Return to Transcripts main page


Michael Dunn Trial; NFL Prospect Openly Gay; Ice Spears Falling

Aired February 10, 2014 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour with a trial underway in Jacksonville, Florida. Another black teenager who lost his life. Police say he was unarmed and allegedly shot all over a dispute regarding loud music. And the man accused of pulling the trigger could take the stand at any moment. So we're watching for that.

Just a short time ago, I can tell you, that the state of Florida rested its case. This is speedy. This is day four, folks. Michael Dunn faces a first-degree murder charge and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. And the gentleman you're looking at here on the stand, he is one of the workers at the gas station where this whole thing took place. This was November of 2012.

What is clear is this, Dunn shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis at this gas station parking lot on Black Friday in 2012. What's in question, were Dunn's actions lawful, were they justified because he feared for his life? Well, today it's all about the details because the defendant's gun, the bullet holes in Jordan Davis' clothing and the trajectory of the bullets in the SUV all came into play.


STACEY SIMONS, JACKSONVILLE ASSOCIATE MEDICAL EXAMINER: When we look at the shots of the door with the probes through them, you can think of the body now either -- if I'm sitting in a passenger compartment, I've got a door here, I've got a seat behind me and I've got a seat in front of me. So I might try and flee by going like that and now I've shifted my body forward and a little bit down. It also starts to lift my thigh up and, as two bullets come in, we can have a bullet coming in horizontally and going across the left thigh. And then perhaps as I start to fall or tip over, we have another bullet that comes in and enters what we think of as traditionally the back, but in this case, you know, it's just coming in and doing what we've already seen, coming in and then heading horizontally.

If you're asking in respect to whether he could have been standing up as opposed to being seated in the vehicle, again, if you are going to try and pose to me that he was, present me with some information and I will look at that information and tell you whether or not I feel that it's plausible. Right now, I do feel that the information I was presented with is plausible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you were never given information by the state or law enforcement that he was outside the vehicle. Is that true?

SIMONS: I was never given any information that would allow me to make a determination that he was outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the simple answer to my question was, yes, you've never been given that information?

SIMONS: Well, that's correct.


Now, if somebody lifts their leg up -- and I'm a man - judge, do you mind if I move?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, go right ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, judge. And, again, if I move - now, Dr. Simons, if I - if I life my right leg up like this, am I almost looking like I'm in a seated, anatomical position other than my left leg? My right leg would be up, my body's up. It kind of looks like I'm seated if you kind of put a chair underneath my tush, right?





BALDWIN: So that is just part of what's happened today. You see her, Ashleigh Banfield. She is outside of that courthouse for us in Jacksonville, Florida. And criminal defense attorney Kirby Clements joins me now.

But, Ashleigh, let me begin with you because there's a lot - there's a lot going on today. You have the medical examiner testimony, which is riveting and also disturbing for those jurors inside that courtroom. We have the fact that the state rested, which tells me this is moving on along at a clicked, this trial. And now the fact that Michael Dunn himself could take the stand. And that's where I want to begin. I saw you earlier and Defense Attorney Mark O'Mara said he has to.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, this is a very difficult sell to this jury. I don't even want to say who the jury is. It's a tough sell to anybody. And unless he's going to be his own best defense witness, it's a little hard to get your friends from the flying community to get up on the witness stand and say, he's a - and I'll quote, he's - has a reputation for peacefulness and he has a calm demeanor.

Well, that doesn't matter because we can all pop off, can't we? You just can't get character witnesses up there. You've got to give this jury some meat and some potatoes. And so unless Michael Dunn gets up there and truly convinces this jury why he feared for his life, because that's where the law comes in, in his head, was he in fear for his life in his head, not in the juror's head, in his head? And he's the only guy who can really tell you if that was true or not. BALDWIN: Kirby, as a defense attorney, how would you recommend, if you were so to choose to put this defendant on the stand, and when you -- the details, as we mentioned, coming out today, the nine bullet holes in the Dodge Durango, the rapid -- it wasn't rapid succession. There were four, you know, shots fired and then a long pause, which is not good for the defendant in this case. What does he need to do if he takes the stand?

KIRBY CLEMENTS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: First of all, he's going to have to show remorse and that he's very sorry that this happened. If he comes across like, look, I did it and I had to do it and seems almost proud of it, the jury's not going to like that. The jury's going to have to show a tremendous amount of remorse. He's going to have to get them to feel the fear that he felt, or that he claims that he felt, and show them why it's reasonable. Because if the jury doesn't think his fear was reasonable, then they're going to find him guilty.

BALDWIN: OK. Jane Velez-Mitchell, I hear we have you joining us as well from our sister network, HLN.

And, Jane Velez-Mitchell, we've been talking about, you know, what Michael Dunn would need to say, number one, being expressing remorse for this killing if he does take the stand. Here's what else I want to know, because we're learning some details about the jurors themselves. As this case has been compared and there are similarities but there are vast differences as well to the George Zimmerman trial, unlike that trial in Sanford, there are a number of African-Americans sitting in that jury box.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "JANE VELEZ MITCHELL": I certainly feel that these jurors will put aside all of their personal biases and opinions and make the right decision. I have tremendous respect for juries. They do an incredible job. My question is the prosecution in this case. The same team that lost of the George Zimmerman case. Now, they elected to rest without playing the interrogation tape of the defendant as a strategic move undoubtedly to try to force Michael Dunn to take the witness stand. First of all, he may very well take the witness stand any second now. But it's not a (INAUDIBLE) plea. Everybody said Casey Anthony had to take the witness stand, and she didn't.

Secondly, I got this case. I understood this case after watching the interrogation tape. The detective do a brilliant job of highlighting the inconsistencies in his story, pointing out at first he said, they're going to shoot me, and then he said, well, it was a barrel or maybe a stick. How he claimed that he's getting out to attack me, but then they showed that he wasn't getting out. And so I don't know that the prosecution this this case is going to be able to do a better job of exposing the problems with Michael Dunn's story than the detectives did when they interrogated him the first time around.

And I just want to say, Brooke, he's had a long time to come up and rehearse his answers. He has a brilliant, very aggressive defense attorney. I think they should have played it. That's my personal opinion. BALDWIN: OK, let me hit pause on our conversation with the three of you because we just want to dip in.

Again, just a remind, the state rested today. This is day four of this trial. You're listening to this worker at this gas station where this killing took place in November of 2012. The defense is up. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facing the pumps.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were walking out facing the pumps. Then it (ph) would be -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you're walking out of the store (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Now, Mr. Atis (ph), I know you've stated multiple times I think for Mr. Strolla that you had not had a chance to review the surveillance tape.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would reviewing that tape refresh your memory?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Your honor, at this time, the state's going to be publishing state's exhibit 168 for Mr. Atis (ph).




BALDWIN: Ashleigh Banfield, we're going to stay on this picture, but let me just bring your voice in. Can you just give me some context? What are we watching here?

BANFIELD: Well, for starters, I want to tell you about something that's happened that could be a game change. We're still trying to figure out whether it's going to be a game change. And Mark O'Mara and I were having a deep conversation before I sent live with you about this. But when you heard those character witnesses get up on the witness stand and say, you know, he's a good guy, he's peaceful, that very well could have opened the door for some evidence that here to for we have not seen or heard. And it's those jailhouse letters that Michael Dunn wrote. And I just want to read a portion of one for you so that you will see how damaging it will be if this letter gets into this trial.

And this is Michael Dunn's words. "This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiots when they're threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior." That is the kind of thing a defense attorney loses his breath over.

BALDWIN: That's incredibly damaging.

BANFIELD: So if this lawyer who's questioning the witness about the character of the defendant open the door for other character evidence to come in, that could - I mean that -- really, that could be a huge game change. It could be game over. It could be very, very problematic.

BALDWIN: Kirby, how do you defend Michael Dunn's behavior after the shooting, driving with his fiance to the hotel, driving the several hours the next day back home, the letter that Ashleigh just read, how do you defend that?

CLEMENTS: As a defense lawyer, sometimes you've just got to take the hand that you're dealt. And you have to tell the jury, look, my client may have said some boneheaded things as far as the letters are concerned, and he may have done some things you may not agree with. And we're not asking you to make him your best friends that you'd have dinner with or lunch with, but he was justified in what he did. That's what you have - you have to take the bull by the horns, embrace it. You can't try to cute it up. Just embrace it. Say it is what it is. But, at the end of the day, the question is, was he reasonable? That's going to be a very tough, uphill battle for the defense, especially since he used the same words in that letter that I heard he used in reference to the victim before he shot him, which is these thugs or thug music I think is what he said.


Kirby Clements, Jan Velez-Mitchell, Ashleigh Banfield, thank you both very, very much to all three of you. And we will, of course, come back periodically to this trial and if and when Michael Dunn takes the stand we'll take it live.

Coming up, a college football star could become the first openly gay player in the NFL, but apparently that's not going over well with some of the folks who run certain teams. Hear what some GMs fear could happen in the locker room.

Plus, why the heck did a zoo kill this healthy giraffe and cut up itself body, feed it to lions and, oh, yes, look at the kids in the audience. They're watching. They're taking pictures. Why? I'll speak live with the man in charge, coming up.


BALDWIN: He just wrapped up his career as one of the best players in one of the best conferences in college football. And now Missouri's Michael Sam wants the world to know he is more than just a great football player. He is a proud gay man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL SAM, NFL PROSPECT: I was attracted to guys. An, growing up, I didn't know if it was a phase or it was just something that - I wanted to find who I was and make sure I knew what was comfortable. So I never really -- I didn't tell anyone.


BALDWIN: Sam is all but certain to become the first openly gay NFL player. But the challenge of playing pro football just got a big more complicated because, let's face it, locker rooms and plenty of fans are not known for tolerance. In fact, here's what one NFL executive told "Sports Illustrated." Let me read this for you. In the coming decade or two, it's going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it's still a man's-man game. To call somebody a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is still so commonplace. It'd chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room."

So let's talk about Michael Sam's future on and off the field with Esera Tuaolo. He is a former NFL player.

So, Esera, thank you for being with me.

ESERA TUAOLO, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Aloha. Thank you for having me on. This is exciting news and exciting times.

BALDWIN: You came out - we should tell everyone, you came out when your playing days were over.

TUAOLO: I did.

BALDWIN: You're excited for Michael Sam. What else were you thinking when you heard this story?

TUAOLO: You know, it's -- what I was thinking is, this is what everybody has been waiting for. They've been waiting for either a star college athlete to come up through the ranks or, you know, a superstar NFL athlete to come out in the NFL. So exactly what I was thinking about.

But then also I went on - I mean I went to how brave this young man is and how amazing where he's standing up and telling the world who he is. This will give, you know, people the -- he wants people to - what he's doing is that he wants people to judge him for his ability to play football and not judge him by who he decides to give his heart to.


TUAOLO: And like I said, it's exciting times and I'm glad, to tell you the truth, that I'm alive to see this, so -

BALDWIN: I think a lot of people would agree with you. And people looking ahead, you know, you have the draft coming up in May.

TUAOLO: Right. BALDWIN: And so some folks are saying this is awesome for him. And this NFL scout did say this, this is going to drop him down, he said. There's no question about it. It's human nature. Do you want to be the team to, quote/unquote "break that barrier?

Esera, what do you think? Do you think this will - this will help, you know, provide - it could -- think about it like this, could provide, you know, really positive PR for a football team.

TUAOLO: Right.

BALDWIN: Or it could hurt him because, hello, a distraction.

TUAOLO: Exactly. No, you know, I mean, distractions. Let's talk about distraction. He was out with his football team at Missouri and there was no distraction. They played for - they played for the championship game. I -

BALDWIN: But it didn't leak - it didn't leak, that's the difference.

TUAOLO: Well, it didn't - but it didn't leak out but, yes, he still got the support of his teammates and of his friends. And that's, right there, is absolutely amazing. And let me - and I have to add this on. I mean, as an athlete myself and all the athletes that have played professional football, we understand what it takes to get to that position. We understand what it takes to get to that - to where Michael is. The dedication that that kid has, has given himself and to put him at the place where he's at right now is absolutely amazing.


TUAOLO: And no one can take that away from him.

BALDWIN: But be real, do you think it will affect him being drafted? Do you think he will be drafted later because of what he's doing?

TUAOLO: You know, regardless if he's drafted number one or drafted in the later rounds, it really doesn't matter to me. I all - you know, all I know is this kid is good enough to play with the big boys. And now he's putting it in the NFL's court. You know the NFL stance has always been, well, we'll wait until something happens before we implement something. Well, it's happening now, so you need to implement something out there for those players that are in the club (ph), they're playing in the NFL, for the players that are in college that are coming up through the ranks. This is - you know, we're living in different times. People need to jump on the wave of equality and acceptance.

BALDWIN: Not everyone's jumping on.

TUAOLO: Right, right, I understand.

BALDWIN: You know, if only everyone could be as accepting as his, you know, colleagues and teammates and everyone at Mizoo.

TUAOLO: Yes. Yes. BALDWIN: But what about the fans? That's really my last question to you. Do you think American fans in 2014 are ready for this?

TUAOLO: I do. I really believe that in today's society the fans are ready. And that's all due because of the last decade of the education that we've been putting out there for people to learn about who we are as a community and who we are as a GLBT community. So - but, yes, I think they're ready for this. They're definitely ready for this. And just to say, whoever -- whatever team picks him is going to get that 10 percent that no one ever had. They're going to get the support of all those - all the - you know, the gay community, their friends, their colleagues and everyone else that's out there. So whoever picks him will definitely - will flourish. But not only that, they're going to - they're going to get a great athlete because he's proven that. You can see it from his stats and everything else.

BALDWIN: Yes, I know. Esera Tuaolo, thank you very much.

By the way, let me remind our viewers, we'll be talking to - we'll be talking to his agent at the top of the next hour to really get in on the inside of how he's - how Michael Sam is feeling right now and what's next. All those emotions. Esera, thank you very much.

Is there a design flaw in the World Trade Center tower? A beautiful piece of architecture. Look at this. But here's the thing, shards of ice are falling more than 1,000 feet. People on the ground are raising the alarm. We'll talk about that with Chad, next.


BALDWIN: So this next story flew under our radar Friday, but it turns out New York City had to actually shut down a street that runs past the new World Trade Center. Have you heard why? Sheets of ice, then becoming icicles and, boom, down onto the streets below.

Chad Myers, you were in New York all last week.


BALDWIN: You were out and about for CNN Friday night. How big are these icicles falling?

MYERS: They were only about a quarter inch thick.


MYERS: In some spots they got to be a half inch thick. But I watched them fall off the Trump Tower on Columbus Circle. There was ice everywhere in the city. And all of a sudden, a little bit of sun, a little bit of wind and these sheets of ice were falling on the ground all over the city. Just because we had the ice storm, it was coming in, it was blowing off. Things were coming down. Even the path (ph) train station down below had to be closed for a while. People couldn't leave the subway stations down there because the ice was just falling too big. So what they believe was possibly happening here is that it's the angle of the building so much that it's something else. You know, this is an unfinished picture, but this is Google Earth, and this here, this whole system here, this whole little triangle right here, where the ice was building here and here, all this was sliding straight to the ground.

Now, you asked how fast --

BALDWIN: Chad, I'm so sorry. I've got to pull away from you for just a moment. We've been watching this trial out of Jacksonville, Florida. I'm going to come back to you. Jacksonville, Florida, easy for me to say. But we wanted to listen to this. This is Ronald Davis. This is the father of 17-year-old Jordan Davis who was shot and ultimately killed back in November of 2012 over this whole dispute over loud music. And this man is now on trial for first-degree murder. So, let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge, I can approach with my only copy (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that won't help because you need that (ph). I just don't have that on my computer. Does anybody have a copy of that I can use (ph)?



BALDWIN: You know what, we're going to take a quick break. We'll take you back to this Michael Dunn first-degree murder trial in Jacksonville, Florida, after this quick break.