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Murder Versus Manslaughter; Pilots Questioned in 777 Crash; Zero Option in Afghanistan; Leading Egypt Out of Crisis

Aired July 9, 2013 - 16:30   ET



You're looking at live pictures from San Francisco airport. We'll have more on the George Zimmerman murder trial in just a bit. But right now we're going to talk about some other big stories developing.

And now our "National Lead" is Asiana 214 came in too low and too slow at San Francisco's airport as we now know. The big question, why didn't one of the four pilots on board say or do something before it was too late?

We are anticipating some answers shortly at an NTSB briefing that we'll be watching. Investigators today are questioning the men who were at the controls of the Boeing 777 when it crash-landed and broke apart and burst into flames on Saturday so catastrophically. The main pilot had 43 hours of experience flying the 777. That's not a lot. But he had never landed this type of aircraft at this airport. A fact that the 291 passengers on board at the time assuredly did not know. And incredible only two of the 307 passengers and crew on board died. Several have serious injuries.

Dan Simon is live in San Francisco.

Dan, tell us the latest on the investigation.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the pilots are being interviewed. This is day two of those interviews. And of course all of their decisions, their observations, what procedures were followed, all of that of course is going to be on the table. We know that the plane was flying too slow. The question is why. So hopefully the crew can at least provide some of those answers -- Jake.

TAPPER: Dan, the head of Asiana Airlines spoke and said that there were no mechanical malfunctions, but he also defended the pilots. Explain to us what is the message that the airline is giving.

SIMON: Well, first of all, we should tell you that the CEO of Asiana Airlines just arrived into San Francisco. This is Yoon Young-doo. There was basically a swarm of cameras as he arrived here at the airport. And one would think that he would defend his own pilots. He basically told the cameras as he arrived that we shouldn't rush to judgment, that the procedures are in place, that the investigation is in place, and we should basically see the outcome. But I think it's a symbolic visit, of course. He wants to, you know, pay homage to the victims, visit them in the hospital, and really support his airline. So I think at least from a PR point of view, it's important that he be here -- Jake.

TAPPER: It is amazing that so many of the passengers survived considering what could have happened when you look at the photographs of the crash. It seems as though one of the narratives that we're starting to hear that you've been reporting on is that many of these passengers might have the flight attendants to thank.

SIMON: No question about it. And there's something quite striking with respect to one of the flight attendants. When the flight crashed, he actually knocked on the cockpit door and made contact with the pilot and basically asked, should we begin the evacuation procedures? And what's really incredible is that the pilot said hold on.

I want you to listen now to what that flight attendant had to say.


LEE YOON HYE, FLIGHT ATTENDANT (Through Translator): First, after the plane stopped completely, I went into the cockpit to see whether the captain was alive or not. I knocked the cockpit door, the captain opened it, and I asked, are you OK, Captain? He said, yes, I'm OK.

I asked should I perform evacuation? And he told me to wait. So I closed the door and made an announcement because the passengers were upset and things were confusing.


TAPPER: Dan --

SIMON: Jake, if that account is true -- yes, you know, I was going to say, if that account is true, it's really puzzling that the pilot would want to delay that evacuation for one second. Of course you have anxious passengers who are very scared and to delay it for any length of time just kind of flies in the face of common sense.

TAPPER: All right, Dan Simon, at the San Francisco airport. Thank you so much.

Today, for the first time, we heard directly from the three women who spent year after year as captives in a Cleveland house. We got to see their faces, we got to hear their voices and witness how far they've come in the two months since their hell ended.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight posted the video on YouTube. They also thanked people who donated money to help them reset their lives.


AMANDA BERRY, FORMER CAPTIVE: I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely. I ask that everyone continue to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life.

MICHELLE KNIGHT, FORMER CAPTIVE: I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don't want to be consumed by hatred.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Gina, if you could say something to each and every person out there who contributed money to your funds to help you, what would you say to them?

GINA DEJESUS, FORMER CAPTIVE: I would say thank you for the support.


TAPPER: The man accused of keeping them captive for so long, Ariel Castro, faces more than 300 counts in the case. He's due back in court in a couple of weeks.

Now time for "The World Lead." They call it the zero option. President Obama is reportedly mulling the possibility of pulling out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 2014, according to a senior administration official. The reason? Bad blood between the White House and the unpredictable leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin has been digging in for us on this.

Jessica, how realistic is it do you think that 2014 comes and the U.S. has no troops in Afghanistan at the end of the year?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Jake, it seems to be just one of many options and they're not even close to a decision on this. It's one of those cases the press getting a little bit ahead of the story. As the president has made clear, he wants troops out by the end of 2014 but he wants to leave a residual force in Afghanistan.

And the idea of this zero option is getting more of a public airing right now because of the disagreements between President Obama and Hamid Karzai that have to do with the breakdown in talks over the security negotiations.

This seems to be the airing of this so-called zero option, leaving zero troops in Afghanistan, may be one way to put pressure on Karzai, sort of push him back into line and see if he won't work with the Taliban on some sort of peace discussions and also get back in line to talk -- to continue the security discussions with the U.S. -- Jake.

TAPPER: Last year when President Obama went to Afghanistan in May, I believe, and signed a document about this strategic partnership, he made it very clear that counterterrorism and equipping Afghan security forces were going to continue to be important imperatives for the U.S., even after 2014. Strategically does it make any sense if counterterrorism is a priority the way that the Obama administration has been waging it with drones, with Special Forces. Does it make any sense to pull out of Afghanistan completely?

YELLIN: Well, you're right, given our national security interest and the amount the U.S. has invested there, it seems it would be unlike this administration to -- to pull out all forces from Afghanistan next year and especially because it borders Pakistan. That's a convenient place to at least base some forces to have a U.S. presence on Pakistan's border.

But you have to keep in mind, Jake, that a lot of foreign policy hands felt the same way about Iraq that, it would have been smart to keep U.S. troops, some forces in Iraq rather than pulling out totally and the U.S. just couldn't come to terms with the Iraqi government to do that.

TAPPER: That's right. The Iraqis would not grant U.S. troops the immunities that they wanted. That's also what they're negotiating right now with Hamid Karzai.

Jessica Yellin, thank you so much.

In Egypt, tensions are still high after the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Fifty people died in clashes yesterday between security forces and protesters. And amid the burials, the interim government is trying to pull together new leadership and paved the way to return to democracy.

Reza Sayah has more from Cairo.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, here in Egypt, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight to this conflict, where on one side you have the liberals, the moderates, the seculars, even supporters of the military, who seem to be winning and gaining momentum, pushing forth to establish a new transitional government.

And then you have the side that seems increasingly cornered and isolated. The Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who are crying out for their former president to be reinstated, and crying out for security forces, to be held responsible for deadly clashes yesterday that killed more than 50 people and injured hundreds.

It's still not clear what happened in these clashes yesterday, who started it. Security forces saying it was an armed group of terrorists who opened fire on the troops. Protesters saying, no, it was the security forces who opened fire on protesters. Today there were a number of funeral services put together for some of the fatalities in what was another emotionally charged day.

In the meantime, this interim government doesn't seem to want to wait for this conflict to be resolved before moving forward. Two new appointments for this interim government. A new prime minister was appointed, his name Hazem el-Beblawi, he's a liberal economist. Also appointed as the interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate and Egyptian diplomat. Last night you had the interim president setting a time table, a frame work for a new constitution to be voted and the new presidential elections and parliamentary elections. Strong signs that this transition is taking place, but of course in the way of this transition, the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of the ousted president, still angry and calling for him to come back -- Jake.

TAPPER: Reza Sayah in Cairo.

Much more on the George Zimmerman trial is ahead. The big question, did the defense put enough reasonable doubt in the jurors' heads? Could the jury convict George Zimmerman on a manslaughter charge instead of second-degree murder? The panel will talk about that coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD and our continuing coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial. I'm Jake Tapper. The jury has been released for the day. We've learned that the defense could rest its case as early as tomorrow. So the question remains has the defense done enough to save George Zimmerman from a second-degree murder conviction and even if he does beat the murder rap, could he still get jail time?

Let's go back to our live panel, Linda Kenny Baden defended Casey Anthony and Phil Specter, and CNN legal expert Sunny Hostin and Jean Casarez, both have been in court monitoring the Zimmerman trial. Linda, let's start with the second degree murder charge. In order to prove that, prosecutors have to show that George Zimmerman acted with a depraved mind when he shot Trayvon Martin, what if anything have they done to show evidence of a depraved mind?

LINDA KENNY BADEN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: About as much to show that I have a depraved mind, Jake. That charge is not going to fly. Yes, there could be ill will and some spite of how Trayvon Martin was described. That's not a murder two conviction in this case. George Zimmerman didn't go out to hunt someone down because of ill will, spite, because of the race or any other reason. He got into a situation that someone was killed. In my opinion at most this is manslaughter or aggravated battery.

TAPPER: Jean Casarez, what has the defense done to debunk the murder two charge?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they've played and replayed the nonemergency 911 call talking and using all the words that the prosecution is using to show the hatred and ill spite. In the state of Florida, a mandatory lesser included is manslaughter. So it's not discretionary. Manslaughter will go to the jury in this case.

TAPPER: So in other words, the jury will automatically be considering manslaughter, whether or not the prosecutor wants them to?

CASAREZ: Yes, correct, by statute. TAPPER: And the manslaughter charge focuses on intelligence. In other words, Zimmerman's own actions --

CASAREZ: Culpable negligence.

TAPPER: His own actions, his own decisions led to Martin's death. Sunny, what's the key to a manslaughter conviction? How does that happen?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think the key to it is that it takes that depraved mind off the table so you don't have to explain what was going on in George Zimmerman's mind. All you have to really prove is that he intentionally committed an act that led to Trayvon Martin's death and that Trayvon Martin is dead.

So I think most people thought when this case first came up that there was going to be a manslaughter -- indictment on manslaughter because really that is the easier charge to prove, it's always difficult, Jake, as a prosecutor to try to prove an intent crime, a second degree murder crime because you've got to get into the person's head, but I disagree with Linda.

I don't think that we at this point can say the jury will never convict a second degree murder because there is evidence of ill will, spite, hatred using George Zimmerman's very words. So that's still very much on the table. But as Jean said, they're going to also get manslaughter.

And so to suggest that, you know, this case is over and that there isn't going to be a second degree murder conviction, there is not going to be any conviction, I think that's pushing it a bit.

TAPPER: Let's take a look at another piece of testimony from today. George Zimmerman told police that after he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest at close range, Martin put his hands up and said "you got me." The question of course is that medically possible to say that after you've received this lethal wound? Here's what forensic pathologist, Dr. Vincent De Maio, had to say about the human body's ability to not only survive, but fully function after the heart shuts down.


DR. VINCENT DE MAIO, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Even if I right now reached across, put my hand through your chest, grabbed your heart and ripped it out, you could stand there and talk to me for 10 to 15 seconds or walk over to me because the thing that's controlling your movement and ability to speak is the brain. And that has a reserve supply of 10 to 15 seconds. Now, that's minimum. That assumes no blood is going to the brain.


TAPPER: Linda, that's a rather fantastic description of how the brain controls the body more than the heart does. I don't know if I personally find it all that credible, but do you think that that testimony lends credibility to the notion that George Zimmerman did not overdramatize what happened after the shooting?

BADEN: Well, after you get the shock value of thinking about that, which I do think it was a terrible example to say, it is true that you can talk for about 10 seconds after you've been shot. You do have that reserve. That's possible. I think we took it a little bit longer was the fact that Trayvon somehow on the ground could lift himself up and get his arms under his body. I don't think that's possible and I don't think the jury is going to believe it. They're going to use their common sense, but you can say not you got me, maybe you shot me, which would indicate that Trayvon knew there was a gun and that's good for the prosecution.

TAPPER: We're going to take a very quick break and come back with our panel talking about the George Zimmerman murder case. The big question of course coming up, should Trayvon Martin's past drug use be allowed in the trial? The judge ruled the toxicology would be permitted. We'll take discussion on that and look ahead to tomorrow's testimony coming up. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The jury has been dismissed for the day, but we're still talking about the George Zimmerman murder trial. I want to bring the panel for some final thoughts in today's testimony in the murder trial. Linda Kenny Baden, who defended Casey Anthony and Phil Specter and of course, CNN legal expert, Jean Casarez, who has been in the courtroom today monitoring the crowd.

Jean, after the jury was dismissed yesterday, Judge Debra Nelson ruled that the defense can submit evidence of Trayvon Martin's marijuana use. Martin's toxicology report showed he had THC in his blood, the active ingredient for marijuana. But we didn't hear anything about Trayvon Martin's past drug use today. Were you surprised?

CASAREZ: I was. I was waiting for the toxicologist because I believe that's who they would call to testify about this. It not over yet and so I do think they will call him. And the reason it was allowed and truly it because of Florida case law. And Florida case law, if it is relevant, it can be reversible error. If there is a conviction, on appeal it can be reversed if not allowed in. It makes common sense and they'll want the jury to hear it.

TAPPER: Linda, let's talk about Trayvon Martin's marijuana use as potential evidence. Chemically it can cause paranoia, but it can also cause passive displays. I'm wondering how would this be used to prove in any way that George Zimmerman was the victim of Trayvon Martin, could it not cut either way?

BADEN: Yes, and you know what, you're dealing now in the modern culture. Let's face it. Most of the jurors have kids. Many of our children have used marijuana. There are medical marijuana clinics. People with glaucoma have used medical marijuana. So you may offend jurors by suggesting because Trayvon had a small amount of marijuana in his system that he would be aggressive. I also think the reason they didn't do it with Dr. De Maio is because the blood was drawn from the wrong location. It was drawn from the heart. There would be an increased elevation from the heart blood. The doctor would say the levels were incorrect because of that.

TAPPER: Jean, the report says Zimmerman was on two medications the night of the shooting, one for insomnia. Do you think that should be admissible? Do you think the prosecution will fight for it now that the THC in Trayvon Martin has been ruled admissible?

CASAREZ: They might. They might. I think at this point the prosecution if it had been deemed relevant, I think it could have come in due to the physician's assistant. She did testify, though, that he was seeing a psychologist.

TAPPER: Linda, give us some final thoughts. You've been in the hot seat before in some very high profile cases. If you were the defense, what would you do to wrap up this case? We're hearing now that they might rest as early as tomorrow.

BADEN: I would call George Zimmerman's father, who was a judge, who was a veteran and I would have him again reiterate that he thought the voice on the tape was his son and I would leave it at that. I would not leave George Zimmerman to the stand.

TAPPER: And, Jean, what do you think we can expect tomorrow?

CASAREZ: I would think a psychologist and they are having a hearing as we speak to see if a defense animation can come before the jury as to what actually happened outside at the T area and the expert who is testifying right now has state of the art software like what is used in the movies, Avitar. He's applied it now to crime scenes and is making a name for himself nationally.

TAPPER: Jean, you've been in the courtroom. Tell us what you're seeing from the jury because we don't obviously get to see them. How are they reacting to the testimony?

CASAREZ: Today what I'm seeing is that they're taking notes, they're looking up, they're taking notes, totally focused to Dr. De Maio's testimony. Very focused, never drifting at all. So he made it so basic so you really could understand it clearly. They are relying one way or the other on what he testified to today.

TAPPER: Linda, if you were in this trial, what would you be looking to right now when it comes to the jury? How would you be trying to read their responses?

BADEN: That is the worst thing can you possibly do because you never know what they're thinking. When you enter the well, if they look at you, if they smile, if they stand when you stand, they you think you have an in with them but you never, never, never know.

TAPPER: Sybrina Fulton, Linda, Trayvon Martin's mother left shortly before they showed more photos before the autopsy. Seeing the mother walk out, that must have an impact on the jury.

BADEN: No matter what the result, this case is a tragedy. A mother has lost her son. She was an incredible witness. In my opinion for the prosecution, she was their best witness. She was stoic and yet she had emotion. I don't know how to explain it. But she seemed so real and this death of her son was real to her. So she was the best witness for the prosecution and no matter what the result, our hearts have to go out to her.

TAPPER: And that's right, it is absolutely a real tragedy what happened here. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. Check out our show page at lead for video blogs and extras. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."