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New Developments in Trayvon Martin Case

Aired March 26, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin, as always, "Keeping Them Honest" with major new developments, some which are complicating the Trayvon Martin case, raising new questions, and raising tensions even higher.

New photos of Trayvon Martin tonight as an older teen. Some of the earlier pictures showed him as young as 11 years old. Also with the snapshots, more complex and nuanced picture is emerging of the 17- year-old who was shot dead exactly one month ago tonight by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

We're learning why he'd been suspended from school and was not in school the day he was shot. We're also learning more about George Zimmerman's version of what happened that night. For the first time, the story he told police is out and a new eyewitness appears to back up at least part of it.

Some or all of the above may explain why Sanford police -- Florida police did not arrest him and have not since. It also may signal how tough it could be to bring George Zimmerman to trial and get a conviction.

I spoke today with Florida's lead prosecutor Angela Corey who warned against expecting too much too soon. She walked me through the process and the problems in coming to a decision about how to proceed.


ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: First decision will be, do we have everything we need and if we do we probably won't need a grand jury.

COOPER: And you're hoping to make that decision, you think, within the next couple of days?

COREY: No, no. Probably -- hopefully by the end of the week after next, or -- we need a couple of weeks to continue to do this. Remember, our burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. That's an extremely high burden especially in light of the "Stand Your Ground" law.


COOPER: Well, adding to the pressure, though, there's this. A "wanted" poster offering $10,000 for the capture of George Zimmerman. A fringe group called the New Black Panther Party is behind it against the wishes of the Martin family. Now I spokes with a member of the group, a man called Minister Mikhail Muhammad. I spoke to him earlier tonight.


COOPER: You were asked this weekend if you were inciting violence. And you responded by saying, an eye for an eye, a life for a life. Trayvon Martin's father today said we don't believe in an eye for an eye. Aren't you directly going against the wishes of Trayvon Martin's family?

MIKHAIL MUHAMMAD, NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY: Well, we love Trayvon's father, but we are military, we have to support that family. We're here to make them do their job. We will support Trayvon's family and the -- but we are military. Every nation has a military. Every nation has a defense system. So we're going to support this family but we want the United States government to do their job.


COOPER: I will have more from that interview shortly. That among other things leading Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett today to compare his city to a tinderbox and a glass house. Tonight people there marched to the streets, too many to fit inside the local civic center where a town hall meeting was held. As the meeting began, Sanford City Commissioner Mark McCarty, one of those who voted no confidence in Police Chief Lee, he suffered chest pains and was taken to the hospital.

People also rallying in at least 11 other cities today from San Francisco to Philadelphia.

Now earlier today emotions ran high as Trayvon's mother reacted sharply to the revelation about her son's suspension after school officials found marijuana residue in his book bag.


SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: The only comment that I have right now is that they have killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation.


COOPER: Well, the family attorney Ben Crump calling the story a distraction.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: If he and his friends experimented with marijuana, that is still completely irrelevant to George Zimmerman killing their son.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Also today "The Orlando Sentinel" reported and the Sanford Police later confirmed a leaked account of George Zimmerman's version of the deadly encounter. He told police he lost sight of Trayvon Martin and was returning to his SUV when Trayvon Martin approached him. Then he says after exchanging words, Zimmerman says Martin punched him in the nose knocking him down.

On the ground, Zimmerman said the teen, who was 6'3" but only about 140 pounds, hit him repeatedly and slammed his head into the ground. Additionally ABC News is reporting that Zimmerman told police that Martin tried to take his gun.

Now remember Martin's family has an affidavit from a young woman who says she was talking on the phone with Trayvon Martin before he was shot. She reportedly says Trayvon Martin indicated Zimmerman was following him. Today, though, another apparent witness emerged. The first who says he saw a scuffle between the two. He wants to be known only a John and spoke to our local affiliate WOFL FOX 35.


JOHN, EYEWITNESS: The guy on the bottom who I believe had a red sweater on was yelling to me help, help. I told him to stop and I was calling 911.


COOPER: It was George Zimmerman who was wearing red. This is the first eyewitness who says he actually saw who yelled for help and it was George Zimmerman. John says he locked his patio door, ran upstairs, and heard at least one gun shot.


JOHN: And when I got upstairs and looked down, the person that was on top beating up the other guy was the one laying in the grass. And I believe he was dead at that point.


COOPER: So those are the headlines. But now we have a fuller picture of George Zimmerman's account of those moments. He's been out of the public eye obviously ever since. Today in "The Orlando Sentinel," a new picture surfaced. And tonight his friend Joe Oliver spoke to me about the George Zimmerman he knows.


COOPER: Joe, I understand you spoke with George Zimmerman this afternoon. How is he doing?

JOE OLIVER, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Well, this afternoon after speaking with George, I have learned that he is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, insomnia. He has no hunger. I had a chance to fill in the blanks that have been left out in the report that was released today. And the information that's going to be coming out once the grand jury convenes. More to validate what I believe in that George saved his own life.

COOPER: How do you mean? How can you say that?

OLIVER: Because of the account that he gave to me. And that's the evidence that is going to come out in the grand jury.

COOPER: So George told you his version of events?

OLIVER: Yes. Yes, he did. And I had him go through it. One of the reasons why we're at this point right now is that a lot of this information is just now being let out. I mean, I strongly believe that if from the very beginning, the character -- with the characterizations of George being Latino rather than white and with the information that was gathered in the investigation, if it had been let out earlier on we wouldn't be here right now.

COOPER: In terms of his event -- in terms of what he says happened, what can you shed light on? There's now a witness who was interviewed by local TV in Florida who said that he saw George Zimmerman yell out for help. Is that what George said to you?

OLIVER: Yes. George said that to me as well. But beyond that, I really can't expound on it because George has been told not to talk about the evidence that the police have. And obviously they're releasing it piecemeal.

COOPER: But from what you heard you believe that George Zimmerman was in fear for his life?

OLIVER: I do believe George Zimmerman was in fear for this life, yes.

COOPER: You know --

OLIVER: I believe at some point in that confrontation, George felt like and believed with all his heart he had to make a decision to defend himself and to save his life.

COOPER: There's now a report indicating that in the initial police report what George Zimmerman said was he was on his way back to his vehicle to await the police when he was attacked by Trayvon Martin. That that is apparently what he initially told police. Can you confirm that?

OLIVER: Yes, I can.

COOPER: So he's saying he was on his way back to his vehicle and Trayvon Martin actually attacked him?

OLIVER: Yes, he -- that's what he's saying. That's what the police report is saying. That's what he has talked with me about. COOPER: There is an affidavit that the -- Trayvon Martin's family has gotten from apparently from a young woman who was allegedly on the phone with Trayvon Martin just prior to the shooting in which she says, according again to this affidavit that the family has brought out, that Trayvon Martin indicated somebody was following him. And that he said to George Zimmerman, why are you following me? And that George Zimmerman said to him, what are you doing around here, or words to that effect.

Can you -- does that jive with what George Zimmerman has told you?

OLIVER: No, it doesn't. And again, I can't -- because of what has been released and what hasn't been released, that's more information that I can't talk about. But that does not -- that does not match George's version of what happened.

COOPER: As you know, the -- this group, the New Black Panther Party has offered a reward or they say for the -- quote -- unquote, "capture of George Zimmerman." Is he concerned for his safety right now?

OLIVER: That's why no one knows where he's at. He should be concerned for his safety. You know? And I now have to be concerned for my safety. Not just for myself but for my friends and family as well. Yet I wasn't there. I didn't pull the trigger. All I'm doing is standing up for a friend who defended himself because he truly believed he was about to die.

COOPER: Joe Oliver, listen, I appreciate having your voice on the program tonight. We're trying to learn as much as we can. And it's important to hear from you. So thank you.

OLIVER: Thank you.


COOPER: Moments ago you heard from the Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump. Joining me now is another member of their legal team, Daryl Parks.

Mr. Parks, thanks very much for being with us. You just heard from Joe Oliver. He believed George Zimmerman saved his own life and that evidence will come out in the grand jury to that effect, that Zimmerman never initially pulled his gun out. How do you respond to that?

DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: Well, Anderson, I think we have to go back to all the initial evidence of the 911 tapes that we already are aware of. It's rather clear that Mr. Zimmerman thought that Trayvon was suspicious. Number two, the dispatcher told him are you following him? He says yes. She says, you don't have to follow him.

We can have confidence in that evidence that he was being the aggressor. I know that the gentleman is a good friend of his and that's fine. However, we have very, very clear evidence to the world of what this gentleman was doing. And so for him to try and turn the tide on Trayvon right now when Trayvon has lost his life, he's dead, it is -- it is almost -- it's a great insult to this family.

COOPER: Do you think this is part of a -- sort of an organized campaign on the part of Zimmerman or his supporters to -- I mean, some would say they want to get their side of the story out. Do you believe it's to somehow bolster his side and somehow impugn the character of Trayvon?

PARKS: I think it is. We've seen it often in criminal cases where a defense team will start trying to use various theories to try to put their position out there. In this case, it's very important that the American public know that when you take those two 911 tapes and the statements from his girlfriend and the phone records, Anderson, it's very clear that she was on the phone from 7: 12 to 7: 16 and the Sanford Police were on scene at 7: 17.

Those facts aren't controverted. Mr. Zimmerman and his friends can say whatever they want to say. Those facts speak for itself. And America needs to focus on the facts. Not the innuendo that people may try to come up with.

COOPER: When I interviewed Trayvon's mother, she was very clear in believing passionately that was her son yelling for help recorded on the 911 call. George Zimmerman, according to Mr. Oliver, is claiming it was actually him calling for help. And now an eyewitness has come forward, this person calling himself John, who says that he saw that it was George Zimmerman calling for help. Does the Martin family still firmly believe it was their son?

PARKS: Yes, we do. But Anderson, go back. Zimmerman admits he gets out of the truck when they tell him not to. I think we've got to stay on the facts of the case because to go straight to the incident that happened right -- Trayvon isn't here to tell his story. Yet we have Mr. Zimmerman, he could tell us anything. Along with the few witnesses that were there. The witnesses contradict themselves. So what should happen is that since the witnesses contradict themselves, that's probable cause. Arrest him and let a court of law resolve this issue.

COOPER: Over the weekend you said in an interview that you doubt George Zimmerman will be indicted with a federal hate crime. I'm wondering why that is -- yes, why is that?

PARKS: Well, I think it's a very, very high standard. And I think that if you look at the statements that were made initially by the Justice Department is a very guarded statement. What I said over the weekend is that the standards are a lot lower in state court. So the state court is where there's a better chance of a conviction. So I was only expressing a preference more so of state court over federal court in terms of a possible conviction.

The thing that you have to do in federal court is we have to probably prove more of a racial basis for the conviction. The other part of it is this, right? I think in America we try and put a greater emphasis on the federal jurisdiction. Right? Well, in this situation here we'll be very happy even with a state jurisdiction and the state carrying out the law in this matter.

COOPER: Mr. Parks, this group, the New Black Panther Party, has come forward saying they're offering a reward for the capture of George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin's father had said I don't believe in an eye for an eye. They clearly don't seem to be happy about this group being out there.

Are you concerned that this will take focus away from Trayvon's case?

PARKS: Well, let me -- I think the statement made by the father, the statement made by my law partner Benjamin Crump earlier today at the rally is very clear. We do not condone. In fact, we condemn the conduct of this particular group and in no shape or form support it. We believe that in America, in our country and in our state, that we can get fair justice. And we are putting our confidence in the system that we have in our great state of Florida. So we don't condone those people whatsoever, Anderson.

COOPER: Mr. Parks, again, I appreciate you being on the program tonight. Thank you.

PARKS: Thank you.


COOPER: Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+, follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting tonight.

Right now as always, much more at CNN. com as well. And much more tonight including my interview with a member of the New Black Panther Party who is pushing for action against, as you just heard, the wishes of the Martin family.


COOPER: But you were directly going against what Trayvon Martin's father says he believes in. The family does not want you involved in this.

MUHAMMAD: Well, then, again, Anderson, you need to tell the State Department of Justice to arrest this guy. Tell the city of Sanford to arrest this guy. Tell the attorney general, Pam Bondi, to arrest this guy.


COOPER: Well, you'll hear more from them ahead. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We mentioned at the top that the story of Trayvon Martin's killing is no longer as simple as it once was. More pieces of the puzzle are emerging. The facts yet still are not known. No one knows exactly what happened. We are still awaiting the truth. At the same time passions are running high, tensions are rising. This wanted poster, as we said, is fanning the flames.

A group calling themselves the New Black Panther Party putting out a bounty for George Zimmerman's arrest. It says $10,000 on the poster. They announced the amount is up to $23,000. The New Black Panther Party says they'd like to make it $1 million.

Trayvon Martin's family, as you heard attorney Daryl Parks say, wants no part of this and does not condone this, and is against this. His father saying today, we're not asking for an eye for an eye. We're asking for justice, justice, justice. Those were his words.

Take a look, though, at my earlier interview with a man calling himself Minister Mikhail Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party. I spoke to him just before airtime. Decide for yourself what he wants.


COOPER: Mr. Mikhail, you say that your group is offering a $10,000 reward for the -- quote -- "capture of George Zimmerman." What exactly does that mean? Capturing George Zimmerman?

MUHAMMAD: We want to apprehend him, arrest him, and bring him to the authorities so they can charge this man with first-degree murder. He committed murder. He committed a hate crime. And so since the "United snakes" -- I got to say snakes -- government will not do their job even though we are supposed to be citizens, we decided to take it upon ourselves in coalition with other groups, with coalition with other black people who have had enough.

COOPER: But you say you want to hand him over to authorities. He's not been charged at this point with any crime. So under what authority would you apprehend him and hand him over to anybody?

MUHAMMAD: The citizens arrest. He killed someone and he's in hiding, Anderson. The police department is protecting him, Anderson. I have never heard in the history of America where one was able to kill an innocent human being and then be protected by the police.

COOPER: Why do you feel --

MUHAMMAD: So we decided to get involved.

COOPER: How do you say the police are protecting him, though? At this point numerous authorities, federal and state, are investigating him.


MUHAMMAD: Yes. They may be investigating on the surface, but behind the scenes they're trying to protect his life.

COOPER: You were asked this weekend if you were inciting violence. And you responded by saying an eye for an eye, a life for a life. Trayvon Martin's father today said we don't believe in an eye for an eye. Aren't you directly going against the wishes of Trayvon Martin's family?

MUHAMMAD: We love Trayvon's father but we are military, we have to support that family. We're here to make them do their job. We will support Trayvon's family, Anderson, but we are military. Every nation has a military, every nation has a defense system. So we're going to support this family, but we want the United States government to do their job.

COOPER: But --

MUHAMMAD: You all would do the job, we wouldn't be here today.

COOPER: But you were directly going against what Trayvon Martin's father says he believes in. The family does not want you involved in this.

MUHAMMAD: Well, then again, Anderson, you need to tell the State Department of Justice to arrest this guy. Tell the city of Sanford to arrest this guy. Tell the attorney general, Pam Bondi, to arrest this guy. We believe that the government is stalling.

And we love Trayvon's family and we're here for them, but again, they have killed millions of black men and women. So not only are we calling for justice for Trayvon, we're talking about the millions Americans murdered who never had justice.

Don't put the spotlight on the New Black Panther Party. We didn't commit the murder. Let's put the spotlight back on George Zimmerman and --

COOPER: You say you're here for Trayvon's family, though, but Trayvon's family does not want you there. I mean, you're saying you're here for them --

MUHAMMAD: Well, you tell -- you tell the Justice Department, Eric Holder and our President Obama to get off of their ass and do the work and arrest this man.


COOPER: You say you're calling for justice for Trayvon Martin. Aren't you really calling for vengeance, though?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir. We can make a citizens arrest but the United States government will not do they job. According to the Constitution we have that right. So again, Anderson, you cannot put the burden on the New Black Panther Party's back. You must put it back in the lap of George Zimmerman. Put it in the lap of no good Bill Lee. Put it in the lap of the no good state attorney Norman Wolf. I'm not going to tell him -- I'm not going to tell him -- I think I'm going to call him a wolf because all of these are a wolf in sheep's clothing.

COOPER: But, I mean, just factually speaking what you're saying does not make sense that under the Constitution you can make a citizens arrest. You can't arrest somebody if they have not been charged with anything. That's still being investigated.

MUHAMMAD: Well, according to the street people law, he has been charged with murder.

COOPER: According to the what?

MUHAMMAD: We have 40, 30,000 people out here today. According to street law. According to God's law. And I want to say I don't obey the white man's law. I don't follow the American law. American law -- the American law does not protect me, Anderson. I'm not a citizen. So I have no right to respect the American law. So we decided to (INAUDIBLE) language to put pressure on the united snakes -- because these are snakes government to arrest him. Because when the people find him, he may not be alive. So do your job. Do your job.

Anderson, you're not so concerned -- you're not so concerned by Trayvon's family. You're not worried about his pain, Anderson. Talk about his pain.

COOPER: Well, sir, actually you have no idea what's in my mind or my heart or what I have been reporting on. You've been out talking to crowds so I can tell you for several days, in fact, I have interviewed them multiple times.

What I'm wondering is, aren't you just taking advantage of a situation to try to get in front of cameras and get your name out for your group which is tiny?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir. No, sir. No, sir. The New Black Panther Party has a track record or we have black men educating black people, dealing with police brutality.

COOPER: The Southern Poverty Law Center, as you know, has labeled your group a hate group. And they say you're -- quote -- "virulently racist and anti-Semitic." Do you really -- do you feel that this -- do you have any concerns that this will take away -- your involvement will take away focus from Trayvon Martin, from his family what they're going through and the wheels of justice? Isn't this kind of a side show?

MUHAMMAD: No, sir. Not at all. We are sincere in what we believe in. We are sincere in defending the rights and interests of black people all over the world. I will say this. The Southern Poverty Law Center, why they don't consider United States government anti-Semitic. Anti-black. Anti-red. Anti-yellow. The white man cannot call anybody anti-Semitic. He's not a Semitic person. He's a racist and he's a murderer killer. All at one time, Anderson.

So don't put it on the Black Panther Party.

COOPER: You did this weekend talked about an eye for an eye, a life for a life. Is that your version of justice?

MUHAMMAD: You're damn right, Anderson. You got to stop killing black people, OK? So you tell the Sanford police department, you tell the police departments all over America, stop killing black people, you won't have the problem.

COOPER: Trayvon Martin's family, they don't want you there. They don't like what you're saying and yet you seem unwilling to listen to that.

MUHAMMAD: We represent the millions of black people that want us here today. So we love Trayvon's family and we will continue to support them in everything we do but we're calling for justice. Again, I want to say to Trayvon's family.

You got to have a military, you got to have a military to defend your interests. So again, we love you, but we're going to continue to support you regardless of the millions of white folks and Uncle Tom Negroes we're going to stand up for this family, we're going to stand up for justice in America and throughout the world.

COOPER: So are you saying that they are -- to use your word -- to use your phrase Uncle Toms, are you saying that about Trayvon Martin's family because they're saying they don't want you?

MUHAMMAD: I'm talking about the Negroes who are complaining. I didn't say them. I said the Uncle Tom Negroes who were complaining about the presence of the New Black Panther Party.

COOPER: But his family is complaining about your presence.


COOPER: His family is complaining about your presence.

MUHAMMAD: Well, I would rather sit down with them.

COOPER: They don't -- apparently they don't want to.

MUHAMMAD: I think it's white folks that's complaining.


MUHAMMAD: It's white America complaining. And I got to tell you, Anderson, we're not going any damn where today. We're not going anywhere, Anderson. So again, your divisive tactics won't work today, Anderson. You got to find another sucker, Anderson.

COOPER: OK. Reverend -- Reverend Muhammad, I appreciate your time.

MUHAMMAD: I'm sorry to disappoint you, buddy.

COOPER: You're not disappointing me. I wanted to give you some time. So I appreciate that, sir. Thank you very much.


COOPER: Well, let us know what you think.

Did George Zimmerman use a racial slur moments before killing Trayvon Martin? Analysts at the FBI are reportedly trying to figure that out right now.

In the meantime, we've got one of the best audio engineers here at CNN to try and clean up the background noise on the 911 recording. We're going to play that for you. You can decide for yourself what you hear, a slur or something else.


COOPER: Up close tonight, the 911 recording that George Zimmerman made moments before he shot Trayvon Martin. Now, it's a key piece of evidence. It's incredibly important for any federal charges, hate charges that might be brought against George Zimmerman.

Tonight "Radar Online" is claiming the audio has been sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, where analysts will try to determine if Zimmerman uttered a racial slur during the call.

We asked the FBI's Tampa office about that report. They told us they couldn't comment on specific investigative details at this time. The lead prosecutor, though, on this case did confirm that they will at some point be doing audio analysis of this tape.

The slur that some people hear in the recording is hard to make out. It's just two words; they go by quickly. Now, last week we enlisted the help of one of CNN's top audio engineers to try to make it clear. Even though some of the language is offensive, we decided not to bleep anything out. As we said, it's evidence, and bleeping makes it even harder to hear what's being said.

So if there's a small child in the room, you might want to ask them to leave right now. But again, we think it's important for you to hear this, and you can determine for yourself what you hear. Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is edit room 31 at CNN Center in Atlanta. This is one of the most sophisticated audio edit suites in the broadcast news business. And right here is Rick Sierra. He's our audio design specialist. He's one of the best audio experts in the business.

Rick, if you can, I have not listened to this portion of the 911 tape at all. I just want to hear it raw right now, if you can play maybe ten seconds before it and let's listen.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, SHOOTING SUSPECT: ... down towards the other entrance of the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Which entrance is that that he's headed towards?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): You may not have heard the moment in question, because it was so quick.

(on camera) How long does that portion last that everyone is talking about?

SIERRA: A second, 18 frames.

TUCHMAN: A second, 18 frames, so that's about 1.6 seconds?

SIERRA: Correct.

TUCHMAN: So let's listen to it like ten times in a row if we can.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): What we're listening for is the racial slur "coons." It follows the "F" word. Some people say they hear it. Others say they don't.

ZIMMERMAN: Fucking coons. Fucking coons. Fucking coons.

TUCHMAN (on camera): It's certainly a lot clearer when we listen to it this way.

SIERRA: Correct.

TUCHMAN: Is there anything else we can do with that audio to make it even clearer?

SIERRA: Well, you can -- I already did a little bit of boosting at 2.2 kilohertz and at 4.6 kilohertz. It's boosting the high end of the voice.

TUCHMAN: Sounds like the power of the flex capacitor.

SIERRA: That's right. That's right.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): What Rick has done is lowered the bass.

(on camera) So why is it that you want to get rid of the low end of the audio, the bass of the audio?

SIERRA: Well, to minimize the noise.

TUCHMAN: To minimize this. That takes away the noise and allows us to hear the voice more clearly.

SIERRA: That's correct. I'll boost it up a little bit more there. And we'll give it a shot here.

ZIMMERMAN: Fucking coons. Fucking coons. Fucking coons. Fucking coons. Fucking coons.

TUCHMAN: That does sound a little clearer to me. You know, it sounds like this allegation could be accurate, but I wouldn't swear to it in court. That's what it sounds like to me.

SIERRA: Yes. Very difficult to really pinpoint what he's saying. TUCHMAN: Rick, can we play just that second word, what we think the second word is, and hear if it sounds any different?


ZIMMERMAN: Coons. Coons. Coons. Coons.

TUCHMAN: I mean, it certainly sounds like that word to me, although you just can't be sure. That sounds even more like the word than using it with the "F" word before that.

SIERRA: That's correct.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Only George Zimmerman knows if he used the slur, but he's not talking. So the phone call, like so much in this case, remains a mystery.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Some people on Twitter are saying they hear that "C" word. Others are saying they heard the word "goons." Other -- some people said they heard the word "punks." We leave that up to you. We're not trying to tell you what it is, one way or the other. We simply don't know.

Radar Online tonight reporting that that tape is on its way to be analyzed at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. We'll certainly keep you informed if we learn anything.

We're following a number of stories tonight. Isha is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a three-day high-stakes showdown over the Obama administration's health-care overhaul began today at the U.S. Supreme Court. One hundred and ten members of the public were packed in the courtroom. The nine justices heard arguments on whether they have the authority to take on the case before the law's controversial individual mandate takes effect. Tomorrow, focus will shift to the constitutionality of the mandate.

French prosecutors today charged Dominique Strauss-Kahn with aggravated pimping for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring. The former International Monetary Fund chief was released on bail. Last month he was held for questioning in the case for 24 hours.

Whitney Houston's former husband, singer Bobby Brown was booked on DUI charges after failing a sobriety test. L.A. police pulled him over because he was talking on his cell phone while driving.

And Anderson, listen to this. More than 22,000 people have signed a petition calling for Jenna Talackova to be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in May. The transgendered beauty queen, who was born male, was disqualified after she was selected as a finalist, causing a big stir online.

COOPER: All right, Isha, thank.

Rick Santorum's facing new criticism tonight after a heated exchange with a reporter. Also, President Obama got kind of tripped up by his own words while talking to Russia's president on an open mike. We'll have the "Raw Politics" ahead.


COOPER: In "Raw Politics" tonight, Rick Santorum went big in Louisiana, of course, over the weekend. He also gave his critics some new ammunition when he lashed out at a reporter and used a cuss word, all of it caught on tape.

Before we play it to you, you need some setup. A reporter asked Santorum a question about something he said in the speech that he'd just given in Franksville, Wisconsin. Santorum told the audience that Romney shared President Obama's views on health-care reform. Here's what he said.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt Romney agreed with Barack Obama on every single thing that he did. Because he put it in place in Massachusetts. It's the blueprint for Obama care. Don't believe me, ask Obama. Why would we put someone up who is uniquely. Pick any other Republican in the country -- he is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.


COOPER: Well, after the speech, "New York Times'" Jeff Zeleny asked Rick Santorum about that last sentence you just heard.


JEFF ZELENY, "NEW YORK TIMES": You said Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country. Is that true?

SANTORUM: What speech did you listen to?

ZELENY: Right here. Right here. You said he's the worst Republican.

SANTORUM: Stop lying. I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obama care. I mean, that's what I was talking about. I have said uniquely -- for every speech I give, I say he's uniquely disqualified to run against Barack Obama on the issue of health care. Would you guys quit distorting what I'm saying?

ZELENY: Do you think he's the worst Republican to run...

SANTORUM: To run against Barack Obama on the issue of health care. Because he fashioned the blueprint. I've been saying it at every speech. Quit distorting our words. If I see it, it's bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Come on, man.


COOPER: Joining me now, political contributor, Republican strategist Mary Matalin; also, Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher who works as a pollster and strategist for the Obama 2012 campaign.

First of all, Cornell, what do you make of that? I mean, A, did he have a legitimate gripe with a reporter? And does it actually help him with, you know, plenty of people who dislike reporters and like seeing the candidate push back on a reporter?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm of two minds. One part of it is, we complain about the long political season. We complain about campaigns, but this is actually what campaigns are supposed to do. The back and forth, the heated discussion, the roller coaster ride. You learn who people are in campaigns.

And -- and so that exchange was a genuine exchange, and so you see who Rick Santorum is. Whether you -- Republican or Democrat, if you look at sort of the great political figures in American time, modern time, whether it be Reagan, whether it be Clinton or whether it be Obama, and even George Bush had for a while, they're not mean, they're not nasty, they're not angry. American voters do not -- tend not to like politicians who are angry or mean-spirited.

I think in the long term, this absolutely hurts him. He may raise some money off it, but in the long term it hurts him.

COOPER: Mary, do you agree this hurts him? Or do you think -- I mean, is this like Newt Gingrich during those debates, you know, focusing on a reporter?

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, it was not scripted in the way that Gingrich clearly meant it to be part of the campaign and part of the narrative.

I think what's happening here, and I know Cornell won't disagree with this, there develops over time a sort of a political Stockholm Syndrome between the campaign and the press that's assigned to them. And they hold each other hostage. They need each other. There's a built-in resentment there, but there's also kind of a dysfunctional family thing. They're up late. They're getting up too early. They're eating the same crummy food, horrible hotels. It's just not -- not glamorous out there.

And Santorum knew that Jeff heard that speech a million times, and he knew that Jeff knew what it meant. So it's sort of like betrayal in that environment, that people from the outside who haven't lived through these horrible campaigns. I mean, they're lovely; they're beautiful and all that. But it's just -- you know, it's the day-to-day of it wears you down. And you get worn down worse when your prospects are less rosy than they once were.

But I don't think for a nanosecond it was evidence of some personality defect or that he's an angry person. I think it's just what happens on campaigns.

COOPER: Cornell, let's talk about what happened with -- with President Obama. At the tail end of his meeting with Russia's president, there was clearly what was intended to be an off-mike moment. I want to play some of it.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. And after my election I have more flexibility.

DIMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: I understand. I transmit this information to Vladimir and I stand with you.


COOPER: So Cornell, Republicans are also already pouncing on that remark. How much do you think that could hurt President -- President Obama?

BELCHER: You know, I think it's much ado about nothing. What you see there is a nice moment.

Republican -- Washington Republicans try to -- try to pivot away from Etch-A-Sketch here. It is really a work of art. And even in this case, Mitt Romney screws that up, because you know, he ended the debate here with Wolf. He said that Russia was our greatest geopolitical foe. Maybe he did not notice that the Iron Curtain fell down and Russia, the same country that worked with us on the START treaty, to reduce nuclear weapons.

So you know, I think this is much ado about nothing. But it's also reality. The truth of the matter is, given the hyper-political environment that we're in right now, common-sense solutions have a hard time. I mean, no matter what the president did in that -- no matter what the president did, Republicans are going to attack him on it, and call him weak. And Newt will probably find some way to connect it to Sharia Law or something. So it's just common sense.

COOPER: Yes, Mary, is this an Etch-A-Sketch moment for the president?

MATALIN: Well, it feeds into a narrative that the president himself created by saying he wanted to reset our relationship with Russia. And he did that seeking accommodation and a reprisal of resetting of the relationship. And he cemented our flexibility in it by not deploying, by pulling back on the ground base missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. That made Poland upset and others and security people, nonpartisan security people. But it's different. He has a different defense missile. But that was the narrative he said.

For that, he's gotten nothing back from Russia, no cooperation on Iran, or Syria or anything in the U.N. And he played right into that.

I'll go with Cornell, though, and say, I've been with presidents and vice presidents when they're trying to have a private moment. And it's unfortunate for him that was -- that one was captured but the -- we did not reset our relationship with Russia in any way that's been demonstrably beneficial to us at this point.

COOPER: Let's leave it there. Interesting day. Mary Matalin, appreciate it. Cornell Belcher, thank you very much.

The wife of the soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians, including nine kids is speaking out. She says her husband loves kids would not have committed the murders. Hear some of the exclusive interview.


SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 Bulletin."

Opponents of the al-Assad government in Syria said at least 59 people were killed today in heavy shelling by government forces on rebel strongholds. And once again, the city of Homs bore the brunt of the violence. The Syrian government blames the violence on what it calls armed terrorist groups.

The wife of Robert Bales, the soldier accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians, says she doesn't believe that her husband could ever commit such a crime. Karilyn Bales told NBC News this case is not what it appears to be.


MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, NBC'S "TODAY SHOW": When I asked what kind of dad he was, he said he was so involved with his children. He loves children.

KARILYN BALES, WIFE OF ACCUSED SOLDIER: He loves children. He's like a big kid himself.

LAUER: He's accused of killing nine children.

BALES: Right.

LAUER: Innocent children.

BALES: I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children. And he would not do that. It's heartbreaking. I can't imagine losing my children, so my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children.


SESAY: Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba today in the city of Santiago in Cuba. He was greeted by Cuban President Raul Castro and top church officials. Tomorrow, he flies to Havana, where he may meet with former leader Fidel Castro. Benedict arrived in Cuba after a visit to Mexico.

And movie director James Cameron has returned from his voyage to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. He made the journey yesterday in a one-man submersible. Cameron traveled nearly 36,000 feet to the Mariana Trench, one of the deepest known points in the world's oceans.

The geek in me -- as you know, I have a small part of geek -- thinks this is, like, super, super, super cool.

COOPER: Yes, I thought it was cool. I share your geekness.

SESAY: No, we know you have more geek than I do. OK.

COOPER: There's no doubt.

I don't know if you saw this, tonight's "Shot." It's from "Britain's Got Talent" edition. It's kind of wowing people all over the Internet. It's a singing duo made up of Charlotte, who's a 16- year-old pop singer, and Jonathan, a 17-year-old opera singer. Jonathan says he's always been self-conscious about his size. He's been bullied; he's been made fun of. But his friend and singing partner Charlotte helped give him confidence. Take a look.



SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, "BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT": Jonathan, you are a future star.



COOPER: Pretty cool.

SESAY: The reaction is so heartwarming. You know.

COOPER: I heard Simon Cowell went on to say that Jonathan should basically dump Charlotte, because she may hold him back.

SESAY: Which I thought was just really rotten of Cowell. But also, Jonathan said no, that they came on as a duo, and they were going to carry on as a duo. So bravo.

COOPER: I like Simon Cowell. I'm all for Simon Cowell.

SESAY: You're just scared of Simon Cowell.

COOPER: No, I'm not. I interviewed him for "60 Minutes." I think he's a really clever guy. And I think he says what -- I think generally, his viewpoint is pretty accurate.

SESAY: So are you saying Jonathan should dump Charlotte? Is this what I can expect of you: dumping me when you face...

COOPER: I don't want to get in the middle of this.

SESAY: ... when you face stardom, you should just dump me? COOPER: No, no. Well...

SESAY: Good night.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Tomorrow on "STARTING POINT," former Florida attorney general Bill McCollum on the constitutional challenges against President Obama's health-care reform law. And Soledad talks to Donald Southerland about the hit movie "The Hunger Games." That's tomorrow, "STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN," 7 to 9 a.m. Eastern.

Still ahead on 360, an international shooting competition, a gold medal, and the RidicuList, and Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat." What do they all have to do with each other? We'll explain.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight it's a bad case of the wrong national anthem at a sporting event. The sporting event in question, an international shooting competition in Kuwait. A sharpshooter from Kazakhstan won the gold and stood waiting to hear her country's national anthem ring out in the arena. And ring out it did. It's just that it was Sacha Baron Cohen's parody version from the "Borat" movie. The parody version, complete with lyrics that are hysterical but incredibly inappropriate for the occasion.


SACHA BARON COHEN, ACTOR (singing): We invented toffee and the trouser belt. Kazakhstan's prostitutes cleanest in the region. Except, of course, Turkmenistan's. Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, you very nice place.


COOPER: Yes. The Kazakhstan Sport and Physical Culture Agency, which I'm sorry but sounds like something right out of "Borat," has filed a protest with organizers in Kuwait.

The organizers have apologized. They say the Borat version was downloaded from the Internet and played by accident. This is not the first time that "Borat's" national anthem stylings have caused some trouble. In the movie, Cohen's Borat character goes to a rodeo in Virginia. Take a look.


COHEN: I now will sing our Kazakhstan national anthem to the tune of your national anthem. Please stand.

(singing) Kazakhstan is the greatest country in the world. All other countries are run by little girls. Kazakhstan is No. 1 exporter of potassium. Other central Asian countries have inferior potassium.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So believe it or not, this also isn't the first time the wrong song has been played instead of the Kazakhstan national anthem at a sporting event. Check out this video from a skiing festival in Kazakhstan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)



COOPER: Yes, if you're playing along at home, that was actually the first few notes of Ricky Martin's "Living La Vida Loca."

Anyway, the Kazakh foreign ministry wants an investigation of the Borat national anthem incident. Look, I think we can all agree after training hard and winning the gold, nobody wants to hear a song mocking their country. But the organizers apologized, and the correct national anthem was played in a second ceremony.

At the end of the day, what does an international shooting competition stand for if not harmony and forgiveness?

Hey, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.