Return to Transcripts main page


Bombshell Day At Zimmerman Trial; Spitzer Returns to Politics

Aired July 8, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: A significant development just tonight. And Trayvon Martin's father takes the stand making a strong denial about something he has allegedly said about his son's voice.

And later we have exclusive video of the plane crash in San Francisco with the latest on the investigation and what the pilots might have done wrong in the final second. We have a pilot who has flown the plane with us.

And did an emergency vehicle responding to the crash trying to save lives end up killing one of the victims? It's one of the big questions and some answers tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good Monday evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we have two bombshell moments in the George Zimmerman trial today. It was an incredible day to watch this. And the judge ruled that the jury can hear evidence that Trayvon Martin may have had marijuana in his system when he was killed. That was a significant ruling. It had been under intense dispute.

Also Trayvon Martin's father Tracy took the stand, a surprise to many. Now, two police detectives had testified that Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, had said to them that the voice that was crying for help on that 911 call, the night that Trayvon was shot was actually not Trayvon's voice. Not his son any voice.

So, Zimmerman's attorneys called Tracy Martin to the stand. And Martin didn't support the officer's account, but he didn't totally hurt Zimmerman's defense either. Here he is.


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: As best as I recall, after he played the tape, he basically just said, "do you recognize the voice?"


MARTIN: My response -- I told him that I didn't know, I didn't tell him, no that wasn't Trayvon. I kind of, I think, chairs had wheels on them. I kind of pushed away from the table. Just shook my head and said I can't tell.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Natalie Jackson, attorney for Trayvon Martin Stanley. Good to talk to you. Everyone heard of these 911 tapes. I just want to play the crucial exchange, seems to be at the center of the case about who was yelling for help. Here is the moment on the call.


DISPATCHER: So you think he's yelling help?


DISPATCHER: All right, what is your --


BURNETT: Then you hear the gunshot at the end, Natalie. The police officers testified again today that Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father had said to them directly that that voice on the call was not his son's Trayvon's. But today Tracy Martin said it didn't quite happen that way. So how did you interpret him taking the stand? Does it help or hurt George Zimmerman?

NATALIE JACKSON, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: We thought it helped. We think that anytime someone tells the truth. That is helpful to this case. This case is all about transparency and getting to the bottom --

BURNETT: You mean, help, helped Trayvon Martin's side of the story not George Zimmerman, right?

JACKSON: Yes, helped the prosecution because here you have a father who told you the truth. He told you exactly what happened. He did try to hide what happened. He did exactly what all witnesses should do in a trial and that's to tell the truth.

BURNETT: The truth as he said it today. He said look I didn't say it wasn't him. I said I couldn't tell. Obviously couldn't tell isn't the same thing as saying it was my son Trayvon Martin? Does that worry you?

JACKSON: It doesn't. I think under the circumstances and the way that he explained what happened. I think that it's perfectly understandable. He found out his son was killed. He heard the tape. A bullet goes off and killed his son. I think under the circumstances his grief, and, even -- even the -- the emotions that went along with that. It was perfectly understandable. That's what he did. He told the truth what happened.

BURNETT: It's interesting that he said that, you know there were other men moments today that we're going to go into more detail on, but multiple friends of George Zimmerman who said that the voice on that 911 call, calling for help, was clearly that of their friend. His mother and uncle, George Zimmerman's uncle and mother also said this is George Zimmerman. On Trayvon Martin's side though, only his mother and brother have said it was Trayvon Martin screaming. There have been no friends or anyone else said it was him. Are you worried about the number of witnesses, the sheer number of witnesses who say the person yelling for help was George Zimmerman? That it does dwarf those who are saying it was Trayvon Martin.

JACKSON: I think that's what the defense is trying to do. They are trying to put on a cumulative case on this issue. These screams, anyone can listen to them. These are inhumane screams. This is agonizing screams of someone who is being caged and when the gunshot goes off. Common sense will tell you that these are not screams that a normal person would hear anybody in their family or their friends make.

BURNETT: That's an interesting point. Do you think all in having Tracy Martin taking the stand was the smart thing? I mean, obviously, you know, that the state had not, the prosecution has not put him on the stand. And had been left hanging there by inspectors he had said it was not his son's voice on the call. Tonight, today he tried to dispute that. Do you think it was a smart thing that he was put on the stand, obviously, ironically by the defense?

JACKSON: I think it was very smart that the prosecution allowed the defense to make that choice. So I think the prosecution did a very smart thing because they had the defense made the choice and that was a very risky move. It backfired on them.

BURNETT: And a quick final question. Judge Debra Nelson has just ruled that it will be allowed, it will be admissible that Trayvon Martin had marijuana in his system. Zimmerman's defense could use this to say this is why Trayvon was acting strange. He was acting aggressive. Are you worried about this? Is this a loss for Trayvon Martin's side of the story, that the marijuana use its allowed.

JACKSON: No, it's another risky ill-advised move because now you have victim blaming going on. I think that the prosecution will be able to turn this just like they did Tracy Martin. So I think it is a risky, risky move on the defense's part to bring in marijuana, especially when everyone knows that marijuana does not make you aggressive.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Natalie. It's always good to talk to you. We appreciate. I want to bring in our legal analyst, and Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Nejame. Mark, you heard, Natalie Jackson saying with a smile and laugh she is glad that this marijuana use will be introduced. She thinks it will backfire on George Zimmerman. What do you think?

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALSYT: I think that the prosecutor disagrees with Natalie. You can see the look on his face. He was very -- unhappy with the judge's ruling. However, I agree with Natalie that this is risky. It could backfire on the defense. Reality is in our society. Many people simply are not bothered by marijuana use. If you try how to do character assassination on somebody because of the use of marijuana it can truly backfire on you. The challenge the state has, though, very difficult situation. That their own medical examiner, ended up saying, on the stand that he changed his mind recently. In fact, marijuana can impact -- cause a change in affect of an individual. We know that this -- the defense is trying to bring this in.

In part by claiming that George Zimmerman when he made his call, said that -- the person he was looking, we know to be Trayvon Martin, looked like he was on drugs. So, you know, it plays into it. We got an interesting jury panel here. So it could bothersome and it could either way. I do think it is a dangerous risky move for the defense to make too much of a big deal out of it.

BURNETT: Interesting point. Of course, the jury, you know, the female jury, which I find just so fascinating about that is going to play out. Mark, what about the issue of Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's father, testifying. Saying, look, I know the detectives said that I said it was not my son's voice calling for help. I recall it differently. I recall it saying I couldn't tell if it was his voice. Natalie obviously spinning that as a win for Trayvon Martin's family and the state, do you think that it was or was this a win for George Zimmerman?

NEJAME: I like an admire Natalie a great deal. No, as hard as they want to spin that to use your term that, no. You cannot ever have ambiguity helping the state in any case. Whenever there is question mark. Whenever there is a lack of clarity, a lack of specificity. That always in this case and all others in a criminal case, side with the defense. When you have the defense putting on significant witnesses, at the least they are neutralizing, which goes to the defense. The defense will believe the position. No, there is no way that can help the prosecution. It just can't when you have one's father saying he wasn't quite sure.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Mark Nejame.

And also in the case today, very emotional day because the friends of George Zimmerman took the stand one after another, what they heard on the 911 recordings the night of the shooting.

Later was George Zimmerman a bad fighter. Mixed martial arts was on center stage today. An expert called to the witness stand. We'll tell you why, and the re-enactment he did.

And later our exclusive video, what is vertical guidance? What could it have to do with that plane crash in San Francisco?


BURNETT: So who yelled for help on that 911 call is truly at the center of the George Zimmerman trial, center of a guilty or an innocent verdict and the guilty verdict, of course, could be 25 years to life. A parade of witnesses, friends of George Zimmerman's testified today that it was George Zimmerman not Trayvon Martin yelling for help on the tape.


O'MARA: Do you know whose voice that is in the background screaming?




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


O'MARA: How do you know that?

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


BURNETT: One witness though may have been more significant than any other. Our David Mattingly reports.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After two weeks on trial for second degree murder, George Zimmerman found a friendly ear in more ways than one.

JOHN DONNELLY, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: The voice screaming on the tape is absolutely George Zimmerman, sir.

MATTINGLY: John Donnelly is a long time close Zimmerman friend, but he is also a former Vietnam vet, a combat medic with experience identifying screaming voices.

DONNELLY: You know the men you are with. You know the men that you eat, sleep with, you know who it is going to be before you get there.

O'MARA: You can tell that from hearing their voice screaming for help and comparing that to what you heard in your everyday life with them?


MATTINGLY: And when he turned his ear to the screaming on the 911 tapes, Donnelly testified he heard a familiar voice.

DONNELLY: That is George Zimmerman. And I wish to God I did not have that ability to understand that. DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Who would begin to question his credibility with screaming men and how they may scream at different pitches. Even though he has no scientific training I can't imagine a juror who isn't going to take into consideration this man's service, the respect he is due and his familiarity and expertise in this area.

MATTINGLY: Donnelly's testimony was compelling, but it may still fall short of what Zimmerman needs to counter the emotional testimony of Trayvon Martin's mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the truth, so help you God?


DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE LAWYER: You heard screaming or yelling, do you recognize that?


WEST: Who do you recognize that to be, ma'am?

FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

MATTINGLY: John Donnelly says he considers George Zimmerman his son. But unlike Trayvon Martin's mother, he is not family.

DONNELLY: Very close friend.

FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Although he was able to identify the voice on the call and screams on the call, I am not sure if the jury is really going to believe 100 percent that he can actually identify George Zimmerman's voice screaming.

MATTINGLY: The court has heard from Zimmerman's mother and uncle. And John Donnelly was not the only Zimmerman friend testifying he could hear his voice. A body of opinion for the jury to kid, capped by a good friend who says he has no doubts in what he heard.

DONNELLY: That was absolutely George Zimmerman. I knew that that was George Zimmerman. It was easy for me just based on my past experiences, very easy for me. That was George Zimmerman.


MATTINGLY: Donnelly's performance in front of the jury was strong. They paid very close attention, laughing when he made hey joke and looking very close and very serious when he was upset.

In the meantime, the prosecutors say that they didn't know he was going to be able to testify with this kind of expertise. Afterward they asked the judge to throw his testimony out. But the judge refused. It is going to stay in -- Erin.

BURNETT: Right. David Mattingly, that testimony could be obviously crucial. OUTFRONT tonight, legal analysts, Sunny Hostin and Paul Callan.

All right, Paul, when you take a look at this, you have Tracy Martin takes the stand calling into question who it was on the 911 call. You had the friend and then that as David Mattingly just reported, very emotional friend, so certain, Vietnam vet. How successful was the defense today?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I thought they had a very successful day. You know, they started building this rock pile of reasonable doubt during the prosecutor's case. And if you look at how things stack up, prosecutors call the mother and the brother of Trayvon Martin. Now, the brother had some problem. He said at first he couldn't recognize the voice. So, really, the only unequivocal identification is the mother.

How does the defense counter? They call Zimmerman's mother, father, a parade of friends, a medic from Vietnam and they trump it by calling Trayvon Martin's own father to demonstrate that even he couldn't recognize Trayvon's voice.

Now, that, if you are talking about reasonable doubt, remember, the prosecutor has to disprove the odd of reasonable doubt. And the second thing, very quickly, they showed today that Zimmerman is kind of a nice guy. He has all the friends and that plays to the subconscious attitude of jurors. They don't want to release somebody who is dangerous. But, look at this parade of people who like Zimmerman. So, I think they turned the case a little but in that very subtle way as well.

BURNETT: Sunny, let me ask you about another tape that was played repeatedly in court today. That of course was the call George Zimmerman himself made to police the night he shot Trayvon Martin. And on that tape Zimmerman said things, f punks, these a-holes, they always get away. That's a pretty damming statement, perhaps. And here is how defense attorney Mark O'Mara questioned one of the witnesses and one of those friends of Zimmerman, Sunny, about Zimmerman's voice on the tape.


MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Can you tell me, anywhere in that tape where -- where you heard George Zimmerman speaking in an angry way?


O'MARA: In a way that evidence to you he had ill will or spite?


O'MARA: That he was acting with hatred for whoever may have been the subject of his conversation?



BURNETT: Obvious, this line of question may sound strange to viewers, but it is important because it is establishing ill will, spite, anger matters. How come?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It matters because it is part of the elements of the crime. I mean, they charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder. So, they have to prove what was in his head. And they have to prove he had ill will, he had spite, he had hatred toward Trayvon Martin when he killed him.

I got to tell you I was in the courtroom for her testimony. And when she said to Mark O'Mara, yes, I don't know all the expletives. He was just giving a description. That didn't evidence any sort of ill will.

Many of the jurors looked at her incredulously and that is a very important part of the case for the prosecution because they have got to get what was going on in his head. They have got to change the narrative. They got to show that he was the first aggressor. And that's what is important as opposed to, you know, sort of honing in on the screams, on the 911 call, which really a nurse to the benefit of the defense because that is all about self defense.

BURNETT: Right. But interesting what Sunny points out that she said the jurors look incredulously at her response when she said this is no big deal. Let me just play how that witness responded to that question of whether you would use those word casually. Here she is.


BENJAMIN: But I have encountered people who use language like that in the in conversation. And it doesn't necessarily come across to me as angry or excited, just conversation.


BENJAMIN: Especially with my kids.

DE LA RIONCA: OK, with your kids.


DE LA RIONCA: Are you talking about --? I don't mean to get personal.

BENJAMIN: Well, when -- cussing.

DE LA RIONCA: OK, all right. Profanity.

BENJAMIN: It does not always indicate that there's, you know, an alarming situation.


BURNETT: That's what Sunny referred to the jurors looked incredulously at.

Paul, what do you think? I mean, you know, he said f'ing punks, these a-holes, they always get away. No big deal? I mean --

CALLAN: You know, Sunny's description I'm sure is quite accurate because both sides have abandoned common sense in dealing with this count and the indictment. First of all, having ill-will or hatred against somebody you think to be a criminal who is trying to break into your house and hurt somebody, most people probably aren't going to have a big problem with that.

Secondly, with respect to the self defense issue, as long as he is acting in self defense, that stuff is not really going to matter. And I think eventually, that count is going to drop out. You are going to look at a manslaughter count. So, I don't really think it is going to amount to too much, this ill-will, spite count.

BURNETT: We shall see.

But thanks very much to both of you. We will look forward to having both Sunny and Paul back tomorrow, obviously, going to be another crucial day in the case.

But we have more on the Zimmerman case next because another thing that happened today that really amazed me was at a mixed martial arts expert called to the witness stand. Why?

And then later she sued to get an adult lung transplant and to cut a whole lot of other people waiting for one. But now, she suffered a major health set back.

And our exclusive video of the plane crash in San Francisco. Plus, what officials now say about one of the victims in the crash whether she was run over by a first responder. We have got a pilot of the trouble side.


BURNETT: And Athletic watchman or total wimp. So, today, the defense called Zimmerman's trainer to the stand. And as you will see, he went to great lengths to demonstrate some of the training that he does. There was a whole, whole re-enactment here. He also went on to say that the type of boxing and mixed martial arts that he teaches was too advanced for George Zimmerman.


ADAM POLLOCK, GYM OWNER: He is just physically soft. He is not a -- he was a -- he was an overweight large man when he came to us. He was predominantly fat, not a lot of muscle, not a lot of strength. He is still learning how to punch. He didn't know how to really effectively know how to punch.


BURNETT: Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT. And Martin, why was the defense bringing attention to the fact that Zimmerman was out of shape and he couldn't punch. I mean, I guess I can see why. But, you know, ironic that this would be something that, George Zimmerman would want to hear about himself?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. I mean, I had to chuckle about the same exact thing. Because you know how often would a person, especially a guy, want to hear himself described just about a pathetic excuse for any kind of athlete? And yet that's what the man, at the gym where George Zimmerman trained essentially said. And the defense was very glad to hear that because one of the things that had been brought up last week by testimony was that a witness said they saw someone using MMA style, that's Mixed Martial Arts. Well, it was actually clarified that -- John Good was the one who saw, he said, Trayvon Martin atop George Zimmerman. That's why you had the fight literally break out in the courtroom today. It was a demonstration. But there was MMA being practiced by this expert on Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney.

And I got to say, I was in the courtroom, the jury was fascinated with that. Their eyes were literally glued. They were craning their necks to see the two men sort of grappling on the floor to understand what his MMA. The other thing we pointed out, that this particular witness brought was the fact that George Zimmerman when he saw him two days after the altercation had every look of a loser to a fight he was demoralized and black eyed.

BURNETT: Every look of a loser as you says. The worst thing you ever want to hear about yourself, but obviously, music to George Zimmerman's lawyers' ears, at least.

All right, thanks very much Martin Savidge who has been in the courtroom covering this case for us from the beginning.

Next, NSA leaker Edward Snowden says the U.S. government does more than just spying on foreign nationals. New transcripts released today and you will hear him.

Plus a major develop in the health of little girl who sued to move on to the adult lung transplant list and get to the top of it.

And can you survive a plane crash by changing the way that you fly? We are going to show you the exclusive video of the crash, talk to our aviation expert and talk to a pilot of a triple 777.


BURNETT: And welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about, where we focus on reporting from the frontlines.

In excerpts of an interview with "The Guardian" newspaper released for the first time day, more revelations from NSA -- leaker depending on the word you want to use -- Edward Snowden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: Now, I have watched and waited tried to do my job, in the most policy-driven way, I could.


BURNETT: But Snowden did not keep quiet. He goes on to say that the NSA collects all communications in the United States, from phone calls to Internet traffic. That's a significant statement because we know that the NSA targets foreigners.

If you call a foreigner, they could monitor that phone number. But apparently, supposedly U.S. citizens under investigation are tracked only if the government has a warrant. So, whether Snowden's revelation goes beyond what the government has admitted what we know is unclear.

The 30-year-old meanwhile remains stuck in Moscow, even though three countries offered him asylum. (INAUDIBLE) of "Foreign Policy" says Russia will be very glad to get rid of him.

Sarah Murnaghan, you may remember her, the 10-year-old we reported on received a set of lungs just less than a month ago has come down with pneumonia. Her family successfully fought national rules that disqualify children younger than 12 from getting lung transplants. That actually bumped her up on the waiting list ahead of others.

Sarah's mother writes the infection in her daughter's right lung is definitely a large setback. But even with of a setback like that, Sanjay Gupta says nearly 85 percent people survive one year after a lung transplant.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, has been upgraded from being in critical condition to fair condition. She was hospitalized yesterday. The couple had been vacationing in Nantucket where they have a home. Heinz Kerry suddenly became ill. And a source close to the family tells us the 74-year-old's symptoms were consistent with a seizure.

It has been 702 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, today, stocks rose. It was a third day. It wasn't a big rise. But it was up ahead of what is expected to be a pretty pathetic earning season.

And now, the Asiana plane crash. So, was it pilot error? Mechanical failure? What was it?

Federal investigators are trying to quickly determine why the South Korean airliner flying 307 people hit a sea wall as it approached the runway in San Francisco Saturday.

I want to emphasize, by the way, for those of you who haven't heard of this airline, it had won awards for its service and its quality. This was not a run of the -- random airline, fly by night. This was a very serious and respected airline. The impact ripped the tail off the jet, sent the plane skidding across the runway before it burst into flames. The National Transportation Safety Board says the plane was flying more than 30 miles an hour slower than it should have been as it approached landing.


DEBORAH HERSMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD CHAIRWOMAN: About three seconds prior to impact, the flight data recorder recorded its lowest speed of 103 knots. At this time, the engines were at about 50 percent power. And engine power was increasing. At impact, airspeed was approximately 106 knots.


BURNETT: All right. That's about 121 miles an hour at impact. We also know the pilot was making his first landing in a 777 at the San Francisco airport. But did that lead to the crash, in which so many were injured and two died?

Captain Mark Weiss flew a 777 for a year with American Airlines and he's OUTFRONT tonight.

And, Captain Weiss -- I mean, the pilot of the plane had more than 10 hours flying airplanes. He clearly was an experienced pilot, but only 43 hours of experience flying a 777. Just so people know, it's about an 11, 11 1/2 hour flight from Seoul to San Francisco.

So, he had never landed a 777 at this airport. How significant is his limited flight time in control of the 777 to this case.

MARK WEISS, FORMER 777 PILOT, POTOMAC, MD (via telephone): Well, certainly, the NTSB is going to look at that as a factor, contributing factor. But in reality, changing aircraft is something you do all the time in the aviation industry. Your pay is based on it. Your seniority will give you an opportunity to fly bigger aircraft over longer routes.

So, it's not as significant a factor as I think you might believe it to be.

BURNETT: Now, that's interesting because, you know, a lot of people have honed in on that. Well, maybe, you know, he just didn't have the feel of the plane. He didn't know certain things.

And to that end, Captain Weiss, let me ask you about this, because federal investigators have honed in on one thing specifically and that is how slow this plane approached, way too slowly. Recommended speed at landing, 157 miles an hour. At point of impact, this Asiana plane was flying 121 mile an hour.

Now, I would imagine and tell me if I'm wrong, that every pilot would know the speed when you are landing that would cause a stall. Is there any way they wouldn't have known and been in head before a warning signal, saying, this is just way too slow, what are we doing? WEISS: You touched on a perfect point. Everybody should have been aware. It's a very critical time. And everybody has a very high concentration to make sure everything is -- going right according to a scenario that you trained for hundreds of times and done a thousand different landings.

The -- there was a loss of situational awareness on the part of it seems like the entire crew to allow that aircraft to get into a position where it was stalling. That's something that you learn from day one not to allow to happen.

BURNETT: And we, you know, we understand. And again, I know this situation is fluid. But that they tried to abort the landing, about a second and a half before landing as they realized they might stall. Is there any way that you would ever be able to abort a landing when you are 1 1/2 seconds away from impact? I mean, it would seem the die is already cast, isn't it?

WEISS: Well, maybe the way to really couch that would be -- you can make that aborted landing and continue on missed approach even if you've actually touched down on a run way. We do train for that.

But they did not have the airspeed or the altitude to permit that to happen. And a chain of events lead to an accident. No one incident. It takes between seven and eight second for an engine to go from idle to power that you need.

If they called for go-around thrust, to a more power to be added, they only added that about 7 second or so before the impact. Had they added that maybe doubling that amount of time, or, 15 or 20 seconds earlier, they may have been able to do a go-around or at least not bring the airplane to a point where it stalled and where it was a nose-high attitude where the tail hit the sea wall.

BURNETT: All right. Captain Weiss, thank you very much. We appreciate your perspective.

Captain Weiss, as we said, flew a 777 for more than a year for American Airlines.

Well, you know, one of the questions here was how people landed. How they were sitting in their seats. You heard about so many injuries being back injuries, spinal injuries of compression.

So, do you know how to survive a crash at landing? Three hundred five people made it out alive Saturday. It's a miraculous turn. And six people remain in critical condition. So, there are those still fighting for their lives.

But investigators say survival is not as uncommon as most people think.

Brian Todd is OUTFRONT with that part of the story.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks unsurvivable. Yet almost everyone did survive.

LT. CRISSY EMMONS, SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPT.: I feel very lucky and blessed that -- that we were able to get those people out in that time.

TODD: The lesson according to experts, you can make it out of even a horrific crash alive. Part of the NTSB's elite Go Team of investigators sent to San Francisco is a group looking at how people survive plane crashes.

(on camera): This is all impact.


TODD: This is all about kind of blunt force, G-force.

(voice-over): We got exclusive access to their training center in 2009 and spoke to Nora Marshall, who led the human performance and survival factors division of the NTSB.

TODD (on camera): Tell me about the myth and how you want to dispel it.

MARSHALL: Well, one of the myths is that if you're involved in an airplane accident, you're not going to survive. And we know that's not true.

TODD (voice-over): These days one key reason you can make it out: equipment enhancements.

MARSHALL: We have improved the chance of survival by improving seat strength, by building airplanes that can withstand crash forces.

TODD: Take a look at the inside of the Asiana plane. Even the damaged seats could have protected passengers.

Another example: Little Rock, June 1999. Landing in a thunderstorm, American Airlines Flight 1420 slides off the runway, impacts a light structure, splits open, fire breaks out in at the aft section.

But look at the seats. With the fuselage breached, much of the cabin destroyed. Many of the seats remain relatively intact, even some that were ripped out by impact.

Here is one survivor's account.

JEFF ARNOLD, SURVIVOR, FLIGHT 1420, LITTLE ROCK: There was a gap in the side of the fuselage. Outside of that I found two people still strapped in their chair that had apparently been thrown through that. They were both alive and doing OK.

TODD: Hard landings such as this 2002 Iberia Airlines emergency touchdown at JFK are completely survivable, Marshall says.

Crucial to survival: human behavior. Flight crews are better trained than ever to get people out. Marshall pointed to the 2005 overrun of an Air France jet in Toronto, and the Hudson River landing. Number of people killed in those incidents: zero.

But she says passengers need to be sharper in the cabin. The former flight attendant took me through evacuation drill.

MARSHALL: Release seatbelts. Get out.

Why are you blocking the aisle to get your carry-on? Leave it behind.

OK. Closest exit right here.

TODD (on camera): Two things. I went the wrong way.

MARSHALL: How do you open that?

OK, did you look at your briefing card? Do you know how the exit opens?

TODD: I don't know.

MARSHALL: Did you know there was an exit behind you?


(voice-over): In about 20 seconds, I made three very common mistakes that could me and others killed.

But many passengers do get it, in Little Rock, 134 out of 135 people on board survived, including one man who scrambled out with the seat still on his back.

MARSHALL: He crawled away from the airplane. It wasn't up until he got to this area he realized he hadn't unfastened his seatbelt.

TODD: Marshall said when your plane is taking off and when it's landing, those are the two times you should have your seatbelt buckled tightly. She says, if you do that, and there is an impact on takeoff or landing, having it belted tightly will not only keep you from being thrown around. But the seat absorbs much of then energy of the impact.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: Well, minutes after the Asiana Flight 214 crashed, first responders and emergency personnel rushed to help and they saved a lot of lives. But it was a chaotic scene that may have led to a tragic accident.



KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments after Asiana Flight 214 crashed, hundreds of emergency rescuers rushed to the scene, more than 300 passengers and crew running. Some pulled from the wreckage. Many of them severely injured.

Somehow in that chaos, a terrible collision. One of the two 16- year-old girls, struck by the very rescuers trying to save her.

DALE CARNES, ASST. DEP. CHIEF, SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPT.: It became aware to one of our fire attack battalion chiefs that there was a possibility that one of the two fatalities might have been contacted by one of our apparatus at an unknown point during the incident.

EDWIN LEE, MAYOR, SAN FRANCISCO: I will say this: it was very, very hectic, very emergency mode at the crash site minutes after the airplane came to rest and there was smoke inhalation. People were coming out of the fuselage as fast as they could. And I think people had to literally jump out of the other side of the airplane. So, there's just a lot of confusion.

LAH: One of the girls, either Ye Mengyuan or Wang Linjia, appears to have been killed during the crash. But the coroner says what's not clear, whether the emergency vehicle caused the death of the other girl or it struck her after she had already died. The coroner's autopsy results have not yet been made public.

The news adds to the heartbreak of the children of Jiangshan Middle School in China, mourning the deaths of their classmates. Ye Mengyuan loved music. Wang Linjia always had a smile on her face. Parents say the elite school has been sending students to the U.S. for years.

MAO XIAO QIANG, PARENT: as a father I feel very sad. I saw those girls when we were saying good-bye.

LAH: The NTSB says the girls' cause of death is a key part of their investigation.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD CHAIRWOMAN: It is a very serious issue and we want to understand it. We are reviewing, video, airport surveillance video to also understand what happened. I will tell you, at least the initial read of the video by our investigators, they shared with me that it wasn't conclusive.


BURNETT: Now, these girls, of course, were on a school trip, Kyung. What about their fellow students? What about these girls? You know, I had seen speculation that because of one-child policy they would have been their parents' only children.

LAH: Yes, we don't know if they were their only children. What we do know is that is generally the policy in China. So, you can't, at this point, assume that these parents did probably lose se their only child because of China's policy.

As the far as their other students, there are 25 of them here, Erin, and what the consul general is telling us that they are extremely emotional. They're having a very hard time coping with this, on top of the fact that they lost everything. They've got to get passports. They've got to get passports and basic stuff, like clothing and shoes -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT next, that runaway train that exploded 13 people are dead, confirmed. There could be dozens more. This tragedy is enormous. Did someone cut the power to the air brakes?

And, Eliot Spitzer, the comeback -- oh, yes, that's what he thinks. Should voters forgive him?


BURNETT: And we are back with tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And tonight, we begin in Cairo. More than 50 people died today in Cairo in clashes with police.

And Ben Wedeman is there.

And, Ben, I know you've been there. You've been on the streets. You've been amidst the crowds, and the riots and the protests.

What happened today?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, this was the most serious violence in Cairo since 2011 revolution that unseated Hosni Mubarak.

Now, according to the Egyptian army and police, they say a group of terrorists tried to attack the headquarters of the republican guard. Among the 51 people the Egyptian health ministry say were killed in this attack, or so-called attack, were two policemen and one soldier.

Now, the supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsy, insists that they did not try to attack the headquarters of the republican guard, that they were fired upon randomly during early morning prayers. They're calling it a massacre, and calling for massive demonstrations to protest what they call a massacre tomorrow -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thanks to Ben.

Now, I want to go to Canada, where 13 people have been confirmed dead and an estimated 37 are missing after a 73-car train derailed and exploded. The scale is horrific. Anna Coren is in Quebec.

And, Anna, I know officials held a press briefing late today. Did they say anything about what could have caused this unbelievably horrible accident?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, unfortunately, no, we don't know what caused this hideous accident as we say. We do know, however, that 13 people are dead, 37 are still missing.

There is a wide scale investigation underway. Was it operator error? You know, the engineer of this train had left it unmanned and checked into a hotel.

Was it faulty old commitment or was it foul play? Police have not ruled out a criminal act.

What we do know is that on Saturday night at 1:00 a.m., that this train somehow became disengaged from its brakes, it was parked on a slope, it rolled down, gained momentum and it then derailed and exploded several times, literally wiping out the historic town center, at least 30 buildings destroyed many of those homes, businesses and a bar that was really packed with people.

So this is why we are expecting the death toll to dramatically rise over the coming days. The problem, however, is officials have described the scene behind me as a crematorium, that gives you an idea as to the power of the explosion. And authorities having a really difficult time identifying the bodies.

They have appealed to family members to bring in items that perhaps have DNA samples, whether it'd be a toothbrush, hair brush, a hat, so they can bring some relief and closure to the people of the missing.

BURNETT: Anna, thank you very much. The word "crematorium" bringing that story home in a horrible way.

Well, now, to Eliot Spitzer who is apparently -- believes he can stage a comeback. The disgraced governor of New York, former governor, Eliot Spitzer, he resigned five years ago after the feds caught him soliciting prostitutes. He's announced he's running for the comptroller of New York City.

It's a pretty powerful job. He will control about $140 billion. That announcement turns his first campaign event into a mob scene earlier today. I mean, look at that.

Spitzer says this campaign is about returning to a life of public service, that he hopes voters will forgive him, and focus on his record, not his predilection for prostitutes.


ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: I sinned, I owned up to it, I looked them in the eye, I resigned, I held myself accountable. I think that was the right thing to do.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Dean Obeidallah and Stephanie Miller and Reihan Salam.

Great to see you all of you as always.

Dean, $140 billion is a lot of money to oversee.


This is money that, you know, is invested with big banks, the big banks that he went after successfully as the sheriff of Wall Street. There's some great irony to this whole situation.

BURNETT: But he's shooting low for comptroller.

OBEIDALLAH: He is. It's probably a smart move. You go down lower, people maybe forgiving for that.

As a comedian, this is great. We've got him, we've got Weiner, if we could get Silvio Berlusconi to move to New York, they run together, it's a dream team. But the guy spent $4,000 on one prostitute. How come we trust him with our money? That's a ridiculous price.

To be honest, it's made the entire -- I thought Weiner had a chance for redemption, add Spitzer, it turns this whole thing into a Comedy Central special.

BURNETT: This whole story and then Weiner's name constantly coming to it. It's tough to take at least from a comedic point of view.

Reihan, Spitzer does have credentials, though. The guy's incredibly bright, we know that. OK. But does that mean that he will be forgiven?

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do not like Eliot Spitzer, and I think that many people who've crossed paths with Eliot Spitzer feel the same way. But the thing is, that New York City is facing an enormous major budget crisis.

And the truth is that Eliot Spitzer had many flaws as a human being and as a governor. One thing he did do however was kept an eye on overspending. He kept an eye on overspending at the World Trade Center site --


SALAM: Well, I honestly think it's really appalling, but I also think that what's really appalling is the physical state of New York City. This is a city where spending has increased and inflation adjusted terms by more than 50 percent under Bloomberg, you have pension and benefit costs ballooning. It's a huge problem. You need a fiscal watchdog and that's something he's very well- suited to do. So, I don't love the guy, but he should be in the mix, he should be in the race.

BURNETT: Stephanie Ratner, virtual capitalist, friend of Eliot Spitzer, was on MSNBC with my friends Joe and Mika this morning. And he said, I have no doubt watching Sanford and watching Weiner, referring to Mark Sanford, of course, in South Carolina, and, of course, with Weiner, he said, why not me? I mean, do you think there was a little bit of that? I mean, come on, why not John Edwards?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO SHOW HOST: Well, exactly. You know, there's been a -- the bar has been lowered on sex scandals, I have to admit to being a fan of Weiner and Spitzer, I think I would like to run to New York and run both of those campaigns, so I can say hi, it's Stephanie calling from Weiner-Spitzer.

I think that -- I think you raise a good point that honestly, you know, is falling in love with a mistress or impregnating the nanny in your bed worse than this? Probably. And, you know, certainly other people have been forgiven. And I happen to think he's a smart guy, and I think he's been great on financial stuff, including Wall Street and he's well suited for this job.

SALAM: The problem is, this is a crime that he himself had prosecuted. He actually declared a war on johns and then he turns around and does this. This is very serious hypocrisy.

BURNETT: Hypocrisy.

SALAM: But we have to admit that he's a smart guy in this job.

DEAN: At least we have one bipartisan thing, both Democrats and Republicans in sex scandals. The one thing they're doing is bipartisan in this hyper-partisan era.

BURNETT: Well, that's good to know, men will be men as some would say. These happen to be all men. I'm not saying women don't do it. I'm just saying.

All right. Thanks very much to all three of you. By the way, for those who are watching this, if Spitzer gets on the ballot, he will be running against Kristen Davis, the former madam who claims to have set up his trysts. So, they'll be going head to head.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Thanks as always for watching, see you back here tomorrow night.

"A.C. 360" starts now.