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Anthony Weiner Under Fire; Zimmerman Juror Speaks Out; Sydney Leathers Speaks Out; 80 Killed in Spain Train Derailment

Aired July 25, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: George Zimmerman got away with murder, says one of the very jurors who acquitted him.

I'm John Berman and this is THE LEAD.

The national lead, two explosive interviews making major news at this hour. The only minority member of the Zimmerman jury goes public and what she has to say puts this trial in a whole new light. She believes that Zimmerman is a murderer. So why did she vote not guilty?

The politics lead. Anthony Weiner's 23-year-old sexting partner speaking out, telling the world she's disgusted by him. We're going to hear from her for the very first time this hour.

And the world lead. The moment of impact. The terrifying instant that a train flew off the tracks in Spain, killing at least 80 people. At this hour, the driver is under investigation, but the question being, how fast was he going?

I'm John Berman, filling in for Jake Tapper this week.

Until now, she's been known only as Juror B-29, one of the six women who found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old teenager Trayvon Martin. But now she's revealing herself to the world in an interview with ABC News. And she says Zimmerman got away with murder.

She's only allowing her first name, Maddy, to be made public. Maddy is a 36-year-old nursing assistant, mother of eight children. She is also Puerto Rican, the only minority member of the Zimmerman juror.

This is what she tells ABC: "George Zimmerman got away with murder but you can't get away from God and at the end of the day he's going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with, but the law couldn't prove it."

Maddy says she was the holdout, the one who would have led to a hung jury. But on the second day of deliberations she says she realized the proof just wasn't there to convict Zimmerman under Florida law.

This is what she says: "As much as we were trying to find this man guilty, they gave you a booklet that basically tells you the truth and that truth is that there was nothing we could do about it." But she also tells ABC that she doesn't think the case should have gone to trial in the first place, calling the court proceedings a publicity stunt. Maddy does she say that she feels she owes Trayvon Martin's parents an apology. "It's hard for me to sleep, it's hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcibly included in Trayvon Martin's death. And as I carry him on my back, I'm hurting as much as Trayvon's mother because there's no way that any mother should feel that pain."

That's what Maddy tells ABC News.

CNN legal analyst Mark NeJame, CNN legal correspondent Jean Casarez and "Washington Post" columnist Clinton Yates join me now to talk about this, a lot to digest here.

Mark, let me ask you first. What do these revelations change for you in this case? She says George Zimmerman got away with murder, but the facts just weren't there to prove it.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm very impressed with the statement that she made. That's her personal feeling and I think if you poll the country, everybody would be divided one way or another.

But what this juror did is that she followed the law, although she did not like what happened, did not like her verdict, that she followed the law. I'm just so impressed with that. I wish more people would listen to her, because once we start compromising a jury, once we start attacking them and making them fearful about their verdict, we have really lost the essence of what we stand for.

Her personal opinions I think are shared by many, but despite her personal opinion, she followed the law and we are a nation of laws and not a nation of anarchy. I'm just very impressed with the way she's come across and stated this, as we understood from the earlier juror that they were very divided about it, much like the country. Three wanted acquittal, two wanted manslaughter, one wanted second-degree murder.

But after they looked at the law, they read the jury instruction and they spent six agonizing hours reviewing this, this is the conclusion they followed, which was in fact the law.

BERMAN: Jean, when you hear a juror say she doesn't believe the case should have been brought in the first place, what does that tell you? Is the prosecution at fault for demanding this verdict under the law?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a little perplexing because if she believes he committed murder but also doesn't believe the case should have been brought, so, in other words, does she also believe there was no probable cause that he had committed a crime?

Another very interesting thing I find, one of the quotes that have come out, she has said if there was no proof or that there is no proof that he intentionally killed Trayvon, then we couldn't find him guilty. In second-degree murder, intent to kill is not an element of second-degree murder. Someone does not have to intend to kill someone to commit second-degree murder. Intent to commit the act, but intent to kill is first-degree murder.

BERMAN: So you're suggesting she may not have understood the law as it was presented to her by the judge.

CASAREZ: I don't know, but that quote is interesting.

BERMAN: Clinton, let me ask you this. Obviously a lot has changed since the verdict. There's been great deal of outrage around the country about what happened in Florida. Do you think that may have influenced this juror's mind in the last almost week-and-a-half since the verdict itself?


I actually genuinely feel very bad for this woman. The fact she came out with so many different statements that were kind of all over the map, talking about she can't sleep, she can't eat, this has clearly affected her in a way that was not positive. Obviously she was confused going into that scenario in terms of the jury and so forth. I genuinely feel bad for this woman.

BERMAN: How do you think this affects the public debate that is going on every day now, the knowledge that there was one woman in the jury, who happens to be the only minority member of the jury who in the first vote voted to convict of second-degree murder, but was basically talked out of it over the next two days?

YATES: I think it's unfortunately going to reaffirm a lot of people's fears, which is that the judicial system in this nation is not set up to protect victims, particularly victims of color. In this case, this juror happened to be the one person standing up for what she thought was right and ended up getting overruled.

BERMAN: Jean, these statements do differ dramatically from what we heard from the juror who spoke to CNN, Juror B-37, who spoke exclusively to Anderson Cooper after the verdict. She said George Zimmerman had the right to defend himself.

Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of the heat of the moment and the stand your ground. He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.


BERMAN: That's a very different statement. She also said to Anderson that she thought George Zimmerman's heart was in the right place. That's very different from this new juror coming out who says she thinks George Zimmerman is guilty of murder.

CASAREZ: No question. She doesn't really address in what we know so far anything about self-defense. During jury selection, she did not say she was Puerto Rican. It did not come up. I don't believe in her jury questionnaire she said that because the prosecutor said black and/or Hispanic. But here's something interesting.

I was in jury selection, every day of it, and they were maybe five Puerto Ricans, one after another that said they were from Puerto Rico originally, and they said in our culture, we do not believe in self- defense. Thou shall not kill, that's the way it is. And when someone kills, that's murder. I don't know if that is her philosophy, but she doesn't mention anything about self-defense, which was a major point of the case even for prosecutors, who had to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt that there was not self-defense.

BERMAN: Mark, I know you don't get to be in the jury room as a lawyer but what do you think went on in there over those two days to go from the point when this juror apparently voted to convict or she wanted to convict of second-degree murder to the point on Saturday night when she agreed that George Zimmerman was not guilty?

NEJAME: These are truly very common dynamics.

People are saying people are disagreeing and one came in with one thought and one came in with another. But this is the jury system at work. It happens really in almost every case. Rare is it that you have a case where a jury comes back in five or 10 or 30 minutes or even an hour. It usually requires everybody analyzing the evidence that came in, going back and forth, comparing their notes, comparing the testimony and then starting to work through it.

Look, that was -- I think it was 27 pages of jury instructions. You could have an assembly room full of law professors and they would disagree and not fully understand what those instructions are. It takes time -- 16 hours of deliberations, this jury ran through. And then there's a jury dynamic. You will often talk to an alternate who ended up saying they would have voted different than the actual jury who was chosen.

Why? Because once they get in that room together, and once that organism gets created of a jury, then they start going through everything. It's not necessarily pressure. It's not coercion. It's discussions, understanding the facts, understanding the evidence and listening to each other, because everybody views a trial through their own lens, through their own perception. Once they get together, they share thoughts, ideas, testimony, and then they come up with a conclusion.

That's the essence of our jury system. If we in fact start challenging people because they listen to other people and they were thoughtful in their deliberation, I think we're at great risk concerning the whole jury system, which does need to be addressed but not to be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

BERMAN: I do think Clinton is right. As we learn more what happened in that jury room, the discussion inside the room will contribute to the discussion that's been going on around the country. Mark NeJame, Jean Casarez, Clinton Yates, thank you guys so much for being us and discovering and discussing really this new information coming out just in the last few hours.

To the politics lead now and another bombshell interview. So, does she count as the other woman if Anthony Weiner never actually touched her? Weiner's post-resignation sexting partner, Sydney Leathers, which is not as far as we know a Carlos Danger style alias, she is now speaking out.

She tells "Inside Edition" -- quote -- "I'm disgusted by Weiner. He's not who I thought he was." She claims that they both engaged in "I love you"s, but now she wants to see him "stop lying, stop embarrassing his wife and get help."

Weiner, who is as of now a New York mayoral candidate and avid self- portrait enthusiast apparently is trying desperate to stay on message while he's out campaigning. He volunteered at a soup kitchen in Brooklyn for a photo-op. At least his hands were on the food and Weiner gave a press conference that quickly veered the direction that he must have expected.

When pressed, Weiner put a number on the women involved.


ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: It's not dozens and dozens. It is six to 10 I suppose, but I can't tell you absolutely what someone else is going to consider inappropriate or not.


BERMAN: Can't judge what others find inappropriate? That's pretty much the problem here, isn't it?

Unsatisfied, the reporters there kept at him, demanding to know how many of those six to 10 were after he left Congress in disgrace.


QUESTION: How many conversations did you have with women after you resigned that were sexual in nature?

WEINER: I don't believe I had any more than three.


BERMAN: Three. That's one math problem for Weiner. Here is another. There's some new polling from NBC 4 New York and "The Wall Street Journal" that shows that Weiner has dropped well behind Christine Quinn in the Democratic side oft race. He was leading by five points in some polls just last month and now he is behind.

I want to bring in our Laurie Segall to talk about this.

Laurie, I want to actually get back to Sydney Leathers here. What do we know about her?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, she's very politically active.

I actually spoke with someone who calls himself her confidante. His name is Lou, and they met at an online forum on Facebook, but they really got to know each other over the years and they have met multiple times. He actually spoke with me and she shed some light on Sydney and that relationship with Anthony Weiner. Check it out.


SEGALL (voice-over): Sydney Elaine Leathers, a political activist from a small town in Indiana, in her early 20s, active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and now at the center of the latest sexting scandal with mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.

Her confidante says Leathers and Weiner met when she reached out to him on social networks.

(on camera): Can you give a timeline on this? Was this after he resigned from Congress?

LOU COLAGIOVANNI, FRIEND OF SYDNEY LEATHERS: This was absolutely after he resigned from Congress. One conversation I had with Sydney, she remarked that he contacted her a week after he had done his big magazine and his capitulation in public asking for a second chance.

SEGALL: You don't know if they ever met. But from these chat logs and from what she showed you, do you know if they had any kind of sex?

COLAGIOVANNI: Absolutely. There was tawdry phone sex that went on between these two for months on end.

SEGALL (voice-over): She sent Colagiovanni some of the conversations she had with Weiner, whose online name was Danger 33.

"Have you ever thought of me while making love to another? You are so sexy. I love to think about how you look fresh out of bed, getting dressed all dolled up, seeing the stuff only your lover would see."

In the chat logs leaked to CNN Money, Leathers says: "OMG. I don't know where to start. So Anthony Weiner and I talked all day every day for months and someone found out somehow and tried to blackmail me with it."

(on camera): Why did this relationship end?

COLAGIOVANNI: I think that's a point that a lot of people I nation media aren't understanding right now.

First thing they had to understand is Sydney loved him, but then she fell out of love with him, because the idealized vision which she had of him was not true.

SEGALL: Colagiovanni met Leathers on a political Facebook page he moderated. He says they spoke about selling the story, but the plans they had together changed.

Lou Colagiovanni: "This is the summer we set the country on fire. Believe it. Think about this article, Sydney. It will be 50 pages of so much damning evidence, he will have nowhere to turn."

Sydney Elaine: "This makes me happy in such an evil, but awesome way. Oh, he's publicly following my old Formspring account, too, the non- pervy one that has nothing to do with him. Funny, but odd."

(on camera): What is it in for you? We have to be kind of transparent about it.

COLAGIOVANNI: Sure. I will tell you exactly what I'm talking about. I feel this was my story. I cultivated the story. I sat on it for months. I was reluctant to release it because Sydney told me, listen, I don't want this story to go out. I don't want anybody to know about it.

And then I asked her about it 10 days ago. I just brought it up. I said, listen, what's the deal with this story? She told me, I don't want anything to happen. I don't want anybody to know anything about this. And then as everyone saw on, the story did come out. So she misled me in her ideas of what she wanted to have happen here.


SEGALL: John, you just can't make this kind of thing up. Apparently, he said he spoke to him yesterday. And she had gotten an agent and she was shopping around for an interview. It looks like she has gotten it with "Inside Edition." You're going to hear more in moments.

BERMAN: That's right, Laurie. Thank you very much.

And as Laurie said, we will hear from Sydney Leathers right after the break, the woman at the center of Anthony Weiner's latest sexting scandal. She speaks out for the first time. We will play it for you.

Plus, we will take you live to Spain to find out what caused this deadly train accident.


BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm John Berman, filling in for Jake Tapper.

So, we told you about the woman at the center of the latest Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, the woman with a perfect name, Sydney Leathers. Well, now, you're hearing from her for the very first time. She's telling her side of the story.

And our Wolf Blitzer has the goods. He's here.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Jim Moret, my former co-anchor here at CNN, works for "Inside Edition", and he managed to get this interview with Sydney Leathers, the 23-year-old, who was sexting partner of Anthony Weiner. And it's -- I've gone through it. It's pretty blunt what she has to say about Anthony Weiner. And they go through all sorts of history there and Jim Moret does a very good job pressing her.

But let me play a little clip because it sort of underscores her disillusionment with the former congressman.




LEATHERS: Because, obviously, I felt like, you know, he's saying one thing to me, saying another thing to his wife, saying another thing on the campaign trail. I don't know who the real Anthony Weiner is, I guess.


BLITZER: So, she's obviously talking right now. We've got more clips. Jim Moret is going to join us in "THE SITUATION ROOM" the next hour.

And I want to find out more about this relationship, how long it lasted, what she had -- what her role was in the whole thing was. So there are some good questions.

BERMAN: She sheds a lot more --

BLITZER: Jim Moret himself a lot of light.

BERMAN: She sheds a lot more light on that relationship again. You have this interview with Jim Moret with "Inside Edition". We're getting it first here on CNN.

Wolf Blitzer, thanks so much. Great to have you here.

BLITZER: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: So what does Sydney Leathers do now? Will we be reading about her in a memoir perhaps "Texting with Love" by Sydney Leathers? That's a working title, and also a joke.

Let's get some crisis control analysis now from Howard Bragman. He's the vice chairman of and founder of Fifteen Minutes PR.

Howard, she's now given at least one interview to "Inside Edition." Would you have advised her to give that interview?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, REPUTATION.COM: You know, I really wouldn't. I'd advise somebody who goes through something like this to try -- as we say in the business -- get small. This is going to define her, really, for the rest of her life right now. You're going to Google this young people, this is what you're going to see. Young people don't value privacy.

In fact, I texted Moret to ask him if they paid for this interview. Even if they did, I would imagine it was $25,000. It's not enough to give up your life.

BERMAN: And I should say, Howard, you're not just speculating here. I know no cases are alike, but you've worked with Monica Lewinsky in the past. You've worked with Rachel Uchitel in the past.

Are there any lessons that Sydney Leathers can learn from these women who have gone through, not exactly the same situations, but bad situations, let's say?

BRAGMAN: Well, as you said, every situation is different. I think to a person, no one has come out of this whole. No one has come out of this without pain. No one has come out of this wealthy.

Monica did sell a book and a documentary, but she also had hundreds of thousands in legal fees and lots of personal pain that I can tell you. And if it couldn't have happened, she would have made it not happen.

There's just not the big payday that people think they are. I mean, like Sydney's going to write a book. In a year and a half, nobody's going to care about this, OK? This is not going to be a big deal anymore.

And -- but young people consistently -- I do the research with They don't value their privacy. They just don't care about these things.

You saw some of her Instagram photos. You saw the kind of things she promotes. She's probably excited about the attention now but I promise you down the road it's not working in her favor.

BERMAN: Quickly, Howard, there's someone else doing image control now and that's Anthony Weiner. Quickly, if we could put up his poll numbers again, they are dropping dramatically in New York. Is there anything he can do to help himself?

BRAGMAN: Well, what he wants to do and the reason he was doing well is he had changed the dialogue. I think prayer is good. I think he should pray that more of these don't come up, like today he was at a kosher food kitchen today, trying to talk about helping the needy in New York and he wasn't able to get that message out. He was overshadowed by people criticizing him and questions about the texting scandal and I don't think it's going to go away. And I think he's pretty toast.

BERMAN: And, Howard, there is one other player here, and that's his wife, Huma. She spoke out defending Anthony Weiner, talking about their marriage. I want to play just a clip of it from the other day.


HUMA ABEDIN, WIFE OF ANTHONY WEINER: Anthony's made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after. But I do very strongly believe that that is between us and our marriage.


BERMAN: What do you think about her speaking out like that?

BRAGMAN: You know, that's what do you for someone you love. It's clear she's very close to Hillary Clinton, was Hillary Clinton's top aide for many years and she pulled that right out of the "stand by your man" playbook from Hillary Clinton.

But I will say, Anthony Weiner is no Bill Clinton. And I don't think he's got the kind of political career ahead of him that Bill did and I don't think he'll survive the scandal.

BERMAN: Howard Bragman, great to have you on with us. I really appreciate it.

BRAGMAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Coming up later this hour, the "Money Lead". Facebook stocks go from plummeting punch line to rocket profits. So what happened to make the social media network get a big fat "like" from Wall Street?

And security footage shows the jaw-dropping moment that a high-speed train went flying off the tracks. We're learning more about what may have led to this deadly derailment in Spain.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

"The World Lead", the horrifying train crash in Spain. A shocking video shows the exact moment that a train carrying 178 passengers careened off the tracks crashing into a concrete wall. This security foot and captured the derailment of the high-speed train as it was nearing the end of its 6-hour journey from Madrid.

Eighty people were killed tourist and the State Department confirms one American tourist is among the dead. Some were killed in a resulting inferno as one train car after another snapped in half.

Meanwhile, as rescue crews comb the crash site, investigators have been grilling the driver who reportedly admits that the train was going too fast.

We're going to go live now to CNN's Karl Penhaul. He is near the accident site in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

And, Karl, what have you learned about the investigation right now?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John we have seen that speculation that excessive speed may have been a factor in this derailment and in this tragedy. But that is still far from clear-cut. We've heard one of the government ministers saying she believes speed was to blame, but then we hear the prime minister saying, no, the investigation is keeping open all possibilities now and is following up on all leads. So, he really doesn't want to narrow the field too much right now.

And even as we look at that chilling CCTV video of the moment of the derailment, we do see something about midway along the train, just a split second before the derailment, something that looks a little bit like an explosion, maybe smoke or dust or something. And that's certainly something investigators will be looking at.

It's still a little ways to go yet before they can put their finger on exactly what happened, John.

And we are looking at the video again and again and again, Karl. The pictures simply are horrifying.

The driver, as we said, is talking. Any word of possible charges that he might face?

PENHAUL: Not so far. We do know that on the one hand there's the accident investigation, the standard accident investigation going ahead, and also a legal investigation. Now, that seems to be an attempt to suggest that if any wrongdoing is found, then legal charges will be pressed.

But right now, authorities are not giving anything away that they may have learned from the driver. We do know that he is in police custody, and answering police questions right now, but we don't know what he might have said to them, John.

BERMAN: All right. Karl Penhaul in Spain, thank you so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

Coming up here next: they're already calling him the people's pope and Pope Francis is really living up to the title, visiting the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

Stay with us.