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Last Day of the George Zimmerman Trial; Severe Weather Across the Country; Snowden Meeting with Human Rights Group in Moscow; Egyptian Interim Government Moves Ahead; New Jersey's Littlest Hero

Aired July 12, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Decision time drama. In just hours, lawyers for George Zimmerman deliver their last line of defense after trying to dodge a last-minute legal curveball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). Oh, my God. My car is totaled.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A massive mud slide wiping out a Colorado highway. And we've got a view from the driver's seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) sitting up and fell down right away. (Inaudible) anything (inaudible).

BERMAN (voice-over): And this, a truly miraculous story. This morning, a pregnant woman struck by lightning survives to give birth to a beautiful baby girl.


ROMANS: Crazy story and happy ending on that one. Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERNANKE: I'm John Berman. It is Friday. Once again, it is Friday, July 12th. It's 5:00 am in the east.

ROMANS: And there is big drama this morning.

We begin with the closing pitch from the defense in the George Zimmerman trial. These are the final moments of what has been a national story for more than a year.

The attorneys will argue to the jury today why their client is not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, that after the prosecution made its case.

George Howell is live for us this morning in Sanford, Florida. These are the final moments of what has been a very long, a very painful period, isn't it?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, absolutely. All eyes in this town, all eyes around the country today will be on Mark O'Mara. He will get three hours to make his case, as you mentioned, to convince this jury that it's not manslaughter, that it's not second degree murder. Then the prosecution gets one hour for rebuttal before the jury walks away to make its decision. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The attorneys will present their final arguments.

HOWELL (voice-over): Closing arguments, the final stage in the trial against George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions.

HOWELL (voice-over): Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda went into great detail pointing out inconsistencies in Zimmerman's story from the national television interview he did to the video re-enactment conducted with police. The prosecutor then picked apart Zimmerman's account of what happened.

RIONDA: Why was he able to yell? The defendant claims the victim was on top. 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?

HOWELL (voice-over): In closing, de la Rionda even elicited a reaction from George Zimmerman.

RIONDA: Unfortunately, the only photographs left of Trayvon Martin are those M.E. photographs. They have still got other photographs and you saw some of them, the football when he was in his younger days, but they can't take any more photos. That's true because of the actions of one person, the man before you, the defendant George Zimmerman, the man who is guilty of second degree murder.

HOWELL (voice-over): Before closing arguments even began --

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Just when I thought this case couldn't get any more bizarre, the state is seeking third degree murder based on child abuse?

HOWELL (voice-over): Defense attorney Don West didn't mince words during the hearing on the state's request to include a lesser charge of third degree felony murder as one of the options for jurors to consider. West called the state's strategy a trick.

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

HOWELL (voice-over): In the end, Judge Deborah Nelson (ph) rules against that option, but will allow jurors to consider manslaughter as a possible alternative to second degree murder.


HOWELL: After more than a two-hour presentation yesterday, we saw prosecutors use PowerPoint slide shows. We saw them use that video reenactment and other videos as part of their presentation. We understand that defense attorney Mark O'Mara may utilize that computer animated crime scene reenactment.

Again, you'll remember that Judge Deborah Nelson (ph) said that he could not submit that, that it couldn't be added as evidence in this case, but could be used as a demonstrative tool. That's one of the images that the defense wants to leave this jury with as they leave to make their decision today.

ROMANS: All right. George Howell for us in Sanford, Florida, this morning. Thank you, George.

BERMAN: To San Francisco now and the latest in the investigation into the deadly crash of Asiana Flight 214. It may take a year to figure out what caused the Boeing 777 to slam into the runway, killing two and injuring more than 180.

But the NTSB now says the pilots twice called for the landing to be aborted seconds before the crash. And one of the pilots expressed some concern about the plane's speed. Meantime, airport officials there say they expect the wreckage will be removed by tomorrow. And that runway at San Francisco International will be reopened by Sunday.

People have been landing there for days now, snapping pictures of the wreckage as they land there.

ROMANS: A Colorado highway reopened this morning after a virtual river of mud swept away cars, trapped dozens of drivers. This is near Colorado Springs. That is a river of mud. We showed you these amazing pictures yesterday as video journalists caught in this torrent had his camera rolling. Listen.






ROMANS (voice-over): Remarkably, all of the...

BERMAN: Can you imagine having the presence of mind to film while you're driving there and how scared you must be?

ROMANS: I know, but I'm also watching other cars over on the side of the road without the mud and wondering, is he trying to get out? What is he doing?

More rain is expected in the area this weekend. Unbelievable.

BERMAN: It really is unbelievable watching that. I simply can't believe it.

Chad Myers with more on the weather.

What do things look like for the weekend?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good for the Northeast, great for us, but I don't get to stay here.


MYERS: I get to go home to Atlanta where it's going to be raining all weekend.

Thunderstorms across our nation's Capitol right now, maybe a short night for you if you live northern Virginia, parts of Maryland, Annapolis now, over toward the Eastern shore. A lot of thunder and lightning the past couple of hours. There will be some airport delays, as usual. This is a Friday afternoon. There will be thunderstorms around. That's going to slow down some airports.

Here, cooler and drier across the Northeast. Heavy rain across the Southeast for this weekend. Hot today in the middle part of the Plains. Back over 100 degrees in Dallas again. But nice, look at these, 77, 78 for New York and D.C., even 84 in Atlanta.

For the rest of the weekend, sunny and nice across the Northeast. New York City, tomorrow, like 76; Boston, 72. Just the best weather we have had in a very long time. Heavy rain across the South. And still, that hot and dry weather.

But the thunderstorms still pop up all weekend long in the mountains. And those mountains, that's where the problem was. We had that burn area around Manager (ph) Springs, that burn area got rain on it. That rain turned into that mudslide. We'll have more of that amazing video coming up (inaudible).


BERMAN: Really is incredible. And thank you, Chad, for delivering on the nice weather here for this weekend. Appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.

ROMANS: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: Did my best.

ROMANS: Could it be another record breaking day on Wall Street? Stocks soared Thursday buoyed by Ben Bernanke's assurances that the Federal Reserve would keep pumping cash into the market. The interest rates will remain low.

The Dow topped 15,460. The S&P 500 hit 1,675. Both are records. Just last month, Bernanke indicated the Fed might stop buying bonds if the economy strengthened. That sent stocks, of course, into a tailspin. Some warned this latest rally may be short lived.

BERMAN: A spike in crude oil prices in part thanks to the situation in Egypt and the peak summer driving season. They are creating a perfect storm for higher gas prices.

The price at the pump jumped 4 cents -- that's a lot -- in the past week. Industry experts expect prices to climb another 15 cents or more over the next couple of weeks. The current national average is $3.52 a gallon. That's 14 cents higher than one year ago.

ROMANS: And some analysts are expecting maybe even 30 cents higher by the time we get to the middle of the summer.

The immigration bill already passed in the Senate. This morning looks even less likely to get a vote in the House. Speaker John Boehner now says the House won't even consider it and instead will work its own version of immigration reform focusing on smaller bills rather than the all in one approach adopted over in the Senate.

BERMAN: We saw a number of members of Congress there (inaudible) Congress, but there was a debate last night. The House passing a scaled down version of the farm bill that avoids a fight over food stamp spending. An earlier version that included funding for food stamps failed last month due to actually both Republican and Democratic opposition.

Some 48 million Americans rely on the food stamp program. President Obama has promised a veto if the bill ever gets to him. Food stamps have been tied to farm bills for decades. It's unlikely -- or this would be first time they were ever split if it were to get signed (inaudible).

ROMANS: And (inaudible) farmers like to point out, it's not the farm bill, it's the food stamp bill that has farm funding in it, because most of that spending is for food aid.

President Obama is telling Chinese officials he's not happy they let NSA leaker Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong. At an Oval Office meeting, the president said he was disappointed and concerned with how Snowden's case was handled. Snowden was allowed to leave Hong Kong in June, despite U.S. requests that he be arrested and eventually returned to this country for trial.

Meantime, an internal review at the NSA is raising questions about just what the former contractor found out. "The Washington Post" says there's concern he may have accessed sensitive files about espionage against the Chinese. Snowden is apparently set to meet with a human rights group just a few hours from now at a Moscow airport.

BERMAN: The latest revelations now from those NSA files is that Microsoft may have helped the government more than previously thought.

"The Guardian" newspaper says the tech giant assisted the NSA in finding ways to get around encryption on's email and web check functions. "The Guardian" also says Microsoft gave the FBI access to a cloud storage service and that Skype, now owned by Microsoft, helped collect audio and video of conversations.

In a statement, Microsoft said it only gave access to comply with court orders. ROMANS: An Albuquerque couple sure counting their lucky stars this morning. Ian Gordon (ph) and Kendra Belnueva (ph), they were watching the 4th of July fireworks in their front yard when lightning struck. The scariest part, Kendra, just weeks away from giving birth.


IAN GORDON, EXPECTANT FATHER: It was getting really close. So we decided to end the fireworks and go inside. And right when we decided to do that, I guess the next thing we know is we woke up on the ground.

KENDRA BELNUEVA, EXPECTANT MOTHER: When I woke up, I didn't think that she was going to be alive once I got to the hospital. (Inaudible) right on her.

ROMANS (voice-over): The baby, there she is, doing fine. Kimberly Samantha Rose (ph) is healthy. She was delivered by an emergency C- section. Mom and Dad on the mend. And they have a new nickname for their daughter, Flash, as in Flash Gordon.

BERMAN: The father's name is Ian Gordon. So a great name for that beautiful and lucky baby girl.

Coming up, Egypt in chaos. Violent protests expected today as the ousted president faces new accusations. Reza Sayah is live on the ground there. He spoke exclusively with Mohammed Morsy's son.

ROMANS: And death toll rising as floods wipe out communities in China. You are going to see a dramatic, dramatic rescue, next.


BERMAN: It's 15 minutes after the hour right now. In Egypt this morning, the interim government is moving ahead with its plans, filling posts amid renewed calls for massive protests. That is we're hearing from the son of deposed President Mohammed Morsy. Our Reza Sayah is live in Cairo this morning.

Reza, you actually spoke with Osama Morsy.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I did. And this was a very revealing interview, John, and that very clearly we learned that Osama Morsy, the ousted president's son, holds the same position as the supporters of the former president. He is digging in, not backing down. He wants to continue the fight to reinstate his father.

Frankly, we walked into this interview expecting to maybe meet someone who was dejected and worried.

On the contrary, in walked a very confident man, smiling. He said the last time he saw his father was July 2nd, the day before he was ousted. He hasn't spoken to him since. When we asked him if he had spoken to authorities to maybe try to see his father, that's when he leaned forward. He sat up, leaned forward. Up until then, he was speaking in Arabic. But here is what he told us in English. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSAMA MORSY, SON OF MOHAMMED MORSY: (Inaudible), please, let me call and let speak to my dad. No. We are in a revolution, new wave of 25 (ph) new (inaudible) revolution. Again, our democracy path, we will not let it go.


SAYAH: A defiant Osama Morsy, the son of the ousted president, who told us don't worry about the president. What people need to worry about in Egypt is the democratic principles that, according to him, have been violated by this campaign.

And we should also note, John, he is also a lawyer representing his father. So it's very likely any talks involving Mr. Morsy's detention, his son is going to be involved as well.

BERMAN: Doesn't really seem that these political rifts are healing at all. In some cases, it seems as if they are widening.

SAYAH: Yes, there's no question about it. I mean the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsy's supporters are digging in. Of course the interim government has reached out, asking for them to be involved in this interim government.

But they see this as an illegitimate process. They say being involved in this interim government, taking a position in the cabinet would send a message that this is a legitimate process. They don't want to do that. They say the rightful leader of this country is Mr. Morsy. And that's why we are stuck in this impasse. It's not clear where things are headed at this point, John.

BERMAN: That's a fascinating interview. Reza Sayah for us this morning in Cairo, thanks so much, Reza.

ROMANS: In China, heavy flooding taking a serious toll there. These dramatic pictures from Eastern China where a man had to be rescued from the raging water, in Szechuan province rescuers continue to find the dead after days of rain. Authorities there in Szechuan now say 31 bodies have been pulled from the site of a landslide. Some 5,100 homes have been destroyed.

Losses so far, total more than $40 million.

BERMAN: Now to the story of New Jersey's littlest hero. We are going to show you right now, that is her, 5-year-old Chloe Olson. Chloe's mother was eating a tortilla chip at home when one got lodged in her throat. She started choking. Chloe knew just what to do. Dial 9-1- 1.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. OLSON: Daddy, Mommy's choking.


OLSON: Yes. She can't talk right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. She can't talk?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Can you open the front door and I'll get help over to you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Open the front door. I'll be right there.

OLSON: Love you, 'bye.

BERMAN (voice-over): So Chloe thought she was talking to her dad, because her mom, Carrie (ph), was talking to him on the phone just before. Doesn't matter who she was talking to. She got help. Carrie (ph), the mother is OK.

And we're told that young Chloe may be in line for an award from the town of Ridgewood, New Jersey. She (inaudible) get 10 awards for being the smartest and cutest little kid we have seen in a long, long time.

ROMANS: It's such a great lesson for teachers and parents and day care workers for you know, how to -- what to tell your kids what to do. All they have to know is 9-1-1 and what's happening (inaudible).

BERMAN: And sometimes kids learn this in school, know how to do it better and more quickly than grownups do. It's wonderful to see.

ROMANS: Coming up, home buyers beware. Mortgage rates are rising. I'm going to tell you how high they could go, next.



BERMAN (voice-over): Beautiful look at Central Park this morning here in New York City. Just after sunrise here.

ROMANS: Chad Myers says it's going to be a beautiful day for New Yorkers. It's a beautiful day for investors. Welcome back to EARLY START, money time. We're watching stocks closely this morning. Futures hovering near unchanged, catching their breath I guess after fireworks on Wall Street Thursday. The Dow, the S&P 500 closed at new highs, record highs.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke had what they called dovish words on interest rates, meaning interest rates will remain low. And that was something that Wall Street liked to see. So record highs. You can check your 401(k). Make sure you are balanced, by the way.

One stock having a record run of its own, Amazon Thursday topped $300 for the first time ending just below that mark. The online retailer stock shot up 20 percent this year. Powerful five- year run in which the stock has more than tripled. Amazon also got a boost this week from a court ruling that Apple had conspired to fix eBook prices.

We'll also be watching for bank earnings this morning. Two of the country's biggest banks, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo kick off earnings season for the financials. Investors are watching JPMorgan's results to see how investment banking fees have been holding up.

For Wells Fargo, the nation's biggest mortgage originator watching for signs of healthy lending progress. And speaking of lending, the 30- year mortgage rate, the highest now in two years. The 15-year fixed hit 3.53 percent, the 30-year climbed almost a quarter of a percentage point to $4.51.

That 15-year fixed is a (inaudible) financing tool, that for first- time home buyers and people who are really trying to refinance, 4.51 at 30-year fixed still a historically low rate but the highest in two years. Economists say a stronger job market and higher hourly wages pushing those rates higher, not to mention that taper talk we've been talking about. The Fed, at some point will have to stop pushing those artificially low mortgage rates. The market has been saying we see that time (inaudible).


BERMAN: (Inaudible) really interesting things in the housing market as interest rates start to go up. And in the short term, because they still are fairly low, it could force people to rush in and try to lock in and buy now. So we could see (inaudible).


ROMANS: One interesting thing I saw is at about a quarter, I think 28 percent of home purchases are first time home buyers. So when you look at that, two, three quarters of the action in the housing market is not somebody who's saying, oh, I've saved up my money, the recession is over, have a good job, I'm going to go buy a house for the first time.

It's a lot of investors. It's a lot of flippers. So we'll see what that does to the market.

BERMAN: (Inaudible). All right, 25 minutes after the hours. And coming up, this is big. A -old mystery could finally be solved. Who was the infamous Boston Strangler? New DNA evidence could close that case. It's coming up next.




ROMANS: Chaos before the crash. New images and new information from the San Francisco jet liner crash. What happened seconds before that plane went down?

BERMAN: A big break in a serial killer case that rocked the nation. How DNA evidence may close the books on the Boston Strangler.

ROMANS: And a real life Robin hood? One vigilante's quest to make history a little smoother at the cost of the city.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, it's 29 minutes past the hour on this Friday morning.

BERMAN: So it is likely to be many months before we really know what brought down Asiana Flight 214. The plane slammed into the runway at San Francisco International Airport, killing two and injuring dozens. Authorities there say the wreckage should be gone by tomorrow and the runway reopened on Sunday.

And as Miguel Marquez reports, we now have a better sense of what happened just seconds before the crash.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning, new pictures. The remnants of a charred Flight 214 after it slammed into the seawall, the debris, giant rocks, pieces of the tail section and the landing gear littering the runway.

And now we have the fullest picture yet of the flight's final moments, around 50 seconds out, the first officer sitting in the jumpseat comments about the sink rate, that's the speed at which the plane is descending.