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Co-pilot Commandeered Flight To Geneva; Prosecutors Seek "Loud Music" Retrial; New Winter Storm On The Move; Venezuela Ousts U.S. Officials; Teen Says She's A Serial Killer; Missing Skiers Found Dead; Bite Kills "Snake Salvation" Star; Weather Forcing Delays In Sochi; Zimmerman: I Would Have Stayed Home That Night

Aired February 17, 2014 - 06:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a co-pilot hijacks his own plane, forcing it to land in Geneva. The big questions, how was he able to seize control of the plane and why did he do it? We have breaking details.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mistrial. The man accused of killing a Florida teenager over loud music is convicted on lesser charges, but the jury deadlocked on first degree murder. Did the state's self- defense laws confuse the jury? We have the fallout.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking out. George Zimmerman opening up what he now says about the night that he killed Trayvon Martin. Does he have any regrets? Plus, we ask about his string of run-ins with the law since his trial and his nasty divorce.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, February 17th, six o'clock in the east. And we do begin with breaking news. An Ethiopian Airlines jet headed for Rome hijacked, but here's the twist, the hijacker, the plane's own co-pilot. Let's get right to Rene Marsh with the latest developments. Rene, what do we know?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, what we could tell you is that this plane was bound for Rome. This happened early this morning. We do know according to Swiss police that the man who is accused of hijacking this plane was actually the co-pilot of the plane. We know that he was in his 30s and according to Swiss police, here's what they say.

They say that the reason behind this hijacking is that this man told police that he is from Ethiopia. He was unhappy with the situation there in Ethiopia, and he wanted to get asylum there in Geneva. And he had a conversation as they were making that approach to land at Geneva International Airport with air traffic control essentially asking could they guarantee that he could get asylum if he did land the plane there and during that time, he never did get an answer.

Long story short here, what you're looking at is the image as the plane circled around Geneva International Airport as this man was negotiating with the air traffic controllers to find out whether he would get asylum. We can tell you at this time, 202 people were on board. Everyone when they landed, we are told they were safe. They were not harmed. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, much more to learn on this. Rene, thank you very much for starting us off this morning.

Let's move now to the fall-out from the loud music murder trial. Prosecutors are vowing to retry Michael Dunn after a jury failed to convict or acquit him of first degree murder in the shooting that left teenager, Jordan Davis death. Dunn was convicted of second degree attempted murder.

And now the case is reigniting the debate around Florida's self defense laws. Alina Machado is live in Jacksonville, Florida for us this morning. You've been following this trial from the very beginning, quite an ending to this, Alina. What's the reaction?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Both sides are now planning their next move after 30 hours of deliberations ended with a partial verdict.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Dunn, you are having been convicted of counts two, three and four by a jury --

MACHADO: Michael Dunn guilty of three counts of second degree attempted murder in the 2012 shooting that killed Jordan Davis, a guilty verdict for each of Davis friends who are with him that night. But on the charge related to the 17-year-old's death, the jury could not agree.

JUDGE RUSSELL HEALEY, DUVAL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Based on the jury's inability to reach a verdict on count one, I will declare that a mistrial.

MACHADO: Following the verdict, outrage and disappointment outside the courthouse. Legal experts say the jury's initial request during deliberations to see the surveillance video where you can hear the gunfire the night of the shooting, and it may provide insight into how jurors were struggling over the murder charge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The logic maybe that they thought he did shoot potentially in self defense and that there was a gap when he could have left the scene and then he shot again as the truck was getting away, maybe they thought that was the attempted on the other occupants of the vehicle.

MACHADO: Another possibility, the jury may have disagreed on whether Dunn was guilty of first degree murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And remember in closing, John Guy said we don't want lesser offenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't a lesser included offense. We are not asking for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all or nothing. That's what he said to them. He kind of threw down a gauntlet.

MACHADO: The conviction on the other counts means the 47-year-old will likely spent the rest of his life in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should learn that he must be remorseful for the killing of my son.

MACHADO: Dunn could still face another trial on the murder charge. Davis' mother says their fight is not over.

LUCIA MCBATH, JORDAN DAVIS MOTHER: We will continue to stand and we will continue to wait for justice for Jordan.


MACHADO: Angela Cory says she intends to retry Dunn on that first degree murder charge. Dunn's defense team says he will likely file an appeal -- Chris and Kate.

CUOMO: All right, Alina, thank you for the reporting, big decision. What to retry and how, let's talk about it. Joining us, criminal defense attorney and HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.


CUOMO: Great to have you. Let's start with the decision. OK, how do you convict for the actions, the shootings, to the other kids but not for killing Jordan Davis?

JACKSON: Well, you know, the best we could discern, Chris and Kate, is that, listen, jury had a decision to make here and obviously, they didn't make a decision on the first degree. So the issue becomes, well, why not. Well, if you look at the actual case itself, they certainly could have, that is the jury, have concluded that justification could have been probable as to Jordan Davis.

However, you remember there were three volleys of shots here. There was the initial shooting of Jordan Davis and they couldn't come to terms with that. Now we don't know, first, whether the breakdown was 11-1, 12-6. We don't have any idea, but we do know that a faction of those jurors, were not convinced that justification was appropriate or was not appropriate.

As to the others and the attempted murder charges, with the addition volley of shots, we could conclude that the jury said that he exceeded the justification at that point particularly when you examine the car that was in retreat. So we know based upon that that the jury said, as to the other teens, attempted murder.

BOLDUAN: What about the question that the prosecutor was pushing for kind of overcharging here. I know there were the lesser included offenses in the jury instructions. But as we heard John Guy say we don't want the lesser included offenses. How do you think that plays into this potential expected retrial?

JACKSON: You know, it's important and here's why, what happens, Kate, is this. The jury had a decision to make. First degree we know that that means premeditation. And of course, the argument was made by the prosecution that you get the premeditation from the taking of the weapon from the glove compartment, the taking the safety off the weapon, the aiming, the pointing, the shooting.

And so the jury could have concluded there was no premeditation. Why don't we go to non-premeditation second degree? They didn't do that. They didn't even go to discern lesser, which was manslaughter coupled with negligence so from that we could discern from what the jury came back particularly when you look at their questions.

Because remember, Kate, one of the questions was if we conclude self- defense as to one, right, then does that mean that he's justified as to all? And the judge was very clear saying no, no, no --

CUOMO: Somebody believed the kid had a gun.

BOLDUAN: So someone believed Michael Dunn's story.

CUOMO: Somebody believed the suggestion of possibility that it was there. The question is would they have thought that if there were four white kids in the car that there was a possibility they had a gun they never found. Question for you, do you retry on first or if you're Angela Cory, do you play it safe?

JACKSON: Here is the first thing I do, Chris. The first thing I do is I meet with the family and I meet, with you, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Davis and I say, look, you know, what is your pleasure? It's not so much that they control what goes on, but their feelings are paramount here. If you look at the dignity and grace upon which they comported themselves.

And of course, our prayers, our thoughts, our respect are with them, you have to factor that in because ultimately, do they perceive this is justice, and of course, they didn't reach the jury that is finality here. So there is some feeling of emptiness.

But having said that, we know what the minimum mandatories are and that's 60 years. So considering he is 47 and will not see the light day until the 107, now we know that he probably won't live that long, I think that whether you retry him or not, do you need to? Speak to the family.

CUOMO: Of course, the crime is against the state and what we are seeing here with this trend is a message may need to be sent in that community about what's tolerated and what isn't. Joey, thank you for the analysis on this case. JACKSON: Absolutely.

CUOMO: And as you all know, the issues here go behind the trial. We have to and will take an in-depth look at Florida's self-defense laws later in the show as well as the man at the center of the debate, George Zimmerman, a bigot who got away with murder or a victim who was rightly acquitted by a jury. He's never spoken about that night. Can he answer the big questions about what happened and the issues raised by his case?

BOLDUAN: Another big story we are following and continue to follow this week, it's the weather. It's the winter with no end in sight, yet another storm is moving fast, more snow, more travel delays and more headaches for cities and businesses in the forecast for millions of people from Minnesota all the way to Maine. Meteorologist, Indra Petersons is here taking a look at that. So what is the forecast looking like this Monday?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It has been a tough one. I mean, just take a look at these numbers here, New York City, now the eighth snowiest since we've been keeping records. When you look at Philadelphia and Indianapolis, both now the third snowiest, since we've been keeping records all now, over 50 inches of snow, the last thing anyone wants is more snow on the way.


PETERSONS (voice-over): After suffering a brutal winter weekend, millions brace for another snowy blast heading straight towards New England.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's snow in steroids.

PETERSONS: Blizzard conditions in Massachusetts on Saturday caused winds up to 50 miles per hour in Cape Cod, just days after nor'easter dumped nearly a foot of snow from D.C. to Maine. It's the endless bombardment of snow, sleet and ice seems unusual, it is. For many Americans it's one of the snowiest winters on record, with snow on the ground in 49 states on Thursday and almost 90 percent of the Great Lakes frozen.

The last time they were covered in this much ice was in 1994, and the winter is taking its toll in other ways. Post-recession city budgets are taking a hit after dealing with widespread water main breaks, expensive purchases of asphalt for pot holes and doubling road crew shifts.

BROOKS RAINWATER, CITY SOLUTIONS AND APPLIED RESEARCH NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES: Because of the large amount of snow there and the amount of salt that has to be put down on the ground so that the potholes are just coming more and more. Cities are spending a lot of money and a lot of time to go out and clean the pot holes up.

PETERSONS: And clearing snow piles in New York turning dangerous. Watch as this snow plow launches an avalanche of ice and debris into this restaurant, shuttering the windows and injuring several people. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS: And what a surprise? We are still talking about snow this morning. Right now, the next system bringing snow towards Minneapolis and Chicago, and a good four to six inches by the time it makes its way through Pittsburgh late evening tonight, about two to three inches in towards New York and Boston. Another one to three inches, but finally, there is good news, the change that we have been waiting for.

We are going to see a shift in the jet stream. It's going to rise up, which means, yes, the temperatures, they are going up to well above normal. A couple of things to think about, we are going to be seeing warmer temperatures, but some rains and also a lot of snowmelt and the potential for some flooding. But you know what, the temperatures are up. It's a good thing.

PEREIRA: And we are still weeks away from spring, but that's OK. We can make it. Thanks so much, Indra.

Let's take a look at your headlines at this hour. Breaking overnight, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro is vowing to expel three U.S. officials, accusing them of conspiring against his government. Violent clashes in Caracas have left three anti-government protesters dead. American officials have condemned the crackdown and a recent arrest warrant issued for a key opposition leader. The U.S. has denied trying to undermine Maduro's government.

A shocking confession, the 19-year-old Miranda Barber admitted that she and her 22-year-old husband murdered a man they met on Craigslist. But now in a stunning jailhouse interview, Barbara says he wasn't her first, claiming that she has killed nearly two dozen people all over the country. She said she stopped counting at 22 victims. Barber claims she joined a satanic cult at age 13. Police say she could be telling truth and are investigating those claims.

Two skiers have been found dead after a search following an avalanche in the mountains of Colorado. Officials say rescuers braved steep terrain and risk triggering yet another avalanche while following signals from emergency beacons the skiers were wearing. The two were part of a group of seven skiers caught in the back country snow slide in Lake County, Colorado Saturday night. Three other skiers in that groups are hospitalized, two managed to escape without injury.

This morning, the National Geographic Channel offering condolences to the family of "Snake Salvation" star, Jamie Coots. He was the serpent handling pastor who died Saturday from a poisonous snake bite. Authorities in Middlesboro, Kentucky say Coots was bitten during a service, that he refused medical treatment and died that night in his home.

When it comes to the best first ladies of all time, Michelle Obama has cracked the top five ahead of Hillary Clinton. Siena College polled over 240 historians, scholars and political scientists, Eleanor Roosevelt finished number one ahead of Abigail Adams, Jackie Kennedy and Dolly Madison. Michelle Obama, our first lady, our current first lady was fifth, with Hillary Clinton sixth. Thirty eight first ladies were evaluated for their courage, integrity, value to the country and accomplishments, quite a list of ladies.

CUOMO: Interesting.

PEREIRA: Yes, isn't it?

CUOMO: Yes, I like that. All right, we have a spoiler alert for you this morning from Sochi, but it's not the results to tell you about, it's the weather. Take a look at the foggy conditions affecting outdoor competitions. Several events postponed until tomorrow because of what you're looking at, haze, more probably in jeopardy. So now all eyes are focused on one big indoor event where the Americans are going for gold. Let's get to Rachel Nichols live in Sochi with more -- Rachel.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, the biathlon is one of those fog events you were talking about. That's where they shoot rifles and then they cross country ski. I am not a biathlon expert, but even I can tell you, you do not want to shoot at targets you cannot see. Just one of the events that affected by weather, there is more. Take a look.


NICHOLS (voice-over): For the second day in a row, fog enveloped the mountains here in Sochi, delaying the biathlon again as well as the men's snowboard cross. Things got so bad, Team USA snowboarder, Alex Diebold, posted this tweet "They are literally running fans on the snow guns to try and blow away the fog. Spoiler alert, it's not working."

Things were better for the U.S. ski team with Andrew Weibrecht taking silver and Bode Miller tying for bronze in the Super G. Ski racing gets a lot tougher as you get older. No one over 34 had ever medaled in Olympic alpine skiing before, but Bode did it at 36 and he did it with emotion thinking of his younger brother who died last year.

BODE MILLER, OLYMPIC SKIER: Losing my brother is really hard. This kind of attached emotion to this, he wanted to come to these games. I thought that he would have a chance of making it and for him to pass away the way that he did, I felt like that was all very connected and very raw and emotional for me.

NICHOLS: In figure skating, American ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White dazzled in the short program, setting a world record to take the lead.

And in hockey, Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals with a perfect preliminary round record, beating Slovenia 5-1. Toronto Maple Leafs sniper (ph), Phil Kessel scored three goals in the game's opening five minutes, the first hat trick by an American Olympian in more than a decade. Now, Kessel hands things off to his younger sister, Amanda, who leads the U.S. women's hockey team against Sweden this morning.


NICHOLS (on-camera): It was very sweet. Amanda Kessel this morning online posted this picture of her at eight or nine years old and said, "From this to the Olympic semifinals." Guys, a lot of Olympic dreams coming true here in Sochi.

BOLDUAN: Aww, that's pretty perfect. That's pretty perfect. All right, Rachel, I really don't like the fact that the weather is such a story with these games. You'd hope that it wouldn't be. We'll check back in with Rachel in a little bit.

But the latest standings in the medal count for you this morning. Spoiler alert: after a strong weekend, the Netherlands is now on top with the overall leader board with 17 medals. They're followed by host country Russia, the U.S., Norway and Canada.

PEREIRA: They were like the sleeper, came out of nowhere.

CUOMO: Netherlands, let everybody else do the talking. We're here with our mittens. They come with their wooden shoes.

BOLDUAN: Big weekend for the Netherlands.

PEREIRA: They snuck up on us. Well done.

CUOMO: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, the Michael Dunn verdict has brought self-defense laws back into the spotlight. We caught up with the man who is the face of the issue, George Zimmerman. His answers to the big questions raised by his case and his actions since.


Welcome back. The Michael Dunn verdict has brought issues of self- defense and stand your ground into sharp focus. The man who has been at the face of these issue is George Zimmerman. So many questions about his motivations and the implications of the case and his actions since remain.

We ask him about the night he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the self-defense laws he's seen as a champion of. Does he take responsibility for that night? Judge for yourself.


CUOMO (on-camera): Do you regret that you killed Trayvon Martin?

(voice-over): It's a simple question, but one George Zimmerman can't seem to answer.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, FATALLY SHOT TRAYVON MARTIN: Unfortunately, the Department of Justice is conducting a civil rights investigation so those are the types of questions that because of the investigation I have to tread lightly and I can't answer them.

CUOMO: We checked, and the Department of Justice is investigating any civil rights violations but says charges aren't expected. Still, Zimmerman's reluctance seems to be about more than legalities.

(on-camera): Do you regret that night? Do you have regrets about it? ZIMMERMAN: Certainly, I think about that night and I think I -- my life would be tremendously easier if I had stayed home.

CUOMO: If you could go back you would have stayed home that night?

ZIMMERMAN: Certainly, yes, in hindsight, absolutely.

CUOMO: And now, as a point of clarification, you said my life would been so much easier. When you say I wish I had stayed home that night, are you thinking about you and also Trayvon Martin?

ZIMMERMAN: Certainly, I think about them -- him, I think about my family, all the families put in any type of dangerous situation. So yes, I think about everybody involved.

CUOMO: But safe to say if you could change how that night came out, you would both be alive today?

ZIMMERMAN: I think that's just a different way of rephrasing that.

CUOMO: If you could go back and do it again, you would have stayed home that night.

ZIMMERMAN: I would have stayed home that night.

CUOMO: So that both of you would still be alive today?

ZIMMERMAN: That's a presumption I can't make. I don't know what would have happened. I could've gotten into a car accident when I left, you know?

CUOMO: You wouldn't have ended up killing Trayvon Martin if you had your way?

ZIMMERMAN: He probably wouldn't have ended up attacking me either if I would have stayed home.

CUOMO: His family, do you think about his family? Is that true?

ZIMMERMAN: Certainly.

CUOMO: Because people want to know that, right? Coming out of the situation, they haven't heard you say, "I feel for his family."

ZIMMERMAN: I appreciate the opportunity. I would hope that they had seen that at the bond hearing I did address that.

CUOMO: It's different in court.

ZIMMERMAN: Sure. But I was just simply stating that I did address it. It's -- because another misconception is that I've never apologized; I've never reached out to the family. Would I like to? Certainly.

CUOMO: What would you say? ZIMMERMAN: You know, I would say exactly what I said on the stand, that I'm sorry for their loss and I -- just exactly what I said on the stand, most likely.

CUOMO: Thoughts about the victim, Trayvon Martin. The victim was Trayvon Martin, you know that.

ZIMMERMAN: No, I certainly was a victim when I was having my head bashed into the concrete and my nose broken and beaten. So I wouldn't say I was not a victim.

CUOMO (voice-over): Of this, Zimmerman is sure despite the public outrage painting him as a racist and the strong case by a prosecution calling him a murderer.

CUOMO (on-camera): What do you want to say to people who believe who believe that you went out that night as a vigilante, looking for trouble and found it and bailed yourself out?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't focus on them. I deal with their hatred by loving my supporters more.

CUOMO: When people would reach out to you for the wrong reasons, who were supportive of you for the wrong reasons --


CUOMO: -- you know, because they like that a young black man had been killed, how did that make you feel, that they saw you somehow symbolically as representing them?

ZIMMERMAN: Equally as disgusted with them as I was with people that were threatening my family and saying negative things about me.

CUOMO: Sitting through all of it, listening to the evidence and everybody's different take on you and your actions and your reactions and why, did it make you doubt yourself?


CUOMO: Why not?


CUOMO: In yourself or God?

ZIMMERMAN: No, God. I know that ultimately he's the only judge I have to answer to. He knows what happened. I know what happened. So I leave it up to him.

CUOMO (voice-over): A faith that keeps him in Florida, despite a number of threats on his life.

(on-camera): Did people around you say, "George, you have to go"?

ZIMMERMAN: I'll never leave this country. And I'll leave my home when I want to leave my home. I know it sounds stubborn and maybe ideological, but I'll move when I want to.

CUOMO: The word, "haunted" often comes up in this these situations. Do you find yourself haunted by memories of that night?


CUOMO: Because?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know.

CUOMO (voice-over): George Zimmerman is not haunted by taking a man's life. Perhaps more surprising, Zimmerman thought his life would stay the same.

(on-camera): The feeling was that people will accept this, you know, I'm going to go through the trial, it is what it is, the outcome will be accepted and I'll move on. That's what you felt would happen.

ZIMMERMAN: I was hoping for that, yes.

CUOMO: And when did you realize you weren't going to get what you hoped for?

ZIMMERMAN: I think it was the first speeding ticket, when that made international news was shocking to me.


CUOMO (on-camera): And of course speeding tickets would be the least of it, domestic disputes, allegations of threats with weapons and then the man who couldn't hold off a teenager becomes a prize fighter telling the world he takes on all comers.

Why? Coming up after the break.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's half past the hour. Let's give you a look at your headlines.

Breaking overnight, an Ethiopian airlines flight landed safely in Switzerland after it was hijacked by the plane's co-pilot. That flight was headed to Rome when authorities say the co-pilot, who was seeking asylum, managed to commandeer the plan when the other pilot left to go to the bathroom. He landed the plane in Geneva and escaped through the cockpit window using a rope. He has since been arrested. None of the 202 passengers on board were injured. Some scary moments there.

Prosecutors want to retry Michael Dunn for first-degree murder after getting a partial verdict in his so-called loud music trial. The jury was hung on first-degree murder charges, but did find Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder -- attempted second-degree murder. He now faces a minimum of 60 years behind bars.

This morning, investigators are searching through the wreckage of a small passenger plane that crashed in the mountains of western Nepal, killing all 18 on board.