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Zimmerman Charge: Second Degree Murder; Whitney Houston 911 Tape; Santorum For VP?; Gingrich Won't Drop Out; Ann Romney Defends Working Moms; Floods and Hail Storms In Texas; Fill 'Er Up; Whitney Houston 911 Tape; Jury Selection In Edwards Trial

Aired April 12, 2012 - 05:59   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're very happy that you're with us. We are you bringing the news from "A" to "Z." It's 6:00 am in the east, so let's get started.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): This is the first look that we've had at George Zimmerman since he killed Trayvon Martin. He is in custody and expected to plead not guilty.

BANFIELD: Confusion, panic, precious time wasted in all because of her own people. The 911 tapes released from the night that Whitney Houston died.


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

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I'm sorry, no, because she kept hanging up on us.


BANFIELD: More from the moment that she was found unconscious in the bathtub.

SAMBOLIN: And here is something you don't hear every day. Good news for your money. We'll talk to an expert who says gas prices may have topped out, at least for now.

BANFIELD: Hearing a cry from a coffin. They're calling this little baby a miracle baby. A newborn found alive at the morgue 12 hours after being declared dead.

SAMBOLIN: But up first this morning, George Zimmerman, the Florida watch volunteer now an accused murder. Zimmerman turned himself in after the special prosecutor investigating the Trayvon Martin shooting filed second-degree murder charges.

Angela Corey says, public outrage over the teenager's killing did not factor in her decision.


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.


SAMBOLIN: Trayvon Martin's parents were in Washington when they got the news. This was his mother's reaction.


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.


SAMBOLIN: George Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense. His brother says the prosecutor 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.


SAMBOLIN: Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark Omera, says his client plans to plead not guilty. He is expected to make his first court appearance in just a few hours.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Sanford, Florida. What exactly is going to happen today, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Zoraida. Yes, as you point out, what is going to take place is he'll have that first court appearance. That does not necessarily mean that George Zimmerman will be appearing in any courtroom in a physical form.

Actually it's done by video link and at that time, the charges will be read against him, this is the first court appearance. It's expected that he will enter a plea, according to his attorney, Mark Omera, as not guilty.

And then they're going to bring up the issue of bond. Right now, he has no bond. This would allow him to get out. It's going to be argued, I'm sure by Mark Omera, that bond should be set relatively low.

Mainly because George Zimmerman did turn himself in and the attorney is going to argue that he is not a risk to flight. We'll have to wait and see how it all pans out.

The possibility of him getting released today, that is still yet to be seen, but it could, in fact, happen. For Trayvon Martin's family, as you point out, it is the first step in what they believe is going to be a long road to seeking justice.

For the family of George Zimmerman, it is a crushing blow. And Robert Zimmerman, his older brother, was on Piers Morgan last night, describing again that George Zimmerman was in the fight of his life when he shot Trayvon Martin. Here is what he said.


ZIMMERMAN, JR.: This is a series of not just physical, but psychological injuries 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 screaming out for their life.

Now what you have is a situation where you're out of breath and you're losing consciousness. Now 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: Fear of your life, the very important line there. Because, of course, George Zimmerman is going to claim the stand your ground law here in the state of Florida, which many say is a liberal law that allows a person to use deadly force if they believe that their own life is threatened.

We'll have to wait. That's probably some weeks before that argument is made -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And George Zimmerman, of course, spent the night in jail. How is he being handled there? Is he in solitary confinement?

SAVIDGE: You know, we don't know, but I would guess that is probably the case. He was transported here from Jacksonville in an SUV, took about 2-1/2 to 3 hours to get here, brought in, throng of cameras watched as he made his way in.

Was photographed and then mental and physical evaluation, according to the sheriff's office, is going to be conducted. But they're going to figure out later whether they're going to -- whether they will put him in the general population or whether keep him in isolation.

I would think it's probably going to be the latter because of security concerns -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: For his own safety. Martin Savidge live in Sanford, Florida for us. Thank you. BANFIELD: It's 5 minutes now past 6:00. There was confusion. There was panic and her people were being difficult. The 911 tapes are out from the night that Whitney Houston died.

They are obtained by TMZ. The hotel security guard made the call after Houston was found lying face down in the bathtub at the Beverly Hilton.

That guard says that a woman in Houston's room was, quote, "pretty much out of it and wouldn't let him in to try to perform CPR." Listen.


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

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

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: She was not breathing?


UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK, but she is breathing now?

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Yes, that is correct.

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

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Yes, we're going in now.

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

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


BANFIELD: According to the report on Houston's death, her assistant and bodyguard were the only people in the room at the time. The call was made public on the same day that Beverly Hills police detectives officially closed the case involving the singer's death.

SAMBOLIN: It's 6 minutes past the hour. Turning to politics now, Rick Santorum once called Mitt Romney the worst Republican in the country.

Now that he's out of the race, would Romney consider Santorum for the number two spot? A voter asked him that very question. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider him 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. I actually don't -- I don't have a list yet. So I can't say someone is on or off my list. I can tell you that the people this I have had the privilege of running against would surely be among those that I would consider.


BANFIELD: Worst Republican. I know Rick Santorum sure had a few things to say about that. He got into a huge scuffle with the "New York Times" reporter about that.

He said I was only saying worst Republican to put up against Obama, particularly with regard to health care, which makes a little more sense.

SAMBOLIN: But it stays out there, right, worst Republican.

BANFIELD: It does. You know what? Sometimes things just get quoted out of context and whether you agree with Rick Santorum or not, he makes a good point.

Look, I said that, but it was in a very big speech about one particular thing so who knows if he cares anymore about it. One person who does care about it is, Newt Gingrich. He's still hoping for that number one spot.

He says it's still a two-man race. Only this time, it's between him and Mitt Romney. And in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer, he says he's sticking this thing out until Romney clinches the 1,144 delegates that he need to win the Republican 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.

As 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.


BANFIELD: OK. Former speaker makes a good point. Here is what he's up against. Mitt Romney now has 659 delegates and Newt Gingrich has 140.

We're not sure exactly where all those 275 Rick Santorum delegates are going to go. But even so it's mathematically impossible for Newt Gingrich to pull this thing off before the convention.

SAMBOLIN: Ann Romney is now firing back at Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen after Rosen said this about the 64- year-old mother of five, grandmother of 16 on "AC 360."


HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And 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? Why do we worry about their future?


SAMBOLIN: So, Ann Romney used her first tweet ever to respond to that, saying, quote, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

But Hilary Rosen, she's 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."

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

BANFIELD: Five boys, raising five boys is not just work, it is called overtime. And it is years and years of overtime. Trust us. We have children.

SAMBOLIN: It's a lot of work.

BANFIELD: And I would rather be here than to do that work at home.

It's 10 minutes now past 6:00. I should add that I don't know that that makes us an expert on the economy. Two sides of that.

Look at these pictures, folks. Unbelievable pictures out of Potter County, Texas. They are raging floodwaters. You may not be able to see heavy hail, but was it incredible paralyzing the Texas panhandle.

Chunks of trees and earth just flying in these raging waters. Reports of people trapped in their cars, having to be rescued in some areas.

SAMBOLIN: So scary.

BANFIELD: It's just remarkable, four feet of baseball-sized chunks of hail, four feet of that kind of hail. This is what you call extreme weather. It shut down state highways and left traffic at a standstill.

Officials just now are trying to assess the damage and the missing earth at this point. Rob Marciano joining us. When they say flash floods and I can tell you, having lived in Texas for a number of years. Flash doesn't even begin to describe it.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And with this, you didn't see a lot of rainfall. I mean, this was the second day they had some thunderstorms, but you're talking about an inch of rain, maybe a little bit more.

It comes in a short period of time, but the ground is so hard, they're in a long term drought. It just runs off into the canyons and river beds, stream beds really. It creates those incredible thorns.

We have threat of seeing thunderstorms again in the same areas today, damaging winds and some large hail possible. We could see some big ones and maybe some isolated tornadoes.

Today, tomorrow and really Saturday night into Sunday is where we'll see the biggest threat for seeing tornadoes. Here is the tornado alley, back in business here, as it should be this time of year. There's your storm coming out of the Rockies, another one coming into the west coast.

High pressure is dominating the eastern third of the country, but with that high and clear skies last night we had a decent amount of cold air, 20s and 30s and freeze warnings and watches across much of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valley.

Temperatures right now 35 in Indianapolis, 37 degrees in Chicago, 34 degrees in Springfield, Illinois, 38 in Roanoke, 34 degrees in Raleigh. Even some spots across Eastern Tennessee below freezing right now so chilly, chilly start to the day in some cases with the early bloom that we've seen because of that warm march, maybe some damage to plants and maybe even some crops and orchards with this little (inaudible).

But we do rebound nicely, 60 degrees in New York City, 61 degrees expected in Chicago for high temperature and 56 degrees in San Francisco.

Stockton, California, check out this video of a funnel cloud that eventually did touchdown, and you kind of see it reaching for the ground there.

And this video, as you can see, was sped up to highlight the movement of that rope tornado. Little bit of damage to roofs and one outlying building was destroyed with this. Nobody injured and certainly fascination stuff when you talk about California and the rarity of tornadoes out that way.

SAMBOLIN: I know you get excited about this kind of stuff, Rob. If I saw that, I would be running for the hills.

MARCIANO: Come on, you have to take it in, guys.

BANFIELD: Almost cobra like the way it's moving.

MARCIANO: It is mesmerizing, exactly. It's fascinating. The power of mother nature. God's finger touching down to the ground.

BANFIELD: God's finger? I don't think that has anything to do with God.

MARCIANO: Use any sort of analogy you want.

SAMBOLIN: It's wrath. Thank you so much, Rob.

It's 13 minutes past the hour, the state of California slamming UC Davis for a pepper spray incident that went viral. The state released a new report ripping not only police, but the school administration as well.

BANFIELD: And also this story, a true miracle baby found alive in a coffin at the morgue. The details are astonishing how long that baby was at the morgue in a refrigerator. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: It is 17 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast. It's time to check the top stories making news this morning with Christine Romans.

Hi, Christine.


In just a few hours, George Zimmerman will be in the Florida court room to answer charges of second degree murder. Zimmerman turned himself in to police yesterday after being formally charged of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. His new attorney says Zimmerman plans to plead not guilty, and he'll use Florida "Stand Your Ground" law as the centerpiece of their defense.

California state officials blasting U.C. Davis leaders over a pepper spray incident back in November that went viral. Campus police sprayed a group of Occupy student protesters at pointblank range, right in the face. A new state report calls the police actions, quote, "objectively unreasonable" and says the incident could have been prevented.

The outcome could have been disastrous after a school bus crashed into a house in Florida. Police say the driver swerved to avoid a car that ran a stop light. That house was pretty much demolished but thankfully, only two children and two adults were onboard the bus and they suffered only minor injuries, ladies.

BANFIELD: Unbelievable.

SAMBOLIN: Incredible.

BANFIELD: It looks like those could have been fatal injuries. That's a very lucky development.

Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Eighteen minutes past the hour. This is a truly unbelievable story out of Argentina.

A baby girl found alive in a coffin after doctors pronounced her dead 12 hours earlier. Her parents are calling her a miracle baby.

BANFIELD: She was born three months premature. She showed no vital signs. The doctors checked twice, pronounced her dead and then sent her tiny body to the morgue, where she was refrigerated. The mom told the doctors she wanted to see that baby just one last time and the father says he had to pry open the small coffin with a crowbar.


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


BANFIELD: Just miraculous. That little baby is now in stable but guarded condition.

SAMBOLIN: She was only two pounds when she was born. A lot of doctors have been fired over this. A full investigation is under way.

And that mom, kind of like instinct, right? She had boys at home. She had to see this baby one last time, though, she said.

BANFIELD: It was amazing that it was 12 hours later and the baby had been in a refrigerated area of the morgue for about 10 hours.

SAMBOLIN: And I had no idea they put them in a coffin when they take them to the morgue. Nailed coffin.

BANFIELD: It was odd, wasn't it?

SAMBOLIN: It was odd.

OK. Nineteen minutes past the hour. Still ahead: government suing Apple, accusing the company of making you pay more than you should for e-books.


BANFIELD: "Sweet Child of Mine" or sweet child of whine? Oh, yes, Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose. Sure like that one. Finally, they woke up.

Axl sticks it to the rock 'n' roll hall of fame and his fans. It ain't the first time. What's he so beefed about?

You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: SAMBOLIN: It's 6:23 on the East Coast. That's in the morning, if you're not sure.

Minding your business this morning. The federal government is suing Apple over alleged e-book price fixing.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Five book publishers are accused of colluding with Apple to drive up book prices.

So, does that mean that prices could be going down, Romans?

ROMANS: Maybe, because they have been going up, right? It used to be Amazon and Kindle was the only one in the game.

BANFIELD: And they were cheap.

ROMANS: And they were cheap. They were down $9.99. Publishers did not like it. And what the Department of Justice and it's very -- it reads like a novel almost.

You have publishing executives in this back room private dining rooms of expensive Manhattan restaurants talking with Apple about how when the new iPad comes out to make sure that they could elevate prices and wouldn't have to be working through the wretched $9.99 price point. That's what one of these e-mails says.


ROMANS: The wretched $9.99 price point. This is one of the e- mails from the Department of Justice. And they pity the day we can't be $9.99 for hardcovers.

So, this shows, according to the Department of Justice, Apple and the publishing industry trying to make sure consumers weren't going to get lower prices for e-books in particular. Apple has not responded to this. There were settlements, DOJ says, with some of the publishers here.

But the hope for consumer advocates is that longer term, it is illegal for an industry, by the way, to get together and decide what a price is going to be for something.

BANFIELD: Don't just ask Microsoft.

ROMANS: Yes. It's price fixing. So, they're hoping that -- if the DOJ prevails on this, that prices could go down again for the rest of us for our e-books.

BANFIELD: Pretty deep pockets for a defense, don't they?

ROMANS: Yes, they do. And let's take a look at stock, because Apple stock -- usually, I'm here telling you how Apple stock is up again. Analysts said that Apple stock could go to $1,000.

Take a look at Apple price over five years. It is up over 416 percent. Every now and then, there's a little bad headline for Apple like Foxconn and labor violations or labor concerns where they make their products. This, for example, is one of the rare kind of hits for the image of Apple. So, real interesting read, that lawsuit from the DOJ.

BANFIELD: Let's see what that will do.

All right. Christine, thanks.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: It's 25 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast.

And still ahead on EARLY START, George Zimmerman. There you go. That's the new mug shot. That's what you're waking up to this morning.

He's waking up behind bars. He's facing murder charges in Trayvon Martin's death and he could get life behind bars if he's convicted of that top count. We'll have two legal experts to tell us if that could happen, why that might not, and where the case goes from here.


BANFIELD (voice-over): At 250 miles an hour, it's one of the fastest vehicles on land. But it's not just the speed that takes this motorcycle different. It is electric.

RICHARD HATFIELD, LIGHTNING MOTORCYCLES: We think it's the future. As energy getting increasingly expensive, this kind of efficiency is going to be important. For a dollar's worth of electricity, you can ride for over 110 miles.

BANFIELD: For Richard Hatfield of Lightning Motorcycles, it started as a hobby.

HATFIELD: I was an amateur driver. I drove the car. I got enthused about it. When the good, affordable lithium safe batteries came on the market, I started thinking that a motorcycle could be a very good application.

BANFIELD: It's designed for people who like racing and for people who just like to ride.

HATFIELD: A bike that can go 218 miles an hour is an efficient, responsible way to get to work.

BANFIELD: With that kind of speed and fuel efficiency, electric bikes could make gas a thing of the past.


BANFIELD: It is 30 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're very happy to have you this morning.

It is time to check the stories making news.

The mugshot, the first look we've had at George Zimmerman since he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. He is expected to plead not guilty to a second-degree murder charge.

Nine-one-one tapes released from the night Whitney Houston died, showing sheer panic.


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: We'll have more from the night she was found unconscious in a bathtub.

And good news on gas prices, down again today. And they may keep going down. We'll talk to an expert who says we have actually topped off.

And Axl Rose telling the rock 'n' roll hall of fame and his former band mates that he doesn't need them. More drama from the Guns N' Roses front man.

BANFIELD: It's now 31 minutes past 6:00 on the East Coast.

George Zimmerman spent his first night in jail last night, likely in isolation, and charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has a hearing scheduled this afternoon. His lawyer is expected to ask the judge to release him on bond.

All of this, as George Zimmerman's brother revealed a few more details about what George says happened in the struggle with Trayvon Martin.


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: With a person who is 6'3", sitting on their chest, using his entire body weight to cover the mouth and nose, the broken nose, of the person who is screaming out for their life, now what you have is a situation where you're out of breath and you're losing consciousness. Now, if you're -- 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.


BANFIELD: Could be something that we hear in court at a later date, but where does the case go from this moment on?

Jayne Weintraub is a criminal defense attorney and Phyllis Kotey is a law professor at Florida International University. She's also a former judge and state attorney.

They join me now from Miami.

God morning to both of you.

Jayne, let me start with you. Can you walk me through what George Zimmerman went through last night from the moment he was brought into that jail?


He was probably brought in to Seminole County jail. He was rebooked, re-fingerprinted, photographed, taken upstairs, he was strip-searched, cavity searched, given clothes, shower, a uniform -- probably orange for isolation.

I'm sure he's being kept in solitary, which is a 23 1/2 hour isolation cell. He doesn't get meals with anyone else. He'll get out for 30 minutes with a guard outside. And that's where he is. He's trying to adjust.

BANFIELD: Not a pleasant environment. His lawyer has already said --

WEINTRAUB: Six by ten cell.

BANFIELD: Yes. And also just emotionally so distressful as so many attorneys will say there's nothing worse than that first few moments when you realize where you are.

Phyllis, let me jump over to you about what comes next this afternoon. Clearly, this may not be the place that George Zimmerman wants to stay. It's up to his attorney at this point, because there's no bond available right now. It's up to his attorney to make his case later, isn't it?

PHYLLIS KOTEY, FORMER FLORIDA JUDGE: Absolutely, it is. First of all, the first appearance, which this would be his first opportunity to appear in front of the court, would be the chance for his attorney to ask for bond in the case and for the judge to actually set the bond in the case.

Incidentally enough, here in Florida, we are a state that favors release on non-monetary bonds. So there must be some consideration to that issue.

BANFIELD: And he turned himself in prior to even being charged as he understand. So, he was sitting around, waiting in custody for the charge charges to come down and for that arrest. Does that factor in, Phyllis, to the idea that he's not, perhaps, a flight risk?

KOTEY: You know, it certainly can, because the whole issue of whether one is a flight risk is one of the issues that the court would have to consider in terms of bond. Incidentally enough, one of the things that's not considered is whether we should punish that person for the crime that they're committing. Of course, that comes later in terms of the case, in deciding what to do.

Close family ties, community ties, all of those things are issues that a court would have to consider in terms of whether to grant bond in this case.

BANFIELD: Ladies, let's talk about second-degree murder. It is the most serious charge. In fact, many have said this is the book proverbially being thrown at George Zimmerman.

And I just want to read one element that has to be proven in a second degree case. And that is that there was an unlawful killing of Trayvon by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life. And if you want to go further into what that means, imminently dangerous, demonstrating a depraved mind -- you got to prove that this is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or evil intent, that the act is indifferent to human life, and that it is reasonably certain to kill someone who do bodily harm with this action.

Jayne, that is very high. That standard is tough, to say the least. Do you think there's a possibility that it's going to start coming out, that critics will say this has been overcharged?

WEINTRAUB: Absolutely not.

BANFIELD: Absolutely not?

WEINTRAUB: No. Because this is typical, as I told you last week, I believe that it would be second. It's a typical second degree murder. It's the heat of passion, spur of the moment in the middle of a fight. That's what second-degree murder is typically used for.

He evinces a depraved mind when he gets scared and he goes for his gun. When there's no gun, there's nothing facing him except a 17- year-old kid. But he goes for his gun and he uses it. And he uses it and eventually kills somebody.

BANFIELD: Even after what his brother said -- at this point, he said he was almost losing consciousness? You have to prove ill will, hatred and spite or an evil intent. And it's his brother is able to bring in that story, or at least if George Zimmerman ends up bringing in that story through his own choice --

WEINTRAUB: It won't match the evidence.

BANFIELD: -- doesn't that change the game?

WEINTRAUB: It won't match the evidence. I suspect, but I'm assuming, but I'll speculate for a moment, that Trayvon's hands, fingerprints, are not on George's gun. So, you know, the fact that George said he was threatened by Trayvon about losing his gun -- no, no. That he was trying to disarm him? I don't believe that for a minute.

And I also think that the kid was found face down, which tells me there's a bullet in the back of Trayvon. Of course, we don't have the medical examiner protocol.

BANFIELD: All of that still has to come out.

Just quickly, Phyllis, one last question for you, this is probably the highest profile case since Casey Anthony and, lo and behold, is coming out of the same community as Casey Anthony. There wasn't a change of venue in Casey Anthony's case, but they did bring in jurors from another community. Do you think that's going to be an issue here? Do you think it even matters?

KOTEY: I think it certainly would be an option here. And I'm not sure that it really matters in terms of that high standard that you have to meet in terms of deciding whether a change of venue is appropriate. Certainly, this case has received worldwide attention.

So, finding someone that has absolutely no idea about the case will be difficult. And that's not even the standard in terms of what has to happen.

BANFIELD: Phyllis Kotey and Jayne Weintraub, it's good to talk to both of you. I look forward to our next opportunity to discuss probably this case. Thanks, ladies.

WEINTRAUB: Thank you, Ashleigh.

KOTEY: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Such smart ladies.

BANFIELD: Aren't they?

SAMBOLIN: And really articulate it so everybody can understand it. I love them.

BANFIELD: I go way back with Jayne and I'm new to Phyllis, and I really like her.

SAMBOLIN: Love them both. Yes.

Thirty-seven minutes past the hour here.

Gas prices dropping this morning for the sixth day in a row. Can you believe it? Some experts say the downward trend will actually continue. But should you get your hopes up?

We're going to talk to an analyst about this, right after the break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 41 minutes past the hour.

Drivers are sick of filling their tanks and emptying their wallets. There maybe a glimmer of good news on the horizon. I'm very serious.

Right now, gasoline prices are $3.91 a gallon. That is down for the sixth day in a row. Some analysts say that we've already reached the peak and prices could drop even further.

One of those experts is Gregg Laskoski. He's a senior petroleum analyst for He is minding your business this from Tampa.

I got to tell you, Gregg, you are a very popular man this morning. Everybody is singing your praises and hoping that you are right.

So, you say that we have reached the peak and that are headed downward.

So, I want to show the last three months here. We can see a bit of a tiny relief. How low will prices go and by when?

GREGG LASKOSKI, SENIOR PETROLEUM ANALYST, GASBUDDY.COM: Zoraida, I wish I could tell you exactly what the answer is to that question. We've seen prices come down about 2 cents a gallon just in the past week. So, we believe we've reached that point where we're at a plateau right now and barring some unforeseen events, anything that could cause a lot of turmoil, we think we're now at a point where we can see gasoline prices go lower.

SAMBOLIN: Well, your fellow analyst at, his name is Patrick DeHaan,, I'm not quite sure how you pronounced his name, he told the "USA Today," "Barring any major event," and I think that's what you're alluding to, "refinery problems, Iran, I think prices have peaked."

Define a major event for us that could cause prices to go back up again.

LASKOSKI: Well, the biggest issue, of course, is the Middle East. There's an awful lot of nervousness associated with Iran's nuclear program. Fortunately, they are going into negotiations this weekend in Istanbul. So, that has helped brighten the international perspective, at least on crude oil. And if things move well there, that's going to be very positive.

Of course, things can also go south. That would be the type of event that we're talking about.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Typically, as we're headed into the summer season, we're talking about these special blends in gasoline. And so, why is it that we're not factoring that in and say, hey, we have still not seen a plateau?

LASKOSKI: Well, we're talking -- looking at about 130 refineries nationwide. Most of them have basically gotten through that process. There could be a couple of hurdles in small pockets here or there, but for the most part, the refineries have gotten through that process and we're going to start to see the benefits of that as we get closer into May.

SAMBOLIN: Well, Patrick went on to say it could actually dip to $3.70 a gallon by early May. Do you think that's really realistic?

LASKOSKI: We do. We do. There's a lot of -- there's plenty of oil. One of the keys, of course, is refining capacity. And especially on the East Coast, we're going to keep a watch on that.

But, overall, the numbers that we're seeing from the federal government, from the Department of Energy, are encouraging. And given that crude oil is moving lower, we think those are all good signs that will take us to those lower gasoline prices.

SAMBOLIN: Well, we're very excited. We're going to hold you to it. So, if they don't come down to $3.70 by early May, you know we're going to invite back on.

Gregg Laskoski, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate your time.

LASKOSKI: Thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ashleigh, back to you.

BANFIELD: Ah, the odious topic of gas prices, always driving us crazy. That would be the word of the day. And they don't care. They don't care.

At 6:44, Soledad O'Brien now joining us with a look at what's coming up on "STARTING POINT."

Hello, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST, "STARTING POINT": We're going to talk this morning to a teacher who said she was fired for supporting a hoodie rally related to the Trayvon Martin case. Now, there might be a rally for her if she doesn't get her job back.

Also, a text from Hillary. The latest (INAUDIBLE) began with the picture of the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in her shades, checking her Blackberry. It's so big that she's even in on the joke now. We'll tell you about that.

And happy birthday, Botox. Botox is 10 years old today, but really looks only about three. Get it? We're going to talk to the people who discovered that Botox could do more and even more than get rid of wrinkles. We'll talk about all of that.

If you're about to hit the work, don't miss our show. You can check it at our live blog at during the entire show. We'll see you at the start of the hour.

BANFIELD: It is 49 minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning. Christine Romans is busy at work doing that for us. Hello.

ROMANS: Good morning, Ashleigh and Zoraida. For the family of Trayvon Martin, it's the first step in a long road to justice.


ROMANS (voice-over): George Zimmerman is now facing second- degree murder charges in the death of their son. Zimmerman will appear in a Florida courtroom today. A conviction on that charge could carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. He will plead not guilty.

911 tapes are out from the night that Whitney Houston died. 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 -- a woman in the singer's room who called the hotel security, she 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 $1.5 million in fines.

California state officials blasting U.C. Davis leaders over this, a pepper spray incident that went viral and sparked national outrage. This happened back in November. Campus police sprayed a group of student occupy protesters at near point blank range.

A new state report calls those police actions, quote, "objectively unreasonable" and says this incident could have been prevented. The report also slams U.C. Davis officials for putting officers in a, quote, "unfortunate situation."

Charles Manson denied parole maybe for the last time. The notorious cult leader and convicted killer, he is now 77 years old. His next parole hearing isn't scheduled until 15 years from now when he would be 92 years old. This is now the 12th time, if you're counting, that Manson has been denied parole. He's been convicted of orchestrating the murders of nine people back in 1969.

A Texas teacher fired from a Christian middle school because she was pregnant and not married. The school claims that Cathy Samford violated a moral clause in her contract and wasn't a, quote, "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.


BANFIELD: That's going to be one for the courtroom.

ROMANS (on-camera): It sure will.

BANFIELD: Christine, thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Still ahead, these may be the world's cutest puppies. But guess what, they almost did not make it. We'll tell you what happened after they were abandoned. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Oh, it doesn't get any better than that, waking up to that at 6:55 on the east coast.

SAMBOLIN: For some. For some. Not for all.

BANFIELD: Little Axl Rose for you this morning. Time to take a look at what's trending on the interweb. It's Axl, because for Guns N' Roses fans who are hoping their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction would get the band back together, here's song reference number one, don't cry. It ain't happening.

Guns N' Roses leader, you know, he's the infamous rocket queen or should I say drama queen? I don't know if I can pull off all these song references, because --


SAMBOLIN: I'll tell you that much.

BANFIELD: I'm not getting any love from my crew on these references here. Anyway, he wrote a letter to the "L.A. Times" declining the induction to the Hall of Fame. Apparently, he doesn't want any part of this because of the band. And as for a reunion, Axl writes -- and by the way, here's another one. You're crazy. Another song reference.

He says, "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 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." He goes on to say, "The Hall of Fame induction ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected."

Curious to know where he thinks he is wanted and respected, but he does talk about personal and professional tensions with the members of the band's original lineup. Here's something interesting, though, on your screen to the right, under that great hat, slash, not once does Axl mention slash by name in the letter. So, that's colder than November rain, baby. I'm done. I'm done.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, yes, yes, you are.

SAMBOLIN: Dog lovers (INAUDIBLE) there are no Guns N' Roses fans here, apparently. Police in Toledo, Ohio, found a litter of English bulldog puppies and their mother abandoned near a dumpster that caused some outrage. They say the six puppies were inside a zipped-up suitcase. Now, the guy who allegedly left them there has been charged with animal abandonment.

His name is Howard Davis (ph). How police find him? the suitcase has a tag with his name on it.

BANFIELD: Yes. That's usually a giveaway. Some evidence, anyway. Politics on the menu in the latest edition of late-night laughs. Here's your punch bag.


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 --


BANFIELD: Oh, it's only just begun, folks. It is on, this campaign. It is on. Presidential campaign -- wait for it.


BANFIELD: That's EARLY START, news from "A" to "Z." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.