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July 11th, 2013
11:38 PM ET

J. Cheney Mason: "I believe the state has failed to prove a case of second-degree murder...manslaughter is a different story"

With Thursday providing yet another dramatic and fascinating day in the George Zimmerman trial, as the state offered its closing argument while the jury – and much of America – hung on every word, tonight Piers Morgan invited J. Cheney Mason to join the program with his invaluable personal insight and specific legal perspective.

Two years since serving as co-counsel in the Casey Anthony trial, the man with more than 40 years experience handling homicide cases downplayed the introduction of manslaughter to the list of potential charges facing the defendant:

"Of course it's going to be on the table. It's automatic. All it takes, as I said, is one side or the other to ask for the court to give an instruction on a category one lesser included offense and it will be given. There's no reason to argue about it and discuss it," he explained. "Now, you have different categories – two, and three – and what the state was trying to do today was, indeed, pretty bizarre, to come in at the last minute and go to a non-category one lesser included offense of third degree murder. That was silly, and they wasted a lot of time and my friend Don West nearly had a heart attack over there, but the judge did the right thing."

With a verdict to come as early as next week, the "Piers Morgan Live" host asked his live guest to explain the possible outcomes, and to even go so far as to offer a prediction:

"It can be not guilty, murder two, manslaughter, or a hung jury," he detailed. "I believe the state has failed to prove a case of second-degree murder, and I don't think that the jury will buy that. Manslaughter is a different story."

Finally, in an era where name-checking has quickly become a source of pride and prominence, the 69-year-old attorney loosened up, and admitted a conversation with a couple of choice "Piers Morgan Live" staff members might allow for him to offer his uninhibited forecast:

"If I were to sit around with a glass of wine, and talk with you and Katie [Thomson, "Piers Morgan Live" Senior Producer] about that, I'd say I think there's a good shot at a manslaughter conviction," he revealed, referencing both the host, and the show's primary booker tasked with scheduling legal experts and analysts. "I also don't think the jury's going to be out that long."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with J. Cheney Mason, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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Filed under: The Big Story
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Alex Hamilton

    The Attorney on your show making comments on the Zimmerman Trail claiming Zimmerman was a "Neighborhood Patrol Officer." This was a belief of Zimmerman that started all this. Neighborhood watch, "WATCH", they do not Patrol so, after making the call to the police Zimmerman Job was over The Police was to patrol, not Zimmerman. In fact if Trayvon had been a criminal Zimmerman may be dead because criminals carry guns also. Nothing was suspect about Trayvon but, the fact that he was a black youth and Black youths had been involved in criminal activity in that community. Should we call the Police every time a White youth Walks to close to a Federal building, thinking he is about to blow it up?

    July 12, 2013 at 12:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Joe

    Piers, apparently neither you or Mason have ever been sucker punched and then jumped on. You act like they should be acting like they're playing golf. Oh, say there my fellow you've just smashed me in the nose but I'm neighborhood watch old fellow, so let's just discuss this. Trayvon would've said neighborhood watch? My goodness, I'm sorry I smashed your nose in, I had no idea old chap. Let's have tea!

    Nah, went down more like neighborhood watch? Oh yeah? Well watch my fists pound your face sucker.

    You actually think this guy was a nice young civil mannered individual? It sure doesn't appear so, yet he's continually portrayed as this "kid", this "child", yet in reality he was a thuggish drug using punk who liked to fight.

    July 12, 2013 at 12:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex Hamilton

      I would take what Zimmerman got out of this fight any day to what Trayvon got. Remember real criminals carry guns to so, Zimmerman could have got what he was looking for, a bullet. He should have waited and let the Police do there Job. Trayvon had 4 minutes to get Home and Zimmerman had to the same time to get Back in his car and wait for the police.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex Hamilton

      Joe Blow hard is a small minded person that should keep alway from situations that could get you sucker punched. Thugs and criminals carry Guns, Zimmerman's Luck was by the Mistake he made. Just like Mr. Joe blow hard who had to be an Angel as a Teen Ager. Bottom line, with a Thug Zimmerman would be dead

      July 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Joe

    Piers, You are the one inflaming people with your emotional comments. You've been super emotional about this from day one. I'm not happy about this at all, but this all boils down to who attacked who, and nobody knows. What we do know is that Trayvon was beating the man up pretty badly. So Piers, what would you do? Would you let Trayvon grab the gun and shoot you first? Would you let Trayvon continue to beat you until you were unconscious or dead? Have you ever been in a real fight? Do you even know what it feels like to get hit in the face like Zimmerman did? I'll guarantee you none of the liberal women on you show have had that experience. So get off the emotion train.

    July 12, 2013 at 12:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • AlexHamilton

      As a U.S. Army Vet, I have faced not only hand to hand combat but, death with weapons. Zimmerman got beat by someone standing his ground. Our military seldom pick fights we can not win or not qualified to fight. Zimmerman didn't even have a reason to call the Police, and to following someone on the streets as a criminal suspect, Zimmerman is lucky Trayvon was not a real criminal, because criminals carry guns too. In short, Zimmerman went overboard and caused the death of a human being. How would you feel if it was your child killed fighting an unknown individual comming after him?

      July 12, 2013 at 1:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. lubertha

    Dear Mr. Morgan,
    I just had to write you. I hope you read this. First, thank you for great journalism. I am so deeply hurt and disturb by the way these guest on your show are so insensitive to this young man. I have a son this age that looks like Trayvon. I can't get over how much this world is in such denial of the hatred they still hold in their hearts for Black Americans. It was from the start about racism. The minute he made the call! I am angry that in 2013 we still can't get pass the color of someones skin. I thought slavery ended. Why are Blacks still called or looked at as a minority(less than)? We are humans! Why are they speaking or looking at him as he was nothing? He was a child of our God! How is it the world is more concern about an animal's safety, than this child's life! Why is it the Black man is exploited still? How is it they have overlooked the fact he was going to his father's house he had the right to walk home! It was his sweatshirt. They made it so you can put the hood on! It was his community! It is not about feeling sorry as some lady on your show said. How ignorant of a statement. Where is the respect for someones life? Why are white people so hateful still after all they have done to Blacks. When are they ever going to stop killing and enslaving us. We are the Human Race. There is no superior race. God created us equal. We all came here the same and will die eventually. I don't understand why we can't go forth!

    July 12, 2013 at 12:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      You obviously don't know that his next door neighbor was a black American and she liked him. His professor was a black American and he liked him too. He also mentored black children. So, quit with the race baiting stuff, nobody want to hear that, it's not relevant, and wasn't an issue. Actually I think your post is not even real and probably made up based on some of the statements you've made.

      July 12, 2013 at 1:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jim37015

    YOu know everytime someone punches you in the face its a stunning effect, get that several times in the face and a couple of times to the back of the head and you can loose consciousness, then your really dead meat from an attacker.

    And Bernies theory on no blood on TM's hand is easily explained. The hand was over his mouth and nose prior to getting punched.The nose hadn't started bleeding. TM couldn't shut him up because he was screaming for help so he slugged him. Someone tell that black chick that on P.M.

    July 12, 2013 at 12:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joe

    You need to research more on Trayvon's proclivity towards fighting especially MMA style. There was a lot of evidence of this in his text messages but the Judge apparently thought someone else could have "borrowed" Trayvon's phone and sent all of the these text messages, so she didn't allow them to be admitted as evidence. He keeps being portrayed by you and others as if he was a choir boy, when in fact he was kind of a thug and heading in the wrong direction. He wasn't a "boy" either as you keep referring to him. He could've done to you the same thing he did to Zimmerman. A "boy" couldn't do that.

    July 12, 2013 at 1:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Joe

    Just google Trayvon Martin text messages.

    July 12, 2013 at 1:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Linda

    Piers seems to be very biased in this case, just as he was in the Presidential election sucking up to and promoting the Romney family as the 'next best thing'. He seems to be looking forward to and encouraging a racial backlash should Zimmerman be found innocent. I initially believed Zimmerman to be at fault in this case, but the evidence leads me to see plenty of reasonable doubt, although quite rightly, Zimmerman should not have gotten out of his car or be carrying a gun. Something which is not illegal, as many guests have pointed out to Piers (although he doesn't seem to hear any anti-Martin family remarks, just like Sunny). Let's hope common sense prevails.

    July 12, 2013 at 8:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex Hamilton

      Again, Neighborhood Watch, simply Watch and Report to the Police, there is no such thing as Neighborhood Patrol at the community the Kid was killed in. In short Neighborhood Watch people don't need guns. Things can be legal but show ill will, to call Trayvon the N word is legal but is that ill will?

      July 12, 2013 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply

    if some ashole is following me at night in a truck, in the dark, in the rain, I'm not going to lead him straight to my door step. That could put the rest of my family in danger!

    July 12, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. AMELIA


    July 12, 2013 at 11:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Joan

    I've been trying to listen to the defense lawyer this morning but his monotone, boring presentation is almost putting me to sleep. He's supposed to be an expert lawyer and he is brilliant but OMG this is very boring and hard to listen to. When the prosecution lawyer counters I hope he says Zimmerman's gun had to be drawn before the fight because there is no way he could have drawn out the gun while being held down. That is proven. Trayvon probably saw the gun, was terrified and fought back. He was standing his ground. Also, I hope the lawyer can tell the jury that the lead detective had said Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter. That speaks volumes. I'm predicting a manslaughter verdict with 5-8 years in prison.

    July 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. AMELIA



    July 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Nanda Peiris

    Having followed this up to now I am more strengthened about my Convictions specially regarding Criminal Law. Yes I have heard the expression that “Law is an Ass” and it has proven to be so in so many Murder Cases.

    It is disgusting to see the supposed murderer in Court like a VIP sitting amongst
    eminent Legal Eagles dressed like the President of the United States and as if he is the one directing the Judge and the Jury. Why is he not in shackles in a Prisoner’s garb like other Murderers? Of course, he is not charged. America, the
    Leader of the whole world where is justice!?

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