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Dangerous Heat Wave Won't Let Up; Mountain Fire Burns nearly 20,000 Acres in California; Trayvon's Parents Speak Out?; Senators Make Deal on Student Loans; Was She Standing Her Ground?

Aired July 18, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, a massive wildfire out west forces the evacuation of thousands.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking out. Trayvon Martin's parents break their silence this morning. How are they handling the verdict and will they sue George Zimmerman?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening this hour, the Emmy nominations set to be announced. Hollywood up early this morning watching and waiting. We'll bring you the snubs and surprises.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.



ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're much more likely to go free if you killed a black victim than a white victim.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.


CUOMO: I can't keep up. You're going too fast.

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


BOLDUAN: That's what you want to see on a Thursday morning.

CUOMO: Funny.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

It is Thursday, July 18th, 8:00 in the East. I'm Kate Bolduan.

CUOMO: And I am the most pathetic man in the world, Chris Cuomo. But happy to be here with news anchor, Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Good morning, everyone.

BOLDUAN: We've got a lot to get to in this hour, including the spreading outrage over Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. In the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal, one case in particular has taken over social media. A mother sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing her gun after her husband threatened to harm her. We'll have much more on that.

CUOMO: Yes. We really want to keep the issues surrounding the intrigue of the Zimmerman trial alive, because there are some real justice issues there also.

Also, we have been talking about the heat. And, you know, to be serious for a second -- it is dangerous. But many of us choose to exercise anyway. There are rules you need to know.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta gives us what you really have to pay attention to when you're out there in the heat.

PEREIRA: And Hollywood in the house on NEW DAY. Actor Rob Lowe is here, talking about his new passion project and some of his biggest roles. Really great ones, too.

We're also going to talk to him on Cory Monteith's today on his death, and the struggle to stay sober in Hollywood. We look forward to that conversation, coming up.

CUOMO: And we want to get his takes on political comebacks, because he knows all about making one. He made one on his own career. Spitzer, Weiner, what does he think?

OK, if you thought the last couple of days were hot, well, get ready. Forecasters say today is going to be even worse, 47 states feeling 90 degree temperatures or hotter. And the oppressive humidity will make you feel like 110 degrees in some places.

Indra Peterson is live in New York Central Park with the latest on the heat.

How are you holding up out there, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's not so bad. I'm not running in the park, Chris. A little bit better for me and probably a little early in the morning as well. But regardless, still 82 degrees, 70 percent humidity in the morning hours, and you just mentioned -- today is expected to be hotter.

So, we are looking at now, five days of this heat wave and, unfortunately, it's spreading to even wider, affecting a huge chunk of the country today.


PETERSONS (voice-over): It's the hottest weather this summer with the heat waves scorching a huge chunk of the nation. Officials are blaming this heat wave for at least two deaths, an elderly woman in Maryland and in New York last week, a Staten Island man died because of the sizzling temperatures.

In Indiana, a senior center lost power. Hundreds had to be evacuated as it was too dangerous to stay inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all old folks so you have to take care of them.

PETERSONS: On average more than 650 people die each year from the heat. The blistering heat inside a vehicle has already claimed the lives of 21 children this year.

A meteorologist from Maryland shows us just how hot it can get inside your car.

JACOB WYCOFF, MARYLAND METEOROLOGIST: Completely miserable. I'm drenched with sweat. You can see my shirt.

PETERSONS: Working outside can be unbearable.

THOMAS BENNETT, CONSTRUCTION WORKER: You know, by the end of the day you're sluggish, you don't think as well.

PETERSONS: In California, a farm was shut down after reports of an employee heat-related death. The culprit, a large sum of high pressure parked over the Ohio Valley in the Northeast.

(on camera): At 2:00 p.m., the hottest time of the day, and it is 94 degrees, but it feels like 100 with the humidity and the ground itself over 130 degrees.

OK. It's almost 5:00 in the morning. It should be about the coolest time of the day and it's still 82 degrees outside and the ground's even hotter, currently 88 degrees.

SUE RAETHER, MINNESOTA RESIDENT: This morning when I woke up and went outside, I couldn't believe how warm it already was.


PETERSONS: And we talk about heat advisories and we don't talk about how warm it is outside, or how hot the temperature is. But we also factor in how many days we have these advisories. Look at this.

We're talking about heat waves now in New York the fifth day and in D.C., our fourth day. Temperatures expected to be warmer than yesterday. We talk about ten degree above normal temperatures now combining with this high humidity. So, it's going to be like 105 degrees.

And here we go, we're talking about southern New England, all the way down to D.C. Hartford, Connecticut, looking for 105; Philly looking for 105, Detroit is going to feel like 105, and New York 103. We're going to spread it all the way now towards Minneapolis, even farther than yesterday, even in through the Dakotas, we're not going to see relief until the weekend.

So, the streak is going to last even longer and that will just mean we're going to talk about severe weather here in 48 hours or so.

CUOMO: And as we have been telling everybody, Indra. It is a good time to be a good neighbor. If you got elderly around, you have people with kids. Check in them and make sure that they're doing well.

And also, look, people are going to exercise when it's hot out. We know that. When I asked Sanjay, what about exercising in the heat? He said, don't do it. I know people will. So, we'll show you how to do it the right way and we went outside and did it and I got a little shamed in the process.

BOLDUAN: How quickly it can become dangerous.


BOLDUAN: People think they can --

CUOMO: For me, especially.

BOLDUAN: No, no, no, you're very in shape.

All right. Another, speaking of heat, another story we're following. A fast moving wildfire in the mountains of southern California has burned through 20,000 acres. The mountain fire has forced authorities to issue evacuation orders for about 6,000 people.

That's where CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Idyllwild, California, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. So, how is it looking this morning, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's smoky here, I can tell you, Kate. This is downtown Idyllwild, and everybody is out of here except for us and the firefighters that you can see who are doing structure protection here.

The biggest problem for them right now in this fire is the shifting winds.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): The flames have already burned through more than 30 square miles and this fire raging out of control through the California towns of Idyllwild and Fern Valley is nowhere close to being under control. Residents fearing the worst are making safety their first priority, 6,000 of them or residents ordered to evacuate overnight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's our house right there so we've, we're going to head to say our good-byes in case we don't come back.

MARQUEZ: At this hour, the blaze only 15 percent contained according to Forest Service officials. At least seven structures have been damaged or destroyed. As many as 4,000 more are under threat. The response by officials is massive, 3,000 fire personnel have been dispatched to the scene and three firefighters suffered minor injuries battling this inferno.

In the meantime, residents are simply hoping for the best.

LINDA LAWRENCE, IDYLLWILD EVACUEE: I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that it's OK. And it looked far worse today because now, it's circling around the ridge.


MARQUEZ: Now, we know that firefighters were able to get up into the hills overnight. Those guys that work overnight here and they did make progress. How much progress is still a question. The winds have not been great tonight, so, that's another good sign. We expect that in an hour or so, that we'll hear that containment has gone up some, but there's still a great concern over what those winds will do once the sun comes up and whether or not that fire blows back on itself -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Miguel, thank you so much. Keep an eye on it for us.

Now, another story we have been talking about all morning. Trayvon Martin's parents breaking their silence this morning, speaking out for the first time since George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering their son.

I want to bring in, Daryl Parks, attorney for Trayvon Martin's family, to talk more about this.

So, Mr. Parks, first listen to a little bit of some of the interviews that both Sybrina and Tracy did. This -- let's listen to CBS this morning. They were asked, just their initial reaction, the trial and the verdict as they're speaking out for the first time.

Let's take a listen.


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: I want America to know that Trayvon was a fun-loving child. He was our child. We miss him dearly.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: I was in a bit of shock. I thought surely that he would be found guilty of second degree murder, manslaughter at the least.

But I just knew that they would see that this was a teenager just trying to get home. This was no burglar. This was somebody, somebody's son that was trying to get home.


BOLDUAN: Now, we know that it's clearly very painful for them still and also that they were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

So, why do they want to speak out now? What do they want to say?

DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, I think, first of all, you have to realize they went through four weeks of trial in this situation. They were extremely tired. They heard that 911 tape shot after shot, and then in the closing, as Sybrina was sitting next to me she saw the picture of his face. She hadn't seen that face. It's also the same picture that Tracy Martin used to identify Trayvon.

So, they are extremely tired. So, it was a long, long road that trial.

BOLDUAN: It will be a long road ahead.

Why do -- do they feel there is a misconception out there of their son or their son is misunderstood throughout the trial? Why come forward and why talk about it? I mean, they put out some very touching statements right after the verdict, but what do they want people to know now?

PARKS: Well, it's rather clear. Just the one juror that has spoken out. They didn't know Trayvon. Maybe Trayvon's human as in the course of the case didn't come out as much, as you listen to that juror, she talks very deeply about George Zimmerman and humanizes George Zimmerman. When in this case, Trayvon was the victim here.

BOLDUAN: And one thing we heard from them and their tweets and speaking out on social media right after the verdict is that they both called for peace and calm in the aftermath.

Have you spoken to them? What are they saying about the response that's been out there? There's been protests -- a lot of support for them. But there also have been some clashes with police and some arrests. So, are they disappointed in that?

PARKS: Well, let's be very clear. From the time we first spoke out right after the verdict, we called for peace and calm on their behalf of the legal team. So, that maintains. And they don't want Trayvon's legacy to be tainted by violence or anyone who would go out and do any type of violence, I mean, they shouldn't even kick a garbage can. To maintain Trayvon's dignity is what we expect.

BOLDUAN: Let's listen to more of the interview that both Sybrina and Tracy did with CBS this morning, and ask about what they would like to see President Obama do from hereon out. Let's listen to a little bit from Sybrina.


FULTON: At least investigate what happened. At least go through it with a fine toothed comb and make sure all the T's were crossed and all the I's were dotted, because this is setting a terrible message. It's sending out a terrible message to young teenagers.

Trayvon was walking too slow. So, should they be walking too fast? You know? So, I don't think teenagers in whole know exactly what to do now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: She talks about dotting the I's and crossing the T's. We know that they're also looking at all the legal possibilities. I've heard both Benjamin Crump, they talked about that.

Does that include at this point, do they know what their legal possibilities are and what they decided on? Are they looking to a wrongful death lawsuit?

PARKS: Well, that's certainly a possibility, and that's been a possibility from the very beginning. We considered George Zimmerman even in the initial lawsuits we had. So, we held that one back and we'll make an appropriate decision at the right time.

BOLDUAN: Is there a time table that they're looking at and when they make that decision or are they just trying to let things, I don't know, cool off from the verdict first?

PARKS: Certainly. The verdict just came down. So, you just don't go straight from a verdict to suing Monday morning. That's not quite how we operate.

So, we'll sit back. We'll analyze George Zimmerman and determine when -- how we should do it. And then at the appropriate time, we will engage.

BOLDUAN: And, also, the Justice Department is looking into this, as well. Investigating if there is reason for federal civil rights charges to be brought against George Zimmerman.

Everyone that we've talked to talk about it is a big challenge to meet the threshold for those charges to be brought. What do Trayvon Martin's family, what do they want? Are they confident that the Justice Department will find reason to bring charges against George Zimmerman?

PARKS: Well, I think she said it right in the interview that you just aired. I think she wants the Justice Department to explore fully and then make their decision. That's all we can expect.

In terms of how that decision is made, I'm sure they have adequate resources to determine whether or not there's any applicable federal law that is warranted in this situation.

BOLDUAN: Has there been any conversation with the Justice Department? Any conversations with the attorney general?

PARKS: Well, no, no. Early on in the case, the federal government sent various resources to central Florida.

We did meet with them during that time and we're very confident that all the possible people, whether it's the civil rights division in D.C. or whether the FBI in central Florida or whether it's the U.S. attorney for the middle district of Florida. All of them were engaged in this process and we believe that they will take the necessary action needed.

BOLDUAN: We'll be watching for that, as well.

Daryl Parks, thank you for joining us this morning.

PARKS: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

All right. We do want to remind viewers tonight on "A.C. 360", Anderson Cooper will interviewing Trayvon Martin's parents himself. That will air tonight, at 8:00 Eastern. You do not want to miss that -- Chris.

CUOMO: More must-see TV from Anderson.

All right. We're going to switch gears here a little bit, talk about something of a very different type of concern.

Student loans -- we now know that there is a push, a bipartisan push of senators to try to fix this problem where the interest rate for loans popped. Are they going to be able to do it? Are they going to give the priority that it needs?

Well, we don't know yet, but we're going to try and get the answer.

Let's bring in CNN White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joining us from Washington this morning.

So, Brianna, the question is simple, the answer is hard. What's going on right now and do we believe they're going to get this done?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a tentative agreement, Chris. That is what we're hearing from sources on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.

But I'll tell you -- if the White House has anything to do with it, they want Senate Democrats to certainly accept this and to kind of just move along.

Initially, what you had were Senate Democrats like Tom Harkin, who has really been leading the charge here for them, who didn't -- they wanted a fixed rate on these loans, these federally subsidized Stafford loans, but then realizing I think they weren't going to get that. They wanted a cap and they wanted to make sure that you didn't see deficit reduction, as they would put it, on the backs of students trying to get, trying to make college affordable.

So, I think, ultimately, the White House sort of forced Senate Democrats to kind of finally go along here with the deal that the White House felt they'd be able to get through a divided Congress.

CUOMO: Brianna, what am I missing? Why do we need a deal? Why aren't college students and loans and helping these families get this needed education a priority? Why am I hearing things like, well, the loans will then go back up in the future and what the caps are so high 10 percent parents, 8.5 for kids. Why aren't these being treated like mortgages and given that kind of preference?

KEILAR: It certainly is really high, especially when you consider that leading up to July 1st, it was I think, what, 3.8 percent, then it went up to 6.4 for under grads. Now, you're looking at 8.25 percent here in a couple of years, potentially, since it will be a floating rate. Certainly, that is an issue. I think if you were to ask politicians, Chris, Democrats would tell you, we wanted to keep this low.

We wanted to make college affordable. I think Republicans say, so do we, but we're also keeping an eye on deficit spending and I think the White House, they're sort of taking a pragmatic look about what they could really get through Congress here.

CUOMO: All right. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much for the reporting. I put the question to all of you. Yes, we have to keep the deficit down. We have to deal with our debt, although, we never do. Is this the way to do it? Is this the time that the politicians should say we're going to draw the line on student loans for college?

What do you think? Let us know. A lot of news this morning. Another issue that's going on in Washington, we'll go to Michaela for the latest on Obamacare.

PEREIRA: Yes. From student loans to medical coverage. President Obama expected to tout his health care law in a White House speech today as the Republican-controlled House vote to postpone the individual and employer mandates for one year. Those mandates require Americans and small business owners to purchase health insurance or be fined.

Yesterday's vote marks the 40th time the House Republicans have acted to repeal or roll back parts of the president's signature health care reforms.

North Korea asking the Panamanian authorities who seized their ship packed with sugar and weapons to release the vessel and its crew without delay. The North Korean foreign ministry says it has a legitimate contract to overhaul the weapons found aboard the ship and return them to Cuba, but Panama is pressing on with its investigation. It says the weapons found onboard were undeclared.

South Carolina Supreme Court ruling on a tug of war over a three-year- old girl, Baby Veronica, will be returned to her adoptive parents. She's lived with her biological father for nearly two years. He gave up parental rights when she was born but later changed his mind. He invoked the Indian Child Welfare Act to get custody of her. That makes it tough for people outside the tribe to adopt their babies. The U.S. Supreme court said, in this case, the law was misused.

In Beverly Hills, California, another court date for actress, Amanda Bynes. Today's hearing, it revolves around a misdemeanor DUI charge that stems from her crash into a patrol car in West Hollywood back in April. Her attorney pleaded not guilty on her behalf last month. Bynes is not required to attend today's proceedings. Quite a touching moment and an evening in a room full of the biggest sports stars and celebrities on the planet. It was "Good Morning, America's" Robin Roberts who stole the show last night (ph). Roberts who was publicly battled and overcome a series of major health issues over the last couple of years received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

And like Jim Valvano, the first recipient of the award two decades ago, she touched the room with an emotional and inspiring acceptance speech of her own. I doubt there is dry eye in the room.

BOLDUAN: Jimmy V.'s speech lived on --

PEREIRA: Really did and hers likely will, too.

CUOMO: Listen, I've known robin for a long time, obviously, and she is special. She is one of the few people on TV who what you see through the lens, through your screen is what you get and more. She's a special person. You saw Josh Elliot on the show with her walking her up. That's, you know, the tightness you see there in the morning is real.

Lebron James, everybody wants to be around Robin because everything about her is good and even if she takes on a challenge, she doesn't let you know it, but she'll help you with yours in a second. She's someone worth of honor every day. Very happy for you Roby Rob. Good for you.

PEREIRA: Can I tell you what they said? She had a really moving thing. She said that her mother taught that her there is a message in every mess. That really stuck with me. Because you know, we all have our trials and tribulations in life. Boy, she had her share. But she lived by that rule.

CUOMO: Her mom was filled with wisdom that she passed on. And you see Rob's arms. No joke.


BOLDUAN: Congratulations. All right.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, stand your ground laws, they are in the spotlight this morning. We're going to take a look at a controversial case of a woman who said she shot her gun in self-defense and she got 20 years behind bars. Her lawyer is going to respond.

CUOMO: All right. And then, Dr. Sanjay Gupta makes a NEW DAY house call showing me how to exercise properly in the blistering heat. A lot of people do it, and you have to do it the right way. Don't be me. Be Rob Lowe. He's also here and he looks good. He can be doing anything he wants. He's going to talk to us about politics. He's going to talk to us about addiction and he's going to talk to us about what's going on in his own life. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Welcome back. The George Zimmerman's trial has brought Florida's stand your ground law into sharp focus. So, now, we're looking beyond that case at other examples of what this law can and cannot do. Melissa Alexander, you're looking at her there. She's sentenced to 20-years behind bars for firing a warning shot into the wall after her husband allegedly threatened to kill her.

Her shot, unlike George Zimmerman's, injured no one. She spoke exclusively with CNN about her ordeal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is he going to kill you if you're the one with the gun?

MARISSA ALEXANDER, FACED 20 YEARS IN PRISON: I agree. I thought it was crazy, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why didn't you run out the door at that point?

ALEXANDER: There was no other way to get out of the door. He was right there --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your life would have been easier today if you did that.

ALEXANDER: Yes. But the law states I don't have to.


CUOMO: All right. Alexander was arrested. Her stand your ground defense rejected. After 12 minutes of deliberations, a jury found her guilty. Joining me now from Davy, Florida, is Marissa Alexander's attorney, Mr. Bruce Zimet. Thank you for being here, Bruce. Let's hit all the hot points here. OK? First one, why wasn't stand your ground allowed by the judge in this case?

BRUCE ZIMET, ATTORNEY FOR MARISSA ALEXANDER: Well, first of all, I was not Marissa's trial attorney.

CUOMO: Right.

ZIMET: She had an attorney from Jacksonville that tried the case. Two things happened. Number one, prior to trial, she had a hearing in which she tried to get the judge to order that she would have what's called stand your ground immunity and be free from prosecution. The judge made a finding that she did not qualify for that that should not made her -- met her burden to establish stand your ground criteria.

CUOMO: But why not, Bruce?

ZIMET: The judge said that she had an obligation to flee and that she had not been severely injured enough to justify her standing her ground. And, obviously, that's a point that we disagree with and that's the point which is on appeal right now.

CUOMO: Right. All right. So, let's go through it, OK? Because I don't understand. My understanding of stand your ground was that you don't have to flee. That's what the point is. You get to stand your ground and that it's fear of what might happen to you, not that you are actually being injured at the time. Where am I off?

ZIMET: You're not off. You nailed it, Chris, and that's what we're arguing on appeal. That's where we say the judge erred and Marissa, in fact, should have been granted that motion, never even had -- should not have even had a trial.

CUOMO: So, then it goes to trial where you allow -- I know that you weren't the attorney of record at that time, but in making the case, were you allowed to argue it there or completely denied so she was only allowed to use self-defense?

ZIMET: Well, she was allowed to use self-defense but standing your ground within your own house is part of the self-defense and she argued that. The problem with the self-defense at trial is that the judge gave a jury instruction, which neither the defense or the state argued or disagreed with, which essentially qualified her defense or made her defense unbearable.

In other words, the judge said that the jury had to first find that the alleged victim was injured before she can utilize self-defense. And there's been three cases in Florida that have found that instruction to be what's known as fundamental error and convictions for those three cases have been thrown out of court.

Those three cases we're relying on for that point that the judge aired in this jury instructions. So, the real defense never got presented to the jury.

CUOMO: Now, there's a little bit of a twist here, right, because the George Zimmerman trial has raised attention on whether or not you should have a stand your ground law. Here, it's like one was needed in this case. So, it's a little bit different, but do you believe in a way that this is an example of why you need this law?

ZIMET: I'm not into the social issues, but at the time of this case, stand your ground was a law in Florida, and this should be a classic case where stand your ground should work for Marissa.

CUOMO: Twenty years in jail for not hitting somebody with a bullet. Because of the laws on the books to punish gun crime. Could something have else been done here?

ZIMET: Well, certainly, there are decisions that are made by prosecutors every day as to how to exercise the discretion and charging an individual. In this case, the prosecutor in Jacksonville made a decision that this should be the charge and this should be the penalty if she was convicted.

CUOMO: She was offered a plea deal early on, right? Three years or go to trial and she chose to go to trial. ZIMET: Right. And that's one of the problems with these mandatory minimum penalties. A person who doesn't think they're guilty has to decide should I take a three-year imprison penalty or take the risk of going to trial and getting a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.

CUOMO: Now, you say you're not involved in the social issues, but there's one question that must be addressed in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial. Do believe that Marissa Alexander's race played a role in how she was treated by the system?

ZIMET: I'm not getting involved in that issue. What we're dealing with are the specific issues. Did she get a fair trial in Jacksonville? That's what our team is appealing and that's what we think we're ultimately going to be successful to getting her back to a courtroom in Jacksonville and having a fair trial where all these issues could be litigated and work on and should be found not guilty when that happens.

CUOMO: All right, Bruce, thank you very much. Please stay in touch with us. We want to follow this. Let us know how we can stay involved.

ZIMET: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right. Absolutely. Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Chris. Coming up next on NEW DAY, beat the heat when you head outside for your workout. What you need to know before you break a sweat?

And also, he's done drama in the west wing and comedy on "Parks and Rec." Now, he is the voice of a new documentary. Rob Lowe is joining us straight ahead.