Fox News
June 27, 2013

Zimmerman trial: Prosecution's star witness a mistake?

Guests: Peter Johnson, Jr., Jonna Spilbor, Anna Sigga Nicolazzi

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, we have full coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial, and later on the program, we will hear from our law enforcement experts Mark Fuhrman and Rod Wheeler as they break down all the details of the investigation.

But first, today marked day four of the trial, and when the prosecution's so-called star witness returned to the stand for the second straight day, she was grilled by the defense. Rachel Jeantel, friend of Trayvon Martin not only revealed that she changed her initial story about what she heard during the cell phone conversation on the night of the shooting, she also admitted that she lied under oath.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those facts included you saying that Mr. Zimmerman said, what you doing around here?

RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do acknowledge, though, the first time that you were asked that question in your interview with Mr. Crump later that day, your response was that Mr. Zimmerman said, what are you talking about?

JEANTEL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it was racial, but it was because Trayvon Martin put race in this?

JEANTEL: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't think that's a racial comment?

JEANTEL: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't think that creepy (bleep) is a racial comment?

JEANTEL: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, you lied because you wanted to give a plausible answer to Ms. Fulton as to why you didn't go to the wake?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But on the April 2nd interview, you were in fact under oath.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you knew that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: So the prosecution's quote, "star witness" have a credibility problem.

Here with reaction, Fox News legal analyst, Peter Johnson, Jr. Attorney Jonna Spilbor is with us. And prosecutor Anna Sigga Nicolazzi. Creepy ass cracker, all that, because that's what was said, and the "n" word, Peter.

PETER JOHNSON, JR., FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.

HANNITY: What do you think about that?

JOHNSON: Well, if this is the prosecution's star witness, I really don't want to see the worst witness if that prosecution intends to win this case. The case in terms of prosecution was supposed to be about racial attitudes of George Zimmerman and now front and center, we hear Trayvon Martin invoking the "n" word and invoking, yes, another bad word, cracker. So I think it's backfired in a big way.

HANNITY: Anna, you're the prosecutor?

ANNA SIGGA NICOLAZZI, PROSECUTOR: Yes, I'm going to disagree. That's what we do. But you know what? This is a teenager. If anyone has look at the billboard charts lately, this is what you're hearing in the lyrics, and while it's not right, I wish they weren't there, this is how kids are talking. And so, it is not so unexpected, and I actually say it goes towards her credibility that she says those words because that is what he said.

HANNITY: You believe she was a credible, helpful witness for the prosecution?

NICOLAZZI: Yes, I do.

HANNITY: In spite of the lies, and she writes a letter and she couldn't even read the letter? We'll get to that in a second.

NICOLAZZI: She can't really write very well. We're not talking about a woman who is extremely educated.

HANNITY: She said she wrote the letter.

NICOLAZZI: You take your witnesses as you find them, and you cannot get away from the fact that this is the young woman who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin at the time of his death. I agree with you that the -- the defense, if they had kept her on the stand for a half an hour or an hour, I think I'd be sitting here a little differently. But I think the longer they kept her on, which is much too long, she strengthened her position.

HANNITY: I might agree with that point. Jonna.

JONNA SPILBOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Every time she opened her mouth, she chipped away at her own credibility, so much so that I really don't think she has any. This is the prosecution's star witness. You know going in -- I agree that you take your witnesses as you find them. The prosecution had to know that she was going to be an awful witness. Don't put her on first. Put your case on and save her for last in case you can get away with not putting her on at all.

HANNITY: Good. I agree with her.

JOHNSON: Here is the issue. I feel sorry for her as a person, forced into the situation. But in some ways --

HANNITY: I agree with that, by the way.

JOHNSON: She can't read, she has literacy problems.

HANNITY: The public comments have been cruel to her.

JOHNSON: And that's wrong, she didn't ask to be put in the situation. But in terms of the attitude of the decedent, of the so-called victim in this case, she's revealed a tremendous lot that goes beyond cultural norms.

HANNITY: All right. Let's play where she reveals what Anna and I were discussing, that she can't read the letter that she and her friend supposedly had written and she said she had wrote about the shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you and Ms. Sur talked about what you wanted to be in the letter and then she helped write it in a way that was legible, correct?

JEANTEL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the contents of the letter are yours?

JEANTEL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you able to read that copy well enough that you can tell us if it's, in fact, the same letter?

JEANTEL: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you unable to read that at all?

JEANTEL: Some of it. I do not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you read any of the words on it?

JEANTEL: I don't understand cursive. I don't read cursive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Credibility?

NICOLAZZI: That goes to her credibility. I mean, this is a young woman who is embarrassed, and she has someone help write something --

HANNITY: I have two people over here making very different faces.

NICOLAZZI: OK. You know, what? I have been dealing with woman like her in homicides over the last 10, 12 years, unfortunately, successfully - - and so, you can't -- look, she is not your next-door neighbor. She is someone who --

HANNITY: Did she write the letter or not write the letter?

NICOLAZZI: I think her friend wrote the letter --

(CROSSTALK)

NICOLAZZI: -- because she can't read it. But it doesn't mean that if she doesn't --

HANNITY: If I'm on the jury and I'm looking to convict somebody for second degree murder, I want to know that she wrote that letter that she said she wrote, right?

SPILBOR: Exactly. You can't enter it into evidence with any burden of proof on the prosecution if she can't demonstrate that those were her words, that that is what she was talking about.

JOHNSON: There's a pathos about it, there's a pathetic quality about it, Sean. But at the same time, you are right in this part. Is it a fabrication? This is not a recorded telephone call. All we have is her accounts. And if she can't authenticate that, then there is a problem. But I do feel sorry for her again.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

JOHNSON: Yes.

NICOLAZZI: A lot of her account was corroborated by other people already. You have the phone records are already evidence that show the calls at the exact times she says. And the other witness that testified today.

HANNITY: Does any of this show that George Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder? We've got to get to that point in this case.

NICOLAZZI: You know, it's not just second degree murder in this case. We also have manslaughter and in Florida, manslaughter is the killing of someone else by the act, procurement, or even criminal negligence and it is not justified. So if the evidence bears out --

HANNITY: But they also have stand your ground law.

NICOLAZZI: Stand your ground only applies if you are not the attacker or someone that provoked.

HANNITY: Right.

NICOLAZZI: He was the follower.

HANNITY: Let me go back to Jeantel admitting that she lied under oath. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You also though told Mr. De La Rionda under oath that you had gone to the hospital, correct?

JEANTEL: He asked me, did I go to the hospital? I said, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you -- I know that you had said that earlier to Mr. Crump and to Ms. Fulton to give a plausible explanation to them for why you didn't go to the memorial service or the wake. Is that right?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then when Mr. De La Rionda asked you about it again, you gave the same answer?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you knew that was a lie?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, you lied because you wanted to give a plausible answer to Ms. Fulton as to why you didn't go to the wake.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But on the April 2nd interview, you were in fact under oath.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you knew that?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you made a decision then because of how difficult the situation you had just been put in, you decided to lie about going to the hospital rather than say something that might be painful.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: There were a series of lies.

JOHNSON: Yes. And the question is, is that an excusable lie? Now, the truth is, that there are a lot of people amongst us that don't have the stomach or the heart to attend a wake, to attend a funeral and say I can't go. And they come up with lies and excuses. In terms of lies, it's not a damnable lie. And again, there's this empathy. But it does prove that the witness is capable of telling a lie, even when she swears to tell the truth.

HANNITY: And that's not the only instance.

SPILBOR: No, she actually can't keep much of her story straight. She told different stories during the investigation, she's on the stand giving different answers to the same question, and, again, this all goes -- we can feel sorry for her, we can, but it goes to her credibility and if she is the star witness, supposedly having to prove that George Zimmerman was the aggressor, we can't believe what is coming out of her mouth. That's a problem.

HANNITY: All right. Look, she said at one point, I couldn't hear Trayvon, I could have heard Trayvon, I could. There's been -- they may seem small, but cumulatively there are, you know, four, five, six of these instances.

NICOLAZZI: I am not saying she is the witness who is your dream witness. She was not. And she absolutely hurt herself and she proved herself to lie and she admitted those lies on the stand. What I think is important to remember, she is not testifying in a vacuum. You have lots of neighbors and lots of other pieces of evidence that if the prosecution puts it together by the end and say, look, these couple things, whether you believe her, you can accept a witness, you can disregard them, or take parts.

If you take what she says, the basics that have never changed and a lot of what she said has never, ever changed, the basics, and you put it with the other, you can still end up with criminal liability, whether it's murder or manslaughter, we're talking about heavy penalties here.

HANNITY: Peter.

JOHNSON: Mr. Zimmerman says that it's self-defense, and when we hear testimony that his alleged victim is engaging in this kind of language and thinking in these kind of terms, then it gives credibility to the notion of self-defense.

NICOLAZZI: Thinking in these kind of terms? He was being followed in the middle of the night while he was walking home from a store.

JOHNSON: That's the allegation.

HANNITY: That's the allegation.

JOHNSON: -- by a cracker.

SPILBOR: Right.

NICOLAZZI: That's not just the allegation.

HANNITY: Well, listen to what he just said, by a cracker.

NICOLAZZI: Yes. I don't care who is following him. Someone shouldn't have been following him coming home from a store and that is on videotape, you see him buying the Skittles. You have not --

HANNITY: Right. But let argue against this. But there's one thing that nobody saw who punched who first and all we know is George Zimmerman had injuries consistent with the story, a broken nose, lacerations on his head and when he shot Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin was on top of him. How do you overcome that?

NICOLAZZI: I don't think it matters who punched who first. And I'll tell you why because Zimmerman --

HANNITY: All right. Tell me more when we come back. All right.

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