Return to Transcripts main page
Families Mourn 19 Firefighters; Update on George Zimmerman Trial; George Zimmerman Trial Continues
Aired July 3, 2013 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Keeping a close eye on Cairo. The streets of Cairo filled with hundreds of protesters. Some are for the president and others against him. The role of the military, it is unclear. A top advisor to Morsi that he believes a military coup is under way. We are waiting to hear from the military officials to give us a sense of what is taking place on the ground there. Obviously very, very tense moment there in Cairo, Egypt. A potentially explosive situation. We're watching the developments. As soon as we have more, we'll take you to the streets of Cairo.
We're also following this. July 4th holiday could be a wash out. This is for millions of Americans. On the same week that the northeast got hit with heavy storms and flooding, severe storm bringing storms to the southeast. It's going to last for several days. Flash flooding will be a big threat from Florida up to Virginia. In the west, a much different scenario. Relentless heavy heat, a heatwave, rather, wave making life miserable for California, Nevada and Arizona. Temperatures well into the triple digits. Expected to continue through the holiday.
It's brutal heat that is making a difficult job even harder. This is for the firefighters battling that deadly fire in Arizona. The Yarnell Hill Fire burning about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix. 8 percent contained. It has scorched 100 acres, burned about 200 homes.
The biggest loss came Sunday. You might recall 19 members of an elite firefighting squad were killed after the wind shifted unexpectedly.
Stephanie Elam talked to the family of those heroes, and the reality of the tragedy still hasn't sunken in.
TAMMY MISNER, MOTHER OF SEAN MISNER: Keep waiting for him to walk in the door or call and say, oh, it just so happened I was moving a truck or something --
TAMMY MISNER: I got lost in the woods.
ELAM CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tammy and Ron Misner still can't believe their son, 26-year-old Sean, is gone. Sean was one of the 19 Prescott firefighters killed battling the Yarnell Hill Fire.
RON MISNER, FATHER OF SEAN MISNER: I never believed it until I heard them read his name. (INAUDIBLE). That's when I first realized it was real.
ELAM: Athletic and friendly, Sean had fire fighting in his blood. Tammy's father, Herbert McElwee, was a firefighter for 57 years, on the front lines of some notorious wildfires, eventually rising to fire chief. Tammy's brother, Tim McElwee, retired from the Prescott Fire Department in 2010 after 31 years.
TIM MCELWEE, TAMMY'S BROTHER: All I heard is that Sean was doing an outstanding job being his first year.
ELAM: His first year in the elite Hot Shot team.
RON MISNER: That's what he wanted to do, what he worked so hard to do. He loved that. He loved his fellow firefighters.
TAMMY MISNER: That's all he could talk about besides his wife and child.
ELAM: Sean's wife of nearly a year, Amanda, is seven months pregnant with the couple's first child.
TAMMY MISNER: There's no words. There's nothing you can say or do that can make things better. We can only give her support and just try to help her through this time.
ELAM: The baby already has a name.
TAMMY MISNER: Jackson Herbert Misner. Herbert, after my dad, who passed away on December 2nd.
ELAM: On Sunday, word began to swirl that this our-of-control fire was threatening some Hot Shot firefighters.
MCELWEE: Unfortunately, I had to let Amanda know that our worst fears -- sorry -- had come about. Of course, I had to tell my sister.
TAMMY MISNER: My initial feeling was how scared he must have been. But I know that my dad arms were around him and saying, Sean you're going home with me. You're going to come with me. We're going to watch over our family together.
ELAM (on camera): This is a time of mourning for all of the families of the Hot Shot firefighters. For the Misner's, it's a heart-turning mixture of sorrow and joy as they await the arrival of baby Jackson Herbert.
TAMMY MISNER: We're looking forward to seeing his precious face.
We're just trying to keep Amanda healthy. And she's going to be a wonderful mother.
ELAM: The baby's grandparents say they want him to know just how much his dad loved him.
TAMMY MISNER: Even before you were born, how much he loved you and wanted to teach you how to be a great man, a great person.
MALVEAUX: Stephanie Elam joins us from Prescott, Arizona.
It's heartbreaking to see the story. Obviously, that baby will know how much love his father had for him.
But the vigil last night in Yarnell. Tell us about that. You were able to talk to people and see people there.
ELAM: One of the things, Suzanne, everyone was wanting to see and put their arms around as a community was Brandon McDunnett (ph), the lone survivor of this Hot Shot crew. He was doing what he was supposed to be doing. He was there on a perch as a look out watching out for the fire to shift directions. He moved over and radioed the crew that's what he was doing. The fire moved. He put out statement through fire fighting officials.
Keep in mind, this man just 21 years old and dealing with survivor's grief and consoling his other firefighters families as well. Just dealing with a lot at this point.
MALVEAUX: I can only imagine. Stephanie, so many of those young men, they were young. They were really young. They were in their 20s.
ELAM: Most of them. I think the average age was in their 20s for these firefighters. Very young.
One of the things I was struck by talking to the Misner family, Tim Misner, who retired from the fire department, for 31 years, he worked in there. His brother is a firefighter. And his son, who is like a brother to Sean, is also a firefighter for the Prescott Fire Department. So his question, you toil with, you do this and live your life as a firefighter and you wonder why these young men just starting out, why they are the ones that are lost. A lot of confusion and mixed emotion here as they try to just figure out how to move on after a loss so huge as this one.
Stephanie, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
You might wonder, at the corner of your screen, we've been watching that. That's the courtroom for the trial of George Zimmerman. We expect they will go back into that room. They will again hear more testimony from the prosecution that that is going to be happening just moments away. They're on a lunch break now. About 1:45 is when they are expected to return. We'll be there live.
MALVEAUX: Going to take you back to live coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial when they return from lunch in a few minutes. We're expecting in about five minutes or so for them to resume and go back to work.
I want to bring you up to speed in what happened this morning, the proceedings. Jurors got a look at this, the gun that George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin. A firearms expert explained how it works and how the bullet ripped through Martin's sweatshirt.
Earlier today, jurors heard from Zimmerman's college professors as well, as prosecutors tried to prove he wanted to be a cop and he was acting aggressively on the night he shot Trayvon Martin.
I want to bring in George Howell, who is outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida, to talk a little about this morning.
First of all, let's talk about the firearm analyst. This is Amy Siewert. She explained how close these two were because of what she learned from the residue of the gun. Can you explain why that was significant?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Suzanne. Basically, she explained the process. She did what is called a distance examination where she took some of the live rounds that were in that gun that she was testing. I think there were seven. Took some of those and fired shots into samples of clothing. Samples of clothing from Trayvon Martin's sweater, his hoodie, and trying to determine the distance between the muzzle and the fabric. She came to the determination that the muzzle was in contact with the fabric. It was a close-range, contact shot that was fired.
I want you to listen to a bit of what she said in court. We can talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS EXPERT: This is a close-up shot of the tests I generated with the lighter-color sweatshirt, depicting a little better that you can see the tearing and the blackening of the fabric right around the hole.
JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: All right. Are your findings consistent with the muzzle of the gun having been pressed into the dark hooded sweatshirt and then fired through both the dark-hooded sweatshirt and the lighter-colored sweatshirt?
SIEWERT: It's consistent with the muzzle of the firearm touching the outer sweatshirt, and the inner sweatshirt being in direct contact with the outer one, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Prosecutors made a point, this is a weapon that had a live round and was fully loaded, ready to be fired. But the defense attorneys also insist they make the point that this is the type of weapon that can be helpful in case of self-defense. Right after that, we saw prosecutors come back and say that it could also be used in a case of murder.
MALVEAUX: Let's talk about one of the George Zimmerman's former college professors. There were a couple that took the stand. Alexis Carter testified Zimmerman got an "A" in his criminal justice class. He also taught the Stand Your Ground law. What was the significance of letting the jurors know he was very much aware of that type of law, that self-defense law?
HOWELL: Specifically the Stand Your Ground law. Carter made the point, in his class, it was practical application. He showed his students YouTube videos of what to do in different scenario. There was a point when attorney, Don West, asked a question about this, and it seemed like Don West was surprised when he learned his is not textbook explanation. It's more practical application of what to do in different scenarios. And clearly it goes to what prosecutors are trying to prove that Zimmerman knew a thing or two about law enforcement. He studied how to be a witness. Also studied things about what to say in certain situations, what to do in certain situations. But defense attorneys make the point that none of that is really relevant to this particular case.
MALVEAUX: All right, George.
We're going to bring live coverage as soon as it starts. Should be any minute now.
Also tonight, 10:00 eastern, Anderson Cooper taking a look at today's testimony. Is the prosecution's case falling apart? "A.C. 360" airing a special at 10:00 eastern tonight on CNN.
We'll be right back.
MALVEAUX: We're watching live pictures here. This is in Cairo, Egypt. These are opposing protests. One in support of the president, Morsi, and the other against the president. They want to see him go. What is happening now is there is tension that is rising as the two groups grow in these different areas and different sections of Cairo. We're waiting now for the military to make a statement. According to one of the president's closest advisors, he said there's a military coup under way, an effort to oust this president. We're waiting more official word from the military. We also are waiting to hear from the Egyptian president himself.
We're also following another development, another story, and that's the George Zimmerman trial out of Florida. Let's listen in. The court has resumed.
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We were provided with his report on June 4th, that one that's been the subject of many things, including the sanctions motion. We've had no opportunity, since we started the Frye and other hearings and jury selection, no opportunity to take his deposition and any follow up there. We need to do that. We need to take Mr. Crump's deposition. There are some other witnesses, if we had the opportunity, we would like to take their deposition. (CROSSTALK)
DEBRA NELSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE: Let me interrupt you for just a moment.
What is the availability of Mr. Benton?
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: I believe he's available any time. But I haven't checked with him recently. This is the first I've heard of this in terms of the need to do it right away. I know, in the past, they talked about wanting to take their deposition but --
NELSON: Because I know the state has said they are planning on resting today. This court intends to begin the defense on Friday, and that's what I had informed you yesterday. I have a jury that is sequestered. They are away from their home, from their families, and to have to take off for 4th of July, which everybody has requested, and the court is obliging because it's a national holiday, to then also take off Friday and have them there thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, sequestered somewhere where they -- not occupied is just not reasonable.
Mr. Crump has been available since we began this trial on June 10th. Until the -- that was the jury selection process -- until he was sequestered as a potential witness from the courtroom. But he was here for every day. I don't know what Mr. Blackwell schedule is, but it has now been almost a month since we started jury selection or even our Frye hearing. I believe he was here on June 6th in the courtroom during those Frye hearings. Before -- we recessed early on different days. I don't now what Mr. Blackwell's schedule was, but to have this court continue keeping a jury sequestered without having court time because you didn't coordinate that deposition within a month's period of time, I find that very hard to do.
WEST: Your Honor? From a scheduling standpoint, we didn't know until late in the day on June 3rd that we would be allowed to take his deposition and --
NELSON: Well, that's a month ago. That's 30 days ago.
WEST: Your Honor, we've been somewhat tied up for the last month.
NELSON: Well --
WEST: Beginning with June 6th, 7th and 8th, in the Frye hearing and the sanctions hearing that we haven't even finished yet. On June 9th, we met with our jury consultant and Mr. Zimmerman to prepare for jury selection, which started June 10th.
NELSON: It's my understanding you had taken somebody's -- there were some depositions that were 5:30 last night. I don't -- my understanding, there's more depositions scheduled for 5:30 tonight. There's not been a request from this court to conclude court a little earlier on any day for the purposes of taking any other depositions.
So I want to start -- if the state rests today, the defense has Thursday, which is a holiday, that you could utilize for whatever purposes you need to get ready. But it was always this court's intention that as soon as the state rests, that the defense begins their case. That's how it happens in every case I've ever had. And it was my intention to continue to do that. And Friday would be the first business day after the holiday.
WEST: What we're asking for is a little more time, given the way this case has proceeded. As the court's aware, we were still litigating the admissibility of evidence after the jury selection began. We certainly couldn't have taken Mr. Crump's deposition during the trial day. The court doesn't expect either Mr. O'Mara or myself to leave the courtroom, I wouldn't think --
NELSON: You've looked for other reasons.
NELSON: But I don't want to go there. I don't want to go there. What -- and I don't want to get into a discussion back and forth about what times may have been available. But it's never been requested for this court to recess even a half hour earlier. I know during the Frye hearings we recessed on a Saturday because your witness wasn't available, and the court had to continually ask when your witness would be available to finish it. I had to be the one who moved that forward. Neither side moved that forward. Because I wanted to get --
MALVEAUX: You've been listening to the judge there, essentially denying the request for them to allow them to have Friday, take Friday off after the July 4th holiday, saying she wants things to resume and resume quickly as scheduled.
We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
MALVEAUX: We are watching the George Zimmerman trial, live. There, you see him there. We're waiting for the jurors to come back.
Want to bring in Sunny Hostin to talk about the significance of this.
The judge seems rather irked, rather annoyed by the position here, the request, they take Friday off. She wants the state to rest today, this afternoon. Defense to come back on Friday. Not to take two days off, the July 4th holiday and Friday.
Why is that important, Sunny? The jurors are sequestered, right? They'd have four days with nothing to do?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. That's why it's important. I've got to tell you, it's very expensive to sequester a jury. You've got to provide security, hotel rooms, food. The chief judge of Florida, he's in charge of budgeting, has made it very clear this is an expensive, expensive enterprise to sequester a jury throughout a trial, and then also deliberations. So this judge wants to move things along quickly.
And you have to keep in mind, as she mentioned, the defense wants to depose Ben Crump. He hasn't been allowed into the courtroom because they need to depose him. And she allowed them a deposition with Ben Crump about a month ago. And it hasn't occurred. So she's not going to be inclined to keep this jury sort of sitting and twiddling their thumbs in a hotel room when she could be here in court.
MALVEAUX: Do we have -- I know it's usually a surprise who they actually bring forth. Do we have any idea basically who they would bring forth, the state, when they rest their case this afternoon?
HOSTIN: Sure. I suspect that they're going to call the medical examiner that actually conducted the autopsy on Trayvon Martin. I also think that it is likely that one of Trayvon Martin's family members will testify that the cries for help on the audiotape were of Trayvon Martin. And I -- I say that not because I've necessarily heard that or that -- you know, but if I were prosecuting this case, that's the note I would end this -- Sabyrina Fulton or perhaps Trayvon Martin's brother testifying that that was their loved one's voice on that 911 call.
MALVEAUX: Sunny, it seems like things are going pretty quickly. Is that your assessment?
HOSTIN: Absolutely. That's always been my assessment, because I could see that in jury selection. They chose this jury in less than a week. She indicated that she would be moving quickly. I can understand the pace because I've been in the courtroom, I've been in front of judges that move this quickly. She's a no-nonsense judge. She makes her rulings very, very -- she's considerate, but she's firm. And she makes them timely.
MALVEAUX: All right.
We see that someone is being sworn in and is about to take the stand here. Let's listen in. Let's watch.
NELSON: You may proceed.
DE LA RIONDA: Thank you, Your Honor.
Please state your name for the record and spell your last name, please.
ANTHONY GORGONE, CRIME LAB ANALYST, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: My name is Anthony Gorgone. That's spelled G-O-R-G-O-N- E.
DE LA RIONDA: What is your occupation, sir?
GORGONE: I'm a crime lab analyst at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the biology or DNA section. DE LA RIONDA: How long have you been working for -- I'm going to refer to it as FDLE -- but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
GORGONE: I've been with FDLE for a little over seven years. I started in March of 2006.
DE LA RIONDA: Could you briefly tell us about your education and training regarding your occupation, sir?
GORGONE: Yes. I received a bachelor's of science in molecular and microbiology from the University of Central Florida. Graduated in 2004. I was hired by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as a forensic technologist. In that position, I screened items of evidence for the possible presence of bodily fluids that may contain DNA. I was promoted to crime lab analyst in July of 2007. I underwent a 13- month training program for that position. The first half of that training program was background readings, written and oral exams. The second part of that training was supervised case work. That would be actual case work under the supervision of a trained analyst. And that training -- that 13 months culminated in a mock trial.
DE LA RIONDA: And have you kept up with the latest information regarding DNA, sir?
GORGONE: Yes. I regularly read articles published in scientific journals as well as I'm required to attend at least eight hours annually of outside training. That's usually conferences and workshops and classes dealing with the field.
DE LA RIONDA: Have you previously testified in court as an expert in DNA, and does that also include the significance of your finding regarding population stats?
GORGONE: Yes. I've testified 28 times in different counties in central Florida prior to today. Almost every time, that deals with statistics.
DE LA RIONDA: Your Honor, at this time, I tender the witness is an expert in DNA and statistics regarding DNA matters.
NELSON: He may so testify.
WEST: No voir dire, Your Honor. Thank you.
DE LA RIONDA: Everybody by now has heard of DNA, but can you briefly tell the jury what DNA is?
GORGONE: Yes. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It's the genetic material that's passed down from generation to generation. Every person gets half of their DNA from their mother and half of their DNA from their father.