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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Senior Al Qaeda Leader Killed; Losing an Ally?; Fresno Murders

Aired March 15, 2004 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST (voice-over): Political fallout from the terror attacks in Spain. Will America lose an ally in Iraq?

Sharpton endorses Kerry. What comes next for Reverend Al?

Mass murder in Fresno. What role did incest and polygamy play in the killings?

A baby for bail? The strange twist in the case of a mother charged with the death of her unborn son.

Our special series, "Against all Odds: Remarkable Stories of Survival." Tonight, buried alive: how one man beat Mother Nature.

And trying to quit smoking? A new report on how race and weight might be a factor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live, from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Welcome to 360.

We begin with breaking news out of the Pentagon. Word of a senior Al Qaeda leader killed in a shootout. Let's get details now from CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

Jamie, what do you know?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, one counter-terrorism official in the U.S. called it a very significant death, a major blow to Al Qaeda. A man described as Al Qaeda's senior operations chief for the Arabian Peninsula was killed with a shootout today with Saudi Arabian police in Saudi Arabia.

He's identified as a man called Abu Hazim Al-Sha'ir, also known as Kahlid Ali Hajj. Again, described as a major Al Qaeda figure, a leader in Saudi Arabia. And he is also nicknamed "The Poet." And a senior official said today his rhyming days and terrorist days are now over -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jamie McIntyre, thanks for that. It is a fast-developing story. We'll bring you any developments as soon as we get them.

We move now on to dramatic developments in Madrid. In the wake of last week's train attack, outraged voters have ousted Spain's ruling party. The new government vows Spanish troops will leave Iraq. The question tonight is this: what Al Qaeda wanted all along?

We have a team of reporters on the story. In Madrid, CNN's Brent Sadler is following the investigation. Kelli Arena in Washington, tracking a new Al Qaeda. And Dana Bash in Washington, with White House reaction. We begin in Spain.

Brent, what's the latest?

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Spanish and Moroccan investigators are now working hand in hand, focusing on the file of a key suspect. He's a 30-year-old Moroccan, one of three Moroccans picked up after the blasts, and whose arrests were made known by the authorities on the eve of the elections.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER (voice-over): Investigators say one of three arrested Moroccan men was already being watched in connection with last May's bomb attacks in Casablanca, and that he had links to the indicted chief of an al Qaeda cell in Spain who is now in jail, implicated with the September 11 attacks on America. CNN has also obtained an al Qaeda document published on the Internet last December that clearly sets out a violent agenda to force a change of government in Spain, leading, it says, to a possible withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq to weaken the U.S.-led coalition.

Further evidence here suggesting Spain may have been made to pay in blood for supporting the war in Iraq came in a videotaped message. It was found in this garbage bin close to a Madrid mosque after an anonymous call telling authorities to go there.

The message was purported to have been sent by al Qaeda's European cell. It said, "We claim responsibility for what happened in Madrid just two and a half years after the attacks in New York and Washington. This is an answer to your cooperation with the Bush criminal and their allies."

The shadow of al Qaeda loomed large on the Spanish election, re- igniting widespread discontent that the government ignored the will of the people by supporting last year's U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Voters seemed to go for the jugular, punishing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's ruling conservatives with a heavy dose of political payback, leading to a stunning change of government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER: A government whose prime minister designate says he'll pull Spanish troops from Iraq by the June 30, the day the U.S.-led coalition is expected to hand over sovereignty to Iraq -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Brent Sadler, live in Madrid. Thanks very much, Brent.

Well, there are sign that is al Qaeda may be linked to the Madrid attacks. There is also concerns that a terrorist group is taking on a new look and could be much more dangerous.

CNN's Justice correspondent Kelli Arena reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. counter-terrorism officials agree investigators will probably establish a definitive al Qaeda connection to the Spain bombings. But experts suggest the term "al Qaeda" is now just shorthand for a very complex global terror network.

M.J. GOEHL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: What we're dealing with here is an ideology. It's a global jihad movement composed of al Qaeda and many affiliated terrorist groups. All of these groups are autonomous.

ARENA: Terrorism experts have long said al Qaeda was made up of loosely-affiliated groups. But most attacks, including those on September 11, could eventually be traced back to Osama bin Laden or other leaders.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some two-thirds of al Qaeda's key leaders have been captured or killed. The rest of them hear us breathing down their neck.

ARENA: In part, the U.S.-led war on terror has created a new enemy by splintering the organization.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM EXPERT: This is not like the Gambino crime family, a Mafia family, where if you just arrest the leaders it goes out of business. This is more like a mass movement. And you can arrest as many people as you want, but it's very hard to arrest the movement of ideas.

ARENA: Counter-terrorism officials say one of their biggest concerns is how U.S. actions such as the war in Iraq are motivating new recruits bound by a common goal to destroy western secular society.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: Both government and private experts are bracing for what they say will be a war that could last for generations -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Kelli Arena in Washington. Thanks, Kelli.

Now, for reaction to the crack in the coalition after the terror in Madrid, here is CNN White House correspondent, Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush did not answer questions about the Spanish election upset that surprised the White House. But he privately instructed aides on the message of the day: the defeat of a key ally in Iraq and against terror does not mean victory for terrorists.

J. ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: The party leader, Mr. Zapatero Rodriguez has said his first priority would be fighting terror.

BASH: Trying to put the best face on things, Mr. Bush placed a brief congratulatory call to Spain's new prime minister-elect. The conversation was limited to combating terrorism.

A year ago, Spain's current prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, was one of a handful of European leaders to buck opposition at home and the United Nations. He supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq and sent 1,300 troops.

JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER-ELECT (through translator): The Spanish troops whoa re in Iraq will come back home.

BASH: Bush officials and some GOP allies insist, although Mr. Zapatero campaigned against the war in Iraq, the situation following last week's terror attacks is too complicated to call this an outright slap against the president.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: Everyone ought to carefully evaluate the Spanish election. We ought not to jump to conclusions.

BASH: But others aren't so sure.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: When you're looking at the numbers that were violently opposed to Aznar's policy, putting 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq, initially with the Bush administration on the invasion of Iraq a year ago, there's going to be a consequence for that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And Spain's election upset comes at a time when the White House is engaged in PR blitz to mark the year anniversary of the war in Iraq. That will culminate on Friday, when the president addresses an audience of coalition members, including Spain, to try to convince them to stay the course on the war in Iraq and on terrorism -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Dana Bash at the White House. Thanks, Dana.

In Fresno, California, shock has turned to anger. Fifty-seven- year-old Marcus Wesson will be arraigned Wednesday on charges he killed nine members of his family. Autopsies reveal at least seven of them were shot. The victims discovered Friday include children, police say, that Wesson fathered with one or two of his own daughters.

Miguel Marquez has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marcus Wesson, police believe he committed the biggest mass murder in Fresno history. But the investigation is slow going because of his polygamist and possibly incestuous relationship with the victims.

JERRY DYER, FRESNO POLICE CHIEF: I can tell you for certain that the coroner's office has not been able to verify the identity of all nine victims.

MARQUEZ: The victims, six females and three males, most of them under 8 years old, police say Wesson may have fathered most if not all of the children. Police also say they cannot find birth certificates for many of the victims. And the coroner says even the remaining family may have a difficult time cooperating.

LORALEE CERVANTES, FRESNO COUNTY CORONER: We have had one woman call who has identified herself as a mother of one or more of the victims. However, when we asked her who she's the mother of, she's not communicated with us any further.

MARQUEZ: Because the crime is so massive and the relationships of the victims so convoluted, Fresno Police have established a hotline seeking information nationwide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important that if there are individuals out there, whether it be in a local, state, or national level, that feel that they have had children or been involved in a relationship with Marcus Wesson, we would appreciate them calling this message center.

MARQUEZ: At the home where bodies were found stacked and tangled in a small room, there was a growing spontaneous memorial, as police waited for yet another search warrant to be served.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Another interesting aspect to this case, maybe most amazing, is that the Wesson family, despite their interesting living arrangements and family arrangements, never raised suspicion of police, any sort of government agency, schools and the like, until this horrific incident -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Miguel Marquez, thanks.

There is still so much we don't know about what went on inside that house. Later in the program, we're going to talk with the coroner who examined the Fresno bodies. We'll also take a closer look at incest, a taboo subject, no doubt about it, but devastating to those victimized by it. You'll meet a young man, a film director, who has experienced the trauma of incest firsthand growing up in a family destroyed by generations of molestation.

That is later on 360.

Right now, we're following a number of developing stories "Cross Country." Let's take a look.

Washington, D.C.: Al Sharpton endorses Senator John Kerry. You see the picture right there. The civil rights activist says Kerry has clearly won the Democratic presidential nomination. But Sharpton says he'll continue to seek delegates to influence the direction of the Democratic Party.

Kerry met with Sharpton today and says they both share many concerns. We'll have more on this story a little later in the program.

Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts: soldier surrenders. There he is. A Florida soldier who refused to return to Iraq has turned himself into the military. Staff Sergeant Camillo Najilla (ph) plans to seek conscientious objector status. He says he has not committed a crime. The military is investigating his case.

In New York: Martha Stewart quits. Stewart has resigned as director and chief creative officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The company says she will retain a role as founding editorial director. Stewart was convicted this month, of course, on charges related to a questionable sale of ImClone stock.

San Diego County, California: planetoid discovered? Astronomers say they have found the most distant object observed in the solar system. The planetoid known as Sedna is more than 8 billion miles from the sun. A long way away.

That is a look at stories "Cross Country" tonight.

Well, childbirth murder. Did a woman who allegedly refused to have a c-section try to give up her baby for bail money? Find out why she is pleading innocent right now to murder.

Plus, buried alive. A story of hope from a man who survived three avalanches as part of our weeklong series, "Against all Odds: Stories of Survival."

And kicking the habit. It turns out your race does matter. Find out the best way for you to put that butt down.

First, let's take a look "Inside the Box" at the top stories on tonight's network newscasts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the Utah woman charged with murder because she allegedly refused a c-section has pleaded innocent. Authorities arrested Melissa Ann Rowland after one of her twins was stillborn. Now, at her arraignment, an already tragic story took another bizarre turn.

Ted Rowlands is in Salt Lake City with details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA ANN ROWLAND, CHARGED WITH MURDER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that my bail is so high, your honor.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After giving birth and after her arrest, 28-year-old Melissa Rowland not only tried convincing a judge to reduce her bail but allegedly also tried scamming bail money from a local adoption agency. According to the agency's director, Rowland called from jail claiming she was pregnant and would be willing to give up her fictitious child if she could get out of jail.

ANN LAMPHERE, DIRECTOR, ADOPTION ANGEL: She's very good at manipulating, very good at telling you what you want to hear.

ROWLANDS: Rowland is facing homicide charges for refusing medical advice at three separate Salt Lake City hospitals. According to court documents, doctors say a c-section could have saved her child's life. Some mental health advocates are concerned that Rowland's actions, including an alleged statement to a nurse that she would rather lose a child than have a scar, indicates that she may be very unstable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This woman was not thinking rational. And it should have been picked up when she was exhibiting those behaviors.

ROWLANDS: Rowland's attorney says she has a history of mental illness.

KENT MORGAN, SPOKESMAN, SALT LAKE D.A.: And they've indicated that her difficulty is a failure to comply with authority. We have two prisons completely filled with people who are unable to comply with authority.

ROWLANDS: University of Utah law Professor Wayne McCormick says Rowland had a right to refuse the c-section.

WAYNE MCCORMICK, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH LAW SCHOOL: Her right to refuse surgery is her interest. And if she didn't like the color of the paint on the walls in the hospital she could leave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: Rowland remains in custody tonight, unable to come up with the $250,000 in bail. She was carrying twins. The other child was delivered by c-section.

That child, a female, was born, according to the district attorney's office, with cocaine and alcohol in her system. She has been adopted out. Rowland is expected back in court on March 22 to answer to the murder charge -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Ted Rowlands in Salt Lake. Thanks very much, Ted.

Tracking a number of developing stories right now around the globe. Let's check the "UpLink."

Mosul, Iraq: Americans killed. Coalition military officials say three U.S. civilian workers were killed and two wounded in a drive-by shooting today. The military says the victims were delivering relief supplies as part of a private volunteer organization.

Karachi, Pakistan: U.S consulate bomb defused. Police have defused an explosive left outside the U.S. consulate less than five minutes before it was set to detonate. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Pakistan, but he's not scheduled to stop in Karachi.

Moscow: status quo landslide. Russian President Vladimir Putin has won reelection, as expected, gaining more than 70 percent of the vote. European observers are criticizing the election process, saying the state-run media may have influenced the results with its heavy bias towards Putin.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: the mission's first U.S. casualty. A U.S. Marine was shot when his group came under fire late yesterday in the Haitian capital. His wounds are not life-threatening.

Kingston, Jamaica: Aristide back in the Caribbean. Haiti's ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has arrived in Jamaica. Aristide is expected to stay there for eight to 10 weeks as he reunites with his children. The Bush administration says the trip is not a good idea, and Haiti's interim government has recalled its ambassador to Jamaica.

And that is tonight's "UpLink."

Looking for a little inspiration? You're going to find it right here. Our special series, "Against all Odds: Remarkable Stories of Survival." Meet a man who survived being buried alive three times by an avalanche. Find out how he made it through the darkest of times.

Also tonight, the Sharpton shuffle. He says -- he stays in the race, he says, but endorses John Kerry. You might ask, how is that possible? Well, it is all about raw politics. We'll explain.

And a little later, the crime is unspeakable. The deepest of family secrets. We'll talk with a man whose family was destroyed by incest and how he is trying to break the cycle of molestation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, in this age of terror and uncertainty, where survival itself often seems a challenge, we want to shine a light on some remarkable stories of hope and courage. All this week, we're going to bring you a special series, "Against all Odds: Stories of Survival."

From tornadoes to wildfires and avalanches, we have all seen nature's power. But you are about to meet one man who, against all odds, survived an avalanche. He was buried alive, sentenced to death. But he lived because he never gave in to despair.

Here is CNN's Jonathan Freed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What would you do if you were suddenly buried under a mountain of snow, moving more than 100 miles an hour? What Lester Morlang did was survive it.

LESTER MORLANG, AVALANCE SURVIVOR: It was just instant. The next thing I knew I was spinning through the air like you were in a washing machine or something.

FREED: In November of 1985, Morlang was working a mine in La Plata Mountains in southwestern Colorado when an avalanche killed his partner and trapped him 35 feet down.

MORLANG: You're assuming you're going to die right there.

FREED: But Morlang kept from losing his mind by playing with the lights on his watch and miner's helmet.

MORLANG: I had that light to turn on and off, on and off. It is very important to think of something you can do instead of what you can't do. Don't let the can't dos overrun it.

FREED: Thoughts of his family gave him the strength to dig.

MORLANG: I had a little method. I would do one, two, three, four.

FREED: It took him 22 hours to dig out, marked by what Morlang calls an out of body experience.

MORLANG: In your mind, you have this picture of where you're at and what you're doing. And it is kind of like you're watching yourself.

FREED: Morlang attributes his recovery to the energy that he gets from his wife.

ANITA MORLANG, WIFE: Our goal in life was to grow old together. We were high school sweethearts. We're determined to do that.

L. MORLANG: When you think you're going to die, and you make it out of the situation, and then you have your loved ones, that's something I will never forget. That feeling right there, I don't ever want to let it go.

FREED: Jonathan Freed, CNN White Water, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is a remarkable tale of survival. Lester Morlang joins us now.

Lester, when you were first hit by that avalanche and literally buried alive, what went through your mind?

MORLANG: Well, your life is flashing through your eyes. It is the old saying that you've always heard, but it really does happen that way. You're thinking of things in the past, you're thinking of things that will happen in the future, because you're assuming you're going to die.

COOPER: You assumed that was it for you. You assumed you were going to die?

MORLANG: Well, yes. We were right where it started. It just -- it was instant. So in the next instant, I'm just frozen to a spot, just pressured so tight by the snow that it is pretty horrifying just feeling the wrath of Mother Nature has you tied up and there's nothing you can do about it.

COOPER: And snow is everywhere. I mean, it's your ears, it's in your mouth, it's in every crevice. How did you resist the urge to panic?

MORLANG: I think that's the surviving factor right there. I mean, you have to be able to control yourself. And I was able to dig a little snow out of my mouth and from my face.

And the most important thing is keep your senses about you. I don't know if it is your inner senses or what, but they kind of want you to quit right there. You have to fight that feeling all the time.

COOPER: You have to fight the feeling. I know you also sort of were trying to communicate with people, both yelling, but also sort of even telepathically, right?

MORLANG: Oh, sure. You know, I spent so much time underneath the snow that I talked to everybody I knew, and especially my loved ones and my wife. I was sending messages just as hard and fast as I could, just like you're praying.

You know, I prayed to god to help me and everybody else. I wasn't particular. I would take anybody's help.

COOPER: And you were digging for 22 hours. You dig yourself out from one, and then you're hit not just by one more avalanche, but by two more avalanches.

MORLANG: Well, yes. After 22 hours when I dug out, of course it was getting dark the next day. So I dug back in because the storm was still ravishing pretty hard. And that's when I really got cold and I realized underneath the snow at least I was warm and I could survive.

So I dug back in. And then again that night it ran over me about six feet.

COOPER: Did you ever lose hope?

MORLANG: Every second of every minute.

COOPER: You lost hope of every second of every minute. And yet how did you regain it? MORLANG: Well, you're fighting it off. You know, your senses are trying to take over. And you've actually got to calm yourself down.

COOPER: What have you learned from that unique experience that you've continued to apply to your life today?

MORLANG: Well, the most important thing is, I was a gold miner thinking I was getting rich. When, in fact, I was already rich because I have a very great family.

COOPER: Well, as you said, a life-changing experience that truly has changed your life. You've learned a lot of lessons from it. Lester Morlang, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much. Good to talk you to.

MORLANG: All right, Mr. Cooper.

COOPER: Well, our weeklong series, "Against all Odds," continues tomorrow night with surviving terror. A victim of the Oklahoma City bombing shares her amazing story of survival and how that event has changed her life.

On Wednesday, surviving a deadly disease. A young boy who's strength in adversity is an inspiration to all who know him.

Thursday, surviving war. Soldiers wounded in action trying to heal the scars of battle. What they've learned about overcoming all odds.

And then on Friday, what makes a survivor? The biological and psychological reasons some survive when others do not.

All ahead this week, "Against all Odds.".

Breaking news right now in Columbus, Ohio. Just moments ago, investigators have named a suspect in a rash of sniper shootings. The suspect is at large, and they want your help to find him.

They are looking for Charles A McCoy, Jr. I'm going to repeat that name again. Charles A. McCoy, Jr. The Franklin County sheriff officials say the 28-year-old is considered armed and dangerous.

McCoy is suspected of being involved in at least 28 highway shootings around Columbus. One person was killed, of course, in those shootings. This is a story we've been following for many months now.

This is the first apparently major break in the case. Again, police looking for a man by the name of Charles A. McCoy, Jr. He is considered armed and dangerous. He is still at large at this moment. If you have any information, please contact officials in Ohio.

Coming up, Al Sharpton takes on -- well, he takes a sharp turn on the campaign trail, endorsing Kerry but staying in the race. How is that possible you ask? Well, that's raw politics.

And coming up, kicking butt. The latest medical research on quitting smoking. Find out how race plays a part.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for the "Reset." Tonight's top stories. We begin with breaking news out of Columbus, Ohio. Suspect named in the Ohio shootings. Police are looking for this man, 28-year-old Charles A. McCoy Jr. He's a white male, brown hair, green eyes, 5'7 tall and weighs 185 pounds. He is still at large, considered armed and dangerous. Investigators say he drives a dark green 1999 Chevy Metro, four-door with a black hood. The license plate is CGV-7387. He is still on the loose at this point. Just a suspect but is considered armed and dangerous. We'll bring you any more information we can as soon as we get it.

Coming out of Madrid now. al Qaeda linked to bombing. An al Qaeda document obtained by CNN ties one of the suspects in the deadly Madrid train bombings to the plotters in an al Qaeda-linked bombing in Casablanca last year. The document spells out al Qaeda's plan to drive Spain from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq by bringing down the conservative party government that happened in this past weekend's elections.

New York now. Terror stalks Wall Street. Analysts blame a poor stock market day on fears that al Qaeda may have been behind Madrid bombings. The drop of one in a third percent left the Dow Jones Industrial's average at its lowest close in three months. The Standard and Poor and Nasdaq indexes closed sharply down as well.

Washington D.C. Gitmo prisoner released. The Defense Department says it has flown 23 Afghan citizens and three Pakistanis from the U.S. Navy prison for terror suspects in Cuba back to their countries. The Pentagon isn't specifically explaining their release but it says it reviews each case to determine a detainee's intelligence value and threat potential. 610 prisoners remain at Gitmo.

Washington. Sharpton backs Kerry. The Reverend Al Sharpton is conceding defeat in his race for president and endorsing the all but official Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry. Sharpton says he will keep seeking convention delegates so as to influence the direction of the party.

Joplin, Missouri. Popcorn butter suit. A jury has awarded $20 million to a factory worker who claimed he ruined his lungs mixing oils used to flavor microwave popcorn. Eric Peoples was the first of 30 former employees in the butter flavoring plant to bring his case to court. The juror apparently found more than a kernel of truth in it and I apologize for the pun. And that is a quick look at the "Reset."

Investigators are learning more about how nine members of a Fresno, California family were killed. Today, the county's police chief reported that autopsies on seven of the victims show they were shot to death. He says the other two victims had similar wounds. 57- year-old Marcus Wesson is charged in their deaths. He's going to be arraigned on Wednesday. Police say Wesson fathered at least two of his victims with one or two of his own daughters. Fresno county coroner Loralee Cervantes joins us now. Thanks very much for being with us. There had been reports that police officers cried, they wept, when they saw what had gone on inside that house. What was your reaction?

LORALEE CERVANTES, FRESNO COUNTY CORONER: Coroners look at things a little differently. We realize when we respond to a scene that we can't change what has happened. So we don't have any of the helpless feelings that paramedics or police may have. The decedents in our care, we still feel we're taking care of.

COOPER: I understand there is a problem with identifying some of the bodies. Is part of the problem that there are no certificates of birth because there may be a case of incest involved here?

CERVANTES: No. I think there are certificates of birth. The only certificates we had ready access to were here in Fresno county. And it is entirely probable that most of the victims were not born here in Fresno county.

COOPER: And what sort of wounds are you seeing on these victims?

CERVANTES: The cause of death on all nine victims now that we've completed autopsy is a gunshot wound.

COOPER: Can you tell at this point who is related to who or who all the victims are?

CERVANTES: We have names on all the victims. We're trying to verify the names now with correct spellings and correct identities, correct dates of birth. We're trying to match up next of kin, relatives to each of these victim so that when the time comes to release them, we are releasing them to the right people.

COOPER: Are you doing DNA tests on the bodies to determine relationships between people? If some of these children are fathered by this man and one of his own children, is that something you can tell through DNA? Is that something you're looking for?

CERVANTES: That's something that can be told through DNA. That's not something we're concerning ourselves with at the coroner's office. Whether Mr. Wesson is the father of the children is not of concern to us at this point. We're concerned that we do identify one next of kin family member to release to.

COOPER: Besides the gunshot wounds, any evidence so far of physical or sexual abuse?

CERVANTES: We have no evidence of that at this point.

COOPER: I understand the investigation is still ongoing. Loralee Cervantes, the Fresno county coroner, appreciate you joining us.

CERVANTES: You're welcome. COOPER: The Fresno murder case has brought attention to the disturbing crime of incest. One film director knows that crime all too well. In his award-winning documentary called "Just Melvin" director James Ronald Whitney goes inside his own family's struggle with incest. I talked to him today and asked him how widespread incest was in his family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES WHITNEY, DOCUMENTARIAN, "JUST MELVIN": I talked to 13 of my female family members. It spread across multiple generations, my mother's immediate family and then my mom's step family. They are all very candid and discussed what happened with Grandpa Just, Melvin Just.

COOPER: And you yourself were molested by a member of your family?

WHITNEY: My uncle molested me when I was 5 years old.

COOPER: What's remarkable about the movie and about your story is just how widespread it was and the level of denial, in some ways?

WHITNEY: It really is not denial so much. When you are a little kid, when my aunts and my mother would tell neighbors, friends, teachers, authority members what was going on, nobody listened to them. Finally, after people say, oh, you girls are making that up, sort of like the crucible, the term is scared silent. You stop telling anybody.

COOPER: For a child growing up in a family like this, there's almost no reference points to really point out and say, this is abnormal behavior.

WHITNEY: Absolutely not. My relatives thought this was very normal. They thought all daughters were having sex with their fathers. This didn't begin in their childhoods. This began in their infancy. When they were 2 years old, 1 year old, grandma would take their diapers off and put them in bed with grandpa Just and he would molest them even at that age so they've all been suicidal, many of them have been prostitutes or drug addicts. They don't have homes. For the most part they live in vans or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tents on the side of a river. One of my aunts was living in a cave recently that was an old water park. It is very dysfunctional.

COOPER: At one point in the film you ask your aunt whether she ever confronted her mother about it. Let's take a look at the clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three times I came to her. I said, mom, I'm feeling like it is my fault, like you're all mad at me. She said, hey, is it your fault. I said no, mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It is a remarkable clip. Really, people knew. It wasn't like this was any mystery in the family.

WHITNEY: No. Again, friends knew. Teachers knew. Even the authorities were told. When they told their mom what was going on, the mother knew as well. And so what a child does is start blaming him or herself, thinking that it is their fault.

COOPER: And this cycle repeats itself. As you've found, the women in your family who were molested by their father, your grandfather, went on to molest other people as well.

WHITNEY: Even the cycle with Grandpa "Just," he was a product of abuse, supposedly. His father, they used to call Lester the molester. So, it just goes back many, many generations in my family.

COOPER: The film is "Just Melvin." It's an extraordinary piece of work. James Whitney, Thanks for being on the program.

WHITNEY: Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I want to put in the issue of incest in some prospective tonight. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. Now, 32.4 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims say their attacker was a family member.

On to a very different story. Now that his chances of winning the Democratic nomination for president have slid to wildly improbable to mathmaticly impossible, Reverend Al Sharpton is conceding defeat to John Kerry. Sharpton may find that getting trounced in the race for the White House has an upside. And that is definitely "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Reverend al Sharpton may soon be out of the race. Bad news for his supporters but good news for his finances. Running for president is costly. According to published reports, Sharpton's in debt, doesn't have much in the bank. Now, that may change. With speaking fees, analyst gigs and TV shows, losing a presidential campaign doesn't necessarily mean you lose out. Consider this. In 1988 Reverend Jesse Jackson's short-lived run for the Democratic nomination had long-lasting effects on his speaking fees. 16 years later, Web sites on public speakers offer Jackson's services for $25,000 to $30,000.

And former Senator Bob Dole failed four times to reach the White House. But his status as a presidential candidate has boosted his value on the lecture circuit. In 2000 and 2001, Dole cashed in more than two and half million dollars in speaking fees. Then there are the commercials. Dole may like Pepsi and Viagra, but he's not promoting them for free.

BOB DOLE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My faithful little blue friend.

COOPER: Remember Allen Keys?

He ran twice for president and twice for senator. He failed each time, but he did go on MSNBC. The show was later canceled. While Al Sharpton may be out of the political race, he can still take part in the race to the bank. In "Raw Politics," just because you lose big doesn't mean also you can't win big.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Three men face on trial accused of murdering a transgender teen. The case ahead in "Justice Served."

Plus, the battle to stop smoking.

How your body type and ethnicity play a part.

And in "The Current" Diana Ross makes a deal to get out of prison. I'll have the buzz on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for "Justice Served." In California, today jury selection finally under way. The trial of three young men accused of killing a transgender teen. The defendants face charges that could put them in jail for the rest of their lives.

Eric Phillips, has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIC PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the face of 17-year-old Eddie Arabs, a transgender living as a female named Gwen until he was kill indeed 2002. 23-year-old Michael Magidson, 24- year-old Jose Merel, and 24-year-old Jason Cazares are accused of the brutal murder. It happened at this home in Newark, California.

Prosecutors say the defendants became violent, strangling Araujo and beating him with a frying pan and shovels when they discovered he was a man, a discovery made after two had sex with him in earlier weeks. The three are charged with first degree murder. A fourth defendant Jaron Nabors cut a deal to testify against his former friends. The jury selection in this case is expected to take two weeks with each potential juror filling out a 14-page questionnaire covering everything from criminal history to life style issues. One question in particular asks, have you seen a movie or theatrical performance depicting the activities of a transgender person?

Attorneys involved in the case say they considered asking about this movie, entitled "Boys Don't Cry."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me look at you.

PHILLIPS: It tells the story of a transgender female named Brandon Teena who was raped and murdered in 1993. The film helped bring transgender hate crimes to light. But a specific question about the film did not appeal in the final version of the questionnaire. Monday, 100 potential jurors were brought in, 55 were released because of personal circumstances. The trial judge says the case should be wrapped up by mid June. The three men could receive life in prison.

Eric Phillips, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Following the case tonight is 360 legal analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom.

Kimberly good to see you.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, 360 LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you.

COOPER: The primary witness says he was there that night, made a plea deal and is willing to testify against his former friends.

Does the case hinge on his testimony?

NEWSOM: He is the meat of the prosecution's case and delivered powerful testimony during the preliminary hearing against these three individuals. He to collaborate because he is an accomplice to the crime. And they do have other evidence, witness that were there that evening and a letter that was sent to one of the defendant's girlfriends.

COOPER: The defendants are basicly arguing that this was sort of a crime of passion, that this happened in the heat of the moment, that it wasn't premeditated That seems to contradict other some of the other testimony we are going from prosecution witnesses?

NEWSOM: You are absolutely right. This is a strong case for the prosecution. The best the defense can hope to do, I believe, is mitigate this down to some voluntary manslaughter. They will argue something really similar to heat of passion, which is called a gay panic defense. They tried to use it in the Matthew Shepherd case, but it was not allowed in. And we saw a similar argument made in the Jenny Jones case where one neighbor was accused of killing another. So, in this case they will say this was a panicked situation because the fact it was a same-sex situation. They were unaware that Gwen was actually anatomically a man.

COOPER: They have also been charged with a hate crime.

How does that play into the case?

NEWSOM: In California we charge it as an enhancement and will additional time on their sentence. But I think it speaks to a larger issue of social awareness about the nature of hate crimes and how many different transgender youths are out there. It really brings awareness to the public at large. This is something people are trying to hard to have a hate crime enhancement as a qualifying factor for a death penalty.

COOPER: Some 55 potential jurors allowed to go home for other Circumstances. What kind of juror is the defense going to be looking for?

NEWSOM: They don't want the typical law and order abiding prosecution witness, home owners, educated. They want people that are going to buy into the heat of passion, gay panic defense. People who may be aren't as educated, that have limited minds about issues like this involving same-sex sex, involving transgenders that might understand how these guys can resort to this type of violence. They are going to have a tough time. Just about any juror will be good for the prosecution in this case.

COOPER: All right. Following the Case, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, thanks very much. We are going to have more this case tomorrow as well.

Every Monday we like to tell you about a story that is just wrong. The problem today is there's so much that's just wrong.

We begin with an auction on eBay. On the block, three Vietnamese women. Opening bids, $5,400 dollars. The items as they were described could only be delivered to Taiwan. EBay pulled the auction after it went up following a swarm of angry e-mails.

In Berlin, a man attempting to rob clothes from a charity bin was arrested after he fell in. Police caught him when he popped his arms out looking for a light. There it is.

A nun in Poland can use a little divine intervention. She's being charged with drunk driving for running a tractor into a car outside the convent. A Polish news agency reports the nun was 17 times over the country's legal alcohol limit for driving. That is just wrong.

So are you trying to kick the smoking habit?

Before you reach for the Nicotine Patch or inhaler, keep in mind new research. We'll have that just ahead.

Plus in "The Current" Plus, Britney Spears' new career move could actually make you feel pretty. We'll talk about that. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. Time to check on some pop news in tonight's "Current." Let's see what's going on. Michael Jackson reportedly wanted to star in a film about a man who turns into a car. The idea was scrapped, though it appears the transformation, at least the fiberglass, has already begun. Thank you.

Diana Ross says she doesn't have to serve another minute in jail because she fulfilled her drunk driving sentence by spending 24 consecutive hours behind bars. Twenty-four hours behind bars? Diana, isn't that what got you into trouble in the first place? I'm sorry. Ms. Ross. Britney Spears is branching out to the world of cosmetics. The singer has just inked a deal with Elizabeth Arden to develop her own line of perfumes. No word yet on what the name of Britney's scent may be, though we think "overexposed" has a nice ring to it.

And new research shows your race may help determine what will most likely help you quit smoking. So may your weight and how deeply addicted you are. Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kicking nicotine has been compared to kicking a cocaine habit. Even heroin.

TOM GLYNN, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Nicotine is a very addicting drug. It's a real challenge for people to quit.

GUPTA: So what does it take to quit? Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania compared smokers using a nicotine patch to those using nicotine nasal spray. And they found the spray works better for African-Americans. Why?

GLYNN: African-Americans may be metabolizing nicotine a little differently than white Americans. And so, basically, need some more nicotine. And the nasal spray can provide that very quickly.

GUPTA: The study also found the nasal spray is more effective for obese people. That's because eating and smoking may be linked to a similar reward pathway in the brain and a chemical called dopamine. And so the researchers believe the nasal spray may immediately simulate the same feeling of satisfaction that food and smoking provide.

And if you are highly addicted, whatever your race and weight, the nasal spray, also according to this study, seems to work better. It allows you to pump whenever a craving calls.

GLYNN: Before this, we were kind of reduced to licking our finger and saying, OK, let's say which way the wind is blowing and make a prediction. Now, we can say, OK, for you, here, this may be the best medication.

GUPTA: So, is the patch useful? Well, these researchers say yes. That is, if you stick with it. The patch will help you become smoke-free, especially if you add in another key ingredient, counseling.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: These days soldiers have a better chance of survival in battle, thanks to high-tech gadgets, or for civilians, as we saw last week in Madrid, the battle to live seems to be getting tougher. The irony of that to "The Nth Degree," just ahead. Plus, tomorrow, our series, "Against all Odds," continues with a look at surviving terror. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, taking irony to "The Nth Degree."

Here is an odd thing. Look at the high-tech weapons at the military's disposal nowadays -- night vision gear, laser-guided missiles, unmanned, remote controlled, computerized, armored gizmos of various kinds. And it seems that, for the modern soldier, combat itself is safer than it's ever been. Certainly there has been much progress in war for warriors, but not for civilians.

That is why pictures like the ones we've been seeing from Madrid are so very chilling. On these trains, there were no troops, no weapons, no GPS receivers, no training, no warning, no voluntary travel into harm's way. This was not a battleground. It was the morning commute. And that is the awful irony. War may be safer than ever in the 21st century. But life is not.

The next war, said Eleanor Roosevelt almost 80 years ago, will be a war in which people, not armies, will suffer. Sad to say, her prediction seems to be coming true.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching. Coming up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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