we got appointed to take over the investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Based on the details you know of the case, and
what happened that evening, do you think it`s reasonable to expect that
there should have been an arrest that evening?
COREY: We have numerous homicides where immediate arrests are not made.
And so to us, it did not seem unusual. I think judgment has to be made
when the final decision is reached. And that`s what we would have hoped
the public would have waited for. But some people did not wait. And so an
arrest can only be based on probable cause.
And so, we believe that`s what the Sanford police department was trying to
do, and if there is any sort of determination as to what they did or didn`t
do, that will be handled by someone other than our prosecution team. Yes,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You invoked the name of Trayvon Martin`s
parents at the beginning of this.
COREY: I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you share on the length and topics in that
COREY: I think that after meeting with Trayvon`s parents that first Monday
night after we got appointed in this case, Bernie was there, John there
was, our prosecution team was there, the first thing we did was pray with
them. We opened the meetings in prayer. Mr. Crump and Mr. Parks were
there. We did not promise them anything. In fact, we specifically talked
about if criminal charges do not come out of this, what can we help you do
to make sure your son`s death is not in vain? And they were very kind and
very receptive to that.
And as I stated, Mr. Del Renyan (ph) has been in touch with Mr. Crump, and
with Mrs. Fulton, and Mr. Martin since we took over this case and we intend
to stay in touch with them. But basically, we only had a few minutes to
talk to them. I believe they will want to talk later, and they now know
that charges have been filed and they are now hearing, as we speak, that
George Zimmerman is in custody of law enforcement of our state.
We`re very proud of the job that law enforcement has done and we`re proud
to stand here and tell you that we represent the people of the state of
Florida. Thank you so much.
BASHIR: That was special prosecutor Angela Corey telling America, in
effect, that Mr. George Zimmerman has been charged with murder in the
second degree. She spoke of how she met Trayvon Martin`s sweet parents as
she called them, three weeks ago. She said the meeting opened with prayer,
that they have been kind and respectful throughout.
She described her department as seeks justice and working tirelessly for
the truth. She also thanked Governor Rick Scott for his continuing
support. She mentioned that Mr. Zimmerman was taken into custody today.
He turned himself in, but she also said that there has been detailed
coordination with law enforcement and they have had access to Mr.
Zimmerman. They know where he has been for three weeks. She also said
that he is in the state of Florida, though she would not give any further
details about that.
Joining us now is Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor and former
U.S. attorney in Florida for the southern district of Florida.
Kendall, your immediate reaction there to special prosecutor Angela Corey`s
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, as to the charge, very
aggressive, as to her presentation, masterful. In part, a very good civics
lesson about the process. And in part a very compelling statement about
her commitment to victims. An emphasis over and over again that this was
business as usual despite the huge amount of public interest on both sides
of the equation. And she did a heck of a job explaining that while she
completely redid the prior investigation reached a totally opposite
conclusion, not a word of criticism for everyone involved. Simply prays
for the team working together. So, if you were scoring that press
conference, I give it an A plus.
BASHIR: An A plus. Eugene O`Donnell, professor of John Jay College of
Criminal Justice is with us. I wonder what you thought when she explained
that in Florida, there was excusable and justifiable homicides, and she
wanted to determine in this case which this was. It seemed to me that she
was suggesting in a Mr. Zimmerman was going to have problems using the
"Stand Your Ground" law as his defense.
EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I agree her presentation was
masterful. It is matter of fact and its common sense, and what you`re
accustomed to hearing in prosecutor`s offices. So, there`s obstacles in
every case. They are going to take it very methodically. It`s not going
to be a walk in the part. There is going to be an issue about "Stand Your
Ground." There`s going to be an issue about justification. There are
going to be witness statements that don`t match up, welcome to the world of
criminal prosecution. Nothing is perfect, but this is the tone you expect
the prosecutor to have, very deliberate, very responsible, and I think she
is convinced that her inner bone, this is a case that should be pursued.
BASHIR: Indeed. And I should mention that Mr. George Zimmerman has been
charged with second-degree murder. The state in order to prove the case as
to one, prove the victim is e dead. Two, the death was caused by a
criminal act by a defendant, and three, that the victim unlawfully was
killed by an act eminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a
depraved mind without regard for human life.
Catherine Crier, a former judge is with us, do you think that Angela Corey
can prove that?
CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE: We, obviously, all news to see the evidence
that admissible at the time of trial, but what you have here is a situation
where we know the neighborhood watch did not permit you to carry a gun. We
know he is on the phone with 911 and they`re telling him to stay in the
car, don`t follow. We know the time sequence was literally sort of five or
six minutes from the time he got off the call until the cops arrive and
Trayvon Martin is dead.
So, all of these sorts of things, the cry for help, the evidence I want to
know the forensics. The gun residue on Trayvon Martin, the angle of the
gun, she may have already seen all of this information. And if so, she
seems satisfied. If those chips fall in place for her, she would have a
BASHIR: Indeed. And I should tell our viewers that Reverend Al Sharpton
is currently with the parents of Trayvon Martin. He will bring us a
special press conference that they are expected to give in Washington D.C.
and then we will provide an exclusive interview with the parents on
"Politics Nation" in the minutes ahead.
John - Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for the "Washington Post," Jon, I
read everything you have written about this case, and you quite frankly
have felt that it has stunk from the beginning.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. There are so
many unanswered questions. I`m not a prosecutor. I`m not and I agree with
Kendall Coffey, the masterful Angela Corey. But just with your own eyes,
so much questions were raised about what happened, and why certain things
happened and why certain things that were leaked out about George
Zimmerman`s stories didn`t add up with what we were actually seeing with
our own eyes from the video tape and hearing with our ears from that 911
From the very beginning, yes, I thought this case stunk, and from the very
beginning I thought that the idea that a person could shoot and kill an
unarmed child, and not be in jail to at least be held accountable in a
court of law, it really shook my faith in the justice system.
But I have to tell you Martin, after watching Angela Corey`s presentation,
my faith in the justice system has been restored.
BASHIR: Jonathan, I`m afraid I have to leave you, because the Reverend Al
Sharpton is at a podium, about to speak with the family of Trayvon Martin.
AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: Let me say 45 days ago, Trayvon
Martin was murdered. No arrest was made, the chief of police in Sanford
announced after his review of the evidence that there would be no arrest.
An outcry from all over this country came.
Because his parents refused to leave it there. His parents acting
out of love and acting out of the basic principals this country is built
on, decided that they would go to some able attorneys, and they went to Mr.
Crump and Mr. Parks and Attorney Jackson.
They believed in the system. And believed that the arrest would be
made. And they waited until the police chief -- let us not confuse the
issue, he announced there would be no arrest. That`s when Attorney Crump
called us, we were marching in Selma to Montgomery. This change.org went
viral, National Action Network and some of us hit the streets. I remember
the night we had the first big rally. Thirty thousand people, on that
afternoon, Governor Scott asked to meet. He flew in and met and said he
was going to appoint a special prosecutor. I will say publicly that I did
not trust Governor Scott. I did not trust the appointment. I want to
congratulate him and the prosecutor for being what they should be.
If we did not get this far, we would condemn them. We must say that
despite the fact that we`re different political parties, and different
political persuasions, that tonight, maybe America can come together and
say that only the facts should matter when you`re dealing with a loss of
life. And I think that the prosecutor, and I think that the governor, did
not make a decision based on public pressure. But I think they decided to
review it based on public pressure. I think that they would not be
irresponsible enough to proceed with a prosecution based on pressure. But
had there not been pressure, there would not have been a second look.
And I think that that credit should go to the nameless, faceless
people, black, white, Latino and Asian all over this country that put hoods
on and said take another look at this, and that look has lead to where we
are tonight. They will attack the big names. And they will give credit to
the big names. But it`s the unknown people that took their time and money
and stood up and said that that could be my son. That could be my
grandson. And because of a second look, even conservatives on the other
side of the political spectrum said no, we`re going to take a second look
and do what is right. They charged him with a serious crime. He deserves
a fair trial. We do not want anybody high fiving tonight. There is no
victory here. There is no winners here. They`ve lost their son. This is
not about gloating, this is about pursuing justice. We have not won
anything. All we have done is establish that we must have the right to
redress and justice in this country. So, we will not be gloating around
here. We are still mourning with this family.
We will monitor the trial every step of the way. We will stand by
and make sure that the rights of all are not violated. But this is not a
night for celebration. It is a night that should have never happened in
the first place, and we are trying to make sure that something happens and
this will not happen again. Are we happy with the charge? Are we happy
with the results? I would say that we must say that if Americans come
together they can achieve things. I remember that bring Attorney Crump, as
we marched in Selma. I remember reading 44-years-ago, a man was asked
after they got the voting rights act, how did he feel, and he said, we
ain`t where we ought to be, we ain`t where we`re going to be, we ain`t
where we want to be, but thank God, we ain`t where we was.
Tonight, we don`t know where will lead, but at least we have a shot
at this family having the right redress, and that is because of first, the
courage of Attorney Parks, and the Attorney Ben Crump.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN TRAYVON ATTORNEY: Reverend Sharpton, Reverend
Bryant, all of the clergy, black and white -- and say, it is about justice,
justice, justice, and only justice. We thank you for all of those people
who went on change.org to sign a petition, not just to think about it, but
to do something. Thank you for your unselfish acts, even though you did
not know Trayvon Martin 44 days ago. You just know that a child had been
killed. A child who was Sybrina`s baby, was Tracy`s son, had been killed
and you thought that if this was my child, I would sign this petition. So
thank you for signing that petition. And to all of those young people.
All of the young people, the people who marched, the people who stood up,
who refused to look away. It is for those reasons, those young people who
were Trayvon`s age, those high school students who walked down and said
that we refuse to stand for this.
You know, it was those young people -- old people we sometimes get
complacent and we see so many things, we a little get jaded, but it`s the
young people who believed. They believed completely in justice, the
concept, the idea, the dream of justice. I think those are the people who
are sitting here today saying we can make a difference, and we just stand
for right. If we just stand up, if we just stand our ground, we can make a
difference. I have to say thank you as a Florida citizen to our governor,
Rick Scott, who came and met with the family that night and said that it is
important that we get this right. He said that it`s important we get it
right. And he appointed special prosecutor Angela Corey who told you how
she prayed with the family and did not make any promises to us.
I mean, no promises whatsoever, Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton, Mr. Parks,
Attorney Jackson, our legal team, attorney -- didn`t make one promise to
us. Said we would look at all of the evidence. Every piece of the
evidence, and based on the evidence that she would make a decision. Not
based on public pressure, not based on anything else, but the evidence.
And we always believed from day one that if you look at evidence fairly and
impartially, that you would have to come to the conclusion that he had to
be arrested, and that this matter had to go before a judge and a jury.
And that is all that Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton and their family
have asked for. Nothing more and nothing less. And before I bring them
up, I do go back, Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Bryant, to the call that has
been well documented now. When Tracy Martin called after that Tuesday
after, he was told that there was not going to be an arrest. He was told
that. So the reason why we had to protest and file 911 lawsuits, and have
all of the young people, Reverend Bryant, and have the change.org was to
get to this point. We had to do that to get to this point. And it is
because of them that we can take a short breath, a short breath, because
we`re just now getting to first base. This is only first base. We`re on
first base in this game of justice. And we have to remain vigilant, we
have to stretch out exercise, every day to make it to second base. And
now, you know, we got to deal with this stand your ground issue.
CRUMP: And then once we pass that we have to get to third base,
which is the trial. And then, after we get to that trial, make sure all of
the evidence is delivered properly and fairly for both sides, for
everybody, and then we can come from third base and bring it on home to
justice. That`s what we`re here -- this is only first base. We must
remember that. And lastly, I say this, that Trayvon`s legacy cannot be
tarnished based on people doing sick things and acting ignorant and
resulting to violence. We all got to believe in our hearts that we make
the system better for what we do, and we got to believe in our hearts that
when we choose to do good, and if we know somebody who is thinking ill
will, tell them, you know, in America, we believe everybody gets equal
justice, everybody gets a fair day in the courtroom. And whether that be
George Zimmerman or anybody else. They get a fair date.
Now, we believe in our heart of hearts that he was wrong to kill
Trayvon Martin, but that`s what makes America great, because even he gets
his day in court. And we`re going to let the rule of law -- we`re going to
abide by it. If Tracy Martin, and Sybrina Fulton and Reverend Sharpton,
they can do it, everybody can do it because they lost the most out of all
of us here. And so, we got to follow their example. We got to follow
their example and be peaceful, and everybody, no matter what you are as
Reverend Sharpton say, we got to all try to let the system play out and be
patient and have faith in God above all else.
I have to tell you the stand your ground law, we will be addressing
that. I do believe that you cannot be the aggressor and initiate a
confrontation, and then claim stand your ground. We have to change that
aspect of that law. We have to. And to all of the legislatures and stuff,
when you are pondering these things, you think about Trayvon Martin and how
this might never have happened, had we not had those things in place. We
never would have had to go 44 days to start simple justice. And I`m going
to bring up Sybrina, Fulton up and Tracy Martin, Martin Luther King said
and we prayed about it. The more arch is long, and it`s not been a long
journey, but it bends toward justice.
SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: First of all I want to say
thank God. We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more, nothing
less, we just wanted an arrest, and we got it, and I say thank you, thank
you lord, thank you Jesus.
Secondly, I just want to speak from my heart to your heart because a
heart has no color, it`s not black, it`s not white, it`s red. And I want
to say thank you from my heart to your heart. Thank you.
TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: First of all, we just would
like to thank everyone once again for being compassionate about this as we
were, as we are, as we will be. As Attorney Crump said, this is just the
beginning. We have a long way to go, and we have faith. The first time we
marched, I looked to the sky, and I just told myself when I walk, I will
walk by faith. And we will continue to -- we will continue to walk by
faith. We will continue to hold hands on this journey, white, black,
Hispanic, Latino, we will continue to walk, we will march and march and
march until the right thing gets done. Thank you.
DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Thank you very much. You know,
there is nothing more precious than a life, and Trayvon lost his life in
this very unfortunate situation. I got to tell you that when our clients
learned from the special prosecutor her intentions, one of the most awesome
feelings, especially the lawyer, how you feel vindicated and that the
process is working for them. It was powerful. Powerful, to see and feel
their expression, what they were feeling. And so to them, this is special.
Although it`s public, it is as special as anything could be. To the father
that Tracy is, a glowing example of power and strength and you just can`t
say enough about him. To joining what Ben said about Governor Scott. In
his own way, when he came to meet with this family that day in Sanford, and
looked them in the eye, and as sincere as he could be with all the power
he had as our governor, and he spoke and he used his power. It made all of
us feel good as Floridians that they would use that power.
And equally so, the Department of Justice. When they came, and all
that they had put into showing this family and this country that they will
make it right. It`s just about right, you know? The one thing that many
Americans have to understand -- I think most Americans get it. Although,
they may have other things that foreshadow them sometimes, is that it is
totally wrong when an armed man kills an unarmed man. That`s wrong.
That`s totally wrong. Everybody gets that. Sometimes that`s hard
for them to admit it, but they get it. Lastly, I want to just thank Angela
Corey and her team for what they did. She -- we appreciate her and her
team. And the other thing that many have said, this movement has been
about all people, so many people. I mean, so, so many people. You know,
so many people, so many courageous. You know, I have to say when I saw the
mayor of Sanford, release those tapes and what he must have been going
Where ever he is, I mean, you know, it`s hard when -- many people who
made very courageous moves to make this right even after the wrong, they
ought to be commended. But lastly to America. Justice, we are lawyers, we
believe in justice, right? And then, at the end of the day, that when
whoever sitting and hears this case that`s those six people -- in Florida,
they`ll get to the right decision no matter who they are, what they are,
what experience they have. So on behalf of the family and our firm, Parks
and Crump, we will stand -- as being said, this is just first base. It`s a
long journey, but we`ll be there at every base.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me say on behalf of the National Action
Network that this moment coming at this week is a validation for the great
struggle and vision of Al Sharpton in developing the National Action
This decision coming now is a motivating gift. It`s a treasure. It
resolves in us that we can never stop providing the tension that is
necessary when injustice is perpetuated. The National Action Network is
committed to being there for people who get left on the margins of justice
and we are committed to lifting up the cause of freedom. And we thank God
today that we can stand with this -- with these parents, and while not
celebrate, at least affirm that the wheels of justice are not locked and
they move forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Amen.
REV. JAMAL BRYANT, PREACHER: Ladies and gentlemen, the road to
freedom is never a walk in the park. We are just at the 50-yard line. In
order for you to build a Toyota Corolla, it only takes five hours. But to
build the Rolls-Royce, it takes three months. We want to ride to justice
and we realize that that`s not going to happen overnight. We want to
safeguard all of those who are watching literally around the world that as
Reverend Sharpton indicated that this is not the night of victory, this is
a night of transition. Years from this moment, historians are going to
have to write a new chapter that on this night, we were redefined. But
this was not a moment, but this was the beginning of a movement. That
people across America found their confidence raised. That the justice
system in America really does work. We`re appreciative for the patients of
millions of people who signed the petition. Millions of churches that
prayed, hundreds of thousands of pastors who wore hoods. We want to
commend the young high schools students of Miami who walked out and
believing that this was going to happen. We stand with the middle school
teacher in Michigan, Brook Harris, who lost her job for standing with us,
and believing this was the right thing, and that young people had to be
Let me give special commendation to Reverend Al Sharpton for bringing
national attention to what could have been a local issue. Many people
vilify him, ridicule him, persecute him, but he found the pathetic voice
that black churches known historically in marching and holding a stand of
the civil rights. And so, we appreciate Reverend Al Sharpton. It`s very
critical as Attorney Benjamin Crump intimated that the marching is
significant, the protesting is wonderful, signing the petitions is all
inspiring, but it is not enough. It is so critical that we would, in fact,
engage the political process to its fullest. And to that end, every person
must register to vote. We want one million new registrants to go to the
polls on November 6th so that what happened in Sanford, Florida will not
There`s one thing that America owes at Florida. We owe Florida for
introducing to us what many of us have never heard of. The very principal
of standing your ground. And today, we realize we must stand our ground in
the words of the late Josiah Williams, un-bought and -- uncompromising and
un-flinched. They were many who said that we were rubberizes (ph) and that
we were outside agitators. But I want to remind them that this week is the
49th anniversary of Dr. King`s letter from a Birmingham jail. And if they
want to the know why we are here, we are here because injustice is here and
we`re going to stay on the case until all of the Trayvon Martin`s across
America have their rightful place in the halls of justice.
I want to affirm to every parent, to every child, your life matters.
Your life is valuable. Your life is a commodity. You are not another
statistic. But we will stop heaven and earth until justice rolls down like
a mighty water. And I believe that millions are standing to pledge
allegiance to America tonight. That you are in fact the hope and the
aspirations that our grandparents hope you are mature enough to be. And so
the question is, how long are we going to do this? We will march on until
victory is won. Let`s stay in the fight, stay in the race, and stay in the
gap until we know justice has been won. Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: We`ll take a few questions from the media only. From the
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What message do you think the arrest sends to the
Sanford Police Department. Just before you met, and had the social media
all over this case, as you stated the police chief said, case closed.
SHARPTON: I think the message that sends to everyone, not only to
Sanford Police Department, is that when there is an injustice, there are
people that will rise up and seek redress, and that redress is all that we
want. And tonight, underscored that.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How confident are you that you can get a fair trial
in Florida when it comes down to jury selection, and to have a jury that
will be able to listen to this case and the merits of them?
SHARPTON: Well, Attorney Crump will answer for himself, as far as for
me, I must say that the prosecutor, Mrs. Corey has surprised the doubts I
had partisan, and I`m confident that she will protect these constitutional
victims and would go through the process in a fair way. Because she has
already proven that my innate apprehensions were unfounded.
CRUMP: Just briefly. I believe Sybrina Fulton said it best. It`s
really isn`t about black or white, it`s about our hearts. If that jury
comes in with no prejudice thoughts or notions and listens to the evidence
fairly, we believe it will be a very, very expeditious decision made for
justice, we don`t think this is a complicated matter.
SHARPTON: One, two and that`s it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I would like to ask the parents if they feel
satisfied with the charge as a second-degree murder? And if it`s pleaded
down, will you be disappointed?
FULTON: We just have faith and hope and Ms. Corey`s office that
they`re professionals and they will do the right thing. And they took a
look at the evidence and they decided that was the charge. We`re not the
experts, they`re the experts, so we`re putting our faith in them.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And if there is a plea down? If there is a plea
for a lesser charge.
FULTON: My attorney will have to answer.
CRUMP: We will deal with those matters when we get there, as Sybrina
Fulton said and as Reverend Sharpton has said, we believe Ms. Corey has
done her job and we believe she`s going to continue to do her job. She has
the reputation of being a good prosecution. And we don`t see why she
should depart in the matter of Trayvon Benjamin Martin.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I would like to ask why you (INAUDIBLE).
MARTIN: It feels good to know that he is off the street. I feel very
good because just to know that the circumstances surrounding the case, just
knowing that he`s off the street, that he`s in a custody, the wheel
starting to turn in our favor.
SHARPTON: Last question. No, no, no, sir.
The Attorney General said this morning that that investigation goes
forward. He said it from this platform, and Ms. Corey said that one
investigation has nothing to do with the other. Federal law and state law
is different though they share. I`ve been involved in cases where the
state came first and the Feds came after. I`ve been in cases where the
opposite have would appear would come and you couldn`t try this state. So,
one has nothing to do with the other. You got a full story today. You
heard from the head of the Federal Justice Department and you heard from
the state. You got two for just coming one time to the convention.
CRUMP: Very simply, very simply, very simply, we fully expect that
both investigations are going to go forward, and we think both
investigations will be fully vetted to get to all of the answer that`s so
many people have. Thank you again on behalf of Trayvon`s mother and father
and thank you on behalf of people loving justice everywhere.
BASHIR: A remarkable press conference ended just then by Benjamin
Crump, the lawyers, the parents of Trayvon Martin, and Trayvon`s mother,
Sybrina Fulton said, she thanks God. All she wanted was an arrest, she
said thank you Lord, thank you Jesus. That this is a matter of heart to
heart, it`s got nothing to do with black or white, hearts are red. Tracy
Martin, Trayvon`s father said, he wanted to thank everyone for their
compassion. That it`s a long way to go. We have faith, he said, but we
walk by faith. A remarkable press conference that ends. The Reverend Al
Sharpton will have an exclusive interview with the parents of Trayvon
Martin in a few minutes now.
I`m Martin Bashir, a live edition of "HARDBALL" starts now.
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