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Baldwin's Tearful Testimony; Shirley MacLaine Examines the Big "What If"

Aired November 13, 2013 - 08:30   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Real life. An emotional Baldwin talked about the toll he says his alleged stalker, Genevieve Sabourin, has taken on his life. His wife, Hilaria, testified that she is terrified of her. But outside the courtroom, Sabourin eagerly toll the press her side of the story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Alec.

BROWN (voice-over): Alec Baldwin was greeted by a swarm of cameras as he arrived at a courthouse in lower Manhattan Tuesday, only making this snide remark to a photographer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little room, guy. A little room here.


BROWN: Inside, things became more dramatic as the actor faced off against his alleged stalker, Genevieve Sabourin.

GENEVIEVE SABOURIN: I'm still in court because I refused the only option was to destroy my future.

BROWN: In his emotional testimony, Baldwin said he met Sabourin through a mutual friend. At one point, he choked back tears on the witness stand, describing how she has harassed him and his wife Hilaria for the past two years, sending an onslaught of disturbing e- mails and voicemails and showing up unannounced at his home in east Hampton. On the stand, Baldwin repeatedly denied Sabourin's claims that they were once lovers and the romance had fell apart.

TODD SPODEK, GENEVIEVE SABOURIN'S LAWYER: Ms. Sabourin has done nothing wrong. She never had the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, stalk or cause any inconvenience to Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin. She merely sought closure for a crumbling, romantic relationship.

BROWN: As Alec and Hilaria testified, Sabourin made repeated outbursts. "You're lying," she yelled at one point. The judge, clearly frustrated, reprimanded her for interrupting.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Her outbursts are going to be a real problem for her. Again, this judge is assessing her demeanor, her credibility. Even if she proves to the judge that they did have a relationship, I don't know that that helps her. BROWN: CNN obtained these emails Sabourin sent to Baldwin, presented as evidence in the proceedings. "I am less than 10 minutes away from you tonight. Say, 'I do' to me," one e-mail says. And another she writes, "I want to be your wife now, say yes."

SABOURIN: No, I'm not a stalker.

BROWN: Now that the Baldwins have taken the stand, it's Sabourin's turn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you plan to say tomorrow when you testify?

SABOURIN: The truth. I always say the truth.


BROWN: So in addition to Sabourin testifying today, the D.A.'s office says there will be two other witnesses testifying before her. And then after that, sometime in the near future, the judge will hand down a verdict.

Now, if she is found guilty of these charges, the maximum penalty that she will face is up to a year in jail. But it's interesting to note here that a plea deal was offered to her. Essentially she would have to finish counseling, she would have to stay away from the Baldwins for a year.


BROWN: And then the arrest would have been dismissed from her record. She rejected that.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Apparently it seems that she does not think she's in the wrong the way she's acting out in the courtroom.

CUOMO: Look, I like Alec Baldwin. He's a friend of mine. So I'm not 100 percent objective on this. But is there any proof that there was a relationship beyond this one dinner they may have had?

BROWN: Well, there were e-mail exchanges. And, in fact, I have been in touch with Sabourin's attorney and asked for the e-mails that Baldwin sent to her. Those were read in court yesterday. You know, there was clearly contact made between the two of them. But even if a relationship -


BROWN: Even if there was a relationship, that doesn't negate the fact that she could have allegedly been harassing or stalking them.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It doesn't mean you can (INAUDIBLE), yes.

CUOMO: A relationship or they knew each other?


BROWN: Right. I mean she says they had -- they were romantically linked. He says they knew each other but there was no romance. But even so, as Sunny Hostin said, you know, so many of these stalking cases have -- are linked to romance in some way, but that doesn't take away the fact that you can harass someone and stalk them.

PEREIRA: That's true.

BROWN: And that's what the judge is going to have to decide.

BOLDUAN: All right. Pamela, thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: Yes, talk about messy.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", a new trial for a Florida mother behind bars. Marissa Alexander will soon learn if she can be released on bail. She's in prison for firing what she said was a warning shot at her abusive husband. So what does her future hold? Our legal analysts are going to break down all the details of her case and where it stands today.

CUOMO: And we're going to hear from one of the most storied actresses of our time, the legendary Shirley MacLaine here straight ahead. And she is asking, what if?


CUOMO: All right, welcome back.

Now, this is a very important case we've been following for you here on NEW DAY. A Florida woman, her name is Marissa Alexander, she was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for firing a warning shot. A shot passed her allegedly abusive husband. That warning shot has come into dispute. No one got hurt, we know that, but Alexander was sentenced to 20 years behind bars because of a Florida maximum/minimum penalty thing. So in September, a court actually granted Alexander a new trial. Today she faces a bail hearing, could be set free while she waits for that new trial.

I want to bring in former prosecutor and host of HLN's "After Dark," Mr. Vinnie Politan. He's in Milton, Georgia. And CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin, from Boston.

Thank you to you both.

Now, just to bring everybody up to speed, of course both of you know all the facts already. The reason that Marissa Alexander may be getting out of jail, will be getting a new trial, is because there was a horrible instruction given to the jury, an instruction that laterally defies reason. We all know, whether you're a lawyer or not, who's the burden on in a prosecution? The prosecutor's to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

But here, Sunny Hostin, what was the instruction that a jury was given?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Vinnie, I'm not so sure that the exact wording of the jury instruction, but the problem with the jury instruction was certainly that it placed the burden on the defense.


HOSTIN: And the burden is always on the prosecution, of course. But I think what the real issue here is, and a lot of people are sort of dodging it, is the stand your ground law in Florida. Historically, stand your ground laws just don't seem to inore (ph) to the benefit of African-American defendants and that's what Marissa Alexander is.

This was, I think, one of the prime reasons why stand your ground laws should certainly just not be in effect in Florida because she was a domestic violence victim, had often been abused by her ex-husband and was standing her ground and trying to protect herself. Who else would be in grave fear of death or bodily injury but a domestic violence victim?

CUOMO: Right.

HOSTIN: And certainly the court denied her that opportunity. And I think this is very much about the stand your ground case rather than these mandatory minimums that everyone keeps on talking about.

CUOMO: The judge had no problem denying her immunity, though, Sunny.

And, Vinnie, tell us why.

VINNIE POLITAN, HOST, HLN'S "AFTER DARK": Well, here's the thing, she was not standing her ground. She left the house, went into her car, could have driven home, but instead got the gun out of the glove compartment, then went back into the home, fired a shot at eye level that thankfully missed the victim and his two children who were in the room, and there but for the grace of God this would be a murder case. My goodness. And this is a big my goodness on this one, Chris. This was not stand your ground. This was, 'I am going after this guy. I'm going to shoot him and I want to kill him.'

CUOMO: Sunny, how is it stand your ground on those facts?

HOSTIN: That is not true. You know, that is not true. I spoke to Marissa Alexander over the phone when she was in prison. I also spoke to her ex-husband, her first ex-husband, and they both claim that Marissa Alexander was in the garage, she was cornered by her ex- husband and she fired a warning shot. Not a shot at eye-level, a warning shot, because she was in fear for her life. If stand your ground laws are to be applied, what better case for it to be applied than this particular case, in the Marissa Alexander case.

CUOMO: Vinnie, if she can't get out of the garage, then her return is different, no?

POLITAN: Chris -- can I just jump in here, Chris? Can I jump in? CUOMO: Please.

POLITAN: Well, here's -- she's taking Marissa Alexander at her word. But when the jury in the courtroom listened to Marissa Alexander, they didn't believe her. They convicted her in 12 minutes. Twelve minutes.

CUOMO: Yes, but they were given an instruction, Vinnie, that the burden was on her to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the husband was going to hurt her.

HOSTIN: That's right.

CUOMO: That's crazy. I can't believe a judge would let that in. It was almost like this case was set up for appeal. So let me ask you about this issue before I let you guys go.

POLITAN: It was - it - no.

CUOMO: Well, go ahead, Vinnie.

POLITAN: Go ahead.

CUOMO: If I got it wrong, tell me I have it wrong.

POLITAN: Well, it - no, the burden of proof for proving self-defense. In some states you have -- that's an affirmative defense, self- defense. In Florida it is not.

CUOMO: Right, and -

POLITAN: Once there's some evidence of it, then the prosecution has to prove. So that's a part of the law, yes.

CUOMO: But who would know that better than the judge. I'm just saying, the instruction was crazy.

All right, so let's talk about the penalty though. You may say she was shooting at eye-level. Sunny may say she wasn't. That's a facts question. But 20 years when she shoots a warning shot?

POLITAN: Look at the bullet hole in the wall.

CUOMO: Twenty years? 20 years?

POLITAN: Twenty years, yes.

HOSTIN: Well, that, I think was -

CUOMO: Come on.

POLITAN: She shoots at eye-level. There's a child in the room.

HOSTIN: That is -- no. No, no.

CUOMO: Sunny, no, why? HOSTIN: You know, the problem with mandatory - no, the problem with mandatory minimum sentences is that we take the discretion away from judges. We want our judges to be able to look at cases fact by fact, case by case, and make a determination. In this case, that determination was taken away from the judge and she was given a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life because she used a gun allegedly during the commission of a felony.

And so, I think the real problem is not only stand your ground, but the combination of stand your ground with these mandatory minimums. I can't believe that my friend, Vinnie Politan, would actually say that a 20 year sentence for this woman, a mother of children, a domestic violence victim, is appropriate. That surprises me.

CUOMO: Last words, Sunny. Do you think the next trial gives a different outcome?

HOSTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think we will see a different outcome. And I think that we will see that she should be given bail. I mean she's now in exactly the same position that many defendants are in, she's innocent until proven guilty at trial and so she should be getting out on bail.

CUOMO: Vinnie, of course I'm going to give you the last word. I heard what Sunny said to you. Don't get all upset. So what's your response to what Sunny said? What do you think happens if there's a new trial?

POLITAN: Oh, yes, it will be a different result. It may take them 15 minutes this time to convict her. She's getting - the evidence is there.

HOSTIN: You're wrong, Vinnie.

POLITAN: The bullet is at eye level in the kitchen. That child got up on the witness stand and said he thought he was going to die that day. And it wasn't her child, it was his child.

CUOMO: And, Vinnie, though, remember, the guy said afterwards that he didn't think she'd even go to jail.

HOSTIN: You're wrong, Vinnie.

CUOMO: The guy she allegedly shot at, according to you, says she shouldn't have gone to jail. Remember that part?

POLITAN: Well, have you ever - wait, wait, when we talk about domestic violence cases, people get together, they break up, they make up, every prosecutor knows that.

CUOMO: All right.

POLITAN: But the facts are the facts. Look at the bullet hole in the wall.

CUOMO: All right, the wager's on the table. Sunny, Vinnie, I've got to let you go. We'll be following this very carefully. If there's a new trial, we'll see what happens. We'll be following it all along the way. Thank you for the intelligent perspective. Always appreciate it.

Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", we will talk to the legendary Shirley MacLaine on her latest, thought-provoking book. Ask yourself this, what if? She is.


CUOMO: This is one of the days when it's not even a job. We're getting to talk with the legendary Shirley MacLaine. We can't have her at the table. She's got to be at the couch. And that's where we're going to go to join her right now. Come with us.

PEREIRA: She's all alone over there.


CUMO: How much perspective you put into one place. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Shirley MacLaine, who needs an introduction? Come on. She's won an Oscar, multiple Golden Globes, an Emmy among other honors. She's also a prolific author. Her 14th book has just been published. It's called "What If: a Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses and a Few Things I Know For Sure".

Shirley MacLaine -- what an honor to have you here at "NEW DAY".


BOLDUAN: Thank you. Thank you for coming in.

MACLAINE: You guys are good. Love your new set.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. Now it is complete.

So this book is important to you. You believe it benefits from your perspective. You know, you feel that the questions you've come up with now, they're better questions, they mean more now. Tell us about it.

MACLAINE: Let's see, now. With the world in the state it's in, and you know, I've been aware of that for some time, I thought I would take a little experiment and see what it would be like to sit and basically I would have to say channel my questions.

You know, some great authors have told me in my conversations with them that they don't write their books. Something else writes their books -- and I tell (ph) them -- that's up my alley. So I want to know what does that mean. And that's what I did.

Last year I sat down and I said, 'OK, just whoever you are and whatever you are, I want you to write, use me.' That's what I did.

PEREIRA: So it's sort a stream of consciousness. If you open the book, each page sometimes it's multi-pages, asking a question "What if", correct?

So did they come to you? Did you sort of hear them in your head, hear them in your gut, hear them in your heart?

MACLAINE: Heard them in my heart. Would love to know myself, honestly, where they came from. I think they're good questions. I think they're relevant. I was surprised how they came out.


MACLAINE: And I let it happen. It's such an experience to sit there and not do it yourself. Just let the questions reveal. And I don't know where it came from.

BOLDUAN: Did you get any answers after all of these questions that you ask in the book?

MACLAINE: Not really.


CUOMO: Well, I think that's part of the deal.


BOLDUAN: That's the point, right?


CUOMO: It's part of the deal, yes. But I mean look, we're in the interview business, so it's always about the art of the question and why do you want the right question? Because you believe that it's going to lead to more thought, the question itself. And that's what you believe as well, right? That often questions lead to more questions but more productive thoughts --

MACLAINE: Right. That's all questions are for, spring boards for more questions. I don't even think I'm interested in the answers, to tell you the truth. I'm more interested in questions and the circumference of what that means because each question has a huge implication to it.

PEREIRA: Has it always been that way? Would you say that in your 20s or 30s --

MACLAINE: Absolutely.

PEREIRA: -- you wanted answers for things?

MACLAINE: No, since I'm 10.

PEREIRA: Really.

MACLAINE: I've been a mystic since I was 10. I really am.

BOLDUAN: What's the reaction to the book so far? MACLAINE: People are entertained by it. I don't know what that means.

BOLDUAN: You've been -- you've been good at doing that for years now -- entertaining and getting people together (ph).

MACLAINE: I think the thing I'm most interested in with me and all the things that interest me is how I've navigated the last 14 books. I didn't even remember it was 14. But how I -- I don't think people are asking, "Oh, God, she's wacky" anymore. I think they're beginning to see, 'Well, yes, there could be something through this.'

How can you go through what we're going through in this world, economically, weather-wise , everything, without asking some of these questions?

CUOMO: I love this.

BOLDUAN: Where do you get the energy to write all of these books?

MACLAINE: I told you, I'm not writing them. Plenty of energy.

CUOMO: She's got the universe of spirituality funneling through her. What if ignorance of the truth of the root of all evil? I believe that that question deserved more prominence in the book.

MACLAINE: A bigger page.

CUOMO: Yes. You know what I mean? I think that --

PEREIRA: You think it speaks loudly --

CUOMO: Right.

PEREIRA: That it's the only question right there.

MACLAINE: No, but here's -- here is the question. Define ignorance.

CUOMO: You're looking at it Shirley.

MACLAINE: And then define truth.

CUOMO: Right in the face. I'm the face of it all too often because so often we realize that there's so much more that we don't know than we do, including why Shirley MacLaine really wanted to write this book and do it now.

But if you stick around with us after the break, you will hear us ask that question and it will lead to many, many more.

Stay with us.


CUOMO: What a great way for us to wind up today. Welcome back. We're joined by iconic actress, Shirley MacLaine. We're talking about her new book, "What If?" Here it is -- right against my chest.

Great to have you here.

So we're talking about the book and that you want to provoke some things and Mickey said -- you say you provoke something.

PEREIRA: I have an admission -- "what if" is a question I had to stop myself asking several years ago because I found it made me anxious. And it scared me because I was trying to fill in the blanks and I was trying to second-guess myself. So I found myself really mystified by this notion. So explain to me how it doesn't have to induce me with anxiety.

MACLAINE: Well, it's sort of like -- well, if you're smart or rational at all, you've got to be anxious about the world. So, I don't know, that leads me to these other levels. And it's sort of like imagination is more important than knowledge. I don't know of some of my answers that I think might be spring boards to more questions are answers at all. I'm just having a good time exploring the "what if" of it all.

But I'm in show business. That's what you do. You sit around in blue sky. But I have to tell you, my dad's favorite "what if" was, what if a frog had wings? He wouldn't bump his ass so much.

BOLDUAN: Found humor in what ifs.

MACLAINE: And that kind of -- and he was a doctorate in philosophy and psychology at Johns Hopkins. But I thought -- good way to start.

BOLDUAN: You go Dad.

Well, you're asking these what ifs and obviously -- you've been in show business for years. What if you were beginning in Hollywood and show business now? What do you make of kind of the Hollywood show business culture today? It seems pretty tough. It sure was tough then, but it seems tough now.

MACLAINE: It's more about the red carpet, more about selling, more about money and more about materialism. That's I think why I wrote the book. I think we're suffering from this real disease called materialism. And that's screwed up everything because what happens to our sense of, quote, "reality", what happens to our sense of what's important? Honestly, it's very disturbing.

But then being older and having been there when that wasn't the case, it's easier for me to say than what to do about it now if I were younger.

CUOMO: "What if shopping makes you greedy? The more you buy, the more you want." Too true. "What if aging is all about learning to love the fact that nature takes its course?"

And then the question I was waiting for -- you trickster -- you made me read the entire book to get it. "What if this isn't the end?" which is of course, a double entendre coming from you. PEREIRA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Maybe it's not the end of the book and maybe this isn't the end of us. You believe that as much as you believe anything that there are more lives than this.

MACLAINE: Not only that, but there is no end. Stephen Hawking and I used to talk about it all the time. He said there's no beginning and there's no end. And he's speaking and he is in his chair and above him -- I used to go up to Cambridge and talk with him all the time -- a picture of Marilyn Monroe next to Einstein.

PEREIRA: There's a dinner party I want to be invited to.


BOLDUAN: That's a lot of perspective.

PEREIRA: Amazing.

CUOMO: The book is called "what if?" It's great. It's her 14th. Who knows -- what if it's her best? You decide for yourself.

BOLDUAN: What if there's a 15th, we'll see.

CUOMO: That you for being with us.

PEREIRA: What a delight.

MACLAINE: What if it isn't a delight.

CUOMO: What if it's time to get to Carol Costello -- which it is. Time for "NEWSROOM".

PEREIRA: Or is it?

CUOMO: Take it away -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I enjoyed it though. That's thrilling. Hi, Shirley.

Thanks guys.

MACLAINE: That's what they used to say, "Oh, God, here comes the question machine."

COSTELLO: Thanks guys. You all have a great day. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM".


ROB FORD, MAYOR TORONTO: Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Toronto mayor Rob Ford.


FORD: Do I? Am I an addict? No.


COSTELLO: This hour, his city decides whether to oust him.

Also, the top White House tech guy, Todd Parks, front and center -- forced to testify before yet another hearing on Obamacare.

Plus, Incognito --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we just ask you how your trip to L.A. went. Like did you see anything?