Return to Transcripts main page


Romans Speaks Out on Bullying Case; Zimmerman Facing New Legal Problems; Knockout Game is Deadly; Jackie Kennedy's Pink Suit Preserved; JFK Assassination Remembered.

Aired November 22, 2013 - 11:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Criminal charges have been dropped against two young Florida girls who were accused of taunting a 12- year-old classmate so much so that that classmate ended up killing herself. One of the accused girls, 13-year-old Kaitlyn Roman, is now speaking publicly about all of this. She says she feels bad about the death of Rebecca Sedwick, who was once her best friend. But as she spoke this morning, she says she wanted to turn this tragedy into something positive.


KAITLYN ROMAN, CRIMINAL CHARGES DROPPED: I want to start a campaign. I want to help other kids stop bullying. I want to do lots of things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell them about Omega Man.

ROMAN: And I want to see if I can work with Omega Man, the anti- bullying guy.

CHRIS CUOMO, CO-HOST, NEW DAY: As somebody who -- you understand the problem. You may have not have been the problem, but now you understand it by living through all of this. What do you want to tell other kids? If they're listening and their saying, I don't know what happened there, I can say what I want? What do you say to them?

ROMAN: I want to tell them, you can bully and maybe not even know you're doing it. You need to look at yourself and say, wait, am I doing something wrong here?


BANFIELD: CNN legal analysts, Danny Cevallos and Mark O'Mara are here.

Danny, let me begin with you.

Her attorney, Jose Baez, says that that young woman has been traumatized twice. Number one, by the death of her best friend and, number two, by all of the attention, to be made out to be the bad guy, and there was, quote, "zero evidence against her." How do you get charged if there's zero evidence against you? DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Public policy wise, what the prosecution must have been doing, with the sheriff's department, they was trying to use the criminal justice system to achieve something it was never designed to do. It's not designed to take juveniles and give them records. The sheriff's words said it himself. He said something to the effect that these charges allowed her to get counseling. That's not the purpose of the criminal justice system. The bottom line is we're taking an event that's very sad, somebody killing themselves, which is an independent intervening event, and we're saying, we're looking around to punish somebody and we're using criminal justice to achieve some social effect that it was never designed to do.

BANFIELD: I agree with you on all you have that. But almost is retrospectively looking. And I think -- my curiosity and maybe, Mark, you can weigh in on this -- was the sheriff thinking that in going into the charges or is he explaining of the dropping of them? There's a big difference.

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's probably explaining the dropping of it. I think when he looked at this case, he said the only law that probably applies is stalking. And that's when you intentionally harass somebody else with negative intent. And there's no question that the 14-year-old, when you look at her texts, there's no question that that was harassment, in my opinion. I don't think the charges should have been dropped against her. But may be there's another statute that needs to be considered for that type of behavior.

BANFIELD: Quickly, Danny, there have been all sorts of threats Jose Baez has been making about going after the sheriff for this. It is so difficult to go after the government.

CEVALLOS: It is. It is.

BANFIELD: In this particular case. do you see any outlet whereby he might have an opening?

CEVALLOS: It is so exceedingly difficult to bring a case for malicious prosecution against the government. You would have to show that the intentionally just went off the reservation.

Now, Jose Baez may think there's a case there. And based on the discovery, who knows. As long as he had some good-faith basis for the charges, for the most part, it's good to be the king. The government is usually immune.

BANFIELD: Danny Cevallos, thank you. I know you have a birthday coming this weekend. Happy birthday in advance.

CEVALLOS: Thank you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And thank you for coming on today.

And, Mark, I don't want you to leave right away because we have a little bit of news obviously breaking. And I know you sort of hang your head and think, not again, not again, this is becoming my albatross. But your former client, George Zimmerman, is back in the news. Arrested earlier this week, another domestic dispute. His wife, Shellie, sent the divorce papers to the courthouse. She also spoke publicly with one very famous Katie Couric. I want to run a quick clip of that.

O'MARA: Sure.


SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, ESTRANGED WIFE OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I found out that he was lying about a lot of things. And he became like a pacing lion. Very unpredictable. I -- every single day, it was like adrenaline going through my body constantly, not knowing what it was going to be like from day to day.


BANFIELD: So obviously, one of the big things after all of these things have transpired, since the criminal case involving the death of Trayvon Martin, is the critics will say, I told you so. This is vindication. Your reaction?

O'MARA: Those who want to hate George Zimmerman are going to hate him. But I think her testimony just then was testament to what George has gone through. There's no question about what happened that night was traumatic to George Zimmerman. Not only the fact that he had to kill somebody -- when cops kill people, we give them treatment, we give them counseling. We watch them. When Mr. Zimmerman had to kill somebody and the jury said it was justified, now he's in hiding for a year and a half, the most hated man in American. You take a 28-year- old who entered into this situation with no intent whatsoever and do that to him for a year and a half -- I'm not explaining domestic violence occurrences, if that happened -- but the reality is he has had an enormous amount of trauma over the past 18 months. And maybe this, in what he's doing, is some of the fallout.

BANFIELD: And it should be noted, you're not his attorney and not speaking on behalf of him.

O'MARA: Just an explanation of what may have happened.

BANFIELD: But someone who knows him a heck of a lot better than I do. I've said it before, you are a tremendous attorney. You are very good at what you do. And that was a very -- look, a fascinating case to watch.

O'MARA: Yes, it was.

BANFIELD: Good to have you here.

O'MARA: Good to be here.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Mark.

So here is something else we're working on. Your mother probably told you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Maybe not more than now. Watch what happens here. Knocked out for fun? And in some cases, some people are dead because of it. Going to warn you about this and let you know what's going on right across the country, next.


BANFIELD: Welcome back. Have some headlines for you. The FCC is considering allowing you to talk on your cell phone while in a plane. The rule is going to apply only above 10,000 feet, not during takeoff or landing. And if approved, individual airlines could decide whether or not to allow those cell phone conversations to proceed.

Senate Republicans say their Democratic colleagues will rue the day when they saw the change for the filibuster. They pushed through the rule allowing a simple majority to overcome the filibuster on some presidential appointments. Typically, it required 60 votes. Not anymore.

Got an update on the shocking killing of the teacher in Massachusetts last month. This morning there was a court hearing and a previously sealed affidavit was released publicly. And boy, were there revelations in there about the crime and suspect. The 14-year-old boy, Philip Chism, has been indicted on charges of murder and aggravated rape and armed robbery. He'll be arraigned on December the 4th.

There is a new ending for a rape case that stained the state of Alabama and the entire nation. Alabama's Parole Board has posthumously pardoned three men whose rape convictions more than 80 years ago were never overturned. The three were among nine African- Americans known as the Scottsboro Boys. They were falsely accused of raping two white women. Their case came to symbolize racial injustice in the South in the 1930s.

It might seem like a prank. But the knockout game is real and it's dangerous. It's down right deadly. And it's being played in a lot of parts of this country right now. And some of the victims who have been attacked are dead today.

If you're wondering what this game is, our Pamela Brown has the answers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. Is that a game?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That looks like real people. That wasn't like CGI or something?


(voice-over): It may be hard to believe, but this is happening. Watch as this unsuspecting woman in London walks down the street and gets punched by what appears to be a complete stranger. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



BROWN: The violent stunt is known as the knockout game or the one hitter quitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a game. Because the person was probably really injured.

BROWN: One of the latest victims, a 78-year-old grandmother. She was walking home when a young man ran up and sucker-punched her.

UNIDENTIFIED ASSAULT VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: She's terrified. She will not leave the front of her building.

BROWN: Other incidents have been reported in at least five states and Washington, D.C. At least four victims have died, including this man in St. Louis and a homeless man in New Jersey.

A Congresswoman in Washington, D.C., says she may have been a victim.

REP. GRACE MENG, (D), NEW YORK: Got hit from behind and landed on my front. After I hit the ground, there's a period of time where I don't really remember what happened.

BROWN: Rep Meng says her purse was stolen but, in many cases, nothing is taken.

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: They're doing this to get a thrill, to prove their manhood or womanhood, a part of peer pressure. And certainly they are followers and not leaders.

BROWN: A spoke person for the NYPD says it's looking into the possibility that the cases are hate crimes.

HARRY HOUCK, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: Now that we're aware there's a gang going on out there, we need to be especially vigilant. The police need to be especially vigilant. This is very dangerous.

Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.


BANFIELD: Just astounding to see that.

Just ahead, Jackie Kennedy's famous pink suit and that remarkable pillbox hat that she wore on the day that her husband died. It was one of her husband's favorites. Worn 50 years ago today. Have you ever wondered what happened to it or if you'll ever be able to see it? We've got that back story coming up next.

And then don't forget to set your DVR for "The Assassination of President Kennedy." It's a film by Tom Hanks and you can see is it only right here on CNN tonight at 10:00.


BANFIELD: Jackie Kennedy was recognized around the world for her exquisite fashion and taste. One of her favorite things was her pink suit, the one that she was wearing that day in Dallas when President Kennedy was assassinated. She was wearing it hours later too, covered in blood, when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the next president.

Randi Kaye has more on why it, this pink suit, remains etched in the memories of so many people.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the words of President John F. Kennedy, she looked smashing in it, which may be why the president asked Jackie Kennedy to wear her now famous watermelon pink suit to Dallas on November 22nd, 1963.


UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: The usual welcoming committee presents Mrs. Kennedy with a bouquet of red roses.


KAYE: It looked like Coco Chanel but her suit was a knockoff made in America. The first lady had worn it at least six times before that fateful day. Here she is in 1962, awaiting the arrival of the prime minister of Algeria. That's John Junior in her arms. In Dallas, on November 22nd, at this Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast, the president even joked about his wife's fashion sense.


JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody wonders what Lyndon and I wear.



KAYE: Later that day, President Kennedy would be dead. And the first lady's stunning pink suit, stained forever with her husband's blood, would begin a long and mysterious journey.

When aides suggested she change her clothes after the shooting, she refused.

Philip Shenon wrote a book about the Kennedy assassination.

PHILIP SHENON, AUTHOR: Her remark, and I think she made it more than once is, "No, I'm going to leave these clothes on. I want them to see what they have done."

KAYE: Hours later, Mrs. Kennedy continued to wear the suit during the emergency swearing in of Lyndon Johnson as president.

SHENON: That whole scene is obviously just surreal. She arrives in the cabin in Air Force One in these clothes covered with the president's blood, and expected to stand there and witness the swearing in of her husband's successor.

KAYE: Mrs. Kennedy was still in her suit when she arrived later that evening at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland where she received her husband's body, the president's brother at her side in the middle of the night.

Once at the White House, her personal maid put the suit in a bag so Mrs. Kennedy won't have to look at it. Then some time in 1964, the blood-stained suit arrived here at the National Archives Building in the nation's capital. It came in a box along with a handwritten note from the Jackie Kennedy's mother on her personal stationary. It read simply, "Jackie's suit and bag, worn November 22nd, 1963."

All this time, the pink suit has been forbidden from public view and will likely stay that way for a very long time. In 2003, after her mother's death, Caroline Kennedy gave the suit to the people of the United States with the understanding that it wouldn't be put on public display for 100 years, until 2103. And even then the Kennedy family must be consulted before an attempt is made to display the suit, all an effort to avoid sensationalizing that horrible act.

And it's believed only a handful of people, maybe only as few as two, have seen the suit since. Along with the suit and also hidden from view in the new archives in Maryland, the blue blouse Mrs. Kennedy wore in Dallas, her stockings, blue shoes and blue purse. What they don't have is the first lady's pink pill box hat.

SHENON: The hat is an industry. The hat apparently goes to the Secret Service initially and they turn it over to Mrs. Kennedy's private secretary and then it disappears. It has not been seen since.

KAYE: The archive is making every effort to preserve the suit. It's stored in a windowless vault in an acid-free container where the air is changed every 20 minutes or so to properly maintain the woolen cloth. It is kept at a temperature of 65 to 68 degrees, which is best for the fabric.

The suit's story, a perfect ending for a first lady who craved privacy after so much pain.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.



BANFIELD: Just minutes from now, bells will toll in Dallas, marking the exact time when John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this day 50 years ago. This morning, members of the Kennedy family were present to lay a wreath at the president's grave site. That's in Arlington National Cemetery. And if you look in the foreground, you will see that eternal flame. It is always burning. And across the Potomac, President Obama ordered the flags to be lowered to half-staff at the White House, the capitol, government buildings, all throughout to mark this particularly solemn day.

John King joins us live in Dallas.

I know you're going to do a lot of the spearheading of our national coverage. You're too young. No matter how old we are, we all stop and think and have a special thought and memory about what this means for America.

Give me a special rundown where you are and how it's going to play out.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You just mentioned the Kennedy family. They made a decision not to participate in the ceremony here it, the remembrance of the horrible event that happened right here 50 years ago. The family is aware of the ceremony and decided not to participate in any way.

As you noted at 12:30 local time, when the president was shot right here in Dealey Plaza, there will be a tolling of the bells and a moment of silence, as well. It's a relatively low-key ceremony. The mayor will speak about the city and where the city has come in 50 years. And the historian, David McCullough, will read from some of President Kennedy's speeches.

As we await the ceremony, you can see the podium where the VIP guests will be gathered behind me. 5,000 tickets issued for people to come to the ceremony. There are a lot of people outside the security perimeter asking questions, looking around and the like.

The scene inside, it's relatively low key. There's one video monitor where they're playing clips of President Kennedy and his travels. Playing them on the video monitor for the crowds. A massive crowd of journalists here. But it's to be reminded of the very tight space here where the Kennedy motorcade came through at 12:30 and turned into Dealey Plaza. The Texas School Book Depository is over there. Had to make a sharp left turn, came almost to a complete stop. That is where, 50 years ago today, the tragic assassination unfolded.

But at the end of the ceremony, a statue, a monument to JFK will be unveiled over on what is known infamously as the grassy knoll -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: I can almost see my apartment from the spot where you are sitting right now. I lived there for four and a half years just a few blocks away and I drove that route many, many times.

John King, thank you for that.

A reminder, John King is going to be anchoring our special coverage of the Dallas memorial of John F. Kennedy, 50 Years later. Stay tuned as the events begin right at the top of the hour.

Thanks so much for watching, everyone. And have a good weekend. HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: You're with CNN. Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Hala Gorani, in for Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today. We welcome our viewers from all around the world.

A very important day in U.S. history. We are, in fact, approaching the moment that an assassin's bullet took the life of President John F. Kennedy and shattered the nation 50 years ago.

GORANI: So it's an event that is still seared in the collective consciousness of this country 50 years later, one of the darkest days really in this country's history. And people in Dallas, gathering in that city to honor the slain president. You're looking at live pictures of Dealey Plaza, the scene of the tragedy.

HOLMES: The city's going to hold a moment of silence at the exact time of the assassination. Today's event, the first time Dallas is officially commemorating JFK's death.