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Zimmerman Trial Jury Selection; South Africa Praying for Nelson Mandela; Surgical Super Glue Saves Infant's Life; Simon Cowell Egged

Aired June 10, 2013 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.


BERMAN: And it really could be the murder case of the year. Jury selection begins today in the trial of George Zimmerman. He admits to shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin but claims he did it in self- defense. Prosecutors, of course, say it was murder. People have been watching this case for such a long time now. CNNs George Howell in Sanford, Florida, with the latest. Good morning, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. So, you know, we are waiting for court to start 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time here in just a few minutes. And I want to take you over to some live pictures we have just outside the courtroom. You can see where people are starting to file into the courtroom. We're waiting for Bernie De La Rionda, the prosecutor. We're also waiting for Mark O'Mara to arrive.

We have cameras and people all over this courtroom, covering this story as only CNN can do. Right now, they're waiting for a few things to happen. There are a few pretrial motions that have to be wrapped up, and then, we get into the issue of jury selection. We're looking at a pool of 500 potential jurors, to narrow that down to six jurors and at least two alternates. And the goal is to get as many people who have not been heavily influenced by this case to decide the fate of George Zimmerman.


HOWELL (voice-over): Was it a case of murder or self-defense? Those are the questions jurors will face in the case against George Zimmerman. February 26, 2012, the then neighborhood watch captain called police to report a teenager who he described as suspicious. Watson questioned is whether Zimmerman pursued after a dispatcher told him not to. The one thing that is clear, there was a confrontation.

911 calls record someone in the background screaming for help, then you hear the fatal shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know why. I think they are yelling help, but I don't know.

911 OPERATOR: You think he's yelling help?


HOWELL: The victim was 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, his admitted killer, was taken into custody for questioning but then released because investigators accepted his claim that he fired the gun in self-defense. The days that followed left this community in an uproar.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: We don't understand why he's not arrested. Investigations can go on forever. And the family worries. I worry. The more time that passes, this is going to be swept under the rug.

HOWELL: State attorney, Angela Corey, charged Zimmerman with second- degree murder. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara eventually got a judge to grant Zimmerman a $1 million bond, releasing him to house confinement with a curfew as he awaits trial. Zimmerman has been in and out of court several times for pretrial hearings, in one case, taking the stand, himself, to speak directly to Martin's family.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: I want to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.

HOWELL: In the days leading up to trial, prosecutors asked that certain evidence, like these pictures of Trayvon Martin, not be admitted as evidence released. The focus now is on jury selection.


HOWELL (on-camera): Live pictures back here in Sanford, Florida, just outside the courthouse where we're waiting the prosecutors and defense attorneys to arrive for this case, to start -- court to start just around 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

And, again, what we know, according to the defense attorneys, just a couple of weeks ago they did publicly state that they were running out of money. But we now know from Mark O'Mara that they've raised $85,000 to help them move forward in this trial.

BERMAN: All gets started today, a big day down there in Sanford, Florida, where we find George Howell. Thanks so much, George.

ROMANS: All right, for more on the trial and the jury selection, joining us is criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos.

Look, this is going to be a major trial covered heavily in the media. There's already been a lot of debate. Media frenzy aside, how tough will it be for this prosecution to prove its case?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is a very tough case for the prosecution. I think observers on both sides agree. Here's why.

Once this trial gets started, we'll hear that 911 tape in its entirety and when you listen to it from beginning to end. Remember, the prosecution has not only the burden to prove second-degree murder, that means a depraved heart. You have to ask yourself, "Did George Zimmerman act as if I drove a car into a crowd of people" -- that's the law school example - "substantially certain he would end up killing someone?"

That's what the prosecution has to prove. It's a very high burden. And then they additionally have to disprove the possibility of self- defense. And then we look at the evidence of George Zimmerman's injuries, the grass on his back, the witness testimony that he was being beaten down MMA style. This is a tough case for the prosecution.

BERMAN: If second degree murder, if the jury does not find there is enough evidence for second degree murder, what other options do they have?

CEVALLOS: Yes, second degree murder means that he acted with that depraved heart substantially certain that something would happen, to wit, someone's death. When you go down to manslaughter, that's a lesser, that's maybe an unintentional killing that happened with such a high degree of negligence. It's essentially an imperfect self- defense. So it's a lesser included defense that the jury may consider.

But think about this. The prosecution has to put on evidence of that second degree murder. If the jury finds that they haven't met their burden on second degree murder, they may say, look, you haven't met your burden on anything. You overshot. And that may lean towards an acquittal.

ROMANS: If you're George Zimmerman's defense attorney, what kind of jurors are you looking for as this jury selection process gets underway today?

CEVALLOS: Well, it's a myth that you want just fair and impartial jurors. Each side wants the juror that's going to be most partial to them. The reality here is you're not going to find jurors who have heard nothing at all about this case and that's OK. The key is going to be knowing what they know. Can they be fair and impartial? Can they approach this case with an open mind?

Then you, of course, there are the obvious ones you won't to, as a defense attorney, you may want to avoid -- people who are related to law enforcement, who have been victims of crimes. But they would be excused for cause. The one thing you have to be careful of, and I don't think these attorneys are going to try, cannot exclude jurors based on race. As racially charge d as this case has been, that is directly in contravention of Supreme Court law in Batson. You cannot use your preemptory challenges to exclude jurors based on their race.

BERMAN: All right, Danny Cevallos, thank you so much for joining us right now. Again, people watching this case for so long -- finally gets under way today in Sanford, Florida, with jury selection. Appreciate you being with us. Overseas now, South Africans are praying for their beloved former president, Nelson Mandela. He is in the hospital this morning for the fourth time since December with a recurring lung infection. Mandela is said to be in serious, but stable condition.

CNN's Errol Barnett is live in Pretoria. And, Errol, you get the sense this time it seems different.

ERROL BARNETT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's around 2:30 in the afternoon here, John. Good morning to you. But the most recent information we received these past few hours from the office of the president is that Nelson Mandela's health remains unchanged today. And that essentially means that his status is still serious, as doctors believe, but stable.

There's some good and bad news in there. It means after Nelson Mandela's health took a turn for the worse at the end of last week and was rushed here to the hospital, doctors were able to stabilize him. But it seems they've not been able to do much more than that.

Nelson Mandela is 94 years old. He turns 95 next month, in fact. This would be a serious situation for anybody, but the fact that he had this recurring lung infection, four times in the hospital since December of last year, is a cause for concern.

And John, I can just tell you the conversations around Nelson Mandela's health for the first time are starting to center on the fact that perhaps Nelson Mandela's family needs to let him go. Those are the words of Andrew Mlangeni, who was a close friend of Nelson Mandela and, in fact, served time with him in prison on the Robben Island some decades ago. It's a bit of a taboo thing to say here in South Africa, and many African nations in fact. You don't speak about the impending death of a respected elder out loud. So to hear that from close friends now is proving to be quite a contrast from months ago when people would've said pray for him to survive. He's lived a long, full life and South Africans, it seems, are becoming more comfortable with the fact that he won't be around forever.

BERMAN: I've been in South Africa during health issues for Nelson Mandela and everyone is so careful with the language they use, particularly the government. And the current South African president has called on everyone to pray for Nelson Mandela. How are they handling the situation right now?

BARNETT: Well, it's interesting. The ANC is being quite careful that they want to respect the fact that Nelson Mandela has retired from public life and he is a private citizen, so he is afforded all of those rights to privacy that anyone else would be.

However, Nelson Mandela is no ordinary citizen. In fact, the ANC was criticized in late April after Nelson Mandela's last health bout for going to his home and taking part in what many considered to be a photo-op. There's pictures and videos, the most recent video we have of Nelson Mandela, showing him to be frail, showing him to be almost disconnected and unaware of what was happening around him, staring off into the distance without the charm and wit that he has been characterized with.

So the ANC wants to be careful not to seem as if they're capitalizing on his health, for better or worse, in any way. But, still, there is international appetite to know how Madiba, as he's known here, is feeling and how he's doing.

BERMAN: Errol Barnett for us in South Africa this morning. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: A convicted child rapist busted in Washington State after getting caught secretly snapping pictures of children inside two stores. Police near Olympia say that man, 54-year-old Randy Smith, was taking photos of a 6-year-old girl as she tried on a bathing suit in a dressing room at a Fred Meyer grocery store. That's when the girl's father along with another customer spotted him, wrestled him to the ground until police showed up. Smith was convicted of first degree rape in 1990. He spent more than 17 years in prison for assaulting a 3-year-old child.

BERMAN: Britain's Prince Harry is showing off his skills as a chopper pilot. He served in combat in Afghanistan, but this stint at the controls was strictly to entertain the crowd at an RAF air show in Shropshire, England.

Harry, known in the British military as Captain Wales, served as co- pilot Sunday when his crew performed some fancy tricks on an Apache attack helicopter. This royal performance was a surprise. The crowd was not aware that Prince Harry was part of the show until his name was announced over the P.A. system. Shropshire must have gone wild.

ROMANS: You won't find this in any driving manual but that's it, right there. Truck versus ocean. Ocean wins. Ocean always wins.

Check out what happened to a guy in Hawaii who had too much to drink and his Ford pickup ended up there in the drink. The driver managed to escape without injury but he couldn't escape the law. He was arrested for driving under the influence.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, surgical super glue. How doctors in Kansas used a special adhesive to save a dying infant.

ROMANS: And she did what a lot of contestants only fantasized about doing. Simon Cowell egged. Details ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Have you used duct tape to patch a leaky hose? Well, shrink that down infinitely in scale and you have the challenge facing a Kansas neurosurgeon and a 20-day-old baby named Ashlyn. Take a lok.


COHEN (voice-over): Doctors are crediting what they call surgical super glue for saving the life of this beautiful 3 1/2-week-old girl. Ashlyn Julian was born with a rare and life-threatening condition. Her mother didn't know what the problem was, but she knew something wasn't right.

GINA JULIAN, MOTHER OF BABY ASHLYN: We go from a baby who's very quiet to one who's screaming and screaming and screaming and throwing up. At that point, you know something's not right. Something's very wrong.

COHEN: She rushed her daughter to the emergency room for a second time in hopes of finding answers.

JULIAN: The ultrasound was as far as we made it because they saw something in her head at that point in time and decided, obviously, to transport her to a hospital that was better equipped to care for what was going on.

COHEN: Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital found a brain aneurysm the size of an almond on a blood vessel that is as thin as angel hair pasta. Then, a race against the clock to stop the bleeding. Bleeding in the brain is so rare in infants that there aren't even tools for the procedure. Her surgeon instead used a micro-catheter as thin as a strand of hair to access the aneurysms.

DR. KOJI EBERSOLE, ENDOVASCULAR NEUROSURGEON, THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL: The only way I could close that aneurysm with that small of an instrument was to use the glue.

COHEN: Dr. Koji Ebersole was able to deposit this sterile glue, sealing the blood vessel. Yes, you ehard right. Surgial super glue stopped the bleeding.

EBERSOLE: If you tried to treat the baby without closing the aneurysm, meaning conservative treatment, support the baby, and hope that the blood vessel will heal itself, most of those babies can't survive. So we had a strong reason to develop a plan to close the aneurysm.

JULIAN: Every day she seems more like herself. So she's much happier.

COHEN: Doctors are pleased with the results.

EBERSOLE: Oh, we're thrilled. The breathing tube was taken out the very next day. I did not know that she would be ready that fast. And I think he's been making steady strides since. So we're all very happy.


ROMANS: He's like McGyver in the NICU.

I want to turn now to CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen with more on this remarkable story. It's -- it's just truly amazing that they were able to move so quickly and so quickly she was doing better, Elizabeth. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right It really is incredible. I mean babies heal so fast and part of the reason is that they -- they did some of the most minimal intervention they could do. I mean just feeding this little catheter instead of actually opening up her head. So her recovery is going to be faster.

ROMANS: And so what is her prognosis now?

COHEN: You know, I was talking Dr. Ebersole yesterday and he said that her prognosis is great. He said, even if there were damage to her head, which it appears, to her brain, which it appears there might have been some brain damage. Here's the thing, new born babies their heads are so plastic, that's the word the doctors use. They can adapt and change so easily just like a piece of soft plastic.

So if one small part of her brain were damaged, it's OK, some other part of her brain will pick up the slack and do what that part of the brain was supposed to do. So babies who have strokes, which is what this child had, they -- they can recover and be completely normal.

ROMANS: What made her case so unique because aneurysms are usually fatal?

COHEN: Right so if your eye, God forbid, had an aneurysm like this Christine, we would be in huge trouble. And here is the reason why. You have this aneurysm that bursts and our heads are hard. Feel it you've got a hard head right. So we can only tolerate a certain amount of pressure before things really go wrong.

But you -- Christine you probably remember when your babies were little, their scalps are really soft you can -- there is more wiggle room --

ROMANS: Right.

COHEN: -- is really what it comes down to. And so you can have that amount of pressure and the baby can be OK.

ROMANS: Do successful outcomes like this mean we'll be seeing more of the amazing super glue in similar cases?

COHEN: You know what; we might, but there are so few of these cases.


COHEN: I asked Dr. Ebersole how many of these have there been where a baby has an aneurysm that bursts and has this you know bleeding off in their brain. And he said there have been 17 cases in the past 65 years, 17 recorded cases.

So maybe the next time this happens, someone will take a lesson from Dr. Ebersole and use super glue, but really there aren't that many occasions where you would want to do this in this particular way.

ROMANS: Well we certainly are glad that that baby ended up in his care and everything turned all right. COHEN: Right absolutely.

ROMANS: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: That's a great story.

So do you know there is a country where 100,000 new cases of leprosy are detected every year or nine out of ten people don't have toilets or a country that ranks lower than North Korea for free speech?

Join CNN Opinions John Sutter and help change that. Be a part of CNN's new initiative called "Change the List". This is an experiment in opinion journalism where you, the viewer, get to pick what CNN covers. It takes just a minute to participate. It's worth trying. Log on to and choose -- choose five of the 20 topics you think need to change the most. You pick it. CNN covers it. It is simply that easy.

ROMANS: It's really interesting.

All right, ahead on STARTING POINT: Simon Cowell egged on the air. Are talent show contestants so fed up they're fighting back?

BERMAN: It's about time.

And look at this bear. This bear really wanted to get into that car. That is a real bear, not a person in a bear suit, which I suspected earlier. We will tell you what this bear does, next. You're watching STARTING POINT.


BERMAN: The demolition queen. Christine Romans loves an implosion. Say so long to Building 877 the building on Governor's Island here in New York City just east of the Statue of Liberty. It used to be home to the Coast Guard members and their families, now it's home to nothing. It doesn't exist anymore. It had been empty for 17 years. Christine Romans said it was time to go important to destroy. The island has now been turned into a park.

ROMANS: Oh come on demolitions I love them because they're a sign of progress and that's cool engineering. There you go. Isn't that cool to watch? It's going to be a beautiful park on Governor's Island I promise.

BERMAN: I don't (inaudible) your level of excitement is a little disturbing.

ROMANS: All right break out the violins. A billionaire Saudi Prince is suing "Forbes" magazine in London for underestimating his wealth. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal claims "Forbes" was deliberately biased when it ranked him as only the 26th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $20 billion. The Prince claims he's worth nearly $30 billion. He has also sued "Forbes'" editor and two of its reporters. BERMAN: I hope they didn't suffer too much.

Justified or not, Simon Cowell is considered one of the meanest people on TV. You've seen it -- tearing into performers on any one of his shows. But there is a woman out there who took things into her own hands. And admit it, it may give you just a little cause to smile to see the judge become the judged covered in egg, instead. Watch this.


BERMAN: A shocking moment during "Britain's Got Talent" finale. A woman hurls an egg at judge, Simon Cowell. And it wasn't part of the act. Contestants Richard and Adam Johnson were performing "The Impossible Dream" -- when suddenly from behind them the woman races to the front of the stage and starts pelting the judging panel. A stunned Cowell takes off his jacket after rubbing the egg off. The egg thrower was quickly rushed off stage and the performance continued without a hitch, prompting a standing ovation by the judges and crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not part of the act.

BERMAN: The egg-tosser is Natalie Holt. She played viola as part of the orchestra accompanying the performers. Holt was also a contestant on "Britain's Got Talent" one year ago, with her band Raven Quartet. But it seems they didn't have a great experience.

Take a look at what her band mate wrote back then as quoted in the "Daily Mail" online. Honestly, if you think watching those talent shows is gut-wrenching, you should try being a contestant in one. Her band mates said they had nothing to do with this prank but the egg- throwing incident begs the question, are contestants fighting back because TV judges are just too mean.

Tough critique has become a staple on many of the talent competition shows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're a sex machine, I'm America's next top model, I'm telling you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You give me your best. Go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This job is too rough for me. I don't really want to do it any more.

I don't want to make you cry.

BERMAN: Cowell may have created the nasty judge trend on "American Idol" and he wound up doused with water by an angry contestant.



BERMAN: Holt says she targeted Cowell for his dreadful influence on the music industry and apologized for the prank. "I've never done anything like this before and in hindsight, I have realized it was a silly thing to do."

Even with egg on his face, Cowell managed to get the last word, tweeting, I don't think egg should be allowed on talent shows. Discuss?"


BERMAN: So a statement from the show's producer says they will not pursue charges against the egg-thrower. I think it's so fitting that they were singing "Impossible Dream" while this woman was throwing egg to Simon Cowell because it went from "Impossible Dream" to dream come true.

ROMANS: STARTING POINT back in a moment.

BERMAN: STARTING POINT back in a moment.