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22 Witnesses in Zimmerman Trial; Police Impound Hernandez SUV; Trayvon's Stepmom Breaks Her Silence; NFL Player Arrested; Wimbledon Third Round Matches Today; Paula Deen's Image Suffers; A Man of Hope; Six Inspiring People to Join Marathon

Aired June 29, 2013 - 13:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: One of dozens of NFL players to run into trouble with the law just this year. We'll look at how the league is dealing with its image problem. Plus some breaking news in the Hernandez investigation in a moment.

President Barack Obama didn't meet Nelson Mandela today but he did speak about the South African leader at a youth town hall meeting in Soweto. We'll tell you exactly what he said.

A dangerous heat wave is baking parts of the west. Temperatures are soaring above 110 degrees. In California's Death Valley, it could hit 128.

The heat took its toll at an outdoor concert in Vegas yesterday. More than 30 people had to go to the hospital.

Alexandria Steele is live for us now in the CNN Weather Center. It is hot and it's only getting hotter. My goodness.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You mentioned Death Valley. If Death Valley hits 130, which is two degrees shy of our forecast, it will be the first time in 100 years, so we are in some rare air here. You know, essentially, it's an atmospheric blast furnace. Here is the culprit. It's an extreme jet stream.

Here is the ridge to the west. It's that high pressure ridge that's kind of acting like a dome, kind of trapping this heat in it. High pressure means sinking air, which means compressing air and thus, warming air and pretty rapidly. And the problem is, it's not going to budge for quite some time, really until July 4th. So we've got a couple of days of this that's for sure.

Extreme heat. At least eight states in the west under some type of advisory watch or warning. All right. Right now, it's gone quickly. Phoenix, at this hour, (INAUDIBLE) out there, still it's morning, 105 degrees in Phoenix. Their average for the high, which is hours from now, is 107, so they're used to being in the hundreds on average. But look at this, today, 118 degrees expected. Now that's only two degrees shy of 120. They don't -- they've only hit 120 three times ever since records have been kept.

To Las Vegas we go. Right now, we're already 103. That's their high for the day this time of year, 117 potentially. Sunday, that would be the warmest they have ever been.

So, Fredricka, we're not just talking about high for a day or high for a month. We're talking about rarefied air, places and temperatures these places haven't seen.

WHITFIELD: Wow. That's incredible stuff. Thanks so much. I'm feeling for the folks out there.


WHITFIELD: It's hard to stay cool in weather like that. It's almost like opening up an oven door, you know, when ovens are just that big, you know, plume of heat.


WHITFIELD: That's what it feels like in those kinds of temperatures.

STEELE: Absolutely dangerous.

WHITFIELD: All right, Alexandra -- yes, it is. Thanks so much.

All right. If you're dealing with that intense heat today, we want to know how you're coping. Send us an iReport at

On to Sanford, Florida now, nearly two dozen people have testified for the prosecution so far in the murder trial of George Zimmerman. And that's a lot to digest.

Our Martin Savidge is live for us now in Sanford where the jurors are getting the weekend off and they are sequestered, right, Marty?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, yes, they would not be listening to any of what you and I are discussing.

WHITFIELD: Well, let's hope not. This was an incredible week. While these were the prosecution witnesses, many have argued that these witnesses really did seem to help the defense.

SAVIDGE: Yes, they did. I mean, there was one in particular, Jonathan Good, and it's ironic, I guess, because Jonathan is -- was, called by the state, the prosecution. But as it turns out, what he had to say really seemed to benefit the defense and he had a lot to say because he is really the first true eyewitness.

He lives in the complex where this altercation took place, where Trayvon Martin was killed and he was in -- well, within about 15 to 20 feet of the struggle that took place. He was able to identify who was on top and who was on the bottom. He was able to eventually identify who was screaming for help. And then he describes the kind of beating that he says was being delivered by Trayvon Martin against George Zimmerman. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What you saw was the person on top in an MMA style straddle position, correct?


O'MARA: That was further described, was it not, as being ground and pound?

GOOD: Correct.

O'MARA: Right? What is ground and pound as you define?

GOOD: That's usually what takes place in that type of position.

O'MARA: Explain what ground and pound is in your mind.

GOOD: The person on top being able to punch the person on the bottom. But the person on the bottom also has a chance to get out or punch the person on top. It's back and forth.

O'MARA: Sure. And which is the dominant position?

GOOD: It would be the top position.


SAVIDGE: Not everything, though, that Good had to say benefited the defense. There was a point where the prosecution got him to admit, Good that is, that he never saw Trayvon Martin allegedly taking the head of George Zimmerman and beating it against the ground, which of course is one of the primary motivators that the defense has said that George Zimmerman had to actually shoot and kill the teenager, but again Good said he never actually saw that. So that did not help the defense at all -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. More testimony, of course, next week. Martin Savidge, thanks so much in Sanford.

All right. Meantime, another high-profile case that has riveted the nation. New developments now in the murder case against former New England Patriots star, Aaron Hernandez. CNN has just confirmed the SUV impounded by investigators overnight looking into an unsolved double murder is registered to Hernandez.

Deb Feyerick is following the investigation for us.

So, Deb, what are investigators saying about this drive-by, double murder last year, and how it now be connected to Hernandez?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a drive-by shooting that happened in the summer of 2012. Two people were killed as a result of the drive-by shooting and there was information that a silver SUV was in the vicinity when this all happened. Now they've located an SUV that matches the kind that appeared in the area when the drive-by occurred. And, Fredricka, this would be the second vehicle linked to Aaron Hernandez that has now somehow connected with a crime. The first of course is the silver rental that Hernandez, Odin Lloyd, the victim, and two friends were driving the night that Lloyd was shot and killed. When police looked inside that rental car, they discovered not only a .45 caliber casing, the same kind that was used to murder Lloyd, the bullets.

They also found a chewed piece of Bubblecious gum that Aaron Hernandez had purchased earlier that night, so those two different cars, police looking at them very, very closely because they're trying to get any sort of forensic evidence they possibly can.

And Fredricka, we can tell you, this is the home where Aaron Hernandez was living. You -- this is the home where he was arrested. He has other properties in the Boston area, but this is where he was. We can tell you just a short time ago, two women entered the home. Not clear who they are, but they did know how to get in, they had the key, they sort of got in, didn't say anything to about a handful of media who are waiting here outside, but they're now inside the home, unclear what it is they're doing -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so, Deb, as it relates to this impounding of the vehicle, is there any other information, any other detail that investigators are revealing about the potential sequence of events or, you know, Hernandez' alleged role in that besides the fact that it -- there is a link between him being registered to the rental of that vehicle?

FEYERICK: Yes. No, right now, all of this is under investigation. And you speak to the police commissioner or the district attorney and that's the first thing that they'll tell you. That it is under investigation. Remember, the drive-by was a full year ago, so if they're to find anything inside that car, it might be more luck than timing in that sense, but they are looking very closely at it to see whether it matches a car that was connected to the drive- by shooting.

You know, as for the other evidence that links Hernandez to the crime of -- to the murder of Odin Lloyd, we can tell you they have cell phone records that place Lloyd, his friends, and that vehicle in the area of the gravel pit where Odin Lloyd's body was found. They have surveillance video from inside his own home showing Hernandez holding a Glock .45 caliber pistol at about an hour before the crime, the murder took place.

So a lot of things are linking up, but clearly, one of the motives investigators are checking into is the possibility that perhaps Lloyd was -- either had information that could link Hernandez to that double murder or something, an argument that had ensued about people that he was speaking with. Again, all of it under investigation -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Deb Feyerick, thanks so much.

Overseas now, President Barack Obama is in South Africa today. He met with Nelson Mandela's family, but he did not visit Mr. Mandela at the hospital in Pretoria. Obama did have kind words, however, for the ailing former leader.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Mandela once said that during all those years in that cell, it was his home here in Soweto. That small, red brick house, that was what he called the center point of my world. And obviously, he's on our minds today and we join the people of the world in sending our prayers to Madiba and his family because he still inspires us all.


WHITFIELD: South African President Jacob Zuma released a statement about Mandela's medical treatment saying this, quote, "These are very excellent doctors who are dealing with him and we hope that very soon, he will be out of the hospital," end quote. The 94-year- old remains in critical, but stable condition with a recurring lung infection.

On to California now, today, more same-sex couples are lining up to get married. A federal appeals court gave the go ahead yesterday following the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier in the week. California is the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

And the One Fund Boston charity is distributing nearly $61 million raised for victims and relatives of the marathon bombing. Those being compensated have to prove they were physically injured. So far 232 victims have received payments. The families of the four who died and those who sustained brain damage or lost both limbs got a little over $2 million each.

Trayvon Martin's stepmother speaking out about what she thinks happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed her stepson.

And Paula Deen gives a tearful apology on television, but did it help her reclaim her good name?


WHITFIELD: In the death of Trayvon Martin, we've heard very little from his stepmother. She helped raise him since he was a toddler. Alicia Stanley broke her silence in an exclusive interview with CNN's "AC 360." She says whatever happened that night with George Zimmerman, she is certain Trayvon was not the aggressor.


ALICIA STANLEY, TRAYVON MARTIN'S STEPMOTHER: I have no doubt that he didn't start the fight. He didn't start the fight. What I'm saying is that he did, it was a fight. There's no doubt, it was a fight. And Zimmerman had to put his hands on him to cause that fight. He was defending himself, so for people to say well, he tried to kill him and he this and he that, I don't think anyone would have been standing somewhere in the dark and been approached by someone they don't know and being pushed around and you're not going to defend yourself. And his friend stated it in her statement, he approached Trayvon and Trayvon asked him, you know, why are you following me.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S AC 360: Do you believe that race was a factor in why George Zimmerman zeroed in on Trayvon?

STANLEY: I would be lying if I said yes, so I'm going to say this. No. I really don't think it was Zimmerman don't like black people, or he picked him out because he was black. Did he profiled him with the hoodie and stuff like that as this thug or whatever walking or whatever was in Zimmerman's mind, yes, but to say that he targeted him because he was black, no. I don't think so.


WHITFIELD: HLN's Jane Valez-Mitchell has been all over the murder trial of George Zimmerman. Now that the first week of testimony is over, you don't want to miss her take on that. That's coming on a bit later.

And Monday, don't miss the CNN special report "The N Word." Don Lemon hosts Monday night, 7:00 Eastern only on CNN.

The high-profile arrest of Aaron Hernandez is sensational, but it's not unique. I'll ask a former player if this is a new problem or just the culture within the league.


WHITFIELD: All right. This breaking news now. This involving another NFL player. Indianapolis Colt safety Joe Lefeged, 25 years old, apparently has been arrested and charged in Washington, D.C. for carrying a firearm without a license among other charges according to a D.C. Metro Police spokesperson.

CNN's Pamela Brown has more information on this. She's joining us on the phone right now from New York.

Pamela, what more do you know about this case?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning, Fredricka, from sources in D.C. that Joe Lefeged, as you mentioned, the safety for the Indianapolis Colts, was arrested in the early morning hours in D.C. Sources are telling us that early this morning, there was a white Camaro driving at a high rate of speed in northeast Washington. Police noted that there was actually a passenger in the backseat of this Camaro convertible standing up without a seat belt, so obviously, that caught the attention of authorities.

They pulled over the Camaro and were told by a source that the driver of the Camaro actually hit the gas pedal and a police chase ensued. Lefeged was in the passenger seat of the -- of the Camaro we're told by sources. Eventually, the car was pulled over and Lefeged got out and ran. He tried to flee. He didn't get very far, he only fled on foot a short distance before he was arrested by authorities. When police searched the car, they found a couple of things. They found a firearm underneath the passenger's seat. Now according to sources, this was an H and K .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol found under the passenger's seat. The way they were able to link this to Lefeged, we're told by sources, is that there were registration papers in the car linking the pistol to Lefeged and we're told that he had registered the pistol back in February and then gained possession of it in May.

According to authorities Lefeged was arrested along with another passenger in the car, Aaron Wilson, and that the driver of that Camaro is still on the loose. Police have still not arrested the driver.

The charges against both men, according to police spokesperson, (INAUDIBLE), are carrying a firearm without a license, unregistered firearms, unregistered ammunition, presence of a firearm in a motor vehicle, possession of an open container of alcohol.

Right now, Lefeged is actually having a court appearance in D.C. Superior Court with (INAUDIBLE) arraignment. Also according to one of my sources there were -- we mentioned the open container of alcohol, we're told that there were plastic bottle of orange juice with an odor consistent with vodka according to my source, so I'm assuming that possession of an open container is linked to those bottles of orange juice found in the Camaro this morning.

So, as you mentioned, Fredricka, this is just the latest NFL player arrested on gun related charges. Of course earlier this week, Aaron Hernandez was arrested on first-degree murder charges as well as several gun related charges.

Our Jason Carroll did a report this week, and in his report, it said that around 60 percent of NFL players own firearms. Now this is anecdotal. This is coming from sports analysts, some experts we spoke to. But that's a pretty high percentage. There is clearly a gun culture within the NFL. We have reached out to the NFL. We've reached out to the Colts and so far we haven't received a response.

WHITFIELD: All right. Pam Brown, thanks so much.

Of course she's talking about the Jason Carroll report not only talking about the 60 percent of NFL players who may have firearms according to sources. That in comparison with the general public with a number of about 45 percent.

Pam Brown, thanks so much for bringing that information to us as it involves this Indianapolis Colts safety.

So, of course, this incident and that of Aaron Hernandez, ex- Patriot tight end, all this putting the NFL under the microscope. Lots of questions being asked whether there's a real problem within the culture of the NFL with these kinds of numbers and more than two dozen NFL players that are being related to a firearms related crimes just since February alone.

We'll talk more about this. Coy Wire is a former NFL player who played for the Buffalo Bills and the Atlanta Falcons.

And so you hear stories like this. This latest incident. And then the investigation involving Aaron Hernandez. It is bringing a lot of questions about, is there a problem within the NFL? Is there a culture of gun violence or gun related activity? How do you answer that?

COY WIRE, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, I think that professional athletes face the same distractions and dilemmas that can plague non athletes in our country. I think the difference is that more money, more media comes magnification. Right? They face the same distractions, but there are more of them. They face the same mental and emotional demons that non-athletes face, but they're often bigger and badder. So I think that that's the main difference.

WHITFIELD: But then you hear that and that may be indeed be the case, but then you also -- I think the average citizen looks at but there is so much to lose. You become this elite athlete, it took so much work, you know, so much sweat to get there. You get to this place and then isn't it time to kind of, you know, be a grown up and look at the responsibility and realize that if you're going to be hanging with people where there's not as much to lose, bad things could potentially happen?

WIRE: I think it's easier said than done. I mean, it's tough to walk a mile in those -- in those players' shoes who were in those situations. I think ego plays a part in it. You know, these men have always succeeded in a Superman-like fashion. You know, they've reached this level of reality that most people can't understand. They've always been -- almost invincible. They developed this personal philosophy that they're invincible.

They've always succeeded, they've always conquered, they've always overcome. They always found a way to make things right. And so they're operating at this high level than when they do fall, it's a far crash. A long ways down so --

WHITFIELD: So this feeling of invincibility, is this something that is discussed? There's the, you know, NFL rookie symposium taking place right now and apparently a lot of, you know, young athletes are paying attention and the experts there are saying look at the Aaron Hernandez case. Yes, he is being charged right now. You know, he is yet to go to trial, but this is just an example of things that can happen, how everything can change on a dime.

WIRE: You bring up a great point. The NFL does a great job of educating us players about the potential pitfalls. Gives us knowledge and information. And also the tools on how to deal with these situations. This symposium that is held for incoming players is developed to help keep them on the right track. That's their main goal as for --


WHITFIELD: How graphic and detail oriented is that kind of conversation?

WIRE: Very open, very blunt about everything that goes on. They bring in former players who have messed up, who've fallen short, who've gotten knocked off the path and they --

WHITFIELD: Do you think people kind of forget that conversation once they get in the game and once they feel like they're a seasoned now NFL player and so --

WIRE: I think they get that sense of it will never happen to me. Again, back to that feeling of invincibility. That it will never happen to them. Ultimately, you know, the NFL can do as much as they want to try to prevent these things and they must to make the players aware, but ultimately is that individuals' daily decisions that determine their destiny.

WHITFIELD: How did you keep it together?

WIRE: A lot of good people surrounding me. I was very fortunate. And I made a lot of mistakes. You know, I was a knucklehead at times as well. You know, no one's perfect. It's just a shame that when it happens, often we all hear about it and it's tough to see.

WHITFIELD: It is. All right. Coy Wire, thanks so much. Good to see you. Appreciate it.

WIRE: Thanks. Appreciate it.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're still going to talk more sports coming. Serena Williams, she's on centre court at Wimbledon. Much of that straight ahead. We're going live to London after this.


WHITFIELD: Heard a lot of action at Wimbledon today as two of world's top tennis players, American Serena Williams and Serbian Novak Djokovic, will be playing their third round match today.

Christina McFarlane is live for us right now in Wimbledon. From Wimbledon, I should say.

So, Christina, so, you know, who's got the advantage here? I mean, they customarily would have the upper hand, but anything can happen on grass.

That's absolutely right, Fredricka. As we've learned this week, but I'm pleased to say the sun is shining here at Wimbledon and players are about to get underway for the top two seeds. Novak Djokovic is up against the world's ranked 25, Jeremy Shardy of France. Now Djokovic should have the upper hand here, he's met Shardy on six previous occasions, and has been him every time. But as you say, there have been so many high profile exits this week that I refuse to make any predictions.

With Serena Williams now she's got a really interesting opponent, her name, Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, who is actually aged 42. She's the oldest woman to make it through to the third round here at Wimbledon in the open air and the last time she made it so far at Wimbledon, she was up against Steffi Graf in 1998 in the semifinals here.

So really interesting game but I would imagine, and I say I'm not making any predictions, but I would imagine that Serena would have an easy match out there on court today -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: My goodness. I know it's one of her favorites, you know, and I'm sure her sister would be very happy if she were to clinch the title there as well. And you kind of share the glory.

OK. So there have been a lot of injuries with a lot of players and that has changed the scope of things as well. Is it -- does it say something about the surface, about the weather, about just personal, you know, athletic -- I guess fitness? What's going on out there?


MCFARLANE: Well, there's a whole bevy of answer, really. I mean, it's been the worst performance for the top 10 seeds ever at a grand slam and we saw top seeds Roger Federer, Raphael Nadal and Maria Sharapova go out this week, but they were actually outplayed by seeds who were over the top 1200 in the rankings, which is something that really we haven't seen for so long an upset of that scale happen.

But also on Wednesday, just this week, they say they're calling black Wednesday, we saw an unprecedented seven withdrawals from some top players as well who were injured here at Wimbledon and many of them blaming the surface of the grass, which is been some debate here over the last week that it's been slippy, that it's been dangerous.

Wimbledon issued a statement just a few days ago denying that there was any difference this year to grass and how it's been in the previous years, so it's been a historic week here, for the top seed, but really for them, not for the right reasons.

WHITFIELD: All right. Christina, thanks so much. Appreciate that. Keep us posted there at Wimbledon.

All right. Back in this country, Paula Deen gave a tearful apology on NBC "Today" show, but will it be enough for her to bounce back from a controversy over a racial slur?



PAULA DEEN, CHEF: If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you're out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Paula Deen giving that tearful interview on the "Today" show this week after admitting that she had used the N word 30 years ago. But since that interview, more companies have cut ties with her. Sears, Home Depot, Target and J.C. Penny today all saying it's just too hot in the kitchen with her and now the publisher of her next cookbook is calling off its publication.

I'm joined now by CNN analyst and "New York Times" columnist, Charles Blow.

Charles, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So, her corporate sponsors are dropping like flies. Is it because of her use of the racial slur or is it because of her apologies?

BLOW: Well, I think that probably some of both. I mean, the apologies are not helping, to be honest. I mean I think that at this point, they're taking on a life of their own. Very hard to watch. It's very hard to watch someone in that shape and the tears and whether or not you believe the tears are genuine or not, it's really hard to watch and they take on their own life.

WHITFIELD: And how can that be? She has a crisis manager, in fact, a high profile one, who is a black woman, Judy Smith, many people know her as, you know, the woman that's being profiled in the show's "Scandal," but she has people around here, Deen, that is, has people around her to help her convey her message and it's not working. Why not?

BLOW: I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would tell her to constantly go in front of microphones and on television or put out videos and try to explain this away.

You can't explain it away, Paula. This is the way that apologies work. You have to apologize for yourself. This is something that you say, I have done something wrong and I want -- you know, please forgive me. The other person does not have to forgive you and in many cases, people -- not everyone who you apologize to, will ever forgive you.

You have to accept that part of it. You need to say I am going to take some time to reflect on what it is about me that would allow me to use words like this or to say things like this and what it is about my belief system that would -- that would instill this in me and can I grow from this situation? And just go and really do that work on yourself.

What Paula seems to be trying to do or what her crisis managers seem to be trying to do is try to stem the flow of the money. Right? So to try to stop the bleeding so that people stop dropping her. But what they're doing is actually accelerating the bleeding by constantly going on television.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's the antithesis of --

BLOW: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: Well, you know, her sons got on, you know, the tube and they did a very -- I guess some people thought it was very genuine, you know, apology on her behalf. And for a second, it seemed like she was winning some support, but then she got on the air and it all just seemed to crumble.

I mean, is it a real problem, I guess in for her that it is just who she is? Or others interpret that it is from her southern culture and she just doesn't know any better. How do you explain it?

BLOW: Well, I don't -- I mean, I can't explain how another person feels. I do think that some of the reaction is, you know, she had a long way to fall, and some people -- you know, (INAUDIBLE), that some people want to see people high and mighty fall. People like, some people like that. You -- and like I said before, you cannot expect everyone will forgive you and even when people forgive you, that doesn't mean you won't take your lumps in the process of being forgiven.

So you're going to take lumps. What they seem to be trying to do is to stop, not take the lumps or in Paula Deen's last apology, to basically say, I am now a victim, that people are piling on and I feel victimized, well, that is not going to work when you're in the mode of apologizing. You really just have to give a statement. Don't give all this footage. Go away. Do the work on yourself and say I have grown from this episode, whatever comes off it. This is not helping.

WHITFIELD: The whole -- go away and reinvent yourself kind of thing.

BLOW: Yes. It's just picking at the scab.


BLOW: This is picking at the scab.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're going to see what happens next, that's for sure, because it seems like every day there's a little dribble of something new.

All right. Charles Blow, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

BLOW: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And Monday with so much going on, with so many inferences to race, Monday, we have a special report. It's called "The N Word." Don Lemon hosts the special Monday night, 7:00 Eastern Time only on CNN.

Overseas, Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition at a Pretoria hospital. Up next, I sit down with Andrew Young to talk about Mandela's legacy in South Africa and globally.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WHITFIELD: This breaking news now out of Egypt. People are filling the streets of Cairo. A huge protest over President Mohamed Morsi. The president's opponents have been demanding that he leaves office a day before the one-year anniversary of his election. Well, now his supporters are also turning out to defend him.

Yesterday, one man was shot to death during the protest and an American who was watching the demonstrations was stabbed.

And this breaking news. This involving the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. Well, he is still in Moscow, in the airport, but today, NSA Deputy Director Ben Rhodes said the U.S. vice president spoke with Ecuador's president today. Joe Biden asked him to please reject Snowden's request for asylum. No further details were being provided.

All right, now on to South Africa. Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized in critical, but stable condition. People around the world are praying for him. President Obama met with his family today and talked to his wife over the phone.

Joining me right now, Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador and chairman of the Andrew J. Young Foundation.

Good to see you. You wear so many hats. You've had your own relations with Nelson Mandela. What are your thoughts on him, especially as President Zuma came out today, talked about his doctors are the finest in South Africa. And --

ANDREW YOUNG, CHAIRMAN, ANDREW J. YOUNG FOUNDATION: It almost doesn't make any difference.

WHITFIELD: It doesn't make any difference to you. What do you mean?

YOUNG: His legacy is established. His place on earth is sound and it's probably the most solid moral platform of any human being of my lifetime. And it's inevitable that he will be stronger in death than in life.

I went back reading his conversations with myself and it reminded me that he was not talking about multiracialism. He was talking about nonracialism and he was talking about that in jail and he was talking about forgiving Prime Minister Botha, who probably had put him in jail and sentenced him for life and he was deploring the fact that he was a victim of violence and he was forgiving even after being in jail for 10 years and he's even more forgiving. So it makes us wonder. We ought to look at him and forget about Paula Deen.

WHITFIELD: He is always -- he's always symbolizes unifying. And we've heard from so many people who've said even in this situation when he is in -- remains in critical condition in the hospital, that he symbolizes a certain kind of strength. He is unifying South Africa, but at the same time, you know, his family is having a very difficult time sharing him publicly.

YOUNG: Well, they have never had him. And they have always suffered more outside, especially Winnie and the children. But they have been the victims. He was in some ways protected in jail with several hundred of his comrades. But they were always out on their own and they have a right to be bitter.

They suffered more than almost anybody else in South Africa, so I think we've got to show them forgiveness and understanding, too. The same forgiveness and understanding that he showed to the people who imprisoned him.

WHITFIELD: You said that you believe upon his passing, he's going to be even greater. His influence might be even greater. Not just for South Africa, but you think globally?

YOUNG: Globally because there's no one else that stands simply and purely for nonviolence, forgiveness and reconciliation. And there were several thousand people who stayed in jail with him and they had that drilled into them every day. They were not allowed to hate their guards. They were not -- they were taught that if South Africa was going come together, it was only through forgiveness and reconciliation.

Desmond Tutu's book is no "Future Without Forgiveness." I think that's a message that they need in Iraq, in Afghanistan, here in the United States at all. Always and, you know, anybody that says "The Lord's Prayer," "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us," has got to come down and remember that Nelson Mandela put that in national and international terms and we can do no less. If we're going to survive.

WHITFIELD: We invited you to talk about Nelson Mandela, but as we say good-bye to you, wondering if you have any thoughts about the lesson that you hope might come out of this George Zimmerman murder trial.

YOUNG: Well, that's a difficult one because when people are placed in darkness, crimes will be committed. The guilty are not just those that create -- commit the crimes, but those that create the darkness. Was a Martin Luther King quote.

Zimmerman was in darkness. He believed in the power of guns. He believed in all kinds of nonsense and he's -- they were both live -- they're both victims in some ways and in a gun culture, you're going to have things like this. And yet, we are determined, we seem determined to be a people who live by the gun. Mandela reminds us that only the spirit will prevail.

WHITFIELD: Ambassador Young, thanks so much. Always good to see you. Appreciate it.

YOUNG: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, we're going to talk more about the influence of the George Zimmerman trial. It has indeed been quite the rolling coaster ride. The state's star witness taking the stand. Hear what she has says about the last moments of Trayvon Martin's life.

But first, six CNN viewers who were selected to race in a Nautica Malibu triathlon are almost ready for their big day. Their health issues got in the way of getting a full workout in the past, but that's not stopping them now.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to catch us up on how they're training. It's going.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're in the home stretch of our CNN "Fit Nation" triathlon challenge. Six people are training to race the Nautica Malibu triathlon with me, and we're just a little more than two months away from the start line. A little nervous.

When they started this journey, some of the six-pack couldn't run more than a minute without stopping. Health issues were slowing them down. But now what a difference some simple training makes.

Tabitha McMahon, she's battled ulcerative colitis since she was 19 years old. Cycling, running, those were basically impossible for her. But now she's about to race her second triathlon as part of a relay team. She joined out program to show other people with the disease they, too, could overcome it. And she's been getting a lot of feedback in droves.

TABITHA MCMAHON, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: One of the most gratifying things that's happened there's been a number of people who are also suffering from inflammatory bowel disease that have reached out to me. I've heard over and over again either they search the Internet they found no positive stories of living with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis until they've across my story. And that's been so special to me and has really kept me motivated.

GUPTA: Rae Timme. She's the oldest member of our group. When we first met Ray, she was afraid to put her face in the water to swim, but check her out now. She has lost 17 pounds, she runs up to six miles at a time and she's come to love those long bike rides.

RAE TIMME, FIT NATIONAL PARTICIPANT: I was motivated to do this because I wanted to feel better and I was willing to do the work. I cannot begin to tell you how good I feel, how much energy I have.

GUPTA: Together Tabitha and Rae are helping us build a more fit nation. Rae's husband just bought a bike. He started cycling with her as well. Tabitha's 7 1/2 year old is taking a page out of her mom's book, and starting to get fit also.

If you want to follow along with our workout and check out our interactive at


WHITFIELD: Verbal fireworks in this -- this week in the trial of George Zimmerman. He is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell has the highlights now.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S JEAN VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fredricka, what a roller coaster week in the George Zimmerman murder trial. At the start of the week, the prosecution came out of the gate like gangbusters delivering a powerful opening statement, in which he accused George Zimmerman, the defendant, of a baker's dozen of lies in connection with what happened between him and Trayvon Martin on the night that Trayvon died.

The key witness was the prosecution's star witness, the young lady who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin seconds before he was killed. Her name, Rachel Jeantel, and she definitely painted Trayvon Martin as the person being followed and George Zimmerman as the aggressor. Listen.


RACHEL JEANTEL, WITNESS: He said, why are you following me for? Then I heard a hard-breathed man come and say, what are you doing around here? I said, Trayvon, Trayvon, what's going on? And I heard a bump, then I started hearing grass sound. I heard Trayvon say, get off, get off.


JEANTEL: Then secondly the phone hung up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Rachel Jeantel's hostile attitude on the witness stand alienated some people and they thought maybe it didn't play well with the jurors. What followed all week, a series of residents. Taking the stand and testifying about what they saw and out at the trial.

Now some of them said things that supported George Zimmerman, some of them said things that supported Trayvon Martin. It was a mixed bag. They contradicted each other. Some of them even contradicted themselves because they gave several different accounts by now of what happened.

Here's what one resident, Jonathan Good, said that seemed to fall in the defendant's corner. Check it out.


O'MARA: The person who you now know to be Trayvon Martin was on top, correct?


O'MARA: And he was the one who was raining blows down on the person man on the bottom, George Zimmerman, right?

GOOD: That's what it looked like. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So at the end of the day, it appears it all boils down to who was on top in the confrontation. That would tend to make that person, if the jury believes that person is on top, the aggressor. Who was crying out for help? It would tend to lean toward the person crying out for help was the victim. Whose voice was that? And those are questions that we're still sifting through as this trial unfolds.

Back to you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Jane Velez-Mitchell. And you can catch Jane each weekday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on our sister network HLN.

OK. Are "Sesame Street" characters Burt and Ernie characters gay? A provocative new magazine cover is generating a lot of discussion about the puppet's sexual orientation, that's coming up 3:00 Eastern Time. Stay with us.


WHITFIELD: I'm Fredricka Whitfield. I'll see you in an hour but first Wall Street's wild swings have become the new normal. Is your nest eggs safe? Christine Romans has your answers. "YOUR MONEY" starts now.