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Judge Hears Bid To Close Rape Trial; Second Arrest In College Shooting; Fighting Hunger At Age 9; New Leads On Missing Girl; J.J. Abrams And "Star Wars"; Best Actor Versus Best Actress?; Slithering Money Makers

Aired January 25, 2013 - 14:30   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities have arrested the man they believe opened fire, wounding three people on a campus of Houston's Lone Star College on Tuesday. Now, 22-year-old Trey Foster is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but look at this picture, this man, Carlton Barry, was originally charged with the shooting.

But our affiliate KHOU says that may have been a mistake. According to KHOU, one victim said Barry shot him, but then charged his story after he was shown a photo line up that included foster.

The Harris County sheriff calls the shooting a case of idiocy. It apparently resulted from an argument that started when one of the victims bumped into foster. A maintenance man was also shot.

One day after the official proposal of a federal assault weapons ban, Democratic leaders just finished a gun safety round table in Virginia. Vice President Joe Biden was there.

Also joining the conversation were experts studying gun safety. Well, after the worst school shooting in U.S. history, the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Let's go to White House correspondent Dan Lothian. Dan, what specifically was discussed during this round table?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, first of all, I should point out that this was a closed door meeting. But afterwards, the vice president did sort of lay out some of the themes that they all discussed including universal background checks.

That is something the administration has been pushing for ever since that shooting that happened in Connecticut. They want to make sure that no matter where you're buying a weapon, whether it is in a private sale, a gun show, that there is this background check that takes place.

The vice president also says that they talked about the mental health issues and the lack of mental health professionals to adequately deal with this problem. We have heard this as well and something the president talked about, one of his initiatives in curbing gun violence.

A database to better understand the people who are out there buying these weapons, using the weapons, and then, of course, the issue of whether or not video games or movies contribute to the violence that we have been seeing.

So these are some of the issues that the vice president said they discussed at this meeting and this is sort of an effort by this administration to take the president's big push on the road.

Not only to promote what the president hopes to get done through executive action, but also to put pressure on members of congress to act there as well -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Dan Lothian, the vice president meeting today with people who know this beyond just political theory. Thank you.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Most kids spend their free time worrying about toys and video games. Not this 9-year-old. He's fighting hunger. Find out how this kid and his friends are making a huge difference.


BLACKWELL: How many of us can say we raised $20,000 for our community when we were just 9 years old? Well, William Larsy can. He started fighting hunger in his town two years ago when he was just 7 years old.

In a moment, you'll understand why. "CNN Heroes" recognizes this extraordinary boy. Here's Williams' story.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: One day when I drove home from a Little League game, I saw a homeless man with a cardboard sign that said need a meal. So I told my mom I wanted to do something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will Larsey is a 9-year-old child. I hesitate to call him a child. I think he's in a category of his own. As a 7-year- old, he decided he was going to take on this issue of hunger.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Welcome FROGS. My group is called "FROGS." It means friends reaching our goals and our motto is, having fun while helping others. I want you to write what we can do for a spring project.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will's big personality does not come from me.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Fire me up. Pepper me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think every time you meet Will, you look at him and you say are you kidding me? But together with his buddies they have raised over $20,000 or the equivalent of 100,000 meals for Tarrant Area Food Bank.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: These peaches are a delight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see somebody who gets so engaged and gets so much of the community engaged, it is an endorsement of the battle we fight to end hunger.



BLACKWELL: Told you, extraordinary boy. Now a story that is just heart breaking for any parent, missing for more than two decades, an 8-year-old girl disappears. Her mother still holds on to hope that she'll come home. More on this cold case file coming up.


BLACKWELL: A cold case, unsolved, for nearly 28 years. Cherrie Mahan disappeared on February 22nd, 1985. She was just 8 years old when she was seen getting off a school bus on a rural road in Pennsylvania. And then she was never seen again.

Randi Kaye has been covering this story for years now and this is really the worst nightmare of a parent.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, victor. This is a case I've been following for eight years now. I've met with Cherrie Mahan's mom, a very emotional interview.

I went back to the house and retraced with the investigators her footsteps from that day and nobody can figure out why she didn't make it from that bus and that bus stop to her driveway.


KAYE (voice-over): Nearly 26 years after her daughter disappeared, Janice McKinney still remembers it like it was yesterday.

JANICE MCKINNEY, CHERRIE MAHAN'S MOTHER: At 4:00, the bus came, we heard it, and she just never came up the driveway.

KAYE: We first met Mrs. McKinney back in 2005, more than two decades after her daughter mysteriously disappeared. She is still holding on to the grief and the guilt.

MCKINNEY: I should have been there whether Cherrie got of the school bus and I wasn't.

KAYE: It was one of the few days she didn't meet her daughter at the bus stop, February 22nd, 1985.

(on camera): What is that moment of panic like, that first moment when you realize your child has disappeared?

MCKINNEY: It's the most scariest thing. I think my guilt started at that point, because up until that day, I was there. And if I would have been there, she wouldn't -- I wouldn't be going through this.

KAYE: It was a day just like this one, snow on the ground, the sun shining, she got off her school bus here, she had to go about 200 feet, around that bend to get to her driveway then another 300 feet to her front door. Investigators never found any footprints, which means Cherrie never got very far.

(voice-over): Kids on the bus described a blue van, right behind the bus, with a snow-capped mountain and a skier painted on its side. Investigators checked out hundreds of leads. No van, no Cherrie.

MCKINNEY: I think the last words I probably told her was, have a good day, and I do love you, and that was probably, as I took her down to the bus stop, and she got on the bus.

KAYE (on camera): Did she tell you she loved you back?

MCKINNEY: Yes. She always told me that.

KAYE (voice-over): Cherrie was just 8 when she disappeared. She helped put a face on missing children nationwide. The first child ever on a have you seen me mailer still delivered to homes across the country. But today, for the first time in decades, Janice McKinney has hope, thanks to this man, Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert McGraw.

TROOPER ROBERT MCGRAW, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I believe Cherrie was abducted by somebody she knows very well. And I believe that this person had the ability to basically lure Cherrie to their vehicle without her giving it a second thought prior to her disappearance.

KAYE: McGraw took the lead on the case last summer. And after pouring through the 3600 page case file, he's closer than ever to cracking it.

MCGRAW: We are highly optimistic that this lead is -- has the potential to bring closure to Cherrie's family.

KAYE: McGraw says he gets tips about once a week, but most don't pan out. This one, he feels, especially good about, although he will not give us specifics.

MCGRAW: We will pursue this lead until we find out if it is viable or is a dead end. So you try not to get to excited. It is difficult, but you have to stay grounded because this lead could -- this lead could -- it could take us nowhere.

KAYE: Working the case of a missing child is difficult, even for the most hardened law enforcers.

MCGRAW: It is. I can't imagine if that was my child. I can't imagine the pain that her mother and stepfather must wake up with every day. I couldn't imagine that.

MCKINNEY: That was our dog and that was our cat.

KAYE: Today, Cherrie would be 34. If she's alive this is what investigators think she might look like.

I don't know. Cherrie could be married and have children and have graduated and, you know, I could be a grandmother. KAYE: After all these years, Janice McKinney still isn't ready to say goodbye to her daughter. At the cemetery, no gravestone, just an angel.

MCKINNEY: Until I see something or hold something or know something, I can't put it to rest yet.

KAYE: Janice McKinney still hopes her daughter is alive, but alive or dead, she says, she just needs to know what happened and why someone would have snatched her little 8-year-old girl.


KAYE: And unfortunately since we spoke with Investigator McGraw there, those tips that he was talking about did not pan out. But one of the new lead investigators on the case told me today that they're still getting tips, they're working those leads, they also hear from psychics quite a bit who claim to know where she is and what happened.

But one strong tip, Victor, they got a couple of years ago, they really thought was it. They went to Michigan to try and find this woman who they thought might have been Cherrie Mahan grown up. They did a DNA test, but did not pan out unfortunately.

BLACKWELL: It is just the not knowing, year after year after year after year.

KAYE: She can accept the fact that maybe she's no longer with us, but she can't accept not knowing.

BLACKWELL: And for Trooper McGraw.

KAYE: Yes, all of them.

BLACKWELL: All right, thank you, Randi.

Some good news now, at least for the "Trekkies" and "Star Wars" fans, a merge of the galaxies. Could Mr. Spock meet Luke Skywalker? Grae Drake joins me live next on the Hollywood big name reportedly set to direct the next "Star Wars."


BLACKWELL: If you know a "Trekkie," a "Star Wars" fan, tell them to turn to CNN right now because this man's name is almost synonymous with great science fiction. And now Director J.J. Abrams reportedly is set to direct one of the most popular space franchises of all time, "Star Wars."

Grae Drake, senior editor of "Rotten Tomatoes" is with us. Grae, he's behind "Star Trek," "Lost" now this. I mean, this is big news for "Star Wars" fans. What should they look for with that J.J. Abrams style on this -- this movie series?

GRAE DRAKE, SENIOR EDITOR, "ROTTEN TOMATOES": "Star Wars" needed more lens flares and that's what they are going to get with J.J. Abrams. The guy is a fantastic director and he revitalized the "Star Trek" franchise and pleased all of those fans really, really well.

So in "Star Wars," we can expect a lot of really great ensemble cast work. Finally "Star Wars" is going to get back the same kind of characterization that made us love it in the first place. This guy is fantastic.

I would like to point out, however, though, Disney and J.J. Abrams themselves have been very, very quiet within the last 24 hours about this choice, no official statements. Are we all making a big deal out of nothing?

BLACKWELL: I would hate to make a big deal out of nothing and get all the "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" fans excited. So let's hope that they are just taking their time to let the free publicity happen and then they'll come out and make this statement.

OK, so let's talk about something else happening this weekend. SAG Awards is a push in Hollywood for gender neutrality in award shows now. And some say the separate awards for male and female actors are archaic.

In the SAG Awards, that statue you see, it is called the actor, just a -- not an actress or best actor, just the actor. Will we be seeing this award in other shows?

DRAKE: Well, I think that gender neutrality is a great thing and I'm happy that this is something that we're talking about as a community, but I, personally, still think it is important for us to focus on categories as much as humanly possible to make sure that the most amount of people get recognized.

So with there being -- according to some people, not that many great roles for women, it is important that I think we keep a women's category to make sure we get five solid nominees in that category.

And the SAG Awards this weekend is going to be fantastic. This is a very fun awards ceremony because it is actors voting actors so the results are often really surprising.

BLACKWELL: Grae, I am notorious for not seeing movies. I think this year of the -- of the movies I know, I know. The movies that are being mentioned as award winners, I've seen "Beasts of the Southern Wild," I've seen "Django Unchained," the rest of them, I still need to see "Lincoln" and "Argo." What are your picks because you've seen them?

DRAKE: My gosh, 2012 was an amazing year for movies. You picked two really good ones. So you're off to a good start.


DRAKE: But I would say that nearly everything nominated in the ensemble cast category for the SAG Awards is where you should start. So you need to catch "Argo," and you absolutely need to watch "Lincoln" because God bless America, that movie was great.

BLACKWELL: All right, give me one more because I'll make it a day.

DRAKE: Well, in the ensemble cast is a little movie that nobody is really talking about, except people in the industry. And that's called "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" starring every British actor you could possibly think of. It is charming. It is wonderful. Judi Dench is an international treasure.

BLACKWELL: I have my list. Thank you very much, Grae Drake with "Rotten Tomatoes." I will see "Argo," "Lincoln," Best Marigold Exotic Hotel." Thank you.

DRAKE: Good.

BLACKWELL: All right, in this programming note, CNN is live from the red carpet on Sunday ahead of the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Tune in at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead, Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal is calling for change within the Republican Party.


GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We have got to stop looking backwards. We must reject identity politics. We have got to stop being the stupid party. We have got to stop insulting the intelligence of voters.


BLACKWELL: Yes, you heard that. He said stop being the stupid party. GOP leaders are looking to rebrand after losing their bid for the White House in November.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just outside Philadelphia at the Delaware Valley Fish Company in Norris Town, a new shipment has arrived, sliming its way into the world market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do about a million pounds a year.

FOREMAN: And Barry could not be happier.

BARRY KRATCHMAN, DELAWARE VALLEY FISH COMPANY: I'm a third generation eeler or sniggler.

FOREMAN (on camera): A sniggler?

KRATCHMAN: You can actually find that on a crossword puzzle.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Although never popular with many Americans, eels are enjoyed on tables throughout Asia and Europe, considered delicacies whether served raw, baked, boiled or fried.

KRATCHMAN: Love it. Tastes like chicken. What you're looking at here is an eel holding system.

FOREMAN: And that has created a kind of appreciation all along the east coast of the United States where the eel trade helped support hundreds of fishing families and 30 employees in this company alone.

For most of the year, eels caught wild in waters from Florida to New Finland pour into this site, to be sorted, graded, packed, and sent live overseas. Scientists are concerned in what appears to be declining numbers of eels along coast and so are the people in the business of catching them.

KRATCHMAN: There is habitat pressure. They built dams over the years. As with we harvest these eels, everybody wants to make sure that it is sustainable.

FOREMAN: After all, Kratchman says, he's been up to his elbows in eels his whole life.

KRATCHMAN: In fact, you know, when I sort a lot of eels, you go to sleep, you start to see eels in your sleep, the vision of eels penetrates your brain and stays there.

FOREMAN (on camera): That's creepy.

KRATCHMAN: It is a little creepy.

FOREMAN (voice-over): it is also the business that even in these tough times is sustaining his family and many others on their American journey. Tom Foreman, CNN, Norris Town, Pennsylvania.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell in for Brooke Baldwin. Right now, the Republican Party is taking a hard look at itself after facing some hard facts about its loss of the White House in November. According to Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, the status quo is not an option.


JINDAL: We have got to stop looking backwards. We must reject identity politics. We have got to stop being the stupid party. We have got to stop insulting the intelligence of voters.


BLACKWELL: Jindal is the headliner of the Republican National Committee Winter meeting. It goes through tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had a long list of things for the GOP to do, insert something party insults along the way as you heard. Here is why he called the GOP, quote, "stupid."


JINDAL: We have got to stop being the stupid party, and I'm serious. It is time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. It is time for us to articulate our plans and our visions for America in real terms. It is no secret we had a number of Republicans that damaged the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I'm here to say we've had enough of that.


BLACKWELL: When he used that word stupid there was audible shock in the audience. I want to bring in now CNN political contributors Margaret Hoover and John Avlon.