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Zimmerman Murder Trial Closing Arguments Start Today; Wild Weather Coast-to-Coast; Flight 214's Final Moments; Immigration Reform On Hold; Tsarnaev In Court

Aired July 11, 2013 - 08:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Why is Bill Clinton calling Justin Beiber the shocking video of the pop star doing the unthinkable in a restaurant and why it spawned a phone call from the former president?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY continues right now.



ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It's about border security, but it's also about economic security.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Norman, good. Good boy, Norman.

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


BOLDUAN: Good morning, everyone. And welcome back to NEW DAY.

It is Thursday, July 11th, 8:00 in the East. I'm Kate Bolduan.

CUOMO: I'm Chris Cuomo, as always, with our news anchor, Michaela Pereira.

A lot of news this hour.

The Boston bombing suspect making his first court appearance since his arrest. We'll hear from survivors and victims' family who got to face him.

BOLDUAN: And take a look at this -- mudslides, wildfires, tornadoes, floods. What's next? Locusts.

Absolutely wild weather from coast to coast. Will we see more today? We've got everything you need to know, coming up.

PEREIRA: And how about some video that can make you smile? I just love Norman the scooter. That's a good dog right there.

CUOMO: That is a man in a dog suit.

PEREIRA: Going for a new Guinness record. This dog has serious skills, people. He is up for John Berman's award of the day.

CUOMO: Man in a dog suit.

PEREIRA: No, met him, real dog.

CUOMO: Really?

PEREIRA: Real dog.

CUOMO: She's got some contacts.

BOLDUAN: She knows some people.

All right. We'll get to that. But, first, we'll get to the top stories. From the beginning, it's been a murder trial but now, at the end, things could get a little bit more complicated.

Will the jury get to consider lesser charges against George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin? Both sides set to have closing arguments. The prosecution today, the defense likely tomorrow.

Let's get straight to George Howell at the courthouse in Sanford, Florida.

The beginning of the end, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, you could say that.

You know, prosecutors want this jury to also to consider aggravated assault and manslaughter. Defense attorneys say, look, it can only be freedom or second degree murder. And before the defense close, we saw both sides utilize some unconventional methods to demonstrate their points.


HOWELL (voice-over): George Zimmerman answered the question on everyone's mind. Would he testify?

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL: Have you made a decision as to whether or not you want to testify at this time.


DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I object to the court acquiring 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. G. 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, PROSECUTOR: Would it be consistent to 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 arguments.

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

HOWELL: And 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 you still have through today?

R. ZIMMERMAN: Certainly.

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 there shouldn't be any lessers.


HOWELL: So, here's what we expect to happen next. Today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, this jury will arrive back at the courtroom to hear closing arguments from the prosecution. We expect the prosecutors to take two hours to make their case.

Then, tomorrow on Friday, the defense team will have three hours to give closing arguments and prosecutors will, again, get one more hour for rebuttal.

So, that's what all happens before this goes over to the jury for a decision -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. George, thank you very much.

Let's bring this down now. Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, joining us from Washington.

Jeffrey, always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us.

Let's move a little mystery out of this equation. Lesser charges are going to come in. Probably a manslaughter charge and an aggravated battery charge. In terms of what this does in terms of how the prosecution brings its case, what will you see as the highlights for them?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the prosecution has one big challenge, which is to tell the jury what happened. You know, there is still a tremendous amount of contradictory evidence before the jury. Who started this fight? Who was on top? Whose voice is on the 911 tape calling out for help?

There's a lot of contradictory evidence and that is not a good thing when you're the prosecution that has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. So, they have to sort through this evidence and tell the jury this is what we proved and this is why George Zimmerman is guilty.

CUOMO: And explain to people at home, Jeffrey, because it's frustrating. They say we kind of know he had something to do with it. He ran -- isn't that enough? The idea that the if the defense creates an idea of doubt about the prosecution's story in our system, that could be enough to get an acquittal, right?

TOOBIN: It sure can. I mean, what is so interesting and in a way frustrating about this trial is, by and large, we know what happened. Obviously, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. That is not up for dispute.

And, really, the only issue in this case is what was in George Zimmerman's head. Was this an intentional murder with malice, with hatred, or was it an act of self-defense? What was George Zimmerman thinking?

That is -- that's the core of every issue in this case. And it's not a simple thing to resolve. The prosecution, as you say, has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That's not beyond any doubt. That's not an impossible standard to meet. Our prisons are full, after all.

But it's difficult when the evidence goes both ways as it does in this case.

CUOMO: If you had to guess, when the jurors go back into the room, which witness do you think they will cling to the most in understanding this situation?

TOOBIN: That's a really a interesting hard question. I think the 911 tape where the investigators -- where the 911 operator says to George Zimmerman, stay away. Keep away from him. That's, I think, the strongest prosecution evidence, because he didn't stay away and there was a confrontation between the two. Certainly, that's going to be a big focus of the prosecution's case.

As for the defense, I think the evidence that says Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman, there's a lot of evidence in the case that suggests Trayvon Martin is on top. If the jury believes Trayvon Martin was on top, it suggests he was the aggressor. I think that's going to mean very hard to get a conviction.

CUOMO: But they probably won't really know that. At the end of the day, listening to all the testimony, you can't be sure who was on top, who wasn't, who started the fight.

But in terms of self-defense, explain to us, if Zimmerman didn't listen and 20 out there and then was confronted, wouldn't his defense still stand? Even if he didn't listen to the 911 operator?

TOOBIN: That's true. I mean, yes, self-defense applies even if you make an unwise decision to approach, but it's all part of the same package. That if he's the kind of person who was so determined, you know, to get these kind of people.

And, remember, there is, there is other evidence that Zimmerman had a real bee in his bonnet about people in this neighborhood. If he is the kind of person who would approach unwisely and against police orders, he might be the kind of person to initiate the contact.

But, you're right, the jury has to look at all the evidence and, again, what makes this trial so interesting and so difficult to predict is there's not one star witness. There's not one witness who is the make or break for either side. You have lots of pieces of the puzzle from each witness. And, you know, at this point, I don't know how the jury is going to add it all up. I'm really reluctant to make a prediction.

CUOMO: It's an interesting jury, also, right? Half the size of what we're used to, all female, mothers, gun owners there. So, you kind of have a very unusual -- you think it is a quick deliberation or no?

TOOBIN: I don't think this jury is going to be out a long time. I think the short -- the short deliberation -- the fewer number of jurors suggests a shorter deliberation. Also, remember, it's a sequestered jury. This jury is stuck in a hotel. They're away from their friends and family.

So, that's the kind of thing that leads to a shorter deliberation, because they want to get this heck over with.

CUOMO: Especially when you got also a bunch of moms in that room, also, right? And the responsibilities for families so high, so pressure on them there.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much for the analysis.

TOOBIN: All right.

CUOMO: We'll be watching along with you.


BOLDUAN: Yes, it's going to be an interesting next couple days. That's for sure. It has been all along, really.

So, we're also watching extreme weather today spanning from coast to coast. Just take a look at some of this video.

We're talking tornadoes, flash floods, mudslides, fires and everything in between, Chad. So, the question everyone cares about, we're approaching the weekend. Is there any relief in sight?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Maybe by the winter, you know, when summer gets over.

BOLDUAN: That's rough.

MYER: You know, I don't know whether the weather is just getting worse or are there are just more cameras out there? But, yesterday was an ugly day for severe weather across the country.


MYERS (voice-over): 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, cars and people at a standstill, looking for a way out of the muck.

Emergency crews were wading waist deep to check out businesses and homes.

Residents like Debbie Williams trying to cope with what's left of her basement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Devastated, absolutely devastated. The Harley- Davidson is still covered with water, water tank, furnace. Everything down here is just completely devastated.

MYERS: 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.

MYERS: The widespread smoke a sign of destruction. The wildfire already destroying structures and injuring several firefighters.


MYERS: So for the rest of this week, there's a cold front right through the Northeast, all the way down to Atlanta. Storms will fire right along that front, like they already are right now across parts of the Northeast. Slowing down airports for sure. Big storm right near Bridgeport in Connecticut, moving right along I-95.

Cooler air for the weekend. This is going to be an amazing weekend in New York City. Down to the South, still heavy rain and thunderstorms. Hot and dry in the Midwest, and those monsoonal floods, those same type of floods we saw yesterday in Colorado could happen in New Mexico, Wyoming, as the air continues to go up those mountains.

Look at the city tomorrow, 76, I'll be on a plane back down to Atlanta where the flood watches and flood warnings are still in effect.

So, there you go. So, you've got to wish for a nice weekend and the Northeast gets one this weekend for a change.

BOLDUAN: I feel like not often do you see monsoon rains on his map, but many times in the past week or so.

Thanks, Chad. Thanks so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

We're learning much more about the critical final moments of flight 214. Federal investigators now say the pilot was temporarily blinded by a bright light just moments before the plane hit the sea wall. We're also hearing chilling 911 calls of passengers pleading for help.

Miguel Marquez is in San Francisco with more.

Good morning, Miguel.


Not only are they chilling, but also surreal. In one case somebody gets out of that plane, calls 911, says, "I've just crashed at SFO, we need help." The operator says, "What runway are you on?" This, as we're learning what led up to this crash.


911 CALLER: We just got in a plane crash and there are a lot of people that need help.

911 CALLER: We have people over here who weren't found and they are burned really badly.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A chilling description of the traumatic scene as passengers escaped the burning aircraft in a desperate plea for emergency medical assistance.

911 CALLER: We have been on the ground, I don't know, 20 minutes, or 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 an airport runway, family members of the two girls who died and others who were 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.

"We are putting in our best effort," she says, "to recover from this accident."

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 the 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 auto pilot and auto throttle modes. But still not clear whether the pilots themselves were making those changes.

The pilot of the aircraft also told investigators at 500 feet he was temporarily blinded by a light.

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

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


MARQUEZ: Now, on those 911 calls officials do say there was a massive triage operation at the plane itself. It wasn't until some time later that they realized that there were several victims much farther away near the sea wall, several hundred yards from where the plane actually came to rest.

Back to you, guys.

CUOMO: All right. So, Miguel, so that's interesting about the rescue effort. Let's take a half step back. What about pilot error? I mean, isn't that where this begun in terms of the investigation?

MARQUEZ: Yes. A lot of people are talking about that as a possibility. But, you know, investigators say it's probably too soon to tell that. Look, there are three other Boeing plane crashes where they landed short of the runway. They were a mix of reasons. One was pilot error, one was mechanical, one was a mix between pilot error and mechanical.

Investigators saying at this point they have thousands of hours of analysis to figure out what actually happened in that cockpit before and on that plane before they know what happened. Those pilots may have simply been looking at a device that was giving them a wrong reading -- Chris.

CUOMO: Miguel Marquez, thank you for staying on it for us.

BOLDUAN: All right. This morning, immigration reform is in limbo. Why? Well, you guessed it. Gridlock on Capitol Hill, it seems. House Republicans are against a bipartisan bill that passed in the Senate, and they want to take now a different approach, but they say that could take months.

CNN's chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is joining us live from Capitol Hill. So, Dana, the back and forth, where do things head from here?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a House Republican lawmaker summed up the state of play in the House from me by saying that the word comprehensive is a swear word among House Republicans and that really does explain why House Republicans aren't really affirming the fact that they're not going to take up the 1,000- page Senate bipartisan immigration bill.

But what they did say was sort of the -- the consensus on is not to let immigration legislation die altogether. They're going to take it up on their own terms, slowly, piece by piece. Obviously, the big question, Kate, is what to do about those 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. There is a big divide.

I was told that that was clear inside this two-hour meeting they held. One thing that does seem to be possible is that maybe they will focus at least on the children who came to the United States illegally, maybe giving them some kind of legal status, but that hasn't even been written yet, I'm told.

BOLDUAN: So, this is one big issue on Congress' plate as they're heading quickly towards their August recess. Another big issue is this issue of student loans. It seems no one on Capitol Hill wants the interest rate hike to stay in place. They all want to fix it. They just can't agree on how to do it. So, what's the latest on the negotiations there?

BASH: The latest is that I'm told that they are very, very close. They have been negotiating sort of day and night and when I say they, interestingly, they are Democrats, because one of the reasons at this point that the loan rates are so high is because of a divide among Senate Democrats.

And, so, what they're trying to figure out is how to go forward to at a least deal with some Democrats' concerns that there should be a cap to make sure that these loan rates don't go above a certain amount, but also, other Democrats who say, you know what, Congress should get out of this business and we should let this be more of a market-driven issue and let the market determine the rate.

So, that's what they've been working on. We're told that they have taken this to the CBO, which, of course, is the organization here which determines how much things cost because they want to make sure it doesn't cost the government a lot of money. We could see a potential deal as soon as today. But the thing to keep in mind is that House Republicans kind of called the Democrats' bluff because they actually passed something that the president had supported.

And now, Democrats thought that they were going to have an issue to club the Republicans with and it kind of backfired.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, party differences aside and intraparty difference aside. It's the students who are caught in the middle of it. I know you're going to be watching it, Dana. Thank you. We'll talk to you soon.

CUOMO: And families. They all campaigned on this.

BOLDUAN: Students and families. Exactly right.

CUOMO: They want to help them with the future and education matters, they have to --

BOLDUAN: Because there's also students, families and they're also voters, but --

CUOMO: This one just doesn't make any sense to me. Lots of news at this hour. Let's get over to Michaela.

PEREIRA: OK. Good morning to the two of you. Good morning at home. New this morning, for the first time, attorneys for James Holmes admit he killed 12 people and wounded dozens more. They say, however, he was in the throws (ph) of a psychotic episode when he committed the Aurora movie theater massacre.

That admission came in a court motion filed this week. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 166 counts of murder, attempted murder, and other charges.

Grammy-winning country singer, Randy Travis, now out of surgery to relieve pressure on his brain after suffering a stroke, but he does remain in critical condition. Doctors say the stroke was a complication from his congestive heart failure. They had already implanted a device in his heart to help blood flow.

Casey Anthony has reportedly agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a dispute in her bankruptcy case over the rights to sell her life story. According to ABC News, an attorney involved in the case says the money is a loan from a friend. That payment will reportedly settle $800,000 worth of debts Anthony owes to lawyers and other creditors since she was acquitted of killing her daughter, Caylee, back in 2011.

Finally, you know, it is summertime. That means the return of the ice cream truck and the music that comes with it. We all know the notes, irritating to many, catchy to all. Now, one city is taking steps to curb those familiar sounds.



PEREIRA (voice-over): It's music to the ears of young children, the sound of the ice cream truck open for business. But now, it's also ringing up some controversy. One California city wants to restrict the ice cream truck music. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gets on my nerves.

PEREIRA: And it's not just this resident who feels that way about the well-known ice cream chime jam. Long Beach City councilman, Dee Andrews, says his office has been flooded with complaints.

DEE ANDREWS, LONG BEACH CITY COUNCILMAN: Not that we don't want you here. We definitely want ice cream trucks in our neighborhood. But we just want you to be neighborhood friendly.

PEREIRA: So, that means let the music play, only while driving. Melt the music away when parked.

ANDREWS: Once it comes to a stationary point, then we'd like you to stop the music.

PEREIRA: Ice cream truck operators say that the theme song acts like a piped piper luring kids to their truck. Cut the music, cut into their sales, and that, they say, is not music to their ears.


PEREIRA (on-camera): So, the city council voted unanimously to refer the complaint to the city attorney who has 30 days to draft it. The city council will then take a final vote on it then. Interesting to point out, nearby Fullerton, California has a similar ban in place. So, when it's moving it can play, when it's stopped, it has to stop. You guys both are like down on banning the music.

BOLDUAN: I think I have to remove the Debbie Downer Award from Sanjay Gupta --


PEREIRA: Really?

BOLDUAN: That's part of summer.

PEREIRA: OK. Even when it's naptime? Wouldn't that bug you?

CUOMO: Three words. Vanilla chocolate dip. Let it play, let it play.

PEREIRA: I like the sound of your music, my friend.


PEREIRA: We'll just leave this up for a little bit and see how long it takes for you to bother you. Keep it playing. Go ahead. Go ahead. CUOMO: Don't hate on my happy. Keep the song going.

BOLDUAN: Don't hate on his happy, everyone.

CUOMO: Don't hate on my happy.

BOLDUAN: All right.

CUOMO: That's her job.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the suspected Boston bomber in court for the first time. We're going to hear from victims who lined up to face their accused attacker.

BOLDUAN: Plus, the George Zimmerman murder trial rising tensions as a divided nation awaits a verdict.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. Survivors and victims' family members looked on as the Boston bombing suspect pleaded not guilty to all 30 counts against him. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been in federal custody since his April arrest. On Wednesday, he made his first public appearance in a federal courtroom.

CNNs Deborah Feyerick was at the very emotion hearing Wednesday. She's in Boston this morning. You knew it was going to be an a emotional day for those families and it definitely was, Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. When you put it in context, you have to think, these are people rewinding the marathon route. These were the same people that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly targeted. Well, they came to court. They were looking for answers, but truthfully, didn't get many.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Under heavy guard, armed security, and police divers searching the harbor outside the court house, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned Wednesday as police outside lined up to honor slain MIT officer, Sean Collier. Inside, some 30 victims and family members sat shoulder to shoulder, watching, listening, and for mom, Liz Norden (ph), hoping for any sign of remorse.

LIZ NORDEN, VICTIM'S MOTHER: No remorse like he smirked at the people in the courtroom.

FEYERICK: Speaking in a thick Russian accent, Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 charges against him, including use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people.

Tsarnaev's two sisters sob when they saw their brother. His feet were shackled. His hand was in a cast, and it appeared he had suffered some nerve damage to his face. He looked back at his sisters and smiled repeatedly, seeming to ignore both the judge and the seriousness of the situation. Norden whose two sons each lost a leg during the attack had a hard time watching the women.

NORDEN: It bothered me when they cried. I want them to come to my house and see what my boys go through every day and see how we feel.

FEYERICK: The hearing took less than ten minutes. Tsarnaev returned to prison where he will celebrate his 20th birthday this month.


FEYERICK (on-camera): Now, Kate, also in court were several of Tsarnaev's high school wrestling buddies and his coach. There are two things stood out. First of all, the Russian accent. They say when they knew him, he didn't have that kind of an accent. Secondly, his demeanor. He was nervous and fidgeting and moving around and say it wasn't the easy going guy they had known -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And next up, he'll be in court back in September, right, Deborah?

FEYERICK: Correct. Exactly. The trial expected to take three to four months, but that's a long way away.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it sure is. All right. Deborah Feyerick watching it all for us. Thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, George Zimmerman's fate will soon be in the hands of a jury. Why this case has so many Americans on edge?

CUOMO: And more bizarre behavior from Justin Bieber. How the teen idol managed to upset former president, Bill Clinton? And it wasn't about music.