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Witness Describes Fatal Fight; Mandela Remains in Critical Condition; Dad Offers Deal for Snowden's Return; Texas Woman Indicted for Ricin-Laced Letters; Did 4-Star General Leak Classified Info?; Investigating Aaron Hernandez

Aired June 28, 2013 - 12:00   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: More testimony in the George Zimmerman trial. A neighbor describes the fight he saw and heard the night that Trayvon Martin was killed.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama at the moment on his way to South Africa as Nelson Mandela clings to life. Mr. Obama says he will let the family decide about any hospital visits.

MALVEAUX: My exclusive interview with former President Jimmy Carter. He opens up about Edward Snowden, same-sex marriage and the advice he's giving to Paula Deen.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

Well, it's been a fifth day of dramatic testimony. I think we'll be using that word a lot as days go by. We're talking, of course, about George Zimmerman's murder trial.

MALVEAUX: Well, there's a witness, a neighbor actually, who saw the fatal fight and offered a detail account of what he actually saw and what he heard the night Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

HOLMES: That witness was one of the people who called 911. George Howell is outside the court in Sanford, Florida, once again.

George, this is a state witness, isn't it? But he clearly supports Zimmerman's story that he was being the one being pummeled in that fight. Tell us about it.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, Suzanne, good day.

So, absolutely, John Good, his testimony very important for the defense because he is the witness who all along has stated that he saw someone on the bottom who seemed to be lighter complexion, had a red jacket on. Again, the same red jacket that George Zimmerman was wearing, suggesting that it was Trayvon Martin on the top. This is in direct contradiction with what Selma Mora said the other day. She believes that she saw George Zimmerman on the top. Very crucial to both of these cases. I want to walk through, though, basically John Good. What we saw today, we saw the prosecutors going through what he said to police initially and then what he's saying now. And they noticed some inconsistencies, for instance, with screaming. In the first statement he says that he saw the person on the bottom, suggesting that it was, again, George Zimmerman screaming for help. Today he's saying that he cannot say with certainty who was screaming for help.

Also what he saw. Again, lighter complected person, he says, on the bottom, suggesting Trayvon Martin was on the top holding him down and throwing strikes, as he said. That's what he said in the first statement. Today he's saying that he cannot say with certainty that the person on top was throwing strikes or holding the person down.

I want to let you listen to just a bit of what he said in court just earlier. Let's listen.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: You mentioned you -- the second positioning or the change in position if we call there (ph), they were horizontal. At that point could you tell it was two individuals, the same people?


DE LA RIONDA: OK. And in terms of describing the individuals, are you able to describe their faces or anything or just clothing descriptions?

GOOD: Well, going back to when they were vertical, I could tell the person on the bottom had a lighter skined color.


HOWELL: So the prosecution was sure to make the point today, to make sure that it was on record. They asked, did you see or hear any of this? Did you see the person on top directly? Can you say with certainty? Did you hear screams? Again, he said that he couldn't say with certainty, you know, if he saw a person throwing strikes, couldn't say with certainty if he heard that person screaming for help.

MALVEAUX: And, George, I guess it's one thing if you actually have eyewitnesses, but another thing here if you've got surveillance video or surveillance cameras in the neighborhood. I understand that there were as many as nine cameras in that subdivision where the shooting took place. Do we know if they actually got the altercation between the two?

HOWELL: Right. And, you know, when we talk about ear witnesses, we talk about people who heard the gunshot, who heard noises. But, yes, when it comes to the cameras, very important because what did they capture?

Well, the videos that we saw today, these were inside the clubhouse. There were also cameras outside that clubhouse in the neighborhood. Apparently those cameras were not working on February 26, 2012.

What we saw in the videos, and it's still unclear exactly how impactful, what significance they will have in the case, but when you look at the videos, and if plays slow enough, you can see something moving past the window. You can see something in view. In this shot here, if you look long enough, you can see what may be a flashlight. Not sure. You see a light there at the end of that hallway. And that's one thing that was pointed out.

Again, these videos, these surveillance videos were submitted as evidence today. The prosecution wanted to do that. But I'm sure that we will come back to them at some point to get a better understanding of their -- the direct significance.

HOLMES: Well, George, what's ahead today?

HOWELL: Well, you know, we're still waiting. Right now we're at a lunch recess. We expect to have Mr. John Good back on the stand. And I presume that we will hear more testimony from him. I believe we could hear from more neighbors and investigators to talk specifically about what happened on that day.

MALVEAUX: All right, George, thank you very much. Going to be watching this. And, of course, we're going to bring you more coverage of the George Zimmerman trial ahead. At 12:30 Eastern we're actually going to be talking about it with a legal panel of ours to assess which side is winning.


MALVEAUX: I mean so many different aspects to this. The video, the eyewitnesses and, of course, the person who testified, Rachel, yesterday, creating a lot of buzz.

HOLMES: Uh-huh. Yes, a lot of buzz indeed. Yes, a lot more to come on that story, that's for sure. Again, 12:30 our legal panel will join us.

All right, let's head now to South Africa. President Obama headed there as we speak. His plane is in the air. And he was speaking to reporters on board Air Force One just a short time ago. He left open the possibility of visiting Nelson Mandela in hospital.

MALVEAUX: The president said, quote, "we'll see what the situation is when we land. I don't need a photo op and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned with Nelson Mandela's condition.

HOLMES: The South African government, meanwhile, says Mandela remains in critical but stable condition. Crowds, of course, been gathering outside his hospital in Pretoria all week paying tribute to the anti- apartheid hero. Robyn Curnow is there.

Robyn, if President Obama does visit Mandela, how would that be handled? You've got to imagine it would be doubtful at the moment, wouldn't you? ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, I don't know. And it's a very good question because, I mean, you can see all these people milling around me, coming to the entrance of this hospital, huge media contingent that has set up camp. I mean this hospital is also a small building surrounded by quite a built up urban area in the capital.

I don't know if it's logistically possible or if it's possible from a security point of view for the schedule to be changed at the last minute. You know, there's a lot of pre-planning and advanced planning with these kinds of trips, so I don't know if it is possible. But again, I think what is going to be the key factor is President Obama himself feeling like he doesn't want to be intrusive when it comes to President Mandela's health. So I think this is going to be a decision that's taken on an emotional basis. It's not going to be a decision that's taken on a security basis. They really don't want to be intrusive.

What I do think might happen, Michael, is that President Obama might meet some key members of Mandela's family. He has hinted that he wants to literally say thank you for Mandela's leadership and also to tell the Mandela family that the American people are thinking of them and praying for them.

MALVEAUX: Robyn, there's so many sensitivities involved. You bring up a very good point. And we've now seen that even Nelson Mandela's family, the daughter, Maki, very upset about how the media yesterday has been treating all of this, particularly the foreign media handling the coverage of her father being in the hospital. She even called some of them racist. I want you to listen to this.


MAKI MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S DAUGHTER: There's sort of this racist element with many of the foreign media where they just cross boundaries. You have no idea what's happening in the hospital. It's like truly vultures waiting when the lion has devoured the buffalo, waiting there to, you know, for the last carcass. That's the image that we have as a family.


MALVEAUX: Robyn, that is really strong language and that comparison as well. How has this devolved into something like this where the family really just feels there's this element of disrespect now?

CURNOW: You know this is a very large family. Just remember, Nelson Mandela's been married three times and there's often been different opinions, conflicts I think, between these various factions within the family. So you heard his daughter there calling us essentially vultures and racists.

On the other hand, you have his second wife, Winnie Mandela, coming out earlier today saying, we thank you, to the media. We appreciate what you're doing. That they understand that it's our job to inform and saying, you know, maybe, you know, it just, you know, we sometimes might sound bitter, but it's just because this is such a stressful situation.

So what you're seeing here essentially is different factions within the family coming out with different attitudes toward the media. So what this is indicating I think less about the role of the media here, it is indicating just how this family is feeling the stress and the pressure of what's going on. And it's unfortunately starting to play out in the public sphere. So I think very, very difficult times for the Mandela family.

HOLMES: It was interesting too, Robyn, Winnie Mandela, when she did speak to the media, she made her own sort of health statement about the former president. Obviously he's still critical. But she said he's a lot better than he was a day or so ago. I mean how do we read that?

CURNOW: You know what, and as you know, we've been sort of pouring over every word, every, you know, little bit of language to give us some indication of how things are going, whether he's getting a little bit better or a little bit worse. And Winnie Mandela basically echoing what President Mandela - President Zuma said a few days ago that he, you know, he seemed to have improved slight, but that was because he was now more stable. Still very critical, still on life support. And Winnie Mandela used the words that he was still clinically unwell. She said she wasn't a doctor. But I think the family and the authorities here still very much giving clues, giving an indication that although he may be - he is less unstable than he was a few days ago, he's certainly not out of the woods yet.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. And she used the words great improvement over where he was a few days ago. But as you say, you can't read too much into that. The man is still in critical condition, obviously.

Robyn, thanks for being there throughout all of this. Robyn Curnow there in Pretoria.

MALVEAUX: It is confusing, though.

HOLMES: It is.

MALVEAUX: We wish him the best, and the families as well.


MALVEAUX: We're also following - this is a new twist. This is in the Edward Snowden saga. Now, Snowden, of course, the man whose behind -- revealing those U.S. surveillance leaks. Well, now his father is trying to negotiate him coming back to the United States.

HOLMES: The interesting developments. CNN's Amanpour program got access to a letter addressed to the Attorney General Eric Holder -- this only just happened in the last hour or two -- written by an attorney for Snowden's father. Now, that letter says Lonnie Snowden is confident his son would return voluntarily under certain conditions.

MALVEAUX: So the conditions being that he would not be detained or imprisoned prior to the trial, that he would not be subject to a gag order and that he would be tried in a venue of his choosing. I want to bring in our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, to explain the breakdown of this letter here. How likely is it that the government would agree to any of these conditions?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: OK, Suzanne, well let's start at the top.

This letter is on behalf of Lonnie Snowden. It's written by Washington attorney Bruce Fein. I know him. He actually worked at the Justice Department all the way back in the Reagan administration. He's suggesting that Snowden might actually voluntarily turn himself in to the U.S. The government agrees that he wouldn't be locked up, put under a gag order, would choose where his trial will be held. The Justice Department, so far, has declined to comment.

I don't want to characterize the letter, other than to say it appears to be an attempt to open up negotiation with Justice on the terms under which Snowden might give himself up. Typically, at the start, a lawyer is always going to ask for more than he's going to get in negotiations. It's hard the see how DOJ would agree to any of these pre-conditions at this stage, especially since a judge or magistrate would likely have to be involved. So it's not totally up to DOJ to set these terms, even if they wanted to, which is unlikely. However, it's probably seen as a starting point on Snowden's side.

And, Suzanne, what's most unusual about it is that the letter has actually been made public. You almost never see these kinds of negotiations letters in the newspapers or on TV. But you have to say, this is just a very extraordinary case, Suzanne.

HOLMES: Is it a start, Joe? I mean is this something that can be negotiated or, you know, what normally happens in such cases? Not that there's been a lot of them.

JOHNS: Right. Right. Well, when you're at the very beginning stages of something like this, there's always going to be somebody who wants to open up some kind of line of communications with the Justice Department about terms. Terms of surrender or what have you. Whatever is the biggest, immediate thing on the plate. And so that is not unusual.

Again, it's just hard to see how the Justice Department would go for any of this. Nonetheless, the question is whether they would even respond or try to talk back to the attorney to see, well, are there any things we can do to get this guy here that DOJ would go for.



MALVEAUX: And, Joe, real quick, do we still believe that Snowden is in Moscow at the airport there in the kind of no man's land, that transit lounge?

JOHNS: As far as we know, however so much of this story right now, Suzanne, is unclear, I wouldn't bet on anything. HOLMES: Yes, exactly.

MALVEAUX: All right.

HOLMES: Good to see you. Joe Johns there.

MALVEAUX: Edward Snowden's father, of course, Lonnie, Snowden, he's going to join our Christiane Amanpour for that interview to talk about the letter that he was referring to.

HOLMES: Indeed. That's going to be at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. It's going to be on CNN International, our sister network. And we'll bring you sound from that, of course, right here.

Meanwhile, here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD this hour.

MALVEAUX: He was one of the country's highest ranking military officials. Well, now, he is under investigation. Did James Cartwright leak government secrets to a journalist? We're going to ask about that and what is at stake, up next.

And, they grew up 40 miles apart in rural Georgia. We're going to tell you what advice former President Jimmy Carter is now giving to Paula Deen.

HOLMES: Who'd have thought?

Also, the search for an American family lost at sea. We're going to tell you why a relative thinks they are still alive after getting a very mysterious and brief phone call.


HOLMES: We're just monitoring some news we've been getting in over the last few minutes.

A Texas woman has been indicted on charges of sending those ricin- laced letters to President Obama, also to New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

MALVEAUX: So she's Shannon Guess Richardson, and she was been charged with threatening the president as well as Mayor Bloomberg. Richardson is accused of mailing three letters containing the deadly toxin, ricin.

Now she was arrested earlier this month. If convicted she could face up to five years in prison on each count.

HOLMES: All right, a former member of the top Pentagon brass is at the center of a major leak investigation.

MALVEAUX: Retired Marine general James Cartwright, he's under investigation by the Justice Department. Now that's according to a source directly familiar with the situation. Now Cartwright, he's the former vice chairman of the joints chief of staff. HOLMES: Yeah, let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Good to see you, Barbara. Tell us about this investigation. I imagine that there's a lot of head shaking at this Pentagon, particularly when it comes to a term like motive.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Head shaking, jaw dropping, befuddlement, the words go on and on, but no explanation yet. What we do know is that the Justice Department is investigating retired general, four-star, James Cartwright for material related to what was in David Sanger's book, "Confront and Conceal," about Iran's nuclear program.

This "New York Times" journalist wrote this book, had a lot of sources, but NBC News is reporting that it was General Cartwright who is under investigation for leaking details of Stuxnet. That's the computer virus that the U.S. allegedly put in the Iranian nuclear program to try and slow it down.

Unprecedented that a four-star general might have engaged in this, so there's a lot of befuddlement. You know, Cartwright, not just any general. Very close to President Obama when he served, an expert in missile technology, in cyber warfare, in nuclear weapons, someone who is a military intellectual.

Hard to see how this could have happened. The Justice Department, we must emphasize, has not charged him with anything, but he does appear to be under investigation. Michael, Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Really it's extraordinary when you think about it, Barbara, I mean, very much a familiar face in Washington and really around the whole country there. So what would be the impact, Barbara, if, in fact, he did leak some of the information that was regarding the computer program and spying on Iran's nuclear program.

STARR: People already are saying, you know, that once Stuxnet got out there, this gave the Iranians a bit of a road map into what U.S. plans were. But Stuxnet, of course, as you recall, sort of escaped into the universal electronic world, if you will, and it moved around the world, and corporate communications information technology officers began to notice the virus and began to trail it and track it. And, to a large extent, that's how believed it came to be that the U.S. and possibly even the Israelis were known to be behind Stuxnet.

This became an international information technology issue. So that cat is out of the bag. If the Justice Department moves ahead and was to prosecute General Cartwright, the implications there are absolutely enormous. I don't think anybody can recall a time when a four-star might have been under this type of scrutiny.

Again, at this point, as we stand here today, he is not charged.

HOLMES: And very briefly, Barbara, before I let you go, this also speaks to the administration's determination to pursue leakers. They have moved after leakers in way that no other administration has combined.

STARR: That is right. The White House is getting very tough, and has been for months on these leak investigations.

Look, every president comes out publicly and says, I'm opposed to leaks to the news media. We have seen this for decades. That's kind of the standard thing.

But now this administration, this White House, the Justice Department really going after these very aggressively, raising those questions, are they going after journalists for doing their jobs?

The Edward Snowden case, also another case, he is a self-confessed leaker, going after him as well.

HOLMES: Yeah, indeed.

Barbara, thanks so much. Barbara Starr on top of things at the Pentagon there.

MALVEAUX: That is huge news if that is, in fact, the case. Unbelievable. Absolutely.

Coming up, we've got new details as well about what might have upset former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez on the night that he is accused of committing murder.



Police are back searching the home of the fired New England Patriots tight end, Aaron Hernandez. That was earlier this morning. (Inaudible), only a couple of hours ago. They are now looking into the possible that he might be linked to an unsolved double murder last year.

HOLMES: Yeah, a whole separate case. Hernandez remains in jail, charged with the murder of a friend.

Now Alina Cho is outside Hernandez's house. This is in North Attleborough. What do we know about what investigators are looking for and what the leaks are here between the two cases?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As for the links, Michael, we're not sure, but what I can tell you is that Boston police were here in the overnight hours. They went into the house behind me at about 4:00 a.m., left at about 5:30 in the morning. Didn't appear to take anything. But we do know that they took some photos inside.

They are looking for clues in the unsolved murder, double murder, that happened in Boston in July of last year, and we just learned yesterday that Aaron Hernandez is being investigated in connection with that double murder.

Now keep in mind, and this can be confusing to some people who haven't been following this case really closely, this is an entirely different case, entirely separate from the first-degree murder charge that was leveled against him on Wednesday in the death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.

And in the latest twist, "The Boston Globe" is reporting this morning that the victim, Odin Lloyd, may have known about this Hernandez connection to the double murder in Boston last year which some are suggesting could speak to a motive.

HOLMES: All right. Alina, thanks so much. Alina Cho there with the latest on that incredibly (inaudible) really bizarre indeed.

MALVEAUX: Coming up, he's technically the prosecution's witness, but he might have done a lot to help the defense.

We're talking about this case, the case everybody is watching, what is happening today in the George Zimmerman trial.