Florida prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda had "prayed that [George Zimmerman] would have the courage to take the stand," he told ABC News in an exclusive interview Sunday, adding that Zimmerman's "inconsistent statements" would have made him the prosecution's star witness.
In the interview with the four Florida prosecutors who fought to convict Zimmerman, lead prosecutor de la Rionda said, "I prayed that he would have the courage to take the stand but, as we all well know, he's got the right not to."
"Anytime you put in a defendant's statements and a lot of those are self-serving, then usually a defendant will make the decision not to testify because you've got his story out. We felt it was important to get his story out because there were so many lies."
De la Rionda, who would have cross-examined Zimmerman had he taken the stand, said he would have been interested to see how the former neighborhood watch captain answered several of his questions:
"Why did you assume because [Trayvon] Martin was wearing a hoodie, he was committing a crime? Why did you assume that because he was walking he was doing something improper? Why didn't you identify yourself? Why did you assume he didn't belong in the neighborhood?"
Zimmerman, 29, was found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin late Saturday night. Zimmerman was accused of second-degree murder for shooting Martin, 17, Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. He said from the beginning that he had shot Martin in self-defense.
The four Jacksonville, Fla., prosecutors -- de la Rionda, Angela Corey, John Guy and Rich Mantei -- said they respect the jury's decision but believe Zimmerman got away with murder. They say they have been flooded with emails from people across America thanking them for even trying the case against Zimmerman. The four, who said they thought they were going to win the case until the verdict was read, for the first time in an interview presented their theory of what happened the night Trayvon Martin died.
"I think [Zimmerman] had the gun out earlier … but we didn't have the eyewitnesses," de la Rionda said.
They believe Zimmerman pointed his gun at Martin not too long after they confronted each other and that the teen was screaming for help. As they attempted to convince jurors during the trial, they pointed out that the screams stopped immediately when the gunshot was fired.
"It's common sense. No one stops screaming for help unless they are certain they killed him," Corey said. "He had said he thought he missed."
The attorneys say Zimmerman's team exaggerated his injuries and that rain made the pictures of his bloodied head seem worse than they were. They also say his legal team underplayed how fit he was at the time of the shooting.
They called him one "lucky man" for his acquittal and had a response to lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara's statement in an interview after the trial that Zimmerman might have to re-arm in response to the death threats he faces.
"He better be careful," Guy said.
Mantei said, "The law allows an awful lot of people to carry guns, that doesn't mean they all should. People have the right to exercise their rights. …The question of whether or not their judgments are safe enough for the rest of the people they might come across. … I think is going to be judged by the future."
De la Rionda, said, "I think that gun in his mind empowered him to approach [Martin] because what he was trying to do was detain Trayvon Martin so he wouldn't get away because all the prior guys had gotten away. He was acting like a cop when he didn't have the power."