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Heat Wave Bakes The West; First Week Ends In Zimmerman Trial; Stepmom: "Trayvon Was A Kind Person"; Mandela In Critical But Stable Condition; Snowden Offers Deal To U.S.; Zimmerman Trial Highlights; Same Sex Marriage Resumes In California; Paula Deen's Cookbook Canceled; Wimbledon Third Round Matches Today; Temperatures Hit 110 Plus In The West; Support For Clinton Growing; Sixty Percent Of NFL Players Own Guns; New Discovery In Space

Aired June 29, 2013 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A look at the top stories in this noon Eastern hour now in the NEWSROOM, scorching, sizzling, burning, however you want to say it, it is hot in the west. We'll tell you how high the thermometer will go today, next.

And the woman who helped raise Trayvon Martin for 14 years finally speaks out about his death and the murder trial of the man who shot him. Her exclusive comments straight ahead.

President Obama didn't meet Nelson Mandela today, but spoke about the South African leader to a youth town hall meeting in Soweto. We'll tell you exactly what he said.

A dangerous heat wave carrying temperatures well over 100 degrees is baking part of the west. It could hit 128 degrees in California's Death Valley today and people are doing whatever they can to stay cool. Alexandra Steele is live for us now in the CNN Weather Center. So what exactly is causing this huge heat wave?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, it's a jet stream extreme here, Fredricka. Here's what it is. This is the culprit. Really two sides of the same coin, the incredible heat that we're seeing in the southwest, in addition to the inundation of rain in the east, it's all part of the same package.

So let's talk about the heat. What this is a dome of high pressure. When you have high pressure, the air sink, it compresses and thus, it warms. Kind of like a bicycle tire when you kind of pump it up and feel the rubber. It feels warm to the touch. That air's been compressed and thus heated. So that's what is happening here. A massive dome of high pressure and there's nothing to move it or shove it out of the way.

So, the problem with this is the temperatures are so outlandishly warm, records not just for a day or for a month, but high temperatures, places that haven't seen these numbers so far and in addition to the kind of high of temperatures, also, the duration for which we're going to see this really intense heat wave through the weekend and even in toward the middle of next week.

So eight states at least in the west under some type of heat advisory, watch, warning, right now at this early hour, good morning to you in Phoenix, not a lot of tee times happening out there, 100 degrees. Look how dry it is too. Humidity in the teens, dew point's 41. So Phoenix this time of year should be in the 100s. It should be at 107 degrees.

Look at this, today, 118 degrees. Only 2 degrees shy of 120. They have only been 120 three times in their history, so this is a really, some incredible number, but look at the unfortunate news, Tuesday, 111, Wednesday, 110, so still well above average.

Las Vegas as well, you're inside the strip, right, 100 degrees. Not even at the pool it's so hot. Right now at this early hour, now, Vegas actually on the average is 103, so they, too, are in the 100s, but today, 116 topping records. These are old records, 115, 116. If they hit 117 tomorrow, it will be their highest temperature they have ever recorded.

So Fredricka, we're talking about some outlandish numbers an you mentioned in Death Valley, I mean, nobody lives there. It's 3 million acres of desert and heat, but that's where the warmest temperature in the world was recorded just about 100 years ago to the date almost and they're expecting 109 tomorrow and Monday.

WHITFIELD: My goodness, that is extreme indeed. All right, thanks so much, Alexandra. Appreciate that. Coming up in about 30 minutes, we will go to a place where people do live and it is desert like there, but look, he's still swinging the club. It's already 110 degrees in some areas and we'll talk to golfers who are out in the heat and how they are trying to keep cool along the way in Palm Springs.

Jurors in the murder trial of George Zimmerman have the weekend off to think about the long parade of prosecution witnesses that they saw and heard from this week. Our Martin Savidge is in Sanford, Florida with the very latest. Martin, there was a lot testimony that stood out, but is there a testimony that the defense might really applaud and say it's helping them make their case.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Hello, Fredricka, you know, a lot of the attention had been focused on what was called the prosecution's star witness. That was Wednesday, Thursday, but Friday, the witnesses that had crucial information that struck at the heart of this entire case and probably at the forefront was Jonathan Good, he is a neighbor.

He lives in the residence, that condominium complex where this tragedy played out and he probably was the closest to the struggle that was taking place between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. He identified by both the color of skin and also clothing. As to the fact of who was on the bottom and top. Well, for the defense, they wanted names. This is Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney trying to extract that from this witness. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE LAWYER: The night that you saw the person you now know to be Trayvon Martin was on top, correct?


O'MARA: He was the one who was raining blows on the person on the bottom, George Zimmerman, right?

GOOD: That's what it looked like.


SAVIDGE: And not only did the identification, he also had that added description you heard Mark O'Mara say raining blows. The witness himself said it looked like MMA, mixed martial arts, then switched to another description, ground and pound, which in some way insinuates that the victim is being beaten against the ground.

So that was very strong for the defense because of course George Zimmerman said the reason that he had to shoot Trayvon Martin was the fact that he was being killed, beaten to death, literally, by the 17-year-old that night -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Martin Savidge, thanks so much. There in Sanford, Florida.

All right, someone else who knows Trayvon Martin is now speaking out. Alicia Stanley helped raise Trayvon Martin from the age of 3 until she and Trayvon's father split up 14 years later. Until now, we have not heard from her. She gave this exclusive interview to CNN's "AC 360."


ALICIA STANLEY, TRAYVON MARTIN'S STEPMOTHER: I want people to know that Trayvon was a kind person. He was a loving person. He loved children, babies. You know, before this happened, I really believe he would have been working with children because he adored children. And just let people know he's not what the media make him out to be. He was this thug, he wasn't that.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": Are you watching the trial?

STANLEY: I am not watching the trial.


STANLEY: It's hard for me. I mean -- to see and hear the things that led to his death -- it's hard for me and I don't care to hear it. I don't care to hear that. I don't.

COOPER: Do you have any doubt about what happened?

STANLEY: I have no doubt that he didn't start that fight. He didn't start the fight. What I'm saying is that he did, it was a fight. There's no doubt it was a fight and Zimmerman had to put his hands on him to cause that fight. He was defending himself.

So for people to say well, he tried to kill him and he this and he that, I don't think anyone would have been standing somewhere in the dark and been approached by someone they don't know and been pushed around and you're not going to defend yourself.


WHITFIELD: All right, much more on the legal issues in the George Zimmerman trial also still ahead.

All right, President Barack Obama is in South Africa today, but he did not visit Nelson Mandela out of what he called difference to Mandela's peace and comfort.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: President Mandela once said that during all those years in that cell, it was his home here in Soweto, that small, red brick house. That was what he called the center point of my world. Obviously, he's on our minds today and we join the people of the world in sending our prayers to his family because he still inspires us all.


WHITFIELD: The 94-year-old remains in critical, but stable condition with a recurring lung infection. Our Isha Sesay is live for us now in Pretoria. So Isha, South African President Jacod Zuma spoke about Mr. Mandela's health earlier today. How much more in detail is he revealing?

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka. Good to talk to you. President Zuma saying what he said in an official statement on Thursday that the former president, Nelson Mandela, who lies in the hospital just behind me, was still in critical condition, but was stable.

He also added after these comments, saying we hope it will improve and that Mandela will be out of the hospital very soon. Of course, feelings echoed by many not just in South Africa, but around the world.

Also worth pointing out to you, Fredricka, that a very, very close Mandela family friend turned up here and at the tribute wall, which is just behind me outside the hospital a couple of hours ago, a man by the name of Max Azulu, whose father, Walter, was an extremely close friend of Nelson Mandela and was in fact a fellow political prisoner.

Max Azulu saying outside the hospital that Madiva is responding well and we're happy with the progress Madiva is making. Words once again that people around the world could take great comfort from -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Isha Sesay, thanks so much. Keep us posted there from Pretoria.

The family of the man accused of leaking government secrets about surveillance is trying to make a deal with the Justice Department. Edward Snowden's father sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. In it, he says his son could return to the United States voluntarily to face charges, but only if he remains free prior to trial and can choose where he is tried.

He also doesn't want his son to be subject to a gag order. Snowden's father says he hasn't spoke to his son since April. The attorney general hasn't commented on the letter. We'll have more ahead from the NEWSROOM right to your living room.

Also coming up, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, we'll hear from a man who met Mandela the day he was released from prison.

Also ahead, the trial of George Zimmerman, we'll go inside the courtroom and look at what might be next.


WHITFIELD: In the murder trial of George Zimmerman, jurors this week heard from people who either saw or heard the altercation between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. One was a neighbor who watched the fight from just a few feet away and from his perspective it looked like Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman in a violent exchange he called ground and pound.


O'MARA: What you saw was the person on top in an MMA-style straddle position, correct?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: That was further described as being ground and pound?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: What is ground and pound?

GOOD: That's usually what takes place in that type of position.

O'MARA: Explain what ground and pound is in your mind?

GOOD: The person on top being able to punch the person on the bottom, but the person on the bottom also has a chance to get out or punch the person on top, back and forth.

O'MARA: Sure. Which is the dominant position?

GOOD: That would be the top position.


WHITFIELD: Let's bring in our legal guys. Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland. Good to see you and Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor joining us from Las Vegas. Good to see you as well.

All right, gentlemen, so I talked to you about 20 minutes ago and you gave us some pretty pivotal one-liners about how this testimony really does serve well for the defense. Avery, you say John Good's testimony was pretty good for the defense in what way?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, he was the closest person to the action. It was actually outside his back porch. He saw what was going on. He heard what was going on. This is such a radical development. Typical you know, if you actually tried cases merely not talk about them, it's the way it goes.

This case started off, Fredricka, with John Guy giving a riveting one-half hour opening statement. We thought, wow, the prosecution's going to pull this off, but John Good in my judgment is the ticket. He's creating reasonable doubt and I think this case is moving so quickly. It is possible we could see this thing wrapping up in a week or so. So John Good is the key at this point.

WHITFIELD: It is amazingly quick. All of a sudden, Richard, when it first started rather slow particularly, you had one witness on there for two days and everyone was on the edge of their seat watching the friend, Rachel Jeantel, and then, suddenly on Friday, it picked up with one first responder or neighbor after another. Did you see a real tidal shift in advantage of this case as that unfolded?

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Fred, I never saw an advantage for the prosecution in this case at any time. Even after the openings. All the eyewitnesses have been obliterated on cross-examination. No credibility. The only one that has any credibility is this John Good. He was directly within 10, 15 feet of the altercation.

He stepped out. He told this jury Trayvon Martin was on top, Zimmerman was below, and Trayvon martin was throwing punches down on Zimmerman. It's common sense, Fred, the jury is equipped with common sense and they're going to be called to rely upon it. The guy had almost a broken nose perhaps, definitely blooded and swollen, and the back of his head had lacerations.

Was this serious bodily harm in his mind? Did he think he was in imminent fear of death? That allows him to pull out his gun and shoot. It's not case where he got up on a Sunday afternoon, went to the store and on the way there, saw Trayvon Martin and shot him. It's not that.

If he was going to do that, he wouldn't have a broken nose and blood all over his face and in the back of his head. It's not how it went down. Common sense is going to rule this case and this John Good, the prosecution witness --

FRIEDMAN: We're not even halfway done with the case.

HERMAN: We are. The case is over on Wednesday. The case will be over Wednesday and there is going to be a motion to dismiss and I think the judge is going to reserve decision on it. They have not proven second degree murder.

WHITFIELD: Why would there be this motion to dismiss in your view?

HERMAN: Because it's insufficient. The evidence they've reduced the trial is insufficient to support a second degree murder case. They don't have it and they have the ultimate burden of proof here to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no self-defense. They haven't done that either.

FRIEDMAN: The jury will make that decision. That's not correct.

HERMAN: It's a disservice to the Martin family that they brought a second degree murder charge here.

WHITFIELD: The jurors are going to decide what constitutes real threat. Yes, there may have been a fight, but we're seeing that being substantiated by the eyewitness account, whether it be audible or from John Good who saw part of that struggle.

But then the jury it seems is going to be in a place of deciding wait a minute, a fight, how does it go from you know, a brawl, a fight to I think I'm about to lose my life and so I'm pulling out a gun or a gun is fired and someone is killed. Isn't that really at the core here, Avery?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. I mean, I can't imagine that Judge Debra Nelson, who I think has been courageous and has handled this case well, would take this out of the hands of the jury because I think there are different ways of viewing the evidence. I think again, where I'm in agreement is that this is a tough case.

Whether there's an overcharge of second degree murder remains to be seen, but ultimately, I think Judge Nelson must let the jury make this decision. It will not end this Wednesday. It will move fast, maybe another week or so to go, but the jury's going to make the decision here.

HERMAN: The prosecution's case will end on Wednesday and Friday, I think the defense case will begin. There only have to bring in the pathologist, show his body then bring in the parents and other friends to say that voice was Trayvon Martin's. That's the prosecution case. There are no other witnesses. It's over.

WHITFIELD: This is going to be fascinating and we'll be talking about it again. In about 20 minutes, we are all going to be talking about the former NFL player, Aaron Hernandez and the trouble he is now facing. Now that he is looking at first degree murder charges and an investigation involving him widens even further.

All right, gentlemen, see you in about 25. All right, Monday, don't miss the CNN special report, "The N Word." Don Lemon hosts Monday night at 7:00 Eastern Time only on CNN.

All right, up next, Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter who led a country out of apartheid, we'll talk about his life and legacy.


WHITFIELD: As President Obama visits South Africa, his trip is overshadowed by the deteriorating health of Nelson Mandela. The former president of South Africa is gravely ill at a hospital in Pretoria.

Let's bring in John Battersby in London. He is the co-author of "Nelson Mandela, A Life In Photographs." John, thanks so much for being with us. So, as a journalist, you have covered South Africa for decades, interviewing Nelson Mandela many times.

In fact, you were standing outside the prison when he was released back in 1990 and we have a photograph, I think, that we are able to show. Apparently, you were the first member of the public to shake his hand. Do you remember how the former president symbolized kind of strength and fortitude at that time and do you feel like he's displaying that same kind of fight today?

JOHN BATTERSBY, CO-AUTHROR, "NELSON MANDELA: A LIFE IN PHOTOGRAPHS": Yes, absolutely. I remember that day very well because in fact, I was actually inside the prison grounds, rather than outside. And it was an extraordinary moment when he came forward and shook my hand and we exchanged smiles.

Yes, I think the nature of his twilight if you like, this period, which he's going through now, is as extraordinary in some ways as his life itself because this past week, we've seen quite a profound thing happening in South Africa. You know, only a few days ago, people were beginning to believe that what some of the members of the family had been saying that he was that he's now on life support.

And therefore, it was in the minds of many, it was just a matter of time and then we heard from his one daughter that he had when he heard that President Obama was coming to the country, he had tried to open his eyes and had a faint smile and again from the other daughter the next day, that he was trying to open his eyes.

I think this humanized him in a very dramatic way so that the vigils that are going on outside the hospital, the walls where people are putting up messages, the works of art that are being created and the outpouring South Africa is a real unifying experience for South Africa as Mr. Mandela lies in the state somewhere between life and death.

Even in that moment, he's uniting the country. He's inspiring people and people I think are feeling reconnected through what the members of the family are saying as they're coming out of the hospital.

WHITFIELD: You describe it as very unifying, but at the same time, reportedly, one of Mandela's daughters, you mentioned, is accusing the mass international you know, press, as being like vultures. She's quoted as saying it's truly like vultures waiting when the lion has devoured the buffalo. That's the image that we have as a family. So after all this time, you know, Nelson Mandela as a public figure, there seems to be a pretty sizable contingent within the family that's having a difficult time sharing Nelson Mandela with the public, especially at this very delicate moment.

BATTERSBY: I think the family is having a difficult time and obviously, there are stresses and strains within the family, which is evident for all to see. And perhaps that, those rather harsh words reflect that sense of emotional stress and trauma. But I never the less think that in these past few day, if one listens to what various members of the family have said individually when they've come out from seeing Mandela, that there is a real humanizing process again taking place. People who have outside been waiting for information for a very long time and that's the public and the media are now feeling more connected. Despite some of the comments that have been made.

WHITFIELD: Journalist and author, John Battersby, thanks so much for joining us from London today.

BATTERSBY: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, back in this country, perhaps if you're out west, you don't need me to tell you it's hot outside. We're talking about triple digits, my gosh, and the thermometer just keeps rising. How are people coping? We'll take you there, next.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A look at our top stories that we're following for you this hour, more same-sex couples are expected to marry today in California. A federal appeals court cleared the way yesterday following the Supreme Court decision earlier in the week. Among the first to tie the knot yesterday was a couple who launched the appeal that went to the top court. California is the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Paula Deen's publisher said it is canceling publication of her next cookbook. It's the latest blow for Deen whose empire has been crumbling ever since she admitted to saying the n-word. The cookbook's advance sales skyrocketed this week on Amazon, but now, it won't even hit the shelves.

And a day after 21-year-old American teacher was killed during protests in Egypt, supporters and opponents of Egypt's president are back on the street. State media says fighting between the two sides have left several people hurt in the port city of Alexandria.

And two o of the world's top tennis players will be playing at Wimbledon today. American Serena Williams and Serbian Novak Djokovic will be playing their third round matches. In the last few days, several top seed players have dropped out of the tournament because of injuries.

Back in this country, a brutal heat wave is sending temperatures into triple digits in the west. It was so hot in Las Vegas yesterday. More than 30 people at an outdoor concert had to be taken to the hospital. Almost 200 others had to be whisked away to get some sort of shade.

Casey Wian is right in the blazing sun right on the greens there, like you're about to tee off there in Palm Springs, California, but instead, you're kind of alone out there. Is it just too hot to play?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For most people, Fredricka, it really is. Saturday morning, look, we've got some people showing up on the driving range. There's a half dozen folks getting ready to play, but for most of the morning, it has been pretty empty. They're expecting about 40 golfers on the course today, normal day in the middle of the summer, well over 100, so people staying away to beat the heat. Here's what one golfer said about why he's here today.


JACK ANDRUS, GOLFER: I'll tell you one thing. Although it's about getting the ball in the hole, it's also about hitting the ball to shade. So it adds another element to the game. So, we have fun. We do it.


WIAN: So, extra challenges for the golfers out here. The golf course passing out cards letting everybody know where the water is located, we're not talking about water hazards that your golf ball might end up in. We're talking about drinking water. They've got them throughout the course.

We're expecting 121 degrees today, which would tie an all time high. Right now, 9:30 in the morning, but look at the ground. It's got that grass. It's already 128 degrees at 9:30 in the morning on the grass. It's going to be very, very hot today. Power companies advising people to really cut back on their electricity usage so they don't have blackouts.

WHITFIELD: Wow, indeed, very hot and dry, tough situation. Thanks so much, Casey Wian. And of course, you at home, if you are dealing with that kind of intense heat today, we want to know. How are you coping? Send us an I-report

Up next, Hillary Clinton, 2016? We'll tell you which high profile lawmaker is giving the former first lady, senator and secretary of state, a huge political boost.


WHITFIELD: If Hillary Clinton is thinking of running for the White House in 2016, she just got a bit of a boost. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told "USA Today" that the party is coalescing behind Clinton for a 2016 run. CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser has more. PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hi, Fred. Hillary Clinton isn't talking about whether she'll run for the White House again, but it sure seems like everyone else is.


REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I don't know why she wouldn't run. She's prepared. She's well-known, highly respected. She knows she would be able to do the job so very, very well.


STEINHAUSER: That's House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In an interview with "USA Today," Pelosi knows something about making history. She was the first and only woman to ever serve as House speaker. Pelosi said she personally hopes Clinton runs.


PELOSI: I believe that she would be the best prepared person to enter the White House in decades.


STEINHAUSER: Clinton's staying mum about her political future instead she is talking about her new role at.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: What are we are officially renaming the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.


STEINHAUSER: But that's not keeping others from making moves. This past week, a group that's urging Clinton to run for president held meetings with top Democratic donors and in two weeks, a group called "Stop Hillary 2016" holds its first meeting. The next presidential election still a long, long way away, but there's already plenty of action going on -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Paul. Keep us posted on all of this, very quick moving parts.

Monday, don't miss a CNN special report. "The N-Word." Don Lemon hosting Monday night at 7:00 Eastern Time only on CNN.

Still ahead, the NFL was stunned when Patriots Aaron Hernandez was charged with the murder of a close friend and it might get even worse. That's next in our legal discussion.


WHITFIELD: The high profile arrest of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is sensational, but sadly, it is not unique. CNN's Jason Carroll explains why the gun culture within the NFL seems to attract trouble.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, there has been a documentary on the issue. Columnists have written about it. It has been debated in and out of sports circles. What exactly is the gun culture within the NFL?


CARROLL (voice-over): Aaron Hernandez is the latest NFL player caught up in a gun-related crime, but certainly not the first. December 2012, Kansas City Chief's linebacker, Joe Van Belcher shoots his girlfriend, and then takes his own life. The incident put NBC's sportscaster, Bob Costas squarely at the center of a gun debate.

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS COMMENTATOR: It's more likely that something bad will happen if you're armed than something good will happen.

CARROLL: In 2009, former New York Giant, Plaxico Burres serves jail time after pleading guilty to a weapons charge.

BRENT SCHROTENBOER, SPORTS WRITER, "USA Today": There is a media amplification factor here when a player like Burres shoots himself in the leg. It gets on television for days and it doesn't do that for a regular person.

CARROLL: How many players in the NFL actually own firearms? Statistics are anecdotal. The league doesn't keep numbers. Players and sports analysts we spoke to estimate the number near 60 percent compared to roughly 45 percent of the general population according to the National Rifle Association.

THOMAS JONES, FORMER NFL RUNNING BACK: You can say there's a gun culture in any you know, group of people. You know, there could be a gun culture at, you know, people work at CNN.

CARROLL: Former NFL running back Thomas Jones says he and many other former and current players legally own guns for protection.

JONES: Unfortunately, people will try to take advantage of you in any way they possibly can. Like I said, I'm not a gun advocate, but I'm a life advocate, I'll say that.

CARROLL: Jones points to the incident involving Washington Redskins' star safety Sean Taylor. In 2007, an intruder shot and killed Taylor in his Miami home.

CHRIS JOHNSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS CORNERBACK: If he would have had any type of protection in his home, he could have pretty much defended himself.

CARROLL: Chris Johnson is a Baltimore Ravens cornerback. Gun violence has touched him personally. His sister killed by gunfire, her boyfriend charged with her murder.

JOHNSON: I took an extra step to go and get my concealed handgun because the way the world is starting to turn, a lot of people you know, are using guns for the wrong reason.

CARROLL: The union representing NFL players set up a gun safety course, knowing a sizable number in the ranks own guns, players like Cleveland Brown's safety T.J. Ward says he does not own a gun. At 17, he lost a friend and high school teammate, Terrence Kelly, to gun violence.

(on camera): Have you ever had a conversation with another player about guns?

TJ WARD, CLEVELAND BROWNS SAFETY: Yes, there's been plenty of conversations.

CARROLL (voice-over): He says gun ownership in the NFL may go beyond the need for protection.

WARD: If you're trained to live a certain way your whole life that is not going to stop. People that grow up in a certain environment or bad environment, you have to same friends, you have the same people you hang out with, it's hard to kick something you've known your whole life, just because you're NFL now.

CARROLL: Even to this day, Ward's mother still worries.

LANEITA WARD, TJ WARD'S MOTHER: Every day, I know my son, it's not him. It's the other people that carry the weapons.


CARROLL: It should be noted that an overwhelming majority of those who own guns in the NFL do so without ever having a run in with the law. The NFL commissioner declined a request for an interview on the story. A spokesman did say when it comes to any crimes, gun related or not, committed by NFL players, he wanted to point out that the average arrest rate for NFL players is consistently lower he says than the general population -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Jason Carroll.

So, CNN has now confirmed that a silver SUV is sought in a drive by double murder last year in Boston was registered to Aaron Hernandez. That vehicle was impounded overnight in Bristol, Connecticut.

Let's bring in our legal guys again. Avery Friedman in Cleveland, Richard Herman in Las Vegas. All right, gentlemen, we know Hernandez charged with the murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, his friend. Held without bail, but now, with this new evidence being collected in relation to another murder case, a double murder, this is not looking good, Richard. Where do you see that investigation going now that this vehicle has been impounded?

HERMAN: Well, Fred, you have the Florida case where it's alleged that he shot someone in the face. You have the current case in which he's arrested. No bail. Planned and deliberate first degree murder allegations against him. You got him being investigated on a drive by shooting last year.

This man who had a $40 million contract like Johnny Cash sang in the song, going down, down, down, burning ring of fire, he has blown up. I don't know what's happened to him, but this man is in deep trouble. You know, he has a high priced criminal defense attorney.

And the current case, there's court appointed counsel representing the co-defendants. Someone's going to flip on him real soon. He is in deep trouble, facing life without parole.

WHITFIELD: And Avery, what are you saying?

HERMAN: Avery's right.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, I think you have co-participants, co- conspirators in the case involving Odin Lloyd. This is unbelievable. I don't know I know what people are thinking. Since 9/11, you've got cameras all over the place and the fact is they've got surveillance where, there's a pick-up. There's obviously the alleged murder in this industrial field and then returning with video and the weapon. It's unbelievable as well as texts from the victim to his sister.

WHITFIELD: And then I guess reportedly, there are also texts involving Hernandez texting Odin Lloyd something like 2:30 in the morning of June 17th to try and get together. They did, allegedly, Hernandez and some others and then reportedly Hernandez actually being part of unloading five bullets into Odin Lloyd's body. The evidence, it does seem clear, but right now, the charges are only involving the Odin Lloyd case, right?

FRIEDMAN: Right and that's where the focus really should be. That's exactly right. The other one, we'll see what happens. This guy's got enormous problems. Maybe it goes back to Jason Carroll's point about this package on gun ownership, 60 percent of members of the NFL?

WHITFIELD: That's extraordinary.

FRIEDMAN: -- many of whom have no training? Holy smokes, it's amazing.

WHITFIELD: And Richard, do you think ultimately, they're going to look at whether these cases are all related? It doesn't even matter. You've got separate cases, but all involving allegedly violent crimes here.

HERMAN: All of them involving Hernandez with a gun. That's not good.


HERMAN: At his arraignment, the prosecution let the case out painstakingly in detail that this was an execution type slaughter. He was upset with him because he was talking to enemies about him in some nightclub. He got him in the car, drove him to a remote area, shot him execution style. When he came home, his home surveillance caught him holding a gun. Although Hernandez tried to destroy his home video and cell phone, they were able to retrieve information off that despite the fact it was destroyed. He's in big trouble here -- Fred.

FRIEDMAN: And five gun charges accompanying first degree murder charges, so this is a great big bowl of trouble for Hernandez.

WHITFIELD: This is big. This case is just getting so huge. It's remarkable. All right, thanks so much.

Richard, Avery, always good to see you. Appreciate it and you can catch Avery and Richard because they are so dynamic, so smart. That's why we have them. You can catch them this time, every weekend, every Saturday, this noon Eastern hour for all the intriguing cases of the day, week, period.

All right, all eyes are on the constellation of scorpions find out about the record breaking scientists say they have found 22 light years away.


WHITFIELD: A new discovery may help answer the question of whether or not we are alone in the universe. Scientists say three newly discovered planets rotating the same star have the potential to sustain life. CNN's Tom Foreman has more.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Right now as of this weekend, we believe we are the only planet in our solar system that can support life. But that doesn't necessarily mean we're alone in the universe because this discovery way out there, about 22 light years away in the constellation Scorpius has scientists very excited.

They say they found a star with three different planets that might support live. Let's zoom in out there and take a look. They say the view would be quite spectacular, a lot like this. And imagine this, over there, that little crescent, that's one of our fellow planets circling around, three suns in the sky. This is what we would call a super earth.

All three of these planets, meaning their mass is four to eight times as much of that of our own earth. There would be a lot of rock here. Almost entirely made of rock, much of it is made of water. Their sunny side always faces the sun and the dark side always faces away. It doesn't rotate like our own earth.

This is quite extraordinary they found three of these so close to each other because we've searched the guys for many, many year, scientists around the world, and they've found about 900 planets and out of those, only about 12 are capable of supporting any kind of life.

So with the encouragement of this new discovery, they will keep on looking that with so many stars out there similar to our own sun, almost certainly will have to find more. WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Tom Foreman. Appreciate that.

As Nelson Mandela clings to life in a Pretoria hospital, the world prays for him. I'll talk to civil rights activist, Andrew Young, about Mandela's legacy in the next hour.

Also, are "Sesame Street" characters, Bert and Ernie gay? A new magazine cover is generating a lot of discussion about their sexual orientation. That story is coming up at 3:00 Eastern Time. Stay with us.