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Tapes Allowed In Zimmerman Trial; Jurors Hear Neighbor's 911 Call; Justices Rule On Same-Sex Marriage; Aaron Hernandez Arrested, Fired; Snowden in Limbo
Aired June 26, 2013 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- murder trial. We'll bring you the latest from Sanford, Florida.
And Paula Deen calls acquisitions that she's a racist, "horrible lies." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Let's get to all the news. We're hearing more riveting emotional testimony right now about the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman's second degree murder trial is moving along quickly in Sanford, Florida. Jurors spent most of the morning listening to accounts from neighbors who saw part of the scuffle between Zimmerman and Martin. George Howell is joining us now from outside the court in Sanford. George, tell us about the testimony from the two women that occurred today.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, absolutely. So, first, let's start with Jane Surdyka. This is a neighbor that had, you know, a unit in this complex, a retreat at Twin Lakes. And she says that she was in her bedroom, opened the window and she heard two very distinct voices. One she described as a dominant, aggressive voice and the other was a softer voice. She said it could be the voice of a young boy. All this is very important, keep in mind, because the prosecution is trying to make this claim, make this argument to the jurors that it was very likely Trayvon Martin who was screaming for help that night. They're relying on these witnesses to paint that picture. I want you to listen to this 911 call when Jane Surdyka called after she heard those voices.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JANE SURDYKA: I looked out my window, like my backyard and someone is yelling and screaming, help. I heard -- I don't -- like a pop noise. And they're both still out there right now. I don't know what's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I can tell you right now, you're not the only person that's calling me. We already have one officer on scene and another on the way.
SURDYKA: Oh, good. Oh, my God, I see the person right now. I see him, like, walking. There's man coming out. There's people coming out with flashlights. Oh, my God. I don't know what he did to this person.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HOWELL: But then, in cross-examination, the defense pointed this out. They said to the jury, they said to the court that it's impossible to determine with any certainty the age of a person screaming without seeing it, you know? These are ear witnesses so certainly the prosecutors are relying on what they heard but with, you know, certainty the defense is saying, that's not possible.
Also heard from Jeannie Monalow (ph), this is another neighbor there. She says that she was in her yelling room, heard yelling, heard as what she described as howling and looked outside and she saw two people on the ground. She said that the larger person was on top and she said in court she believed that was George Zimmerman. Now, defense attorneys asked, why did you think that's Zimmerman? And she said it's because she saw pictures early on of Trayvon Martin. These pictures that were released and put on television of Trayvon Martin in his football uniform when he was 14 years old. Keep in mind, he was a lot lighter than he was in 2012. We believe he weighed just a little under 180 pounds. George Zimmerman right at 180 pounds. So, the two were about the same weight. Trayvon Martin was taller. And now, when you look at George Zimmerman, he's gained a lot more weight. To our understanding, maybe 300 pounds or more. He's three -- he is right around 300 pounds or more so a bigger person now than he was in 2012.
BLITZER: Yes, if anybody gains a hundred pounds, that's a lot -- a lot of weight. And we're going to have more on that part of the story later this hour. George, thanks very much.
Also, we'll have more of what's going on at the trial.
Today, historic decisions right here in Washington, the nation's capital, over at the United States Supreme Court. Decisions that will affect millions and millions of Americans. The justices handed down two key rulings on the future of same-sex marriage. The court struck down a key part of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman. The justices also dismissed an appeal over California's proposition eight and that means that same-sex marriage will once again be legal in the largest state in the United States. There's strong reaction to the rulings from both sides. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW YORK: This is about equality and this means the marriages of people in my state in New York and all over America between same-sex couples are going to be treated equally under more than 1,100 provisions of federal law that use the term marriage or define benefits according to marriage. It's great win.
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I think this certainly is a rejection of the voters of California who have twice gone to the polls to uphold the natural definition of marriage. So, they have completely ignored them as we can tell from the decision at present.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right. Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with Joe Johns and Jeffrey Toobin. Joe, let's start with you on this ruling on DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. It's a huge victory for same-sex marriage supporters. So, what about DOMA did the justices consider unconstitutional in that five to four decision?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, if the court said the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it deprived same-sex couples of equal protection under the Fifth Amendment and also that throughout history defining and regulating marriage has always been the province of the states. And Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote this opinion. He said, DOMA rejected that tradition and that's not acceptable either -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Justice Kennedy being the key decisive swing vote on this five to four decision. Jeffrey, you've been watching the Supreme Court a long time. What do supporters of same-sex marriage have to do now? Where do they go from here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there are enormous practical and symbolic victories in both of these cases. Just in terms of the practical, there are all these federal benefits, whether it's filing joint returns, inheritance taxes, social security benefits. Those benefits are now available to gay people who are married. So, that's a very practical, immediate benefit. But if you look at the language of Justice Kennedy's opinion, it really does suggest that there is a constitutional right to be married if you are a -- if you are a gay person. And there are certain to be new test cases in the 38 states that currently do not have same-sex marriage using Justice Kennedy's opinion as a basis to have same-sex marriage, not just in the 12 states that have it but all over the country. That's really the next step after California starts having wedding ceremonies probably in the very near future.
BLITZER: There will obviously be major legal and political battles in the days, months and years to come. Joe, the California proposition eight which was rejected for all practical purposes, that had overturned same-sex marriage in California. Why did the justices decide that for all practical purposes, same-sex marriage will now be once again legal in California?
JOHNS: Well, Wolf, in proposition eight, Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion that the court couldn't reach the merits of the case because the people defending proposition eight didn't have what is known in the law as standing. And standing is a pretty simple idea. In order to bring case in the courts -- the federal courts, you have to have a legitimate stake and a recognizable injury and the people who simply supported the law and went to court didn't have that. So, they vacated the lower court's ruling -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Joe Johns, Jeffrey Toobin, we're going to continue this analysis. Guys, thanks very much. Major, major day here in Washington of the Supreme Court. Huge wins for those who support same-sex marriage. Supporters of same-sex marriage are applauding these decisions by the Supreme Court. Some of them who gathered outside the court today started singing "God Bless America" after the decisions were announced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our correspondents are also getting reaction from locations around the country. Don Lemon is over at the Stone Wall Inn in New York City. Dan Simon is in San Francisco. Don, let's go to you right now. What's the reaction in New York where you are right now?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, people are thrilled, Wolf. I mean, this is -- I'm standing in front of the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. This is Stone Wall Inn. In 1969 just a few days from now, the gay people, gay men and women and drag queens fought off police officers and said they weren't going to move. They weren't going to allow the cops to come in and shut them down. Right now, they're holding a kiss (ph) out in front.
All day, people have been gathering here, activists, people who live here, people who are on vacation coming down here to the Stonewall Inn. And they have just been showing up here, voicing their support, coming up to our camera saying, hey, this is huge not only just for gay people but for the country for civil rights. If you haven't been to a gay bar, you're about to go to one. I'm going to take you inside. So, (INAUDIBLE) with me a live shot from the gay bar. Anyway, people have been here, like I said, all day enjoying the fun and watching you, as a matter of fact, and Jeffrey Toobin and Jake Tapper (INAUDIBLE.) As you watch earlier, the decision on CNN, why are you here in the middle of the day?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we're so excited. We're school teachers. (INAUDIBLE.) We got very lucky.
LEMON: Are you married?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am -- I am married. My wife is (INAUDIBLE.)
LEMON: And you're a schoolteacher as well?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am.
LEMON: Are you open to your students? (INAUDIBLE) to your students? (INAUDIBLE.)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I teach elementary school so it's a little bit different than, like, a high school or something like that. (INAUDIBLE.) So, how do you feel about being here in the middle of the day at the Stone Wall? I mean, it's an iconic day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a really, really amazing day. I'm a bit volunteer with HRC, so this has been something we've really been working on for so long. And we're really, really excited of this day. LEMON: All right, ladies. Let's go talk to some of the other people here. So, inside, folks are here. They are drinking. There was more here earlier when the decision came down. It's getting a little bit later so it's starting to trickle back in. Where are you guys from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from New York.
LEMON: What's your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Max.
LEMON: Max, why are you here in the middle of the day?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I left work. I heard the news from my sister this morning and I told my office that I wasn't going to stay there anymore. I had to come to Stone Wall to meet my friends. And this is where I came. I figured I'd have to come to a historical place to celebrate.
LEMON: I would assume that you're gay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am.
LEMON: What does this mean to you as a gay man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really exciting news. I'm just proud to be part of a country that's striving for equality for everyone. And I'm thrilled to be here with my friends.
LEMON: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. Enjoy, continue to drink up. We'll go in and talk to more people here. Why are you guys here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here to celebrate. I don't know.
LEMON: When the decision came down, what did you think? Were you a bit nervous that DOMA might not be (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did I think? I started balling in public in front of everyone. Like, no one got why either but it's so huge.
LEMON: Well, thank you, ladies. And, Wolf, you know, this is happening, as I said, probably in lots of bars around the country. But here, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, it is extra special because this is where it all started.
BLITZER: Don, we're going to get back to you. Lots of happy people over there where you are right now. And I got a lot of e-mails from supporters of gay marriage from all over the country. And when they heard that news that DOMA was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court so many of them started to cry in excitement and happiness.
Let's go to Dan Simon who's in San Francisco right now. Give us a sense of how folks there, Dan, are reacting?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, hi, Wolf. This, of course, is also one of the capitals of same-sex marriage of the gay rights movement in the United States City Hall here in San Francisco. As you can imagine, people very enthusiastic by this decision. Of course, some were a little upset that the court didn't apply same-sex marriage to all 50 states. Nonetheless, people are very excited and what a road it's been for same-sex marriage supporters here in California. Here at the San Francisco City Hall back in 2008, you had marriages take place and then, of course, they were halted. Now that the Supreme Court said yes, people very excited. Here is a sample of what some people are saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATHAN RUBIN: I'm thrilled. It's kind of what they said and what we expected. But you never, sort of, feel it until it actually happens. So, we're happy we got up early to be with the representatives in city hall. And I'm so happy. We got -- we've been waiting since we got married in Massachusetts to have it be recognized federally. I think that's really where the rubber hits the road. You know, with taxes and benefits and -- so, we're happy. We're happy.
ADAM POLLACK: So, I think we got what we could've gotten and it's great and now we are able to go state by state and get a quality everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: So, the question now becomes when will same-sex marriage resume in California? The thinking is it will happen sometime in the next 30 days. If not, sooner, Wolf. And, you know, just in terms of the way public opinion has changed over the last few years, you know, when this passed back in 2008, it was passed by a very narrow majority of voters. That is proposition eight, 52 to 48 percent. Now, if you were going the take a vote, it would -- it would go down by a very wide majority, 60 percent according to the "Los Angeles Times." So, you can really get a sense in terms of how much public opinion has shift in the last four to five years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly has. Dan Simon, thanks very, very much. Coming up, supporters of same-sex marriage certainly have a lot to cheer about. But it's disappointing today for the supporters of what was called the Defense of Marriage Act. We'll have much more on this and what the decision could mean for the country. We'll hear from both sides of the debate. That's coming up.
Also, Edward Snowden is holed up in a Moscow airport. Russia isn't stopping him from leaving. We'll have the latest on the NSA leaker.
And he was taken away in handcuffs today. The NFL starter, Aaron Hernandez taken into police custody. This as police investigate the killing Hernandez's friend. What he's being charged with, we have details. Stay with us. You are watching the CNN NEWSROOM.
BLITZER: The New England Patriots fired star tight end Aaron Hernandez today after police led him off in handcuffs outside his home in Noth Attleborough, Massachusetts. Investigators have been searching the area near Hernandez's home since the body of one of his friends was found less than a mile away. Susan Candiotti is joining us. She's outside the courthouse in Attleborough with the latest. Susan, what do we know specifically about the charge that Hernandez is facing?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, nothing at all, Wolf, because they haven't revealed what the charge or charges are. There are a number of things he could have been charged with, but we're waiting to find out exactly what that is.
Where is he right now? Well, he's still at the police department in the town where he lives which is about a five to ten minute drive away from the town of Attleborough. That is where the district courthouse is and that's where I'm reporting to you from.
Just a few minutes ago his lawyer, Aaron Hernandez's lawyer, arrived at the courthouse and they usually do have arraignments, first appearances, starting at around 2:00 in the afternoon. He could very well be here in advance of that. Of course, we did see one of his lawyers over at the police department with him earlier. It's believed that he's currently being processed at this time over there. His lawyer may also very likely would have met with him - one of his lawyers at the police department - and we'll find out what will happen next.
The big question is at his first appearance, obviously, what is the charge and then is it a bondable defense? Something where he might be able to post bail and be free pending the trial. Wolf.
BLITZER: What are the Patriots - the New England Patriots saying about all of this?
CANDIOTTI: Well, they issued a statement and I can read it to you in part. It says, "a young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss." It goes onto say, "words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation."
Now, remember, these two men were friends. The body of the victim in this case, Odin Lloyd, was found less than a mile from Hernandez's home. Hernandez's home was searched twice by authorities and during the second time they took away several bags of undisclosed items. It's entirely possible according to legal experts that the district attorney's office who is in charge of this case has been busy carefully analyzing everything they have and apparently thought the time was right to make the arrest.
They showed up just before 9:00 in the morning. He was handcuffed and led out. He was wearing T-shirts and shorts and put in a squad car, and taken directly to the police department. A stunning turn of events.
BLITZER: Didn't the Patriots in that statement say he had been fired?
CANDIOTTI: They did. They also said he had been let go at this time. We also got a very short statement from the NFL, National Football League, saying they found the whole matter troubling, deeply troubling in their words.
BLITZER: Very troubling. All right, Susan Candiotti, you'll let us know what he the charge is or charges when they come out. Thanks very much.
Coming up, the NSA leaker Edward Snowden still holed up in a Moscow airport. Russia isn't stopping him from leaving.
BLITZER: We know where he is. The question is where will Edward Snowden go next? The man who leaked classified details on the country's massive surveillance programs is at the airport in Moscow. He flew there from Hong Kong on Sunday. Russian officials say Snowden is in the transit area of the airport between the arrival gates and passport check point. Snowden was expected to head to Ecuador where he's seekign asylum. Ecuador says it's considering the request, but for now, Snowden is biding his time at that airport in Russia. Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining is now. Chris, what's the latest on Snowden's travel plans if we know what's going on. Is he likely to stay in Russia, leave any time soon? What are we hearing?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's an in-between, Wolf, and I know that can sound confusing but basically it doesn't look like he's going to be staying inside Russia and it doesn't look like he's going to be leaving that transit area any time soon.
Here's what I mean. Officials are now giving an indication from the U.S. side they believe that Russia looks at Edward Snowden as a problem -- somewhat of a hot potato and they are not inclined to help him on his journey. The Russian authorities and the Russian government has been very frank about not handing him over to the United States but right now he looks to be a man who is stuck. One source told our foreign affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, that basically time is on the U.S. side. They think at this point that Russia looks at him as a hot potato, a problem, and that they're not inclined to get him to a country that would necessarily protect him. In other words, if he has to go to a country that would hand him over to the U.S. then that's something the Russians might not at this point object to.
BLITZER: What about Ecuador? It looks like the government there could be willing to accept him.
LAWRENCE: Possibly, but some of the comments that we're hearing from Ecuadorian officials just day indicate that they're going to take several months to look at this. They took about two months to decide to give Julian Assange, from the Wikileaks case, asylum, and they say they are under no indications right now they would move any faster with Edward Snowden.
So, again, it comes back to my point that he appears to be stuck. One source said right now the U.S. is not going very hard on the Ecuadorian government. They are holding off on the threats until they are absolutely sure that the Ecuadorian government is going to offer him asylum. Right now Ecuador is weighing all of its options. As one official said, they are looking at all the potential risks. Paramount on that is a trade preference that the U.S. give to a lot of Ecuador's products--big exports, broccoli, fresh cut roses, things like that. That trade preference would be in direct jeopardy if Ecuador were likely to give Edward asylum, Wolf.
BLITZER: Have you heard anything about Iceland maybe being in the mix?
LAWRENCE: All of those are in play, Wolf, but again right now Russia has said he's in the transit area of the airport which technically is not Russian territory, but to get to an embassy where he may be able to facilitate his leaving, he would have to cross over into Russia and that may open up a whole different dynamic. Right now he's in this hands-off area not leaving or staying. Were he to leave that transit area he could very likely end up in the hands of Russian authorities.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. This is a critical time for Snowden and his whereabouts. Appreciate it. Chris Lawrence reporting for us from the Pentagon.
Coming up, this is history in making. Supporters and opponents gathered here in Washington over at the Supreme Court, where the justices ruled on same sex marriage. Millions of lives have been changed from this day forward. We'll hear from both sides.