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Boys, 10, 11, Plan Murder; Sponsors Distance Themselves from Pistorius; Teenager Sues Parents Over Abortion; Obama Awards Civilian Medals.

Aired February 15, 2013 - 11:30   ET






ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We have some fantastic new video that's just come into CNN. Let's listen into some of the video of this meteor hitting in Russia.




BANFIELD: You hear car alarms going off. What you maybe can't see or hear are the shattered windows, the construction damage, the walls that have come down, and hundreds of buildings in three different regions after a meteor streaks across the sky. By the way, if may have been the size of a kitchen table but it's 10 tons and created quite a bang that caused many of those injuries. Again, many of the injuries from the damage to buildings, as opposed to the actual meteor pieces themselves. Continuing to watch that as the count mounts. 1,000 hurt at this point. But the numbers have been going up.

A lot of fifth graders can be naughty and get into trouble. Kids will be kids, right? Not in this next story, in Washington state. Instead this, is the story of two boys, one 10, one 11, allegedly caught planning to murder one of their friends, quote, "because she was really annoying," end quote. This is no joke. According to "the L.A. Times," a teacher found a semiautomatic handgun and a knife with a three-inch blade in the 10-year-old's backpack. Both of the kids are charged, including conspiracy to commit first degree murder and witness tampering as well. These are 10 and 11-year-old kids. If you don't think that fifth graders are capable of that thing, Washington state law may not agree.

Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor; as well as Joey Jackson, our "In Session" contributor and a crack lawyer himself, a criminal defense attorney. Here's what I was surprised to find out. Apparently, in Washington, students younger than 8 are considered to be incapable of committing crimes. But kids 8 to 12 years old are "presumed" incapable of committing crimes. Does that mean the presumption needs to be proven in court before they can actually be tried?

Jeff, I'll start with you.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That appears to be what the law is in Washington. It varies a little bit in most state. But it's usually something like that. There is a cutoff here, 8 years ago old, which I think is a common age for this. Where younger than that, you just simply can't be involved in the criminal justice system. For this intermediate area, 10 to 12, there's a hearing where the judge tries to determine when there is potentially any justification for bringing a criminal case.

My question, I'm reading on -- on following this story, is what about the parents? How did they run their lives in such a way that their child had access to that sort of weapon?

BANFIELD: And that's a great question.

TOOBIN: I'm much more interested in the parents than prosecuting a 10-year-old.

BANFIELD: People have been charged before because of what their children have done and the access to weapons.

Let me bring you in, Joey.

There was a confession. One of these kids spilling all the details. Let's remind everybody, 11 and 12 years old. Those kinds of admissions, are they admissible in court? Different stand for grownups when they said they did it than when kids say they did it?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, yes. There's a much different standard, Ashleigh. There is. This goes back to what'll happen is they'll be a hearing. At that hearing, they'll determine what was on the children's mind. Remember, when it comes to any type of criminal law, you look at the mind. Mens rea, right? You measure what the thought was. You have to have the capacity to be thinking logically, lucidly as an adult would think. And based upon circumstances here, Ashleigh, they're children, and I think a court will make a determination as to whether they can be criminally tried. But certainly, when it comes to juveniles and children, they're treated far differently than an adult situation.



BANFIELD: Yes, quickly.

TOOBIN: It's just worth adding, as we learned in the so-called day care sex abuse cases in the '80s and early '90s, kids can be very well intentioned but terrible witnesses. But you don't want people goes to prison necessarily on the words of kids has been influenced by people.

JACKSON: Hence, the hearing.

BANFIELD: Yes, I've covered a lot of cases like that that are remarkable. Some of the testimony that are so divergent when children say something and then three weeks later the opposite.

Both of you, I need you to stay because we'll talk about a number of issues, the least of which, we'll talk with Christine Romans about companies who sponsor athletes, and then those athletes do naughty things and break the laws and millions are at stake, coming up.


BANFIELD: Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius is the latest sports star to run afoul of the law. He has been an inspiration to so many people. And his remarkable achievements on the track won him numerous endorsements. But now that he's been charged with murder, the companies that endorsed him are starting to distance themselves from him. Nike has pulled an ad featuring Pistorius with the words, "I am the bullet in the chamber." So unfortunate that that ad was created before this instance. Other Pistorius sponsors, Ossur, British Telecom, Oakley -- they expressed condolences but they declined to comment further.

Christine Romans, host of "Bottom Line," and CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin are here with me to get through the murkiness of this kind of business.

Christine, let me start with you.

What kind of money are we talking about with Oscar Pistorius and Nike?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT & HOST, BOTTOM LINE: About $2 million. It's not the kind of money you usually hear about in the United States when you think of someone of his stature in his country, but it's about $2 million from a diverse array of sponsors. And they're doing exactly what brand managers would tell them to do, say you feel terrible about the situation, say that he is innocent until proven guilty and then distance yourself from his brand. And that's exactly what we're seeing. Brand managers that we've talked to say, quite frankly, the seriousness of these charges and his stature in society, how many people know about him there, he will never recover financially from this, most likely.


ROMANS: They haven't cut their endorsements just yet but many people think they will.

BANFIELD: Is that what it takes, does it take murder for them to say we're out? We have sports controversies -- bad behavior in bars, shooting incidents, steroids and dog fighting. And a lot of time, sponsors hang on for a long time.

ROMANS: Sometimes, they do. Sometimes, they don't. Look you look at LiveStrong and Lance Armstrong. His entire brand is LiveStrong and Lance Armstrong. He will not recover from that. You look at Kobe Bryant, who was accused of a terrible crime but he lost $11 million in sponsorships. Now has recovered $28 million. He's been able to completely get over that. So it depends on the crime. There is a dead woman in the case. This is about a dead woman. That will be very difficult to get over, brand-wise.

BANFIELD: Jeff Toobin, listen, legally, I don't know if companies scramble every time they write one of these contracts to update it with all the history they've learned. But what do they include in their contracts in order to give them legal room to give them room if case something goes wrong with an athlete?

TOOBIN: Well, look, these companies, especially a company like Nike, they've been down this road before. They always have a morals clause in the contract, which refers to the kind of behavior that gets the company out of the contract if the person is accused or convicted. And the language -- the language can vary. But remember, the conduct is very different here. Nike dropped Michael Vick because he was convicted of a crime. Nike did not drop Tiger Woods when he had all his personal difficulties. There was certainly nothing criminal -- nothing law enforcement-related. It all varies depending on the contract -- the wording of the contract.

BANFIELD: OK, Jeffrey Toobin, Christine Romans, thank you.

Here's the next to ponder over the break. A teenager wants to keep her baby. Madonna wrote a song about it. But in this particular case, the parents want her to have an abortion? Whose rights are more important here, the teenager's or mom or dad?


BANFIELD: You know, we all think of Roe versus Wade as the Supreme Court case that protects a woman's right to get an abortion. But in Texas, that law is actually protecting a fetus right now from being aborted. The parents of a 16-year-old pregnant girl are none too pleased with their daughter and her boyfriend. They want her to get an abortion. But she is suing them to keep the baby. The girl is claiming her mom was planning to slip her the abortion pill. Her lawyer says this teenager has rights like everyone else.


STEPHEN CASEY: ATTORNEY: We're asking the judge to stop them from physically forcing her to have an abortion. She's legally protected so they cannot drag her to an abortion clinic and force an abortion on our client.


BANFIELD: So can she win this legal battle against her parents?

Our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin is back. And "In Session" contributor, Joey Jackson, is back with us now.

Weigh in, Jeff, when does the parents' right get superseded by the government's right to parent a child?

TOOBIN: Boy, this is a really hard case. And I've followed abortion law for a long time. And I've never seen a case like this.

There are many cases, there are many laws that say minors who want to get an abortion have to get parental consent. If there's a disagreement -- if the child wants an abortion and the parents don't want to allow it, a judge can get involved. Here, I think, though -- I mean, you're talking about abortion is an issue of individual autonomy. And I don't see how any court will ever force anyone, young or old, to get an abortion. So I would think it would be up to the young girl not to get an abortion.

BANFIELD: Here's what I don't understand. Roe versus Wade protects the girl's right to choose. But doesn't Bellotti versus Baird give teenagers that same right?

Why don't you jump on that one, Joey?

JACKSON: Ah ha, it does. I think ultimately she prevails. I think Jeff is right here. Why does she prevail? What happens is, there's a conflict, certainly, we respect parents and parents wishes, but this deals with the fundamental right of an individual, although they might be a minor, to have her child. And the case you're referring to addressed the issue of informed consent, right? And what it said, Ashleigh, there was a law passed that you have to get your parents' consent if you want an abortion. It was the flip side. If they didn't give it to you, you could get a judge to intervene. But here, ultimately, I believe the court will side with her and allow her to exercise her own individual wishes, and if those wishes are to have the child, so let it be.


TOOBIN: Just think about the practicalities of this. Are they going to strap this woman on to a gurney and force her into an abortion?



TOOBIN: I don't see any court in the country doing that.

BANFIELD: Listen, with that image in mind, because clearly, that is what essentially this brings to mind if you're being forced to do this against your will.

Some states have statutes, Jeff, to make it murder if a fetus is killed in any kind of murder if a fetus is killed in any kind of murder. So wouldn't this be murder. By some extent, by some method of thinking --

TOOBIN: No, not --

(CROSSTALK) BANFIELD: -- if you force someone to abort their child, how is that not the same as a murder charge if someone kills and a fetus dies as well?

TOOBIN: Well, I don't think that's really a risk here. You're talking about an early stage of pregnancy. Those laws only apply in a late stage of pregnancy. You know, an early --


BANFIELD: What if it takes that long, Jeff, for this to litigate? Doesn't that come into play?

TOOBIN: It could, if this thing goes longer. But I think there are easier grounds on which to rule in the daughter's favor here than the risk of a murder trial. I just don't see anyone in the United States of America --


TOOBIN: This is not China where we force people to have abortions.

BANFIELD: I can't see it happening either.

JACKSON: But the parents have to be very careful here.


All right. Both of you, thank you. Always appreciate your insight. On this one we'll have to think through for a long time.

We'll be back right after this.


BANFIELD: Things in New York City got a little lighter. Starting next month, people who are stopped with a small amount of weed will not be spending the night in jail. Instead, they'll get a ticket and a court date, kind of like speeding. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that the change is going to free up a lot of police resources that are spent on this kind of thing right now. But how does it compare to other states? Here in New York, if you have 25 grams or less in your pocket, you're not going to jail and you might get up to $100 fine. That's pretty much the same in California. In new Mexico, if you're holding on to an ounce or less, 15 days in the poky and a small fine. And on the tougher end of things, Oklahoma, in any amount, one year behind bars. Same in Alabama. There you'll also have to shell out up to $6,000.

I want to take you now, switching gears completely, to the White House, because there's something going on there that you should though about. The president right now is standing by one man, but a number of people, one after the other, a series of citizens are going to be receiving the presidential citizen's medal, which is the nation's second highest honor. It's second only to the Medal of Freedom. So for those who earn this, it is a remarkable thing for them and their families. Among the 13 winners, the president is going to posthumously bestow the award to those adults killed in the Newtown school shooting.

Let's watch and listen in as these families honor their loved ones who are receiving these medals.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medal is awarded to Rachel D'Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto, for dedicating themselves to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Some had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School for only weeks. Others were preparing to retire after decades of service. All gave the children in their care a future worth their talents. On December 14, 2012, unthinkable tragedy swept through Newtown etching the name of these six courageous women into the heart of our nation forever. The United States honors Rachel D'Avino. Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto, for their commitment to the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Accepting on behalf of Rachel D'Avino, her mother, Mary D'Avino, and sister, Sarah D'Avino


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accepting on behalf of Dawn Hochsprung, her daughter, Erica Lapordy (ph), and mother, Cheryl Lapordy (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accepting on behalf of Anne Marie Murphy, her husband Michael Murphy, and daughters, Paige and Colleen Murphy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accepting on behalf of Lauren Rousseau, her parents, Terry and John (ph) Rousseau.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accepting on behalf of Mary Sherlach, her husband, Bill Sherlach, and daughters, Katie Sherlach and Mara Schwartz.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accepting on behalf of Victoria Soto, her parents Donna and Carlos Soto.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me close by just saying a few words of thanks. First of all, to Wendy and all the people at the Corporation for National and Community Service, thank you for all that you do to make our communities and our country stronger. We're very grateful. To those who nominated these outstanding individuals, thank you for taking the time to share their stories. The competition was stiff and your words gave life to their work.