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Porch Shooter Argues Self-Defense; CNN Shoe "The Sixties" Looks at 1968; Yankess Fan Finds Red Sox Ring

Aired July 31, 2014 - 08:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So it is 43 on 41. Former President George W. Bush has written a book about the life and career of his father George H.W. Bush, who just turned 90. The Bush biography by Bush scheduled to be released in November.

We are always updating the five things you need to know, so go to for the very latest.



Coming up on NEW DAY, did the prosecution make the case in the front porch murder trials? Now the defense's turn. The victim, a big issue for them. Is that fair? What do they have to do to make this something other than murder? Her condition is something they're going to bring up. Does that make this self-defense? We'll take you through it all.

And, CNN's Emmy nominated series "The Sixties" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Here's a look at an incredible year of change, 1968. Here's your "Sixties Minute."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): 1968 certainly has been one of the unhappiest years in American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): There's something happening here. But what it is ain't exactly clear.

LANCE MORROW, ESSAYIST, "THE MAGAZINE": 1968 was one thing after another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

DR. HARRY EDWARDS, AUTHOR, "THE STRUGGLE THAT MUST BE": You assassinate a non-violent direct action (ph), you've tried to kill the dream. OK, here's a taste of the nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as I'm concerned, has (ph) lost the only leader that I feel gives us any hope for the future. RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And we're going to win first of

all and Americans should remember that if we're going to have more (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): What's that sound. Everybody look (ph) what's --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're having a little too much violence in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were afraid.

DAN RATHER, JOURNALIST: We have to question ourselves, is our country coming apart? What are we becoming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): "The Sixties," tonight at 9:00 on CNN.



CUOMO: Welcome back.

It is a troubling fact, but is it a relevant one? A dozen shots of vodka, that's how much Renisha McBride likely had to drink before she ended up on Theodore Wafer's porch, where he shot and killed her through a screen door. The defense is focused on what was in McBride's blood, which also includes marijuana according to the medical examiner. It's all in an effort to prove Wafer had a reasonable or really honest fear for his life. Alexandra Field has more.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors argue it's clear, Theodore Wafer knew what he was doing.

DANIELLE HAGAMAN-CLARK, ASSISTANT WAYNE COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Locked main door, had to be opened. The gun had to be pointed. The trigger had to be pulled.

FIELD: Resting their case for murder after a final witness takes the stand, a medical examiner testifying Renisha McBride was shot in the face, fewer than three feet from the end of the barrel of this .12 gauge shotgun.

DR. KILAK KESHA, MEDICAL EXAMINER, PERFORMED MCBRIDE'S AUTOPSY: The injury from the shotgun wound was so catastrophic that I couldn't determine any other injuries.

FIELD: According to the autopsy, McBride had been drinking, her blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, and there was marijuana in her system. Three and a half hours before she was shot through Wafer's locked screen door, she drove into a parked car, her head apparently smashing the windshield. Wafer told police he shot her by accident. The defense argues she was banging violently on his door in the middle of the night and that he was afraid for his life. CHERYL CARPENTER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Boom, boom, boom, boom! He is


FIELD: Crime scene photos show blood on McBride's hand. The medical examiner says he found no signs either hand was injured, bruised or swollen. The first witness for the defense disputing that opinion.

DR. WERNER SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: The main thing that they see here is the swelling.

FIELD: Police testifying they found no evidence that anyone tried to break in that night. The defense arguing investigators didn't thoroughly look for it.

CARPENTER: Or maybe there was a second person trying to gain entry in the back of the house. Did you ever think of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then that's the person Mr. Wafer should have shot.

FIELD: Wafer's attorneys haven't said whether he'll take the stand to defend himself.

Alexandra Field, CNN, Detroit, Michigan.


CUOMO: All right, so the prosecution just finished its case. Did it make the case? Let's discuss with our legal analyst, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, former federal prosecutor, Mark Geragos, defense attorney.

Good to have you both.

So, Sunny, simple question, tough answer, did the prosecution make the case?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I think there's no question about it. What I loved about the prosecution's case, Chris, is that they tried it tightly. You know, we see these murder cases. They go on for weeks and weeks and weeks when you really don't have that complicated set of facts. We're talking about a woman who was looking for help, got into a car accident, knocks on a door, and gets shot in the face from inside the home through a locked screen door. That is the kind of case that prosecutors need to try the way they tried in this case, tightly, succinctly. And I think there's just no question about it that book ending it, ending their case with the medical examiner's testimony, was crucial. She was shot in the face, grave injuries. And most importantly, I think, no injuries to her hands. That flies in the face of this defense argument that she was aggressive and banging on the door to the point -

CUOMO: Boom, boom, boom, boom.

HOSTIN: Boom, boom, boom, to the point where he feared for his life.

CUOMO: Sounded like gunfire when the lawyer said it in the courtroom. HOSTIN: That's right, but no injuries to her hands.

CUOMO: So, Mr. Geragos, but she was so drunk.


CUOMO: But she had marijuana in her blood. But there may have been two people. All of these things the defense started throwing up. How compelling is that to you in terms of spreading reasonable doubt?

GERAGOS: Well, I -- look, I think the defense is very well positioned right now. You ended with the prosecution's M.E., medical examiner, who I don't think was very good. You start off with the defense M.E., who is world renowned, who is going to walk this jury or did walk the jury through the defense case. And you know that little piece or snippet that you put on about the detective who thought he was really getting a jab in there when he said, "well, he should have shot the other person," that actually works to the defense's benefit.

CUOMO: How so?

GERAGOS: If they -- if he had - if he had the thought that there was an intruder, which is what he says he did, the cop is saying, he should have shot him. Well, he did. He shot the person through the front door because he thought that that person was an intruder. The marijuana I don't think gets you very far because most people, I think at least anecdotally, know that marijuana is not going to make you - is not going to hype you up. But the shots of vodka, you know, having gone out drinking with Sunny, I can tell you what that does. That actually will make them a little bit more aggressive.

HOSTIN: I drank you under the table, Geragos.

CUOMO: Going through - going after the character -

GERAGOS: I've seen -- I've seen you do shots, Sunny.

CUOMO: Going at the character of the defendant, going at the character of the legal analyst, it seems to be a theme. Is it effective?

HOSTIN: It is ineffective (ph) and it's something that defense attorneys like Mark Geragos do all the time. Bottom line is, when you attack the character of the victim, you are in trouble if one -- even one juror identifies with this victim in any way.

Now, let's also remember in terms of the medical examiner testimony yesterday, Renisha McBride was five feet tall. Five feet tall. This defendant has said that there was this huge, hulking figure that he was -

CUOMO: Shot her -- shot her from three feet away, too, so -

HOSTIN: Shot her from three feet away. That he was so fearful of. Five feet tall. My mother is 4'11". That is a tiny, tiny person. So this motion that he was acting in self-defense I think the defense is going to have a really hard time pushing that. CUOMO: You may have just sunk yourself, though, Sunny. Your mother is

4'11", true?

HOSTIN: That's right.

CUOMO: Are you afraid of your mother?

HOSTIN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: So size doesn't always - it's not always (INAUDIBLE).

HOSTIN: Have you ever been around a small Puerto Rican mother?

CUOMO: Mr. Geragos, I did that for you. That was a favor.

GERAGOS: Thank you.

CUOMO: I just took Sunny down.

GERAGOS: I appreciate that. Why did you wake me up this early if you were going to do the defense thing?

CUOMO: Because I heard you got that fresh haircut and I wanted everybody to see it. And you look very nice.

Let me ask you something, though, all -- when you look at this litany of detail that the defense put out there, there was a footprint, maybe there was somebody else, it was a shoddy investigation, there was 100 bucks in her pocket, prints on the door, you know, the alcohol and the marijuana. At some point does it start to look like you're throwing it all against the wall and hoping something sticks and it distracts the jury?

GERAGOS: No, not at all. In fact, I think all of that goes to what you have to do if you're the defense is, you create reasonable doubt. And there is a, I would say, a wealth of reasonable doubt in this case that he had any intent to do anything except defend himself.

CUOMO: But -

GERAGOS: And they're going to keep coming back in the closing. Remember what they're going to come back to. He didn't go out seeking her. He didn't go out there with some kind of a motive to do her harm. He was sitting in his house.

HOSTIN: He shot - he did do her harm. He shot her in the face.

GERAGOS: He sat in his house and he never left the house. He was protecting himself, his home is his castle. That's what I'm - I'm going to predict it again. You can save the tape. They are going to -- there are going to be jurors who identify with what's going to happen to me if somebody's banging on my door in the middle of the night, do I have to wait until they attack me or do I get to defend myself in my house?

CUOMO: Well, here's the basic - here's the basic burden of analysis we have here. It is, I had an honest belief that someone was going to try to really hurt me versus I had an intent to kill. Remember, this is a murder charge they're going after, Sunny. Do you think, because you keep bringing up the fact that he shot through the door. Doesn't that kind of help the defense by saying, I shot through the door. Clearly I wasn't trying to kill somebody.

HOSTIN: No, I don't think so, and that is because it was a screen door. We have heard in the prosecution's case that the peephole was operational. He opened up the door. The screen door was locked. He had the opportunity to assess what was going on. We're talking about a five foot tall woman. I think that is where perhaps race comes into play because he said she looked like a neighborhood girl, a neighbor girl. She's African-American. I think that his actions were certainly unreasonable. And I think it is important --

CUOMO: But were they honest? Because that's not the standard. Standard here is honest.

HOSTIN: I think if they -- it's clear from the prosecution's case that they were dishonest at best, especially because he first says accident, then all of a sudden he says self-defense.

But I do want to mention this sort of castle doctrine that we all know about. People know that when they're in the sanctity of their homes, they can protect themselves. However, when you open up your door and shoot through the door, I don't know that any juror is going to believe that that -- that the castle doctrine sort of extends to that.

GERAGOS: Unfortunately, Sunny -

CUOMO: Quickly, Mark.

GERAGOS: Unfortunately for the prosecution, the castle doctrine allows you -- you've actually got to go -- you can go to the outside of your house. The legal term in law school they used to teach us was curdling (ph).

HOSTIN: But you know, Mark - you know, Mark, in -

GERAGOS: You can go - you can protect any of your property. And in this case, Sunny --

HOSTIN: But in Michigan there has to be -- there has to be a home invasion. There has to be a home invasion for you to be allowed to do this kind of thing.

GERAGOS: No, in Michigan -

CUOMO: All right.

GERAGOS: In Michigan he has to have the honest belief that it was a home invasion and that's where this case is going to run (ph).

CUOMO: Honest belief is going to be a tricky standard. It's very different than reasonable.

HOSTIN: That is true.

CUOMO: Honest belief is going to be tricky. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

We have to leave it there. Mark, thank you very much. Sunny's going to sue you because you disparaged her character on TV and I will testify against you. Sunny, thank you very much for joining us.

We're going to take a break now on NEW DAY. A look back at 1968, one of the most important years in American history to be sure. We're going to speak to an author who offers a new look into that pivotal time.

What is your drink, by the way?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most political observers thought Nixon was finished. He had been counted out so many times. So Nixon wanted to show the leaders of the Republican party he was a winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll inaugurate a Republican president next January, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Media consultants worked with him so he wouldn't be the sweaty Nixon of 1960.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really the most difficult man in the world when it comes to a so-called public relations firm. Nobody's going to package me. Nobody's going to make me put on an act for television. If people looking at me say that's a new Nixon, then all that I can say is well, maybe you didn't know the old Nixon.


BERMAN: That is amazing to see. That is a look at tonight's episode of CNN's Emmy nominated series "THE SIXTIES" It takes an in depth look at a monumental year,1968. In that year alone, that was the year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert Kennedy assassinated, Richard Nixon elected president and so much more. Joining us to discuss this is historian and author Douglas Brinkley. His new book "The Nixon Tapes" is a compilation of secret, crucial conversations recorded by President Nixon in the years following the '68 election. Great to have you here with us, Doug.


BERMAN: When we think of the '60s, it means a lot of things to a lot of different people. One of the things the '60s means is turmoil. When we think of turmoil, that's 1968. Was there one thing that set it off or was it a combination of factors?

BRINKLEY: I think it was the Tet Offensive in early '68 in Vietnam, where the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese were able to sack some of South Vietnam, do damage to our embassy in Saigon. It started telling the American people just starting the year '68 we weren't winning in Vietnam. It's a chain effect. That happens, the Tet Offensive, and then Lyndon Johnson in March goes on television says I'm not going to seek re-election sitting president because I'm so mired.

Then it becomes a free-for-all with Eugeen McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy starting to, you know, fight for being the dove candidate of Vietnam and then tragedies, the deaths, as you mentioned, of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. And then the Chicago Democratic Convention where everything just exploded and Mayor Daley's police were beating people up and Walter Cronkite called them thugs, the police, on the air. There was a feeling everything was coming unglued.

BERMAN: The pictures alone from 1968, so indelible. The turmoil was military, political, social, as you say. What held it together then over the course of that year, or was it held together?

BRINKLEY: Well, Richard Nixon would say there was a silent majority that didn't like everything that was going on. He thought that a lot of Americans had just wanted law and order, that they believed the civil rights movement went too far and all the hippie protesters had gone too far. So, there was a backlash to the change that was going on, and that's why, who would have thought in this tumultuous year Nixon, the guy who was Ike's vice president for two years. A guy nobody, everybody thought was politically dead, by the end of the year, Nixon is the hero of the year, at least he won the presidency, and so after all that tumultuous and you know, turmoil, you get Nixon.

BERMAN: It's really interesting because you talked about Richard Nixon, people obviously they think of Watergate or they think of Nixon and China. Maybe they think about 1960, the race against John F. Kennedy. Don't always think about 1968 but that is when he was elected president and in some ways, the turmoil of that year shaped what happened later on in his presidency.

You've just written a book on the Nixon tapes, which are extraordinary recordings of much of his time in office. We know that a lot of the recordings that Richard Nixon made in the office ultimately proved his undoing, but there's one conversation I want to play for you right now, because it's pertinent to what's going on today, it's about the Middle East and President Nixon is talking about Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser and then ultimately secretary of state, and why he would not be the right person to try to negotiate peace in the Middle East. Let's listen.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Anybody who is Jewish cannot handle it. Even though Henry's I know, as fair as he can possibly be, he can't help but be affected by it. You know, put yourself in his position. Good God! You know, his people were crucified over there. Jesus Christ! And five million of them, popped into bake ovens! What the hell does he feel about all this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what he ought to recognize is even if he had no problem at all, its wrong for the country, for American policy in the Middle East, to be made by a Jew.

NIXON: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he ought to recognize that because then if anything goes wrong - -

NIXON: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to say its because that (beep) Jew did it rather than Americans.


BERMAN: It's fascinating to hear, I don't know if it's more telling about his opinion of Jews at the time, his sort of psycho-torturous relationship he had with Henry Kissinger over the years. But let's talk about the tapes in general. Why did he make these?

BRINKLEY: Well you know, Johnson told him to make them because Lyndon Johnson had done some tapes but Johnson's were controlled, it was on the telephone. Nixon, after having a banner year in 1969, you know, Neil Armstrong went to the moon and his presence, he was quite popular and thought he was getting us out of Vietnam and '70 started going pretty well for him, too. He created the Environmental Protection Agency, Nixon, people forget that. Many other things.

So by early '71 he said I'm going to document it all because I'm going to be like Winston Churchill and have a six-volume history of myself, of my greatness. Nixon never thought he was a petty politician like, or a low-grade one like Hubert Humphrey or George McGovern or Nelson Rockefeller. He thought he was like Mao Zedong, Charles de Gaulle, a statesman that the world was going to look up to for a long time to come. Hence, he wanted all this material to later write books about it and also to use it as a grist against his opponents, if somebody said you did this in your policy, he would say well I have a transcript of it, but of course the courts wouldn't let him keep the tapes, and it's really been his undoing.

BERMAN: Posterity cost him. Douglas Brinkley, great to have you here with us of course. Be sure to watch "THE SIXTIES" tonight, 1968. Thats tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific only on CNN, watch it live, set your DVR.

Coming up for us next, a man loses perhaps one of the most valuable possessions on Earth, a Red Sox world series ring. That's bad. But who found it? Well, in some ways that makes it even worse. The man has his ring back. That is the Good Stuff. We'll explain coming up.


CUOMO: Feel it, we need the Good Stuff and we have it, a testament to doing the right thing and perspective on the best franchise in the history of the game known as baseball. Imagine, losing a super rare Red Sox world series ring, and I say super rare because there have only been eight for the sox as opposed to like 27 for the Yankees. Well, anyway, Sox minor league club owner Drew Weber did just that, lost his ring. Can you believe that? And he didn't just lose it, he lost it in New York.


CUOMO (voice-over): Gets worse, the man who scooped it up, that's right, die-hard, hard core, lifelong Yankees fan, Louie G. Militelo, Yankee fan and an Italian as a combo of veritable cannelloni of good character.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That actually was written in prompter, I just want everyone to know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't help noticing it was a Red Sox world series ring and I was like oh my god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get a voice on the phone who answers something to the effect of, "Red Sox fan, huh? Red Sox, so."

CUOMO: We have to speak slowly for the Red Sox fan.