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CNN NEWSROOM

Star Witness at Zimmerman Trial; Dow Jumps 100 Plus Points; New Video of Aaron Hernandez's Arrest; Same-Sex Marriage Rulings Expected; Same-Sex Marriage Rulings Expected; Zimmerman Trial Underway

Aired June 26, 2013 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So your vantage point in terms of looking down would have been towards the -- and I'm doing an arrow here, towards the courtyard here. Is that correct?

JANE SURDYKA, WITNESS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

(END LIVE FEED)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're going to jump away from this testimony, but previous to us taking you back inside the courtroom to hear Jane's testimony. She is a neighbor. She was looking out her window that night. She testified that she heard two voices. One dominant voice and one not-so dominant voice. She also testified she saw two people on the ground. One of them on top of the other.

I don't think that she could identify which person was on top.

Sunny Hostin is also listening into this testimony, as well as Jason Johnson. They're both here as court observers.

So, Sunny, I'll start with you. You know, when you get right down to it, they can put all the neighbors on the stand that they want, and I'm talking about the prosecution here. But the only eyewitness to this crime is George Zimmerman.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's true. I mean, there were witnesses that saw different pieces of this, though, Carol. And I think that that's very important because what the prosecution needs to do is really put this together almost like you would a puzzle because, as you said, there were really only two witnesses to the entire altercation. How it began, what happened in the middle, how it ended, and those were George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin is no longer with us.

But these witnesses' perspectives are crucial, are very, very important, because you have to challenge George Zimmerman's, you know, story in a case like this because he has everything to gain by not being truthful and everything to lose by perhaps being very honest. And so make no mistake about it, this is extremely, extremely important, important evidence that's coming in today. COSTELLO: Extremely important evidence. Let's talk about those five nonemergency 911 calls, Jason Johnson, because the prosecution is also trying to show that leading up to George Zimmerman allegedly following Trayvon Martin, he made these five calls to 911 saying, there's another burglar. I see another one. And the prosecution is trying to say, hey, he had all this pent up frustration and when he finally ran into Trayvon Martin, he exploded into some sort of rage.

JASON JOHNSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITIC365: Yes, I think the admission of these five previous calls is absolutely huge. And it was interesting the argument that the defense was making yesterday is, well, you can't show that this builds up. And actually, the prosecution had a very interesting redirect. They said, no, the point is we're going to demonstrate that in these previous five calls he behaved properly, which means that night he was behaving in an abnormal fashion which helps their argument that George Zimmerman really snapped that night.

So I think that was absolutely critical. Something that's really going to make it difficult for the defense especially when later on the prosecution probably plays tapes of George Zimmerman's actual interview with police that night.

COSTELLO: And the other interesting thing that may happen this morning, Sunny, is Trayvon Martin's girlfriend may take the stand and why is this important? Because she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin shortly before he died that night.

HOSTIN: You know, I've said it from the very beginning when we first started covering this case. In my view, she is the most crucial witness because, as we were just discussing, Carol, there are no true eyewitnesses to the exact events. But this witness is what we can an ear witness. And that means she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin and she heard what may have been the initial start of the confrontation.

She's going to testify that George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin. That Trayvon Martin told George Zimmerman or asked him, rather, why are you following me, and -- in response there was some sort of scuffle and the phone went dead. That is really crucial and it really combats immediately what George Zimmerman is saying, which is that he was the one that was attacked.

Whoever started this encounter is the person I think that the jury is likely to find guilty. And so, you know, she -- her testimony is going to be very, very important.

COSTELLO: OK, you two stick around. I've got a bit of breaking news that I have to get to from Wall Street because the Dow, it's rocking. It's up, what, 135 points or so? At least I think so.

Let's check in with CNN business anchor Christine Romans.

The bell has just rung and, wow, that's good.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Yes. It's a strong morning and what's so interesting is it's a strong morning after a not-so strong reading on how strong the economy was in the first quarter in a way because you had a weak GDP report, only 1.8 percent economic growth in the first three months of the year.

Stock investors say, whoo, that means the Fed can't take its foot off the gas too soon. Right? We're going to still keep having stimulus and so you're seeing stocks moving higher here quite strongly.

Let me show you quickly what the economic growth looked like in the first quarter, Carol. You could see it's been all over the map over the past seven quarters or so. Up 1.8 percent on the far right of your screen, underneath our same-sex ruling video there. There you go. You can see economic growth only 1.8 percent. We had thought it would be far better than that, and it's been very, very choppy. So we don't have real consistency in the recovery just yet.

And the reason why stocks are doing so well right now, they've been beaten down, the S&P 500 down almost 4 percent over the past month or so. Investors are saying, if the economy is not really growing super strongly, that means the Fed is going to keep propping up the economy, keep pushing money into the system, and they like that this morning. They certainly like it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: OK. I like going up the hill a lot better than going down.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Me, too.

COSTELLO: All right. We told you at the top of the show our other breaking news story that the New England Patriots' tight end Aaron Hernandez has now been arrested. Our photographer witnessed him being placed in cuffs and put into a police cruiser.

You're taking a look at aerial shots from our affiliate WCVB. This is the police station where Aaron Hernandez is now being held and being questioned, we think, in connection with the murder of a friend of his, that friend's body found not far from Hernandez's Massachusetts home.

Rachel Nichols is on the phone right now to tell us how the New England Patriots might be taking this all in.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: Well, the Patriots haven't made any public statements on this case. And as you may know, if anybody follows this team, they're not the most forthcoming publicly. So we can't even necessarily expect them to comment now that this happened. But once we see what the charge is, how long Hernandez is going to be involved with the police, and whether this is something that they're going to prosecute or whether this is something that the police are using as a tactic to get him to give more information on the investigation that they're doing, then we'll probably find out more about how the Patriots and the NFL are going to handle this. About Six years ago the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, came into power and instituted a much harsher player conduct policy than the NFL had had in the past. Used to be that not only did you have to be charged, not only did you have to be prosecuted, not only did you have to be found guilty, then the process would start with the NFL and any discipline around you.

Well, the conduct policy now is basically saying, hey, if there's conduct detrimental to the league, even if it's the appearance of doing something wrong, and that's bad for the image of the NFL, we have the right to suspend you. We have the right to fine you, we have the right to call you -- call you under the carpet in the NFL commissioner's office.

So I would think that one of their key high-profile players being led off in handcuffs (INAUDIBLE) cameras probably qualifies as conduct that's seen as detrimental to the image of the NFL. We're going to have to see first what happens with the legal process and then what the league and the Patriots decide to do about it.

COSTELLO: Yes. OK. I want to bring in Sunny Hostin once again because she's our CNN legal analyst, and ask her about possible charges against Aaron Hernandez.

Police in Massachusetts have moved very slowly with this case. They -- I think they searched -- his house two or three times. They haven't made publicly any charges they're thinking of filing against him and they have said very little about this.

What does that tell you about the investigation?

HOSTIN: Well --

COSTELLO: And before you say we -- this is the video of Aaron Hernandez being arrested earlier this morning and being put into the police cruiser. But, go on, Sunny.

HOSTIN: Well, you know, it tells me that this was a very methodical investigation and it's important for police to do it that way, especially when you're talking about a high-profile person. What is striking to me is that they're doing what we call a perp walk. Right? They have him in handcuffs being walked from his home.

That tells me, Carol, that there was an arrest warrant for him and that they are very comfortable, in fact, with the foundation of that arrest warrant because we see him on video being led out from his home. Oftentimes when you have a high-profile person on a high- profile investigation, that person has retained counsel, we know that Hernandez has counsel, and police will negotiate with counsel and -- for someone's surrender.

They didn't do that here. Instead, they just walked up to his front door and arrested him and let all the world see it. So that tells me two things. One, it tells me that they're comfortable with their investigation and, two, that perhaps they are trying to put a bit of pressure on Hernandez. I know earlier it was reported that perhaps they were thinking about an obstruction of justice arrest or a grounds for an arrest. That's not murder, let's face it, but it still is significant. You're still looking at several years in prison, if convicted. And that would stem from the fact that we've heard that he, in fact, destroyed his cell phone which, of course, could contain some evidence about this murder and also, more damaging, I think, really destroyed his home surveillance system.

I mean, who does that? And so that would raise red flags, I think, to any jury, judge or police officer.

COSTELLO: Rachel, what kind of reputation does Hernandez have within the National Football League?

NICHOLS: Well, I mean, he's certainly a player that's attracted a lot of attention over the past couple of years. And we see this a lot with athletes where they're great and everyone loves them until there is a case like this and all of a sudden the scouts come out and say, well, look -- we always knew he was a bad seed. We always knew he was a problem. So we're hearing a little bit more of that sort of thing now when surprisingly we, of course, didn't hear that in the previous couple of years.

But if you do listen to his past, you see there are some incidents that are sort of red flags and in professional sports we hear this time and time again with professional teams saying, hey, if the kid can play, we want him on the field.

We've seen athletes who have been the subject of murder investigations, we've seen athletes like Michael Vick who have been in prison, we've seen athletes who have been involved in financial dealings that have been suspect, we've seen athletes with abuse on their record, and we see time and time again professional teams putting them on the field saying, hey, if they can help our team and they're not physically in jail at the moment, we want them to play.

And if they're winners, fans usually forgive that. And I think with Aaron Hernandez, depending on what happens here, yes, there will be a lot of controversy right now and you may see the NFL officials get involve, institute its player conduct policy. But in the end, if he is not in custody and on the field and he succeeds, the New England Patriots, I think most sports fans are still going to be cheering for him.

COSTELLO: Yes. That's probably true. Rachel Nichols, Sunny Hostin, stick around. Thanks so much.

I've got to take a break and before I go, I want to tell you, because we have like a lot of news happening this morning. This is the growing crowd outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate lining up to hear a pair of rulings that could affect millions of Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court due to rule on the constitutionality of same- sex marriage in just about 25 minutes or so. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Welcome back. It's 44 minutes past the hour. I'm Carol Costello. Let's head back to Washington. That's where we're waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on two most eagerly awaited cases of the year at stake in both the legality of same-sex marriage. Advocates on both sides of this emotional issue are waiting outside the courthouse -- quite the scene at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brian Todd is in the middle of it all. Brian, good morning.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. This is really what gives you a sense of how passionately people feel about the issue of same-sex marriage. Take a look over here all these signs, all the chanting protesters over here the vast majority of them in favor of same-sex marriage.

But I'm going to go to the die-hard. A gentleman who has been here in the searing swamp-like heat of Washington, D.C. for the last two days when other protesters have not been here. Bob Koontz came here from Miami.

Bob, why is it so important for you to be here this day at this time?

BOB KOONTZ: Well this has been a long journey 36 years ago we led the opposition to Anita Bryan and Jerry Fall over on Miami that's where the gay marriage issue was used to stop the equal rights amendment and go after the gay community. It would take us three elections to finally overcome that and the Supreme Court needs to catch up with Dade County.

I'm here specifically to say the issue for me is not gay marriage. I'm in a 26-year relationship and entitled to everything anybody else is either to give me my rights based on the Constitution or let them pay for it. I'm not here to have them endorse my lovemaking. It's none of their business.

TODD: All right Bob thank you very much and good luck. One of several passionate protesters and hundreds of them now Carol gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court. We are just minutes away from the decisions on these two very, very important cases involving the Defensive Marriage Act and of course the Prop 8 case in California, the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes I just want you to take us a little -- a little bit through the cases on tap but I know you mentioned them there briefly. But DOMA, right?

TODD: Right.

COSTELLO: That's -- that's the constitutionality question that the U.S. Supreme Court must decide whether all couples, no matter if their sexual orientation are -- have the constitutional right to federal benefits.

The other case is very much to do with California. TODD: That's right and California was a unique case because the state Supreme Court in 2008 ruled that same-sex marriage was legal and valid and then later that same year the voters voted to ban same-sex marriage. So that issue is key. That's really going to strike at the constitutionality of same-sex marriage is the Supreme Court going to uphold the ability of the state to decide one way or the other and whether people can have that constitutional right.

So how they rule on Prop 8 is key, but also don't forget the Defense Marriage Act. Now that entire act is not necessarily at stake. What we're told is they're going to rule on one section of it that deals with the benefits. Does the federal government have the right to deny benefits to couples who are legally married in a certain state, even though you know that state has said that they can legally wed? Can the federal government deny benefits to them? That was Eddie Wincer who brought that case.

So again two crucial rulings striking at the social fabric here and striking at the crux of this entire issue and we're just minutes away from hearing about it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes and of course you can't ignore the possibility that maybe the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on DOMA the Defense of Marriage Act but it will punt on the others and leave the issue of same-sex marriage to individual states.

TODD: And you know what they may very well do that. They have had a tendency to do that on a lot of these cases, not just same-sex marriage but others. And remember there are dozens of states that do not, have not legalized same-sex marriage. There are 12 states and the District of Columbia that have.

So it is very much a state issue it's moving fast on the political front now and that could -- that may be where the court decides to kind of put it back to, just kind of letting it go on the political front and let the states move on this and kind of decide the social temperature of the country on this -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Brian Todd, thanks so much.

We're going to take you back to Sanford, Florida, when we come back -- George Zimmerman on trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. One of the alternate jurors has been dismissed. We'll talk about why, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: All right. We do have breaking news to tell you about. The New England Patriots' tight end Aaron Hernandez -- you see him being arrested earlier. He's in handcuffs, as can you see, and police are parading him right in front of the TV cameras. They put him into a cruiser. Right now, we believe Aaron Hernandez is in the -- in the police station, and he's being questioned in connection with a friend of his murder. That friend's body found not far from Aaron Hernandez's home.

When we get more information on what possible charges might come down against Hernandez, of course, we'll pass them along to you. They may be -- they may be murder charges. They may be obstruction of justice charges. We just don't know.

Also going on right now, the trial of George Zimmerman, he's being tried for the murder of Trayvon Martin. As you can see, testimony is continuing in this case. On the stand -- I'm sorry, what's happening now? The defense is now questioning a witness. This is a witness, Jayne Surdyka. She kind of saw a scuffle outside of her window that night. Let's listen to what she's saying.

DON WEST, DEFENSE LAWYER: We'll talk a little more about that in a bit, because that's the opinion that you've formed, correct?

JAYNE SURDYKA, WITNESS ZIMMERMAN-MARTIN CONFRONTATION: Correct.

WEST: Well, let's talk about the setting, though, a little bit more. What was so powerful about the cries that you heard were the extreme nature of them, the compelling nature, something that you will never, ever forget.

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: And you said that before.

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: It's obvious that you are very distressed on the recording. Would you agree?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: And it was two -- two cries, or two distinct sounds, that you heard?

SURDYKA: The help. Yes, there was two. From my recollection of yells for help.

WEST: The first one seemed to be the actual word "help"?

SURDYKA: More so.

WEST: And the other one was even higher, more excruciating, almost a yelp that you described?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: But that's the only two that you heard?

SURDYKA: I believe so, yes.

WEST: Have you listened to the recording that was made where there's the cries for help in the background?

SURDYKA: No.

WEST: Never heard that? SURDYKA: Just maybe once or twice on TV, over the radio, something like that, a year ago.

WEST: Well, I mean -- so you have heard it?

SURDYKA: I've heard that someone record -- or the telephone call, they had it on the news or something.

WEST: Ok so you have heard that 911 call with the background of someone crying for help?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: Over and over again.

SURDYKA: A couple of times. Not over and over.

WEST: What you distinctly remember, though, are two for sure?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: You think there might even have been more that you didn't hear, now that you've heard that recording.

SURDYKA: I just always thought there was two. I guess I still think there is only two.

WEST: This was -- this was raining pretty hard that night.

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: Hard enough that you shut the window.

SURDYKA: Correct, yes.

WEST: And that was because of the rain?

SURDYKA: Pardon?

WEST: That was because of the rain.

SURDYKA: Pouring down rain, so it wouldn't come into my window, my house.

WEST: But you were still -- when you were looking out at these two men wrestling, one on top of the other, you were able to see clearly it was two figures?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: And that one was on top of the other.

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: And that one was more vertical than the other.

SURDYKA: To me, they both looked vertical.

WEST: You used the word "vertical," on top -- the man on top was vertical. Is that what you mean by, he was more sitting up?

SURDYKA: No. They were both laying on the ground, one person on top of the other. Vertical meaning when I looked out, they were vertical.

WEST: Oh, the direction was vertical.

SURDYKA: Yes, sir.

WEST: I see. Ok. The position, though, of the men was at that point that you saw them they were sort of one on top of the other?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: And you couldn't see the detail of what the arms were doing, other than it impressed you as if they might be wrestling?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: At what point did you realize this was a really serious event, one that that help is desperately needed?

SURDYKA: When I opened the win -- sorry, when I shut my nightlight off, and I could see that two men were on the ground, I knew it was something very serious.

WEST: So let's -- before we go to that point, the voices or voice -- I'm not sure what you said -- earlier, it was you heard some -- a voice or voices outside your window several minutes before. Is that correct?

SURDYKA: The first time I heard the voices, yes, someone very loud talking outside, which surprised me, because it was raining.

WEST: So let's talk just about that for a moment. You were still -- you were in the bedroom, and was your window closed at this point?

SURDYKA: It was closed.

WEST: Even though -- ok. And you could hear a voice or voices outside that caught your attention, because of the weather conditions.

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: You didn't hear anything specifically being said.

SURDYKA: No.

WEST: And it wasn't like an argument that you describe later on.

SURDYKA: No, just someone talking really loud, so I could hear them even with my window closed.

WEST: You don't know who that was, I take it? SURDYKA: No.

WEST: You didn't see them?

SURDYKA: No.

WEST: You don't know whether it was somebody completely unrelated to the case.

SURDYKA: I would assume they were the same people, because it was minutes later that I -- the same area, same people.

WEST: But that's your -- that's your assumption, correct?

SURDYKA: Yes.

WEST: You don't have any basis for that, based on your observations?

SURDYKA: No.

WEST: So you hear a voice or voices outside the window that catches your attention, and you don't notice at that point that there's any particular confrontation or any kind of distress in the voices?

SURDYKA: No, just someone talking unusually very loud.

WEST: And it could even have been one person, correct?

SURDYKA: If they were talking to themselves, yes.

WEST: Or on the phone.

SURDYKA: True. But so loud, I can't imagine someone talking that loud --

WEST: But you didn't -- you didn't make out any words.

SURDYKA: No, I didn't.

WEST: You just heard sound.

SURDYKA: Yes.

IMUS: So if someone's talking over the wind on a cell phone --

COSTELLO: We have to take a break. NEWSROOM continues after this.

WEST: -- and spoke loudly that could have been that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)