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Jury Continues Deliberations of Loud Music Trial; Travelers Frustrated by Cancellations; Sochi Medal Count; Virginia Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Aired February 15, 2014 - 09:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for starting your morning with us.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We've got so much more ahead for you now on NEW DAY SATURDAY. So stick around. That continues right now.

Good morning, everybody. It is Saturday and I hope that you didn't have to wake up to an alarm clock this morning. Got one of those mornings where you just got to wake up when your body woke up.

I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: You kind of just blink and there's the NEW DAY.

I'm Victor Blackwell. 9:00 here on the East Coast. 6:00 on the west coast. Thanks to the folks on the West Coast joining us. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY.

PAUL: So we want to start today with the jury in the loud music trial because as of this moment we believe they are getting back to business in their deliberations. Just moments ago, the jury started.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Michael Dunn he faces life in prison if he's convicted of the murder in the -- in the death of 17-year-old of Jordan Davis at a Florida gas station happened in 2012.

PAUL: So let's talk with Orlando CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara who's joining us from there.

Mark, thank you for being with us.


PAUL: Sure. So before jurors adjourned yesterday, this is what I think is so interesting about where we stand with this right now. They asked the judge if it was possible to reach a verdict on some counts, but not others. And he said yes.

First of all, from an attorney standpoint, what does that tell you about their thinking right now?

O'MARA: Well, you know, the obvious thing is they've already decided on few of the counts. It may be the attempted murder counts, it may be lesser included of the attempted murder. But they're also having a difficult time with at least one of the counts. And if there is one count, then it seems as though it's the primary count, the first- degree murder. They may be wondering about self-defense as to a defense first-degree murder.

They may be thinking first-degree murder or second-degree murder. So it's really -- it's always, I call it, a false folly to try and figure out what they're saying and what they're thinking in there like watching an oven bake. But the fact that they are deciding on one or more and not -- I think that they're looking at the self-defense issue, maybe as to the defense of the first-degree murder case and then they're questioning whether or not there was any defense to shooting the second and third round of fire.

BLACKWELL: So, you know, Mark, you've waited in the court rooms for juries to come back. And most people know, of course, during the Zimmerman trial. We know that they worked late into the evening yesterday. Of course back to work supposedly starting now at 9:00. I mean, does that mean that they are close to a verdict when they worked so late into the evening, especially after that question? Are you expecting to hear something before noon?

O'MARA: You know, I want to say yes, because obviously they're getting to the point where they're probably focused on one or two counts where they can't come to agreement. But understand that a jury is a very organic entity at this point. And you want to be very careful pushing them beyond their comfort zone as far as being able to talk and interact properly.

What you don't want to do is to let them get so tired that they start really sort of separating and going to opposite ends of the sandbox because that can lead to a hung jury. And the worst thing that could happen in any case is to have to try this one again.

PAUL: Well, OK, and that's kind of what I wanted to ask you about. If they -- the judge gave them clearance to decide -- you can decide on some but not decide on others. If they come out and there are some that they've decided, and let's say it's guilty just hypothetically.

O'MARA: Sure.

PAUL: That there are some that they did not decide on, is the fact that they couldn't decide on some counts favor the defense in an appeal in any way?

O'MARA: Well, here's the way it goes. They have to come out with a final decision. They can't just come in and say, you know, guilty like you say on counts two, three and four, let's go back and deliberate. But once you are fully done deliberating, they can say guilty or not guilty on these counts and we are hung up. We cannot decide on these other counts.

Those other counts that they have not decided on can be retried by the state. The appeal for the other counts can still go forward, but they can decide to have a new trial on the counts they could not decide upon. So that might mean a second trial on some counts.

PAUL: OK. That was what I was wondering, if those counts would just be thrown out or if they actually --

O'MARA: No, they come back.

PAUL: -- favored in some way an appeal. Because look, they couldn't even decide on these counts so there's questions on these.


O'MARA: Yes, I will say it favors the defense to a certain extent because if they cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to one jury, then that weaken the state's ability to do so to some future jury because you have to think that they put on their best case now so maybe they should work something out on the counts that have been hung up on.

PAUL: Interesting.

BLACKWELL: And we just received an update from our there in Jacksonville that the jury is not yet in the courtroom, but the judge, they just said that they are, en route.

CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara, we'll probably talk again sometime this morning. Thank you, Mark.

O'MARA: Thanks, Christi and Victor. Take care.

PAUL: Sure. Thank you. You too.

So just when you thought it was safe to step outside. Just this close, people.

BLACKWELL: No, no. You're going t see your shadow. Much like Punxsutawney. Another storm is expected to hit the northeast today which barely finished digging out from the last one.

PAUL: My gosh, I know. Maybe that news makes you feel like this guy. Look at this poor guy.


One of thousands of travelers stranded by the storm. We do feel for you, folks. We've been there. It's going to be cold. It's going to be unpleasant. How long is it last?

Jennifer Gray, help him out here.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know. I hate being the messenger because it's a sad news all the time it seems like. And yes, another winter storm pushing up the East Coast. This is not going to be as bad as the last one. I guess that's the glimmer of hope. But for the Cape, it is going to be pretty awful. We do have a blizzard warning in effect for you. Otherwise, though, winter storm warning watches all across the East Coast.

D.C. starting to get a little bit of a changeover into snow right now. New York, it's not quite to you yet but it is crawling up the I-95 corridor and it will be there before you know it. In fact we do have some pictures out of New York and not quite there, but in the next couple of hours, you'll start to see the snowfall. And we already have a blanket of the white stuff just from a couple of days ago. So nothing is going to change.

You're going to continue to get more. In face here are your forecast of snow totals. We are going to see anywhere from two to four inches around New York City, around the Boston area, especially east of the city we could see six to 10 inches of snow. In the northern Maine, that's what really going to get it. We could see a foot of snow for you.

Temperature wise, we are going to stay cold, guys. Temperatures in the 30s. Dropping to the 20s Monday morning in New York City. A very different story in the south. This is good news. We are finally warming up. Atlanta, you are going to be 64 degrees on Monday. How about that?

BLACKWELL: People were literally raising the roof here in the studio.


I have not -- I have not seen any one do that in a few years.

GRAY: Yes. It's awesome.

BLACKWELL: But apparently this is warranted.

PAUL: Our team is happy. Our team is happy.


GRAY: It is the little things, guys.


PAUL: When the team is happy, everybody is happy.

BLACKWELL: We'll take it.

PAUL: Thank you, Jennifer.

GRAY: All right.

BLACKWELL: So, you know, the storm might be quick, it's coming in but that's cold, cold comfort for travelers. You saw that guy with his head in his lap.

PAUL: I feel for him.

BLACKWELL: Five hundred more cancellations today.

PAUL: Five hundred. And a lot of people are -- I mean, already so exhausted from sleeping in airports and, you know, can you imagine pleading with the desk agents as though they can do anything about the weather. So CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is at New York's LaGuardia Airport here.

Susan, let me ask. Do the airlines seem to be catching up yet at this hour?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they are because the delays are down to only 500. And I say only a little over 500, because compared to this past week when they had a total of 8,000 flights delayed or canceled, well, that's quite an improvement.

And here, you know, the key is always if you can get to the airport early and get out on those early flights, that's always your best bet. I also heard you -- heard you talking about the snowfall that is expected here in New York. Only two, maybe four inches tops. We'll compare it to how it's been in the last couple of weeks, that doesn't sound so bad.

The question, of course, is how this will affect flights. Well, as you can see, they are busy outside as people are checking in, busy indoors as people are going up to get their tickets and get their boarding passes and all the rest. And if you look up at this -- at this monitor right now, you can see that most of the planes are on time. We only have a couple of delays noted here. And we only noted a couple of cancellations.

The biggest problem seems to be in these three airports, the ones that have the biggest problems in the last few days -- Dulles in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, they've been having problems, and Newark here in the New York metropolitan area.

Now I'm about to speak with Gina who's kind enough to wait around for a few minutes to speak with us about this.

You had problems coming in a few days ago, in Thursday, from California. What was that like?

GINA, PASSENGER: Two flight cancellations and delayed, delayed, delayed. So I was originally supposed to get in at 10:00 a.m. Didn't get in until actually after 6:00 p.m.

CANDIOTTI: Now did that cost you money with the flights that were delayed and canceled?

GINA: No money. It didn't cost any additional money. Just time and headache.

CANDIOTTI: That is -- that is also equally troubling.

GINA: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: But today what does it look like for you?

GINA: So far, so good. Everything is on time. And hopefully I'll get back in to California about 5:30.

CANDIOTTI: Only possible hitch, you have to change planes in Chicago and --

GINA: Right. There's snow. But right now everything is saying it's on time so we're going to pray for the best and hopefully everything is on time.

CANDIOTTI: Isn't that the truth? Thank you very much. Everyone has their fingers crossed as the day goes on. And as you heard Gina say it, so far, so good.

Back to you, Christi.

PAUL: I hope that continues for you, too Susan.


PAUL: Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, when it comes to the Olympics, you know things move fast, right? They move pretty quickly. In the last hour, a new nation now leads in the medal count.

PAUL: How the heck did that happen so fast?

BLACKWELL: And is it the U.S.?

PAUL: And I want to thank our Twitter folks who are keeping apprised of the Russia/USA hockey score.


PAUL: Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Thanks to the folks.

PAUL: 1-1, I hear.

OK. Actress Ellen Page -- this is the thing a lot of people are talking about today. She steps back onto the stage to share her life long struggle. What she said that triggered a standing ovation.


BLACKWELL: Day eight at the XXII Winter Games in Russia. And Team USA can boast a solid showing in Sochi. But you know there have been a few setbacks.

PAUL: Joe Carter from CNN Sports here to give us the Olympic overview.

OK, so how is the U.S. doing in the medal count so far?

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good. I mean, it's not as many gold medal as we had hoped for but they are right there at the top. You mentioned before the break that there was a new medal leader. Now it's Russia. Just a few moments ago. Spoiler alert. Want to warn you. Just a few minutes ago they won in the men's 1,000 meter short track, that's speed skating. Russia won gold in that. It's basically like a race in the hockey rink. Real fast.

PAUL: Yes.

CARTER: Real fast. Team USA, hanging tough. Here is the medal count for you. Russia now has 14 medals overall. Team USA, the Netherlands and Norway are tied with 13 total medals. Germany, by the way, has the most gold medals with seven.

So we talked a lot about speed skating yesterday. And desperate times, well, they're calling for the desperate measures for our speed skating team because they decided to change back to the old uniforms that they wore last month during World Cup competition in Japan.

See, the issue with the high tech uniforms that they started in the Olympic Games was this vent in the back of the suit. Apparently the vent which is supposed to let the heat out was letting air in. It was creating a drag effect. Sort of like pushing or pulling around, I should say, a parachute if you will, or having a sail on your back.

Several Americans, including two-time gold medalist Shani Davis, are considered favorites to win but so far no American medals had been won in speed skating.

Now happening right now, one of the best match-ups of the men's hockey tournament, Team USA and Russia. Christi talked about it. A lot of people talking about, a lot of people watching it. Of course going into this game, America crushed Slovakia, 7-1, on Thursday. Russia, however, has a good team. One of the best players if not the best players in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin is on the team. Right now it is 1- 1, the start of the third period.

And by the way, Russian president Vladimir Putin is in attendance of the game. Obviously a huge event for this Olympic Games. And yesterday, he spent part of his Valentine's Day at the USA House in Sochi. Basically that the official gathering place for America's Olympic team. He sat down. It was a friendly chat, enjoyed some tasty wine, with the Russian and American Olympic officials.

According to those in the room, this is a 30-minute chat about sports only. No politics. Just sports.

PAUL: Well, that's what a lot of commentators have been saying, and columnists saying, you know what, it doesn't matter what Russia in the Olympics except for hockey. Hockey is all they care about.

CARTER: Yes. Well, figure skating is big, too. Hockey is huge.

PAUL: Hockey is a big one. All right.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Joe.

PAUL: Joe Carter, thank you. BLACKWELL: Hey, still to come on NEW DAY, Virginia overturns a ban on same-sex marriage. It is one more state in the shifting legal landscape. But we're going to tell you what's ahead in this ongoing fight and what's at risk in 2016.


BLACKWELL: Actress Ellen Page made a pretty personal revelation that's she's gay.

PAUL: The star of the hit movie "Juno" broke this news during well, an emotional speech in Las Vegas for the Human Rights Campaign. Her announcement triggered, look at this, a standing ovation.


ELLEN PAGE, ACTRESS: And I am here today because I am gay and because --


And because maybe I can make a difference to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless for me, a feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility. I also do it selfishly because I'm tired of hiding and I'm tired of lying by omission.


BLACKWELL: Page thanked the crowd for the warm welcome and she tweeted this. "Thank you at HRC and everyone for all the love and support."

PAUL: She really makes a great point about how you just want to be authentic and it is hard not to be when you're hiding something. And we all know authenticity is hard. It's hard to get us there. So she brings a real, I thought, compassionate perspective.

So if you have the time, it's at You can listen to her whole speech.

BLACKWELL: Watch the whole thing. Yes.

PAUL: It's really good.

A little victory meanwhile for same-sex couples in Virginia. A federal judge has struck down the law banning gay marriage.

BLACKWELL: Now Virginia is just the latest state shifting its marriage laws.

Barbara Starr joins us with a look at this country's changing legal landscape when it comes to same-sex marriage.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Christi and Victor. Well, you know, currently same-sex marriage is permitted by law in 17 states and the District of Columbia. But if some court decisions are a barometer, look for more.


STARR (voice-over): Gay rights supporters are savoring a victory in Virginia where a federal judge just struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

Tony London and his partner of 25 years challenged the ban after being denied a marriage license.

TONY LONDON, PLAINTIFF: We are no different than anybody else out here. We just want the opportunity to be recognized the same way everyone else is and to have the same benefits that married couples have now.

STARR: The ruling comes amid a flurry of activity in the courts, legislatures and the executive branch over the question of what rights same-sex couples should have. Just this week, the Kansas House voted to protect people and businesses who deny services to same-sex couples on religious grounds.

In Kentucky, a federal judge ruled the state must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states and here in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder moved to give same-sex couples equal standing with straight couples in federal legal matters. Things like bankruptcy, the right to not testify against a spouse, and next of kin notification rights.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: They will strive to ensure that same- sex marriages receive the same privileges, the same protections and the same rights as opposite sex marriages under federal law.

STARR: Gay rights supporters have gained ground since last summer when the Supreme Court struck down a law denying federal recognition for legally married same-sex couples. It could be an issue in this fall's midterm elections.

PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Democrats could use that as a cudgel against Republicans and say why don't you support this. And then, in southern states like Kentucky or Arkansas, where there are also Senate races this year, some of those red state Democrats could be really reluctant to support same-sex marriage.


STARR: And you know, that's really I think what people are going to be watching. Will the Republicans use this issue against Democrats, especially in those southern red state races -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Barbara Starr in Washington. Barbara, thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Barbara.

We'll be right back. Stay close.


PAUL: Well, 26 minutes past the hour. Ice skating has taken center stage at the Sochi Olympics in Russia, but here in the U.S., some girls from Harlem, New York, they are just as passionate about it.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And one woman is helping them to break barriers on and off the ice. Meet our very first CNN Hero of 2014, Sharon Cohen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love the crispy feeling of the air. The sound of my skates crunching on the ice. Skating relieves me from everything. I just want to fly. I just don't want to stop.

SHARON COHEN, CNN HERO 2014: I heard that there were some girls who wanted to figure skate in Harlem. Growing up I was a competitive figure skater. And I knew that skating wasn't a diverse sport. There was no access for kids in low-income communities. They were so eager to get started, I began teaching them. And it was really inspiring to me.

Now we serve over 200 girls a year. The best part about skating is it gives you qualities that you use the rest of your life. They gain discipline, perseverance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Step, cross, step, cross. Excellent, girls.

COHEN: They fall down and they get back up. And they learn they can do that in anything. It is a building block.

Skating is the hook, but education comes first. Before they even get on the ice, they have to get their homework done. They get to the rink minimum of three afternoons a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Algebra was not my best subject and my field. Miss Sharon hired a special tutor for me. It felt like hey, you have to get back up. Now I'm doing way better in school. I'm like, yes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Harlem Ice.

COHEN: We want girls to believe and know they can be anything they put their hearts and minds to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not all about skating. Miss Sharon is teaching us to be the best we can be in life.


PAUL: Good for them. So coming up at the top of the hour in the CNN NEWSROOM, Jimmy Fallon takes the reins of the "Tonight Show" next week. Some big shoes to fill. Is he up to the challenge. What do you think?

BLACKWELL: Yes. But a man who knows Fallon's comedic crack better than anyone, his former "SNL" co-star Horatio Sanz joins us. That's at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

And we are so grateful that you've spent some time with us this morning. We're going to see you back here at the top of the hour, though.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So be sure to stay with us for that. But coming up right now on "YOUR MONEY," Paula Deen cooked up an empire and then it all just kind of burned or fizzled away, whichever cooking analogy you want to use, because of the controversy.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Well, find out what's on the comeback menu. It's all coming up on "YOUR MONEY" which starts right now.