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19 Firefighters Killed in Arizona Blaze; Death Valley Hits Record Highs; Continuing Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 1, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield live in Sanford, Florida. What a busy show we have ahead here.

Tragedy amid the Arizona wildfire, a western heat wave that could be breaking records, and then of course, where I am live at the George Zimmerman's second degree murder trial continuing with evidence people may not have expected they were going to hear.

All of those stories coming your way, and we are continuing our gavel- to-gavel coverage here at the Seminole County Justice Center in Sanford, Florida.

But I want to beam you right over to Arizona, right away, off the top of this program, where an elite team of fearless firefighters was caught by a fast-moving wildfire, 19 of them, all of them members of the so-called "hotshot" crew died tragically in the Yarnell Fire.

CNN's Kyung Lah is live in Prescott, Arizona, right now where those firefighters were based. Kyung, this is just a remarkable story.

How did this happen? What more do we know about this team? And what are his team members -- what are their team members saying today?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you try to talk to any of the firefighters here, they can't talk. They start to cry immediately.

The PIO, when you just ask a couple of questions, he's overwhelmed because you have to realize, in this town, they lost twenty percent of the firefighters in an instant.

And the firefighters they lost, as you said, Ashleigh, they're known as the "hotshots." They are the ones that you send to the hottest part of the fire, the most dangerous section of the fire.

They're the ones that dig the actual physical barrier between the wildfire and the homes and people they are trying to protect, the most elite, the best trained, so the loss here is beyond words for the firefighters in this town.

Here's what the fire chief told the press.


CHIEF DAN FRAIJO, PRESCOTT, ARIZONA, FIRE DEPARTMENT: Our entire crew was lost. We lost 19 people in this wildfire. It's one of the worst wildfire disasters that has ever taken place.


LAH: The weather, very erratic, namely, the winds, what they're experiencing here in this low-humidity/high-temperature weather are these monsoon-type winds.

You can't predict them, and so what they're expecting to find is that these firefighters, even though they have all this training, Ashleigh, simply were surprised. They were overcome.

They did deploy these fire shelters, these small tents, but they have to look at why they didn't work and what happened with these firefighters, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Kyung, so many questions still to answer and just such a tragedy for everybody there in Prescott and the surrounding area, too. Kyung Lah, live for us in Prescott, Arizona.

And I also want to mention, just moments ago, breaking news here, the president speaking from Tanzania about the firefighters and about this very tragedy. Have a listen.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It's one more reminder of the fact that our first responders, they put their lives on the line every single day.

And every time we have a community in crisis, a disaster strikes, we've got people in need, firefighters, law enforcement officers, they run towards the danger.

And, so, you know, we are heard broken about what happened. Obviously, we're prepared to provide any support we can in investigating exactly how this took place.

I think we need to ask ourselves a set of broader questions about how we're handling increasingly deadly and difficult firefights.


BANFIELD: Just a tragedy all around, and the president continuing his trip in Africa.

By the way, a deadly heat wave, which may be partially at fault for what you just witnessed in Prescott, Arizona, that heat wave is forcing temperatures up to a painful 110 degrees, and that's not all.

In the Southwest, the temperatures are going as high as 128. In fact, that's exactly what it read in California's Death Valley this weekend.

In case, you're wondering what 128 feels like, it's not hot enough to melt the soles of your shoes.

Tory Dunnan has more.

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, it's an overwhelming feeling the moment you step outside and feel this heat.

Here in Death Valley, the thermometers are showing it's hovering just under 110 degrees.

But it's still the morning, and it's only going to get hotter.


DUNNAN: A deadly heat wave broils from Texas to the western seaboard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to take a toll on your body.

DUNNAN: Scorching through Southern California where a hiker died, the sweltering temps may also be to blame for the death of an elderly Las Vegas man.

It's even affected flights in Arizona and California where dozens of small planes were grounded.

DAVID SHAPIRO, DESERT WEST AVIATION: When it's 110, 115 degrees, the air is thinner. The thinner the air, the less lift on the airplane.

DUNNAN: Animals are also feeling the burn. At the Houston zoo, monkeys turn to cup-size popsicles.

In Death Valley, the wind is more like a hair drier than a cool breeze.

The high today, being Sunday, was ...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, but that is very difficult.

DUNNAN: Tourists are flocking at the chance to witness record breaking temps. Describe how you're feeling.


DUNNAN: But down here, it's not all too hot to handle. These two put the phrase "hot enough to fry an egg" to the test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't taste bad.

DUNNAN: did you really just eat that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really did. It's not bad.


DUNNAN: The West Coast has turned into a life-like oven.

These scorching temperatures aren't scaring people away. In fact, tourists are flocking from around the world here to Furnace Creek in hopes of witnessing record temperatures.


BANFIELD: Tory Dunnan who was so busy over the weekend, I witnessed her actually frying an egg on a pan on a sidewalk, and it worked, and someone actually ate it. That's how hot it is there.

And, by the way, this heat wave is not showing a whole lot of signs of letting up any time soon.

Our Chad Myers, who's much better suited to look at that forecasting than I am, I've got to be honest with you, I don't know that I've ever heard of temperatures like that here in the United States.

I remember in Baghdad we measured 149 once, but that was in the sun. And we were working, so we might have been a little bit crazy by that point, but this is unbelievable, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It truly is. The hottest temperature ever, 134 in Death Valley. We were 128 yesterday. We'll run at that for the rest of the week, I think. There's just no end in sight.

Even Phoenix, I mean, you're talking about Death Valley where no one really lives. There are a few people, you know, dozens or hundreds, but we're not talking about Scottsdale and Phoenix, 115 degrees there yesterday.

Here's the problem, big high pressure off the East Coast blocking the air from shifting. The pattern just won't move, so we have this blocking high. We have all this heat bottled up here. The jet stream coming down, keeping the middle part of the country very nice.

In fact, no one is complaining in Nebraska, Chicago, or Illinois or Indiana. It's all pretty good right there, but that's going to stop. This whole jet stream that's making this part of the country cool will come up to the north.

And then the whole country is going to bake for the rest of next week. It's going to be a mess for everybody, even across the East Coast, lots of rain showers across the east as well.

We have those heat advisories, watches, and warnings all across the West. Literally, you can't take a chance leaving a puppy, a dog, a cat, a child, even an adult, in a car today out west. It's just simply that dangerous. Windows up or windows down, it's still very hot out there, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Chad, I'm just going to add to that. Any day in the summer, you should never leave anybody in a car, certainly with windows up.

But let me just ask you really quickly about that heat advisory. When I lived in Dallas, Texas, we had 45 days over 100 -- up to 110 degrees, and the temperature never dropped below 80.

And that's where it got lethal because your body temperature, if you don't have AC or fans can't cool.

Is that what the issue is when it becomes deadly weather, that you've got to just somehow get your body temperature low if you don't have those kind of opportunities?

MYERS: Yeah, it's body temperature, but it's also house temperature. The houses, the condos, the apartments aren't cooling down unless you have an air conditioner or a swamp cooler.

Because if you are only down to 90 or 85 degrees in the middle of the night, you house doesn't ever cool down. Even with the windows open, it's not going to get cool, and then by tomorrow, you're back up to 120 on the inside, and that's where we lose people as well.

If you are feeling hot, please just get to a shelter. There are plenty of them out there.


BANFIELD: It's just amazing what a difference a fan can make, remarkably, even in weather like that.

Chad Myers, keep an eye on it for us. Let us know if anything changes, critical, critical information.

Also, we are here live outside of the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center. Zimmerman on trial is the headline. But this is day six of a second-degree murder trial that has this country transfixed.

It is a contentious point, this case, at this point. Who was screaming for help in the background on those 911 calls? Whose voice was it? Two people were fighting, and screams were heard.

A neighbor named Jenna Lauer made that 911 call and a voice analysis expert for the FBI, Hirotaka Nakasone, just wrapped up his testimony as to what he thought about those sounds on that tape.

He examined the tape, but he couldn't determine if the person screaming was Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old teenager, or George Zimmerman, the young man who is on trial for second-degree murder right now.

I want to play part of that 911 call so you can listen to it for yourself. Have a listen.


911: Does he look hurt to you?

911 CALLER: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on, so ...


911 CALLER: They're sending.


911: Do you think he's yelling help?

911 CALLER: Yes.

911: All right, what is your ...


BANFIELD: It's just harrowing to hear that gunshot and how that gunshot silences all of the screaming.

George Howell with CNN is live here with me in Sanford, Florida, at the Justice Center.

George, so much is being hung on that particular part of the tape, but what's so frustrating is that the samples are so small, no one with science in his or her background could determine with certainty who it is, so where do you go from here?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, absolutely.

And when we talk about Dr. Nakasone, we are talking about a defense witness who was called on by the prosecution, and like you said, he said several things that we expected him to say here.

Number one, that the sample that was provided is just not fit for comparison; also that there is no what I to determine an age of the person screaming on that tape; and also, that there is no methodology, no science to determine who is screaming on a tape like this.

But here's the thing, when the prosecution asks Dr. Nakasone, is it possible for someone who's familiar with that voice, familiar with that person to make that determination, he said yes.

And we just heard from our legal analyst Sunny Hostin perhaps that could open the door for lay witnesses to come in, like Trayvon Martin's parents to come in and say, hey, that's the voice of my son, possible.

But when we saw cross examination, we saw the defense go back to Dr. Nakasone and they also questioned. They went back and made sure the jury is aware that, number one, there is no science to determine screaming and there's no way to determine the age of a person screaming on that tape.

BANFIELD: All right. What I want to do right now, since you brought that up, George, is actually play that small repartee -- and, by the way, no one is missing a moment of live testimony.

They've been in a break and they're going to resume shortly. We're going to get you right back into trial as soon as they do.

A bit of that tape, where that voice analysis expert actually was questioned about who is best suited to determine whose voice is on the tape. Have a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MANTEI, PROSECUTOR: So do I get what you're saying? It would be better if you were attempting to -- a familiar voice identification have someone who has heard the potential subject here under a variety of conditions as opposed to simply, say, talking to the back and forth in a courtroom or a meeting or something like that?


MANTEI: And that that would be about the best approach you could take, given this particular sample?

NAKASONE: Yes, sir.


BANFIELD: That's the prosecutor Rich Mantei and the voice expert Hirotaka Nakasone talking about maybe someone who is more familiar with the voices on the tape could testify as to who was screaming.

And there are two sets of parents who are involved in this trial, the parents of Trayvon Martin and the parents of George Zimmerman.

You don't see George Zimmerman's parents because they are not allowed in court right now. They're going to be witness, and their testimony can't be tainted by anything they hear up until now, not so for the victim's parents who are both in the courtroom.

I want to bring in our CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Mark Nejame. Mark, this is such a critical moment, because we have heard for a year those harrowing screams.

And I am a mother, and you are a father, and, I mean, look, I could tell you definitively right now, I could recognize my children's screams.

But in the supermarket last weekend, I turned my head when someone else's child was screaming and thought it was my own.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. And those are a lot of your maternal instincts. And you think you know, but the reality is when somebody gets older, they have their voices change, and we don't have the opportunity that often to have somebody with those shrills of -- those screeching, screaming voice.

When do you typically hear an adult go through that? And that's what the doctor was saying earlier, that you can't really replicate that sound, when they were having the Fry hearings? How do you really take somebody in that exact setting on the ground, the distance and all that, in order to make that readily recognizable?

BANFIELD: Didn't he say he only had three -- you know, a few seconds to work with, three-and-a-half seconds of an exemplar of Trayvon Martin's voice to work with. And they need somewhere around 30, so isn't science just gone by now?

NEJAME: And that's exactly -- what the state is doing, and it's very clever of them. They lost that Fry hearing, and that was a cornerstone of their case, to have their expert come in and say that it was, in fact, George Zimmerman's voice. They lost that.

And we predicted that they had to do something to change up their game plan. And that's exactly what they did.

Very impressed with it, what they ended up doing is taking a witness who was going to be against them, and now they made it for them.

What they are doing is laying a foundation that there is no scientific evidence, but somebody who is familiar with that voice can come in, so you will end up seeing Trayvon ...

BANFIELD: We have two sets of parents who could say they're familiar.

If you have Sybrina Fulton get up there and say, that's my baby. Don't you expect that right away -- or at least when the defense gets its opportunity, they're going to have George Zimmerman's mother and father get up there and say, that's my baby?

NEJAME: Exactly what's going to happen. And this is the best the state has. This is all they have left because ...

BANFIELD: You get what you get.

NEJAME: You get what you get, and they are playing the cards that were dealt to them. They have nothing more, so they want to be able to take this situation, make it in the light most favorable for them. And then lay it out to the jury and then try to play on the sympathy.

BANFIELD: It's not working out well for them last week.

NEJAME: They had a terrible week.

BANFIELD: But you know what? You don't get to script your case. You take what you have.

I've got my eye on the live monitor, and you're not missing a thing.

I'm going to get quick break in. These are the moments where you get introductions and some backgrounds, but you're not going to miss any testimony.

Detective Singleton is the one who is on the little box right there on your screen.

We're going to squeeze in a quick break, and then we're going to go right to here testimony the minute she gets to the heart of the matter.


BANFIELD: And as promised, getting you right back into live testimony. Detective Doris Singleton is on the stand right now. She did an interview with George Zimmerman, and it was taped. She was the person who had a chance to speak to George Zimmerman not long after the shooting.

And we want to hear exactly what her account of what he told her is. Let's listen.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: So you were directed specifically not to go to the scene but to go to the actual police department.

DETECTIVE DORIS SINGLETON: Yes, I believe at that time I was already told that Zimmerman was already en route to the police department. Of course, I didn't know his name at the time.

DE LA RIONDA: When you arrived at the Sanford Police Department, was George Zimmerman already present there?


DE LA RIONDA: OK. If you could, do you see George Zimmerman in the courtroom today?


DE LA RIONDA: And is that the person that just stood up?

SINGLETON: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: Let the record reflect the witness identified the defendant.

JUDGE: The record will so reflect.

DE LA RIONDA: When you came into contact with the defendant George Zimmerman, was he in an interview room there?

SINGLETON: Yes, sir, George Zimmerman was in an interview room.

DE LA RIONDA: And were there any officers present there?

SINGLETON: Not in the same room, but in a room where they could observe him. This particular interview room has got a two-way mirrored glass where you can see into the room, but he wouldn't have been able to see out of the room. And Officer Adam Johnson and Officer Timmy Smith were there on the other sides of the glass watching him.

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, ma'am. You briefly described the interview room, how big would you say it is about?

SINGLETON: I would say it's maybe 8 feet by 5 feet, although I'm not really good at measurements.

DE LA RIONDA: Is there a table or chairs in the interview room? SINGLETON: Yes, a table probably similar to the size of the table I'm sitting at now.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Did you end up talking to the defendant, George Zimmerman?

SINGLETON: Yes, I did talk to him that night.

DE LA RIONDA: And was your interview recorded in any way, ma'am?

SINGLETON: Yes, it was.

DE LA RIONDA: And can you briefly tell us how it was recorded?

SINGLETON: It was recorded on just a voice recorder that they give us.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Does that have the capability of video recording?


DE LA RIONDA: And can you tell us why it was not videotaped?

SINGLETON: Because I didn't know how to activate that system.

DE LA RIONDA: Now, even though by law an officer is not required to inform a person being interviewed that they're recording the video, did you in fact inform the defendant that you were recording that interview?

SINGLETON: I did inform him of that and I placed also the recorder where he could see that he was being recorded as well.

DE LA RIONDA: Did you advise the defendant George Zimmerman of his constitutional rights, or what's referred to as Miranda rights?


DE LA RIONDA: And did you use a form in doing that, ma'am?

SINGLETON: Yes, I did.

DE LA RIONDA: Ma'am, I'm going to show you what's been introduced into evidence -- State's Exhibit 174, I believe there is no objection. May I approach the witness, your honor?

JUDGE: You may.

DE LA RIONDA: I will show you State's Exhibit 174. Do you recognize said exhibit?


DE LA RIONDA: What do you recognize State's Exhibit 174 to be, ma'am?

SINGLETON: This is the Miranda warning card that I read from that night and that I signed as well as George Zimmerman signed that night.

DE LA RIONDA: And was that process informing the defendant of his constitutional rights, or his Miranda rights, recorded as part of the recording that you took of the interview of the defendant?

SINGLETON: Yes. The reading of the rights as well you can hear me having him sign it.

DE LA RIONDA: Did you ask the defendant whether he understood his rights, ma'am?

SINGLETON: Yes, I did.

DE LA RIONDA: And did he indicate whether he did or not?

SINGLETON: He said that he understood them.

DE LA RIONDA: And did he agree to waive his rights and talk to you?


DE LA RIONDA: Did you ask him questions as part of the interview and did he respond to your questions?


DE LA RIONDA: At any time during the investigation, did you threaten the defendant in any way in order to get him to make a statement?

SINGLETON: No, I did not.

DE LA RIONDA: At any time during the interview, did you promise him anything in order to get him to make a statement, ma'am?

SINGLETON: No, I didn't promise him anything.

DE LA RIONDA: In your prior experience as a police officer in the Sanford Police Department, have you had occasion to come into contact with people under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs? .

SINGLETON: Yes, very much.

DE LA RIONDA: Did the defendant appear to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to the point he was incapable of understanding what was going on?

SINGLETON: I did not get any indication that he was under any influence of anything.

DE LA RIONDA: When he spoke to you, did he have any problems understanding him when he spoke to you?

SINGLETON: No, he spoke clearly.

DE LA RIONDA: And did he have any problems understanding you when you asked him questions? SINGLETON: He never said that he misunderstood anything I said to him.

DE LA RIONDA: When you came in contact with him, did you notice some injuries on him?


DE LA RIONDA: OK. And did you discuss those with him, whether he needed any medical treatment or not?

SINGLETON: Briefly, yes.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, and did he say he did need medical treatment?

SINGLETON: He said that he didn't, from what I recall when I first walked into the room. Later on in the interview, he said he was not sure.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Did you discuss that with him in terms of providing him an opportunity if he so desired to get medical treatment?


DE LA RIONDA: And did he decline that?


DE LA RIONDA: Did he complain of an injury when you were speaking to him, like, "My head, I can't think, I'm in pain, I just can't think?" Did he ever express that to you?

SINGLETON: No, he never said those things in that way.

DE LA RIONDA: If he had done so, would you have interrupted or stopped the interview and had him checked out in some way?

SINGLETON: If he had asked at all for any reason, no matter how he was showing himself, that he wanted to go to the hospital, I would have made that happen.

DE LA RIONDA: Ma'am, when you came into contact with him, was that the evening of February 26 of 2012, is that correct?

SINGLETON: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And do you recall approximately what time you came into contact with him?

SINGLETON: Probably somewhere between 8:00 and 9:00, but that would be a guess.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: Detective Doris Singleton of the Sanford Police Department is under direct examination by prosecutors in George Zimmerman's murder trial right now. Why? Because she sat in an interrogation room with George Zimmerman right after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. She was not at the scene; she took what he said and recorded it. Not on video, in audio. Possibly we are about to hear that audiotape as well. Let's listen in.



SINGLETON: In reference to a shooting event (ph) that happened out at 2831 (inaudible) Circle.

I'm going to read you your Miranda right because you are here and you (inaudible), because we've got to figure out what's going on. You haven't been charged with a crime yet, but you are here and you can't go until we figure out what really happened.

So I'm going to ask to talk to you about it. I'm going to give you your Miranda warnings so that you understand.


SINGLETON: You have the right to remain silent. You don't have to talk to me, OK. Anything you say can be used against you in court. If you say something that proves your guilt, we can use it to prove your guilt. OK, you understand that, OK? You have the right to have an attorney present now or at any time during questioning. You understand that?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, ma'am.

SINGLETON: If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you without any cost. If you talk to me, you have the right to stop answering questions or speak to an attorney at any time. Do you understand these rights?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, ma'am.

SINGLETON: OK, and do you want to talk to me?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, ma'am.

SINGLETON: OK, what I need you to do here is put your signature and just date it.

And this is being recorded (inaudible).


SINGLETON: 2 -- today is the 26th.

Sign right here. I witnessed you sign this card. And we will (inaudible). OK, I haven't been out there. OK. So I just want you to tell me -


DE LA RIONDA: When you say you haven't been out there, what were you referring to, ma'am?

SINGLETON: To the crime scene.

DE LA RIONDA: Thank you.


SINGLETON: Before this incident, everything you know while you were there -- first of all, do you have a description? OK, so this address on your license says 1874 Valleywood Way. You no longer live there?

ZIMMERMAN: (Inaudible).

SINGLETON: Do you live in the complex or neighborhood where this occurred?


SINGLETON: OK, what is your address.

ZIMMERNAN: 1950 --

SINGLETON: Is this the correct one?

Do you live at 1950 (inaudible) Circle?

I'm going to keep quiet and you tell me the story. You tell me what happened tonight, OK. Or whatever led up to this. You have anything you want to tell me about what happened or why it ended up what it ended up to where this boy got shot.

ZIMMERMAN: OK. The neighborhood has had a lot of crimes. My wife saw our neighbors get broken into and she got scared.

SINGLETON: Are you talking about the residence or vehicles?

ZIMMERMAN: The residence while it was occupied. So I decided to start a neighborhood watch program in the neighborhood.

SINGLETON: OK, what is the name of the neighborhood?

ZIMMERMAN: (Inaudible) Lakes.

SINGLETON: Is it the little two storey condos?

ZIMMERNA: The townhouses.

SINGLETON: Townhouses, OK. Retreat -

ZIMMERMAN: Retreat at John Lakes.

SINGLETON: Retreat at John Lakes, OK.