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NTSB Investigates the Boeing 777 Crash; In Egypt: Alleged Massacre of Morsy Supporters; Zimmerman on Trial; Analysis of Today's Testimony

Aired July 8, 2013 - 12:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We're reporting live in Sanford, Florida, but we have some other big stories that we're following today as well.

One in particular, that deadly plane crash in San Francisco, the developments keep flowing into our office, including this exclusive video as the crash happened of the Asiana Airlines 777 on Saturday, really harrowing -- harrowing -- to see this and hear this because two teenagers died as a result of the crash you're seeing play out on your screen.

But, amazingly, more than 300 people survived, and today we're learning more about the pilot and the possible problems in the cockpit.

CNN'S Dan Simon is live in San Francisco with the very latest. Hey, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Ashleigh. The focus of the investigation seems to be on the actions that the flight crew took as well as the experience level of the pilot.

We know that this pilot had only limited experience in a Boeing 777. He only had 23 hours flying this type of aircraft and had never landed this type of aircraft at the San Francisco International Airport. We know that he had experience in other kinds of planes, but not in a triple-7.

We also know the other information coming out of the cockpit seems to show that there was not enough speed to land this airplane appropriately at the airport.

At seven seconds prior to the impact, the pilot calls for an increase of speed, not enough time to rev those engines up and get the plane in the appropriate direction. At four seconds before the impact, a stall warning sounded, meaning that the aircraft was in danger of stalling, not enough lift. And then a second and a half before the crash, the pilots tried to abort the landing.

I want you to listen now to what the NTSB chairwoman said earlier on CNN today. Today a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBBIE HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRWOMAN: We're certainly looking at the crew and how they operated, how they were trained, at their experience. We're also looking at the aircraft. We're looking to see if the crew was using automation or was flying on autopilot or they were hand- flying the airplane. There are a lot of things that we need to look at and information that we need to corroborate.


SIMON: Ashleigh, meanwhile, we're hearing that one of the two teens who died after the crash may have been run over by a first-responders vehicle. That information is coming from the county coroner's office who said that he was alerted by the fire department that one of emergency vehicles may have, in fact, run over one of the teenaged girls. They have to perform an autopsy to figure out whether or not she died from the crash or may have died from a, quote/unquote, "secondary incident."

We know that a news conference is scheduled in about 20 minutes from now with some of the first-responders who are planning to talk about some of the actions they took after the crash. Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: That is very, very distressing if that does bear out.

Dan Simon, reporting live for us from San Francisco on this story, thank you for that.

Got a couple of other big top stories that we're following, too. Federal investigators are on their way to small remote town in Alaska after an air taxi single-engine plane crashed and then burst into flames, 10 people on board, all of them dead. Officials don't know if this plane was landing or taking off at this early time.

Also in Egypt this morning, an alleged massacre of people loyal to the ousted President Mohamed Morsy, at least 51 people killed and an additional 435 hurt after Egyptian security forces opened fire on pro- Morsy demonstrators. The military says it was responding to an attack by what they call an armed terrorist group.

The search continues for 40 people who are missing after Saturday's runaway train disaster in Quebec, Canada. At least five people were killed when a train that was carrying crude oil derailed and set off that massive explosion on your screen.

Unbelievable, it leveled the downtown of (inaudible) in Quebec. Police say the death toll is expected to rise in that disaster. Search-and-rescue efforts are being hampered by lingering fires and the risks of more explosion as well as that continues to play out.

Also happening this morning, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, taken to a Boston hospital, a source close to the family tells CNN that she was rushed to the hospital after she exhibited symptoms that were consistent with some kind of seizure. Ms. Heinz Kerry is 74-years-old and she has been treated for breast cancer, in fact, just a few years ago.

And we are live in Sanford, Florida where there's a brief break in the Zimmerman murder trial, but we're continuing to watch that courtroom. We're going to bring you not only the live action as soon as it resumes, but we're going to show you some of the things you may have missed and tell you why they may be so critical to the jury as it decides how it's going to call this case.

We're back right after this.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting live.

The brief break in the Zimmerman trial means that's the shot you get, live from the courtroom, of the Great Seal of the State of Florida.

I want to play for you a moment in court which was really significant because what we've been watching all morning is a back-and-forth between two tapes.

Number one, all the defense witnesses get up on the stand and identify the voice in the 911 call, the young man who's screaming in the background. They all identify him as George Zimmerman. And then under cross-examination, the prosecutor stands up and plays another tape, the 311 tape, the tape that George Zimmerman called in and starts swearing and saying nasty words about the guy he's chasing and then he starts asking those same witnesses just what kind of words those are and what kind of person would use those words.

Case in point, Sondra Osterman, she's already gotten up on the stand and identified that screamer on the 911 call is George Zimmerman. Under cross-examination, though, watch what happens.


MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Was there anything in George's voice that gave you the impression that he was angry or acting with ill-will, or spite or hatred on that phone call?



BANFIELD: OK. So a little confusing, but again, bear with me because there's so much direct, cross-, redirect, re-cross, re-re- and re-re- that's going on.

What Sondra Osterman was saying was that, when she heard those words, and I'm sorry I can't say them and we can't play them, but they're ugly words and they were used to bring out what kind of person this was, what kind of intent this was that was chasing after whoever he thought was in that hoodie, what George Zimmerman was and she used those -- or rather, the he defense attorney used those specific words, hatred, ill-will, evil intent, very specifically, and asked that witness if that's what she heard on those tapes and she said no.

All right, Danny Cevallos, I want you to come in here with your expert criminal mind here as a defense attorney. This is a strategy. This defense attorney has to bring up those words and has to characterize them, doesn't he?

DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. Here's why, and it's been said before. The jury instructions and the statute require that the prosecution must prove, they have the burden to show, that ill- will, that hatred.

So what the prosecution is trying to expertly do is get witnesses to say that this sounds like ill-will, it sounds like hatred, and then on the other side, the defense is trying to illicit testimony that, I know George Zimmerman and this does not sound like ill-will or hatred.

This case comes down to those magic words. And what do they mean? Well, that's up to each individual juror to determine. The Florida courts have said that just -- when it comes to ill-will and hatred usually people know the person. That's how intimate it is. However, each attorney is going to and come up with evidence supporting their theory of the case. However, prosecution ultimately has the burden, and it's beyond a reasonable doubt.

BANFIELD: So, ill-will, hatred, spite or evil intent, those are all actually written in the Florida statute when it comes to second- degree. These are the things that you have to see to indicate an indifference to human life.

And that's why Mark O'Mara keeps bringing up, on that 311 tape, when you hear "'effing' punks" and "a-holes" from the mouth of George Zimmerman on those tapes, does that equate to ill-will, hatred, spite or evil intent?

So here's how the cross-examination went, again, when Barry De La Rionda, the prosecutor in this case, got right back up and re- questioned Sondra Osterman about what she's thinking when she's analyzing whether those words are filled with hatred or ill-will.

Have a listen to how that went.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: You were asked in terms of your impressions of whether it was ill-will or hatred, does somebody talking to somebody else in that manner you think that they're like saying, hey, come on over and let's talk and let's go out to dinner?

OSTERMAN: Well, I don't think he was angry.

DE LA RIONDA: You don't think he was angry?

OSTERMAN: Not at all.

DE LA RIONDA: You were there that night?

OSTERMAN: I was not. I only have what you have to listen to.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, so you're speculating as to how he was feeling based on just those two terms, correct?

OSTERMAN: I guess we both are.


BANFIELD: Oops. That's what you call a bit of a backfire, or is it?

By the way, I think I might have said Barry De La Rionda. Too much talking. It's Bernie De La Rionda.

Jean Casarez, in the courtroom, you see this often play out. There's a lawyer who stands up and is often friendly in the questioning, and usually cross-examination gets contentious. It's been a bit of a backwards in this one, though, because oftentimes Mark O'Mara even when he cross-examines in the prosecutor's case has that friendly, sort of folksy manner. In this particular case, though, you could tell that these prosecutors were getting tough on these witnesses.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: They were because they wanted to try to get information to the jury via these witnesses.

You know, what's so interesting is all of these witnesses are very good friends of George Zimmerman. They started calling him Georgie. They started calling him George and they had to refrain from that. It's George Zimmerman in a court of law.

So when Bernie De La Rionda on the side of the prosecution was the one that always introduced that non-emergency 911 call to show, just as you said, the hatred, ill-will and spite with the words, I would have been shocked in that courtroom if I had heard one of those good friends say, yeah, that is hatred, ill-will or spite.

But here's what the jury is listening to, over and over again, the non-emergency 911 call. They can hear for themselves the inconsistencies with other bits and pieces of the prosecution's case.

BANFIELD: All right, Jean, I want to play another moment from the courtroom on the stand this morning.

Lee Ann Benjamin, who is a friend of George Zimmerman, she took the stand. She's the fourth witness this morning. She's not only a friend, but she's John Donnelly's wife, who is also a friend of George Zimmerman.

So, look, of course, they all have a bias. They are friends of the defendant. But they are all asked about that bias as well.

But in what you're about to hear, once again, under cross-examination, Bernie De La Rionda wants to get out of these witnesses, again, on that 311 call when you hear "'effing' punks" and "a-holes," characterize this for me.

Have a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DE LA RIONDA: Do you believe when he uttered the words, pardon my language, "these (inaudible) punks," it's just an observation?

LEE ANN BENJAMIN, ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER COLLEAGUE: I think it was a comment he was making.

DE LA RIONDA: About the individual he was following or chasing, correct?

BENJAMIN: I don't know how to answer that. I think he was just making an observation at the beginning. He may have had a comment to make.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. But you agree that he -

BENJAMIN: But I don't think he was in an extremely excited state.


BANFIELD: I want to bring in Mark Nejame on this one. We watched this one play out together. She seems like such a sweet witness, as many of the witnesses have been. Under cross-examination, did she hold that sweetness or did she get rattled?

MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think she did very well. I think -- what's most important about George Zimmerman's witnesses right now is that the jury can relate to them. Remember, there's two women on this jury who are in their 60s and so I think that when they are seeing like witnesses who might be in their circle, who might be somebody they understand and can relate to, that makes a difference.

BANFIELD: And here's the other thing because, look, a good prosecutor under cross-examination is going to stay, you're close, aren't you? You're friends. You have a bias? And often times under cross- examination you will see a witness try to mitigate, mitigate and shed some of that relationship. Do you think that these witnesses did that?

NEJAME: I think we're seeing the opposite. You and I were, you know, we're talking about it, and observing it, and I think they're coming out, you know, full force and saying, this is my friend and I've helped him, rather than minimizing it, and that's made it more difficult for the prosecutor to cross-examine them because he can't trip them up. They're out - you know, outright to saying, I like this person, I love them. In fact you heard Mr. Donnelly say, I consider him like a son. So, you know, they're right out there. Now, if the jurors say, well, you know, that's just too much of a bias, well then -- then they do.

BANFIELD: So, Paul Callan, is there a strange irony in someone up on the stand giving full admission, he's like a son. And, you know, clearly that's not going to play well because it does show that you have that strong connection, that strong attachment and then that strong bias, or does it actually say, I'm not going to lie, I'm not going to lie on the stand? PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's true, but I - but, you know, the irony, of course, is that the only kind of person who would recognize his voice and recognize the scream would be somebody whose very close to him.

But I - you know, I wanted to inject sort of an element of common sense in this whole crazy situation that's going on in Florida. I mean this idea that there's something criminal about calling a criminal a punk or about using a swear word if you think you're pursuing a criminal now. of course we know Trayvon Martin was not a criminal that night. We know that from the evidence. But Zimmerman thought that he was. Is Florida saying, you're supposed to say nice things about people you think are trying to break into your condo, steal and hurt people you love? What do you think the cops call criminals back at the precinct? What do you think Bernie de la Rionda and his prosecutor friends call drug dealers and murders back at the D.A.'s office?

I remember what my colleagues used to call criminal defendants, and you know something, very similar language. Not me, of course, but very similar language to what's being claimed in this case.

BANFIELD: So it's -

CALLAN: So let me get to -- to cut to the quick, OK.

BANFIELD: Go ahead. Go ahead.

CALLAN: You have to prove in this case it's not - you know, the use of this language wouldn't prove murder. They have to prove that he murdered because they -- he had this ill-will or spite or hatred. And the defense, of course, says, that's not why he killed. He killed in self-defense. And self-defense will trump those words. That's what ultimately the defense will argue, that this is all irrelevant.

BANFIELD: I hear you.

CALLAN: You know - OK.

BANFIELD: Ill-will, hatred, spite or evil intent. Those are written in stone in the statute in this great state of Florida, which has a great seal (ph).

CALLAN: And I think even in Florida it's OK to dislike criminals, you know? Isn't it?

BANFIELD: But you know what, hey, Paul Callan - it's OK to dislike criminals.


BANFIELD: But Trayvon Martin was no criminal.

CALLAN: Well, people you think are criminals, of course.

BANFIELD: And if you are his mother or father, by the way, she left. Listen, everyone who's in that courtroom that supports the Trayvon Martin side of this litigation is livid that anybody would consider this young man who's got Skittles and a hoodie in the dark a criminal. And that's where so much of this case has fallen.

I've got to take a quick break, but we are not finished on this point. It is a contentious point. And by the way, yes, CNN bleeps out the language and we are sorry to do so because it is so germane to this argument today. More on that in just a moment.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to Sanford, Florida. It is a fairly nice day here in Florida. We've had a lot of thunderstorms throughout the last two weeks of trial and we're now in week three.

And in case you were wondering what the defense is up against as it continues to forge ahead in its case, 38 witnesses and nine days of testimony. That's what the prosecutors brought. And now the defense needs to bring it.

Some people say the defense doesn't need to bring much. In fact, the defense doesn't even need to put on a case, but it did and it's putting on a big one. Even though it might last only about three days or so, it is putting on that case. As one after the other, so far one, two, three, four, five witnesses took the stand. All of them identifying that voice screaming on the 911 call as that of George Zimmerman.

Geri Russo is a co-worker of George Zimmerman. And she took the stand this morning to talk about that tape. They played it in court. And for the control room, I just want to let you know, this is kind of our inside speak here, but this is S-10. If we could just get S-10 to play out. I want to - I want you to hear as Geri Russo identifies that tape this court. Have a listen.


O'MARA: Whose voice is that? And let me premise it this. We know that we hear someone in the foreground. The person by the name of Ms. Lower (ph) whose talking to the 911 operator. Could you hear the noise or the yelling in the background?


O'MARA: Can you identify whose voice that was yelling in the background?

RUSSO: George's.

O'MARA: OK. And how do you know that?

RUSSO: I recognized his voice. I've heard him speak many times. I have no doubt in my mind that's his voice.


BANFIELD: So there you have it. Mark Nejame, look, it is such a critical - it is such a critical element when they have to do these IDs one after the other. And so far we've got five. And I don't know how many more people are going to come up and leave that stand having identified that voice in this defense case. Why do we only hear two in the prosecutor's case? Why was it only Trayvon's mother and brother? And the brother was a bit equivocal, I have to say. He said he wasn't so sure at the beginning. Why were there only two? Where was Trayvon's father? Why was he not on the stand? Where were the friends? Where were the colleagues? Where were the aunts, uncles, anybody else to say, that is our kid? That's our Trayvon. There were only two.

NEJAME: And that observation you make will simply not go unnoticed by the jury. And that's why the defense is putting on as many people as they're putting on right now. They are putting on friends, they're putting on co-workers, they're putting on --

BANFIELD: Why didn't the prosecutors do this? They had them all - Tracy Martin's been sitting in the courtroom all this time, the dad.

NEJAME: Right. The state opine not to put Tracy Martin.


NEJAME: Why? Because his initial statement was, he said it was not his son. He said it was not Trayvon Martin's voice that he heard. And only later, after, in fact, he apparently he had counsel, did he come back and say he listened to it again and then, in fact, he identified it.


NEJAME: So that would be such strong impeachment for the defense --

BANFIELD: I disagree. I'm a mother and I would be devastated listening to that, as I'm sure any father - and you're a dad.

Danny Cevallos, jump in here. Couldn't a good lawyer say, Tracy, you must have been devastated when you first heard that tape. And Upon hearing it over and over, were you more crystal clear in your depiction of who that was? Why couldn't that happen?

CEVALLOS: Well, I'm neither a mom nor a dad, but I can tell you this, that that -- it's absolutely true that Tracy Martin's prior inconsistent statement would have been devastating to his credibility. The idea that he would say, yes, that - no, that's not my son. Oh, and now, upon further review and possibly now that he understood the motive behind identifying it as his son, it would have made him look disastrous on the stand. The state must have believed that they had enough with the mother on the stand to establish that the voice believed to Trayvon Martin.

But it is true that the defense is doing a terrific job of calling very competent witnesses to rebut that initial evidence and overwhelm it with very valid, credible people.

BANFIELD: Sure. CEVALLOS: Vietnam vets, combat medics, people in law enforcement. These people are almost character witnesses for George Zimmerman.

BANFIELD: Last comment to you, Paul Callan, and let me just add this, that Rachel Jeantel also said it could have been, it could be. There was a lot of question about what she said, but her contention on the stand was, that was my friend Trayvon.

CALLAN: Let me give you a Wal-Mart moment, OK, and it's this.

BANFIELD: Make it a quick one.

CALLAN: Take your -- take your kids into Wal-Mart some day and have one of them yell out "mom," and see how many people turn around. OK. Point is, every mother says, I could recognize my kid's voice from any place. Well you know something, when you hear that "mom," everybody turns.

BANFIELD: Yes, it's happened to me.

CALLAN: And I think as much as we love our mothers and we - you know, so this -- this -- a voice identification stuff -

BANFIELD: It's happened to me.

CALLAN: You know, the only one I'm listening to is John Good (ph) because he didn't have any dog in the race.

BANFIELD: All right, Paul.

CALLAN: OK. He was just sort of right there at the time. And I think that's who the jury's going to listen to.

BANFIELD: I have to -- I have to cut it off there.


BANFIELD: I only have to cut it off there because we have an NTSB press conference that's coming at us live shortly, so we want to get our audience to that because they're going to update the information out of San Francisco on that crash of the Asiana 777.

In the meantime, thank you all for joining us here live in Sanford, Florida. That testimony is going to resume shortly. Do not go anywhere. In the meantime, a live update from San Francisco. I'm Ashleigh Banfield reporting live in Florida.