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George Zimmerman Trial; Zimmerman's Team Mounts Defense; First Boeing 777 Landing for Pilot at SFO; Live Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 8, 2013 - 09:00   ET



And to our viewers, good morning, I'm Wolf Blitzer in for Carol Costello. We want to welcome all of you to this special edition of NEWSROOM. We're watching major stories, but let's begin right now.

We're beginning a few minutes early to bring you live testimony from key witnesses in day ten. Yes, this is day ten of the George Zimmerman murder trial. Today the defense gets its first full day to present its case. Among those that could testify, Zimmerman's friends, law enforcement officers and expert witnesses.

Let's set the stage for an important day in today's proceedings. CNN's George Howell is in Sanford, Florida. He's outside the courthouse. He's been watching it every single day.

Set the scene for us. This could be a very, very powerful day in this trial.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRSPONDENT: Wolf, good morning. So, we are waiting for court to start here in just a few minutes -- supposed to start at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time. The jury has had the weekend to sit back and think about the testimony of two mothers. These two mothers talking about who was screaming on that 911 audiotape. And there's the issue of the medical examiner who told the court he doesn't remember anything.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have had George --

HOWELL (voice-over): A rare moment of emotion from George Zimmerman in the courtroom as this week's testimony could see more family on the stand to testify on his behalf.

Friday, Zimmerman was visibly affected listening to his uncle explain when he heard those highly-scrutinized screams for help on a 911 audiotape.

JORGE MESA, ZIMMERMAN'S UNCLE: I said that is George. And I stood up and looked at the TV.

HOWELL: Also, Zimmerman's mother.

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Do you know whose voice that was screaming in the background?


ZIMMERMAN: My son George.

O'MARA: And are you certain of that?

ZIMMERMAN: Because he's my son.

HOWELL: It was a day of dueling testimonies between mothers. Gladys Zimmerman testified after Sybrina Fulton told the court what she heard before the fatal shot that killed her son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, that screaming or yelling, do you recognize that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who do you recognize that to be, ma'am?

FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

HOWELL: Martin's older brother, Javaris Fulton, also testified the screams were from his brother, but in cross-examination Fulton was put on the spot for once telling a reporter he wasn't positive about who was screaming only to later conclude it was Trayvon Martin.

For most of day nine, jurors listened to the medical examiner who did the autopsy on Martin.

DR. SHIPING BAO, PERFORMED AUTOPSY ON TRAYVON MARTIN: I believe he was alive for one to 10 minutes after he was shot.

HOWELL: But when challenged by the defense, Dr. Shiping Bao admitted he only recently reached that opinion just three weeks earlier. He said he thought Martin was alive only one to three minutes after the shooting.

Defense attorneys also pointed out how Bao's team may have mishandled and even damaged some evidence. When asked to recall specifics about the autopsy, there was this.

BAO: I do not have any recall. I do not have any memory of the day of autopsy.

HOWELL: Attorney Mark O'Mara asked the judge to acquit his client after the state rested its case. Arguing prosecutors had not proven second-degree murder. Judge Debra Nelson denied that motion.

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: The motions for judgment of acquittal are denied.

HOWELL: Putting the defense on deck as this trial moves into week three.


HOWELL: And we're back live and inside the courtroom. You see George Zimmerman there, still unclear whether the jury has entered the room or not, but court will start up here in the next few minutes.

Wolf, we know that the defense team took the weekend to take depositions with new witnesses. We could hear from several over the next three or four days. We could hear from Chris Serino, that lead investigator with the Sanford Police Department. He could be recalled. We could hear from more family and friends and the forensic pathologist, Wolf, who is considered an expert in that field.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we don't yet know who the first witness today will be. We'll just have to wait and see who the -- who the defense decides to call?

HOWELL: Yes. And we're monitoring. Typically, you know, that person will walk right in, you know, be sworn in and we'll get the name. We'll find out who will be up first. That has not happened yet. And again, it's still unclear, Wolf, whether the jury has even entered the courtroom yet. But we're monitoring and, of course, we'll let you know.

BLITZER: Trayvon Martin's parents are inside. George Zimmerman is inside. All of the attorneys are inside. Judge Debra Nelson is inside, as well.

All right, George, hold on a moment as we await the start of this third week of this trial. Let's bring in Page Pate, he's a criminal defense attorney and on site at the trial in Sanford, Florida, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, and the Reverend Markel Hutchins. He's a civil rights activist. The organizer of Atlanta's "I Am Trayvon Martin" rally.

Zimmerman's attorneys are offering their defense in court. But one of this closes friends, Frank Taaffe, has been offering his own defense outside the trial. Here's what Taaffe said about George's previous classes and his claim that he didn't know about certain Florida laws. Listen to this.


FRANK TAAFFE, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I've taken courses before in college and it doesn't mean I could know, you know, detail amount to any specifics if I'm in a traumatic situation. I'm not going to remember A, B, C and D if I'm under trauma. So big deal he took a self-defense -- I mean, it was all about -- he took a course about self-defense or Stand Your Ground. It doesn't mean that he --


TAAFFE: -- detailed out his story to match what he took in the course.


BLITZER: Taaffe also spoke about how deadly force can be justified. Listen to this.


TAAFFE: The law specifically says that deadly force is justified in the commission of a forcible felony. And in the state of Florida, there are certain crimes that are forcible felonies. One is rape. Another one is aggravated stalking. And the third is aggravated battery or great bodily harm. And it's defined that if Zimmerman's head was being beaten on the concrete and the sidewalk can be used as a weapon because it's an extension of the body and a stationary object. And there's case law to prove this.


BLITZER: As we await the start of this trial on this day, this third week of the trial, and there you see George Zimmerman. He's inside the courtroom with the others.

Let's bring in Page Pate, criminal defense attorney.

Page, what's the most important thing Mark O'Mara and his team needs to do today?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Not to lose the case. I think Mr. O'Mara and the other defense lawyer, Mr. West, have done a good job at poking holes in the state's case. I think we heard even from state witnesses enough reasonable doubt to get the defense past the second-degree murder charge.

I think that now the real issue is going to be manslaughter. So the defense team is already, I think, neutralized Miss Fulton's testimony by having Mr. Zimmerman's family come in and say, look, we recognize that voice as George Zimmerman. So as long as they don't push it too far, I think the defense is doing well right now.

BLITZER: You see the attorneys there standing with Judge Debra Nelson. Before the formal -- the official part, the jury part of this trial resumes on this day.

Sunny, what do you expect we're going to see from the defense today?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're going to have to put on their self-defense claims, right? That's what they need to do. We have heard some piece of -- some pieces of their defense in the prosecution's case in chief. And George Zimmerman, I think, has made about seven statements.

And so, clearly, they're going to perhaps put more information forward in terms of self-defense. I think they have to do that. And I suspect that that's what they're going to do.

BLITZER: Reverend Hutchins, you've been watching all of this, as so many millions and millions of people all over the country have been watching this case. What do you -- what do you make of the way it's being handled by the judge specifically? In other words, are you satisfied with the course of this trial so far? REV. MARKEL HUTCHINS, ORGANIZER, "I AM TRAYVON MARTIN" RALLY: Well, I think, Wolf, it has been certainly a trial that has captivated the nation, particularly those of us in the African-American advocacy community have recognized the value in the job that the judge has done. I have to disagree slightly with my friend page. I don't think that the defense did an adequate job into, quote-unquote, "neutralizing" the testimony of Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton.

I think if anything they've done a good job in neutralizing some of the public opinion that has been generated in this case. I think they've done a much better job in the court of public opinion than they have in the court of law.

I think that to suggest that Trayvon Martin's mother whose son is dead could have her testimony neutralized by what the defense did, at least thus far, is a bit of a stretch.

BLITZER: Well, I think she was suggesting that maybe George Zimmerman's mother who testified immediately after Trayvon Martin's mother testified and they both basically argued the same point that their respective sons were the ones who were crying out for help.

You -- Reverend Hutchins, you disagree that George Zimmerman's mother effectively neutralized the emotional testimony of Trayvon Martin's mother?

HUTCHINS: Yes. I greatly disagree. I do not think that she effectively neutralized specifically what you characterized, Wolf, as the emotional testimony of Trayvon's -- Trayvon Martin's mother because George Zimmerman's mother has one major difference with -- with Trayvon's mother. Mr. Zimmerman's mother and her son are alive, Trayvon is not.

BLITZER: All right, what about that, Page? What do you -- what do you make of that argument?

PATE: Well, Reverend Hutchins is certainly correct, but at the end of the day it's not our opinion that counts, it's the jurors' opinion that counts. But I do believe it was very effective, and fortunate that the defense was able to call those witnesses. End of the day on Friday, almost immediately after the testimony from Mr. Martin's family. So today the extend it could be neutralized I think they did the best job that they could.

BLITZER: All right. Sunny, you actually believe Trayvon Martin's brother was a more effective witness in this particular case as far as the six members of the jury are concerned. Than either of the mothers. I think I heard you say that.

HOSTIN: Yes. I mean, you know, certainly, the mother's testimony was compelling, but I do think there is a certain part of that, that could have been neutralized. You have one mother saying it's my son, you have another mother saying it's my son. But you'd -- you don't have a brother getting on the witness stand on the Zimmerman side saying I am Trayvon Martin's brother. I heard his voice on the tape. And I think it's most important. Not so much what he said, but the way he appeared on the witness stand.

I mean he brought Trayvon Martin to life on the witness stand. He is very eloquent. I've interviewed him. He's a lovely person. He came across that way on the witness stand. I was in the courtroom. The jurors were really engaged and they were staring at him and I think it sort of goes to counter this perception that may have been in front of this jury that Trayvon Martin was some sort of thug who beat down George Zimmerman, who used racial epithets.

Well, now you have his brother who he grew up with on the witness stand appear to be the very antithesis of that. So I thought that was very powerful.


HUTCHINS: Wolf, I --

BLITZER: And -- hold on for a moment. I want to continue this and I want get into George Zimmerman's uncle who also came over and testified and insisted the screaming sound was the sound of George Zimmerman, not Trayvon Martin.

Everyone, stand by, they're still having a sidebar with the judge. All the lawyers are up there with Judge Debra Nelson as we await the start of this third week in the trial. Let's take a quick break. We're waiting for the first defense witness of the day to be called. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We're continuing to stand by. We're awaiting the start of this third week in this George Zimmerman murder trial. We're watching what's going on. All the lawyers are meeting with the Judge Debra Nelson right now. What they call a sidebar. The formal proceedings have not yet started. The jury is not back in the room. As soon as they all come back in, we'll go there live. You'll see this trial unfold and dramatic testimony.

We'll soon find out the first defense witness who will be called today. Stand by for that. We'll get back to that trial in a moment.

But there's other important news we're following in the CNN NEWSROOM, including some shocking information this morning. The pilot of the Asiana Flight 214 that crashed in San Francisco was making his first ever Boeing 777 landing at that airport. The South Korean airliner says there were three captains and a pilot on the flight, but it was this pilot, new to the aircraft, who was actually in command when it crashed.

And that pilot had only flown the 777 eight times before. The National Transportation Safety Board is already releasing new video from inside that aircraft. As investigators get set to interview the pilot today. Meanwhile, Miguel Marquez has been reporting. The latest information we're getting from San Francisco.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This morning a stunning revelation. Asiana airlines saying at the control of the doomed flight was the co-pilot with only 43 hours of experience in the 777 and he had never landed a 777 at San Francisco before.

Though he was a veteran pilot with about 10,000 hours of flying time, this was considered a training flight. Flight 214 clipping the sea wall, sliding down the runway and pin-wheeling at one point almost fully vertical then erupting into a cloud of dust and smoke.

FRED HAYES, RECORDED ASIANA AIRLINES CRASH: I was watching it come in and my initial reaction was that it was trying to divert the landing.

MARQUEZ: Official say the pilot tried to increase speed seven seconds before impact, at four seconds, the 350 ton plane shake stick device jolted violently, a warning the massive jet was going too slowly, stalling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked out through the window and I knew we were too low.

MARQUEZ: Just 1.5 seconds before slamming into the seawall, the pilot called to abort the landing.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRWOMAN: There is no discussion of aircraft anomalies or concerns.

MARQUEZ: These new NTSB photos show seats crushed and jumbled together. Amazing so many survived.

WEN ZHANG, CRASH SURVIVOR: Everybody screamed. Dark and most of ash -- everywhere was ash.

MARQUEZ: Some passengers thrown from the plane, suffering road rash from skidding along the runway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got there within three minutes. There were flames coming off the planes.

MARQUEZ: The parents of two teenage girls killed in a crash, grief stricken. Their daughters headed for summer camp here in California.

More than a dozen are still hospitalized, two of them paralyzed. Still, such a violent crash and so few injuries, and deaths?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is nothing short of a miracle that we had literally 123 people walk away from this.

MARQUEZ: A miracle prompting many questions.

HAYES: Oh my God. Oh my God.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Miguel Marquez reporting from San Francisco. All right, the jury is now back in the courtroom in Sanford, Florida. There you see George Zimmerman. He's on trial second degree murder charge, could face the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

Judge Debra Nelson is asking everyone to get ready. We're going to anxiously awaiting to see who the defense calls as the defense's first witness on this day in the third week of the trial.

Sunny, you know, the burden of proof, as you know, is on the prosecution, the state. But the defense, Mark O'Mara and his team, they're not taking any chances right now, right?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's right. I mean, again, their -- the entire case for the defense is self-defense and you have to put something in front of the jury to support that. They were able, I think, to do that in the prosecution's case because the prosecution put in all of George Zimmerman's statements. I believe there are about seven.

Now, those statements are very inconsistent in many places. So, I think what the prosecution needs to do now is shore that up. Whether it be with an expert saying his injuries were actually very significant. Perhaps some of his friends to indicate that, you know, he's a good person who didn't train MMA style -- whatever they need to do to shore up that self-defense claim I think is what they're going to do.

I don't think it's going to be a long case. I don't think it should be a long case, Wolf. The burden isn't on the defense and they've done pretty well so far in terms of poking holes. I think Page said it in the prosecution's case in chief. So, this should be short if they're playing it strategically right.

BLITZER: The Judge Debra Nelson now asking the jury making sure they weren't watching TV, they weren't on the Internet, they weren't tweeting, doing anything along those lines. Presumably they're all going to say they did the right thing, they weren't doing any of that.

There you see Mark O'Mara getting ready to call his first witness.

Let's listen in and see who that first witness is.

All right, we just learned the witness name is Sondra Osterman and we'll find out exactly what the defense thinks Sandra can help in this case. She should be walking through those doors momentarily.

Here she comes right now. Sondra Osterman will be sworn in by the judge and then Mark O'Mara, presumably, will start asking questions unless Don West, his co-counsel decides.

Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you'll give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?


MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I would like to move -- this is not the traditional computer from this courtroom. If we do not know it, I will need a minute to just use mine.

(INAUDIBLE) the courtroom computer.


O'MARA: No. This might just take a moment. What I'll do, multi- tasking and I'll begin with her.

Morning, ma'am. State your name, please?

OSTERMAN: Sondra Osterman.

O'MARA: And you live here in Seminole County?


O'MARA: How long have you lived here?

OSTERMAN: Sixteen years.

O'MARA: OK. And are you married?


O'MARA: Who are you married to?

OSTERMAN: Mark Osterman.

O'MARA: And he's testified before. What's his occupation?

OSTERMAN: He is a federal air marshal.

O'MARA: And he's been involved in law enforcement for quite some time, doesn't he?


O'MARA: How long have you been married?

OSTERMAN: Almost 17 years.

O'MARA: OK. You know George and Shellie Zimmerman?


O'MARA: Tell me how you met George.

OSTERMAN: I met Georgy at a mortgage company called First Trust back in 2006.

O'MARA: OK. And was that a place where you worked together?


O'MARA: What type of work did you do back then?

OSTERMAN: Mortgage business.

O'MARA: And was Mr. Zimmerman doing something similar?

OSTERMAN: Yes. He was in the sales and I was processing.


Did you guys become friends over the time you worked together?


O'MARA: Did you maintain that friendship?


O'MARA: And it is that friendship that brings you here today, is that correct?

OSTERMAN: Yes, it is.

O'MARA: And I know that you were present or around during the time that both proceeding the event that brings us here and, of course, right after the event, correct?

OSTERMAN: That's correct.

O'MARA: What I'd like to do, however, today, is just focus your attention on one subject of that and that is the, we are calling the "Lauer 911 tape," to identify it to you the tape that has a voice in the foreground and turns out her name is Mrs. Lauer and voice in the background and then what we now know to be the gunshot that killed Mr. Martin.


O'MARA: So, before we get to that. Tell me over the past few years how often would you and George Zimmerman interact?

OSTERMAN: Well, we worked with each other every day. And then his wife and I were best friends and we'd all kind of hang out together at least every week or so.

O'MARA: All right.

Have you then had a good opportunity to hear George's voice?


O'MARA: Would that be in person?


O'MARA: And over the phone?


O'MARA: If you would tell the jury sort of the range, I mean, would you hear him, not to lead you, but talking, laughing, sort of go through the different types of conversations or voices, if you will, that you heard.

OSTERMAN: I would hear him talking and laughing and maybe a little frustrated.

O'MARA: And would this be sort of over the several years that you've known him?

OSTERMAN: Right, yes.

O'MARA: Now, you acknowledge that you're a good friend of his, correct?

OSTERMAN: That's correct.

O'MARA: That you guys have helped each other out over the years, correct?

OSTERMAN: That's correct.

O'MARA: Certainly you've helped out or helped the family through the initial stages of this event, correct?


O'MARA: Then there was a time when you could no longer have contact with him?


O'MARA: Because of the case?


O'MARA: Still maintain a friendship, though, from afar?

OSTERMAN: As far as I'm concerned.


Would your friendship with him impact on how you're going to testify today regarding what you may hear on the tape?

OSTERMAN: As far as would I lie?

O'MARA: I guess that's a non-lawyer way to say it.

OSTERMAN: I wouldn't lie for him or anybody. O'MARA: Let me if I might, your honor, play what is already in evidence as exhibit 158.



OPERATOR: 911. Do you need police or medical?

CALLER: Maybe both. I'm not sure.


OPERATOR: What is the address that they're near?

CALLER: It's 1211 Twin Tree Lane.

OPERATOR: Twin Tree Lane? Is it (INAUDIBLE) in town homes Sanford?


OPERATOR: OK. And is it a male or a female?

CALLER: It sounds like a male.

OPERATOR: You don't know why?

CALLER: I don't know why. I think they're yelling help, but I don't know. Send someone quick, please.

OPERATOR: Does he look hurt to you?

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


CALLER: They're sending.


OPERATOR: Do you think he's yelling help?


OPERATOR: What is your --


CALLER: There's gunshots.

OPERATOR: You just heard gunshots?



O'MARA: Have you had a chance to listen to that tape before today?


O'MARA: On how many occasions?


O'MARA: OK. Do you have, do you know whose voice that is in the background screaming?

OSTERMAN: Yes, definitely. It's Georgy.

O'MARA: How is it that you know that?

OSTERMAN: I just hear, I hear it. I hear him screaming.

O'MARA: Nothing further, Your Honor. This witness, I'm going to leave this here. If they want to replay it, I'll show you how to do it on this computer if not, I'll leave it here for other witnesses.

NELSON: OK, thank you.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: We may need it. You may need to put (INAUDIBLE).

O'MARA: Sure.

DE LA RIONDA: I apologize.

O'MARA: No, not problem at all. I'm sure he knows better than us. I'll do this.


DE LA RIONDA: While that is being set up, Ms. Osterman, good morning.

OSTERMAN: Good morning.

DE LA RIONDA: You and your husband wrote a book on the defendant.

OSTERMAN: I object, Your Honor. Outside the scope --

DE LA RIONDA: I'm not sure it's bias (ph).

O'MARA: I would like a popular of how that issue with bias --

NELSON: Overruled.

DE LA RIONDA: You and your husband, Mark Osterman, wrote a book, the title of it, regarding Mr. Zimmerman?



And I believe you stated that you and your husband whatever money was made you would donate it to Mr. Zimmerman, is that correct? To his cause?


DE LA RIONDA: So, you would agree that you have a stake in this, don't you?

OSTERMAN: A stake?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, in terms of the book. How many books have been sold as a result of Mr. Zimmerman being charged with this crime in terms of you all? How many books have you guys sold?

OSTERMAN: I have no idea.

DE LA RIONDA: In all the money being made from that book, are you all profiting or donating the profits to Mr. Zimmerman?

OSTERMAN: We're depositing it into our savings for George after.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, you keep saying George, George Zimmerman that we're talking about, the defendant, correct?

OSTERMAN: That's correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And I believe you've known Mr. Zimmerman for how long?

OSTERMAN: Since 2006.

DE LA RIONDA: And you met him through work?

OSTERMAN: That's correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And, in fact, you ended up marrying he and his wife, correct?

OSTERMAN: That's correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And he is left-handed, correct?


DE LA RIONDA: Now, regarding the recording that was played for you, you had heard it two or three times you said, four times?

OSTERMAN: A few times.

DE LA RIONDA: Did it take you a while to figure out who was actually yelling?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely not. DE LA RIONDA: You from the first time, you heard it, you knew?

OSTERMAN: The very first time.

DE LA RIONDA: I apologize, I never heard you, ma'am.

OSTERMAN: The very first time I knew it was George.

DE LA RIONDA: So why did you have to listen to it more than once?

OSTERMAN: Because it's played on the news all the time.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. The first time you heard it was on the news?


DE LA RIONDA: So, on the news it was dealing with this case, George Zimmerman, correct?


DE LA RIONDA: OK. So, you are aware that the recording was dealing with George Zimmerman?


DE LA RIONDA: And that in no way influenced you in raising your opinion that this was George Zimmerman on the recording?


DE LA RIONDA: OK. Now (INAUDIBLE) -- ma'am, listen to this and tell me if you recognize this voice.


NELSON: Mr. De La Rionda, there is an objection.

O'MARA: Actually, just a request for what exhibit --

NELSON: What exhibit are you playing, please?

DE LA RIONDA: It's part of the 911 nonemergency call that the defendant made. I didn't want to tip her off in terms of the recording.