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Zimmerman Charge: 2nd Degree Murder; Whitney Houston 911 Tape; Zimmerman Charged With Second-Degree Murder; Grandma Busted For Weed

Aired April 12, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're bringing you the news from A to Z.

It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get started here.

The Trayvon Martin shooting officially ruled a murder. This is the first look we've had at George Zimmerman since the incident. He is in custody today.

BANFIELD: Confusion, panic, precious time wasted -- 911 tapes released from the night Whitney Houston died.


DISPATCHER: Can you get me into the room so I can try to give CPR instructions?

CALLER: Oh, I'm sorry. No, because she kept hanging up on us.


BANFIELD: We'll have more from the moment that she was found unconscious in the bathtub.

SAMBOLIN: Ann Romney responding to a Democratic strategist who said this about her.


HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.


SAMBOLIN: The mother of five is fuming over that comment.

BANFIELD: Hearing a cry from the morgue? They are calling her the miracle baby. A newborn baby found alive at the morgue 12 hours after being declared stillborn.

SAMBOLIN: That is a crazy story. You're going to want to stay tuned for that. Actually nailed into a coffin because that's the way they do it there. It's crazy.

BANFIELD: Just incredible. Just incredible.

One minute now past 5:00 in the morning on the East Coast.

Up first, George Zimmerman waking up behind bars this morning. The man who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is now charged with second degree murder. Zimmerman turned himself in to police yesterday. His arrest coming after weeks of protest in Florida and right across the country, demanding justice for Trayvon.

A special prosecutor says none of that went into her decision to charge Zimmerman.


ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: 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.


BANFIELD: Trayvon Martin's parents were in Washington when they got the news and his mother expressed her thanks.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more, nothing less. We just wanted an arrest and we got it.


BANFIELD: As for Zimmerman's family, his brother is telling CNN's Piers Morgan that they're upset the prosecutor, quote, "threw the book at him."


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: Obviously, as a family, we're devastated. I will say, we are a strong family and we have been living a somewhat altered reality for quite some time and we have had to prepare ourselves for an outcome such as this.


BANFIELD: George Zimmerman's new attorney says his client plans to plead not guilty. He's expected to make a first appearance in court in just a few hours.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Sanford, Florida, this morning.

And, Martin, we're all waking up across the country to headlines like this in "The New York Post," "Murder." And I assume the headlines there will be very similar. B But what's the protocol for Mr. Zimmerman this morning?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what's going to happen. First of all, we know that he wakes up this morning, charged for the first time with murder, with the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. It's the second degree murder that's with a weapon and what that essentially means is that it's a first degree felony. He could get 25 years, that's the minimum, to a possible maximum of life. He is going to have his first court appearance we know later today.

His attorney already says that he is going to enter a plea of not guilty and then they're going to talk about the issue of bond. Right now, he has no bond. The attorney hopes that he's going to get a reasonable bond.

But he was transported here last night in a black SUV from Jacksonville, a drive of about three hours. Once he got here, brought in, photographed, went through a medical as well as mental examination. And essentially what they're doing to do is evaluate whether or not or how he's going to be housed. In other words, are they going to put him into the general population?

So, all of that is still to be worked out. And we do expect to see him later today. But he's not going to appear in court in person. They do it by video link.

You've already pointed out that the family of Trayvon Martin, of course, believes it's the first step on the long road to justice. And for the family of George Zimmerman, it was an absolutely crushing blow as Robert Zimmerman, his older brother, explained last night to Piers Morgan.


ZIMMERMAN: This is a series of not just physical but psychological issues that are happening to someone, with a person who's 6'3'' sitting on their chest, using his entire body weight to cover the mouth and nose, the broken nose, of the person who's screaming out for their life. Now, what you have is a situation where you're out of breath and you're losing consciousness. What puts you in fear of your life is when you carry a gun and someone threatens to disarm you as you're becoming unconscious, you don't know if that person is really going to kill you or not. But if you're wrong about it, you are dead.


SAVIDGE: What's interesting there, actually, Robert Zimmerman told Piers he spent time with his brother while he was in hiding, waiting to hear if there would be charges and, of course, now we know there are -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Obviously, Martin, this was one of the most mysterious people. We haven't seen hide nor hair of George Zimmerman for 45 days and a quick appearance as he was walking into the jail last night.

What is -- what was expected in terms of how they were going to house him? Any kind of protective custody, solitary? How are they going to handle his existence in a very worrisome circumstance?

SAVIDGE: Yes, it is. In fact, you know, many people had discussed, you know, would they in fact house him here in Seminole County just because it is epicenter of the whole event here and there was concerns about being mixed in with the general population, could there be some sort of retribution? Somebody might try to do behind bars. It has been a serious concern. It continues to be a concern.

We believe they were going to isolate him at least for the time being while they do this evaluation.

BANFIELD: All right. Martin Savidge, live for us in Sanford, Florida, this morning -- thank you for that.

And coming up a little later on "STARTING POINT," we're going to hear from both sides in the Trayvon Martin case. At 7:00 Eastern, Soledad will talk with George Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara. And then at 8:00 Eastern, she'll talk with Natalie Jackson, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family.

SAMBOLIN: And six minutes past the hour. This just in: gas prices drop for the sixth day in the row now, the national average price of unleaded is now $3.91.

And, folks, we're now within the window that North Korea says it will launch a new rocket. The launch hasn't happened yet. But North Korea says it will happen by Monday. International leaders are urging North Korea to cancel the launch. The United States says it is suspending food aid and Japan is threatening to shoot down the rocket.

North Korea's insisting the operation is for peaceful purposes only. But the U.S. and South Korean officials believe it is a cover for a ballistic missile test.

Well, it is confusion, panic and her people being difficult -- 911 tapes are out from the night Whitney Houston died. They were obtained by TMZ. The hotel security guard made the phone call and he says a woman in Houston's room was pretty much out of it and wouldn't let him in to try and perform CPR. Listen.


DISPATCHER: OK, and you don't know if she's conscious or breathing at all?

CALLER: Apparently she wasn't breathing and she's 46 years old.

DISPATCHER: She was not breathing?


DISPATCHER: OK, but she is breathing now?

CALLER: I don't know.


CALLER: The person that called me was irate and didn't get much out of her. We have security going in there now.

DISPATCHER: OK. We'll send some police and fire over there if there's a person not breathing. Does it sound is like the person is still not breathing?

CALLER: Yes, that's correct.

DISPATCHER: OK, we'll put down for not breathing. Is there anyway you can give me to the room so I can try to do CPR?

CALLER: Yes, we're going in now.

DISPATCHER: Can you get me into the room so I can try to give CPR instructions?

CALLER: Oh, I'm sorry. No, because she kept hanging up on us.


SAMBOLIN: Wow. Well, according to the report on Houston's death, her assistant and body guard were the only people in the room at the time. The call was made public on the same day the Beverly Hills police detective officially closed the case involving the singer's death.

BANFIELD: Turning now to the race for the White House, Rick Santorum once called Mitt Romney the worst Republican in the country to put up against President Obama -- at least with regard to Obamacare he said. But now that he's out of the race, would Mitt Romney consider Rick Santorum for the number two spot? The veep?

A voter asked him that very question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider him as a vice president candidate? If not, why not?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody's on my list. Everybody's on my list. I'm not taking anybody off the list, all right?

I actually don't -- I don't have a list yet. So I can't say someone is on or off my list. The people I've had the privilege of running against would be among those I'd consider.


BANFIELD: He's been pressed on that list a few times. There he said everyone is on my list but I don't have a list, I don't have a list, not yet anyway.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And Newt Gingrich is still hoping for the number one spot, yes. He says it is still a two-man race only now between him and Mitt Romney. In "THE SITUATION ROOM," he said he is sticking around until Romney clinches the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to continue doing what I do best, which is talk about big solutions and big approaches. I want to keep campaigning. And we'll see what happens.

You self-admitted, Governor Romney does not yet have the nomination, despite every effort to get people to concede it. I have every right to continue to campaign until he gets a majority.


SAMBOLIN: Well, this is what he's up against. Mitt Romney now has 659 delegates, Gingrich way behind at 140. It is mathematically impossible for him to pull it out before the convention.

BANFIELD: Ann Romney is firing back at the Democratic strategist and CNN contributor named Hilary Rosen, after Rosen said this about the 64-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 16. It happened on "A.C. 360."


ROSEN: What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues. When I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.

Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we worry -- why do we worry about their future.


BANFIELD: Well, she may not have worked in an office but Ann Romney used her first tweet ever to respond to that claim, saying, quote, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

But Hilary Rosen is not backing down. She tweeted, "Ann D Romney, please know I admire you, but your husband shouldn't say you are his expert on women and the economy."

David Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Obama's re- election bid tried to distance the campaign from Rosen's comments saying this. "Also disappointed in Hilary Rosen's comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive."

SAMBOLIN: Lots of people are weighing in on that one.

BANFIELD: I have two boys. I'm telling you, it's easier to be here.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is.

I think most women know that, they understand that, right?

BANFIELD: They do. They all say the same.


Eleven minutes past the hour here.

Still ahead, remember this video, take a look, campus police pepper spraying students at pointblank range. That's at U.C. Davis, folks. Their hands are tied behind -- in some cases tied behind their back, in front. A new state report is out and it is not kind to the officers or to the campus leader.

BANFIELD: And also, police on the hunt for a pint-sized terror. A little boy who threatened to kill another child for his ice cream. No kidding. He allegedly tried to rob the victim at knifepoint. Oh, there's more to this.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: It is 14 minutes past the hour. It's time to check the stories making news this morning.

And here's Christine Romans. Good morning.


George Zimmerman charged and in custody this morning. A special prosecutor filing second degree murder charges against Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back in February. Zimmerman's expected in court for the first time today. His new attorney says Zimmerman will plead not guilty and base his defense on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

For the first time in more than a year, no new major attacks being reported in Syria. Opposition activists say they now have weak hopes that the Syrian government will stick to a U.N.-backed cease- fire plan. That cease-fire deadline passed early this morning. Since then, activists say, quote, "We've only been hearing the sound of birds."

At least 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the government began cracking down on protesters last spring -- 9,000.

It could mean cheaper e-books for you down the line. The federal government is suing Apple over alleged e-book price fixing. Five book publishers are accused with colluding with Apple, three have settled with the Justice Department. The government says Apple conspired with these publishers to drive up book prices and basically force Amazon's hand which was selling most e-books for $9.99. Apple hasn't responded to this lawsuit yet.

A series of earthquakes rattling nerves in Mexico, the latest coming off the Baja coast. Two strong earthquakes magnitude, 6.9 and 6.2, just minutes apart. No reports of damage. It follows a 7.0 quake that hit western Mexico last night. That one could be felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City, causing tall buildings to sway.

And the outcome could have been disastrous after a school bus crashed into a house. Can you believe it? This is in Florida. Police say the driver swerved to avoid a car that ran a spotlight. The house was pretty much demolished.

But thankfully, only two children and two adults were on board the bus. And you guys they suffered only minor injuries. Amazing.

Police in Pasadena, Texas, looking for a 6-year-old or 7-year- old boy who allegedly tried to rob another kid at knifepoint, 6 or 7- year-old. The victim's older brother says it was over ice cream.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My little brother went to the ice cream truck to buy ice cream when the kid came up to him and told him, buy me an ice cream or I'll shank you and I'll kill you right now and he actually opened the knife and pointed it at home in the stomach.


ROMANS: The victim was 11 years old. His brother says he dropped his ice cream and ran home. The ice cream truck driver followed him home to make sure he got there safely.

For an extended look at all of the top stories, head to our blog at

BANFIELD: Six or seven years old?

ROMANS: Six or seven, with a knife, went after an 11-year-old, give me your ice cream or I'm going to, as his brother said, shank you.

SAMBOLIN: Shank you.

ROMANS: And the, you know, the kid dropped his ice cream and went running, you know, high-tailing it home.

SAMBOLIN: Totally insane.

ROMANS: And the ice cream truck driver followed him home to make sure he got home safely. Unbelievable.

BANFIELD: Yes. If they find that child, this is going to be big. I mean, there are a lot of prosecutors out there who would like to see a 6-year-old prosecutor.

ROMANS: Oh my!


BANFIELD: A 12-year-old in Florida who's facing prosecution under Angela Corey right now. So, they're getting younger.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh!

Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: It's 18 minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast.

Raging floods, heavy hail, these storms are paralyzing the Texas panhandle. Take a look at these pictures on your screen. There are reports of people trapped in their cars. They were buried under apparently baseball size chunks of ice.

Look at that. Just remarkable. These pieces of land being chunked away by these raging floodwaters.

Potter County, Texas, is what you're looking at. Phenomenal video from KV11?

Rob Marciano in the CNN weather center right now to tell us a little bit more about that.

I am always amazed when I see waters like that and how quickly they can become flash floods.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And, you know, in that part of the country, it doesn't take a whole lot of water. I mean, they got maybe an inch of rain. If you get it in less than an hour in an area that's been under a long-term drought, it just runs off, it does not sink into the hard, dry land of west Texas. So, they've seen this now two days in a row. That sort of rainfall.

They may see it again today, on similar set up as far as severe weather is concern. We not only see the threat for flash flooding and large hail, but isolated tornadoes and maybe some damaging winds across the typical areas here, across tornado alley. Tomorrow and the next day and over the weekend, we'll see a similar threat.

Hey, that cool air across western parts of the Great Lakes, well, nothing but warmth for the past three months, you'll take it, 20s and 30s this morning. And frost and freeze watches and warnings in effect.

We still have some fire problems as far as weather is concerned. Gusts to 20 miles an hour across parts of northern Florida today with winds gusting also across parts of western Georgia.

You'll see breezy conditions across the Northeast, but there's a little bit of moisture wrapping around what is a low pressure system out here. So, maybe a spritz or a sprinkle out on Long Island.

In western parts of the U.S., including California, rain through San Francisco and maybe snow across -- maybe? It will snow across parts of the sierra, maybe one to two feet of it.

Speaking of California, check out this video of Stockton yesterday, turbulent weather there, funnel cloud -- yes, amongst the interstate traffic. How about that? There was a tornado warning issued for this and it eventually did touch down. Not a whole lot of damage but nonetheless, you see it doing the old rope-a-dope.


SAMBOLIN: Is that an official term, rope-a-dope?

MARCIANO: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Love it, Rob. Thank you.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.


SAMBOLIN: -- seeing that in a distance.

BANFIELD: Yes. Rob, I don't know if I've ever seen a funnel cloud snaking like that.

MARCIANO: Well, that I believe the last part of the video looks to be sped up just a bit.

BANFIELD: OK. Well, that makes a little more sense.

MARCIANO: But, yes, they do that when they try to figure out, oh, do I touch down, do I go back in the included? What to do?

BANFIELD: Do I spare everybody below? I mean, the person who -- actually, that looks like it might have been a tower cam. I marvel at the people who just videotape it, watch it come --

MARCIANO: You've got to tape. You've got to roll. Always roll on tape.

BANFIELD: Rob Marciano, you stop that right now.

SAMBOLIN: People like you. People like you.

BANFIELD: Thanks, my friend.

SAMBOLIN: Got to be trained to do that, right?

Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

And we're getting an early read on your local news that is making national headlines this morning. We have papers from California, North Carolina and Connecticut.

We're going to start this morning with the "Los Angeles Times" for you. This is a story that everybody has been following.

Remember the California officials, they've been slammed at U.C. Davis for pepper spray incident that spark a national outrage. This was back in November. So, this report has been a long-time coming here.

Campus police, you're taking a look of them there, they sprayed a group of students, Occupy protesters, at pointblank range. So, new state report says the incident, quote, "should and could have been prevented." They say police lacked proper cause to spray the students.

So, what the police officer said is that they felt threatened, they felt the mob was encircling them. So, they felt they had no other choice but --

BANFIELD: The pictures kind of tell a different story.

SAMBOLIN: A totally different story. A report says there was little factual basis supporting the belief that they were trapped by the protesters.

BANFIELD: Factual basis being video?



BANFIELD: Yes. And bystanders and witness accounts? You know what?

SAMBOLIN: Look at this.

BANFIELD: Video is not 360, that's for sure but it is tough to see --

SAMBOLIN: They're sitting there and, you know, cuffed.

BANFIELD: So this is a good one, too. You may have forgotten.

From "The Charleston News and Observer," jury selection beginning today in the trial of John Edwards. Remember John Edwards? Presidential candidate, vice presidential candidate. But he's a defendant, he's facing six felony charges, including conspiracy, false statements, all involved with the allegations of violating campaign contribution laws.

See the woman on your screen with the little baby? He's accused of using campaign money to support that woman, his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. The experts say jury selection could be the most important part of this trial, not necessarily the litigation, the choice of who's going to sit on the panel. It's a hometown jury from the middle district of North Carolina. And apparently on a lot of the voir dire questionnaires, they are being asked about their opinions on extramarital affairs.


BANFIELD: Yes, whether jurors think affairs just happen in marriage or whether they they're real deal breakers and whether it can make a big difference, because you know there could be people on that sitting on that jury boring down on them if they have personal experience.

SAMBOLIN: No question.

BANFIELD: And (INAUDIBLE) factor too, right? People who want to write books, make money, be in the limelight. That's also an issue.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. Thanks.

Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

Up next, how a cell phone company is trying to get you now -- are you thinking of upgrading to a shiny new smartphone?

BANFIELD: Don't do it. Not yet. Look into it, right?

SAMBOLIN: We will. We will.

BANFIELD: Save your money, be careful.

SAMBOLIN: You don't have to do it, we will.


BANFIELD: Twenty-seven minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast.

And we're minding your business like we do in the morning. And with the closing bell, we got stocks snapping back finally after a five-day losing streak. Whew! All three major indices gaining -- as concerns over Europe pass and investors hope for better than expected earnings season.

That's always good. Three green arrows.

SAMBOLIN: I love that. Yes.

And thinking of upgrading your phone? If you have Verizon, you better do it fast.

Let's bring in Ms. Christine Romans.

You know, I saw somebody yesterday. I'm going to tell you, I was very judgmental. They had an old phone. And I said, how could you possibly function with that?

ROMANS: Because they're trying to squeeze as much as they can on what they've already bought, because look, your technology costs are going up. I mean, you know this. I mean, in my books, I write about how you can try to squeeze some of your monthly bills and try to like lower your monthly budget by making sure you're using the right technology.

And I'm not sure that advice is good anymore because here's why -- all of these prices are going up. To upgrade a phone now for Verizon is gong to be $30. Now, they're just the latest. T-Mobile has an upgrade charge of $18. Sprint $36, AT&T, $36.

They say they're trying to keep up with all the new kinds of -- look, we're using so much more data, they're trying to squeeze revenue any way they can because they're having to upgrade their networks to handle all the new stuff our phones can do.

There's another great story from -- not so great story from the NPD group also about cable rising. Can you imagine by the year 2020 how much you could be paying for your cable? Take a look at this.

Cable prices are rising 6 percent. You could be seeing a charge of $200 a month for your cable bills if you have premium. That's going to keep going up. And then you put a box in your office maybe, or you put a box in the rec room.

BANFIELD: And you get DVR.

ROMANS: And then all of a sudden, you're talking about a couple hundred, $300 a month for your cable expenses. So, how we're using technology, we're addicted to this stuff, these companies are finding ways to, you know, they say they're offsetting their costs, of course, but they're finding ways to squeeze more out of us.

Now, one thing about the cable bills rising, you know, I've always wondered and you know, the experts on this, the delivery of this technology we'll tell you that, you know, why can't my cable be like iTunes, right? Where I just pay for what I use?

BANFIELD: Yes, a la carte.

ROMANS: Right. Changes are coming with be no question, because you have, like, 9 percent or 10 percent of people last year cut their cable cord. They're going online, finding new ways to use their technology.

BANFIELD: Finding dishes, Apple TV.

ROMANS: And because they're finding that there are cheaper ways to get your --

SAMBOLIN: I like the a la carte concept because of the kids, also, you got to get what they want and what you want.


ROMANS: Especially if you're getting premium channels, you're paying for stuff you don't use. Anyway. So, there are changes coming.

But for your budget what it means is for now, be very smart with how you're using technology because this is a growing part of your -- move over, gas prices, move over, gas prices. It's how you use technology that's the thing that's going up.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Thank you, Christine. We appreciate that..

BANFIELD: Audit. Audit yourself. Audit.

ROMANS: That's a good idea.

SAMBOLIN: And still ahead on EARLY START, criminal charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman now an accused murderer. We'll have much more on that.


SAMBOLIN: It is 33 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Good morning. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's time to check the stories making top billing and news headlines this morning.


BANFIELD (voice-over): And we've got it, the mug shot, mug shot. The first look that we've had at George Zimmerman since he shot and killed Trayvon Martin 45 days ago. His lawyer saying he will plead not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder.

Well, he was very close to becoming your president. Today, jury selection begins in the federal trial of former senator, John Edwards. He's facing six felonies related to his mistress, his money, and his campaign.

Grandma breaking bad. Police say she's the leader of a huge drug ring. Not kidding.

And Axl Rose, the epitome of the pampered lead singer telling the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his former band mates that he doesn't need them and he doesn't need to honor either. Boy, Axl, what?


SAMBOLIN: Quite a story there, Ashleigh.

Thirty-four minutes past the hour. George Zimmerman is in state custody in Seminole County, Florida, this morning, one day after being charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman will be in court this afternoon. His lawyer is expected to ask the judge to release him on bond. His brother, Robert, told Piers Morgan, his family is reeling from the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: They have thrown the book at him. Miss Corey's office has. We're disappointed. I mean, as you would expect any family to be disappointed.


SAMBOLIN: Special prosecutor, Angela Corey, announced the charge is murder and not manslaughter 45 days after the teenager was shot and killed. Trayvon's parents say this is what they have been fighting for.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: The heart has no color. It's not black. It's not white. It's red. And I want to say thank you from my heart to your heart.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: We will continue to walk by faith. We will continue to hold hands on this journey, White, Black, Hispanic, Latino. We will continue to walk. We will march and march and march until the right thing is done.


SAMBOLIN: Michael Skolnik is editor-in-chief of He's written extensively about the case and has been in regular contact with Trayvon Martin's family. He joins us this morning. Thank you so much for being with us.


SAMBOLIN: Did you talk to his family since the charges were announced?

SKOLNIK: I did. I spoke to them last night.

SAMBOLIN: And what did they say to you?

SKOLNIK: Everyone has taken a big breath. I think Sybrina was able to breathe a little bit better last night. This is the first step. This is what they wanted. They want to get to this point where they could at least get an arrest and have a moment to search for justice.

SAMBOLIN: Now, I'm curious about the way that the mother and father are handling the situation, perhaps, maybe a little bit differently. So, Trayvon's parents spoke right after Angela Corey's press conference. I want you to listen to what they said, and then, I want to talk about how they feel about this moving forward.


FULTON: We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more, nothing less. We just wanted an arrest, and we got it. And I say thank you.

MARTIN: As Attorney Crumb said, this is just the beginning. We got a long way to go, and we have faith.


SAMBOLIN: So, you're nodding your head. You understand the difference there. You talked to them. Is there a difference here for his mother? Is it just the arrest, regardless, of the outcome and for the dad, he wants him in jail?

SKOLNIK: I think what's so amazing about this family is the way they've carried themselves through this whole process with incredible dignity and respect. They both have different relationship with their son, have different relationship with each other, but they've carried themselves with such incredible dignity.

And when I saw the father a week and a half ago in Sanford, he said the most amazing things. I didn't just lose my son, I lost my best friend. So, the emotions are different. What Sybrina said last night was beautiful and so human and so touching. And what Tracy said last night was a bit more fatherly, a little bit more, you know, strong and strength and saying I want more than just an arrest.

So, I think, for both of them, they have done such a remarkable job in such a horrible circumstance. And it's amazing to watch them through this process.

SAMBOLIN: What about their relationship with Angela Corey? You know, yesterday, she started out this press conference by saying these sweet parents, right? And, how do they feel about the way she is handling this?

SKOLNIK: I think we all were very impressed with Angela Corey's press conference yesterday and what she said. And first time she met the family, she mentioned yesterday, she prayed with the family. I think there's a unique connection between the special prosecutor and the family.

I hope that connection remains throughout this trial, because I think it's important that we keep the family first and we keep Trayvon first.

SAMBOLIN: Now, we heard from Zimmerman's brother, right? And both of the families are devastated here. And I'm just curious to know how Trayvon's family feels about the brother coming forward and what the family has said, so far?

SKOLNIK: Sure. I watched the interview last night with Piers. I think it's hard to say anything about the Zimmerman Family, because they are going to protect their brother and protect their son. And with the utmost respect and dignity to them, because the brother did nothing wrong and the father did nothing wrong.

So, they're going to go out there and protect their loved one, as well. And I hope the best for their family.

SAMBOLIN: Have they talked about if, in fact, Zimmerman is found not guilty how they will react to that? SKOLNIK: One day at a time for them right now. I think it's very difficult. This was such a relief, 45 days, now 46 days, since the death of their son. I think it's such a relief to get to this point. I don't think they've looked that far ahead. I think they look to, can we wake up tomorrow which is this morning and live another day.

SAMBOLIN: You know, that's interesting, because you wonder how they are handling the day to day. They're very busy. They're constantly on the go. They're attending all the rallies. How are they handling all of that pressure?

SKOLNIK: I think it's absolutely remarkable how they've handled this. I do hope, however, that they have a moment to take a step back and breathe a little deeper, because this is -- they're in it right now. They're in a zone right now of just going from city to city, to march to march, to press conference to TV show, but they did lose their son.

And we have to continue to show them as much compassion and love, because at the end of the day, they're a nice, beautiful family who lost their son.

SAMBOLIN: And Trayvon is not an only child.


SAMBOLIN: We've heard of his brother and apparently has a sister as well. How are they holding up? Do you know anything about them?

SKOLNIK: I do. The brother was with the family last night at the press conference. He was in Washington with the reverend at the National Action Network Convention. He's in college, and he has struggled to remain in college throughout this whole process, but he's remarkable and he's held up as the older brother who's lost his younger brother.

He's very, very close, although, Tracy is not his father. He's very, very close to his father. He's only father figure he's known in his life. And this has been a very painful experience for him, but he's held up quite well.

SAMBOLIN: We've got to go here, but I just want to, very quickly, are they going to continue with the movement and the marches and the protests?

SKOLNIK: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Michael Skolnik, thank you so much for joining us.

SKOLNIK: Thank you for having me.

SAMBOLIN: We really appreciate it. All right. Ashleigh, back to you. BANFIELD: It is 40 minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. A truly unbelievable story out of Argentina to tell you about this morning. A baby girl found alive in a coffin after doctors pronounced her dead 12 hours earlier. Her parents are calling her the miracle baby. She was born three months premature and showed no vital signs. Doctors actually checked her twice.

They pronounced her dead, and they sent her body to the morgue. The mom told doctors she just wanted to see that little baby's body one last time. The father says he had to pry open the coffin with a crowbar.


FABIAN VERON, BABY'S FATHER (through translator): At that moment, I saw white cover over the baby. My wife saw the little body first, and she touched her little hand. She then uncovered her face and that's when we heard the first cry.


BANFIELD: Unbelievable. The miracle baby is now in stable but guarded condition.

SAMBOLIN: That is incredible. And I heard one of the reasons she wanted to go back is this was her first daughter. I think she has three or four boys, and she just needed to say goodbye.

BANFIELD: And apparently, that baby had been in a refrigerated area of the morgue for about ten hours or so. It is such a remarkable story. Obviously, there's a lot more that's going to be investigated.

SAMBOLIN: A lot of doctors fired over this already.


SAMBOLIN: Forty-two minutes past the hour.

Grandmother arrested for selling marijuana, and she's no small fish. Investigators say she is the biggest player in the drug trade in the Grand Lake area of Oklahoma. Police busted her after a four- month investigation. They found four pounds of marijuana and over $270,000 in cash at her home. Detectives say they are shocked.


POLICE CHIEF BOBBY FLOYD, CRAIG COUNTY, OKLAHOMA: I can't believe this. You know? This is a lady that my grandmother's age. I could never, in a million years, picture my own grandmother doing this.


SAMBOLIN: Surprisingly, investigators say more and more seniors are now turning to drug trafficking as a way to make extra money after retirement. BANFIELD: Dog lovers, be prepared to be outraged on this one. Police in Toledo, Ohio found a litter of English bulldog puppies. Look how cute. They, along with their mom, were abandoned near a dumpster. They say the six puppies were inside a zipped up suitcase.


BANFIELD: And now, and the guy who allegedly left them there has been charged with animal abandonment. His name is Howard Davis (ph). So, you're probably wondering how did they track down the owner or at least the person they believe is responsible for abandoning these puppies in that suitcase? Apparently, the suitcase had a tag and his name was on the tag.

SAMBOLIN: How could you do that?

BANFIELD: Pulls at your heartstrings. Who knows, though, if it was actually him using the suitcase? You never know.

SAMBOLIN: Well, that's a good point. How could anyone do that? So sad.

Forty-three minutes past the hour. Still to come, a teacher at a Texas religious school is fired for being a bad Christian role model. Now, she's taking the school to court. We have so many more details on this one. You are watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: It's now 47 minutes past 5:00 on the east coast. Time to check the stories making news this morning with Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good morning, ladies. 911 tapes are out from the night Whitney Houston died.


ROMANS (voice-over): The hotel security guard at the Beverly Hilton made the call after Houston was found lying face down in a bathtub. The tape revealing some confusion about the situation because the woman in the singer's room who called the hotel security kept hanging up.

Jury selection begins today in the federal trial for former senator, John Edwards. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks. Edwards is facing six felony charges for conspiracy, false statements, and accepting illegal campaign contributions. If convicted, Edwards could face 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

A California State officials are blasting UC Davis leaders over this pepper spray incident back in November that went viral. I mean, you can see the kids all sitting there, and the police pepper spraying them at close range. This is a group of occupy student protesters. Pointblank right there.

A new state report calls the police actions, quote, "objectively unreasonable" and says the incident could have been prevented.

A Texas teacher fired from a Christian middle school because she was pregnant and not married. The school claims Cathy Samford violated the moral clause in her contract and wasn't, quote, "a good Christian role model." Samford accuses the school of discrimination. She plans to sue.


CATHY SAMFORD, FORMER TEACHER: We all have different views and interpretations, and it's not necessarily I don't think the Christian thing to do just to throw somebody aside.

DR. RON TAYLOR, HERITAGE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: The Supreme Court, as a matter of fact, within the last month, has ruled 9-0 that a Christian school does have that right, because this is a ministry. And so, we have the right to have standards of conduct.


ROMANS: Samford says her fiance offered to move their planned wedding up so she could get her job back, but the school rejected that offer, ladies.


SAMBOLIN: I wonder what they'd do if one of the students becomes pregnant?

BANFIELD: That's a good question.

SAMBOLIN: Do they kick them out?


BANFIELD: It just about the same thing.

SAMBOLIN: It happened in my high school, and that was a million years ago, and it was the first girl who got pregnant while we were in school, and she went on with her pregnancy. Cause quite an uproar, but she was not kicked out.

BANFIELD: That's a little different, though, because this is an employee with contract. And if she signed the contract and there was a morality clause in that contract, you sign your rights away, sometimes.

ROMANS (on-camera): But morality is morality, right? I mean, if they're going to take it there. So, I find it interesting. Unusual.

BANFIELD: It will be interesting litigation. I'd love to be in that courtroom if it makes it there. Thanks, Christine.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-nine minutes past the hour.

Still ahead, Guns N' Roses front man, Axl Rose, sticks it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and to the fans, again.

BANFIELD: Oh, Axl! For heaven sake.

SAMBOLIN: You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Oh, the sweet sounds of Axl Rose, trying to take a look at what's trending on the interwebs, not so sweet at all. I just want you to count the song references that I'm about to drop on you in pun fashion. For Guns N' Roses fans out there, hoping that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is going to get that band back together? Don't cry. It ain't happen.

Guns N' Roses leader singer and infamous rocket queen, I mean, drama queen, Axl Rose, wrote a letter to the "L.A. Times" declining, saying, no, no, I don't want to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As for reunion, you're crazy. This is crazy. I don't know why -- you're crazy. You got to be a fan to really appreciate all these references.

Here's what he said, "I won't be attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction 2012 ceremony, and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses." He has (ph) a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He goes on even more, if you can believe it to say, "The Hall of Fame induction ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected." So there.

Can you believe this guy? Well, yes, you can. If you're a fan of Guns N' Roses, this is small potatoes. He also talks about the personal and professional tensions that he's had with the members of the original lineup of the band. Not once in his letter does Rose mention the iconic ex-guitarist slash by name. That is colder than November rain.

SAMBOLIN: Well done. Well done.

BANFIELD: If the crew doesn't even care, I'm out of here. The crew doesn't even care.


SAMBOLIN: All right. There's politics on the menu in the latest edition of late-night laughs.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": The campaign paid $500 to get his name on the Utah primary ballot. You know, you pay to get your name. Five hundred bucks to get your name on the ballot, and the check bounced. I want to tell you something, you know, if Newt is spending money he doesn't have, maybe he really is qualified to be president. You know, maybe --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Say what you will about Santorum, he wanted to ban gambling in the United States of America. No more gambling. He's going to outlaw gambling, outlaw pornography. Right. And this is the guy who claims Romney is out of touch with America. Is it Romney out of touch?


LENO: A lot of Republicans feel Mitt Romney has the best chance to defeat Obama. That is understandable. See, Mitt Romney knows how Obama thinks. You know how he knows? Because he used to think the exact same way.


LENO: It wasn't that long ago, really.


LENO: And Herman Cain, remember all Herman Cain? He plans to endorse Mitt Romney, which is good news for Mitt. See, polls show Obama, Obama has the woman vote, but Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, they can deliver the other woman vote.


LENO: So, you bring that other woman in. That's a huge -- that was a huge --


LETTERMAN: Now that Santorum is out of the race, that leaves Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul out there vying for the crack pot vote. So, let's keep our fingers crossed.


LETTERMAN: Newt is --


SAMBOLIN: All right. I guess, that's it for late-night laughs.

Ahead in the next hour of EARLY START, they're the toughest charges George Zimmerman could have faced, second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin shooting. We're live in Sanford, Florida where Zimmerman will appear in court today.

Good news on gas prices. You heard me right, folks. An expert who says we may have topped out on gas prices.

BANFIELD: Doubt it.

SAMBOLIN: We're going to make him explain that. You're watching EARLY START.