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Prosecutor to HLN: Zimmerman a ‘murderer’

CNN News Wire | 7/15/2013, 2:42 p.m.
SANFORD, Fla. — How would Florida State Attorney Angela Corey describe George Zimmerman in one word? “Murderer.”
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey addresses the media following the verdict being read in the George Zimmerman Trial, July 13, 2013.

SANFORD, Fla. — How would Florida State Attorney Angela Corey describe George Zimmerman in one word?

“Murderer.”

That’s what an emotional Corey told HLN’s Vinnie Politan when she sat down with fellow prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda and Politan in Jacksonville Monday to discuss the obstacles they faced prosecuting the former neighborhood watch captain.

“We were left with inconsistent witnesses in terms of what actually happened and (Zimmerman’s) story, and what we’re trying to prove is that his story was false,” said de la Rionda.

The lack of reliable eyewitness reports and lack of physical evidence made it impossible for the prosecutors to tell the jurors exactly what happened during the fight between Zimmerman and Martin.

“Our belief as to what happened: He chased down Trayvon Martin, he wanted to make sure Travyon Martin did not get away,” said de la Rionda. “Now at what point he pulled out the gun? We could speculate as to what happened. My theory is that he pulled it out early. He was going to make sure he didn’t get away. He wanted to be a cop.”

Zimmerman first recounted his story to police at the Sanford police station on the night of the shooting. He then returned to the scene with police the next day to walk through the neighborhood and explain, in greater detail, his version of what led to the altercation between the two men and ultimately Martin’s death.

But even after that interview, gaps still remained in Zimmerman’s story. There weren’t enough details to get a complete picture of what happened. Investigators who responded to the scene the night of the killing have been criticized for not only possibly mishandling physical evidence, but for not following up with Zimmerman regarding specifics of what happened that night.

The prosecution was then left with gaps in Zimmerman’s story and not enough evidence to fill them in. Prosecutor de la Rionda told Politan they would have handled things differently on the night of the killing. He said they would have continued to question Zimmerman at the police station that night, while DNA and other pieces of evidence were being analyzed.

“We would have gone out and evaluated the evidence,” said de la Rionda. “We would have sat through the interview with George Zimmerman, and at that time we probably would have sat back and then analyzed what he said. The benefit is automatically (Zimmerman) doesn’t get an attorney, so in other words, if he’s still talking, let him keep talking. And then evaluate all the evidence,” said De la Rionda.

Politan asked Corey and de la Rionda specifically about the gaps in Zimmerman’s story and how they would have attempted to get those questions answered, if they had been there that night.

“I think it would have been a more aggressive interview by the detectives,” said de la Rionda. “I think that started on the 29th, a few days later, but really what you want to do is confront him. You want to lock him into a statement and really confront him. I don’t know if that was done until the very end, and that was only a start, because they didn’t have all the evidence. They didn’t have the DNA, they didn’t have all that stuff,” said De la Rionda.