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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

NFL Report Slams Miami Dolphins; Son-in-Law Charged in Deadly Tennessee Package Bombing; "Loud Music" Murder Trial Verdict Watch; Weather Causes Flight Cancellations

Aired February 14, 2014 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Friday, February 14th and welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

Listen to this. Racial slurs and derogatory language, homophobic name-calling and improper touching, as well as persistent harassment leading to significant emotional distress.

That, my friends, is the real deal. The explosive findings in a just- released independent report on what's being considered a toxic atmosphere in and around the NFL's Miami Dolphins. All of this, you'll remember, hit the fan when Dolphins' offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, left the team last October supposedly because of bullying by the person on the right-hand side of your screen, his teammate, Richie Incognito.

Today's report implicates other players as well and it says that Martin was not the only target in this whole problem.

Joe Carter of CNN Sports joins me live now from Atlanta to fill in some of the blanks.

I'm trying to read through a lot of the documents, I'm sure at the same pace that you are as well, and every time I get to a new line I just think, honestly, this was just all going on and nobody seemed to think there was an issue until they hire a lawyer to look into it independently?

Take it from there and give me the big headlines.

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Definitely, Ashleigh. I mean, this is a 148-page document produced by Ted Wells. Ted Wells, an independent investigator, hired by Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL to look into this entire situation of harassment and bullying inside and outside of the Dolphins' locker room.

And some of the biggest takeaways here is that the two people you're seeing on your screen are not the only two people that are involved. Richie Incognito on the right-hand side of your screen is named as a ring leader, if you will, in this report. But he's also joined by two other Dolphin linemen, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey.

And the man in your left side of your screen, that's Jonathan Martin. He wasn't the only one that was being harassed and engaged in a pattern of harassment. We're hearing that -- I'm reading, I should say, that the assistant trainer was also the target of numerous racial slurs and other racially derogatory language. And that the other offensive lineman -- described as player A, it's a younger offensive lineman, younger than Jonathan Martin, was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching.

Now the report says that Jonathan Martin was taunted on a persistent basis -- that's video of Jonathan Martin there -- with sexually explicit remarks about his sister, about his mother, and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments. Martin claimed that at times he decided to participate in some of this off- colored joking with Incognito and the others, in an attempt to fit in. He was hoping that it would reduce the amount of treatment, mistreatment, that he was feeling both on the field, in the locker room, and at the practice facility.

Now there is evidence in this report, Ashleigh, that establishes that the persistent harassment by Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, contributed to Martin's decision to leave this team. And that Ted Wells, during this several months investigation, said that the views of Incognito, as well as several Dolphin teammates of this being an all good-natured, all good fun joking among friends was not the case. That it was consistent verbal harassment, consistent racial harassment, and consistent derogatory language.

A couple points that I want to make real quick, Ashleigh. People were wondering, were the Dolphins aware of this? Were the coaches aware of this? Was the general manager aware of this?

According to Ted Wells' report, Coach Philbin in the front office did not know about the harassment, and that Martin -- Jonathan Martin never reported the abuse to the Dolphins' organization. So that clears up that. But definitely the kind of stress that was put on him contributed to not one but two suicide attempts in 2013. That's Jonathan Martin. And clearly, Ted Wells reviewed thousands of documents, text messages, e-mails.

He also conducted more than 100 interviews, all voluntary, talking about Dolphin players, coaches. He spoke with key office, front office personnel, as well as the team owner, Stephen Ross, and the team chairman.

So, Ashleigh, there is a lot to go through, 148 pages.

BANFIELD: So one thing --

CARTER: Yes.

BANFIELD: One thing that stood out to me, because I'm always looking for something new. Something we didn't know before.

CARTER: Sure.

BANFIELD: Other than this outstanding, you know, outstanding, you know, investigation that Ted Wells did. This comes from Ted Wells' office. And one of the things he mentioned, there had been a lot of accusations that Martin, you know, had made this impetuous decision to leave the team and that maybe he was covering up his foolishness by throwing all these allegations out there.

And Wells absolutely answers that on a press release. On a press release, he found it important enough to say this. "Contemporaneous text messages that Martin sent to his parents and others months before he left the Dolphins, which have never before been made public, corroborate his account that the persistent harassment by his teammates caused him significant emotional distress."

That said, I'm going to go on to add this. The report concludes that the harassment by Martin's teammates was a contributing factor in his decision to leave the team. But the report also finds that Martin's teammates did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury.

Quickly, Joe, if you could just sum it up. Have we heard anything from these teammates?

CARTER: You know, we have not heard anything from the teammates, Ashleigh. But I do have a statement from the Miami Dolphins. Obviously, they've just received the report, just like we have. And they say that they plan to review it in detail before they respond to the findings.

When they asked the NFL to conduct this independent review, the Dolphins felt it was important to take a step back and thoroughly research these serious allegations. As an organization the Dolphins say they're committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another.

We do know that the Dolphins are clearly going to sheer up or improve their workplace conduct they've also in an attempt to make things better, if you will, they have also instituted a conduct committee, that's made up of some Dolphin greats. You're talking about Tony Dungy, Don Shula, Dan Marino, Curtis Martin and Jason Taylor.

So I found it interesting too, Ashleigh --

BANFIELD: Right.

CARTER: Jonathan Martin felt through this entire thing that he was such a pushover -- the report says it comes back that he was such a pushover that he was unable to stop any of these verbal assaults. I mean, you think -- I think people look at the situation and say a 300- plus-pound NFL player feeling as though he's a pushover I found to be surprising in this 148-page report -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Not the last word on this, there's no question. Joe Carter, thank you for that. We appreciate it.

I want to move on to another story that we're covering. It is ghastly, it is grisly attack, it was an absolute mystery. Who on earth would deliver a package bomb to an elderly Tennessee couple, really only known for their kindness, their service and their faith.

Well, four days after a bomb delivered to the rural home of John and Marian Setzer killed both of them, a suspect is now being held on two counts of murder. The investigators say that they are confident -- that's their word, confident -- that they've got the right person. But for neighbors and friends and relatives of these victims, just who that suspect is is perhaps even more jaw-dropping than the murders themselves.

We get the details now from CNN legal correspondent, Jean Casarez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Federal and state law enforcement officials announced they have charged this man, 49- year-old Richard Parker, in the alleged package bomb murders of retired Tennessee couple Jon and Marion Setzer and then a bombshell. Parker is their son-in-law.

MARK GWYN, TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: After hearing that evidence, they returned a two-count indictment, a felony first-degree murder, a two-count indictment premeditated, first-degree murder.

CASAREZ: A law enforcement source says Parker and the victim's daughter live in a house right behind the Setzers. They share a common driveway. Parker allegedly placed the package somewhere in front of the main house on Monday. Another source told CNN Parker left a note.

JEFF FULTON, SPECIAL AGENT, ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, AND FIREARMS: It was clearly a functioning disruptive device and did horrific damage killing those two people.

CASAREZ: The bomb exploded after 74-year-old Jon Setzer, a retired civil lawyer, brought it inside. He was killed instantly. His wife, 72-year-old Marion, died later. The family pastor said no one could understand why Parker would allegedly do this.

REV. KEVIN ULMET, NASHVILLE FIRST CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE: His own wife of more than 20 years did not nor did his children, and if you ask all the questions in your own mind, how? Why? You know, all of those things. And there's no answers at this point for those questions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: And Jean joins me live now here on the set.

You just got your hands on the indictment. Is there anything in there about this letter and what on earth led them to the son-in-law?

CASAREZ: No.

BANFIELD: This is such a mystery.

CASAREZ: No, this is a premeditated murder case, right here, double murder, so you can imagine the prosecution. It's eligible for the death penalty in Tennessee. But we have learned -- CNN has -- that a letter may have formed part of this package that Mr. Setzer opened and then blew him up, basically. But we were also told it had nothing to do with motive.

BANFIELD: What?

CASAREZ: But I think there is the legal issue -- nothing to do with motive.

BANFIELD: The letter that they had has nothing to do with motive?

CASAREZ: That's what we were told. Yes. Yes.

BANFIELD: You know, I think a lot of people first thought, my god, he was married to their daughter. Perhaps it was --

Cs And four kids. Four children.

BANFIELD: Four children. Maybe there was some marital strife. But we're not hearing about marital strife that might have led to this as we're hearing it.

CASAREZ: We're hearing nothing at this point. Now the pastor --

BANFIELD: What about money? What -- are we thinking, could it be money? Maybe -- if the parents were dead that this daughter would inherit a whole lot of money and perhaps that might --

CASAREZ: He obviously had a problem. Right? With his in-laws. And it was a beautiful country estate. I mean, they had the home behind the victims that were killed. But here is what we're learning. He is being held on $1 million bail. His first court appearance will be on Tuesday. But the pastor of the entire family was with them last night, and he said on CNN that they were grieving. They were grieving the loss of their parents. They were -- the children were -- had lost their grandparents and now their father is charged with premeditated murder.

BANFIELD: A heartfelt interview with the pastor. I'm sure everybody just perplexed. But I want to bring in our legal panel, as well. A couple more legal minds to try to sort this out.

Danny Cevallos, joining us. Paul Callan, joining us.

Danny, I'll start with you. Do we even care, other than, you know, because it's fascinating what the motive is. When it comes down to this case, how much do we need any motive in any courtroom?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, motive is never an element of a crime like murder. But it certainly can be evidence of someone's intent. And you better believe, the prosecution will use that motive and develop that at trial to show that the jury that yes, we cannot look in this person's mind to determine whether or not he intended to kill. But if he had this motive, this reason for wanting them dead, that can be evidence of the ultimate -- the highest level of intent needed for first-degree murder in a case like this.

BANFIELD: I'm also a little confused. I don't know how good you are with Tennessee law, Paul. We've got two counts, felony first-degree murder, two counts felony pre-meditated murder. Those to me sound like the same thing.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they're not. Felony murder traditionally is when -- the clearest example would be if you were robbing a store, and you killed somebody during the course of the robbery, you weren't planning to kill them. That's a felony murder. Now -- so in this fact pattern, if he were planning to blow up the house, but he didn't intend to kill the individuals in the house, that would be a felony murder. So I'm not quite clear why it's charged here. Usually --

BANFIELD: It's weird. Felony first?

CASAREZ: I've got the law here. Premeditated murder. It's also charged with the killing as a result of throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or a bomb. That is in their first-degree murder statute and also felony murder has some delineated felonies, including burglary which --

CALLAN: He might have been breaking into the house.

BANFIELD: You know, I'll tell you what. They are keeping the most critical details close to the vest.

CASAREZ: Here is what is so interesting. I've got to tell you this. When the pastor was on our air last night talking, he said that the defendant had confessed to it. Now law enforcement will not confirm that. We know a confession cannot result in a conviction. You've got to have corroborating evidence. That note may become instrumental.

BANFIELD: I think without question. That note is going to be --

CALLAN: Insanity defense, too. I mean -- this could be a mentally ill individual.

BANFIELD: There's a lot -- there's a lot left.

CALLAN: I mean, we just don't know at this point.

BANFIELD: So much left to be uncovered.

All right. The three of you, thank you.

Stand by, Jean. Thank you.

You guys stand by. I've got a couple other things I need to touch base with you on, as well.

If you're counting, we're in three days of deliberations now in Florida in the fate of Michael Dunn. That's the guy accused of killing Jordan Davis on what's been called all over the media, the loud music murder trial.

This doll, mannequin, whatever you want to call it, is what the jurors really wanted to see. But the judge said no. Is that why they're going on to 14 hours-plus in deliberations? And by the way, 14-plus over only a week of trial? Can you read anything into that? Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Any moment now, we could get a verdict in Michael Dunn's first-degree murder trial.

And you'll remember, that's a 47-year-old man who could get life in prison, if that jury that's talking about him right now decides to convict him of murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis, all of this back in 2012 at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida.

Right now, the jurors are in that deliberation room, 14 hours-plus now, and this is the third day they have had a chance to hash this out amongst themselves.

Alina Machado has a look now at the things they have asked to see so far and the things that they haven't -- have not had a chance to see.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first full day of deliberations in the so-called "Loud Music" murder trial ended without a verdict, and it started with this, the surveillance video capturing the sound of gunfire the night 47-year-old Michael Dunn shot and killed Jordan Davis at this Jacksonville gas station.

It was the first of several requests made by the jury. They watched 20 minutes of footage of the incident from all angles.

JANET JOHNSON, LEGAL ANALYST: They're definitely being methodical. So the fact that they're asking to see things usually, to me, means they're working through every piece of evidence.

JUDGE RUSSELL L. HEALY, DUVAL COUNTY, FLORIDA: Can you get that dummy with the sticks?

MACHADO: That was the jury's next request, referring to this mannequin used by both the defense and the prosecution to show the path of the bullets through Davis' body.

That request was denied.

HEALY: We cannot send that back to you as it was a demonstrative exhibit. It was not offered into evidence. Therefore, it cannot be sent back.

JOHNSON: That was a big point on both sides.

And I thought Cory Strolla really sort of brought some questions to bear on that science. And he said, look, that's junk science, junk in, junk out.

They might want to test that back in the jury room, but they're not going to be able to do that. MACHADO: This is what an actual jury room looks like inside the courthouse. There's not much in it. There's a table. There's some chairs. There's even a bathroom.

And then when the jury has a request or a question, they'll write it out on a piece of paper, walk over here, push this button and then hand that request or question to the bailiff.

The jury also had a question about details of a letter Dunn wrote to family and friends sharing his version of events surrounding the shooting.

And they asked for an easel.

JOHNSON: Either they're going to be reenacting what they think is the science, because they asked for that right after the dummy, or maybe they're listing the pros and cons.

The fact that there is still a jury and the jury is out, as we like to say, means that this is an arguable case.

MACHADO: Alina Machado, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: If that dummy in nose pictures looked familiar to you, it really should, because take a think back to this image.

That's our CNN legal analyst, Mark O'Mara, as he straddled that same dummy during the George Zimmerman murder trial in that courtroom to reenact the fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

Michael Dunn's defense obtained to the jury being able to get a chance to take that mannequin back into the deliberation room with them.

The attorney, Cory Strolla, explained why to our Chris Cuomo on "NEW DAY," this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORY STROLLA, MICHAEL DUNN'S ATTORNEY: The reason we were against the mannequin at the end part. Originally, we didn't object.

The problem was, when the state removed what they call "Bendy,: the rods, the dowels were taken out and then were reinserted by the state attorney's own people, and then they wanted the doctor to come in and readjust it.

And if you saw my cross-examination of the doctor, there was no way I was going to allow this witness to try to reenact that dummy to go back there.

So in the end result, we did object.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: And Mark O'Mara joins me live now from Florida, in fact, to talk about this.

So, Mark, I think -- I don't have my jury clock in front of me, but I think we're over 14 hours of deliberations now.

I'm sure that the judge at any point is going to let these jurors grab a lunch break, as they will well need one.

A lot of people are reading into that, thinking, wow, that's an awfully long time. Some others saying that's not long at all.

But after only five days of an evidentiary phase in this trial, I think it's long. Am I wrong?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think -- it's hard to say. I've tried a hundred times -- more than a hundred times to figure out what they're thinking about in there. And my only response is, it's a fool's folly to try.

Fourteen hours is a long time. What it does tell us, I think, is that there is a split. There is certainly some controversy between the jurors as to what they're thinking. It may be whether or not it's self defense and it may be whether or not it's first-degree versus another offense.

I said all along, it was never a first-degree murder case, and I do think there is a question as to whether or not Dunn just became a murderer in a moment's notice or if he acted in self-defense.

And they have to be wrestling with those big questions before they get to a vote.

BANFIELD: I've been ruminating on all of this evidence since I left Jacksonville.

And the one thing that keeps coming back to me, Mark, and I don't know if this is the same for you, having been on the defense side of the Zimmerman case -- again, apples and oranges, but a lot of similarities.

The fact that if this man was so scared, that's why he left the scene, and was so scared he need to look out the window of the hotel room all night because of the waking nightmare that these dangerous, dangerous teenagers might come back for him with friends.

Why didn't he call the police? Because this is America. And when we're scared and when we're threatened, we call the police for help. But he didn't do that.

O'MARA: Yeah. If there is one fact and one fact alone that turns this jury against Michael Dunn, it's going to be that exact fact, that he decided for whatever reason, once he was out of harm's way, harm's way that he wants the jury to believe existed, that he did not call the police.

And if there is one fact that would rule in favor of the defense, and I'm not sure that it was properly presented by the defense, it's that that tripod that was found in the car may well have been the fake gun that Michael Dunn said he saw.

And if that could have been that scenario could have been played out better for the jury, they may have had a sensible reason for why Michael Dunn reacted to what he perceived to be a gun.

BANFIELD: I will call on you the minute we get word from that jury room.

And, again, this is Friday, so don't go anywhere, Mark O'Mara.

O'MARA: I'll be here.

BANFIELD: You know how Fridays tend to yield verdicts. It's just the way it is.

O'MARA: Yes, they do.

BANFIELD: Mark, thank you. Appreciate it. If I don't see you, have a good weekend, happy Valentine's Day.

O'MARA: You, too.

BANFIELD: All right, to other news now, and this has been plaguing the headlines and the broadcast, a massive winter storm that started out it Texas and moved to the South and now to the Northeast and just dumped as much as three inches of snow per hour, so you can only imagine the travel delays.

And guess what? If you don't live in the Northeast, the travel delays do affect you.

We'll have it all for you, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: To say that travel is a nightmare along the East Coast right now is probably the biggest understatement I could make today, because the airports up and down the coast are all hustling.

Look at that, one lone little pickup. I'm sure there are more there. But look at those boards. The backlog of delayed and canceled travelers is just a nightmare, all of those people hugging it out.

More than 7,000 commercial flights yesterday were canceled, 7,000. Now add to that, today, 1,400. Those flights are down. A lot of heads on the knee in those terminals.

The roads aren't safe, either. Look at this mess on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, ick. So this thing is about 100 vehicles and trucks smashing into each other outside Philadelphia.

This wreck, series of wrecks, in fact, up to three reported, stretches over several miles.

And now part of the eastbound turnpike shut down, too, because they need to do injuries and evacuations, et cetera, on the other side of the road.

Here's the good part. So far, no fatalities reported. But we don't know about injuries, so that has yet to be reported.

But the big picture now, the forecasters say this Valentine's Day system is going to dump more snow on the Northeast this coming weekend from Pennsylvania to New York to New England. So there's that.

Rosa Flores got the assignment at LaGuardia today. She made it out there. She still has the hat on.

How does it look at the terminal? I saw these guys with their heads on their knees, devastated by this. Is the clearance going on the backlog yet, or just as bad?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is clearing, but I've got to say, I feel bad for all those folks with those cancellations that you were talking about, because I know I've been that gal before, where the airline gives you a little bag with toiletries, sends you to a hotel.

A lot of the times you feel scared for your life at the hotel and then come back, only to find out your flight has been delayed.

Now, total today, there is about 1,300 flight cancellations around the country, 2,500 delays around the country.

Here at LaGuardia, the delays about an hour and 35 minutes. That's up from an hour and 7 minutes, so it's definitely a scary thought.

We look at our Misery Map around the country, and you'll see that Charlotte is probably at the top and then you've got Chicago O'Hare and then Newark.

And I can tell you that here in LaGuardia, things are moving. We are seeing some people get into the different gates and onto their flight.

But it's slow-moving, so you've got to pack your patience, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And I know, Rosa, that we're making a lot of headlines just in terms of the statistics.

When was the last time we had this many flights actually grounded over a period of time?

FLORES: You know, folks here at CNN have been digging through that information and our producers have come up with this.

Since 9/11, think about that, there's been about 7,000 flight cancellations just yesterday. And if you kind of think of the aggregate of that, over time, 75,000 cancellations since the beginning of just this year.

And if you think about how many people impacted, it's about 5.5 million people. And just imagine how much money they're spending out of pocket, outside of just their normal life.