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Zimmerman Case to Begin; Gosnell Found Guilty; Evidence at Castro House Found; Family of Derek Boogaard Sue NHL.
Aired May 14, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Potential jurors are being called to duty in the Trayvon Martin murder case. George Zimmerman set to go on trial next month in that very high-profile trial and the last-minute motions are flying. They are trying to make the 17-year-old victim look as bad as possible and kind of the standard operating procedure possess a defense case. The prosecutors want to stop it from happening. Here is what the prosecutors don't want that jury to hear. Number one, that the toxicology report indicated that Trayvon had previously used marijuana. They say there is no evidence that he was under the influence during that incident that evening. Number two, that Trayvon's words or actions, whether true or not, regarding his school discipline records be public. Number three, whether or not he was ever in a fight. And, number four, that he had or allegedly wore false gold teeth. Finally, anything had in his social media accounts or his text messages on or before February 26th, 2012. Just part of several new motions that are outlining what the prosecutors think the jury should or should not be able to hear.
I want to go back to CNN's legal contributor, Paul Callan, and also with us is defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
Paul, let's start with you.
This ubiquitous motion comes up in court and that is prejudicial versus probative?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Why can't they bring out the Trayvon Martin had bad things in his past? I don't know what bad things they are going to say he did be, but that is what they are trying to prove to say, he's a bad guy and he assaulted Zimmerman. It's not allowed because the law says self-defense is what you perceived and saw that night. Obviously, Zimmerman didn't know anything about Trayvon Martin's past. The only relevant thing is what happened that night. What did Zimmerman see Trayvon Martin do? Doesn't matter what he stored in his locker room in Miami. So that's what it's about.
BANFIELD: Danny Cevallos, if it's about the perception that George Zimmerman made in an instant, don't all of those things come into the perception that you may be putting across to someone you come in contact with, meaning if you talk smack, if you wear gold teeth, if you've done these things, what is the likelihood that is how you present yourself to a stranger? DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, isn't it fascinating that the prosecution for once is filing a motion to keep out all of these facts that law enforcement uses to make an initial stop of a person all the time. I think it's fascinating you're seeing this role reversal where the same information the prosecution would normally use and want in a case, now got forbid it comes in.
Let me talk a little bit about marijuana. The marijuana in this case the autopsy said they did Trayvon's blood and urine and two different tests. Urine will show that marijuana is in your system not that you're intoxicated. However, blood only has about a couple of day's worth on a blood test. That means that he may have been under the influence of marijuana. If that was a positive blood test and gave a hot blood test that is significant and goes to his state of mind. I think that's interesting information that a jury should know. Ultimately, the judge has a classic, what we call a 403 balancing test. The judge has to decide whether the probative value outweighs the prejudicial effect. Maybe some of these elements do have probative value, especially the marijuana testing.
BANFIELD: As I see this, with all of these motions in line, the prosecutors don't want the jury to see that maybe Trayvon had behaved in a certain way unbecoming in the past but what is even more bizarre, I'm not sure I've seen this before. You help me out.
Paul, they also don't want the jury to hear that Mr. Zimmerman is a bit of a clean guy, that he has no prior felony convictions. Really?
CALLAN: Well, sure. Because in criminal law, remember, you don't have to take the witness stand in your own defense. Fifth Amendment says you don't have to testify. You testify because you want to convince the jury I don't have a prior criminal record. So what prosecutors are saying is, hey, if he wants to -- if that is going to come out, then let it come out with him on the witness stand and not through independent witnesses trying to prove it.
BANFIELD: Will they be able to do that? Will they likely get that?
CALLAN: I think he is going to testify in the end any way so I don't think it's that relevant. I think the jury will find out about it because he is going to testify.
BANFIELD: Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos, thank you both. This story obviously continues as well.
We also have a verdict finally in the trial of a controversial abortion provider. He was accused of killing babies and performing illegal abortions. The jury throws the proverbial book at him. Was it because his attorneys kept him off the stand? We are going to check the strategy and see what is next in the case coming up.
BANFIELD: Guilty. Guilty and guilty. That is the verdict over and over that was handed down by a Philadelphia jury that heard the evidence in the case of a controversial abortion provider accused of murder. Dr. Kermit Gosnell found guilty of three charges of first- degree murder and one charge of involuntary manslaughter and 21 counts of performing late-term abortions' in all 237 different crimes he was found guilty of. The next step is the sentencing phase because of the first-degree murder could include the death penalty.
Joining on the money is Sunny Hostin, who covered the trial from start-to-finish.
First up, I want to ask you about this sentencing. With all of the gravity of those murder convictions is this jury going to have to go through all of those charges and sentences on all of them, or if they get that top death penalty, does that preclude them from sentencing on anything else?
HOSTIN (voice-over): Well, the penalty phase is set to begin in this case next Tuesday, Ashleigh. Those are really the issues that the jury will be dealing with, the conviction on the first three -- the first-degree murder count. The convictions on the murdering of Baby A, Baby C, and Baby D, and really what this jury is dealing with. Yes, he was found guilty of so many other charges and so many other counts, but those three charges, the first-degree murder charges certainly are the capital offenses, and that is really where this case is right now.
I did get the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gosnell's defense attorney, Jack McMahon, and that's where his focus is squarely at. He is focused on trying to save Dr. Gosnell's life.
BANFIELD: In that effort, like many other capital cases, there is more than likely a mitigation specialist working throughout the trial to find out all of the things that could save Dr. Gosnell's life should he become convicted. Is this where this person is a star part of the process and do you know anything that they have that can mitigate for this doctor?
HOSTIN: Know what is interesting? We never heard about a mitigation specialist in this case and I have to tell you why some high profile cases do have a mitigation specialist, we haven't heard or seen of that in this case. What we have heard is that perhaps, perhaps Dr. Gosnell may take the witness stand. He did not testify during the guilt phase. It is his right not to do so. The burden is always on the prosecution, but his defense attorney, Jack McMahon, told me yesterday that certainly this is something they are considering and I also have had the opportunity to speak to people just from around Dr. Gosnell's neighborhood who considered him to be a good person, a good neighbor and good neighborhood doctor and many suspect he may testify on his own behalf. And above all else, Ashleigh, let's face it, that, I think, is the person that this jury wants to hear from because the question in everyone's mind is how does this person who is considered a neighborhood doctor a good doctor, turn into what many are describing to be a monster at this point.
BANFIELD: Sunny Hostin, thank you for that.
Ahead, we will return to Cleveland and that house where three women were held against their will for approximately a decade. Now we are getting a look at what is in the backyard. You may be surprised to see the evidence that was photographed back there.
BANFIELD: Brand-new pictures are giving us an exclusive look into the accused kidnapper aerial Castro's backyard. At first glimpse it's just a young yard -- junk yard and then you see barbed wire and fences and tarps keeping the secrets in and keeping the rest of the world out.
CNN's Pamela Brown has this exclusive report.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chilling new photos give us a glimpse of aerial Castro's backyard taken over the weekend by a neighbor. The backyard, resembling a junk yard, spools of barbed wire, and probably the most unnerving, chains. The neighbor saw hundreds of thick heavy chains in the yard and this mirror hanging on Castro as back door that may have allowed him to see if someone was coming up his drive and possibly using it to prevent any surprise visitors. Finally, a pink Barbie bicycle fit for a little girl that may have belonged to Amanda Berry's daughter fathered by Castro.
And moments after this cell phone video was shot of Amanda Berry's rescue...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got Onil Castro and Ariel Castro in custody down here at McDonalds.
BROWN: Just relieved police dispatching reporting that revealed the arrest of Ariel Castro.
And we are learning more about him from six different police reports filed about Castro since 1989 when he had an argument with his wife and in which he had allegedly, quote, "slapped her across the face several times, grabbed her and slammed her against the wall." And in 1994, a neighbor claimed Castro attempted to hit him with a shovel and threatened that he was going to take care of him when arguing over a chain link fence.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Your fine is set at $5 million.
BROWN: Castro remains jailed on suicide precaution, being monitored every ten minutes by guards, locked up in solitude and receiving no visitors, no friends, no family, no mail. A life in those respects, not unlike what Dejesus, Knight and Berry and her daughter endured for years and Knight.
BROWN: So the guards monitoring Ariel Castro around the clock have to write down his behavior every ten minutes. And we are learning he is exhibiting bizarre behavior like walking around his cell nude and using strings on the mat to floss his teeth. Very strange behavior there.
The only visitors he's received, visits, are from his attorney. And right now evidence is being collected in this case. A grand jury will look through all of the evidence and then we are expecting more charges to be filed.
BANFIELD: Pamela, he is only a week into incarceration, so if he is exuding unusual behavior, he has to get real used to it.
Pam Brown, reporting live for us. Thank you for that, from Cleveland.
The family of a star hockey player says it was the NHL that got Derek Boogaard hooked on prescription drugs that led to his eventual death. That story next.
BANFIELD: I know there are a lot of hockey fans out there glued to their sets last night, but this is not that story. This is a hockey story of a different ilk. By all accounts, Derek Boogaard was a classic tough guy. During his six seasons playing NHL hockey, he scored three goals, just three. But he had 66 fights. He's what you call an enforcer. But in 2011, at the age of 28, he died from an accidental overdose of pain killers and alcohol. And now his parents are turning their attention to the league, to the National Hockey League, and suing the league for not protecting their son and for giving him all those pain killers in first place.
CNN's legal analyst, Paul Callan, joins me now.
This sounds a lot like what we're seeing in the NFL with the parents of players who have died. Is there a similarity?
CALLAN: There's a similarity, but there's a really interesting difference. Because with the NFL players, they're basically saying, hey, you knew they were going to get hit hard and they didn't have adequate helmets to protect themselves. Here this guy is an enforcer. The family is saying you hired my son to go in and fight. Instead of breaking up the fight, you encouraged him to fight time after time after time again.
BANFIELD: This is not unusual. This is what you call the goons on the NHL. There are goons on every team. Part of the game.
CALLAN: It's part of the game and people get hurt, including this individual. So you know, it's a very different theory from the NFL theory. The family is saying, hey, it's assault. When you tell somebody to go in and seriously hurt somebody else, that's an assault. I think the problem, though is, is it the same as wrestling, is it the same as boxing? There are certain other types of sports where we sanction physical combat.
BANFIELD: What about the aspect that there are team doctors that treat these players and that this particular player, according to the parents, was prescribed a whole lot of pain killers that he ultimately got hooked on. The family is suggesting, did you this, you got him on the junk in the first place. Is that a really hard connection to make when you have an overdose with alcohol and pain killers?
CALLAN: It's a difficult connection because you have to show that the addiction was caused essentially by the NHL policies or by the NHL doctors. And they're going to say, hey, we didn't get him on pain killers. He got hooked on that separately.
BANFIELD: Or, I'll just throw this other wrench in there. The family says, look, he has CTE, the cranioencephalopathy, according to the family that should have indicated to the league that he was maybe more prone to an addiction than say any other player. That he had CTE.
CALLAN: Sure. They can make a compelling case there. In the end with this lawsuit, the reason why I say it's different and maybe a better lawsuit than the football lawsuit is because all you have to do is ban the fights. All you have to do is say to the NHL --
BANFIELD: Never going to happen.
CALLAN: -- enforce the rules --
BANFIELD: Never going to happen.
CALLAN: -- and don't let the players fight with each other and they won't get hurt. You say that, because -- isn't there's a little Canada --
BANFIELD: There's a lot of Canada.
BANFIELD: Look behind me at the crew members that watch hockey every day.
One quick question. The little apples and oranges. 10 seconds left. The family had a suit against the players association that was dismissed. That's the association, this is the NHL. Will that have any bearing on this particular suit?
CALLAN: No, because it's the NHL that determines league poll sis. Really this issue of sanctioning fights between players. And that's what it all comes down to.
BANFIELD: No matter how you feel about it, it is extraordinarily sad what happened to Mr. Boogaard and his family, but who knows where the law will come down on this one.
Paul, thank you for that.
Hold the phone for a moment, if you will. Jodi Arias, it's not over, folks. She's going back to court. The next phase of her trial as jurors consider if the murder of Travis Alexander was especially cruel and, if so, whether she should get the death penalty because of it.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: Jodi Arias trial set to resume tomorrow. Today, we know she's no longer under that suicide protocol, normally known as suicide watch, where she had been placed after, saying in a tv interview, that was weird in its own right, that she'd rather die than spend the rest of her life in prison. She may, in fact, be sent to death row by the same jury that convicted her last week of first degree murder. I'm going to head back to Phoenix to report on this sentencing phase. Two parts of it, an aggravation phase, then a penalty phase. All of this coming under way. She may actually take the stand in this one. Getting under way tomorrow.
Thanks for watching, everyone. So nice to have you with us. AROUND THE WORLD starts now.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today, everyone.
We begin with rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Why? Russian security forces detaining an American diplomat in Moscow, accusing him of being a spy.
MALVEAUX: They say they caught him red handed trying to recruit a member of Russia's Special Services.
Our Phil Black is in Moscow for us.
And, Phil, first of all, this American, he has been detained. Now, he has been released. What exactly was he accused of? And do we know where he is?