July 10, 2013
Guests: Faith Jenkins; Ken Padowitz; Lisa Bloom; Marcia Clark; John Burris,
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Only those two people know
exactly what happened that rainy February night. One of those people is
dead. The other has decided not to take the stand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA NELSON, ZIMMERMAN MURDER TRIAL JUDGE: Did you now have
sufficient time to discuss with your attorneys whether or not you wanted to
testify in your case?
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, KILLED TRAYVON MARTIN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: And that I don`t need to know what was said, but after those
discussions, have you made a decision?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: And what is your decision, sir?
ZIMMERMAN: After consulting with counsel, not to testify, your honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How will the six jurors react to not hearing from Mr.
Well, joining me now MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Bloom, former prosecutor
Faith Jenkins, John Burris, a criminal defense attorney and former
prosecutor, and defense attorney Ken Padowitz and former prosecutor Marcia
Clark. She is also author of "Killer Ambition."
Thank you all for being here. Thank you.
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Now, I want you all to weigh in here starting with Lisa.
How will the jury react to Mr. Zimmerman not taking the stand?
BLOOM: Well, this is a sequestered jury. They probably want to get
on with it. They have heard his version of events. And they are going to
be admonish do not to hold it against this defendant that he liked did not
to take the stand. I know people are going to yes. They are going to hold
it against him. But I interviewed a lot of jurors after high profile
trials and they all say they follow that admonition.
SHARPTON: Faith? How do you feel the jury`s going to take him not
testifying? Yes, they will be told not to hold it against him, but what
they`re told and what is human is sometimes two different things. I`m not
making a prediction here.
JENKINS: Right. Well, the reality is you have to teenage kid who
they now know was walking back to the place he was staying, not committing
any crime and he ends up dead. And there have been a number of
inconsistencies in George Zimmerman`s story. So I`m sure the jurors wanted
to hear from him. But, as Lisa said, they are going to be instructed.
They cannot use that against him. But in the back of their minds, there
has to be a question why doesn`t he get on the witness stand and explain
what happened to this kid. If they`re saying it is self-defense, we want
to hear from George Zimmerman himself. That`s always a consideration that
defense attorneys take into account when they decide not to put their
client on the stand.
SHARPTON: Ken, you weigh in. What do you think this does or does not
do to the jury?
KEN PADOWITZ, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think the jury is going to first
be shocked and surprised because they are going to want have heard from
George Zimmerman himself. But on the other hand, if I was a defense
attorney, I would advise Zimmerman not to take the stand. The jury has
already heard from George Zimmerman through the taped statements and the
numerous statements that he has made that`s come out in this case. So, the
jury is going to want to have heard from him, but I do believe they will
follow the judge`s instructions. And they will put the shock of not
hearing from him live in person aside and are going to weigh this case and
follow the law the best they can to determine if they are convincingly on a
reasonable doubt or not.
SHARPTON: Marcia Clark, what do you think?
MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. You know, Reverend, in my
experience jurors have come and told me I wish I could have heard from him.
I was curious about him. I kind of wanted to hear what he said. But, it`s
more curiosity thing than it is a need thing. And especially in a case
like this where you have already heard so many statements from him. They
know what his side of the thing is now. There`s no question in their minds
about that. They probably would have out of curiosity liked to have seen
him. I don`t think they are going to hold it against him that he doesn`t
SHARPTON: What do you say John Burris?
JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, certainly, as a defense
lawyer, I would be inclined not to put him on. In my sense is the jurors
do not hold that against him. This case looks different in the case in the
sense that it`s a self-defense case. Generally, a self-defense case, a
jury would like to hear from the defendant, but in this case they will have
heard from him any number of times. And they`ve seen him a number of
times. So, I don`t think they`re going to hold it against him. I think
the defense lawyers will do a good job arguing their case. And the
prosecutors argue their case and neither one of them will make any
reference to the fact he hasn`t testified.
SHARPTON: Now, it was a little fireworks between the defense attorney
and the judge when the judge directly addressed Zimmerman himself on
whether or not he was going to testify. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELSON: Did you have an opportunity to talk to your attorneys about
whether or not you want to testify in this case?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: Do you need some more time to talk to your attorneys about
ZIMMERMAN: No, your honor.
NELSON: OK. If you`ll please raise your right hand for one moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing
but the truth so help you God?
ZIMMERMAN: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
NELSON: OK. And Mr. Zimmerman, like I said before, you are aware
that during a trial you have the absolute right to remain silent. You do
not have to say anything, do anything or prove anything. Is that correct?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: And you also have the right to testify if you want to. Do
you understand that?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: And I have given you an opportunity to discuss with your
attorneys whether or not you want to testify in this case as and you have
indicated you have had those discussions.
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: And have you made a decision whether or not you want to
DON WEST, DEFENSE LAWYER: I object to that question.
NELSON: OK. Overruled. Do you have you made a decision as to
whether or not you want to testify in that case.
WEST: I object to that question. I think --
NELSON: Overruled. The court is entitled to require if Mr.
Zimmerman`s determination is to whether or not he wants to testify.
Mr. Zimmerman, have you made a decision as to whether or not you want
to testify in this case?
ZIMMERMAN: Not at this time, your honor.
NELSON: OK. And how long do you think you need before you make that
WEST: May we have an opportunity to speak? The case isn`t concluded
NELSON: I understand that. And I`ve asked Mr. Zimmerman if he needed
more time to talk to his attorneys and if he does, I will afford it to him.
Mr. Zimmerman, how much more time do you think you are going to need to
discuss this with your attorneys?
ZIMMERMAN: I assume it will depend on how long the recesses are, your
honor. The end of the day.
NELSON: OK. Well, if your attorneys are finished with two witnesses
before the end of the day, do you think that you would know then whether or
not you want to testify?
WEST: On Mr. Zimmerman`s behalf --
NELSON: I am asking your client questions. Please, Mr. West.
WEST: I object to the court inquiring Mr. Zimmerman as to his
decision about whether or not to testify --
NELSON: Your objection is overruled. Mr. Zimmerman, I will give you
more time, sir, to discuss this with your attorneys. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You smiled a little there, Lisa. And in fact, all of you
smiled a little. A little testy there.
Let me start with you, Lisa. What was all that about? That was a
little strange for those of us that don`t spend every day in courtrooms.
BLOOM: Well, practicing law is not for the faint of heart and it is
not the job of the defense attorney to be nice and it is not the job of the
judge to be nice. So she`s trying to get this done. She`s trying to ask
the standard questions of a defendant when he elects not to testify. I
think she was under the impression he was ready to answer those questions.
And Don West, I think was trying to say we`re not ready. There are still
two more witnesses. Please ask us a little later. But, everybody`s doing
their job. That`s what I guess I`m smiling about.
JENKINS: What happened here is Don West wanted her to wait until they
finished presenting their case and their witnesses before asking the
question. You have to understand the jury is sequestered here. The judge
is aware of that. She wants to move forward with the case. So she thought
he would be prepared to make that decision. This trial has been going on
for three weeks now. They`re at the end of their case. So, she thought at
that moment she could get an answer.
It appeared that perhaps George Zimmerman maybe wanted to testify and
that he was having a discussion with his attorneys about whether or not he
should. His attorneys apparently and rightly so advised him not to in this
case because his statements are already in. But I think that that
signified that he perhaps wanted to testify and wanted to talk further
SHARPTON: John Burris?
BURRIS: I thought the judge was frankly inappropriate, myself, as a
defense lawyer. I thought Don West was entirely correct in the position he
was taking. If he had made a decision, he certainly didn`t want to
telegraph it at that moment. The judge could have waited until the case
had ended before she made that determination. And on top of that, I
understand the judge was looking at scheduling questions about it, but I
really thought she overstepped her bounds making this inquiry at this time.
The defense lawyer did not want to have his client making statements.
Maybe that decision had not been resolved. They had resolved it but not
had convinced him. So, I really thought that was something the judge
didn`t need to do at that time.
SHARPTON: Marcia Clark?
CLARK: I totally disagree. Reverend, I totally disagree with that.
look, you know, it`s a matter of law that is the defendant`s right alone to
decide whether or not he wants to testify regardless of what his lawyers
want, it`s ultimately his to choose. And so, it`s very important that the
judge get On the Record that he himself has made the choice to testify or
not to testify regardless of what his lawyers advise. And it sometimes
happens even back in chambers when there`s a disagreement about that.
Nevertheless, she was well within her right to make the record that
she had to make to make it very clear on appeal that she inquired directly
to the defendant, he made his choice, it was his choice and his alone, and
not the choice of his lawyer. And it was entirely inappropriate for Mr.
West to be objecting to her inquiry because what he was doing was him
saying I object to you asking my client this question. You cannot object
SHARPTON: Ken, I`m the judge here so --
CLARK: Object to anything but he`s not right about it. I mean, yes,
he can object to me sitting here if he wants to and I`m sure he would. But
SHARPTON: Ken Padowitz to the stand.
PADOWITZ: I practice law in the state of Florida for 27 years and a
homicide prosecutor at that. And I can tell you that they`re both right.
The defense attorney was doing his job. He has a right to object. He has
a right to protect his client. And also, some experienced trial lawyers in
Florida with backbone believe that their client shouldn`t have to answer
any of these questions. That they have a right to remain silent and that
no inquiry should take place.
On the other hand, the judge, it`s her courtroom. She wants to
protect that record. She wants to make sure it`s clear the defendant and
the defendant alone waived his rights to take the stand. So here, they`re
SHARPTON: All right. Let me move into a little of what did happen
today in terms of the defense case. I want to talk about one of the last
witnesses called by the defense today. Man named Dennis Root. He`s a
former veteran law enforcement officer and trainer. He was hired by the
defense as an expert witness. But the prosecution questioned him on some
of his testimony like why he didn`t ask Mr. Zimmerman about various aspects
of the fight that happened the night that Trayvon Martin was killed. On
cross examination, prosecutor John Guy actually used a dummy to demonstrate
inconsistencies in Root`s testimony. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GUY, ASSISTANT STATE PROSECUTOR: By the way, did you have the
defendant do this?
DENNIS ROOT, WITNESS: No, sir.
GUY: When you talked to him, you didn`t have him do that?
ROOT: No, sir.
GUY: OK. If this person -- this mannequin were carrying a firearm on
their waist, where would the gun be right now in relation to me?
ROOT: It would be at your left inner thigh.
GUY: Right here, right?
ROOT: Yes. If he was right-handed it would be at your left inner
thigh. Yes, sir.
GUY: Right. Underneath my leg?
ROOT: Yes, inside your leg.
GUY: OK. Were you aware that the defendant described to his best
friend when that he slid down, the defendant slit down that Trayvon Martin
is up around his armpits? Were you aware of that?
ROOT: No. I`d not heard that.
GUY: OK. Where would the gun be now?
ROOT: Now the gun would be behind your left leg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, George Zimmerman`s attorney used the dummy to
demonstrate how someone might bash the victim`s head into the ground. So I
turn back to my panel.
And Faith, let me start with you. How effective was using the dummy
and how did people in court respond to the demonstration?
JENKINS: I thought this was great. I thought the cross examination
was great by the prosecutor here because he is cross examining this witness
as if he`s George Zimmerman answering these questions on the witness stand.
How is this physically possible? Because this witness just put forth
George Zimmerman`s statement as if it`s the truth. And so, the prosecutor
guy was able to cross hand and use this dummy and show the jurors this
isn`t physically possible.
The prosecutors here are not wed to one theory about how and what
happened when Trayvon was killed. They are alleging George Zimmerman
killed him and it is physically impossible the story, the narrative he`s
given is simply not the truth. They were able to use this dummy, bring it
into court and use this witness to invest that theory.
BLOOM: Well, I certainly like that the prosecution got down and
demonstrated with the dummy, but they didn`t do enough. There was so much
more they could have done, once again, on cross examination. But they did
For example, how about stand the dummy up and demonstrate another
theory about what happened not just the defense theory. How about put
George Zimmerman on top and the dummy on the bottom as several witnesses
testified they saw. Instead, they`re sticking to the defense narrative.
They`re giving the jury a visual of the defense narrative. And I think
that`s going to stay in the jury`s mind.
SHARPTON: John Burris, could they have done that? Did they have to
stay with what the witness was testifying to?
BURRIS: They absolutely did not have to stay with the told
defendants. I mean, they have their theory of the case. There is some
evidence in the case. Any planate lawyer or prosecutor lawyer should
always cross examine trying to get evidence that supports their theory of
the case. They don`t have to just regurgitate what the defense had done.
They have that theory. That`s what they are trying to prove. And to this
-- and the best witness can give them points to support that theory, they
should cross examine on that.
Another point I have -- Lisa made this point even more so. And that
is the location where the gun was supposed to have been when George
Zimmerman demonstrated in his tape, the gun was behind his hip, not on the
side. That is something no one has talked about and I think it was a
clearly important point for the prosecutor`s point.
BLOOM: I was waiting for it.
SHARPTON: Let`s go to you, Ken Padowitz.
PADOWITZ: The defense put on a fantastic expert witness yesterday
what I call the beefsteak tomato. And today, they put on a little cherry
tomato and they`re over trying their case. They didn`t have to put this
witness on. And what happened is they gave a great opportunity for the
prosecution to score some points on cross examination. I didn`t like the
fact that the prosecution got on the dummy in front of the jury and
basically admitted that Trayvon Martin is on top. All along the
prosecution has been that Trayvon Martin is on the bottom. So I think that
was a problem and maybe the prosecution is changing course and admitting
now that in fact Trayvon Martin was on top.
SHARPTON: Or maybe they agree with my point. Or, Ken, maybe they
agree with my point. It doesn`t matter if he was on top or not.
Marcia Clark, I think my position is what difference does it make who
was on top or bottom. But go ahead, Marcia.
CLARK: And that`s it, Reverend. There you go. That`s exactly what I
was going to say. You know, he could have been on top at one point. I
mean, if there was a tussle. There`s no question, nobody is denying the
fact there was some kind of a struggle between them. And at one point one
is on top, another time the other is on top. That`s OK with me. And I
don`t mind that John Guy kind of accepted OK, even in your best version,
look at how inconsistent this is. Look at how he couldn`t reach the gun.
Trayvon isn`t in a position to see the gun, let alone reach it. His legs
are covering it.
Here`s something else I think no one has talked about that bothered me
from day one when I heard George Zimmerman of account of things. He says
he can get his hands free. He says he moves Trayvon`s hand off of his
mouth. That hand`s free now. He moves the other hand and is able to reach
his gun. With both hands free are you really telling me, if I`m a juror
I`m saying, you expect me to believe you couldn`t even have tried to push
him when you have both hands free? The only thing you could think to do is
reach for the gun? That to me is a telling point.
SHARPTON: I want my legal panel to stay with me. There is much, much
more to the trial today.
Coming up, the key moments from this trial including the dramatic
testimony from the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin.
And for the first time since the trial began, we will speak to Ben
Crump, the Martin family attorney.
And remember, friend or foe, I want to know. Send me your e-mails.
"Reply Al" is coming.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? Today. Our facebook community to watch the trial together on
our live feed all day.
Coming up next, we will go live to Sanford and look at the key moments
in this trial.
We will also hear from Trayvon Martin family lawyer, Ben Crump.
But first, we want to hear your thoughts on the trial. Please head
over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the
conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: The defense in the George Zimmerman trial rested today.
Setting the stage for closing arguments which start tomorrow. Ultimately,
George Zimmerman`s fate lies in the hands of the jury. Six women, five of
them are white and five of them mothers.
Joining me now live from Sanford, Florida is MSNBC`s Craig Melvin.
Craig, what can you tell us about the jurors?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Rev., always good to see you.
I can tell you the jury for the most part has been pretty engaged
throughout the course of the trial. Today, in fact, they were especially
engaged throughout the course of the trial. Today, in fact, they were
especially engage. I just heard your panel talking about this doing the
dummy exchange. When the dummy was brought out and Mark O`Mara used the
dummy and the state used the dummy as well. The jurors in the back row
during that demonstration actually stood up to watch what was happening.
John Guy there.
Juror six, this is a juror that we been paying especially close
attention to because this particular juror, juror e-6 (ph) takes notes
consistently. This is a woman who is a native Floridian. She`s been in
the area for ten years. She`s unemployed right now. She has two kids.
One child 11 and one child 13. This is also asked the woman who has a lot
of questions during the jury selection process. That`s juror e-6.
And juror e-4 as someone else who has caught our attention because
juror e-4 is someone who are according to the documents that all the jurors
submitted, she keeps her head down when that 911 call has been played. And
this is, of course, that call has been played over and over throughout the
course of the trial. Recent transplant from Iowa. Watches football,
And two of the other jurors have developed a bit of a relationship, we are
told. They frequently nod at each other, smile at the other, they passed
notes as well. But again, Rev., this is a jury that has been very engaged.
Something else about this jury though. Every time Judge Nelson has
asked if they want to continue or take a break, they always say continue.
They always plow through which could give us insight on how they could
SHARPTON: All right. MSNBC`s Craig Melvin. Interesting stuffs, by
the way. Thank you.
Right now I want to turn to some of the most critical moments in the
trial. The key evidence and testimony that could help determine how the
jury decides. Moments that have occurred over 12 days of testimony
including 38 witnesses called by the prosecution and 18 called by the
Back with me is my legal team Lisa Bloom, Faith Jenkins, John Burris,
Ken Padowitz, and Marcia Clark.
I want to start with this potentially key piece of evidence that came
from Trayvon Martin`s friend Rachel Jeantel. She was on the phone with
Trayvon moments before his death. And she testified in court that Martin
told her he was being followed. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL JEANTEL, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FRIEND: He said why are you
following me for? Then I heard a hard breath man come say what you doing
around here. Then I start saying Trayvon, Trayvon, what`s going on? Then
I heard a bump and I had a feeling it was the bump of the headset. Trayvon
had headset. I kind of heard Trayvon say get off, get off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then what did you hear?
JEANTEL: Then the phone hung up. Shut off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Lisa, how key was this witness for both sides?
BLOOM: Well, she`s key for the prosecution because she`s really the
only witness to say essentially that the aggressor in the fight was George
Zimmerman. That`s the implication. Get off, get off. It sure sounds like
Trayvon Martin is down or he`s being shoved or is being held against his
will. And that George Zimmerman is the aggressor. The problem that she
has is that she didn`t use those words get off, get off in her prior
testimony. SO, I don`t know how much weight the jury is going to give
JENKINS: I think she`s absolutely critical because she paints a clear
distinction here. Who do you believe? George Zimmerman`s version of what
happens when he meets Trayvon Martin or Rachel Jeantel? There is a clear
distinction here. A lot of people have said these jurors aren`t going to
be able to relate to her.
This is a murder trial. I think they will listen to her and give her
testimony the credibility -- the credibility to her testimony that needs to
be there if they believe her. That`s going to be important here. The she
is a critical witness for the prosecution.
BURRIS: Well, she`s obviously important on the question of being
followed by -- Trayvon by George Zimmerman. And so, she`s critical in the
sense that he shows he was, in fact, following. I though there are some
admission to that. But that Trayvon was not following him. That he didn`t
come out of the bushes or jump on him like circle around and tie with
reacting. He in fact was trying to get away. And there`s a lot of
evidence to that effect. So, that puts George Zimmerman in a more
difficult position. And it contradicts his mental state at the time that
he claims he was not following. So, I think she`s very important.
PADOWITZ: She`s a crucial, very important witness for the pros
confusion. And not only did she testify that Trayvon said he will be
followed and pursued, but we know there`s corroborative evidence. We know
that 911 call to the operator by Zimmerman where the operator said don`t
follow him which corroborates her testimony that Zimmerman is in fact
stalking, following, pursuing. That he`s the aggressor, not Trayvon. So
this is very, very important testimony for the prosecution.
SHARPTON: Marcia Clark?
CLARK: And you will look to see the prosecutor in closing argument
doing exactly what Ken was talking about. Corroborating every bit of her
testimony because she is the final witness in Trayvon`s last moments to
what was going on between him and Zimmerman. And so, she is absolutely
critical for the prosecution. To the extent that her testimony shows that
Zimmerman lied when he said he didn`t know what street he was on. That
Zimmerman, that it made no sense. She corroborates the fact he was the
aggressor and was following. When he told the dispatcher, he was not going
to, he did continue to. She is critical.
I agree with Lisa, the only worry I have about her credibility is that
she didn`t previously say that she heard Trayvon Martin say get off me, get
off me. But if overall, if the jury believes her and finds her as credible
as I do, I think that they will be OK with that testimony and believe it.
SHARPTON: Let me leave you while, I`m with you Marcia.
Let me go to another testimony. John Good who was an eyewitness who
said Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The person who you now know to be
Trayvon Martin was on top, correct?
JOHN GOOD, WITNESS: Correct.
O`MARA: And he was the one who was raining blows down on the person
on the bottom, George Zimmerman, right?
GOOD: That`s what it looked like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How important is that testimony, Marcia?
CLARK: Very important. That`s key testimony for the defense.
There`s no question about it. But, you know, Reverend, as you and I have
agreed, the fact that he may have been -- Trayvon may have been on top at
one point wouldn`t bother me as a prosecutor. I would say look its clear
there`s a fight, you know. And at one point at the point that he saw it,
you know, he saw Trayvon on top. That`s fine. That doesn`t mean he stayed
Here`s the other thing that I want to point out. When you hear the
screaming and the yelling, it stops abruptly when you hear the shot. Now,
if George Zimmerman is the one screaming, I don`t hear him stopping quite
that abruptly. To me I would be listening to that tape not necessarily
worrying about whether I could tell whose voice it was but the logic of
that. How come the one who stops abruptly is the one who got shot.
BLOOM: Right. Well, I agree with that. And I would add that George
Zimmerman`s defense too, you know, I was the screamer, I stopped when is
the shot rang out is because then the threat was eliminated so why do I
need to keep screaming?
The problem with that theory is George Zimmerman`s own story which is
I didn`t think that Trayvon Martin was dead when I shot him. I thought he
was still a threat. That`s why I got out from under him. I turned him on
his stomach. I held his hands out. In fact, George Zimmerman claimed he
didn`t even know until he is the police station sometime later that Trayvon
Martin was dead. So he didn`t think the threat was eliminated. So, why
would he stop screaming?
JENKINS: The defense is focusing on this positioning in John Good`s
testimony. The prosecutors are focusing on the fact that George Zimmerman
was the initial aggressor. That`s what they are focusing on. He was the
one that approached Trayvon. He has the one that had a loaded gun. He is
the one that went to confront him. The person with the loaded gun. That`s
going to be their focus in their closing arguments.
SHARPTON: Ken Padowitz.
PADOWITZ: John Good`s testimony was crucial for the defense and they
are hoping that hit the home run for them. It was very, very important for
them. But getting back to the screaming, you know, as a human being if, in
fact, you just shot someone that you were defending yourself from, why
wouldn`t you continue screaming for help? Help, we still need the police.
We still need an ambulance. This person needs medical attention. I just
shot them. So, you expect a human being would continue screaming, but the
screaming stops after the shot. And that is circumstantial evidence.
SHARPTON: John Burris?
BURRIS: (INAUDIBLE) obviously, is very, very important evidence. But
it is not controlling in large measure because you don`t know what
happened before. And we do have -- you have to put it together with
Rachel`s testimony. You know that there was some contact before. There
may have been a struggle at the very outset that could have been timely
back and forth. And Trayvon might have been fighting for his life. So, I
don`t think that that is controlling.
I think that also the issue of who was screaming, that`s going to be a
problematic issue for the jurors and they`re going to have to kind of reach
some kind of consensus. But they may not because the issue of group bias
that we`ve all talked about in this case. And so, that`s going to be
challenging for them as well.
SHARPTON: I think you all raised good points. And I thank all of you
for joining us. I would only raise one point. It`s not only will they
have to deal with who was screaming and whether that`s significant, the
screaming also did end right after the shot.
SHARPTON: I would also raise the question if I was a prosecutor, why
would you be screaming while you were taking it out of the holster and
shooting? The screaming was going on during that whole time. So why are
you screaming and shooting? Marcia Clark, thank you for joining us. The
rest of my panel will stay with us.
Coming up, Martin family Attorney Ben Crump speaks with us for the
first time since the trial began. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We haven`t heard from him since George Zimmerman`s trial
began. Tonight we`ll talk with Ben Crump. The Martin family attorney.
That`s coming up.
SHARPTON: We`re back with Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Trayvon
Martin family. He has not spoken since the trial began and joins us
Attorney Crump, thanks for being with us.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Thank you very having me,
SHARPTON: First of all, how are you clients doing? How is the Martin
family doing through all of this?
CRUMP: Well, Reverend Sharpton, it is very emotional for the parents
to get this far on their journey to justice and then to have such a
difficult time sitting through the trial. But every day they pray and they
just have faith that everything is going to be all right.
SHARPTON: Now, you have not been able to sit in the courtroom because
you were a potential witness. And you`ve been outside of the courtroom.
But you`ve certainly probably monitored the media and talked to your law
partners. What is your assessment of the trial now that the defense has
CRUMP: Unfortunately, Reverend Sharpton, because of the ruse, I was
not able to monitor or watch the trial in any way because I was potentially
going to be called by a witness by the defense. They didn`t call me, but
because the rule of court, I couldn`t watch. But I generally believe as
I`ve always believed all along that there was overwhelming evidence to hold
George Zimmerman accountable for getting out of his car, profiling, and
pursuing Trayvon Martin. And we all heard the 911 call. And minutes
later, Trayvon is shot in the heart. So we have faith that if the jury
follows the evidence, he will be held accountable.
SHARPTON: Well, let me show you one emotional moment in the trial.
And this was during your client Sybrina Fulton`s testimony. Including one
of the moments that the defense cross-examined her. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You certainly hope as a mom -- you
certainly hope that your son Trayvon Martin would not have done anything
that would have led to his own death, correct?
SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: What I hope for is that
this would have never happened and he would still be here. That`s my hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How do you respond to that exchange where the defense
attorney really implied she was hoping for a certain scenario and it seems
that she took it somewhere else?
CRUMP: Well, I`m a little surprised that she was cross-examined about
certain things. There`s a certain respect you give to victims. And that
didn`t seem to be as thoughtful and considerate of a mother who lost her
teenage son who was just walking home minding his business who had every
right to defend himself against a strange man who he didn`t know who
confronted him. And so Sybrina and Tracy, they have been a wonderful,
wonderful example of keeping their constraint, their composure, and try as
best they can to remember that was about getting justice for their son.
Every day, every night, that`s all they pray for. That`s all they`ve
worked for, Reverend Sharpton. And you can`t imagine the conversations we
have about how it`s hard for them to imagine Trayvon is gone.
SHARPTON: Now, Attorney Crump, I want to raise something to you that
I addressed last night. There are some that have speculated what would be
the reaction if for some reason there is an acquittal here of all charges.
And what would be the reaction in particularly the African-American
community. And I not only stood up and talked about my position and record
in that, but I could say from when you called me about this case on, this
has been the insistence not only of you and Attorney Parks but of the
family that everyone conduct themselves at rallies and at all proceedings
with utmost respect and peace.
I remember when someone had said they wanted to put a reward out on
George Zimmerman to find him. That Mrs. Fulton told us no, you all go back
in that press conference, we won`t back in the church, and she denounced
it. So there is no remote inference by anyone that has been connected with
the family or the protests that we would want anything but to see justice
in the courtroom and nothing even remotely mean less no violent no matter
CRUMP: Yes, sir, Reverend Sharpton. They have always prayed and
asked for peaceful justice. And they want everybody to follow their
example. Because if they can accept the rule of law, then everybody should
be able to. They don`t want people to do what they believe George
Zimmerman did the night when he shot Trayvon in the heart by taking the law
into their own hands. And we clearly understand that this verdict is going
to set precedence one way or the other.
It is going to say whether anybody who cares an unarmed child will be
held accountable or you can kill certain unarmed teenage children from
certain ethnicities and not be held accountable. A precedence is going to
be set one way or another. And we just pray to show everybody that this is
SHARPTON: Attorney Crump, thank you for your time tonight. Thank you
for being here. And we will be talking to you, I`m sure, as we go further
into deliberations and the result.
George Zimmerman faces 25 to life for his second degree murder charge.
But he could also face years in prison for lesser offenses. My legal team
on that ahead.
SHARPTON: Moving our second degree murder charge, what prosecutors
need to do and the other charges that George Zimmerman could face. That`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It is the search for justice for
Trayvon that has brought us to this moment. Today we filed an information
charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That was Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announcing
the charges against George Zimmerman more than a year ago. To convict
Zimmerman on that charge, the state needs to prove that Zimmerman committed
quote, "the unlawful killing of a human being demonstrating a depraved mind
regardless human life. And that the killing was done with ill will,
hatred, spite, or an evil intent." But the story doesn`t end there. Just
a short time ago, the prosecution asked for lesser charges to be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, FLORIDA 11TH CIRCUIT COURT: The next one is when
there are lesser included crimes or attempts. And what the state has
listed in the proposed instruction as manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Is the state requesting these lessers?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, your honor.
NELSON: Any objections from the defense?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We object, your honor. And I think that will be
something to take up tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The defense objected to the introduction of lesser charges
and it will be discussed tomorrow. If the lesser charges are approved, it
means George Zimmerman could still face years in prison.
Back with me is my legal panel Lisa Bloom, Faith Jenkins, John Burris,
and Ken Padowitz. Ken, let me start with you. Why is the prosecution
asking for lesser charges to be included in this case?
KEN PADOWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Because the way it works in
Florida, the judge is going to read the instructions to the jury. And one
side has to ask for lesser included crimes. If both sides don`t ask for
it, the judge is not going to give lesser included crimes. So, here the
prosecutor wants the jury to have options. And it`s smart for the
prosecutor to do this. The defense does not want options. They want all
or nothing. They`re feeling good about their case. That`s why they didn`t
put George Zimmerman on the stand. So, the prosecutor is looking for
options for the jury.
And the objection by the defense as to the manslaughter lesser
included is going to be zero. The defense has no chance in keeping that
out. The law is clear in Florida. They`re going to get that manslaughter
lesser included instruction. On the other issue of whether or not an
aggravated assault lesser included crime gets read to the jury, the defense
has a good argument that they can make there. Because that`s called a
level two offense and it`s completely discretionary with the judge as to
whether or not she reads the jury the lesser included crime of aggravated
assault. So, manslaughter definitely going to be read. Aggravated assault
remains to be seen. The judge gets to discretion call on that one.
SHARPTON: Lisa, by giving the jury options, does that mean the jury
can say I don`t know that I think this is beyond the reasonable doubt but I
think this is. And if so, what are you just guessing -- what do you think
the likelihood is of the strongest thing assuming all of this goes in front
of the jury and again, we`re only assuming because the judge may not do it.
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: What lessers do is give the jury an
opportunity for a compromised verdict. They`re not supposed to do that,
but if three of the women on the jury want second degree murder and three
of them want an acquittal, they can reach an agreement in the middle on a
lesser. They are not supposed to do that. It happens all the time. I
personally think the evidence is there for second degree murder if the
prosecution can put this away in closing. Ill will is very clear to me
from the language that George Zimmerman used when he first saw Trayvon
Martin, a-hole, f-ing punks. That was only minutes really before the
The whole thing happened so quickly. You mean to tell me he got
fonder of Trayvon Martin during the fight? I don`t think so. He
intentionally pointed the gun at this young man`s heart and pulled the
trigger. There`s no question that this was done intentionally. Then the
only question is self-defense. We don`t have time to go into it now, but I
think the prosecution can beat back self-defense. If they do that, they`ve
got ill will. I think they should push for that in closing argument.
SHARPTON: Let me show this tape in terms of second degree murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good morning. (bleep) punks. These (bleep), they
always get away. Those were the words in that grown man`s mouth as he
followed in the dark a 17-year-old boy who he didn`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Faith, that`s how the prosecutor`s opened with their
opening argument speaking to what Lisa just referred to as ill will and how
he was speaking just moments before the killing. Is that enough to go for
a second degree murder at this point now that we`re at the end of the
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think it is. And listen, there
is some undisputed facts here that the defense wants to get away from. One
of them is that recording. George Zimmerman`s words on that recording.
The jurors now are going to have a clear picture in their closing when the
prosecutor gives the closing arguments here. George Zimmerman did not know
Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was not committing a crime. Yet he called
him these derogatory names. Referred to him as if he was a part of a
Based on George Zimmerman`s previous experiences with people who got
away, Trayvon Martin was not going to get away. George Zimmerman had a
gun, never identified himself as neighborhood watch. These are absolutely
horrible facts for the defense. They can`t get away from these facts which
is why I think the prosecutors did the right thing by charging second
degree murder here.
SHARPTON: John, in order to get a manslaughter conviction, the state
must prove one, the victim is dead, two, the defendant intentionally
committed -- procured an act that caused the death of the victim. Three,
the death of the victim caused by culpable negligence of the defendant.
How much easier is it to get this conviction?
BURRIS: Well, I think this charge is proved, period. And I think the
defense was always worried about this particular charge, that`s why they`re
fighting so hard to keep it out. And point of fact is Don West the other
day when he raised the question about reasonable, that was a mistake on his
part. Because he doesn`t want the issue of reasonableness to come into
play. He wants to say the prosecution has not proven all the elements of
second degree murder.
So, I do think like everyone else that there are facts there that
support a second degree murder. But I also think there are more than
enough facts to prove involuntary manslaughter. Because if you just go to
the individual facts itself putting aside what happened before the
statement that was made. Then you have the question whether the force used
was reasonable. Whether or not the injuries that he would receiving are of
a sufficient nature that it would cause a reasonable person to think their
life was in danger. But given what we have from the facts, it doesn`t
appear that these are particularly serious injuries.
Even though there`s blood, it wasn`t deep-seated injuries of a kind.
So, you could say you can have a good faith but unreasonable belief that
your life was in danger. That gives you manslaughter on these particular
facts. Although I do say you can get the other. I know they don`t want
aggravated assault. That strikes me as something that the prosecution
wants just as a fallback position. But I don`t think that the judge is
going to give that. This is a second degree murder case or voluntary
SHARPTON: Lisa Bloom, Faith Jenkins, John Burris, and Ken Padowitz,
thank you for your time.
BLOOM: Thank you, Rev.
JENKINS: Thank you, Rev.
PADOWITZ: Thank you, Rev.
BURRIS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Tomorrow we will hear closing arguments in this trial of
George Zimmerman. Around the killing of Trayvon Martin. There`s been a
lot of emotion, a lot of passions that have been unleashed over the last
year or so around this case. But it will all come down to arguments
tomorrow and six members of a jury will make a decision. But let me be
clear. No matter what their decision, there`ll be no winners in this case.
If the defense wins, Mr. Zimmerman will have to still bear the burden of
the accusations and will be known for this throughout his life.
If the prosecution wins, the family of Trayvon Martin will not get
their child back, their brother back. So therefore, whatever the outcome
there should be no gloating and there should be no violence. We should use
this evening to reflect and see how we bring society where we can deal with
these things in a fair and in balanced way. Balanced in the sense where
justice works for everyone. And where everyone has equal protection under
the law. And where we all become better learning from bitter experiences.
That`s what we can do tonight in the juries in our own minds.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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