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New Day

Zimmerman Prosecutors: "He's a Murderer"; Celebrity Custody Battle Could Reshape California Law; Lucy Liu's Mission; Royal Baby Watch

Aired July 16, 2013 - 08:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. It is Tuesday, July 16th. I'm Chris Cuomo.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. Let's get straight to news anchor Michaela Pereira for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's do this. Number one, Attorney General Eric Holder will address the NAACP's national convention. The Justice Department is now investigating possible federal charges in the Zimmerman case.

Number two, Jodi Arias back in court today. Prosecutors want to set a date to retry the penalty phase of her murder conviction.

The show must go on. For the first time since an aerialist fell to her death last month, the Cirque du Soleil show "Ka" reopens today at the MGM Grand in Vegas.

A heat wave is blanketing the East Coast with oppressive humidity and temperatures in the 90s. The National Weather Service says heat indexes will be well over 100 degrees in some areas.

And at number five, the Big Apple hosting Major League Baseball's all- star game tonight. It'll be Met's phenom Matt Harvey starting for the National League with Detroit's Max Scherzer on the hill for the A.L.

You know, we're always updating our five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, thank you, Michaela.

He's a murderer, he's lucky -- that's what the prosecutors in the George Zimmerman trial have to say, not mincing words when it comes to the man they tried to convict of second-degree murder. Vinnie Politan, host of HLN's "AFTER DARK" sat down with Florida state attorney Angela Corey and lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. Let's take a listen in.


VINNIE POLITAN, HLN HOST: What was the prosecution theory of what actually happened?

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Well, we were left with inconsistent witnesses in terms of what actually happened and his story, and what we were trying to prove is his story was false. Our belief as to what happened, he chased down Trayvon Martin. He was going to make sure Trayvon Martin didn't get away and was going to be there when the police got there.

POLITAN: There was no sort of narrative that this jury could follow, that America could follow.

DE LA RIONDA: The problem you've got in a trial is, you can't say jury don't speculate and ask them to speculate, and so we're left with a defendant's story and what we attempted to do as best we could is to prove that his story was false.

ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: And the injuries indicate there was some sort of a struggle. We never said Trayvon didn't do something to George Zimmerman. What we said is, you can't take a concealed weapon and encourage or incite a fistfight, which is what he did by stalking a teenager who didn't know who he was, and then whip your gun out and shoot, never explaining the details how he was able to pull his gun if he was being beaten as brutally as he claimed. We clearly refuted it with the physical evidence. No DNA on Trayvon Martin's hands, and those lies were put in front of the jury one after the other after the other.

POLITAN: The verdict, Trayvon Martin's parents weren't there. Did you know they weren't going to be there?

COREY: Yes. I don't think she could take much more of them assailing her son, trying the victim in a case where he was an unarmed teenager just walking home. We can never lose sight of that fact. He didn't know who George Zimmerman was, yet this man followed a teenager who had done nothing but walked home in the rain in a hoodie and then put a bullet through his heart because he got punched in the nose.

POLITAN: One word to describe George Zimmerman.

COREY: Murderer.

POLITAN: George Zimmerman.


POLITAN: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

DE LA RIONDA: I don't know there's one word that can describe -- victim. A victim.

POLITAN: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.

COREY: Prey, P-R-E-Y. He never had a fighting chance.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in Vinnie Politan. Vinnie, thanks for bringing us this interview. Great job, as expected. Let's start with Angela Corey. People have been remarking how impressive she is when discussing the case and she certainly seemed very powerful in the interview with you. What's your take on why she didn't try it?

POLITAN: She doesn't try all the cases. She's the boss, right? So there's people that she trusts, like Bernie de la Rionda, who's been doing this for 30 years. So she generally doesn't try cases, although there is one she's going to try in September, which is a similar case -- which is Jordan Davis as the victim, Dunn as the defendant. So she does get in the courtroom once in awhile, but generally that's not her role in the office. But, yes, you're correct. I mean, she's passionate and she is very, very well spoken and persuasive.

CUOMO: Vinnie, what about using the word murderer? Is there any kind of ethical consideration with that, when the state attorney says that about a man who was just acquitted?

POLITAN: You know, when I heard it, I was thinking about it, but then I took a step back and thought more about it. If she didn't say that, you know, if she said "innocent man," if she said, "not guilty," then people would be all over for saying, "Well, you accused him of murder, how dare you. You didn't believe in that charge, you didn't think you could prove it."

Well, what it told me is this is exactly what she believed happened that night and this is exactly what they believe they could prove, and that's why they charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

CUOMO: Vinnie, explain this to me, you hit them with the question about the narrative. They seem much more persuasive in your interview than they did at trial. What's the difference? The restriction of only knowing what you show in the courtroom?

POLITAN: Yes, and what they really said, when you listen to them, though, at the moment the gun comes out, they don't have a story -- because their only witness at that moment is Trayvon Martin and he's dead and the eyewitnesss have differing accounts and none of them see that moment. The only person who tells the story is George Zimmerman.

So they felt the best way to prove their story was by disproving his story, because why would he lie? Why would he lie unless he was covering up what really happened? And that's difficult when you're talking about the burden of proof, Chris, when you have to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and you're proving your case by disproving the defendant's case. It's really a tough situation that they were put in in this trial.

CUOMO: It's very, very difficult to do, also, right, which is why there's so much speculation early on by legal eagles such as yourself about how, if all you can do is prove he's a liar and you can't tell me beyond a reasonable doubt what really happened, you're going to have a problem.

POLITAN: Yes. Well, and here's the thing, you don't have to prove exactly what happened beyond a reasonable doubt. You have to prove the elements of the crime. But the elements of the crime, because it was a justification case, a self defense case, are so intertwined with the facts that it became very, very tough for this prosecution team, because they didn't have to prove self defense to the defense. They just had to make it seem reasonable to this jury. So if one reasonable explanation was self defense, then the proper verdict is not guilty, and I think that's what kind of happened in this case.

CUOMO: I wonder what will be their take when they hear what the jurors said to CNN about how they were trying to find him guilty of something, why they felt that they couldn't. It would be interesting, maybe as a follow-up, to see where their heads are after they hear that juror.

Vinnie Politan, thank you so much. Great interview, thanks for bringing it to us. Appreciate it. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris. Coming up on NEW DAY, actor Jason Patric's involved in a fierce custody battle that could change the law in California.

Also, the royal baby watch is on. We'll take you to London where the excitement is building to a fever pitch over Kate and William's upcoming arrival.


BOLDUAN: The child custody battle between a Hollywood star and his former girlfriend that could change California law. It's a fascinating -- it's a fascinating story. And what they would do would give certain sperm donors the ability to sue for parental rights.

Michaela has been tracking this story. It's complex, but it's a big deal.

PEREIRA: It is a big deal and there's emotion wrapped up and any time a child's involved, a bitter custody battle between actor Jason Patric and his former girlfriend drawing a whole bunch of attention beyond just Hollywood, setting the stage for many modern family custody cases. The outcome could influence the sperm donation insemination process nationwide.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Actor Jason Patric is used to being in the spotlight.

JASON PATRIC, ACTOR: That was odd.

PEREIRA: But now he's getting attention not for what's happening on screen, but off it.

PATRIC: I've had my son stolen from me, and I have to do anything I can to try to get him back.

PEREIRA: Patric and his former on-again off-again girlfriend Danielle Schreiber are in the midst of a heated custody dispute over three- year-old Gus, Schreiber's son, born after she was inseminated with Patrick's sperm via IUI, or intrauterine insemination, back in 2009.

PATRIC: I didn't donate my sperm. I gave my sperm to have a child with Danielle.

PEREIRA: Patric claims he was always a father to Gus, but Schreiber says that's not true. They duked it out in a California courtroom in February and the judge ruled in Schreiber's favor based on the state's Uniform Parentage Act, which states, "The donor of semen ... is treated in law as if he were not the natural father of a child thereby conceived ... unless otherwise agreed to in a writing."

ESTHER PANITCH, FAMILY & CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I need to have some type of consent with both parties.

PEREIRA: But Patric, with a new California bill in mind, says he's not giving up. Enter SB-115, an amended bill that if passed would give sperm donors the chance to claim custody even after the child is born.

Schreiber's spokesperson sent CNN this statement on her behalf. "When Jason offered me his sperm, it was under the condition that his donation never be made public and that he would not be a father to the child. For me, this has never been about preventing contact. This is about preserving parental rights."

PANITCH: The bigger picture in this is what is the public policy?

PEREIRA: Family attorney Esther Panitch says with these new modern family issues the rules need to be clearer.

PANITCH: Do we want to exclude fathers who want to be involve in their child's life or do we want to protect the rights for single mothers to choose for their self and their child what that child's future is and who can be involved in it?


PEREIRA: The California assembly is expected to vote on the amended SB-115 bill next month. Patric has filed for an appeal, hoping this time around the court will view him as Gus's father, not just a sperm donor. And this is the challenge in this particular story they disagree -- the two people, the two adults disagree on their relationship. They -- they differ vastly.

She sees him as a sperm donor, he says he was a parent and was in a relationship with her and they decided to have a baby. And that's a key part of this -- of this battle specifically.

CUOMO: Also raises this question, so, if we're not married but we want to have a baby and it's not happening and we use IVF, I have to be careful, because under that California law as it is right now, I may not be seen the way I may see myself.

PEREIRA: Right. BOLDUAN: And you initially -- and you initially think, you know, they should have hammered something out on paper beforehand, but when you hear from his perspective what their relationship was, he would think -- he would think there is no reason for any kind of a contract going in.

PEREIRA: Well and his specific case is just sort of a rare occurrence.

BOLDUAN: It is unusual.

PEREIRA: Broader, in a broader sense, there are a lot of people that are concerned that this is just going to allow men or sperm donors to just change their mind at a whim and so there's concerns about this that hurt mothers.

CUOMO: Right.

BOLDUAN: Slippery slope.

PEREIRA: Exactly.

CUOMO: So they are going to have to balance that out, but remember that you know, you go through a lot of paperwork when you're a sperm donor to make it clear what you are and what you're not.


CUOMO: But a really good story, Michaela, thank you for bringing to us.

All right, we went from that, we've had a lot of tough stuff today, so how about some good stuff everybody?

PEREIRA: Yes please.

BOLDUAN: Yes please.

CUOMO: You know social media it can be a nuisance, let's be honest, but sometimes it can also be a big blessing. And here's a story of just that.

Little Hazel Hammersley only two years old, she's facing very big challenge, a rare type of cancer that affects infants and young children.

To help her through her chemo Hazel's mom and grandma used tape to spell out a message on her hospital room window "Send pizza, room 4112." It was a joke really. They thought nothing would come of it.


CUOMO: And nothing did for a while that is until ReadIt got a-hold of it. You know ReadIt, the social media.

BOLDUAN: Yes. CUOMO: A picture of the message wound up on the site, it went viral. Before long, pizza after pizza started showing up. Take a listen.


LAUREN HAMMERSLEY, HAZEL'S MOTHER: She woke up from her nap to the tons of pizza in her room and she thought it was great. She ended up having three slices and had a party with all of her friends and there was music playing, she had a great time. It's really brought us a lot of hope and encouragement in such a time of despair for our family.


CUOMO: Two years old, three slices God bless. Even at that age, they know pizza. But also you know what this wound up being soul food. Little Hazel was overjoyed and there have been so many pizzas, the hospital respectfully asked that they stop. And so what do we know now, Hazel's spirits are lifted but she faces a tough road ahead, more rounds of chemo and then a surgery to remove her tumor.

So if you want to help instead of pizza, you can visit "Hope for Hazel" on Facebook and you can donate there. This family has got a big struggle in front of them, but you see how even when you don't think it's going to matter, it can really mean so much to somebody.

BOLDUAN: They were just having fun trying to pass the time when they are in that hotel room and to put up that message, and then it just lifted her spirits, that's so sweet. That's big smile.

CUOMO: That little beauty. Anyway, you can go to Facebook and you can help if you want. That's "The Good Stuff".

We want to hear your stories. Tell us, let us keep telling the good news. Help us out, tweet us, go to Facebook, use the hashtag NewDay. Ok.

BOLDUAN: Let's get some more good stuff how about that. More good stuff in Hollywood. When she's not shooting her hit TV series, "Elementary", Lucy Liu takes on another role, UNICEF ambassador. The actress recently visited Syrian refugee families in Lebanon in this "Impact your World."


LUCY LIU, ACTRESS: Hi, I'm Lucy Liu and we can make an impact for Syrian children.

Syria is in a terrible situation right now. There's civil war going on that is creating absolute pandemonium and people are fleeing into Lebanon, into Jordan, into Iraq.

Six million people have been displaced and half of them are children. These children are suffering, they have lice, there's scabies and they've lost family. They can't go to school. They are not getting the medical attention they need. They're not getting the nutrition they need. There's going to be a lost generation of children if this continues.

Children deserve to have a childhood. What happens on the other side of the world isn't just their business, it's our business, because we share the same water, we share the same environment. If we understand that, we are actually one community, then it makes the world so much smaller, much more tangible for people to understand.

UNICEF is currently desperate for donations for Syria. It's our duty as human beings to give back. Join the movement. Impact your world.


CUOMO: got to keep these stories coming, got to learn how to impact our world. Good for Lucy Liu.

We're going to take a break, when we come back, royal baby watch -- talk about world impact. Everybody's watching for when the little one comes.


BOLDUAN: All right, are you still 50/50 on this?

CUOMO: On what.

PEREIRA: That's funny.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

You know what that mean -- speculation about the royal baby is running wild this morning. CNN's Max Foster has more from London. Hey, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I can tell you that the other Kate is three days overdue, so literally could be any day now. And we heard from what will be the step grandmother of this child, the Duchess of Cornwall, she gave a good indication that it could be soon, too. Let's listen to what she had to say last night.


CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: We're all waiting near the telephone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know everybody's camped outside --

PARKER-BOWLES: I think so. I think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we wish you all well.

PARKER-BOWLES: He or she will be there.


FOSTER: He or she by the end of the week. Never have we been so prepared, Kate and Chris, for a story to break.

BOLDUAN: we are there, you are there, we are watching and waiting. So, we will be there with you. Thanks so much, Max, we will watch it all day long. We'll be right back after this.


CUOMO: a big day of news today from George Zimmerman to what we're dealing with, with the weather, to these weapons that may have been found down in Panama.

Thanks for coming to all of us about it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, no kidding.

That's going to be it for NEW DAY with us. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

PEREIRA: Hey Carol.

CUOMO: Hey Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks. Have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.