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CNN NEWSROOM

Leno's Last Tonight Show Tonight; Loud Music Murder Trial Begins; Senate Dems Distance Themselves From Obama for Elections; Alaska Rape Rate Highest in Nation

Aired February 6, 2014 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: What's the deal? Why are people pulling away?

STEVE BATTAGLIO, BUSINESS EDITOR, "TV GUIDE" MAGAZINE: All the shows are down because there more choices.

You didn't show all of them in the graphics, but you have Chelsea Handler. You have Stephen Colbert. "Adult Swim" draws a lot of young viewers at night. I mean -

BALDWIN: Jon Stewart.

BATTAGLIO: Jon Stewart at 11:00 on the East. The viewer has so many choices.

They are also playing back their favorite shows from primetime on DVR after primetime is over.

So, it's an extremely competitive landscape and everyone is getting a smaller piece of the pie. And that's one reason why NBC is making a change.

I think they want to bring down the cost of "The Tonight Show." It's not nearly as profitable as it used to be.

They're bringing it to New York. They're getting a tax credit. They're paying Jimmy Fallon less. So, I think overall I think it's all about money.

BALDWIN: Nischelle, we talked about Fallon, but also you have Kimmel, Jon Stewart, Conan.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Right.

BALDWIN: Is it time for younger faces?

TURNER: I think so. Everybody likes just a good joke at the end of the day. But I definitely think that the networks always want that younger demographic, because then that demographic can grow with the audience.

BATTAGLIO: Representing the money.

TURNER: Absolutely.

So, I think definitely they want to skew toward the Jimmy Fallon and the Jimmy Kimmels.

And they're just a little bit younger, hipper, fresher, their jokes are. Their guests are a little more younger Hollywood.

So, yeah, I definitely think that that would be the case, Brooke, that this is the wave of the future.

But I also think that those guys, especially Jimmy Fallon, he goes towards the Internet a lot. He does viral videos. He does all that.

BALDWIN: He knows how to make things (inaudible).

TURNER: Exactly.

BALDWIN: But then, what about the women? Steve, you mentioned Chelsea Handler. Where are the rest of them?

BATTAGLIO: It's been a white-male club for a long time, and certainly the pipeline seems to be filling up that way.

It's kind of strange in that the one African-American entry in late night of recent years is Arsenio Hall, and that's the same guy who was doing it 20 years ago.

So, it's certainly -- it's definitely been a gap.

BALDWIN: OK, final question to you, Steve, prediction time, where do you think Jay Leno's first stop is? You knew what I'm going to ask you.

BATTAGLIO: I don't think it will be on a show at 11:30. I think it will be very difficult for Fox to get in the game now.

And, so -- but he certainly has -- he will have a lot of suitors. If you want to be on television today, there a lot of different places to go. And I think Jay Leno will end up somewhere soon.

BALDWIN: Somewhere. Who knows where? We will talk about that when we know. It will be much ado, much talked about.

Steve Battaglio, Nischelle Turner, thanks to both of you very, very much.

Tonight, the last night, I can't believe it, of Jay Leno.

Coming up next, opening statements started this afternoon for a man accused of shooting and killing an unarmed teenager.

The prosecution says it was because it was this argument over loud music. Defense says it was self defense.

We will hear both sides, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Happening right now in a Florida courtroom, another trial over the death of an unarmed black teen.

Opening statements began just a short time ago in what is being called the "loud music murder trial." There is a bit of deja vu in this case, because look at this guy. Does he look familiar to you?

He should. That's John Guy, the very same prosecutor from the George Zimmerman murder trial.

Also on this case, state attorney Angela Corey, another prosecutor out of Sanford, Florida.

Now, they're prosecuting this man here. This is 47-year-old Michael Dunn. He is charged with first-degree murder, accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis after a spat over loud music at a gas station.

A short time ago during opening arguments, we heard the moment the gunshots were fired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh, somebody's shooting. Somebody's shooting out of their car.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Michael David Dunn pointed a semi-automatic pistol at four unarmed kids from a distance much closer than you and I and then drove off.

He didn't call the police. He went to his hotel with his girlfriend and he called a pizza delivery man and ordered pizza.

He took his little dog for a walk outside of that hotel, turned on a movie and made himself a big, tall rum and Coke.

CORY STROLLA, MICHAEL DUNN'S ATTORNEY: And the evidence is going to show that the only person that cursed was Jordan Davis. And his words to Michael Dunn were, "I'm going to (inaudible) kill you."

Every gentleman in that car is going to say he didn't have a weapon, but we know that he did.

Now, Mr. Guy calls it a pocket knife. But when you see it, it's a tactical knife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That is some of what played out today in that courtroom.

Our own correspondent Tory Dunnan has a look at how this whole trial began.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: November, 2012, authorities say it began with a fight over loud music at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station and ended with 17-year-old Jordan Davis shot and killed. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not wish this on any parent.

DUNNAN: Flash forward to February, 2014. The trial now under way for 47-year-old software developer Michael Dunn, charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Dunn's pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense in the shooting death of the unarmed teen.

During the police interrogation, Dunn told investigators he asked Davis and the three other teens, who were parked next to him at a Jacksonville gas station, to turn down their music.

Then he says he heard threats from the teens and saw a gun in their car.

MICHAEL DUNN, ACCUSED OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER: The guy that was in the back was getting really agitated.

And I had my windows up. I can't hear anything he's saying, but, you know, it was a lot of (inaudible) him and (inaudible) that and (inaudible) that (inaudible).

And then the music comes back on.

DUNNAN: Saying he feared for his safety, Dunn retrieved his gun from inside his car.

Then, police say, he fired four shots into the SUV Davis was in.

As the SUV sped away, police say Dunn fired four more rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you began to shoot, can you honestly tell us that you ever saw a gun inside that vehicle?

DUNN: I saw a barrel come up on the window, like a single-shot shotgun where there's a barrel.

I didn't see this part of the barrel. I saw that part of the barrel.

And it was either a barrel or a stick. But, sir, they're like, we're going to kill you.

DUNNAN: Davis, sitting in the back seat, was killed. His three friends survived.

Investigators say they found no guns inside their SUV and that Dunn left the scene, never calling police.

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's going to be a big question for this jury.

You were in a car, put it in drive, get out of there, and then call a cop, rather take out a weapon and put eight shots into a car, killing one person. DUNNAN: The case is already being compared to another Florida case in which a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman was acquitted, claiming it was in self-defense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Let's talk to our CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin, and criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky.

Listen, you both covered the George Zimmerman trial. Sunny, to you first, just from your prosecutorial perspective, how did Guy do today?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I thought he did well in the Zimmerman trial and I though he did well today.

His opening was impassioned and he talked about Jordan Davis and his last moments of life, and so I think one of the lessons he may have learned from the Zimmerman trial is that you have to personalize. You have to make this jury realize that the victim was a real person, a loved person.

I will say, though, what is fascinating to me about this case is that Angela Corey, who was kind of sitting in the gallery when I was in the courtroom in the Zimmerman trial, she wasn't really a part of the trial team, she's front-and-center now. She is actually examining witnesses.

And I've really never seen that in these cases in Florida. We're talking about the state's attorney.

BALDWIN: Why do you think she's doing it?

HOSTIN: I think it's the import of the case. I think it's really important.

Many people are saying, oh, it's so different from the Zimmerman case. This is really about Florida's self-defense law, which is really about stand your ground.

Let me say it again. This is about stand your ground.

BALDWIN: Darren, the teenager here, as we mentioned in this piece, he didn't have a gun on his at the time. He did have a pocket knife.

The defense is saying self defense. How did they use that to prove that?

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The pocket knife, I think, is a total red herring. And this piece illustrated it, that Michael Dunn said, and this may be a bad piece for Michael Dunn, that he saw either the barrel of a shotgun or a stick.

There is no mention of seeing a pocket knife. And then, of course, it begs the question, if it's either a shotgun barrel or a stick, how does that put you in reasonable fear and justify the use of deadly force?

I think, ultimately, what will be Michael Dunn's undoing is the consciousness of guilt that he displayed by leaving the scene, not calling authorities, returning to his hotel --

BALDWIN: How do you explain that behavior, post-shooting?

KAVINOKY: You got to spin it some way and the only way they are trying to play it is that he felt unsafe. He wanted to take care of his dog. He was concerned about his girlfriend.

There were all these other things that in the panic of the moment were weighing heavy on his mind.

But that's a bad piece of evidence as far as the defense goes.

BALDWIN: We'll watch the trial closely, and we'll talk again.

Sunny Hostin, Darren Kavinoky, thank you both.

President Obama says one of his main goals this is keeping Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate, and he has a unique strategy to do this.

We will tell you what he's offering up to Democrats to help them win some pretty tough races coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Tapper, Jake Tapper, up next with "THE LEAD," and, Jake Tapper, maybe the worst-kept secret in Washington is the fact that some Democrats up for reelection do not want to be seen with the president.

His approval rating has been running below 50 percent. Now, apparently, he has signaled that knows he might be toxic.

This could be a big deal, because Democrats are, obviously, struggling to keep control of the U.S. Senate and their star player might be riding the bench, as they campaign away.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": That's right, and the poll number that was just up there with a 50-percent disapproval rating, that really doesn't tell the story because that's a national poll. And what we really need to focus on is state-by-state polls and even polls in congressional districts.

When you look at some of the vulnerable Democrats up for reelection next year, who are in not just purple states, but red states, we're talking about Mary Landrieu from Louisiana. We're talking about Mark -- his name has now escaped me, Mark Pryor from Arkansas. We're talking about Begich from Alaska.

These are individuals who are in solidly red states and being seen with President Obama, who is very unpopular in those states, could actually be a campaign liability.

During the State of the Union, we interviewed Senator Begich, Dana Bash and I, and I asked them if he would want President Obama to come campaign with him.

He said he would want President Obama to come to Alaska so he could show him all the way that Obama's policies were hurting his state. This is a Democrat.

This is a Democrat, so there is an effort to distance. So, it's not that unusual a dynamic. It happened with President Bush during the mid-terms of his second term as well when he was unpopular.

BALDWIN: OK.

TAPPER: But it is certainly not a welcome development for any president.

BALDWIN: There is a Democrat who has shared a stage with him, although he is in a much different position right now, Bill Clinton, sharing the stage with President Obama in front of these Democratic senators. Here they are.

Why was he there, Jake Tapper? Do they trust his political instincts more than the president's?

TAPPER: I think there a few reasons why he was there. One, he was there to give him something of a pep talk. And he is particularly good at that type of speech, perhaps better than President Obama when it comes to the pep-talk-type speech.

He is somebody who has shown an ability to win red states like Arkansas, and remember, Mark Pryor running for reelection in Arkansas, in the past.

He is also somebody who enjoys much higher approval ratings than President Obama currently does, as happens with former presidents.

I think it's possible, if not likely that you'll see President Clinton campaigning with the senators, the vulnerable senators I mentioned before, and not President Obama.

He is more popular, especially in certain parts of the country.

BALDWIN: OK. Jake Tapper, thank you, sir.

TAPPER: Thanks, B.B.

BALDWIN: We'll see you at the top of the hour.

TAPPER: Good to see you, as always.

BALDWIN: Bye, Tapper.

Two of the people arrested in the investigation into Philip Seymour Hoffman's death were back in court today, and one of them actually was just released from jail.

Juliana Luchkiw was freed on her own recognizance. You can see her here. She's getting ready to walk out of the courtroom. This is just a short time ago. She is due back in court on the 14th of February.

That scene is quite a change from last night when the judge denied bail for this woman. Look at her face, obviously just utter shock, dismay.

She and Max Rosenblum are charged with misdemeanor drug possession. Both are 22 years of age. They pleaded not guilty. So did 57-year-old musician Robert Vineberg. He is charged with felony drug possession.

The district attorney's office decided not to prosecute the fourth person arrested in the Tuesday night police raid.

Meanwhile, Hoffman's friends and family are preparing to hold a private wake for the actor early this evening.

A family friend says Hoffman's funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon at a Catholic church in Manhattan.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive, a troubling statistic from Alaska, one study shows two out of every five women will be sexually assaulted.

Let me say that again. Two out of every five women, sexually assaulted in the state of Alaska.

And so somebody here from CNN traveled all the way there to find out why and to talk to people who are going to great lengths to try to stop this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Now, it's time to "Change the List." This is an awesome effort by the CNN Digital Team to brings topics usually at the bottom of the list to the top, based upon what you, online at CNN.com, voted for.

So, this latest subject is -- it's a pretty tough one, not appropriate for children, because we will talk now about the state of Alaska and the fact that it has the highest rate of reported rape in the nation.

One survey shows 37 percent of women there are sexually assaulted. And the obvious question is why? Why is this happening there?

Apparently a big factor, it takes days for police to get in and out of some of these towns because they're just, quite honestly, so remote.

CNN's digital columnist John Sutter went to one community and spoke to victims there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SUTTER, CNN DIGITAL COLUMNIST: "Beth" wishes the police were here when she needed them.

She's showing me where her boyfriend shattered her elbow. He also shot at her and threatened to light a pile of clothes on fire in her living room.

She didn't want me to use her real name, in part because she said her abuser is still free. It might not have gone on this long had this place actually had police.

With no one else to turn to, these are the faces of law enforcement in Nunam Iqua.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is an emergency situation, I am called.

The village's 72-year-old mayor and his son, they've become the de facto police, fire and ambulance service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can't get anybody, I have two sons here. They usually help me to respond, you know. You know, I try to be, you know, to be here in case of emergency.

SUTTER: Ask anyone around town and they will tell you that Nunam Iqua is a lovely, quiet place.

But after hearing so many stories, I get the sense that the violence is so common that it actually starts to feel normal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That voice, that of John Sutter, joining me, again.

I love that you at CNN.com are letting voters vote on things.

But, just to read your entire essay, it's beautifully written, this is a town, Nunam Iqua, which means --

SUTTER: "End of the land" in the Yupik language. Yeah.

BALDWIN: What fascinated me the most, beyond the why is this happening, is the -- was the what they're doing about it, and they're taking these rapists and they're putting them in the center of like a support circle. They're taking them in.

SUTTER: Yeah. I spent some time in another location, not in that village, but with a group of sex offenders after they had served their time.

They basically have this group therapy that tries to integrate them into the community. Like these crimes, partly because it's so frequent there, people often return to their home villages.

This is very much the opposite of how a lot of the rest of the United States handles this where laws push sex offenders under overpasses and into homeless shelters often because of residency restrictions.

Here they're trying to really integrate them in. So I spent some time with these offenders. There are some unique and kind of bizarre treatments related to this.

One person was prescribed to sniff a jar of ammonia -

BALDWIN: Ammonia --

SUTTER: -- if he got inappropriate urges.

BALDWIN: -- I read that.

SUTTER: So, it was a really fascinating experience to meet some of these people and to hear their stories.

Some of them were victims themselves.

BALDWIN: The person you're referring to is this guy, Sheldon. It's a pseudonym.

And so tell me more about the story of Sheldon, because he's a father, he is a husband, and he is a rapist and he is still around his victim.

SUTTNER: Yeah. I focused on Sheldon in part because he's a person trying to reform, just like the state is trying to reform him and trying to face this evil, what the governor told me was an epidemic there.

So Sheldon lives actually next door to his wife and stepdaughter who was abused by him, and they have allowed him to continue living next door, which is just -- was an unthinkable and extremely surprising situation when I first heard about it.

But when I talked to activists, they said that is not unique in Alaska, that that happens in many communities.

You know, he's allowed to live next door to them and they had wanted to do that in part to try to help him recover.

The amount --

BALDWIN: They want to help him?

SUTTER: Which is an incredible, incredible thing, right?

BALDWIN: Sort of blows you mind. You would want that person as far away as possible.

SUTTER: And it's very complicated like how close it is and the tension there and the real risk in some ways that they are incurring.

And the amount of forgiveness in that community I found just to be incredibly powerful, and that one victim, who is part of -- they call it their safety-net member. She's part of her nephew's safety net.

He's a convicted sex offender, too, and was convicted of molesting her daughter. And she is in part of his circle trying to help him stop from reoffending.

Again, they want their community to be safe and they're sacrificing themselves in some ways to try to achieve that.

BALDWIN: John Sutter, thank you and Brandon Ansel (ph) for going to Alaska and doing this journalism. Come back next time. "Change the List," go to CNN.com/Change to read about this story.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.

"THE LEAD" starts right now.