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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Loud Music Murder Trial Continues; Movie Theater Texting Murder Bail Hearing; Justin Bieber's Legal Woes; Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games Underway
Aired February 7, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Happening right now, a dramatic preview to the Florida movie theater shooting trial, stunning testimony and maybe the most shocking surveillance video you might see. It is all expected at a bond hearing for the man accused of killing a father who was sending a text message.
Also this hour, if the toothpaste terror alert didn't get your attention, wait till you hear what Russian officials say about the showers and the cameras in Sochi. Just how far will they go to protect the Olympics?
And what happened after cops in Florida pulled Justin Bieber over and hauled him into jail? The cameras were rolling at the stationhouse, and you'll get a chance to see for yourself.
Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Friday, February the 7th, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
Sometimes surveillance video is more compelling because of what you hear than what you see. And such is the case in the piece of videotape I'm about to run for you.
It might look like any normal transaction at a convenience store, but make no mistake; it's not.
Just off to the right-hand side of the camera's view, a teenager is being shot to death, 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The other kids who were in the car are being shot at. And it is all happening at a gas station parking lot in Jacksonville, Florida, all of it, a year ago, November.
The man who's doing the shooting is Michael Dunn, and now he is on trial for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
He says it was self-defense and he did it because he saw a weapon. Today, those other teens in the car that day are going to testify about how their friend died.
Davis' friend is expected to take the stand at any moment, but before we get to that, I want you to listen to the number of shots that Dunn squeezed off and pay very close attention to what seems like a very long pause.
And then start counting as round two of the bullets begin to fly and a car full of teenagers is trying to flee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, somebody is shooting. Somebody is shooting at that car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So, the question for not only you as you looked at that, but the jury, which is really critical here, does that sound like self- defense to you?
There must be a lot more to the story, and in court, there usually is.
Tory Dunnan is live outside of that courthouse, that courtroom in Jacksonville, Florida.
So, first, Tory, if you would, tell us Dunn's defense is explaining all of those shots, and particularly that very poignant pause that we heard in between them.
I think we are having a problem with Tory's audio. Tory, you can't hear me? We'll continue to try to get what we call the IF feed. She can't hear the question.
But, clearly, some of the testimony is going to be pretty nerve- racking today. A lot of law enforcement in that court today, this is a big bone of contention for the defense, that the law enforcement that responded to that scene did not process it appropriately and that matters.
The devil is in the details because that weapon that Mr. Dunn says he saw was never, ever recovered.
Does it mean there was a weapon? Does it mean there wasn't one? Did someone get rid of the weapon? Did law enforcement look for it?
I want to bring in Joey Jackson, who's a criminal defense attorney and also HLN legal analyst.
So, Joey, that's a big question. Those pauses are painful to hear. Gunshots always are when you know what the result is. The jury is going to have a lot to chew on with that evidence.
What's going to be the most compelling thing they are going to have to deal with in this case?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Ashleigh, good morning. I'm just having a couple of issues hearing you.
BANFIELD: Ah. So, can you hear me now? We are having a lot of that. I'm sorry, Joey. Our first guest couldn't hear us either, Tory Dunnan.
Can you hear me now?
JACKSON: You look fantastic, Ashleigh. I just can't hear what you are saying. BANFIELD: Oh, no, Joey, I'm so sorry. You know what? Let me give you a rest because, as it turns out, Tory Dunnan's audio is working now. Joey Jackson, we'll work on yours, as well.
Tory, when I first came to you, you couldn't hear the question, but I wanted to ask you about the pauses that we heard in the video, the surveillance video. between the volley of gunfire and what that's like for the jurors, how they are reacting to it and how this strategy is going forward.
TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Ashleigh. This is something a lot of people are focusing on, the fact that so many shots were fired.
And the defense has really made a significant mention of this, saying that Michael Dunn felt like he was threatened. He thought he heard threats. He thought he saw that weapon. And that's when he grabbed his gun, firing off in self-defense.
The defense attorney has also gone on to say he fired off the first round of shots, and then once the SUV started backing up, that red Durango started backing up, according to the defense attorney, he felt like he was in a bad position, that his back would have been to the SUV backing up, and that's why he fired off those additional shots.
Now, of course, more information is going to come out about exactly why so many were shot off in the first place.
BANFIELD: All right, Tory Dunnan, stand by if you will. I want to go back to Joey Jackson. I think you can hear me now, Joey.
JACKSON: And see you, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Yay! That's a good thing. It's always a good thing. We have had some bugaboos in the program this morning, so thank you for bearing with us.
JACKSON: Of course.
BANFIELD: Joey, the issue that that jury is going to have to deal with, first and foremost, just on day two of testimony at that point is the sound.
They can't see what's happening. They don't get the benefit of that kind of surveillance. But they get the benefit of the sound evidence. And that can be as critical.
JACKSON: It really can, Ashleigh.
Now, listen, a trial is a compilation of many things, and what jurors are expected to do and what you hope they do is they put together the various pieces.
And when you put together the sound, you put together all the testimony concerning when he was driving up, Mr. Dunn, that is, to the scene, what he said initially, oh, thug music. When he rolled his window down and indicated, are you talking to me? When he said there was a gun and none was recovered, although they drove off.
And then you put that in addition to whatever sound is there and then you have a case.
And, ultimately, what ends up happening is, is that jurors are relied upon to use their common sense. And, certainly, to the extent that there is sound or no sound, everyone will put their spin on the matter of exactly what occurred here.
BANFIELD: So -
JACKSON: Go ahead.
BANFIELD: That's the issue, the spin on it, because the defense is clearly going to want to grill those kids who were in that car to find out what exactly was happening after the first volley of shots.
Because if that's a retreating car, if that's three teenagers and one dying --
JACKSON: It's over.
BANFIELD: It's got to be over.
But then you have the issue of the credibility of the teens, don't you?
JACKSON: You always have issues of credibility, but you have the issue as to was Mr. Dunn in imminent fear for his life?
And regardless of what the teens were doing, that's listening to music, and whether it is loud or not loud, what was the cause of him firing off a shot? Did they just say something to him?
And even if they did, was it enough for him to fear for his life? Is his state of mind such that he believed, if they were saying anything, that they were intending to kill him?
And then you match that with the fact that no gun is recovered from the scene at all, and the number of shots that were fired at the car and his behavior afterwards, Ashleigh, which we know, of course, was to flee, which could have been equated with consciousness of guilt, and then to order a pizza and never call 911, the jury will be piecing all of that together.
BANFIELD: And, of course, his defense attorney has an attorney has an answer for that as well, saying that it was the girlfriend that ordered the pizza and that there were all sorts of reasons why they wanted to get their legal representation in place, et cetera.
It's just a matter of how reasonable these jurors will find that part of the story. Joey, I'm going to head to the next story, but not before I ask you this very quick question, that is, does it seem as though lately, and when I say lately, I say the last couple of years, we are getting an inordinate number of self-defense cases that either talk about stand your ground or I was in fear for my life when an average guy might think, is that really your story?
JACKSON: It is very true, Ashleigh, and unfortunately, many are coming from Florida. I know it's leading to a movement with regard to whether or not stand your ground should be the law, whether or not someone should, indeed, retreat or not.
BANFIELD: So, I'm not crazy.
JACKSON: No, not at all. Self-defense is very valuable. There are instances where you need to use it.
But it should the no be used as a license to kill nor to otherwise explain conduct that would seemingly on its face be unreasonable.
BANFIELD: I ask you that because we've got another court case we're covering, as well.
Just as I leave you on this one, and I ask you to stand by, we've got a man charged with murder after he allegedly shot someone to death over that texting incident.
So, Joey, stand by. This morning, we're going to hear a recording of what he told the police about what led to that shooting.
Remember, there was someone texting the babysitter of his daughter when that man opened fire because he didn't like the texting.
The story's next.
BANFIELD: Some dramatic new evidence from inside a Florida courtroom, we got to hear directly from the suspect, a man accused of murdering another man, someone who was just texting his babysitter inside a Florida movie theater.
We got to hear this man's own words. It was a recording that the prosecutors played of an interview you that Curtis Reeves gave to police just moments after he had pulled the trigger and the person at the other end of the barrel had died.
Martin Savidge joins me now with the very latest. So what is on the tape and how compelling is it?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is extremely compelling. As you mentioned, it is coming immediately after the shooting incident has taken place.
It seems to be quite candid. It is actually taking place in what appears a squad car or a detective car in the parking lot of the theater where all of this went down.
You have the drama of what's outside and contrast it to the calm voice of Curtis Reeves on the inside. Here is a sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURTIS REEVES, MOVIE THEATER SHOOTING DEFENDANT: The minute I pulled the trigger, I said, oh, but, again, I'm 71 years old.
If I had it to do over again, it would never have happened. We would have moved, but you don't get do-overs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what made you shoot?
REEVES: Well, I guess it scared the hell out of me. I thought the guy was fixing to beat the shit out of me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: The imagery you saw in the courtroom, the blonde woman, Nicole Oulson, the widow, she sat and listened to that with a smirk of disbelief. She clearly didn't believe a lot of the statements that were being made.
As for Curtis Reeves, there were times he had his thumb on his chin and other times he had his head down on his crossed arms. He appeared to look as if it was difficult to listen to.
From the get-go, he said he felt threatened. He thought maybe he was struck by Chad hitting him with his cell phone. So, he is, once again, putting up a self-defense argument, and that is, of course, the claim here.
This is not the trial, by the way, as you point out, Ashleigh. This is a hearing. It's actually a bond hearing to determine whether there should be bail for Curtis Reeves. He has not had bail as of yet. He's been held for three-and-a-half weeks. The defense attorney wants to get him out.
BANFIELD: It's weird, though, because it sure sounds like a trial.
SAVIDGE: It sure does, doesn't it?
BANFIELD: Every time I see this evidence, I think bail hearing, but you know what? There are some compelling arguments on either side to be made for that.
Martin Savidge, thank you for that.
I want to bring in our legal panel on it, because Martin just reported something very intriguing and I seized on it, gentlemen, Paul Callan and Joey Jackson joining me live now.
Here it is. On that audio tape, he says in a very matter of fact way, and, again, Martin just reported it was in the back of a cop car. "It looked like this guy was fixing to beat the 'F' out of me." Is that the same as I thought I was about to die? Because I thought -- and I'll go to you, Paul, first. I thought you had to be in fear of your life, not in fear that you were about to get a beat-down.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Florida law is the same as the law in most places on self-defense, fear of your life or the infliction of serious bodily injury. It certainly doesn't sound like he makes that standard. You were asking Joey a great question earlier about why are we seeing so many self-defense cases. Is it - are we going crazy, here with all these cases going on? And you know, this is standard defense in every murder case in the United States. I think we're more focused on it now, and we're seeing - I mean I've never seen one involving popcorn and texting, but self-defense is always asserted in murder cases. It is the only defense you have usually.
BANFIELD: Okay. How about this, Joey, Curtis Reeves, who is there flanked by his attorneys in the courtroom, is 71 years old. I am not 71 and I don't know what it is like to be 71 and I don't know what it is like to be 71 in a dark theater in an argument with a younger man. Does that make a difference when all of this revolves around his state of mind, how fearful he is, a 71-year-old man?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You know what, Ashleigh, it does, but it comes down to the issue of reasonableness. It comes down to two very important questions that that jury has to decide. Again, this is not to trial yet, it's only a bond hearing where they have to determine, that is the judge, is he in danger of the community, and is he at risk of flight. If not, he will get bail.
IN any event, the two critical questions are: are you in imminent fear for your life, not just a beat-down as you were alluding to when you were speaking with Paul Callan. It's a different standard. Am I in fear for my life? Number two, Ashleigh, is the response that I used in that fear proportionate to any threat that were posed? And therefore 71, 51, 41, or 21, were you reasonable in engaging in this activity when a piece of popcorn or a bag were thrown at you? If the answer to that question is no, then we know what will ultimately happen. That is, the jury will decide to convict.
BANFIELD: I tell you, gentlemen, you and I are going to have a lot to talk about as this progresses because there are some security camera video that exists from inside that theater. I don't know how dark and grainy it is, I don't know how close up it is on the action. But it's at least going to be one more witness to what actually went down before Curtis Reeves opened fire. Guys, thank you as always. You are so savvy when it comes to this stuff. I appreciate it.
Another legal story. How about that? It's LEGAL VIEW. Another chapter in the saga that is Justin Bieber. It may be silly to you but this guy is going to wait to find out if he is going to face a felony charge over the egging of his neighbor's house in California, and we've got some new surveillance video of his arrest on a DUI charge back in Florida as well. A couple of new developments in the Bieber saga. That man is worth a lot of money. He is a burgeoning business and he is not American. So, things matter. We'll show you what happened ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Got some new video into our offices we thought we would share with you. It is of Justin Bieber in police custody after his arrest in Florida last month for allegedly driving under the influence. While we were all parked with our satellite trucks outside, this is what was going no inside. Red shoes being put up on the counter, the hoodie being taken off. The cops going through the shorts, Bieber sort of wandering around a little bit wondering, what's going to happen now?
And of course, again, plans being made to figure out a way to get him out of there. Knowing full well that there were hundreds and hundreds of fans and media all outside that police station. Not only is the singer in trouble with the law in Florida, he is also facing an assault charge in Canada. And now it looks as if California may be next too. Investigators are making a pretty serious recommendation to the Los Angeles district attorney. The sheriff is saying, charge that pop star with felony vandalism for his alleged egging of his neighbor's house in January. Felony for egging.
I want to bring back in Joey Jackson and Heather Hanson. Heather, it is not cool when you hear about a felony. In this particular case, it actually limits him from trying to negotiate his way out of this. Can you explain that?
HEATHER HANSEN, ATTORNEY: That's right, Ashleigh -- especially celebrities. When they commit misdemeanors, there is something called a civil compromise where the celebrity can then approach the victim, work out some sort of monetary repayment and then avoid prosecution. Kanye West has done it, Chris Brown has done it, Amanda Bynes has done it. However, when it is a felony, that's not an option any longer. So Justin and his team really want this to be charged as a misdemeanor. Take aside the fact that they also -- he will have to appear in court if it is a felony, he will not have to appear if it's a misdemeanor.
BANFIELD: Let me ask you this, Joey. When there is a recommendation made from law enforcement and the sheriff investigators are saying to the DA we think you should go forward with the felony. How often do they listen? What weight does that carry?
JACKSON: It carries substantial weight, Ashleigh, for sure. But at the end of the day, law enforcement is about enforcing the law. The prosecution is about seeing whether or not there is enough evidence to move forward to have a successful prosecution. They are two different domains. Heather was absolutely right in her assessment of this. However, in the event they do charge a felony, there is nothing to say or suggest that that charge will stick. Certainly, there could be a negotiation for a misdemeanor or something else with restitution. So the mere fact that a felony is charged and the recommendation is certainly important, it doesn't mean that a felony conviction will thereafter result.
BANFIELD: I never thought I was going to have to get a map in order to cover the legal issues involving Justin Bieber.
JACKSON: We going to Toronto now, or are we going to -
BANFIELD: It is not just a map of the U.S. but international. Coast to coast and up north over the 49. All right, thanks guy. So good to see you both. Appreciate it. Have a good weekend, Heather, have a good weekend, Joey.
At this time, guess what. After the weekend, things are changing. LEGAL VIEW will be on an hour later starting next week. On Monday, be sure to tell all your friends and pack your lunch because we are going to go on at noon eastern time for LEGAL VIEW. Set your DVR if that's the way you watch us. We'll thank you for that, but we will be seeing you at 12:00 noon instead of at 11:00.
The opening ceremony for the Olympic games in Sochi, getting underway right now, and the games have been plagued with security fears and complaints that Sochi is not quite ready. It sure looks good, though. Holy moly. I don't know if I am saying it right but (INAUDIBLE) stadium, stunning. Doesn't look like any problems. Live pictures out of Sochi, live report coming up next!
BANFIELD: So the hotel rooms may not be ready. The budget was blown up $40 billion ago. Controversy and security fears have been constant, but today, at this very hour, seven years of work on the Sochi Olympics give way to the games.
The opening ceremonies started about 15 minutes ago. Don't worry. You are not missing it because they put the thing on tape and they play it later at night. That's the way the Olympics work in that kind of time zone. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is an ice javelin's throw away from everything that's happening. I am going to give you a break from talking about all of those security concerns and double bathroom toilets, etc. And I want you to tell me a little bit about one of the surprise acts that I didn't know anything about. I'm not sure if it was a surprise to the people in Russia. In the pre-opening ceremony, something that people might not have expected to see. Tell me about it.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPODNENT: This is a girl (ph) group called Tattoo, who were honestly about a decade ago, they brought to minor global fame. They are forgotten by now. Pretty racy videos featuring lesbian kisses. They burst onto the stage, holding hands and did a rendition of their song, "They're Not Going To Get Us" as part of the warm-up act for this, and the reason obviously why people are paying attention to that is because of the heavy criticism of Russia's human rights record against gays here in Russia.