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George Zimmerman: Prosecutor happy with closing

By Hal Boedeker

Staff writer

1:43 PM EDT, July 15, 2013

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How does prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda say he did in his closing at the George Zimmerman trial?

"He was happy with his performance. He said he did well," HLN's Vinnie Politan said Monday. "His skipping was spontaneous, not planned."

Politan interviewed de la Rionda and special prosecutor Angela Corey about the trial and Zimmerman's acquittal. HLN and CNN have shared excerpts throughout Monday. The full interview airs at 10 p.m. on "HLN After Dark." Prosecutor John Guy did not show up for the interview.

Zimmerman's acquittal surprised the prosecutors. "I think Bernie was not expecting it," Politan said. "He says, 'I don't usually lose.' Up until the last minute he was expecting a guilty verdict. He was shocked, but they are still very convinced of his guilt."

Zimmerman had been charged with second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin's death.

CNN legal analyst Mark NeJame complained that the prosecution overcharged Zimmerman and ruined a manslaughter case by bringing in facts they couldn't prove. "They completely blew it," NeJame said.

Politan said that de la Rionda "thought he had the jurors, especially when they sent out a question about manslaughter."

Politan said he was particularly struck by Corey's response when he asked her to describe Zimmerman in one word.

"Her word was murderer," he said. "There was a pause. You could see her thinking, and she started to get emotional. This was not acting. That was the feeling. She took this case very personally. It's a tough loss for them."

But is it sour grapes to trash Zimmerman? "They wouldn't comment about the attorneys," Politan said. "They believe a murder took place. They believe George Zimmerman was lucky he was found not guilty."

How wise was it to open with an expletive?

"That was the focus of the case -- there was ill will, spite -- the cornerstone of the murder case," Politan said. "They believe it was murder. The words he uttered on the phone signified what was on his mind, ill will, hatred. They still believe that. As far as manslaughter, everyone knew that would be a lesser-included charge. They didn't dwell on it."

The strong reaction to the verdict would have been even stronger if there had been no cameras in the courtroom, Politan argued.

"The fact there were TV cameras in there showing everyone the evidence, how the case went in, there was less surprise and outrage," Politan said. "America got to see the trial. Take the cameras out of the courtroom, the trial takes place and nobody sees it, don't you think there would be more outrageous reaction [to the verdict]? I think so, if people didn't actually get to see it. If people watched, they have a more informed reaction. It seems to me people understood it better because they saw it."

What do you think?