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CNN NEWSROOM

Chemical Nightmare; Armstrong Avoids Doping Prosecution

Aired February 5, 2013 - 15:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are checking my clock here, just about an hour away from the closing bell. The Dow looking pretty good for this Tuesday, above that 14,000 mark, up 124 points on this Tuesday afternoon.

And we roll on, top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin live from New York today.

And I want to begin with a story that I know has a lot of you talking. The young folks, they call it legal weed. But guess what? It is not legal. And it is not even marijuana. This is dried plant material, treated with all kinds of harsh chemicals. Smoking it can be devastating.

I'm about to speak live with family members of a teenager who has been in the ICU because of this. We will hear her story and how she's recovering here, thank goodness.

But, first, I want you to hear the words of one father who talked to me through tears. He lost his son to this stuff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE DYER, FATHER: Dakota made a 14-year-old decision when he accepted it. He made an even worse decision when he smoked it. Within a matter of hours, he went through a psychosis is what they call it or psychotic episode. He took a handgun and took his own life. He was alive when we found him at 12:10.

BALDWIN: He was?

DYER: Yes, ma'am. And as un-newsworthy as this is to the nation, it is to me that --

BALDWIN: It is incredibly newsworthy.

DYER: -- Bremen police officers, Sergeant Dobbs, first and foremost, he was the first officer on the scene, our EMS, our first- responders, Haralson County Sheriff's Department were all there. They dropped on the floor beside me with my son.

You couldn't ask any better when it comes to public service than what our small town has. They -- he was put in one of Ambucare's ambulances. The staff and nurses of Higgins Hospital there in Bremen -- we live right across the street actually from the hospital -- came out of the hospital, went into the back of the ambulance, worked on my son, transferred him straight from there to Life Flight and he passed at 5:10 that afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Did you hear what that father told me there? He said that as un-newsworthy as it is to the nation, it is to me. Guess what? It is newsworthy to all of us.

Another story I want to tell you about, 17-year-old Emily Bauer almost died when she tried it. She ended up in intensive care on life support in December. Here she was. Her family thought she was brain- dead. And to everyone's amazement, Emily did not die when they took her off life support. She is slowly recovering. But she may never be the same.

Emily's plight exploded on CNN.com after her sister uploaded photos, told Emily's story on CNN iReport. So her sister, Blake Harrison, and stepfather, Tommy Bryant, join me from Houston.

First, welcome to both of you. I'm so glad that she has turned this corner and seems to be doing OK. Give me a quick check, Tommy, and tell me how she's doing today.

TOMMY BRYANT, STEPFATHER: She's doing pretty good.

She's able to -- some of her eyesight is coming back. One of her arms, she's able to feed herself with some Cheetos and French fries, which she loves. She's able to drink and her diet -- she's on a normal diet. But it is going to be a long road. It is going to be a very long road.

BALDWIN: Blake, I want to get to you in a minute, and your iReport that really got our attention and we appreciate that from you.

But, Tommy, from what I understand, this -- she bought this form of synthetic weed at a gas station. And when you look at the packaging, it looks, it sounds harmless. Clearly, it wasn't. What -- walk me through what exactly happened to her after she used this stuff.

BRYANT: She was -- she was out with some friends and when she used it, we got a phone call, we were actually at work. We got a phone call that, you know, she was kind of delusional, not really making any sense, she laid down to take a nap.

My stepson who was just right around the corner went over to the house, checked on her. She was sleeping. He said, man, I'm going to hang out for a little bit. I think she's just tired. Maybe 20 minutes later, he called and said she woke up, she was stumbling, very incoherent, couldn't make sense, she had no idea where she was. We told him to call an ambulance and we came straight home.

And when we found her, she was throwing herself into walls, very combative. She was fighting with the sheriff's deputies and fighting to get into an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

BALDWIN: Blake, this is your sister. You told her story on iReport. We owe you a huge thank you for sharing this impassioned report. What was your message?

BLAKE HARRISON, SISTER: My message basically is not only to help other people become aware of what this stuff can do, because it is not really -- not very many people know that -- how capable this stuff is of hurting the rest of your life, because it is just sold over counters to kids under age, and you think nothing of it because you can -- it is typed as legal weed, which doesn't sound very harmful at all.

And then they sell it to children. And serious things can happen. And not very many people are aware of that. And that was the message we were trying to get out. And it can happen to you. It can happen to your friends. It can happen to anybody in your family or anybody that you know. So we really were just hoping to spread that.

BALDWIN: And you did. And we thank you for it.

Let me just point out, final question to you, Tommy. At least 41 states here, including Texas, where you all live, and Puerto Rico, have banned this stuff. This is according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Are you at all going to take any kind of legal action?

BRYANT: You know, we really haven't thought about it. We have been contacted by a few people. Our biggest concern now is getting my daughter back. Every day is a blessing. So when she comes home --

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: Yes, it is.

Listening to the other gentleman talk that, you know, his child didn't make it, you know, I just think about what I would be like if she wouldn't have made it.

BALDWIN: Tommy Bryant, thank you so much. And, again, she is OK. And that's the bright spot in your story and everything else. Tommy Bryant, Blake Harrison, thanks to you both. Best of luck.

As we pointed out, Blake's story on iReport. Please go to iReport at CNN.com. Read the story about Emily and you can weigh in, CNN.com.

We all know about the very public admission. Cyclist Lance Armstrong admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs cost him his sponsors, his job, head of the LIVESTRONG Foundation, but his lies will not put him in jail. Again, we're hearing this afternoon that U.S. prosecutors are standing by their original decision to spare him of criminal charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDRE BIROTTE JR., U.S. ATTORNEY: We made a decision on that case a little over a year ago. Obviously, we have been well aware of the statements that have been made by Mr. Armstrong in other media reports. But that has not changed my view at this time. Obviously, we will consider -- we will continue to look at the situation, but it hasn't changed our view as I stand here today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's Ed Lavandera there for me in Dallas.

Ed, is this it? Is he just totally off the hook now?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard the U.S. attorney there kind of left a little window in case something pops up that would make them reconsider.

But it doesn't sound like they have any indication or any inclination to want to proceed with criminal charges against Lance Armstrong. They dropped the cases against him. It was about a year ago, long before Lance Armstrong publicly admitted to using doping drugs in his cycling career and winning seven Tour de France titles. That was dropped a year ago. That investigation, Brooke, lasted two years. Various federal agencies looked at an array of charges at him for a very long time.

There were many people who spent millions and millions of dollars looking into it. And it just doesn't sound like the Justice Department has any stomach or any inclination to continue with that.

BALDWIN: Also, Ed, news today, he doesn't have to, doesn't plan at least to pay back a single penny of the $12 million in bonuses he received after winning the Tour de France. What more do you know about that?

LAVANDERA: Well, that's an interesting story we have been following since Lance Armstrong went on the infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, almost a month ago, it feels like. But Lance Armstrong is being sued by a Dallas-based company that was the -- basically insured his racing team.

He was paid $12.5 million for winning the seven Tour de France titles as bonuses. That company says that those victories were all fraudulent, since he's been stripped of those titles and he has also now admitted to doping, that that money should be paid back. Those lawyers have been going back and forth for weeks.

Lance Armstrong's attorney told "USA Today" he has no intention of paying that money back. So we will see. The company here in Dallas has been threatening a lawsuit, but until now, as far as we know, that has not been filed.

BALDWIN: OK. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn took quite a frightening tumble today in this championship race in Europe. Here she is off this medevac here. Caught this ride. Here she goes. She's really the face of women's skiing, dangling by this rope from this medevac helicopter. Lindsey Vonn, on her way to a hospital in Austria, where doctors say she sustained some serious knee injury.

So let's go to London to CNN's Christina Macfarlane, who actually recently interviewed Lindsey Vonn recently.

First, just tell me, what do we know? What happened on the slopes?

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, on the slopes, I don't know if you have seen the video, but she managed to come down the piece on a super-G event and she took on a jump midway down the piece, and landed awkwardly and buckled on her right knee and then seemed to collapse and then subsequently was airlifted to hospital.

We were able to speak to her surgeon a short while ago who confirmed that she had torn two ligaments in her right knee, but that she didn't need an operation straightaway. So the U.S. ski team are at the moment considering whether they fly her back to the United States or not. So she's out for this season.

But crucially we have been told she will be back for the 2013- 2014 season, which starts in October. And even more importantly she will be back for the Winter Olympics, which takes place this time next year in Russia.

BALDWIN: And just quickly, you interviewed her recently. How did she feel going into the season?

MACFARLANE: She was full of enthusiasm going into the season. She was looking to defend her overall World Cup title, maintain her status as the world's number one skier, but, really, Brooke, she's had a disaster year. She was hospitalized in November, is apparently suffering from depression, had to take a month out just recently and now this.

So it has not really been what she hoped for and when I spoke to her, you know, I think she is the first person to be completely disappointed by this season, but also she -- what struck me when I did speak to her was how determined she was to fight back and I have no doubt that we will see the world number one back on the world stage in good time.

BALDWIN: She needs that fighting about her as she recovers here from the torn ligaments.

Christina Macfarlane, thank you, in London.

And now an asteroid half the size of a football field, nice graphic, guys, half the size of a football field hurtling towards Earth. As it gets closer, the tug of Earth's gravitational field will cause it to speed up.

Chad Myers, my fellow space geek, when we say, close, Chad, can we define close?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, 17,000 miles?

BALDWIN: That sounds really far. But that's really close?

MYERS: Well, your car has a 50,000 mile warranty. So it is the closest asteroid we had here this size in a very long time. We're one-thirteenth of the way to the moon. The moon is far out, and some of the satellites you're probably watching us on are not so much in danger because they're few and far between.

But they're outside of the ring. This asteroid will fly right through the Earth's ring here, 22,000 miles around, where the big satellites are, and this is where the -- asteroid here will fly right through this ring on one side and right out the other way. And it is big. This thing, you know, you are talking about 150 feet from one end to the other. I have heard it described as a cruise ship asteroid.

This is not as big as a cruise ship; cruise ships are 950 to 1,000 feet long. It is not that big. But 150 feet long is pretty good.

BALDWIN: OK. But so there are some folks around the world who get to sort of, I don't know, rubber-neck and take a look at the asteroid as it passes off in the distance. Who and when?

MYERS: Slightly. You're going to need some binoculars or a light telescope to see it. But you're talking about Europe, Asia and also in toward the Middle East will be able to see it in the dark. It will fly by us. As it comes near us, it will be in the daylight, so it will not be as easy to see, obviously.

But as it comes through and we get farther away, it will be about 8,000 miles farther away by the time the U.S. gets to rotate around to be able to see this thing.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome, Brooke.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN (voice-over): Vacation nightmare. Men wearing hoods and carrying guns reportedly burst into a resort and rape half a dozen women. We're on the case.

Plus, who to kill and who to spare? A leaked memo raises serious questions about the president's kill list.

He spent a week underground as a hostage. But now how does a little boy and his family begin to heal? Wendy Walsh from "The Doctors" joins me live. The news is now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right, let's talk about Mexico and specifically Acapulco, big, beautiful place on the water, always a big draw, hosting millions of international visitors each and every year. But a frightening incident has a lot of people on edge. Mexican officials say some time early Monday, hooded men broke into this beach house, rented by just a group of tourists from Spain. The men in this group were tied up with cell phone cords. The women were tied up with their own bikinis and then raped.

Investigative reporter Michelle Sigona has been looking into this one for us.

Michelle, I have been in Acapulco. Seemed fairly harmless at the time.

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MICHELLESIGONA.COM: Vacation, hanging out.

BALDWIN: Right. What happened?

SIGONA: This is what I have been able to learn, that this attack, with 15 men that entered inside this rental property, lasted for over two hours, about two-and-a-half-hours. They were inside, they had seven guns and allegedly raped six of the women.

Now, we do not know the relationship between the women and the men who were inside. There was one woman who was in there who was not attacked. But thankfully the government has taken all of these -- all of these victims in this case, they have them in a secure location right now. Of course, they're not going to release their names or identities or information because they are victims.

But they are going after to try to figure out who these suspects are. And what the motive appears to be at the time is robbery. They were going in to steal cash, electronics, and also to take advantage of some women.

BALDWIN: You hear from the mayor of Acapulco. Obviously, he's downplaying it. This is a huge, you know, place for tourism, saying this could happen anywhere. Do you think it is more serious than that?

SIGONA: You know, I do think that, of course, any time that a woman is attacked or any time anyone is attacked, it is very serious. What it appears to be at this particular moment is a large isolated incident. This could happen anywhere. Not just in Mexico. It could happen in the United States.

And just as you mentioned coming into this, spring break is coming up, a lot of teenagers will be venturing out, some to Mexico. And I reached out to the RAINN network. And what they tell is that, obviously, college-age students, women in particular, are more at -- at the most high risk for these types of attacks, so it is something to be careful, and something to be aware of.

And you can always get more information from the RAINN network if you log to their Web site and just check out their tips and the things that they do especially right before spring break, just something to think about.

BALDWIN: It's a great Web site.

Closer to home, Massachusetts, lawyers for this convicted murderer have gone before the state's high court. They're challenging the use of the wounded victim's 911 call to police in which he identifies his killer. The defense wants the 911 call tossed out, conviction overturned. Tell me why.

SIGONA: That's right.

This is what I can tell you. I have reached out to the DA's office. I have pulled all the court documents on this and I have been studying this for a while. Basically, there's two co-defendants in this case, they're both convicted. They were convicted of going inside this man's house and waiting for him to come home, gunning him down, shooting and killing him.

And based off of that, not just the 911 call, where the victim identifies one of the co-defendants, and not just the statements that he gave to one of the authorities, but there is also other things like the murder weapon, statements from other people that gave them the gun that have also convicted these men.

Now, one of them did go forward and try to appeal this before. That appeal was denied. And this is what is happening this week. On Friday, the second appeal is moving forward and from what I'm told is that there will be an oral argument. It will Webcast live, if anyone wants to tune into that and you go to SJC.com to check that out, the Supreme Judicial Court Web site.

BALDWIN: OK.

Michelle Sigona "On the Case," Michelle, appreciate it.

SIGONA: Have a good day.

BALDWIN: He is one of the guys responsible for some of President Obama's most famous speeches. Well, Jon Favreau now leaving the White House. Wait until you hear exactly what he's doing next.

Plus, the place where Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden is now turning into an amusement park. Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BALDWIN: The Baltimore Ravens getting rowdy -- getting, I should say, a rowdy welcome. They were rowdy a couple of nights ago, right, beating the 49ers. Big homecoming for them after their Super Bowl victory over San Francisco.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Flacco! (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Crowds were so large, that the team -- MVP there Joe Flacco -- that the team actually got stuck in traffic on its way to City Hall to kick off this victory parade.

And from there, the team headed to M&T Bank Stadium, where thousands of Ravens fans attended a free celebration featuring the team and live entertainment.

So, here is a question. Where is John Boehner? Because his number two is out there. He's talking about the Republican Party's future, and making a surprise comment about guns.

You will hear what Eric Cantor told CNN.

Plus, how does a little boy recover from being held hostage, special-needs child underground for one week with a killer? Wendy Walsh joins me live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)