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Two Skiers Found Dead; Michael Dunn Convicted; Syria's War; Second-Guessing After Murder Mistrial; Jimmy Fallon Begins Hosting "Tonight Show" Monday

Aired February 16, 2014 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. These stories are topping the news this hour. A frantic search in Colorado ends in tragedy. Two skiers killed by an avalanche. Just the latest disaster in this dangerous winter in the back country.

And Michael Dunn convicted in four of five charges in the loud music murder trial. But a hung jury on the murder charge leave some to ask did prosecutors forget a crucial lesson from the Trayvon Martin case.

And most Olympians went to Sochi in search of gold. But one athlete found a new quest. Saving strays in the streets.

In Colorado, a tragic end to a search and rescue operation. The bodies of two skiers have been located following an avalanche on a mountain just east of Aspen. Searchers had already located signals from beacons from the two before the bodies were discovered. Stephanie Elam is following the story for us today. So Stephanie, what is the latest in the recovery operation?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are racing against the clock today, Fred. Because once the sun goes down, they won't be able to do anything to recover these two bodies. So they're working on that. What you're seeing here is that this winter - it has been a deadly one when it comes to avalanches.


ELAM (voice-over): The special avalanche advisory posted today says it all "Back country avalanche conditions are very dangerous this weekend. We are in the midst of a historic avalanche cycle."

TOM HURST, CDDT AVALANCHE MITIGATION TOURS: As long as the winter's here and as long as it's snowing, we are going to be concerned and we are going to continue our mitigation efforts.

ELAM: Those efforts have now come with tragic circumstances. Sunday afternoon, after an extensive search in the Colorado mountains, search and rescue workers found two bodies beneath the snow. The two were part of a team of seven that triggered an avalanche outside of Aspen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The two persons that were missing were wearing beacons. And the ground crew was able to find the signals for them. The first team however that went up had to wait for safety clearance and they found one body and then the safety team went to find a safe traversing path for the second team to go.

ELAM: The thrill of the back country is alluring but it can also kill. This weekend's deadly incident follows a string of avalanches that took the lives of six people in the past week alone from Colorado to as far west as Oregon.


ELAM: CNN's Gary Tuchman recently hit the back country with an avalanche and safety expert, path highlighting the three must-haves before you head out on the mountain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beacon, pro, shovel. Those are the three things you have to have with you.


ELAM: Avalanche officials say unusual conditions in the mountains can lead to surprising avalanches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The problem that we have in the state of Colorado and other states is that we have had a lot of snow this year. Its record snow fall through this time of year. Very deep snow. Very unstable conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are going for deeper and untracked areas and unfortunately, just the snow pack right now is not conducive to taking risks like that.


ELAM: And the other thing to keep in mind here, Fred, is where these skiers are found is that it is a very steep terrain that they are working with, trying to get them out of there. Also making it difficult and when you think about this incident happened yesterday around 6:00 p.m. local time there, making it very hard, they had a whole night out there. So very, very sad news today that this two skiers have been lost.

WHITFIELD: It didn't sound like they really had much of a chance. Now what about the skiers that were sent to the hospital.

ELAM: Right. What we do know is that two of the skiers have been moved to different hospitals because of the fact that they needed more care. And we understand that one of those three who was hospitalized has been since released. But we understand one of those skiers may actually have a collapsed lung. We're still waiting to get more information on that and also the identities of the two skiers that have died.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. Stephanie Elam.

All right. On to Florida now where both sides in the emotionally charged loud music murder trial are dealing with a mixed verdict. Last night the jury found Michael Dunn guilty on four out of five counts including three counts of attempted murder but on the most serious charge, first degree murder, the jury deadlocked. A mistrial. On the charge of murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis. But Dunn is still facing a lot of time in prison. Martin Savidge is live for us now in Jacksonville. So Martin, the reaction from both sides?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, yes, I mean last night the reaction outside of the courthouse here was pretty immediate and it was a mixture, it was anger and confusion. Primarily over the fact that it was a mistrial that has been declared on the murder in the first degree that was really that was focused squarely on 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Outside the courtroom though different reactions. First from the parents of Jordan Davis. Listen to this.


LUCIA MCBATH, JORDAN DAVIS' MOTHER: We are so grateful for the truth. We are so grateful that the jurors were so able to understand the common sense of it all and we will continue to stand and we will continue to wait for justice for Jordan.


SAVIDGE: Heartbreaking to listen to a mother there. Next up was the defense attorney, Cory Strolla. And he was talking, when asked, about the reaction of his client, Michael Dunn, who seemed almost in a state of shock.


CORY STROLLA, DUNN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Again, he's in disbelief and has not sunk in. Even when he sat next to me, he basically said how is this happening. I said "I'll talk to you in the back." We didn't want to comment out in the courtroom. The mics were on. But again, it has not set in. I don't think it will set in anytime soon.


SAVIDGE: It is expected that sentencing is going to take place at the latter part of next month. Keep in mind that Michael Dunn even though there was a mistrial of murder in the first degree faces 60 plus some years in prison as a result of the attempted murder charges that were against him. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you so much, in Jacksonville.

So protesters marched outside the courthouse last night after the verdict was read.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got to go, hey hey ho, ho! (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Those protesters blamed the prosecutor, Angela Corey, for failing to win a conviction against Dunn on the murder charge. She was also the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case. Demonstrators had been gathering as the jury deliberated over four days. Everything remained peaceful during those demonstrations.

In less than a year, two black teens, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin, gunned down at the age of 17. Could their deaths spark change? Tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Don Lemon will ask a group of college students for their honest answers about this trial, the verdict and the state of race relations in this country.

And you've heard all about the games in Russia right? Well, there is another quest going on there. And that comes right from the heart. How one American Olympian is trying to save stray dogs in Sochi.


WHITFIELD: All right. To the Winter Olympics now and our usual spoiler alert. If you don't want to know the latest medal count. The Netherlands leads with 17 total medals now, Team USA and the Russians are tied for second with 16 medals including four golds each.

And there is a story going on outside the Olympic games that the Russians really don't want you to see. They are systemically getting rid of stray dogs in Sochi. So a member of Team USA is actually splitting his time between winning medals on the slopes and saving animals on the streets. Here's Rachel Nichols.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: You may have heard that Sochi has an issue with stray dogs roaming the streets here and instead of putting them in shelters, police have been instructed to shoot the dogs with poison darts. That of course hasn't sat well with a lot of people. And it didn't sit well with American skier, Gus Kenworthy who won the silver medal here earlier in these games.

Kenworthy found a family of dogs living near the athlete's village. And he's now trying to make arrangements to bring them home. He took me to see them. And yes, they're as cute as you'd expect.

GUS KENWORTHY, SILVER MEDALIST FREESTYLE SKIING: We were here last year for the test event. And there was just - there was even more strays than there are now. There was a stray that was living outside our hotel that I tried to bring in and got in trouble with security for it.


KENWORTHY: And after that I kind of heard that they were rounding them up and exterminating them and trying to keep them out of the public view. So I felt really bad but I mean, I definitely wasn't planning to come here and be some animal activist, like spokesperson for humanity for the dogs or anything. I just, this particular family, that really kind of touched me and I just think they're so cute, and that they need some help. And so, I'm just going to try and bring this family home.

Hi. You're OK. Come here.

NICHOLS: Well, you are going to have to give this one a Russian name.

KENWORTHY: I don't know. I'm like thinking Sochi, is kind of nice. Kitor, Rosa, Silver. I don't know. Something.

NICHOLS: Silver is pretty good.

Are you going to show her your medal here? Victory.

NICHOLS: Now Gus has found family members and friends to adopt most of the dogs but he told me the little guy that you saw there at the end, that is the one that he is keeping for himself.

There is a Russian billionaire, locally, who actually set up a shelter nearby to also address the dog problem here and he is helping Gus with the paperwork. So hopefully this whole rescue mission will go smoothly.

For CNN, I'm Rachel Nichols in Sochi.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's hope it all works out for him. Thank you so much, Rachel.

All right. Still oversees. Diplomats held peace talks in Syria all week but that hasn't stopped the killing. Will the U.S. sit on the sidelines or get more involved to end the bloodshed.

We'll talk to CNN's Candy Crowley, next.


WHITFIELD: The death toll keeps rising in Syria. That country's civil war has claimed more than 100,000 lives, many of them women and children. But there has also been a war within a war pitting moderate rebels against Islamic fundamentalists. All of whom are opposed to the Assad regime.

CNN's Arwa Damon has an exclusive report now from the killing fields near the Syrian Turkish border.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We cross from Turkey into northern Syria, escorted by armed rebels. For months, these lands are under the brutal and merciless control of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

As we drive towards the town of Adana (ph), a (INAUDIBLE) tells us - ISIS came in and took over the area and called it their Islamic State.

(on camera): This was the main ISIS checkpoint leading into Adana (ph). As part of their terror tactics, eyewitnesses were telling us that they would leave some of the bodies of the people that they had executed lining the checkpoints so that every single car coming through would be forced to slow down and could not ignore that brutal message.

(voice-over): Across from it, the courthouse.

Executions took place upfront. Freshly dug up dirt marks the graves of some of the victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are two corpses over here, some corpses near the northern (INAUDIBLE).

DAMON: Any one who dared defy them paid a price.

Even smoking was banned.

(on camera): This was another of the ISIS headquarters and everything here, all of the walls were painted black. You can see that they had been freshly painted over in white.

When ISIS was under control, at a time like this. And it is Friday and it is prayer time, none of these people would have been able to be out on the street. They would have forced the markets to close.

(voice-over): Many here don't want their identities revealed or even to be seen talking to us. ISIS may no longer be in control but many fear they could come back.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Adana (ph), Syria.


WHITFIELD: As the death toll rises in Syria, more questions about what role the U.S. should play in resolving the conflict.

While traveling in Indonesia, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry issued a statement on the stalled Syrian peace talks. Kerry saying this "We remain committed to the Geneva process and to all diplomatic efforts to find a political solution as the only way to a lasting, sustainable end to the conflict."

Negotiations ended yesterday in Geneva with no resolve. The opposition and the Assad government, however, agreed to a third round of talks.

Let's bring in CNN's chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, who anchors "State of the Union." Good to see you, Candy. So you talked about this on your show today. There are discussions in Washington now to change strategy, to what degree?

CANDY CROWLEY, "STATE OF THE UNION" ANCHOR: Well, there are discussions about changing strategy. And the real question is what good would it do? I think that the U.S. is increasingly finding itself with no real good options. It doesn't mean there aren't any. One of the most outspoken critics of the way the Obama administration has handled Syria for the past three years when the civil war started is Senator John McCain.

I talked to him and asked him what he thought the administration should do. And I must say he's very critical of where policy has come so far and he remains critical and he has always been very aggressive about the idea of helping arm the opposition.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARKANSAS: There are viable options. There is a viable Free Syrian Army. There are people, there are groups that have joined together against these extremists ISIS, radical Al Qaeda extremists that are there. There is still viable opposition and we can help and assist. We can do that. And to do nothing of course we'll see a further deterioration and a regionalization of the conflict.


WHITFIELD: And Candy, McCain is not up for re-election this year but every house member is and a third of the Senate. Are they willing to take action, arm the rebels for example in an election year when so many Americans really are war weary?

CROWLEY: This certainly is a topic of conversation on Capitol Hill, but if it is simply a matter of providing weapons through a third party or even providing weapons directly to Syrian rebels, that is something that the president can do on his own. It's something they have been doing, the question really is should they up the ante, should they give them larger weaponry, more weaponry.

And the real fear here is that there are now so many opposition groups that have come to Syria, that are not organic groups fighting the Syrian government but are rather groups that have come in - there's militant islamists, there are those with ties to Al Qaeda. So the fear of those in Capitol Hill who think this might not be such a good idea to increase what we are giving them is that they will just fall into the wrong hands and remember, these are also - there are also some anti-American groups there.

And so you are sort of providing, generally, an enemy with something to come at you with. So it's very tricky trying to identify who those groups are. And that's what most worries those on Capitol Hill.

WHITFIELD: All right. Candy Crowley, thanks so much, host of "State of the Union."

CROWLEY: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And of course, you want to stay tuned to CNN. Starting tomorrow we'll begin our exclusive in depth coverage of the Syrian conflict across all platforms - "The Syrian War: A CNN Exclusive."

All right. Critics came down hard on Florida prosecutors after the George Zimmerman trial. Now, they're asking whether that team made the same mistake in the murder case against Michael Dunn. We'll have that story straight ahead.

But first, we want you to meet some girls from Harlem, New York who can honestly say that ice skating has changed their lives. The woman behind their success is our first CNN hero of 2014.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love the crispy feeling of the air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sound of my skate crunching on the ice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Skating relieves me from everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to fly. I just don't want to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard that there were some girls who wanted to figure skate in Harlem.

Growing up I was a competitive figure skater. I knew that skating wasn't (INAUDIBLE) there was not access for kids in low income communities.

They were so eager to get started and I began teaching them and it was really inspiring to me.

Now, we serve over 200 girls a year. Look at that. You did it.

The best part about skating is that it gives you qualities that you use the rest of your life.

Taking discipline, perseverance.

Step press, excellent girls. They fall down and they get back up. They learn they can do that and anything.

It's a building block.

Skating is the hook but education comes first.

Before they even get on the ice, they have to get their homework done and they get tutoring, minimum of three afternoons a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Algebra was not my best subject and I feel that (INAUDIBLE) hired a special tutor for me and it felt like I have to get back up.

Now I'm doing way better in school and it is like yes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want girls to believe and know that they can do anything they put their hearts and minds to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not all about skating. Miss Sharon is teaching us to be the best we can be.


WHITFIELD: Well, every week we will be honoring a new CNN hero. And every day we will be showing you and introducing you to extraordinary things that just ordinary people are doing to help others. If you know someone who deserves this kind of recognition, go to now and tell us all about them.


WHITFIELD: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here are the top stories crossing the CNN news desk right now.

Searchers in Colorado have located the bodies of two skiers who went missing after an avalanche. Teams are now working to remove the bodies from the side of the mountain. The names of the dead have not been released. Three other skiers also caught in the avalanche were sent to the hospital with broken bones and a collapsed lung.

The "Lego Movie" tops the box office for the second week. The Warner Brothers Pictures' film took in a whopping $48.8 million. Experts say "The Lego Movie" is attracting a lot of families and adults who grew up with the toy bricks. It finished far ahead of "About Last Night" which landed in the number two spot bringing in $27 million.

OK. It is time to buy another Power ball ticket or maybe a few dozen, around 10. Why not? It takes at least one though. Officials with the multi-state lottery said nobody won last night's drawing. It was worth $330 million. That means Wednesday's jackpot is now an estimated $400 million. That is insane. And depending on how many tickets are sold it could get even bigger.

All right. The verdict in the loud music murder trial left both sides very unhappy. With four counts of attempted murder, Michael Dunn will spend decades behind bars, likely the rest of his life.

But the jury couldn't decide whether Dunn was guilty of murder of the 17-year-old Jordan Davis, and that is leading to a whole lot of second guessing today. State Attorney Angela Corey was leaning toward trying Dunn a second time for Davis's murder.


REPORTER: The fact that you have to retry this one charge, your reaction to that?

ANGELA COREY, STATE ATTORNEY, 4TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, FLORIDA: Well, we had to retry cases. We had a whole of slew of cases, Leslie, you might have been familiar, when the Supreme Court changed the manslaughter instruction. We had to retry several homicide cases. And so, we just get ready and we come back into court and we work just as hard and we seek justice in the same way.

So, retrying a case is something that we've all had to do and we will continue to have to do and we'll give it the same full attention. We don't back off having to retry.


REPORTER: Is it possible to come back with not the first degree charge but a second degree charge?

COREY: We could make that decision. But at this point, if we retry Michael Dunn, it will be for first degree murder. So, right now, that's the grand jury indictment and we would proceed as the judge said. He mistried that count only. So, we would -- we would go back to trial on that count alone.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) first degree murder, second and mistried better if you had gone second degree from the start?

COREY: Absolutely not. I know that you all have brought up the word "overcharge" before. I think that it came up yesterday. I know it came up in the months after the Zimmerman case.

Let me just say this and hopefully, this will help you understand. The state of Florida has a lot of good laws on the books. One of the best laws and one of the rules of procedure is called the motion to dismiss. And if any criminal defense attorney thinks that the state of Florida in any particular case has filed charges that shouldn't have been field, or has filed an overcharge, they are welcome to file a motion to dismiss pursuant to this rule. And it happened a lot in cases, defense attorneys do it, but they have to sign their name to it. It has to be a sworn motion. It's called a C4 motion under rules 3.190.

And it's a normal practice in the state of Florida. And I'm not really sure any criminal defense attorney, whatever complain and chronically complain about overcharge when you have that tool available, what's also available to the legislature is a stand your ground motion, which was not filed in the Zimmerman case, that was not filed in this case. And so, that would be another way to dismiss charges that they believe should not have been brought at all, or charges they believe are an overcharge.


WHITFIELD: The prosecutors have a lot of decisions to make and lots of questions yet to answer, especially about how they failed to get convictions in two high profile cases, Dunn's and George Zimmerman.

So, I want to bring in our legal ladies right now, Mo Ivory, attorney and host of "The Mo Ivory Show", and criminal defense attorney Carrie Hackett.

Ladies, good to see both of you.

OK. So, Carrie, you first. You know, what kind of self examination is taking place now with the D.A.'s office, that two very high profile cases could end up with verdicts that leave a lot of people with a lot of questions and a lot of dissatisfaction. CARRIE HACKETT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I agree and this is an issue of over charging. And I think that there is an issue of overcharging, because there's always a question when you bring a charge that involves intent.

And in this first degree murder charge, it's premeditation. When a jury has to look at -- did somebody plan? Was this strategic? Did they communicate this plan to somebody else?

That's a situation where a jury could very easily get hung up on deciding, what was that person's intention? What was their goal? What was their plan?

So, in that way, I think that there's a possibility that there was an overcharge here.

WHITFIELD: And if the D.A.'s office is the one coming up with that, then why wouldn't they also have a support of argument and use that, because we didn't hear that argument of premeditation at all and we've heard so many analysts say, it could have been done by use of arguing whether Michael Dunn was prejudicial and there were things that was a trail, like that he may have had hang ups about black people or young black boys.

MO IVORY, ATTORNEY: Sure. Fred, exactly. And that's why I don't think it was an overcharge and I don't think it was an overcharge in Zimmerman and I don't think it was an overcharge in Michael Dunn.

What I do think is that the prosecution failed to give the jurors what they needed to know about that very intent. If they would have known the things that we saw, like if they would have just known more about Jordan, if they have known hopes and dreams he had, if they would have known about the racist comments, and that would have been a lesson learned from the George Zimmerman trial, because many people said, Trayvon Martin was not humanize.


IVORY: Sure, and they didn't.

HACKETT: And they kept bringing that home in the closing. The fiancee said that he hated that thug music. I mean --

WHITFIELD: That was pretty powerful.

IVORY: That said a lot.

HACKETT: That is somebody that has a prejudice. And I don't know that that point was really made a lot of by the prosecution. And I think that that's something that they could have done more persuasively.

IVORY: Sure, even the racist remarks he made in the letter from prison. Even the neighbor that we know had so much negative stuff to say about him. I don't just understand why they didn't attack his character.

WHITFIELD: Juries didn't get to hear that.

IVORY: They didn't know about it. They don't know about it.


IVORY: So, I mean, I think that that would go to intent, which then goes to premeditation.

WHITFIELD: So, given all of that then, to hear Ms. Corey say that possibility entertaining an idea of, you know, trying again on first degree murder, is that the answer here or is part of the solution, reexamining, figuring out where did the prosecution go wrong in terms of the staffing in the D.A.'s office. You know, does there need to be a shake up?

IVORY: Sure. Clearly, there is a problem in Florida, period. There is a problem in her office but there's also a problem with the way these cases are being handled. And what is going to the jury -- this time, though, I feel that there were jurors in there that did not let it go down the way it went down with Zimmerman.

And they were in there fighting like, look, we're going to have a hung jury, because I'm not giving in. I don't care if it's Friday. I don't care if it's Saturday. I don't care what it is.

And that shows me that there were people in there that cared about Jordan, that wanted this to come out the right way. And maybe they'll have a second opportunity to do that.

WHITFIELD: OK, Mo, Carrie, hold on -- hold your thought, Carrie -- because we are going to take a short break and we'll resume this conversation right after that.


WHITFIELD: Law prosecutors consider whether to retry Michael Dunn. His lawyers have their own decisions to make. His lawyer talked last night about plans for an appeal and whether he could try to move the trial to a new location if there is a retrial.


REPORTER: Will you file a motion for a change of venue?

CORY STROLLA, MICHAEL DUNN'S ATTORNEY: For the retrial, I almost think we would have to. But again, I may not be the counsel at that point. We are a long ways away from that. But it's definitely something to consider based on the factors that led up to it and that now I think that might be a stronger aspect. But again I can't speculate of what's going to happen into the future.

REPORTER: Angela Corey has said she doesn't think that the George Zimmerman case had anything to do or any influence on this case. What do you think about it?

STROLLA: I don't know. I'd love to get in the juror's minds. I'd love to get into what was going on. I mean, I know you guys asked her about political statements and thinks like that. I think what I originally said in my press conference is you have to ask Ms. Corey and I said I'm going to know what her answer is, and I expect her answer to be that.

But it is hard. You don't know. You don't know what goes into the factors. The fact that the jury was back there deliberating again for over three straight days and we don't know what was being said. And the fact that they didn't come back on a grand jury indictment, it was a lesser and we don't about count one.

And again, if you look at one of the questions they asked is self defense for one is self defense for all, and our position is, and based on the case, that maybe an issue on an appeal that if the jury would have decided self defense was an issue with count one, Mr. Davis, it would have applied to every single person in that car. So, that may be an issue that we have to look at.

And the fact that that issue was hung and there was no verdict on it, we don't know what the jury was thinking, we don't know what they were speculating to. We don't know had they exonerated Mr. Dunn on count one, then counts two, three and four fell by the wayside.


WHITFIELD: All right. So, that was Michael Dunn's lawyer. Let's bring back our legal ladies, attorneys Mo Ivory and Carrie Hackett.

All right. So, we know that the defense does want to appeal. But, Carrie, will that appeal hold up the scheduled sentencing?

HACKETT: Well, it could. I think sentencing will probably go forward about five weeks from now. But, if they file notice that they do plan to appeal, that could possibly hold up sentencing. I think that it's very interesting that the defense attorney things that perhaps a new venue could change the outcome of this case because this case has been one that's been tried by the media, too.

And I think that throughout Florida, probably everyone is talking about this case, but the stand your ground law and its application in Florida. So, I don't know --

WHITFELD: And, in fact, before the break, you were going to comment on the law. Whether it's time to revisit, you know, revise, look at, reexamine this law, because while stand your ground wasn't necessarily the argument. When you know that self defense was the argument that the defendant was making, it is tantamount to stand your ground law being applied.

HACKETT: It is. By application, it seems that the jurors are considering stand your ground, to me, because both in this case, and in George Zimmerman's case, those stand your ground motions were not used but instructions were read to the jury. And to have a judge read an instruction like stand your ground to the jury, it has to be -- it has to have an impact. It has to be considered. WHITFIELD: So, we are talking about the parallels between the George Zimmerman case and this case. Yet at the same time, there are issues or items that were omitted from the argument of this case. Your point being race was not necessarily made a huge issue in this case, when in fact you have the case of a white man for young black men. We know from the testimony of the fiancee, that he thought the music they were playing, he classified it as thug music, which revealed his points of view or thoughts as to what he was hearing, what he was seeing in these young men.

IVORY: Yes, I don't understand why that was in Florida. I mean, I think that is why so many of us feel so outraged about, is that that wasn't a paramount part of this case, because I think they would have -- the door was open.

WHITFIELD: How was that going to make a difference?

IVORY: It would have made a huge difference to the jurors. Who knows what the jurors that couldn't have find him, you know, the self defense argument, how do we know that they wouldn't have thought that if they knew the kind of person that he was and what he thought when he pulled up and thought he could just say to teenagers and then take the law into his own hands. It has a huge impact.

And also think that there wasn't as much of a public outcry in the Jordan Davis case, in the same way that it was in Zimmerman.

WHITFIELD: Is the difference because Michael Dunn was arrested and charged right away?

IVORY: Oh, maybe so.

WHITFIELD: In George Zimmerman, weeks passed. People didn't know publicly, outside of Sanford, people didn't even know that Trayvon Martin had been killed at the hands of someone who was a security guard, in a residential complex.

IVORY: Or maybe we've become so desensitized to the fact young black boys and men in Florida can be gunned down and maybe we think oh, he'll probably get away with it.

WHITFIELD: We heard from others who classify this law as, you know, license to kill.

IVORY: It is.

WHITFIELD: And it is clear that the lives of young black men --

IVORY: Are not as valuable.

WHITFIELD: -- are not as valuable.

IVORY: I want to say that one thing that the attorneys said, I'm a defense attorney, I might not even be the attorney when the appeal happens. He probably won't be because, one, he probably -- one, he doesn't believe he could win on appeal and he is not going to sit back and not get paid.

So, I mean, I think it was very telling for Strolla to make that statement. I'm probably not going to even be the attorney.

WHITFIELD: So, what now? What now in this case?

HACKETT: Well, sentencing will go forward in about five weeks and I think that the sentencing in this case is important, because I think that if Dunn is sentenced to 75 years, even 65 years in case like this, that is going to effectively be a life sentence. So, at that point, I think the prosecutor Corey could then reexamine. Is this something that we want to continue to taxpayers' money on? Is this something that we want to, as a culture, invest all these emotions into, when this person is going to effectively be --

WHITFIELD: There is a civil case to be followed?

HACKETT: Absolutely.

IVORY: There is a civil case, absolutely.

But I think it's important to retry this case. It's important to retry this case. It's important to send a message that you cannot --

WHITFIELD: Could it undermine the convictions that are there?

IVORY: No, it will not. Those are convictions. They stand. He will serve that time on sentence.

But I think for Angela Corey not to retry this case, not to find justice for Jordan's family, for Jordan Davis, that would be a real travesty of justice.

HACKETT: I thought it was very interesting that she said the same effort would go into a retrial. That to me is an interesting way to think about it because if you don't get the result you're speaking in the original trial, why would you apply the same effort --

WHITFIELD: You have to change your strategy.

IVORY: That's a very good point. I would hope that she would learn from the mistakes made.

WHITFIELD: All right. Mo Ivory, Carrie Hackett, thanks so much, ladies. Appreciate it. Always good to see you.

All right. There have been comparisons and we made the comparisons here between the George Zimmerman case and this case of Michael Dunn.

Tomorrow morning on NEW DAY, George Zimmerman sitting down with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Don't miss that. NEW DAY, beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

All right. Civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken the lives of more than 5 million people. The deadliest conflict since World War II. For one retired NBA player, the crisis hits too close to home.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The country of Congo has been plagued by decades of war and violence. For former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, that violence hit home in a very personal way.

DIKEMBE MUTOMBO, FORMER NBA PLAYER: There was some shooting in an area and my dad was trying to get my mom to the hospital. And they were told that they cannot get on the road, that they have to go back inside.

CUOMO: About an hour later, Mutombo's mother passed away in her living room. Mutombo says too many Africans have died because they were denied or didn't have access to medical care, something he wants to change.

With funds raised through his Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, he opened a hospital in the Congo's capital city. The hospital bears his mother's name, the person he says taught him the importance of helping others.

MUTOMBO: For everything she did for the children in our family, the value of love and giving back and sharing.

CUOMO: Mutombo's hospital has treated more than 30,000 patients including these premature triplets who would have died without his help.

MUTOMBO: The babies are three years old now. Every time I come, they run up to me, they hug me. That's the impact that we are making.



WHITFIELD: All right. Tomorrow is the start of a new era on the "Tonight Show". Jimmy Fallon is taking over as host. And his promotion comes with huge expectations and a massive raise $12 million. No one is rooting for Fallon to succeed more than the comedians that he worked with on "Saturday Night Live".

Darrell Hammond is one of those comedians and he's joining me now by phone.

So, Darrell, glad that you could join us. So, what are you most looking forward to with Jimmy Fallon and the tonight show?

DARRELL HAMMOND, SNL (via telephone): I worked with Jimmy for a number of years. The thing that I remember the most was that there wasn't rarely anything that he couldn't do extremely well. And I think when he started, he started originally, someone asked me, you know, why he would be picked to be a talk show host. And I said, I honestly believe that there isn't a single category in entertainment, on entertaining, that he doesn't do as well better than just about anyone else I ever met. A really nice man to me, treated me really well and I appreciated it over the years. WHITFIELD: Was there a moment where, you know, you said to yourself, when you guys were working "SNL" and doing skits, and, you know, he's great imitating everybody and making everyone laugh and others making him laugh, was it kind of surprising to hear that he might make a transition and be able to host a show? Such as he's been doing before now getting the late night show?

HAMMOND: I think if you spent as much time with him as I did and as much time as we did with each other in their days, you see things and so many things that never really make it on the air. I mean, and after a year or two, you know, it became pretty clear, and I want to say this again because it might have sound a little fantastical, I couldn't think of anything he didn't just excel at. He could do impressions, he could do characters, he could write, he could dance, he could sing, and he's an awfully fellow, and, you know, the camera picks up on that stuff.

WHITFIELD: Yes, if you're not genuine people can tell.

HAMMOND: Yes, I mean the camera picks it up on that really good natured quality of his. And he's real smart, real fast on his feet and he's great. You know, expect more great things from him. That's what I would say.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's so nice. Well, he is real funny, too. We're all excited for him and I'm sure you and those that work with him at "SNL" are even more excited than anybody else.

Do, Darrell Hammond, thanks so much for being with us.

HAMMOND: Absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jimmy Fallon debuting tomorrow night on late.

We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. Here's a strange site. Not this, but that. Take a look -- a giant hedgehog right there in the park. No one seems perfectly terrified, though, do they? It's not real. That's why.

These rhino-sized prickly creatures are amazing promotional ideas to mark the launch of veteran broadcaster and wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough's new series. It's in Great Britain, of course.

Sculptures crafted the hedgehog from 2,000 wooden spikes and fake fur. My gosh. They look so real. Attenborough's new series is a appropriately titled Natural Curiosities.

You know, hedgehogs -- well, they can be kind of friendly.

Don Lemon in the CNN NEWSROOM coming up.

Don, did you know, I actually had a hedgehog -- or at least my sister had a hedgehog as a pet when we lived in Somalia?