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State Pleads For Murder Conviction; Don West Takes Court By Storm

Aired July 11, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT Next, the prosecution makes closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial, so will it convince a jury to convict him? The huge question, we're in the final moments. Plus, the judge making a final ruling, meaning that Zimmerman goes to jail for years without being convicted of murder.

Plus a new development in the Asiana crash investigation. We have a moment by moment description of a crash landing. I think we've all been waiting for, what really happened second by second.

Plus the latest on a town devastated by a deadly train derailment, authorities say some of the victims may have been vaporized. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, George Zimmerman lied. That was the argument that Prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda made again and again to the jury during his closing arguments today.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Why is he able to yell if the defendant claims the victim was -- how is he going to talk? Or is he lying about that? Look at the gun, look at the size of this gun, how did the victim see that in the darkness? You see what he is saying now? He is saying that arm pits -- how does he get the gun out? He profiled a 17-year-old boy that had Skittles. That is the crime he committed that evening.


BURNETT: Did De La Rionda convince the jury that George Zimmerman is guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. Martin Savidge was in the courtroom today, like every day and Martin, what was the reaction from the people who matter the most, the jury, to that moment we just watched?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin, I went back in there again, because we're down to the final arguments in the presentation of the case, what was it, a year and a half. And I went down there to see what the reaction of the jurors, as they heard that very powerful and at times very dramatic presentation by Bernie De La Rionda. And the reactions are the way they have been throughout the trial, they are very focused, attentive. I didn't see anyone shaking their heads in agreement, nothing like that. They didn't do anything to give away what they might have been registering internally to all of that. They were not taking as many notes. But again, this was summation. There were times they would write, which is specifically you would begin to hear the playbacks of the various statements of Zimmerman. But otherwise, I wish you could tell you what they were thinking, but I can't -- Erin.

BURNETT: I know, we all want to know and I guess we will know soon enough when they come with that verdict. But of course tomorrow, the defense first has to have their closing arguments before the jury will get this case. How does Zimmerman's team feel at this point? I am just thinking when we spoke last, Marty, when Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney had said that his client was, quote/unquote, "worried." How do they feel today?

SAVIDGE: Yes, they're very nervous. They're very nervous. I mean, Mark O'Mara is nervous. Normally, you know, when I talked to him at length last night. Normally he is very calm, cool, collected, but you can see there is an edge to him. They say that George is, of course, very worried.

But tomorrow, they know, everything is on the line. Mark O'Mara is going to be the one that will deliver the closing statement for the defense. He does not memorize it he tells me. He doesn't write down specific notes or anything like that. He is basically an adlib as we would say. He makes a few bullet points and he very carefully reads the jury.

He knows if they are beginning to wander. He senses if they are beginning to fade, and he will adjust his delivery based upon that. He says maybe three hours, but if he thinks he is losing it in any way he will wrap up quickly. So it should be interesting to watch and probably I would expect, very different in style.

BURNETT: Very interesting, I guess I am surprised in a sense. I would imagine he has an outline to go by or something. We shall see. Martin Savidge, thank you. I want to bring in now Defense Attorney Bradford Cohen and our CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin and Paul Callan.

Sunny, I want to start with you, because I just want to give the viewers a sense of what happened and how the state actually wrapped up that closing argument today. They were talking about the medical examiner photos of Trayvon Martin. he crucial photos we've seen after he was killed.


RIONDA: Unfortunately, the only photographs left of Trayvon Martin are those M.E. photographs, I mean, they have photos of his younger days and football, but they can't take anymore photos. And that is true because of the actions of one person, the man before you, the defendant -- the man who was guilty of second degree murder. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And you see George Zimmerman there shaking his head, Sunny. The bar for second degree murder, obviously, is high, because prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman acted from, quote/unquote, ill will, hatred, spite, those are serious words to prove. Did the prosecution do it today?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think so, I mean, I think they took all the little puzzle pieces and put them together and gave the jury a picture of what happened that night. I mean, there is no question that the jury knows that the focus, rather, was on who started the fight. The focus was who set the ball rolling and the focus was also very much on Trayvon Martin.

And Bernie De La Rionda described him, interestingly, he described him as someone that was not doing anything unlawful and that was at the very heart of this case, right? That is, I think, what has captured the world about this case. Can an African-American, young teenager, young man walk to the 7-eleven, buy a couple of things on a snack run and get home without being murdered?

And I think that really resonated with the jury because it is a very common sense argument. It is not an argument necessarily tied to the law. It is not an overly lofty argument. It is a common sense argument. I was looking at the jury. I was there for the entire closing argument, and they were captivated.

BURNETT: And Bradford, of course, you know, when Bernie De La Rionda had those skittles and shook them, a very simple prop, but one that perhaps could be very powerful. Do you agree with Sunny, or do you think there were any significant failures that just stood out as huge red flags from the state today?

BRADFORD COHEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the state failed in proving second degree. You had to prove he had a depraved mind, which was not proved whatsoever. The fact is, they're going off of emotion, who set the ball in motion, is what Sunny said. That is not the law, who followed whom is not the law. It is the physical aggressor that is the law. If you put that aside and put out emotion, saying he shouldn't have got out of the car, all of those things are not the law in Florida, it was the first physical aggressor besides what came out in testimony. And what came out in testimony appears to be Trayvon Martin was the first physical aggressor.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I got to disagree. You know, and Sunny and I have disagreed on some aspects on this case, but boy, Sunny I'm with you today because that was a powerful, mesmerizing closing argument by Bernie De La Rionda. You know what he did? He pulled all the pieces of the puzzle together. Sunny was talking about pieces of a puzzle. People were saying why did he put all of those witnesses on who were adverse to his case? He said you know why I put them on? So I could line up and say there is no reason why a 17-year- old boy was dead.

BURNETT: You think he successfully connected the dots?

CALLAN: I think he put together the best possible links to the dots. I'm not saying they will win this case, because it is weak to begin with, but with what he had to work with he did a brilliant job.

COHEN: The emotion comes through, that is great. I'm emotional when I make my closing statement. But did he prove second degree murder? No, he did not prove it. They may come back hung on manslaughter, but that is the closest they got, never second degree murder.

BURNETT: There are a few options here, second degree, which is 25 years to life, manslaughter, which is 10 to 30 years in the state of Florida, and of course, not guilty, the state and defense were arguing about what lesser charges they could put in front of the jury. The state wanted to argue that Zimmerman committed child abuse because he straddled Trayvon Martin because he was underage. Here is how Attorney Don West reacted.


DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is outrageous, outrageous that the state would seek to do this at this time in this case. It is not fair to me or Mr. Zimmerman or Mr. O'Mara or the court for this to happen like this right now. Judge, this was a trick. Doesn't the court realize this was a trick --


BURNETT: Sunny, what do you think, trick? I mean, it does seem a little bit bizarre, but will it work? Is it a sign of desperation for the state or not?

HOSTIN: Well, it didn't work because the court wouldn't allow it in. But I got to tell you. I don't think it was a trick. I mean, it certainly is in the book the lesser included, the defense has access to that book. I just think they had not thought of it. So certainly it was a little bit late in the day. It was a stretch. But I don't think it was a trick, there was not anything unlawful about it. And it was pretty clever because it would have focused the jury on the fact that Trayvon Martin was a child in the eyes of the law. And that is why I thought it was pretty clever. I actually think the judge made the right ruling.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to all three of you. We appreciate your time and of course, the defense will give the closing argument tomorrow.

OUTFRONT next, our coverage of the George Zimmerman trial continues with an attorney for the Martin family. Would she be satisfied to see George Zimmerman convicted of a lesser charge.

And plus, the attacks on September 11th, we're learning about a strange habit in prison, this is one of the more bizarre things I've heard in a really long time.

And a former Major League football player allegedly terrorized by his ex-wife. Well, we have the 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is wearing a bullet proof vest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is wearing a bullet proof vest?




BURNETT: Prosecutors say that George Zimmerman assumed that Trayvon Martin was a criminal and that is why he is dead now. But after 12 days of trial, 56 witnesses and 200-plus exhibits, did the state prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt? That is the only question that matters. Today, prosecutors tried to introduce a lesser charge at the last minute but the judge didn't buy it.


JUDGE DEBRA NELSON: I went back and looked at all of this, and I don't think the evidence supports a charge to the jury for third degree felony murder on child abuse charge. So I am not going to give that instruction.


BURNETT: And we asked, I mean, we're trying to understand why you would try to introduce a random lesser charge at the last minute, sign of desperation or the state just trying to cover all its bases, go for absolutely every single thing they can.

OUTFRONT tonight, Natalie Jackson, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family. Natalie, always good to have you.


BURNETT: I want to start with your reaction to that last minute state request for the lesser charge, why did they do that? Wouldn't you think if you were totally confident you would get the conviction you went for, why would they do that?

JACKSON: I've tried many cases and the state always brings in many lesser charges as they can, it just covers all the bases, as you said. That is why they did it.

BURNETT: All right, so let me ask you this, during the closing arguments, the state brought up all the ideas in the case, the forensic evidence, the eyewitness testimony. They took that on head on and I want to start with the prosecutor's description of testimony from a woman who lived in the complex and who said she believed she saw George Zimmerman on top of Trayvon Martin during the fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RIONDA: She had a good vantage point, she did observe something, and what did she tell you? That based on her opinion, what she saw, she thought the bigger man was on top. And, she told you that the voice she heard she thought was a child versus an older person. Now, is she an expert? Had she ever heard these voices before? No, she is just telling you what she believes.


BURNETT: Obviously, trying to make the case for George Zimmerman having been on top. But yesterday, the state almost conceded that Trayvon Martin was on top during this demonstration.


JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: If Trayvon Martin is backing up, could not the defendant have shot him at a 90-degree angle?


BURNETT: All right, so this is tough, you can't have it both ways. I guess the bottom line, the whole point of reasonable doubt. Doesn't this create reasonable doubt in the state's case?

JACKSON: No, I heard a lot of analysts saying that the state conceded. I didn't see it as them conceding. I thought as them saying that it was a fluid fight, we don't know what happened. We didn't have witnesses that saw all of the fight from beginning to end, but we do know who started the confrontation. This is a simple case for the state because we know that George Zimmerman committed homicide meaning we know he killed Trayvon Martin.

The question before the jury is was he justified? The only justification comes from George Zimmerman and as we saw the state do, they brought in George Zimmerman's inconsistencies. The jury is going to be instructed that you can believe someone or you cannot believe him and the way to decide whether or not to believe him is how many times do they tell the truth versus exaggerate or tell a lie.

BURNETT: All right, and let me ask you about this, the forensics, because as you know, Natalie, you and I talked about this the other day, one of the top forensic experts in this country, Dr. Di Maio, had some very damaging testimony for the state. Let me just play for our viewers again the most crucial thing he said, which indicated Trayvon Martin was on top. Here he is.


DR. VINCENT DI MAIO, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Barrel of the gun was against the clothing, the muzzle of the gun was against the clothing, but the clothing itself had to be two to four inches away from the body. This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman's account that he -- that Mr. Martin was over him, leaning forward at the time of the shot.


BURNETT: Can the state get pass that, again, ally, with this whole question of reasonable doubt, is what matters?

JACKSON: Yes, because it has to be who started the confrontation, who was defending themselves? It doesn't matter who was on top or bottom at the end of the struggle. What matters is what happened before the struggle, who started the fight? And I think the state made a very common sense argument that you cannot pursue someone -- you cannot follow them, confront them, and then struggle with them and say, now, I have to defend myself.

BURNETT: I understand what you're saying, even if he was defending himself if it was his fault that he ended up in that position, that is not self defense.

JACKSON: Yes, and the law even have a default for that. You know, what do you do, you look at was there a proportionate force. I think the state did a good job of pointing out the minor injuries of George Zimmerman. Was it reasonable for him to use deadly force considering the injuries he had that needed to be just washed off? There was no bandages, no stitches, nothing.

BURNETT: All right, Natalie, it's a pleasure as always to talk to you.

And still to come, the attorney for George Zimmerman.


DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE LAWYER: Just when I thought this case couldn't get any more bizarre.


BURNETT: That was Don West and he has said some truly bizarre things in the trial and the hits keep coming.

Plus a controversial new cell phone app which allows users to out bad gun owners. And cars swept away by a massive mudslide. We're going to show you the video shot from inside one of these cars.


BURNETT: He has been one of the most out spoken and animated lawyers, taking on the prosecution and at times, even the judge. Defense Attorney Don West is who I'm talking about. He may have been relatively unknown before this trial began, but he has become the character. He has made headlines every day.


WEST: Knock, knock. Who is there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good, you're on the jury. Nothing? That is funny. We certainly couldn't have taken Mr. Crump's deposition during the trial day, the court doesn't expect either Mr. O'Mara or myself to leave the courtroom, I wouldn't think --

JUDGE NELSON: He has left for other reasons, but now I have a jury sequestered that are going to be off on Thursday and you don't want court on Friday, that Saturday or Sunday, I'm not doing that.

WEST: It is simply unfair for Mr. Zimmerman not to be able to put on his defense because of the state's tactics, playing games with us, lying to this court, and now it is our fault? It is our fault? Denying Mr. Zimmerman the right to present this information violates both the Florida and the United States constitution. Thank you.

JUDGE NELSON: I've said this before. We have to allow the court reporter to take one person speaking down at a time. Wait for the next question, thank you, you may proceed -- again.

WEST: Why.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because Mr. West said, I would offer him the opportunity right now to apologize to me for suggesting that I stood by silently with information that I did not have.

JUDGE NELSON: I'm not getting into this. Court is in recess, I will give my ruling in the morning.

WEST: It is 10:00 at night.

JUDGE NELSON: It's 9:56. No, court is in recess. Thank you very much. With all due respect, we'll see you at 8:00 in the morning.

WEST: I'm not physically able to keep up this pace. It is 10:00 at night. We started this morning. We have had full days every day, weekends, depositions at night. They have been lying in wait, collecting all of this loosely connected child abuse case law, where 2-year-olds have been shot by somebody who was reckless with the gun. The state is seeking this instruction as part of a larger scheme, another trick that the state is seeking.

JUDGE NELSON: I don't want to hear the word "trick" anymore with regard to these allegations.

WEST: This is outrageous. It is outrageous that the state would seek to do this at this time in this case.


BURNETT: All right, OUTFRONT next, our coverage of the trial continues, the investigation. As we promised tonight what would happen to George Zimmerman if he is acquitted? Will his life be in jeopardy or not? As we said, an OUTFRONT investigation.

Plus, surprising developments tonight in the Asiana crash investigation. Something we just found out that the pilot said happened just before the plane went down.

And the most bizarre story of the day, at least we think so. Why the CIA let one of the most famous terrorist suspects in history design a vacuum cleaner. Plus, tonight's shout out, a mudslide in Colorado, heavy rains causing cars like that one to be swept away. This is what it was like inside one of those cars. The man who shot the video told the "Colorado Springs Gazette," that he looked down for a moment, when he looked up, he saw the mudslide. He was able to shoot the video and get out at the same time. Welcome to modern America.


BURNETT: And welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories where we focus on reporting from the frontlines. I want to begin with new details that we have tonight about Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attack, and the time he spent in the secret CIA prison in Romania.

"The Associate Press" reports that CIA granted Khalid Sheikh Mohammed an odd request. He wanted to design a vacuum cleaner. Now, CNN cannot independently confirm this story. But, I want to know that Mohammed does have a degree in mechanical engineering. But why, beyond his good behavior, would the agency approve such a request?

Well, we wanted to find out. So, we asked former CIA operative Bob Baer who tells us the CIA simply didn't want to watch KSM banging his head against the wall. If Mohammed was going to end up in court, they say they needed him to be sane -- vacuum cleaner design.

Well, police in Georgia have released a 911 call made by former Major League pitcher Kris Benson after his estranged wife, Anne, allegedly broke into his home and threatened him.


KRIS BENSON, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER: My soon-to-be ex-wife has gotten into my house and she's brandishing a gun.

OPERATOR: She has a gun?


OPERATOR: Where is she right now?

BENSON: She is in the house, and I'm downstairs in the basement.

OPERATOR: Well, has she threatened you with that gun?


OPERATOR: Does she live there?


OPERATOR: OK, and what is she wearing?

BENSON: She is wearing a bullet proof vest.

OERATOR: She is wearing a bullet proof vest? BENSON: Yes.


BURNETT: Anna Benson also had an expandable baton, an ammo belt, and a knife. She now faces three felonies and a misdemeanor, but denies any wrongdoing. Local police tell us they haven't had any prior domestic calls to Kris Benson's home.

Well, Justin Bieber has apologized to Bill Clinton after video surfaced appearing to show the signer defacing a photo of the former president. The video seems to show Bieber urinating in a bucket as he and his entourage walked through a New York City restaurant kitchen.

CNN's Anthony Bourdain, who knows quite a bit about working in New York City restaurant kitchens, was appalled, blasting Bieber on Twitter and calling him punk, among other things that I won't repeat on this family program. The NYPD tells us Bieber could be summoned if the restaurant files a complaint. No word as to whether Bill Clinton cares at all about Justin Bieber.

It has been 705 days since the United States lost its top credit rating? What are we doing to get it back?

Stocks rose to record highs today. The Dow up about 170 points, the NASDAQ at its highest level in nearly 13 years, all because Ben Bernanke said, quote-unquote, "highly accommodative monetary policy. Everybody, that translates into very low interest rates will remain for the foreseeable future.

And now, back to our top story tonight: closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial. So, everyone, you know, in this country is waiting for a verdict, right? That's what you want to hear, give me a verdict.

Well, Zimmerman has his own choice to consider. If he is acquitted, what will he do for the rest of his life? I mean, has he thought about that? Is his life in jeopardy? Would he able to live any kind of normal human existence or not?

We wanted to know. So, David Mattingly is OUTFRONT with this investigation.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been in hiding for a year, daring to venture out only in disguise and wearing body armor. Since killing Trayvon Martin, life for George Zimmerman is filled with isolation and caution.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN ATTORNEY: I believe that his life is at risk. And I don't say that for dramatic effect. There are a lot of people who think George killed Trayvon Martin for racial reasons even though nothing supports that. And if they feel that anger enough, they could react violently. MATTINGLY: There have been tweets, email and letters, wishing him bodily harm or death. If George Zimmerman goes free, it's almost certain he won't be able to go back to the life he had before, pursuing a career in law enforcement.

MIKE PAUL, REPUTATION MANAGEMENT COUNSELOR: My advice would be that is the worst thing you can do. That is the absolute worst thing you can do. It might be your old passion, my advice would be: you need to find a new passion. And it needs to be helping people in a very different way -- a way that is much more compassionate, not just involving law enforcement.

MATTINGLY: For a view of life after acquittal, Zimmerman may need to look no further than Casey Anthony. The hated mother found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. She has since lived in hiding and in financial ruin.

Cheney Mason was her defense attorney.

CHENEY MASON, CASEY ANTHONY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And you never know who the nuts are and where they are. There are still people that threaten me.

MATTINGLY (on camera): It sounds like there are very severe consequences for being found not guilty in a court of public opinion.

MASON: They are, but you don't have jell-o and cheese sandwiches in jail.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): It may not be hopeless for Zimmerman. He continues to have strong support from his immediate family. Part of his defense is being paid for by thousands of dollars donated by the public. But even here, there could be problems.

GENE GRABOWSKI, CRISIS PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER: He's got to be very careful, because he's got supporters out there that could create more division here. He's got to be careful to avoid the appearance of creating more divisions by accepting money or support openly from groups that maybe would create more friction because of the -- you know, the tenor of this case.

He's got to be very careful about who he associates with afterwards, even if they're offering financial support.

MATTINGLY: A frequent piece of expert advice to Zimmerman is to be contrite and disappear. The last thing Zimmerman should do in a case of acquittal is give the appearance that he beat the system.


BURNETT: So, David, so let's just say the jury goes with not guilty. Where does George Zimmerman go? Is there any place he could live his own life with his own name, George Zimmerman, at this point?

MATTINGLY: Well, he will have options. He has been confined to Seminole County, that is a condition of his bond when he was finally let out of jail. And if he is acquitted, he won't be restricted at all. He has family ties to Virginia, his mother is from Peru. We have no idea where he might go. But he's going to have to go somewhere where he is not quite so recognized. And that means probably leaving central Florida.

BURNETT: Wow. All right, thanks very much to David Mattingly.

And now, I want to go to San Francisco, where we have new images tonight of the debris and some new details late breaking tonight about the final moments of Asiana flight 214.

According to reports, there were no signs of problems on board until literally seconds before the crash Sunday at San Francisco's International Airport.


DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRMAN: So at 500 feet, landing checklist is completed. And there's no mention of speed until about nine seconds before impact when they're at 100 feet. About five seconds later, and about three seconds before impact, there is a call for a go-around. There is a second call for a go-around at 1.5 seconds prior to impact.


BURNETT: All right. Let's just take those specifics of what she did, and talk about it now.

OUTFRONT with Keith Wolzinger, a 30-year pilot who has flown the Boeing 777s -- obviously, the type of flight which crashed.

Good to talk to you, Captain. Really appreciate your taking the time.

So, when you hear it wasn't until seconds before impact that the pilot first mentioned the speed of the plane, a crucial fact that nearly a second before impact, they were still requesting permission to abort the landing, what would it suggest to you just by those facts?

Would it be pilot error, communication problem with the tower, or a problem with the plane?

KEITH WOLZINGER, THE SPECTRUM GROUP: Well, they had a communication problem with the control tower on their two initial calls, according to the NTSB. That late in the approach, they should not have any further communications problem. They're stabilized on the approach. They should be on approach speed, on approach path and just about to touch down.

Clearly, somebody was not monitoring the air speed enough to complete a stabilized approach to the runway. Whether or not there is an airplane issue with that remains to be seen.

BURNETT: Right, and you say somebody. So, let's talk about what you just said. And we do know the plane was flying too slow during the approach. Of course, as you know, Captain, the recommended speed, 157 miles an hour. At the point of impact, that plane was flying 121 miles an hour, significantly slower.

I mean, just a technical question to you, when they requested the chance to do a go-around, literally at the last second, at 121 miles an hour, is the plane, 777, even flying fast enough to even attempt a go-around at that time.

WOLZINGER: Well, that is a good point, the plane needs to accelerate to its normal flying speed, which would have been, as you said, 157 miles an hour, to achieve enough lift from the engines and the wings to execute the go-around maneuver.

Taking the time that it takes the engines to spool up from a low power setting, to full power that's required to make the go-around, that takes a few seconds itself, during which time if the plane is too slow, that the thrust is used to accelerate the airplane to a normal flying speed before it can achieve any height.

BURNETT: So they didn't really have that time.

Let me ask you this, investigators say pilots waited 90 seconds before ordering any of the jets doors open or evacuation slide would be deployed. As you know, the flight attendant has said to the pilot, let's evacuate, and we're told not to at first, before the flight attendants saw fire and then the pilots said go ahead.

Did the pilots do the right thing here? I mean, you know, how soon after a crash would pilots of this case say evacuate the plane? I mean, I understand the fuel tanks would be almost empty after flight like this, but you would think, just naturally, the first thing you do is get the hell out.

WOLZINGER: Well, that's a difficult call the make sitting here a few days later. When the pilots do call for an evacuation, there is a check list that must be followed to make the airplane safe for people to leave. In this case, the airplane was broken up. The engines and landing gear had separated and it was not a normal scenario for an evacuation.

The pilots may not have had a lot of information about the condition of the cabin and the rest of the airplane. They're suffering from some state of shock themselves, no doubt.


WOLZINGER: So they're waiting -- and I don't know how much power, electricity they had to communicate, via the inner phone with the cabin crew or with the control tower. So they may have had waiting for outside cues from the crash fire rescue people or the flight attendants to assess the situation before an evacuation was obviously ordered.

BURNETT: All right. WOLZINGER: Once the flight attendants did see fire on the outside of the airplane they did initiate the evacuation themselves, apparently, which is what they're trained to do.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Captain Wolzinger. We appreciate it.

And still to come, the latest from the town devastated by a deadly train derailment, up to 50 dead. And the words now that authorities are using for how those people died is vaporized.

Plus, a new cell phone app that outs reckless gun owners. Is this fair warning or an absolute invasion of privacy?

And Italy has an answer to Olive Garden. We're going to show you what Italians consider authentic American food.


BURNETT: And we are back with tonight's outer circle where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And tonight, I want to go to Canada. Authorities believe now as many as 50 people may be dead after that horrific train derailment. And the word they are using to describe how those people died is the word "vaporized". It is a horrific thing to even contemplate.

Anna Coren spoke to the head of the railway company today and I asked her what he told her about the tragedy.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, as you can imagine there is overwhelming grief, but also growing anger here in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, and much of that anger is being directed at the company that owns the freight train, that claimed the lives of 50 people.

Well, the president, Edward Burkhardt, he visited the town yesterday and received a very hostile reception. Well, today, he spoke exclusively to CNN to tell his side of the story and says he felt very much understood.

EDWARD BURKHARDT, CHAIRMAN, MONTREAL, MAINE & ATLANTIC RAILWAY: Well, they talked about I had no empathy, or no sympathy. In fact, I had plenty. I can imagine myself being in that kind of situation. And I also would be grieving, and I would be very unhappy and I'd be very mad about the whole thing.

So I certainly understand the need to vent and to -- but it comes to a point where it's totally unproductive. And that is why I decided not to go back there today.

COREN: And Burkhardt wasn't given access to the site, nor was he granted a meeting with the mayor or the Red Cross. He and his company, of course, are assisting the police with their investigation. He said he had come here in hopes to begin the healing process and feels he has very much failed -- Erin.


BURNETT: Thank you, Anna.

I want to check with Anderson now with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Yes, we're going to have much more ahead on the George Zimmerman trial, as it moves toward the jury. The prosecution made its case, we'll play a highlight to that, talk to our legal panel if they made the case to find George Zimmerman guilty of second degree murder.

Also, what does the defense need to do when Mark O'Mara presents their closing arguments? Plus, we'll dig deeper with Judge Nelson. She's made it clear from the start this is going to be a no-nonsense trial. The panel weighs in on how this could affect any possible sentencing and a possible appeal if Zimmerman is found guilty.

Also, the pleas for help to 911 from passengers injured on the runway after that crash of Asiana 214. Also, a live report from San Francisco, the latest on the investigation.

All that at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we'll see you in just moments.

And now, exposing unsafe gun owners, there is now an app for that. So, as you can imagine, the new Gun Geo Marker is already causing an uproar. So, this is basically what it allows you to do. The user can tag the how use of a gun owner that you think is reckless, and then share that information with the rest of the planet.

All right. This raises the question of whether the app is a safety precaution or an invasion of privacy.

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

OK. Great to have you with us.

So, Stephanie, let me explain again. The way the app words you can tag home and then add a comment. One, for example, that we saw with the home tag says, "New owner leaves gun unlocked around kids." And then you can go ahead and see a map of the house which we will not show our viewers.

But the developer of the gun released the statement saying this is a gun safety app, with which parents and community members can alert each other to dangerous conditions in their neighborhoods.

OK. So, I know people are critical of this. But why should people in the community be warned if someone wants to say a new gun owner is leaving the gun unlocked around the kids?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO HOST: You know, Erin, I'm a liberal gun grabber from way back. I am so gun control you don't even want to know. But this just seems, you know, counter-productive. It seems like an obvious invasion of privacy and so dangerous and ripe for abuse.

Listen, I have a bunch of excess, Erin, I would love to tag, just for the hell of it for this. And I think a lot of people would do that. And also, I think, other people pointed out, would tell people that want to steal guns where they are.

You know, I think it's different when law enforcement says this is where you know, say child molester's live. And when a person just goes oh, I suspect this person of child abuse, this is where they live.

I mean, you know, I think that gets very subjective as to whether a gun owner is irresponsible or not.

BURNETT: And it's an interesting point she raises, Dean, because the comments and the ratings on this app is overwhelmingly negative. You know, people agree with Stephanie, right, of saying this is dangerous, and invasive and irresponsible, it could lead to break-ins.

But, you know, is it really dangerous? I mean, I also could see the possibility for people wanting to say nasty things about other people, which generally happens online, right?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: Exactly. All the time.

BURNETT: I mean, it skews negative because there's anonymity. I won't say who I am before I say you're doing something terrible with your gun.

OBEIDALLAH: Sure, first of all, this app looks exciting to me. It looks better than Angry Birds or Sudoku. I wish I could do a go- around the neighborhood and flag down people who are acting like Rambo with their guns.

Let's be honest for a second. When you buy a gun, there is a background check that time only. At that, you can developmental illness and why wouldn't you want your neighbors to know, people in your community know that somebody may be doing something reckless. It could save your family's life or your neighbor's life.

I think --


BURNETT: So you think it's fine?

OBEIDALLAH: I don't think it's an invasion of privacy. I think it could be life saving.

BURNETT: Life saving. All right. Reihan, let me ask you about this, because, you know, we're all talking about George Zimmerman and people were talking about whether he was an overzealous neighborhood watchman. Could this app have other unintended consequences? You have other people all of a sudden saying, you know, I'm going to be an armed watchman, go out there, take the law in their own hands and say, well, I don't think you should have this gun. You shouldn't do this around your kids. You could end up with some horrible situations.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's an interesting thought experiment. I think that would happen if the app ever actually took off. But the thing is, whenever you have any social media product of this kind, it relies on what we call a network effect. For it to be actually good and useful, you got to have a lot of people using it --

BURNETT: Not a lot of people right now.

SALAM: Exactly. You have to have a lot of people tagging people's houses.

So, as Stephanie said, the thing is, there's no accountability here. If I just make something up about someone, then, well, I could just do that because there is no way to verify whether or not the comments you're making about someone are, in fact, accurate, if that person really an unsafe gun owner.

That's why the market, I think regular users are just not going to adopt this, you're not going to have legions of people who are actually going to be using it. So it's never going to be a useful tool. It's also never going to be a particularly scary tool as a result. It's basically a publicity stunt.

BURNETT: It's interesting. We used to worry about --


BURNETT: Now, we need to worry about the government -- I mean, not our neighbors, about the government.


OBEIDALLAH: We're together and fighting against people. Call the police. Don't just tweet about it and just don't put something on your app. Call police if you think someone is being reckless.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks as always to all three.

And every night we take a look outside the day's top stories for what we call the OUTFRONT "Out Take".

So, Olive Garden's take over of America is almost complete. You may have thought it already was, but it was not, because the "Pacific Business News" reports, that just now, Olive Garden has reached a tentative agreement to open its first location in Hawaii. That is a huge piece of news for the casual dining chain because Hawaii is only the state that doesn't have an Olive Garden. The only state, it is true.

Very soon, you'll be able to enjoy Olive Garden's genuine Italian dining experience, I'm sure probably somewhere along Waikiki Beach, and all 50 states and 800 locations nationwide.

Olive Garden is very popular despite the fact that many criticized it for being inauthentic. I got to say, I like the Olive Gardens, they do a good job decorating. I mean, really, is it inauthentic?

Earlier this week, an OUTFRONT staffer was in Rome when he happened upon this Old Wild West Hamburger. Yes, a popular restaurant chain. Look at it. It's all over Italy but celebrates the classic American dine experience with elaborate western theme decor and what Italians consider authentic, frontier dishes.

The customers are not tourists. They are Italians enjoying free bread, hamburgers, ribs and dessert called a muffin.

So, next time you hear someone criticized Olive Garden, remember this -- the he food may not be classic Italian fair but the restaurant is way more Italian than you might think.

Still to come, NASCAR's new star. We're going to introduce you to Christmas Abbott, next.


BURNETT: Rev up your engines because this is Christmas Abbott, the latest woman to join NASCAR. She's not behind the wheel. She's bolting tires in the pit, a physically grueling job few women have dared attempt in the history of the sport.

And Abbot is not stopping there. She's not stopping there. If she has her way, she'll be the first woman ever to go over the wall in NASCAR's biggest race, the Sprint Cup Series.


BURNETT (voice-over): NASCAR has never seen anything like this.

Meet Christmas Joy Abbott. Yes, that's her real name.

She's the first female pit crew member in history to have a shot at competing at elite level NASCAR races.

The 31-year-old is barely over five feet tall but don't let that fool you. Abbott is a force. She can dead lift 255 pounds and squat upwards of 200. The 115 pound trailblazer has a gun tattooed on her hip to remind her of the time she spent in Iraq.

Now, Danica Patrick may be the name you know, but Abbott is also breaking entirely new barriers for women. In order to work in the pits, Abbott has to whip around the speeding race car with an air gun in her hand, unbolt five lug nuts, rip a 50-pound tire off the car, bolt on a new one and repeat on the other side, all in about 12 seconds.

SHAUN PEET, PIT CREW COACH: Good job. Awesome!

BURNETT: She practices every day for a spot on the team.

CHRISTMAS ABBOTT, PIT CREW, NASCAR: When I hit, I'm hitting straight on to cap the whole lug nut where if I angle it, it's not going to cap the whole lug nut and it doesn't come all the way off, and you've just cost yourself a tenths or a few tenths or more of a second, which could mean the race.

BURNETT: Abbott says it was her competitive nature that drew her to the sport.

ABBOTT: Kind of the adrenaline of running in front of a car and then having the car zip by you, 50 to 60 miles an hour behind you and literally few feet of spacing.

BURNETT: She still remembers her first long walk towards the ex- football players and 300-pound military men who command the pit.

ABBOTT: You know, walking into somebody else's house, I just kept my head down and kept working.

PEET: Great, great job. That was very, very close.

ABBOTT: You hit them hard, they come off.

BURNETT: Abbott didn't know it at the time, but even her pit crew coach Shaun Peet was skeptical about what she could do.

PEET: I thought it was a publicity stunt. You know, a woman getting into a sport that is predominantly ruled by males, not something comes across your desk every day.

BURNETT: After seeing Abbott in action, Peet became a believer.

PEET: I remember the first time she walked on, (INAUDIBLE), you know, just burning holes through her with her eyes. If that doesn't intimidate her, she's good to go.

BURNETT: Despite that experience and the ones that will undoubtedly follow, Abbott refuses to leave her femininity behind. She says she remains a woman in every sense.

ABBOTT: The ongoing joke is if I'm not in tennis shoes, I'm in pumps. And I love wearing dresses and curling my hair but that doesn't mean that I don't like to get dirty, you know? I like to work. I like to be physical in my work. And it's been overlooked that women can do both.


BURNETT: "A.C. 360" starts right now.