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911 Calls from Asiana Flight 214 Released; George Zimmerman Trial to Conclude Today; Immigration Bill Likely Won't Pass in the House; Indiana Mother Fighting International Custody Battle;

Aired July 11, 2013 - 07:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, July 11, 7:00 in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're joined by news anchor Michaela Pereira. Coming up this hour: for the first time we're hearing the 911 calls from passengers on flight 214, really, begging for help in the chaos after that crash.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned very severely on the head and we don't know what to do.


BOLDUAN: We're going to have the latest on those calls and on the investigation into the crash coming up.

CUOMO: And then listen to this one. Talk about a mother's anguish, here's the situation, her children are in Cyprus with their father. The court says she has custody. The question is why is she facing arrest? The international custody fight is heating up. We'll have the latest.

MICHAELA PERIERA, CNN ANCHOR: And, interesting story out of Long Beach, it's been the sound of summer for generations. That song, you know what I'm talking about. One community is trying to restrict this music that has played on ice cream trucks, the bittersweet fight ahead.

CUOMO: Wow, I don't like that one at all.

Let's begin this morning closing arguments expected today in the murder trial of George Zimmerman. The defense rested its case Wednesday without putting Zimmerman on the stand. Not a big surprise but what was surprising is that we heard from him when the judge made the highly unusual move of questioning him directly. CNN's George Howell has more from Sanford, Florida. George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. We did hear George Zimmerman make a decision about whether he would testify. Just before the defense rested its case, the state essentially opened the possibility here that George Zimmerman could have been underneath Trayvon Martin, something the defense has suggested all along, and we saw prosecutor John Guy go to great lengths to show how that could have happened. The defense jumped right on that argument.


HOWELL: George Zimmerman answered the question on everyone's mind, would he testify?

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SANFORD FLORIDA: Have you made a decision as to whether or not you want to testify in this case?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: No, not at this time.

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I object to the court inquiring of Mr. Zimmerman as to his decision about whether or not to testify.

NELSON: Your objection is overruled.

HOWELL: But after a tense exchange between Judge Debra Nelson and Zimmerman's lawyers he made his choice.

ZIMMERMAN: After consulting with counsel, not to testify, your honor.

HOWELL: There was also proof in court Wednesday you can learn a lot from a dummy. During one of the most surreal moments in court, both sides straddled a foam dummy in attempts to illustrate the conflicting arguments as to what happened the night Trayvon Martin was killed. Prosecuting attorney John Guy argued that it would have been difficult for Zimmerman to shoot at a 90-degree angle had Trayvon Martin been on top as presented by the defense.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Would it be consistent the 90 degrees if Trayvon Martin had been backing up and the defendant raised his gun and shot at 90 degrees.

HOWELL: Then defense attorney Mark O'Mara grabbed the dummy to support his argument.

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Were the injuries on Mr. Zimmerman's back of his head consistent with someone doing this?

HOWELL: On the final day of testimony George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, returned to the stand to address the screams heard on the 911 tape.


O'MARA: Is that an opinion that you still have through today?


HOWELL: In another important ruling today, Judge Debra Nelson will decide whether or not to grant the prosecution's request to apply lesser charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault.

O'MARA: Self-defense is self-defense to everything. There shouldn't be a second-degree murder charge and shouldn't be any lessers.


HOWELL: So what's next in this case? We know that at 1:00 p.m. today, eastern time, the jury will return to hear closing arguments from the prosecution. We expect the prosecution could take two hours for that. Then on Friday, the defense attorneys will be here and make their closing arguments, they're expected to take about three hours and then the prosecutors again on Friday get one hour for rebuttal, Chris, Kate, before this case goes back over to the jury.

CUOMO: Beginning of the end, George, thank you very much for the report. This is it, this is the last impression the jurors will have with them before they go back into the room. Couldn't have higher stakes.

BOLDUAN: Hours of kind of summing it up ahead but the jury and everyone will be watching it closely. Critical moments in this trial.

Other thing we're watching, torrential rains and flash flooding putting Pittsburgh, really, under water. Look at this video. It's part of the wild weather pattern we're seeing from coast to coast. Chad Myers is looking into all of it. The video is startling.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's not summer unless you get thunderstorms in the afternoon. We expect it in spring but mother nature got fired up last night.


MYERS: Residents in Pennsylvania caught in a rush of turbulent weather from a funnel cloud touching down north of Pittsburgh to the flash flood submerging the city. Residents are braving what some say could be the worst flooding they've seen in a decade.

Rising waters drowning the city, leaving buildings, people and considers at a standstill, looking for a way out of the muck. Emergency crews wading waist deep to check out businesses and homes, residents like Debbie Williams trying to cope with what's left of her basement.

DEBBIE WILLIAMS, RESIDENT: Devastated, absolutely devastated. The Harley-Davidson is still covered with water, hot water tank, furnace, everything down here is just completely devastated.

MYERS:L : To the west, a swift mudslide in Manitou Springs, Colorado, sweeping away cars in its wake. No injuries were reported.

And the massive carpenter one wildfire continues to rage in the mountains near the dry and hot Las Vegas strip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you are currently seeing is not dawn. It's all fire. HOWELL: The widespread smoke a sign of destruction. The wildfire already destroying structures and injuring several firefighters.


MYERS: Already seeing storms fire up around New York City metro area, that will slow down the airports for sure. This weather will stretch all the way down to Atlanta, if you are on a plane today you might want to pack some patience because there will be delays for sure. Even through Atlanta, these storms will fire up in the afternoon. They are going to be those storms that that planes have to fly around. That's what we're going to get today.

Cooler and less humid for the weekend, it couldn't be a better weekend that's why they're sending me back to Atlanta where there's going to be flooding and more rainfall. You get what you get but don't pitch a fit. I've had a great time here filling in for Indra. I have one more day, but the weekend, guys, shapes up for you just perfectly.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Chad. It's been great having you. That's for sure.

But I'll tell you, you talk to anybody and they've either been faced with it or have somebody like my husband that serious travel troubles with air travel.

CUOMO: Chad Everett Myers says you get what you get and you don't pitch a fit.

BOLDUAN: I'll be sure to tell my husband that and he'll be calling you, Chad.



CUOMO: I'll be telling that to my kids a lot about everything. You know what Chad Everett Myers says? They'll say, I love that guy.


CUOMO: We have something for you this morning. Just released the terrifying 911 calls placed by the passengers of flight 214 just moments after it crashed. The scene on the ground pure chaos. With more Miguel Marquez live from San Francisco. Good morning, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Not only are those tapes dramatic, but they are surreal as well. Imagine getting off of a plane that's just crashed, calling 911, saying I'm on the runway at SFO, we just crashed, and the operator says which runway were you on? The guy had no idea what he was talking about, this as we are learning about what was happening in that cockpit seconds before the crash.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got in a plane crash and there are a lot of people that need help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have people over here who weren't found and they're burned really badly.

MARQUEZ: A chilling description of the dramatic scene as passengers escaped the burning aircraft in a desperate plea for emergency medical assistance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been on the ground I don't know, 20 minutes, a half hour, there are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We're almost losing a woman here, we're trying to keep her alive.

MARQUEZ: And overnight a somber moment on the runway, family members of the two girls who died and others injured on Asiana flight 214 visit the crash scene.

And for the first time, six members of the Asiana flight crew make a stand of solidarity. With six of their colleagues still in the hospital, emotion and anguish is written in their faces.

MARQUEZ (translating): We are putting in our best efforts, she says, to recover from this accident.

MARQUEZ: Many crediting the heroic actions of the flight crew for saving so many lives. Investigators now say three flight attendants were ejected from the plane, still in their seats. A fourth injured by an emergency slide that deployed inside the cabin. They also pulled out extinguishers and fought fires as passengers escaped.

Investigators now say it took a minute and a half for that evacuation to begin. This as we are learning more about the investigation itself. NTSB saying two and a half minutes before impact there were several changes to autopilot and auto throttle modes. What's still not clear is whether the pilots themselves were making those changes. The pilot of the aircraft a;sp told investigators at 500 feet he was temporarily blinded by a light.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NTSB: He did talk to us about the approaching landing, he relayed that to us but it was a temporary issue.

MARQUEZ: Airports and airline officials eager to get back to full operations as arrangements are made to move the charred remains of flight 214.


MARQUEZ: Officials say that there was a massive triage at the plane itself. They didn't realize for some time there were other victims way at the sea walls several hundred yards away. They eventually got to them and also say they don't bring ambulances to the scene like that in these mass casualty situations. In case that plane explodes they don't want the ambulances to go up as well. Back to you guys.

BOLDUAN: That's a very interesting point. Miguel Marquez following it all for us in San Francisco, thank you so much.

Now to Washington, there is big pushback on immigration reform. House Republicans are making it pretty clear they're against a bipartisan bill that passed in the Senate. They're taking a different approach they say but it could take months.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is following all of this on Capitol Hill. I think the basic question is now, Dana, after all this talk, does this mean all hope is lost for any immigration reform?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The answer is no, all hope is not lost but it is certainly as you said going to be a very different kind of approach for the House than it was for the Senate. This was a two-hour meeting yesterday among all House Republicans, highly anticipated and talking to many lawmakers coming out, Kate, it was very spirited but also revealed a deep divide within the House GOP on how to deal with this.

Of course, the biggest divide is how to give or whether to give citizenship or even legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country and what was interesting is that there seems to be growing consensus among Republicans that maybe at least they can give some kind of legal status to children of illegal immigrants who came to this country with their parents.

But of course as you said the Senate bill, the bipartisan bill, is not going to go anywhere and that was affirmed based on conversations out of this meeting yesterday, but I can tell you that there is also a concern about the politics and the policies, so there does seem to be a consensus about moving forward on some kind of legislation and bits and pieces, border security, et cetera, but that probably won't even start until after the August recess.

BOLDUAN: Clearly a lot of pressures here but when House Republicans are starting to compare comprehensive immigration reform to the president's health care law you can be sure that it's not going anywhere in the House.


BOLDUAN: Dana, thanks so much, great to see you, thank you.

BASH: You, too.

CUOMO: Can you imagine what it would take to get 11 million people out of the country?

BOLDUAN: A lot and it would be very expensive.

CUOMO: It's easy to argue the politics but the practicality of it. What are you going to do?

BOLDUAN: That's where the struggle is on. Any talk of legislation in this regard.

CUOMO: This is big, though.

BOLDUAN: Politics and the logistics.

CUOMO: Maybe we'll give it to the kids oh yes and send all the parents out. It's sophisticated and complicated, that's why we watch it so closely.

A lot of other news developing at this hour. Let's get over to Michaela, interesting news out of the Vatican this morning.

PERIERA: Absolutely. We'll start with that. Good morning to the two of you. Good morning to you at home. New this morning Pope Francis making it a crime to abuse children, engage in child prostitution, or to create or possess child pornography within the Vatican. All of those acts were already crimes under church law but they're officially outlawed within the Vatican City-state where several hundred residents live.

20 people are now confirmed dead following Saturday's runaway train explosion in Quebec, Canada. Police say 30 others are still missing and likely dead. The head of the Montreal Main and Atlantic railway now says he questions the story the train's engineer told his bosses. That engineer claims he secured handbrakes on 11 cars before they broke away from their engines. I want to show you some before and after images. You can see where the town was literally leveled by that explosion.

In California, the desperate search for a missing 11-year-old Terry Smith ends with investigators finding a body. They say remains found in a shallow grave near his family home matched Terry's description. An unidentified teenage family member has been arrested.

Randy Travis fighting for his life this morning. The legendary country singer is out of surgery and in critical condition following a stroke. Doctors operated Wednesday to relieve pressure on his brain. The 54- year-old Travis was hospitalized Sunday for congestive heart failure. His family and friends are at his bedside and they're requesting prayers.

A case of military money misspent? A $34 million base the U.S. military recently finished building in Afghanistan will either get torn down or be turned over to the Afghan government, this as a special inspector general says military commanders knew as early as May of 2010 that they wouldn't need the facility. This is in addition to a $772 million aircraft acquisition plan for an Afghan unit incapable of flying or maintaining aircraft.

We have some amazing video several good Samaritans springing into action when a man in a wheelchair accidentally rolls off a train platform onto the tracks below, happened at a metro station in Washington, D.C. The first person to react was an army specialist who saw it all happen. Another passenger came from the opposite platform to help. The man in the wheelchair landed very close to an electrified rail, apparently he broke his wrist, suffered a cut to his leg but otherwise is home recovering and is very grateful. BOLDUAN: You always hope you would react the way they did when something happens. You just don't know, but you sure hope you would do what that guy did.

CUOMO: We highlight them because sometimes people do nothing, they're afraid so the more we show these stories, thank you for that Michaela, it will encourage people if it's safe do what you can to help another.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY an Indiana mother is fighting with authorities in Cyprus to try to bring her children back home to the United States. Can she win this international custody battle? We'll look into it.

CUOMO: And diet soda supposed to be better for you. Eh, maybe not so much. New study claims it could make you fat, put you at risk of heart disease and stroke. What's that about? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to explain.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY everyone. It's a heartbreaking custody battle. Any custody battle over children is heartbreaking. This one is as well. An Indiana mother uprooted her life moving half way across the world, all in an effort to see her two children who she says are in Cyprus with their father. She says their father is keeping them there in Cyprus. Now what started as an ugly divorce has turned into a bitter international battle. CNN's Pamela Brown is joining us now more on this. You feel horrible for the children but this doesn't sound like it's going to be over any time soon.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it certainly doesn't. It's complicated, it's heartbreaking, it's complicated as we know any custody battle is especially when it's international like this one. Marla Smith hasn't had custody of her kids in more than two years after her ex-husband took them to Cyprus where he's originally from, and here's where it gets tricky. An Indiana judge ruled she could have full custody of her kids. However, a Cyprus court says it has jurisdiction and has given custody to the father. So who wins?


MARLA SMITH, FIGHTING FOR CUSTODY: It's devastating. You want to see your children every day and tell them that you love them so much.

BROWN: Marla Smith says she's trapped in a nightmare. She's moved half way around the world for her two children from Indiana to Cyprus.

SMITH: It's almost like you're mourning the loss of your children but they're still alive.

BROWN: The trouble started in 2009 when Smith and her then-husband Charis Theocarides traveled to Cyprus, his home country. Their marriage fell apart less than a year later. Smith packed up and left Cyprus with the kids. SMITH: After I arrived in the USA and filed for a divorce and he found out, then he filed kidnapping charges against me.

BROWN: Soon after she says she received this letter from the U.S. State Department asking her to consider voluntarily agreeing to return the children to Cyprus so she did. Later an Indiana court granted Smith custody of her two children, but she hasn't been able to bring them back home. That's because her ex-husband took the case to a court in Cyprus which granted joint custody.

So Smith says in order to see her children, she's had to move back across the ocean, but she says her ex-husband has made visitation difficult. I spoke with Smith's ex-husband on the phone and he disputes her account. He says she does see the children regularly.

CHARIS THEOCARIDES, MARLA SMITH'S EX-HUSBAND: I'm the one, that I go to the park and swimming pools, and I get together with her and she sees the kids.

BROWN: He maintains he only wants to do what's best for the children. Smith says she may be thrown in jail for failing to pay child support, $640 a month. According to Smith, a Cyprus court ordered her to pay even though she doesn't have a work permit in the country.

SMITH: I will go to jail for them. I will work for them every day if I have to. I will hire every attorney on the planet if I have to. I will die for my kids.

BROWN: Legal experts say Smith may lose the battle to ever bring her kids back to the U.S..

PAUL CALLAN, LEGAL EXPERT: If you voluntarily allow your children to return to a country like Cyprus, you then cannot later on say the U.S. should have custody.


BROWN: Smith says despite that she is vowing to keep up her fight. She says Cyprus has already issued a warrant for her arrest for failing to pay that monthly child support. So, she's waiting to be arrested any day now. We did reach out to the office of Smith's congresswoman, and that office told us it will continue to assist with the request to the State Department on her behalf.

BOLDUAN: Has the State Department had anything to say about this? They seem to be the one agency that could actually help.

BROWN: We did reach out to the State Department as you saw in the story the State Department initially sent her that letter asking her to voluntarily turn her children back over to the ex-husband. Now The State Department is saying they're aware of this private legal matter, as they call it, that they provided consular assistance to Miss Smith and they'll monitor the case closely.

But as we heard there from Paul Callan, there's not a whole lot that can be done at this point because the kids are in Cyprus. She voluntarily handed them over. They were in Cyprus when the Indiana judge made that ruling and it's been more than a year so under the statute of limitations it's going to be very difficult for her to be able to get those kids back and bring them to the U.S..

CUOMO: It doesn't have to end there, though. Paul Callan is a great attorney, but it doesn't have to end there. Although it seems exotic it happens in a lot of cases.

BROWN: You've covered stories before.


CUOMO: I have and the State Department, they share a lot of responsibility in these situations about how they're handled, how they defend the rights of their citizens. It's a complicated situation, a lot of families get hurt.

BROWN: Seems like her best bet is to stay in Cyprus and have partial custody of her kids.

CUOMO: What does that do to your life?

BROWN: Exactly. And of course Cyprus is in the middle of an economic crisis as well.

BOLDUAN: Pamela thanks so much for bringing the story. We'll stay on top of this and bring updates as we get them, that's for sure. We want to stay on top of this.

Coming up next on NEW DAY if you are a diet soda drinker, listen up folks. Would you believe it can actually make you fat? The diet soda making you fat, not the full calorie stuff, and it can also make you sick. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going be here to talk to us about this new disturbing report.

CUOMO: And a different way to control calories, stop the music. One city cracking down on the noisy neighborhood ice cream trucks. My kids hear the waltz from Mr. Softy and they get at it like bird dogs. They're grabbing loose change and bolting out the door. I'm telling you it's like the movie born free.


CUOMO: Welcome back, everybody. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, July 11, I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everyone I'm Kate Bolduan. Let's get straight to news anchor Michaela Pereira for the top news happening right now.

PERIERA: Good morning to you at home. Making news: closing arguments in the blockbuster George Zimmerman murder trial. The prosecution gets its turn today, the defense tomorrow. Prosecutors are asking the judge to allow the jurors to also onsider lesser manslaughter and aggravated assault charges against Zimmerman. The defense rested Wednesday without Zimmerman taking the stand in his own defense. In a moment from now, we're going to talk with Sunny Hostin and Danny Cevallos.

Investigators want to know why it took the pilots of flight 214 90 seconds before they told passengers to evacuate the burning aircraft. Police have now released 911 by passengers moments after the plane crashed onto the runway in San Francisco.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people laying on the tarmac with critical head injuries and we're almost losing a woman here, we're trying to keep her alive.


PERIERA: One of the pilots on flight 214 tells investigators his sight was affected by a mysterious flash of light as the plane was approaching the runway.

A massive search underway in Oakland, California for a missing toddler. Police say someone kidnapped month-old Daphne Viola Webb from her father's SUV while he went into a store, witnesses say the little girl was taken by an unidentified woman in her 30's or 40's. Officers used K-9 units to search homes in the area and a shoreline park.

Teresa Heinz Kerry is on the mend. She is listed now in fair condition. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital still trying to determine what caused seizure-like symptoms that landed John Kerry's wife in the hospital on Sunday. Listen to the secretary of state fighting back tears while thanking everyone for their support.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Teresa is doing better, under evaluation and we hope improving. I want to thank everybody for the remarkable outpouring of good wishes. It's been really, very special.


PERIERA: Doctors have ruled out heart attack, stroke, and brain tumor as the possible cause of Heinz Kerry's illness.

Finally you're never too young to seek re-election. We want to introduce you to young Robert "Bobby" Tops, he was just 3 when he became mayor of tiny Dorsett, Minnesota last year. Here's the deal, it's not officially the mayor. Apparently the town draws a name, $1 a vote, during its annual Taste of Dorsett festival to serve as mayor for the next year. Bobby won last year and he's hoping for a second term, running on a fine platform of ice cream and fishing.

BOLDUAN: I cannot handle that outfit.

PERIERA: Looks fantastic in a chapeau.

BOLDUAN: Oh my goodness. The fishing vest, the wellies.

CUOMO: I don't even think it's that far-fetched. What does a 4-year- old know? It's better to share, you have to work with other people and if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything.

PERIERA: After that, a hug heals most ills.

BOLDUAN: And ice cream is good for all.

CUOMO: As long as you don't confuse fish and ice cream.


BOLDUAN: Oh my gosh you are the cutest little muffin. I'm not talking to you, I was talking about the toddler, not you.


PERIERA: Easy junior.

CUOMO: Another moment lost.

The George Zimmerman trial is nearing its end. Closing arguments expected today. The big question: what will they be? Well, before we get to a breakdown, let's take a look at some of the highlights from day 12.