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South Prepares for 2nd Storm in two Weeks; Michael Dunn Murder Trial

Aired February 10, 2014 - 10:30   ET

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


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see in 2016, right -- yes. Erin McPike, thank you so much.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.

COSTELLO: Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 14 counties just in case. And I say that because according to the National Weather Service, the Atlanta area may -- may get freezing rain overnight. I say "may" because the low is expected to be 38 degrees in Atlanta.

I'm sure this image is still fresh in the Governor's mind though. Two weeks ago, Metro Atlanta roadways frozen over, drivers spending hours and hours in their car, tires spinning and going nowhere. As you know, people abandoned their vehicles and walked for miles to get home.

Nick Valencia is live in Atlanta to tell us more. Good morning.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Carol. Yes here we go again. Round two of this severe winter weather system moving through Atlanta. But this time, it seems or at least appears to be different. Local and state officials are taking precautions. You mentioned Governor Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency for 14 counties in and around Atlanta.

The severe weather is supposed to happen sometime around 7:00 p.m. tonight carrying into Tuesday, Wednesday, perhaps even Thursday morning. At most we're expecting maybe -- maybe you have one to two inches of snow which may not sound like much. But you saw those images that were just shown on the TV screen there. It doesn't look good when you have a case like we had two weeks ago in Atlanta with thousands of motorists being trapped in their cars.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal are expecting that coordination will be different this time around, hopefully better. We are outside in one of these salt truck distribution centers here. We've seen salt trucks -- actually we went inside just a little a while ago, salt drivers preparing to go out and salt those roads. We haven't seen those salt trucks hit the road just yet. But local officials and state officials tell us it will happen better around this time -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Because if they mess up again, it's going to be really ugly. But at least they're trying. VALENCIA: Yes.

COSTELLO: Nick Valencia many thanks.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, in Florida's loud music trial, the focus is on the gun as the prosecution calls this weapons expert this morning. Tory Dunnan is live in Jacksonville.

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right so Carol lots of witnesses taking the stand today. The medical examiner is up next.

I'm Tory Dunnan in Jacksonville with a look at some of the dramatic testimony.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me this morning.

We are covering this trial that's happening now out of Jacksonville, Florida. This is the trial of defendant, Michael Dunn; he's accused of killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis at a gas station. The two apparently were arguing over loud music.

With me now to parse through this, are legal analysts Paul Callan and Joey Jackson. Tory Dunnan is covering the trial from Jacksonville.

But I want to get right to the testimony. This is the medical examiner, this is Dr. Stacey Simons. Let's listen.

DR. STACEY SIMONS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes, I was employed there from July of 2011 until my resignation in January of 2014.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is pathology?

SIMONS: Pathology is a specialized branch of medicine that identifies and diagnoses a disease and injury.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is forensic pathology?

SIMONS: So that is a pathologist who has even more specialty training which allows them to conduct examinations and investigations in cases of violent death or suspicious death or sudden and unexpected death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is clinical pathology?

SIMONS: Clinical pathology is the study of body fluids to help diagnose disease and other entities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you had study in all of those areas?

SIMONS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you board certified in any of these areas?

SIMONS: I am board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology and also board certified in forensic pathology.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many autopsies have you conducted or participated in, in your career?

SIMONS: Well, the total number of cases that I have worked on in my career is approximately 1,000 to 1,050 and of that complete autopsies approximately 825-850.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever testified as an expert in pathology, forensic pathology, anatomic pathology or clinical pathology in the courts of the state of Florida?

SIMONS: Yes, I have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And having testified, were you allowed to render opinions as an expert in those same fields in the courts of the state of Florida.

SIMONS: Yes, I was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many times?

SIMONS: Three times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK your honor at this time, I would tender Dr. Simons as an expert in forensic, anatomic and clinical pathology.

RUSSELL HEALEY, CIRCUIT JUDGE: Mr. Strolla?

CORY STROLLA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL DUNN: No objection.

HEALEY: All right ladies and gentlemen then, Dr. Simons will be declared to be an expert in the areas of forensic, clinical and anatomical pathology. And as I mentioned earlier that means she can offer an opinion in those fields.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it the practice of the medical examiner's office for each associate medical examiner to fully document each autopsy as it is performed?

SIMONS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you all bound by Florida statutes as to what should be done in an autopsy?

SIMONS: Yes, we are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do you follow those statutes routinely for each autopsy?

SIMONS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does part of it require a toxicological exam be done on every person who is autopsied?

SIMONS: Well specifically a statute indicates that if a violent death has occurred within 12 hours, if the autopsy occurs within 12 hours of -- I'm sorry if a person dies within 12 hours of a violent incident, then you must perform a toxicological examination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, ma'am. And are there people working with you throughout the medical examiner's office who do various parts of the autopsy with regard to bringing the body into your office, documenting clothing, performing the toxicology, et cetera?

SIMONS: Yes. We have a regular staff with several departments that participate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do all of those persons make notes as part of the normal course of your business?

SIMONS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are all of those notes and reports then put into an official autopsy report?

SIMONS: Yes, they have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are photographs taken at the time of the autopsy?

SIMONS: Yes, they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do those also become part of the official autopsy report?

SIMONS: They do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are items of physical evidence preserved and turned over to the law enforcement agency handling any particular criminal case?

SIMONS: Yes, they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is an autopsy report kept forever at the medical examiner's office?

SIMONS: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was such a report made for Jordan Davis in this particular case?

SIMONS: Yes it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there a specific medical examiner number assigned to his case?

SIMONS: Yes, there was. Judge, may I refer to my notes?

HEALEY: Yes, ma'am.

Just reference them to refresh your recollection. Don't necessarily read from them. SIMONS: OK.

So the case number assigned for Jordan Davis was 12-1982.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK and have you had an opportunity to review this file coming to court today?

SIMONS: Yes, I have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When was the body of Jordan Davis brought to the medical examiner's office?

SIMONS: The body of Jordan Davis was brought into the medical examiner's office on the morning of November 24th, 2012 at 1:14.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as part of your statutory duty, are you required to look at any hospital records that may pertain to a patient who died at the hospital and is then brought in for an autopsy?

SIMONS: Yes, we do get medical records and those are reviewed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did you review the medical records from Shands Hospital pertaining to Jordan Davis?

SIMONS: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At what time and on what date was Jordan Davis pronounced dead?

SIMONS: He was pronounced dead on the 23rd of November at 8:15 p.m.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there evidence of medical intervention by either Jacks Fire and Rescue or Shands Hospital?

SIMONS: Yes, there was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you just briefly describe what was done for the jury?

SIMONS: Most prominently, there were two chest tubes which are tubes that are inserted into the sides of the chest to either re-inflate the lungs or remove blood. And there was an endotracheal tube, which is a tube to open an airway and there was also a line that was placed in the front part of the lower -- the left lower leg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does any of the medical intervention in anyway inhibit your ability to perform a proper autopsy?

SIMONS: No, it does not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK I'm going to show you a photograph marked into evidence as state's exhibit 138 and ask you, ma'am, do you recognize this?

SIMONS: Yes, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your honor, at this time, I would ask the court to read the stipulation and jury instruction attendant to it.

HEALEY: All right. Ladies and gentlemen, when lawyers agree that certain facts are true, that's called a stipulation of fact. You must accept the stipulated facts as having been proven. However, the significance of these facts, as with all facts, is for you to decide.

In this case, the stipulated fact that I'm about to read for you that you must accept as true is the state of Florida, the defendant and his attorney have hereby stipulated to the following. The body examined on November 24th and 25th, 2012 by Dr. Stacey A. Simons bearing the medical examiner's case number of 12-1982, is that of Jordan Davis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right and ma'am, again, I'll ask you, is your medical examiner number underneath Mr. Davis' chin in this photo for purposes of documentation?

SIMONS: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this photo was 138 for the record.

Let me ask you ma'am before conducting the autopsy, was Jordan Davis measured for height?

SIMONS: Yes, he was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What height was recorded for him?

SIMONS: 5 feet and 11 inches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was Jordan Davis weighed?

SIMONS: Yes, he was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he weighed with clothing or without clothing?

SIMONS: He was weighed in what we call the as-is state, which means in the body bag with some sheets and his clothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As he had come to you from the medical exam, I mean from the Shands Hospital?

SIMONS: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was his weight with the clothing and the other items that were on the tray?

SIMONS: 145 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you expect based on your experience that Jordan Davis weighed -- Jordan Davis weighed less than 145 pounds considering the amount of clothing and sheets?

SIMONS: Yes, I would.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where was the autopsy conducted? SIMONS: At 2100 Jefferson Street in the morgue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In addition to the autopsy that was performed was there a toxicology screen done?

SIMONS: Yes there was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Explain the purpose of a toxicology screen to the jury?

SIMONS: So we look for anything from drugs of abuse to drugs that are prescribed but in inappropriate amounts to alcohol, to anything over the counter that might also be detrimental.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Based on the toxicology report submitted for Jordan Davis, were there any drugs or alcohol found in his system?

SIMONS: No, there was nothing found.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were there any external wounds to the body of Jordan Davis?

SIMONS: Yes, there were.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did some of those wounds continue to the internal portions of his body?

SIMONS: Yes, they did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the cause of Jordan Davis' death?

SIMONS: Multiple gunshot wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what was the manner of his death?

SIMONS: Homicide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the autopsy of the external portions of his body was conducted, was that on a different day from the autopsy of the internal portion?

SIMONS: Yes, it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And explain that to the jury, please, ma'am?

SIMONS: Jordan Davis died over the Thanksgiving weekend and our office was closed for Thursday and part of Friday. We had an unusually busy weekend with many cases coming in and also run on a somewhat shortened staff.

And so at the time that we received Jordan Davis and I accepted his case, I felt that it was in the best interest to give the case as much attention as possible during the external examination, the x-rays and evidence collection on the first day but then spending the time needed on the second day to do the internal examination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And on what date did you conduct the internal examination of Jordan Davis' body?

SIMONS: That was on November 25th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did all of these things that we've mentioned, your exam, photographs, toxicology, does all of that comprise the autopsy findings on which you base your opinion to this jury?

SIMONS: Yes, it does.

COSTELLO: All right. We're going to break away from this because I've got to take a break. We'll be back with more live from Jacksonville after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: All right. We're covering this trial live from Jacksonville, Florida. This is the trial of Michael Dunn. He's accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis over an argument about loud music. Both were at a gas station. Michael Dunn was in one car. Jordan Davis was with a couple of other friends in an SUV. Dunn and Davis apparently got into some sort of argument. Michael Dunn pulled the gun out of his glove box and fired, according to police, at least nine shots into Davis' SUV.

The medical examiner is now on the stand. She is describing injuries to Jordan Davis. She described him at 5'11", weighing less than 145 pounds. He was wearing a black tank top at the time and there is evidence a bullet went through that tank top. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you find evidence of a gunshot hole through Jordan Davis' black tank top, state's 172?

SIMONS: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you please show the jurors on which side of the T-shirt you found evidence of a gunshot wound?

SIMONS: With this being the front and this being the back, on the right side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the record, Judge, the front of the black T- shirt is facing the jurors as Dr. Simons testifies.

Can you please turn this table to show the jurors that gunshot hole? Can you please point it out for them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let the record reflect she has angled it to the right side and is pointing for the jurors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Simons, is it common for Fire and Rescue to have to cut clothing off of gunshot victims?

SIMONS: Yes, it is very common.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell the jury why they have to do that. SIMONS: In an emergent situation, they are thinking about saving the life and they are not thinking about preserving evidence because they assume that they are going to be able save the life and that the evidence will take care of itself. So they do what they need to do to access the body for administering medical care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And on many of these items of clothing, did you see evidence that these items had been cut off by Fire and Rescue?

SIMONS: Yes, they have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we could have state's exhibit 173. And again Doctor, if you need to refer to the photograph or your notes, was there an olive T-shirt also collected from Jordan Davis?

SIMONS: Yes, there was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We're going to try to have them ready in a row, Judge, with your permission, have them ready to go.

HEALEY: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll need 174 obviously next, please. Doctor, does this T-shirt, state's 173, show evidence of blood from Jordan Davis?

SIMONS: Yes, it does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Can you show the jurors where the blood is?

SIMONS: The blood is on the right side and also on the back. Some blood on the left side and coming around to the front.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there evidence that Fire and Rescue cut through this piece of clothing as well?

SIMONS: Yes. That has been reapproximated before being sewn back together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a gunshot hole in the same general vicinity as there was for the black tank top that was underneath this?

SIMONS: Yes, there is, on the right side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you turn that exhibit and show that to the jury as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you ma'am. Mr. Guy will remove that for you. Can we pull out state's exhibit 175, the boxers? Doctor, was there a pair of Fruit of the Loom boxers that were taken from Mr. Davis' tray when his body came into your medical examiner's office?

SIMONS: Yes, there was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. And Doctor, these displays are three-dimensional, is that correct? SIMONS: Yes, they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The clothing has been packaged where all four sides of the clothing can be seen, is that correct?

SIMONS: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a few minutes, we'll be asking you questions about gunshot wounds basically to the genital area or between the legs of Mr. Davis. Did you examine these boxer shorts to see if there was evidence of gunshot in that area?

SIMONS: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you find any evidence of gunshots?

SIMONS: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you show the jurors where you found them?

Apparently, the jury is looking at the front. I'm going to turn this around and you can see the back or what we call the posterior aspect. At the back on the seat is a hole.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, ma'am. State's exhibit 174 -- a black jacket, please. Dr. Simons, was this black Jacket brought in on with the body of Jordan Davis?

SIMONS: Yes, it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you able to detect evidence of a gunshot hole in this black jacket?

SIMONS: Yes, I was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you show the jurors where you found evidence of that?

SIMONS: Yes. You are looking at the front and again the hole is on the right side. If you look for a small white hole over on the right --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctor, let me ask you to assume the following facts. Please assume that young Jordan Davis was wearing the black tank top -- the big black tank tops with the olive T-shirt on top of that with the black jacket on top of that.

Based on your autopsy and the finding of the gun shot wound to his right side, do those bullet holes in these three items of clothing match up and are they consistent with him having been shot through the right side while wearing this clothing?

SIMONS: Yes, that is correct.

COSTELLO: All right. We are going to step away and bring in our legal analysts Paul Callan and Joey Jackson. Really graphic testimony and w We saw some very graphic evidence displayed in court. Tory Dunnan is also covering the trial live from Jacksonville.

The question for you Tory are Jordan Davis' parents in the room?

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jordan Davis family has been in the room throughout this entire trial. According to people we have from CNN inside the courtroom, they are in there right now and visibly shaken by this. And Carol I do also want to point out that right before the medical examiner went on the stand, the judge said to the entire courtroom, listen they're going to They are going to be showing some graphic items -- some of the clothing. So if you want, you can leave the courtroom. He advised them that that would be happening. But it seems like most people decided to stay in for this part of it.

COSTELLO: all right. To you, Paul, the medical examiner testified that the victim in this case, Jordan Davis, was shot in the groin and also in the chest. I guess that makes sense since the defendant in this case, Michael Dunn, fired the gun into the side of the car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. This kind of testimony -- you know, is always gruesome. It is -- as a matter of fact, I've never tried a murder case myself where the parents didn't leave the courtroom. Usually, it is so hard to take for parents. So it is a very brave thing for them to be sitting through it. I'm sure they want to watch the whole trial and it is essential to prove in a murder case.

You have to prove that the cause of death were the gun shot wounds and you have to put the medical examiner on. This is as gruesome as it is, it is sort of routine testimony in a murder trial.

COSTELLO: Joey, I was sort of taken aback at how small Jordan Davis was, 5'11", he weighed less than 140 pounds.

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. You know Carol, this really humanizes him. Every portion of a trial is difficult for the victim and the victim's family. The victim's family, I should say. This is particularly very difficult. It sort of just adds another dimension to this.

And I think another big item to point out, Carol, was the toxicology report. We heard testimony from the medical examiner that is routine within I believe ten hours of a violent incident to test for toxicology. The complete absence of any type of drug, any type of alcohol, you match that with his -- small in stature, it really humanizes him and it has a tremendous impact upon the jury and everybody involved in listening.

COSTELLO: Would any of this testimony Paul prove that the defendant in this case knew that he had harmed the individual inside the car?

CALLAN: Well, no, it would not directly prove that. What it does prove is that the shots fired from his gun killed Jordan. The prosecutor is going to say, hey, you fire this number of shots at an SUV. You will have only one intention in mind, to kill or seriously injure the occupants. I don't think it is a stretch here to say the prosecution has proven this very conclusively through the medical examiner's testimony.

COSTELLO: All right. Tory Dunnan, thank so much. Paul Callan, Joey Jackson appreciate your analysis as always. We'll continue to follow this trial out of Jacksonville, Florida throughout the day right here on CNN.

But I want to thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

An exciting new show is coming up next. John Berman's and Michaela Pereira's new show "@THIS HOUR" starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An all American football star reveals he is gay. Is the NFL ready for its first openly gay player?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: We are learning that Hillary Clinton has some strong opinions about Monica Lewinsky. You don't call someone a narcissistic loony toon because you like them.

BERMAN: And then children watch as a giraffe is dismembered.