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THE SITUATION ROOM
Defense Rests in Zimmerman Trial; Boston Marathon Suspect in Court; Devastated Canadian Town Now a Crime Scene; Zimmerman's Defense Lawyers Steal the Spotlight; Crew Members Weep Talking about Crash; How Would Snowden Get to Venezuela?
Aired July 10, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: The defense rests without George Zimmerman taking the stand. And tension flares between the judge and the lawyers. Stand by.
Victims of the Boston bombing watch the accused bomber in court. CNN was inside as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev entered his pleas to dozens of charges.
Plus, crew members of the Asiana Flight 214, they are speaking out about the deadly plane crash.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's go right to Sanford, Florida, right now. Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney, is speaking out on this day after the trial has wrapped up, at least for this...
MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: ... out to him.
And, again, like I said to you guys before, with the evidence the way it is, I think that we have a very, very good chance with the jury right now and with the evidence as presented. He has already given his story, a statement five, six, seven times now. So the jury has that. And we just decided that there was enough evidence in there that we didn't need to present anymore.
O'MARA: Well, I think he wanted to tell his story. I think that he really wanted to be able to interact with this jury and say to them, this is what I did and this is why I did it and, as importantly, this is what was happening to me at the time that I decided to do what I had to do.
So, in that sense, yes, I think he wanted to tell the story. You know we give the doctors the scalpels for a reason. We look at, you know, and trust those. And I think he trusted us and the way we looked at the case and where things were. If -- I think that's the way the decision went in his mind. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)
O'MARA: The what evidence, I'm sorry?
That's a -- these things are a judgment call all along the way. I think that it was relevant evidence. I don't think that it would have been -- I agree with the judge's final ruling that it should be available to us should we decide to present it. And that's what the judge ruled. At that point, we knew we had the option. Then you fit that into your game plan. You fit it into what you are looking at.
You know, I think now that we are done with the evidence, I hope that everyone understands. I hope that they believe that we presented this case in a way that did what we could and what we had to do to defend George zealously, but still protected the memory, of the loss of a 17-year-old son of two people in the courtroom each and every day.
So we had to sort of focus what we had to present to the jury in context of trying to be respectful to the event that happened, you know, late that night in a rainy night back in February of 2012. And I think that impacted on the decision a lot.
O'MARA: It doesn't apply. Self-defense is self-defense to everything, self-defense to murder, self-defense to manslaughter, self-defense to battery.
What happened out there was not a crime. So in that context, there shouldn't have been a second-degree murder charge and there shouldn't be any lessers. In addition I don't believe that, factually, a manslaughter charge would be presented. What George did was an intentional act in that he knew he was pulling the trigger. The reason why he did it was self-defense. And that doesn't suggest a manslaughter charge would be appropriate.
O'MARA: No, no, it is going to be much longer.
O'MARA: No, no, no. In like form, we wanted to make sure that that was our decision in order to make that decision. And I think that the judge should have left that up to our discretion. But I certainly respect her decision.
I think that, again, that -- I am not going to revisit a court's ruling. I respect her decision. We had our reasons for wanting to have that an option for us. And I'm fine with that moving forward the way we are.
O'MARA: Sure, I believe so. Why not? It's a great piece of demonstrative evidence or tool to give the jury an idea what was happening that night.
We now have -- you know, I think the vantage point movie connection that Mr. Ruth (ph) said is perfect. What we have is a lot of different people hearing or seeing a lot of different things. And I want to present them in sort of one cohesive form to the jury. I think they probably get it. But we have our toys and like to use them sometimes.
QUESTION: Mark, what is your client's state of mind knowing that his fate will be decided in just a couple of days?
O'MARA: He is very worried. I think he is happy with the way the evidence has gotten out and that he's finally had an opportunity to have his lawyers present his case for him. But we still have a case where the state of Florida is trying to put him behind bars for the rest of his life. That is a very scary position to be in. And he is worried.
QUESTION: Mark, adding to that, how does Florida's 10/20 lifelong come into play here?
O'MARA: It doesn't. They need a conviction before that applies.
So, we are going to deal with that if we have to. But certainly it just add to the stress and adds to the fright of somebody who acted in a way where he had to do something he had to do to defend himself and protect his own life. And now the state is trying to take away his liberty.
QUESTION: If you could look at how you presented your whole case, what do you hope the jury goes back with in their mind? What do you think you want people to think about your case?
O'MARA: That George had no other alternative and he did what only that he believed reasonably that he had to do to protect himself from great bodily injury that was already being visited upon him. If we presented evidence that helps the jury understand that, then we have done our job.
O'MARA: No, we are done.
O'MARA: We are done. There is no further evidence. They have made the decision not to move forward. We have both rested. And my understanding is that there is no further rebuttal, nor is there any surrebuttal.
O'MARA: Again, one of those judgment calls. I don't mean to keep going back to the same answer with different questions, but the reality is we wanted his testimony. We wanted him as a witness. We wanted his deposition. Now that we have all of that, we fit that in. And had the decision been made to present him, we would have. But we had to fit it into the overall context of how you present this particular defense case. There are 200 witnesses identified and 80, I think, or 75 called. So there's another 125 witnesses we decided not to call.
O'MARA: Am I concerned about that?
QUESTION: If lesser charges are included, are you concerned the jury could (OFF-MIKE)
O'MARA: Absolutely. I do not want this jury looking at this and feeling that the law suggests that sympathy should be considered. And a compromise verdict is nothing but sympathy. This should not be a compromise verdict. Whatever their decision should be it should be an affirmative, just decision based upon the facts.
I don't want them doing a jury pardon which would let my client off because they feel sorry for him. And I don't want them doing a compromise verdict because they feel sorry for anybody else. We have done a very, very strong job of making sure that this jury get evidence that they should get. They don't get evidence they shouldn't get, and that they are going to follow the law and apply the law. And I don't want compromise verdicts or jury pardons.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Does that give some indication that he may not have been as confident that the case was strong enough?
O'MARA: No, I think he was confident enough in the talk to the jury. But I don't think the was a lack of confidence in the way the case was presented.
O'MARA: Well, my understanding is that manslaughter is what we call a Category 1 lesser. Aggravated assault may be another one that they consider. I don't think it's factually appropriate at all. But we will talk about that tomorrow with the judge. And I think those are probably the only ones that would be considered.
QUESTION: Aggravated assault with a gun?
O'MARA: That's correct. Those are all variables.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) mandatory minimums?
O'MARA: Yes, they do.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) will not be in any way accessible to the jury? O'MARA: That is correct.
QUESTION: Not even in the autopsy report?
O'MARA: Of course not. Is not part of the evidence.
QUESTION: What would have been the downside for the defense to bring in the marijuana evidence?
O'MARA: Well, again, it's hard to say, to take that one string out of a complete defense strategy and say, OK, let's look at this string by itself, as though you really want to know what the tapestry looks like.
But if you really want me to take that string out, it didn't seem to be significant enough intoxication evidence that it was worthwhile making the focus on that, because I am concerned about the jury's sensitivities. So, you know, whatever we do is always taking into consideration how the jury is going to view what we present.
That, of course, impacted things like having to call Tracy Martin and other people to the stand. You have to look at that and weigh the positives and the negatives with any presentation of evidence. That was one of the decisions we made.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Your strategy can change from day to day. Was your intention all along to begin with George's mother and finish with his father?
QUESTION: Did you plan to get on that dummy this morning or was that an impromptu thing?
O'MARA: The doll?
No, that was impromptu. Sometimes, those things come over you.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the state has perhaps withheld discovery or committed some misconduct and should be sanctioned. (OFF-MIKE) Where, if any place did their actions hamper you, in your opinion?
O'MARA: In a lot of ways, I could say easily.
I am still frustrated that some of the phone evidence we got so late that we weren't able to do some of the background work that may have otherwise made it more admissible. That is a point of frustration particularly. We scrapped through it. You know, we took what we got. We kept fighting until we got what we thought we needed.
There is more that I wish I would have had. But I think within that context, we still were able to put on a pretty decent case.
QUESTION: Mark, just remind me. In a case like this where the judge has discharged the jury (OFF-MIKE) O'MARA: Actually reading the instructions? It seems like forever when you are listening to it. But it probably is a solid, 10 to 12 minutes. That's about it.
And, of course, in Florida, we are allowed to have a copy of the jury instructions go back with the jury. So, I used to -- I started when the days when you just heard it once and then went and tried to remember it. So, at least now they will have it with them.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) The judge basically has to include them. Is that your understanding? What makes you think that they may not get (OFF-MIKE)
O'MARA: Category 1's are sort of mandatory upon request. However, the judge still needs to make a determination that there is a factual basis to support it.
You could not, for example, ask for a fact or a charge that is not based and in any consideration of the facts. Right now , they couldn't go in and ask that the jury be charged on possession of marijuana by George, because there are no facts to support. I think that they are -- and the state 's position that they believe there may be facts to support the lessers. I don't think there are.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) back to the jury, the lessers, what's the sentencing range?
O'MARA: Well, the sentencing range is anywhere from life imprisonment to he will walk out a free man.
O'MARA: He could face up to 30 years upon one consideration of how they may charge.
QUESTION: Mark, the jury won't know what the sentencing guidelines are when they consider the charges, will they?
O'MARA: No, that is one -- not problem for defense attorneys, but the concern is that under Florida law we can't advise them as to the penalties. That's up to the judge.
Having said that, somebody may look at a second-degree murder charge and say, OK, I know that is serious. Maybe they think manslaughter is not. I really do believe that this jury has been listening attentively. I think that they're going to listen well to the instructions and they seem very intuitive. So, they are going to look at the law, apply the facts to the law and make their decision.
And don't think we need to worry about consideration of sentencing, jury pardons or anything look that.
O'MARA: Oh, no. She will not. No, no, no. They will not be -- nothing will be mentioned about sentencing to this jury. QUESTION: Mr. O'Mara, what will it mean to your client to have his parents in the courtroom (OFF-MIKE)
O'MARA: Very emotional, yes.
O'MARA: I think that he is very worried about his safety, personal safety going forward, because those same people who portended to fear and hatred leading up to this trial are probably not going to accept an acquittal, though they should, since the system is working. But we...
O'MARA: I'm glad to hear that.
O'MARA: We haven't made the decision yet.
BLITZER: All right, so Mark O'Mara wrapping up a news conference at the end of this day of the George Zimmerman trial, obviously expressing concern if there is an acquittal about the safety of George Zimmerman. He also made the point, George Zimmerman wanted to testify on his own behalf. But he listened to his attorneys and he agreed that was not necessarily going to happen. So, Zimmerman himself will not testify.
Let's quickly bring in our legal analysts Sunny Hostin and Mark NeJame. They're both in Sanford, Florida.
How worried should he be, Mark O'Mara, and I think will start with you, Mark? How worried should he be lesser charges, lesser than second-degree murder conviction, maybe a conviction on mainstream or aggravated assault?
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Very. Manslaughter with a firearm is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. It's a first- degree felony.
It elevates it. Aggravated assault with a firearm is a mandatory minimum three years in prison. Do not pass go. You go to jail. Three years, prison. So he understands the dynamics that a jury might be looking for a compromise verdict here. And he doesn't want one. I think you are going to hear that was a good part of his closing argument to try to get the jurors to understand that self-defense is a applicable to all of the charges, including the lesser includeds.
BLITZER: What do you think, Sunny?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I completely agree with that.
Any time your exposure is prison time, real prison time, you have got to be concerned. I have visited enough prisons in my career, Wolf, to tell you that even one day in prison for many people is extremely difficult. And we are talking about someone who has been described as the most hated man in America. I would imagine that any prison time for someone like George Zimmerman could be in solitary confinement.
He's looking at, if he's convicted of even the lowest lesser included offense, a difficult three years.
BLITZER: Yes, aggravated assault, minimum sentence, as you point out, three years.
Guys, stand by. We will have more on the case coming up later.
By the way, Mark O'Mara will be a special guest tonight on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," "A.C. 360." That airs 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Now, there's other news we are following in THE SITUATION ROOM, including the Boston bombing suspect. He enters his pleas in court today. CNN was inside the courtroom. We have details of his demeanor, the reaction of the victims and a whole lot more.
BLITZER: Quite a dramatic day in the George Zimmerman second- degree murder trial.
I want to bring back Sunny Hostin and Mark NeJame to -- a quick question to both of you. And, Sunny, I will start with you.
Was it smart for George Zimmerman? And it was his decision, as the judge admonished him throughout. He could have rejected the advice of his attorneys. Was it smart for him, in the end, to tell the judge I have decided I will not testify on my own behalf?
HOSTIN: It was not only smart. It was brilliant.
First of all, he didn't really need to do it because his statements are already out there, albeit they're conflicting. He would have only done damage, because he would have been cross-examined by very skilled, very seasoned prosecutors.
Wolf, prosecutors dream about the opportunity to cross-examine a defendant in a high-profile trial that has given inconsistent statements. So this was a brilliant move by the defense. I don't know what they said to him to get him not to testify, because my sense was that he wanted to. He wants to talk. He wants to tell his story. There are people that are just like that. I think he is one of them. But this was a very good move by George Zimmerman.
BLITZER: Right, because a lot of us remember, what, about a year or so ago, Mark, he may have accepted or rejected the advice of attorneys when he did a TV interview with Sean Hannity on FOX.
I'm sure most lawyers would not want their client in a case like this to go out and start speaking at length about what happened or didn't happen. And earlier in the day, you saw the one exchange before the final exchange with the judge when he said, yes, I will not testify. He seemed still at that late moment to be in doubt whether or not he was -- I don't know if we have the clip. Maybe we have the clip of that exchange he had with the judge. We don't have it.
But we will get that clip for you. But he -- he clearly was sending some signals that maybe he does want to tell his story one more time, in his own words to those six women on the jury.
NEJAME: Yes. You are absolutely right, Wolf.
Look, 10, 15 seconds later we might have gotten another answer. I think that they were going back and forth. I know Mark O'Mara, I know Don West. Every bit of me knows that they advised him not to go on Hannity's show. And you know that through representing the client, the client has the final say. That's who you represent. He insisted upon it, he being Zimmerman.
And that -- he has a price to pay. That did not help his case in any way, shape or form. So, hopefully, and I can't believe there was any other way, he went ahead and listened to his attorneys. Remember, this is also the person that gave a drive-through through the neighborhood with a camera and law enforcement on hand. When is that ever done?
You have got somebody who has been wanting the world to hear what he has got to say. Thankfully, from at least the defense perspective, he listened to his counsel, did the only thing -- I cannot think of a case in my career where somebody not taking the stand was any more warranted than in this case.
BLITZER: Listen to this little clip. We have the clip from the proceedings, from the trial earlier in the day, clearly, Zimmerman's lawyers trying to portray him as soft, if you will, not a fighter, and listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'MARA: In this case, did you have information made available to you about Mr. Zimmerman?
DENNIS ROOT, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Yes.
O'MARA: And if you would explain to the jury what information you reviewed to assist you in your analysis of his physical abilities or interaction abilities.
ROOT: I spoke directly with his -- I actually spoke with Mr. Zimmerman once. And I spoke with Adam Pollock, I believe the name -- excuse me -- I believe it was his gym owner, the personal trainer, about him.
And I was inquiring as to what his background training and experience was because that becomes a very important variable for me when reviewing the use of force. You know, if I was dealing with Chuck Norris, I would expect a completely different response to any kind of physical altercation than I would if I was dealing with Pee- wee Herman.
I always do the best that I can to try to find any resource material or people that can provide me with a background on an individual.
O'MARA: And I presume that the two of you can sort of speak the same language having similar backgrounds in fight training and kickboxing or whatever else it is?
Within that context then, what information were you able to glean concerning Mr. Zimmerman's physical prowess or abilities?
ROOT: Without sounding offensive, he really didn't have any. Mr. Zimmerman was described as being a very nice person, but not the fighter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's get some analysis of what we just heard, because that was pretty important testimony on behalf of George Zimmerman that he really wasn't looking for a fight, given that experience.
What did you make of that, Sunny?
HOSTIN: I don't know that that was helpful, Wolf.
BLITZER: Helpful to Zimmerman, you mean?
HOSTIN: Yes. And you are talking about a man now who is being painted as someone who took MMA classes, wanted to be a cop, wasn't a good fighter, but carried a gun. One would think that you know he could act unreasonably when confronted with someone who is defending himself.
And, so, I don't know why the only inference that comes out of that is George Zimmerman isn't confrontational, George Zimmerman is someone that is a cream puff that can't fight. He was a cream puff with an armed pistol, with an armed weapon. I just -- I don't know that that kind of testimony is helpful. I see it very differently.
BLITZER: I see the point you are making.
MMA, mixed martial arts. Why was he taking mixed martial arts if he wasn't interested in fighting, Mark?
NEJAME: Well, to listen to everybody else, he lost 90 pounds. I guess a good exercise regime is something. But I think this all the more emphasizes why it was smart for him not to take the stand, because imagine a guy, most guys sitting up there and going, yes, I am a wimp, I am a marshmallow, I really -- I was working out all this time, but I really -- I can't lift more than 10 pounds. I'm not a very good fighter.
The prosecutor would have had a field day, saying you were there six hours a week. You were tough. You learned how to do this. And you learned how to do this. He would have been in complete conflict with his own witnesses. This all the more emphasizes why you don't take the stand and he shouldn't have taken the stand in this case.
BLITZER: And I wonder why he was even considering it, given all those arguments that both of you are making.
All right, guys stand by.
Coming up, a tale of two attorneys, a former deejay who told a joke on the first day of the trial, didn't go down very well, and his down-to-earth co-counsel. We're taking a closer look at Zimmerman's defense lawyers.
BLITZER: Happening now, the defense lawyers have stolen much of the spotlight in the Zimmerman trial. Why they're making such an effective team -- stand by.
Crew members from the Asiana flight hold an emotional news conference. NTSB investigators are also speaking out about the San Francisco plane crash landing.
And the NSA leaker has an offer of asylum in Venezuela. We're taking a closer look at how he might be able to actually get there. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It is the first time he has been seen since his bloody capture, the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arriving in a white van in court in Boston today and pleading not guilty to 30 federal charges that could get him the death penalty.
Also in court, some of his victims.
CNN national correspondent Deborah Feyerick is joining us from Boston.
All right, Deb, tell our viewers what happened in that courtroom.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can tell you that some 30 victims and family members of victims sat shoulder to shoulder in a very full courtroom.
One woman had crutches. When Tsarnaev entered the room, some of them shifted to try to get a better look at him. And in his row, reserved for his family members, one woman wearing a white head scarf gasped audibly. You could hear her sob. And that's when you looked in her direction. And throughout this very short hearing -- it didn't last more than 10 minutes -- he continued repeatedly looking back and smiling at the two women.
Now, he did have some signs of injuries. The left side of his face seems to have suffered nerve damage. He was wearing a cast. His fingers were bent. But he really looked almost uninterested in what was going on around him. He kept moving and fidgeting. The judge was speaking to him. He wasn't making any eye contact. He kept sort of touching his -- his face and his neck.
And so it was rather interesting that he really was almost -- he was ignoring the proceedings that were going on around him. He did enter a plea of not guilty, repeatedly to the 30 charges against him.
And what was interesting was, he had a very thick Russian accent. And after the hearing, I spoke to a couple of his wrestling buddies from high school who had shown up. They wanted to see the guy who they'd known so well and thought he was such a good guy. And they were really, really surprised, because when they knew him he had no sign of a Russian accent whatsoever. The reason they came is because they wanted to see whether there was any of the old Dzhokhar left. And the person they saw in that court, they said, it wasn't him.
Again, he pleaded no [SIC] guilty to 30 charges against him, Wolf. Nine -- 17 of those counts, excuse me, carry the death penalty.
BLITZER: And you say physically -- he looked physically OK? Strong, if you will, after the recovery from those injuries?
FEYERICK: Yes, absolutely. He did. He is much taller than I expected. He as probably about 6 feet, maybe a little taller.
But again, it was his body language; it was his demeanor in the court. He was really not focused on the judge. He turned around, sort of looked back at some of the people who were back sitting in the courtroom. But it was really the two women who, or relatives, possibly sisters -- it's those two that he had the most interaction with. One of them actually had a small child. And that child was sort of fussing throughout the court proceedings. So, certainly interesting, Wolf.
BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick in Boston for us. Thank you.
By the way, it was a busy day at that federal courthouse in Boston. The Tsarnaev hearing was held right next to the courtroom where the accused mobster, James "Whitey" Bulger, was on trial, as well.
Other news: the Canadian town devastated by a runaway train explosion is now being treated as a crime scene. Dozens of people are missing, and their remains may never be found. Survivors are reliving the nightmare. And they are asking hard questions.
Let's go live to CNN's Anna Coren. She's in Lac-Megantic in Quebec right now with the latest.
Another dramatic day. What is the latest, Anna?
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, definitely, Wolf, another dramatic day. Another day of great sadness here.
We've just come from a police press conference where they have confirmed the latest figures: 20 dead; 30 missing, presumed dead. So basically, Wolf, 50 people killed in this train disaster. That's a staggering number.
As we say, sadness, grief, but also a great deal of anger. Anger because people are wanting answers as to how this could have happened. Also, why has it taken five days for the president of the company that owns this freight train to actually come here, come to site, meet the families, meet the community, and also, confront the media.
Wolf, I can tell you that he certainly faced a hostile reception.
COREN (voice-over): Under tight security, the man in charge of the company that owns the runaway train finally confronted an angry community now at the center of one of the worst rail disasters in recent history.
EDWARD BURKHARDT, CHAIRMAN, MONTREAL, MAINE & ATLANTIC RAILWAY: I understand the extreme anger and -- beyond that I -- we'll do what we can to address the -- the issues here. We can't roll back time.
COREN: Five days ago a freight train carrying 73 cars of crude oil derailed and exploded, wiping out the heart of downtown Lac- Megantic. Officials on the ground now believe as many as 50 people were vaporized, although only 20 deaths have been confirmed at this stage.
BURKHARDT: If I lived here I would be very angry with the management of this.
COREN: Police say they found evidence of tampering on the locomotive and have launched a criminal investigation. Separately, the engineer has been suspended without pay, over whether or not enough brakes were engaged on the train.
But that didn't stop local residents from directing their anger at the train company, as this mourning township demands answers.
PATRICE LAFRAMBUISE, RESIDENT: It's a bomb that is on the -- on the railroad. Why is it normal that this is acceptable?
COREN: And for those reliving the horrors of that night, they describe the scene as apocalyptic.
ROBERT ROY, RESIDENT: We will...
MIMI ROY, RESIDENT: We will die.
R. ROY: ... all die. We will die at the end of the world. COREN: To Therese Custeau, her world will never be the same. Her son, Rial (ph), lived in the town center and hasn't been heard from since. His home no longer standing.
"Today I live in hope that my son would call that he was still alive. But I know in my heart he is gone."
The family has given DNA samples to investigators, but this 79- year-old mother is fearful they will never locate her son's remains.
"I don't know if they will ever find his body," she says, "if I will ever be able to bury my son. There is nothing left down there. That is my greatest fear."
For Rial's (ph) younger brother, he is filled with sadness and regret.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always said we are busy, but we realized that we are -- never always too busy to visit our family, huh? And when -- when that arises it is -- sweeter (ph).
COREN: So much pain. So much suffering in this community, Wolf. And they're also having to deal with the fact that the bodies have probably been incinerated. I know it is a gruesome imagery. But at the end of the day it really explains the ferocity and the power of these explosions. But you know, Wolf, this is a community that may not be able to bury its dead.
BLITZER: What a story. What a horrible story, indeed. Anna Coren in Quebec for us. Thank you.
Up next, a tale of two attorneys. One a former DJ, he told a bad joke at the trial. The other methodical and even-keeled. We're taking a closer look at the lawyers in this case.
BLITZER: Closing arguments in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman expected tomorrow morning. They will begin. According to the judge, we now know his attorney, Mark O'Mara, will make the closing arguments for the defense. Both he and his co- counsel, Don West, have been stealing a lot of the spotlight during this three-week legal drama.
CNN's Brian Todd is here. He's been taking a closer look at the defense team. Fascinating lawyers. What are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these are two lawyers with reputations as courtroom wizards in Florida, but they are handling the white-hot spotlight of this trial in different ways.
TODD (voice-over): He's tied to some of the more dramatic moments in this trial. A testy exchange with the judge...
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I object to the court inquiring of Mr. Zimmerman as to his decision about whether or not to testify?
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, PRESIDING OVER TRIAL: Your objection is overruled.
TODD: ... a late-night burst of frustration...
WEST: I'm not physically able to do this case much longer. It's 10 p.m. at night. We started this morning. We've had full days every day. Weekends, depositions at night.
TODD: ... a poorly received joke...
WEST: Knock-knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good. You're on the jury.
TODD: ... and a photo from his daughter posted on Instagram, with a caption, quote, "We beat stupidity celebration cones," a reference to his cross-examination of a witness, an inference he apologized for.
Don West may be the unintentional bad cop of George Zimmerman's defense team, but no one doubts his skill.
RAJAN JOSHI, FORMER FLORIDA STATE PROSECUTOR: Don West enjoys an excellent reputation over in central Florida, very zealous advocate for his clients. He believes in his clients. It's come across in this trial; you can see his passion.
TODD: A former disk jockey in major markets like L.A., West has carved a courtroom reputation as a lawyer's lawyer. He's been dubbed a "murder specialist" for taking on some of Florida's most notorious homicide cases.
West once got a former motorcycle gang member, "Crazy" Joe Spaziano, off Death Row after Spaziano was convicted of raping and murdering a teenager.
His co-counsel, Mark O'Mara, is no less accomplished, but in this case, he's exhibited a markedly different demeanor: measured, even- keeled.
CNN legal analyst Mark Nejame, who's worked with and against O'Mara in court, says he's a tireless student of the law, a grindstone worker.
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But he's not one of these lawyers who comes across as over the heads of everybody. He's very home -- he's got this homespun kind of feel to him.
TODD: O'Mara is a devoted husband, acquaintances say. He married late in life, has no children, and is often seen with his wife on his Harley. He once defended a man accused of killing a woman by crashing into her car while he was being chased by police, getting a second- degree murder charge reduced to DUI manslaughter.
Two years ago he was a legal analyst on local TV for the Casey Anthony trial.
O'MARA: I don't think there's any argument this is not a cross- section jury.
TODD: Nejame says, win or lose, there should be more of that post-Zimmerman for Mark O'Mara and Don West.
NEJAME: I do think that you're going to see them over and over again, as either talking heads, writing books. Yes, I think all that's there.
TODD: Nejame and other analysts contrast that with their chief opponent, Bernie de la Rionda, a career prosecutor who is so zealous about his job, so engrained in the Florida justice system, they don't see him leaving the state's attorney's office anytime soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Don West, at times he showed a lot of exasperation, especially last night with the judge during the course of today's -- is he known for that?
TODD: Not really. I mean, the analysts we spoke to were all Florida-based attorneys; say he's known to be rock solid, never loses his cool. But they also say that speaks to the pressure of this trial. They say if you've never gone through anything like this from the inside, you cannot imagine the pressure that these attorneys are under on both sides.
BLITZER: The judge, she's tough, Debra Nelson.
TODD: She's tough. Overruled. Overruled.
BLITZER: He keeps talking, and she's walking out the door.
TODD: Tell it to the courtroom.
BLITZER: All right, thanks.
By the way, Mark O'Mara will be a special guest later tonight on "AC 360," 8 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Coming up, an emotional news conference by flight attendants speaking publicly about the deadly airline crash in San Francisco, some of them weeping as they recall the disaster.
BLITZER: We're now hearing from the cabin crew of the Asiana jumbo jet that crashed in San Francisco on Saturday. Some of them have been called heroes. They spoke in an emotional news conference just a little while ago, some of them weeping as they talked about the disaster.
CNN's Dan Simon is in San Francisco. He's got the very latest for us.
Dan, what happened?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Wolf.
We just saw six of the flight attendants together here at the airport. This was probably more of a photo opportunity and a way to put up a united front. They didn't take any questions, but they did appear to be very emotional.
The lead flight attendant spoke a few words in Korean. Paraphrasing here, but she said the families who suffered losses are in her prayers, and she added that the airline is working as quickly as possible to recover from this accident.
These were five women and one male flight attendant. There were a total of 12 flight attendants on that flight, some of whom, Wolf, suffered severe injuries. We now know that three of them were actually ejected from their seats and, of course, have some extensive injuries -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, they also had a news conference a little while ago. What did we learn from them?
TODD: We're getting some more information from the NTSB. Some of it had to do with flight preparation for the two pilots in question. We know, for instance, there was nothing abnormal about it. They both had eight hours of sleep.
Now, what's become clear, Wolf, is that the automatic flight controls that control the flight's speed are a central part of this investigation. Investigators want to know if they were working properly or if the pilots actually set them correctly.
We're also learning, Wolf, a little bit more about the timeline. For instance, we know it took just two minutes for the first responders to arrive. And in three minutes they began putting out the fire.
But questions still remain about why the lead flight attendant was initially told to delay the evacuation.
There are also questions, Wolf, about the automatic chutes. They -- one of them actually rolled inside the plane, pinning two flight attendants, who actually had to be freed.
We know that those flight attendants really acted bravely in the aftermath of this crash, some of whom grabbed fire extinguishers themselves and began putting out the flames -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly did save lives. All right. Thanks very much for that, Dan Simon.
Up next, the NSA leaker is holed up still in that Moscow airport but has an offer of asylum in Venezuela. Here's the question: Could he actually get from Moscow to Venezuela?
BLITZER: He's been holed up in a Moscow airport for more than two weeks, but the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, has offers of asylum, and Venezuela may be his best bet. There's no indication that he's accepted yet, but if and when he does, how could he get there without being intercepted?
CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us now with a closer look. What are you discovering, Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right. He'd been 17 days in the Moscow airport. Now, he could be in for a bumpy ride if he tries to travel to Venezuela or any of the other Latin American nations which might take him in, because all of his options involve some risk.
The first one that we have to talk about here is the idea of simply boarding a commercial flight. Aeroflot has a plane that leaves Moscow every afternoon around 2 p.m. It arrives in Havana, Cuba, about 12 hours later, and from there it would be a fairly simple jump right down to Caracas.
This is the most direct and probably the cheapest route. And yet it involves one big danger as he passes over into Cuba and down. He has to fly right over the eastern United States. If a passenger had a heart attack or the plane developed mechanical problems or anything made it land during this passage, Snowden could simply find that he is trapped.
Now, he might be able to piece together a series of commercial flights and some charter flights that would take him down through Africa and then across the Atlantic. Or maybe he can do the same thing with a combination of commercial and charter flights to fly to the other side of Russia and then cross the Pacific to come in.
But all of that involves a lot of miles which can translate into a lot of time being exposed to possible capture -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That raises the idea of him trying, for example, a private route, hiring a plane, somebody chartering a private jet for him to make the trip. Is that possible?
FOREMAN: Yes. Technically, it is. He or some of his allies, such as the WikiLeaks people, could charter a private jet. Like this one, for example. You need a very substantial jet to do this. A G550 could do it. This is a very high-grade private jet. It can travel almost 7,800 miles without stopping for fuel.
Now, the plane would have to get into Moscow. It would have to pick up the passenger and get out without somehow being tripped up or caught in some kind of bureaucratic tangle or some secret deal for Snowden's capture. But if it did all that, the pilots could then essentially cut a zigzag pattern up here, avoiding all of the dangerous air space, and spiriting Snowden right down directly to one of these potential host countries.
So what is the problem in all that? Cost. His ticket to ride this way would probably be around $200,000, and that's a lot of money to put out right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, but he's got a lot of supporters out there...
TODD: Yes, he does (ph).
BLITZER: ... who might be willing to put up that kind of money if necessary. All right, Tom. Thanks very much. We'll see what happens in the coming days.
Up next, a good Samaritan on two wheels zooms to the rescue of... a coffee cup. Jeanne Moos has the story.
BLITZER: So did you ever leave a coffee cup or something a lot more important on your car and then drive off? CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story of a good Samaritan.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Riding on his motorcycle, Nate Boss (ph) is used to seeing the gorgeous snow-capped mountains near Orem, Utah. What caught his eye was the snow white of the cup on the dark SUV's bumper.
NATE BOSS (ph), MOTORCYCLIST: When I saw the cup I was like, well, this lady just has a cup on her bumper.
MOOS: To the rescue Nate gave chase. And then, as calmly as if he were picking it up at a Starbucks drive-through window...
BOSS (PH): It wasn't a big deal to me. Like, getting close to her I wasn't really that nervous.
MOOS: Nate figures he was doing about 40, with his head cam rolling. He says he decided to deliver the cup to the driver on a whim.
BOSS (PH): Make her day, I guess.
MOSS: When she made a turn, he followed her, and a few seconds later managed to show her the cup. She saw but didn't pull over.
BOSS (PH): I kind of thought it would be cool if I was able to do the handoff while moving. And sure enough, she just rolled her window down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter! BOSS (PH): When she poured it out, I was like, "Man."
MOOS: Nate said he sort of wished she'd taken a drink out of it, but he wasn't insulted that she dumped what looked like milk or milky coffee.
MOOS (on camera): Of course, there are worst things than a mug that you can accidentally leave on your car.
(voice-over): A Seattle police officer drove a few blocks with this assault rifle lying on the trunk.
A teen mom in Phoenix got arrested when she allegedly left her baby in a car seat on the roof of her car and drove 12 miles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The car seat toppled and was discovered by a motorist later in an intersection.
MOOS: The baby was fine. The mom pleaded not guilty to child abuse and DUI. Police say she told them she'd just smoked marijuana.
Better a mug than a mug shot.
(on camera): There was one other time Nate played good Samaritan from his moving motorcycle, when he spotted a Pontiac with a dangling gas cap.
BOSS (PH): I screwed it in and closed the lid.
MOOS (voice-over): Closing gas caps, returning cups, he's Santa on two wheels. And we heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight...
BOSS (PH): Woo-hoo!
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter!
MOOS: ... New York.
BLITZER: Amazing story. Fortunately, everybody is fine.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.