tv 9 News Now at 6pm CBS April 11, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
murder. barricades are up outside the correctional facility in sanford, florida. police have been trying to could the peace in the city for some time while martin's supporters have been pressing for zimmerman's arrest. the reverend al sharpton is in d.c. today and is calling for peace in anticipation of the special prosecutor's press conference. zimmerman apparently needs a new defense team. the two attorneys representing him quit yesterday after they said zimmerman stonned talking to them. let's go now -- stopped talking to them. let's go now to the press conference down in florida. >> good evening, everyone. i am angela corey, the special prosecutor for the trayvon martin case. just moments ago we spoke by phone with sybrina fulton and tracy martin. it was less than three weeks ago that we told those sweet parents that we will get answers to all of their questions no matter where our quest for the truth led us and it is our search for justice for trayvon that has brought to
us 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 delarianda, one of my top homicide prosecutors, and john guy, my other top homicide prosecutor who will lead this investigation. with us also is jim madden from the florida department of law enforcement, dominic tate, also one of our special agents in charge, our sheriff john rutherford and our undersheriff duane centerfit. we appreciate so much all of their cooperation in this and i especially want to thank my two state attorney investigators, t.c.el elsteen and gail gill breath. let me acknowledge our governor rick scott and our u.s. attorney bobby o'neil for their
continuing support of our appointment to this case and their support of this 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 as well as 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 4th judicial circuit, supervising the other young lawyers who also handle homicides, they willing are took this case on and said we will lead this effort to seek
justice for trayvon. we watched an intensive investigation building on all of the work that sanford police department and the state attorney's office in seminole county had already done. unless you've ever 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 are not only ministers of justice, we are seekers of the truth and we stay true to that mission. again we prosecute on facts and the laws of great and so everybody 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 all of our precious victims in 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 are here to do that on behalf of our victim, trayvon martin, and on behalf of the person responsible for his death, george zimmerman. we will continue to seek the truth throughout this case. every single day our prosecutors across this great country handle difficult cases and they adhere to that 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 a 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 tryer of fact, whether a judge or jury, gets all the details and a decision will be rendered. we will scrupulously hold to the rules of evidence when presenting a case that way. today we filed an information charging george zimmerman with murder in the second degree. an order has been filed for his arrest. he will have a right to appear in front of a magistrate in seminole county within 24 hours of his arrest and thus formal prosecution will begin. we thank all of those people across this 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 specially 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 very strict rules of ethics, very strict rules of criminal procedure and we will be adhering to those rules. >> one at a time. >> i will confirm that mr. zimmerman is indeed in custody. >> can you tell us where? >> i will not tell you where. that's for his safety as well as everyone else's safety. >> what led to your decision today? was there one single piece of evidence that led you to charge him with murder in the second degree? >> 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 to us any decision in any case. >> ms. corey, did he turn himself in or was he arrested? >> mr. zimmerman turned himself
in and by turning himself in was arrested on the habeus that had already been issued. it didn't take long. we have many complicated homicides that are thoroughly investigated. remember, the prosecutor's burden is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. >> but it's been 45 days since trayvon martin was killed can. you talk about this process leading up to this and did you drop the ball in this investigation? >> i can tell you that this investigation was underway by both the sanford police department and norm wolf inninger's office. the investigation was in -- wolfinger's office. the investigation was in full mode. we took the work which 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 haw and procedure we had to make sure -- law and procedure we had to make sure we had everything in place to make the arrest.
>> can you tell us what it was about what you uncovered that leads you to recuse his self- defense under the stand your ground law? >> 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. >> can you tell us whether mr. zimmerman is in the state of florida? is there already a bonding process underway? >> i can tell you in seminole county and i want to thank their state judge, he informed us they have a bond schedule and when a habeus is issued, there is originally no bond, but mr. zimmerman's lawyers will be butyled to request a bond at which -- entitled to request a bond at which point a bond hearing will be held. that's where that will be determined as to whether or not no bond, which is the bond currently set, will be changed by the court. >> have you determined whose
voice is crying for help on the 911 recording? >> that would be commenting on the facts of the case and we're not doing that at this time. >> what about your investigation led you to a second degree murder charge where sanford police investigation didn't lead to an arrest? >> i don't whatever 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 mom side. all murders are homicide -- homicide. all murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders and florida's law clearly says if there is the affirmable defense like excusable or justifiable, that should be determine prosecuted 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 to us take
this case over and handle it and we did. >> do you believe sanford police would have arrived at the same charge you did if they conducted a full investigation? >> we worked together with our law enforcement officers as you see. i have our sheriff and undersheriff here. we work with all of our law enforcement agencies where we try to work this cases together. remember prosecutors are law enforcement as well and we work these cases with our investigating agencies and we try to come to as many mutual decisions as we can. this case was in that process when the governor stepped in and appointed to us 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 their team took this over and did a lot more work and we came to our conclusion based on the facts and florida's law.
>> obviously the maximum sentence for second degree murder would be life in prison. is it your desire as a prosecutor of this case to see him go to jail for life, mr. zimmerman? >> we don't make that determination at this time. what we are committed to do is get this case through the court system and then and if it goes to the tryer of fact as the judge or the jury, once there is a decision, then we would concern ourselves with the sentence. >> have you been contacted by mr. zimmerman? >> i have not personally. i do understand he may have retained new counsel in the past couple of hours. >> did he have anything to say? what was his demeanor? >> if he did, i wouldn't be able to comment. i want you to know up front one of the specific things we're not allowed to discuss are the statements of a defendant charged with crime and again it's a constitutional protection that you all should be happy law enforcement affords every person charged with a crime.
>> is mr. zimmerman in -- >> i will not comment on where mr. zimmerman. is 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. >> is that what you're saying, you would have arrived at the same conclusion? >> this is the conclusion that we came to based on our review of the facts in evidence. i'm not sure they were through with the entire investigation at the point mr. wolfinger recused himself from this case. >> are you confidence that you have the evidence for a conviction? >> we have to have a reasonable certainty of conviction before we file charges. any time there's an affirmative defense and there are numerous affirmative defenses that can be asserted before the arrest, immediately after the arrest, during the trial.
we've had them come up in the middle of trial, haven't we? my fellow prosecutors that sit here, we've all faced this. for example, alibi is an affirmative defense. sometimes that gets put on us in the middle of a trial. so an affirmative defense always makes the 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 doubt. >> the debate about race and justice and the role that race might have in justice being served? >> i'm going to be quite honest with you and i have some people who have lived through our justice system here and they are among the finest people in jacksonville, florida. they represent but a small sample of the people who know that those of us in law enforcement are committed to justice for every race, every gender, every person of any persuasion whatsoever. they are our victims. we only know one category as prosecutors and that's a v. it's not a b. it's not a w.
it's not an h. it's v for victim. that's who we work tirelessly for and that's all we know is justice for our victims and we still have to maintain the constitutional rights. remember our role, ministers of justice. >> can you talk about what went into your investigation, how much went into interviewing and retracing the steps of everything that happened? >> any time we take over a case even from each other, we sometimes reinterview. we thoroughly go through the reports. we try to gather more evidence. a lot of witnesses had already made statements in public even before we took over this case. so a thorough review of all the statements that were made was done and i can tell you i've got the finest prosecution team ever. i know of boss feels that way, but these people have the best experience you can ask for. >> were there any new withins who you encountered during that
process? >> florida is a full discovery state and when and if the defense requests warning in the discovery process, the witness list will be released at that time. >> under florida law a person is presumed to have immunity under the prosecution on the stand your ground law. i'm curious, you still haven't articulated, what came to your mind or what can you say about the facts that made you think that that i community was waived and was not going to be able to be used? >> i'm sorry, i thought i articulated very clearly we don't discuss the facts of a case and that's for a reason. we're law enforcement. this is the criminal justice system. people's rights have to be protected and it's design a certain way not only under the constitution of the united states and the state of florida, we have rules of criminal procedure, florida statutes and rules of ethics. 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
will continue to do. >> lang, have you talked to george person -- lang, have you talked to george -- angela, have you talked to george personally at all? >> i did not. we never even had to address that situation. >> yesterday the attorneys who were representing mr. zimmerman or at least speaking for him said they had recused themselves because they hadn't been in contact with him. can you shed any light at all on how mr. zimmerman came to turn himself in? >> i cannot. >> was it a coordinated process at all? >> it's a coordinated process and law enforcement has had this under control since we've gotten this 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 we do on behalf of the citizens of this great state. government and pam bondy put as many resources as they could on this case and i don't think that 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. >> do you expect the trial to be held in seminole county? >> we don't know that yet. >> one of the attorneys said yesterday that he actually contacted him. can you talk about what happened and if you all received that phone call? >> what happens with every phone call, a message was taken and i turned it over to bernie and bernie handled it from there, but we called his lawyers because we don't talk to someone represented by counsel pursuant to our rules of ethics. so no contact was made specifically between mr. guy who was and is still prosecuting a first degree murder case where our victim is a former marine brutally shot for a few dollars at a gas station here. we varvel brutal homicides that we fight hard -- we have unfortunately brutal homicides
that we fight hard for all the time. we will fight just as hard in this case. >> did your findings affect the department of justice? >> thank you for asking that. the department of justice conducts their own investigation. i've been in contact with our u.s. attorney, tom battle one of the department of justice people who helped us with a lot of the civil rights contacts and issues. he's helping us. a whole slew of doj lawyers are helping us, but they aren't helping us on our part of the investigation and we aren't helping with their part of the investigation. we always share information with our federal counterparts. >> by what actions you are taking, you are basically making a statement that you do not believe the stand your ground is a plausible defense. could you at least address the fact that you by taking the action, by arresting mr. zimmerman you are saying stand your ground in your mind does not come into play in this case? >> this case is 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 this case, we will fight that affirmative defense. >> how would you say stand your ground has been affected? >> my prosecutors and a lot of them are here and i'm so proud of them, they have worked tirelessly running this office while we've been working on this case, they fight these stand your ground motions. mr. moody just finished a full fourth-day stand your ground motion on another case. -- four-day stand your ground motion on another case. we fight hard. some we fight hard and the judge rules against us. that's happening to prosecutors all over the state. it is the law of the state of florida and it will be applied. >> do you think it's invoke toad much? >> justify -- invoked too much? >> justifiable use of deadly force before stand your ground was issued is still a tough
affirmative offense to overcome, but we still fight these cases hard. i'm not going to comment on the specific law at this time. we're law enforcement. wednesday force the laws of the state of florida and if that law becomes part of the defense, we'll handle it accordingly. >> is seminole county the have encounterly? >> no. seminole county is absolutely the -- county the venue? >> no. seminole county is absolutely the venue. right now it's the court of jurisdiction. the question was did we think we could try the case there? that's a determination that will be made closer to if and when we pick a jury. >> three more questions. >> perhaps regarding publicity how are your concerns about what you've seen out there, what effect it would have on a jury in seminole county or elsewhere? >> you asked about my concerns.
there's been an overwhelming amount of publicity in this case that we hope does not keep us from being able to pick a fair and impartial jury. both the state and defense are entitled to a fair and impartial jury. we think a lot of facts got put out and see, that's the problem. when i told you it comes out in front of a jury, they're not allowed to render a decision until everything comes in front of them. in fact, they're specifically instructed by the judge they can't form a decision until they've heard everything. so it's regretable that so many facts and details were released and misconstrued, but we hope a lot of it and the media has helped toning it down a lot and making sure people understand florida law and the process. we hope that people will continue to do that. >> how the misconduct their investigation, looking back on sanford police department, would you say was their investigation thorough? >> well, i'm not going to
comment on this other than that they were a they to us and had already done a lot of witness interviews. any time you have a shooting scene and there's a person whose death is caused, the police launch a thorough and intensive investigation. that was done here, but before the investigation could be finished there was a lot of outcry about this case and it changed course and we got appointed to take over the investigation. >> based on the details you know of the case and what happened that night, do you think it's reasonable to expect that there should have been an arrest that evening? >> 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 upon probable cause and so we
believe that 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. >> did you invoke the name of trayvon martin's parents at the very beginning? >> i did. >> can you shed any more light on the length and breadth of that conversation with them and did they express confidence that your process now will be table to bring them to justice? >> i think that after meeting with trayvon's parents that first monday night after we got appointed in this case, bernie was there, john was there, our prosecution team was there, the first thing we did was pray with them. we opened our meeting 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? they were very kind and very receptive to that and as i stated, mr. delarionda has been in touch with many crump and martin and we intend to stay in touch with them. i believe they will wart to talk later and they now know that charges have been filed and are now hearing as we speak that george zimmerman is in custody of law enforcement in our state. we're very proud of the job law enforcement has done. we're very proud to stand here and tell you that we represent the people of the state of florida. thank you so much. >> that was angela corey. she's florida's state attorney and special prosecutor in the case of trayvon martin and after 25 minutes of press conference we've got two very basic important facts. second degree murder charges are filed against george zimmerman and he is in police custody.
we have our legal expert here with us now. first were you surprised, second degree murder than manslaughter? >> absolutely no surprise at all. she charged an intentional murder. he can face life in prison. her whole position is let him, zimmerman, raise the stand your ground defense, self-defense. i'm going to charge the highest crime i, can turn it over to the defense. you challenge what we did, no surprise. >> let's talk a little bit about she said over and over again we do not try by public opinion. we do not not cave in to trial by media and all that. what does that say about the pressure on that special prosecutor? >> huge pressure. she was under so much pressure, political pressure, pressure from the community, the press. there's absolutely no surprise here. she charged the highest crime she could and now it's up to the defense to raise a defense and they'll challenge it, no surprise. >> interesting to me she said at one point information had been released about this case that should never have gone public. any idea what she's talking about there?
>> you had spokesmen for zimmerman and the family throwing out facts in the news media and she probably said that shouldn't have been done. >> can zimmerman get a fair trial in that county or will they have to move this case? she said she wasn't sure yet. >> a case like this, no matter where you try it you'll have the same issues of can the jury be fair. this is like a michael jackson case. wherever it's tried the jury has to be really questioned regarding fairness. >> very quickly with regard to george zimmerman himself, what do you make of the drama around him losing his two lawyers, now needing new representation? what's going on? >> obviously he's under a lot of emotional and stress, no question, but he surrendered. so when he comes to a bond hearing, normally a judge will say well, you've been out three or four weeks since the crime, you surrendered, he might be eligible for bail, but in a case like this, the same pressure the prosecutor faced, the judge will face, too. the whole world is looking at this case.
>> we will bring you the statement from trayvon martin's parents. it will be online. it will be streamed at www.wusa9.com. anita? >> in fact, our bruce leshan is live at the d.c. convention center where they're expected to speak momentarily. >> reporter: yeah. remarkable news conference from the special prosecutor, angela corey, and we understand that she called the parents of trayvon martin beforehand. she called them the sweet parents of trayvon martin. we think that they're very close to this ballroom here at the d.c. convention center. we're expecting them to come out and speak to us from right up here just shortly after that news conference that just wrapped up. now they say that these charges against george zimmerman will help in the healing process, but they say they will continue to fight until zimmerman is convicted of killing their unarmed teenage son. trayvon's father recounted how
he reacted in horror back in february when police told him that they would not file charges in his son's death. he reached out to lawyers in miami for help. they reached out to the reverend al sharpton and his national action network and the son's death, trayvon martin's death became this national debate over race and self- defense laws. they've repealed repeatedly here -- appealed repeatedly here today for calm no matter the outcome, but now these second degree murder charges have been filed it seems like the odds of any kind of trouble in florida have now receded. back to you. >> bruce leshan at the d.c. convention center. thank you. >> we have much more on the trayvon martin case on www.wusa9.com including a live stream of his parents' press conference. once it begins derek will join you back for more at 7:00. hang it you for joining us. have a good -- thank you for joining us. have a good night.