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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Testimony at Steubenville Rape Trial; Nuclear Threat; CPAC 2013; Crews Search River for Teacher; Jodi Arias Trial; American Catholics React to Change; U.S. Ramps Up Missile Defense; CNN Investigation: Hate Crime in Mississippi; Conditions in Iraq After 10 Years of War

Aired March 16, 2013 - 11:00   ET

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


SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING, great to see you. It is Saturday, March 16th. I'm Susan Hendricks in for Randi Kaye.

And today we could hear from the teenage girl who accuses two high school football players of rape as this high profile case moves into a rare weekend session.

The U.S. answers North Korea's threat of a nuclear strike by ramping up missile defenses.

And also, what really happened in Mississippi when three white teenagers ran down and killed a black man. Accident or murder? CNN investigates.

We begin with that rare Saturday criminal trial. The case has riveted the nation really. Two teens are accused of raping a 16-year-old girl while she could barely open her eyes. The rape allegedly happened last August during a full night of partying. Witnesses say the alleged victim was drunk. But the high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio, say they are innocent.

Yesterday, the suspects' friends testified that they saw the whole thing. Joining me now from Steubenville is CNN's Poppy Harlow. She's been in the court the whole time. Poppy, yesterday was certainly a long day. I believe you said 12 hours. What happened in court?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was such a long day -- explosive testimony yesterday. It is the first time, Susan, that the prosecution in the state of Ohio in this case has brought eyewitnesses to the stand. They brought three eyewitnesses, all three teenage boys, all three close friends with both of the co-defendants, Trent Mayes and Malik Richmond.

The first of those witnesses to take the stand testifying that in the backseat of a car between late night parties on August 11th, he witnessed Trenton Mayes perform a sexual act on the alleged victim that in the state of Ohio is considered rape if it is not consensual. He also admitted to actually videotaping that act for, quote, "a couple of minutes". Then the next morning, deleting that video when he realized that what he had done was wrong. Then the other two eyewitnesses that took the stand both testified that they saw the same thing -- the other co-defendant, Malik Richmond performing a similar sexual act on this alleged victim when they got to a house after that car ride. He said the girl was laying naked on the basement floor and the key here when the prosecution asked, well, was she responding? One of those witnesses said, quote, "She wasn't moving, she wasn't talking, she wasn't participating."

He also admitted to taking a photo of this naked girl as she lay there. Keep in mind, this eyewitness testimony is critical because that one alleged video of the incident isn't around anymore. And it's also critical that we're hearing this from close friends of the defendants -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Yes and there's some damaging text messages and a photo, as well that we've been showing. Poppy, the accused saying they didn't do it, that they're not guilty. What is the strategy of the defense?

HARLOW: It's a good question because it's tough after this eyewitness testimony. The defense is using a few different strategies here. What they're doing is they're trying to poke holes in all of the witnesses' testimony. The first thing that they're doing is saying over and over again to these witnesses, how do you know how drunk this girl was? Were you with her all night? How can you say for sure how much she had to drink?

Some witnesses said she was stumbling but was walking on her own. Others said she was speaking but slurring her speech. So there's questions there and when you talk about that infamous photo if we can show our viewers of the two defendants holding this alleged victim up by her arms and legs, there has been a lot to-do about that photo. It has gone viral around the nation -- really globally.

The defense has gotten some witnesses to say that was a joke, that the girl was conscious when that happened. Others disagree.

But one of the keys here, is it's been months since this allegedly happened and there has been so much social media chatter about it, so much media coverage by networks, the defense has gotten some witnesses to say, that yes, indeed, they have sort of reconstructed their memory of the night through all of the social media and media reports that they've seen out there.

So that's key in this in terms of the credibility of the witnesses. We still haven't heard from the alleged victim in this. And we still have not heard from either of the co-defendants. We do expect the alleged victim to take the stand. Not clear if the defendants will or not -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: And a lot more may happen today. Poppy Harlow, live in Ohio, thanks.

HARLOW: Yes.

HENDRICKS: You know, the U.S. is not wasting any time answering a North Korean threat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: When the North Korean government suddenly warned it may launch a nuclear first strike, the Pentagon said it would install more missile interceptors in Alaska and the West Coast, 14 missile batteries at a cost of $1 billion.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The American people expect us to take every necessary step to protect their security at home and U.S. strategic interests abroad. But they expect us to do so in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

By taking the steps I've outlined today, we will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: Well, those extra missile defenses will be up and running by 2017. Later in this hour, Tom Foreman explains how they are supposed to work.

And that is the key question here. Can the sophisticated missile defense system work? Earlier we spoke with CNN military expert General James "Spider" Marks. And he says first we have to find the missile, then we have to be able to shoot it down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We have a mid -- what's called a mid-course interceptor both ground-based and sea- based, that needs development. There have been tests, we've had failures and we've had some successes. That gets into a lot of really precise mathematics and physics in terms of intercepting one of these missiles.

So we've got to work at it, we've got to increase our chances of being protected. So we're going to increase the number of those interceptors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: And General Marks says accurate intelligence about North Korea's missiles capability is more important now than ever.

It is the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in National Harbor, Maryland. And today, CPAC holds its annual straw poll. The vote is considered a gauge of who conservatives think may be a good future presidential candidate. There are 23 people on the list, plus room for write-ins. The list includes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who, by the way, was not invited to speak at the conference.

CNN political director Mark Preston joins me live from National Harbor. Mark what's the latest buzz about the straw poll? Is there a potential favorite in the crowd?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, Susan, in past years, the straw poll certainly was given a lot more attention. There was a lot more talk. There was discussion about ballot stuffing. Because there was a belief that if you won the CPAC straw poll that you would be considered a serious contender for president.

However, that hasn't really borne out over the past couple of years. And we have it -- had a lot of emphasis on the straw poll. However, the fact that we've seen the likes of Chris Christie on the straw poll, Bob McDonnell on the straw poll, two folks who were not invited here and organizers tell us that in fact, they didn't invite Chris Christie because his brand of conservatism didn't fit with this conference.

However, for folks like Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator or Senator Rand Paul, a win at the straw poll would give them a little wind behind their back as we are all focusing right now on the 2006 (SIC) presidential election.

HENDRICKS: Yes, Mark, someone who does fit in of course Sarah Palin, she'll be speaking at noon. What are we expecting to hear from her? I'm sure a large crowd will show up to hear her speak.

PRESTON: Yes no question about that. I would expect probably more than 4,000 people will be in the ballroom behind me to hear her speak. Anti-establishment will be her main thought. And in fact, that has been the theme primarily over the past three days here at the Conservative Political Action Conference. And Sarah Palin and by and large has been out of the spotlight for the past year or so. She's no longer on TV. She was on a rival network.

But the fact is she's going to come and she's going to get a hero's applause no question about that. And it'll be interesting to see if she'll use this as a spring board to see whether what direction she's going to take, Susan. Will she start talking about possibly running herself in 2016? Or will we see her trying to take on a bigger role in the conservative movement?

HENDRICKS: Yes that's the big question. She certainly has a following. Mark Preston I appreciate it thanks.

We're talking about rapper Lil Wayne today. He is on the mend after reportedly suffering a seizure. According to his record label, doctors at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in L.A. are treating the rapper and he is recovering. The New Orleans native sent a tweet saying this, "I'm good everybody." Fellow rapper Drake led a vigil outside of his hospital room on Friday.

He's not the only celebrity that's under the weather. Elton John canceled last night's show in Alabama. A statement from the venue said it was because of medical reasons. No word yet on what those medical reasons are or if tonight's show in Memphis has also been canceled.

The streak goes on for the Miami Heat, 21 straight wins and the third longest winning streak in NBA history, would you believe? Last night, the Heat down the Milwaukee Bucks, 107-94 that puts the NBA champ one win away from tying the second longest winning streak. The top scorers, no surprise here, LeBron James and Chris Bosh each score 28 points and Dwyane Wade added 20 more. Good for them.

Did you know tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and people are planning to celebrate around the country, but will the weather play along? Meteorologist Alexandra Steele is here with that. I forgot to wear my green but it's tomorrow so we're --

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes that's right, well you know, a lot of the parades are today and a lot of them are very cold. So, you know, Savannah already this morning started their parade. And we will see them today around the country. We can see this is a Savannah, one of the biggest in the country, it's been going on I think for 169 years.

New York City about to get underway as well, 11:00 o'clock this morning, cloudy and cold, 37; Chicago, Green River included at noon today, very windy and cold with temperatures only at 33 but the winds will make it feel a lot colder than that.

San Francisco, 11:30 this morning, local time as well 54 and partly sunny; Boston's is tomorrow at 1:00, so 33 and cold there, as well, with a little bit of wind. And even around New York City if you're out there this morning or going. You could see a few snow showers, you can see why -- little clipper moving through with some snow and rain today.

So here is that line also around I-70 to the Ohio River, could see a few rain showers and very warm in the south.

So Susan this is the last winter weekend. And it will feel like that really from Phoenix all the way to Atlanta, Georgia.

HENDRICKS: In Boston, I don't think they care how cold it is.

STEELE: That's right, just keep it coming.

HENDRICKS: Alexandra thank you.

STEELE: Sure.

HENDRICKS: Well the search is still on for a missing New Orleans teacher. We're going to have a live report from New Orleans with the latest.

Also, Jodi Arias spent 18 days on the witness stand. But has her testimony helped or hurt her case? All that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: Investigators are still looking for a New Orleans teacher who went missing two weeks ago. Terrilyn Monette disappeared from outside of a bar after celebrating her nomination as Teacher of the Year. Her mother is making an emotional plea for her safe return.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONI ENCLADE, TERRILYN MONNETTE'S MOTHER: I can't sleep at night. I can't sleep at night. I can't eat. I keep thinking about my child and where she could be. I just want her back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: Your heart breaks for her mother. And Nick Valencia is live in New Orleans. Nick what's the latest?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't get any easier to listen to that sound. It's just your heart breaks every time you listen to it, Susan, doesn't it?

The latest is police have nothing, now new leads, no new information. And today marks exactly two weeks since that teacher Terrilyn Monette went missing. She was last seen outside a Parlay's bar in the Lakeview area of New Orleans. A surveillance camera caught her leaving around 4:00 a.m.

Now, investigators are focusing their search in a nearby park. They believe that this might have been the path that Monette took home. Now prayer vigils have been held. This local area is really, really, you know, jumping on board, all hands on deck here. There's a lot of information.

A lot of -- on this story, I should, people are talking about it all. In fact, prayer vigil, organizers were passing out these signs and at least in the area that she went missing, Susan, these signs are everywhere. This case has a lot of people talking here locally.

HENDRICKS: Yes. I understand her students are so upset too. We certainly are thinking of her family. Nick Valencia thank you.

American Catholics are experiencing more changes in their church than just a new pope. What will those changes mean for the near future?

And a reminder for you now to watch CNN's new show the lead with Jake Tapper starts Monday afternoon 4:00 Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: Eighteen days -- that is how long murder defendant Jodi Arias testified on the stand in her own defense. So how did she do as a witness and did she save her own life by testifying?

Earlier I asked HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: A lot of people said, look, she had to take the stand, because first she lied, said she wasn't there, and then she said two ninjas did it, and then she finally said, oh, yes, I killed him but it was self-defense. Well, there is no corroboration for that self- defense except her telling it. But she was so elaborate with some of her -- well, I think we have all concluded -- lies, that she may have created so many inconsistencies that it was an opportunity for the prosecutor to really show beyond a reasonable doubt that she is a liar.

HENDRICKS: Speaking of the prosecutor, Juan Martinez, he has really gone after her full force on the stand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: Ma'am, were you crying when you were shooting him?

JODI ARIAS, DEFENDANT: I don't remember.

MARTINEZ: Were you crying when you were stabbing him?

ARIAS: I don't remember.

MARTINEZ: How about when you cut his throat, were you crying then?

ARIAS: I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: Did you think at all that his style may be turning off the jury?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it's very, very aggressive. But I have to say, when you are dealing with a pathological liar -- and I do believe she is a pathological liar -- you have to be aggressive because you can't nail them down. She is constantly using phrases like "I guess", asking him to define his terms, "well, if you say so, it's possible". So she slides, she slides out of everything she tries to pin her on.

So it's frustrating. I think sometimes he's let his frustrations show. But as far as aggressive, you have got to really hone in on a pathological liar and rattle them to shake them off her story. That's how I think he got her to say, oh, there was a holster, which was totally bad news for her, because now she has to take the gun out of the holster, then she says, well, maybe the holster was not there. So it showed the inconsistencies in her story even more. So I think he is a little over the top but he's got to do something.

HENDRICKS: And I think we really got a look into what the jury may be feeling and thinking, with their questions, 200-plus questions. Do you think that rattled Jodi Arias on the stand?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, I think it had do. I think she would be back in her he cell rocking in a fetal position over that break where she is, the questions, echoing in her mind. Why should we believe you now when you have lied so many times before? How can you remember intimate details of sexual encounters but you can't remember stabbing somebody 29 times?

These questions were hostile. They were sarcastic. They were almost rhetorical. And certainly they gave us an insight into the soul of these jurors. They are not buying her act.

HENDRICKS: They were sarcastic, and I remember a couple of them being snide. It does not seem like they like her at all.

The next phase in this is the experts. Do you think they will save Jodi's life?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Her life is riding on these experts. Clearly the jurors through their questions did not believe the fog. Well, they are going to bring this psychologist on who is going to argue ferociously that yes, this fog does exist.

And we've heard battles about this already, that he is saying, well, look, police officers even go into this fog when they shoot somebody, and they are trained to shoot somebody.

So if he can prove that this so-called fog, which the prosecutor was so sarcastic about, which the jurors were so sarcastic about it, is real, then maybe, maybe that's the only chance for Jodi Arias not to get the needle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: Stay up to speed on the Jodi Arias trial with Jane Velez- Mitchell. You can catch her on our sister network HLN weeknights at 7:00 Eastern.

A Maryland man is dead after he contracted rabies. We're going to tell you the strange way he got the deadly virus.

And later, a CNN investigation into whether one rural Mississippi County is ignoring hate crimes.

But first, Latin Americans make up a fast-growing segment in the American Catholic church. That means changes involving more than just language. Tom Foreman shows us how the selection of a pope from Argentina could have a big impact on this "American Journey".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The appearance of the Spanish-speaking pope from across the Atlantic electrified the crowd in Italy and lit up U.S. shores, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Full of joy. And happy, very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we say in Latin America, Vivo il Papa.

FOREMAN: Over the past few decades, American Catholic churches like this one in D.C. have undergone a profound transformation. The number of Hispanic members has been soaring, pushed so fast by immigration and births that they now account for one out of every three Catholics here. GREG SMITH, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: And it's a number that's likely to continue to rise because Latino Catholics tend to be younger than Catholics as a whole. Fully one half of all Catholics under the age of 40 today are Hispanics.

FOREMAN: While many white Catholics have been slipping away from the church amid sexual abuse scandals, debates over abortion rights and the role of women, Hispanic arrivals have more than made up for the losses. So much so that Catholics still comprise about a quarter of the country, just as they have for decades.

(on camera): Mind you, that shift in demographics has dramatically changed the religious map. Once a largely northeastern and Midwestern faith, Catholicism is now growing fast in the south and the west.

(voice-over): The new pope has a ready audience coast to coast in this country.

ANJALAI SHAHANI, CATHOLIC: So the fact that he can speak our language is very significant. I think he can get the message to us more effectively.

FOREMAN: And what they share maybe more than Spanish is the language of change.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: The U.S. is not taking any chances with North Korea's recent threat of a nuclear first strike. Diplomats may see it as saber rattling, but the Pentagon views it as a challenge, one that will force the U.S. to ramp up its missile defenses. Tom Foreman explains how it should work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: The Pentagon is acknowledging that North Korea is becoming more of a global threat because of the speed at which it is developing its missile program and its nuclear weapon program.

So how does the military want to respond to that? At the front line, by going to the Pacific Ocean, where the fear is that North Korea on its best day might be able to launch a missile that would go all the way out to hit some parts of the United States. What are they going to do about that?

First of all, they want more radar support. They want a new base in Japan here to be tracking early on what is happening. They want to beef up missiles in Alaska and California, and of course they want steady monitoring from ships at sea, from airplanes overhead, and from satellites, all watching to see if North Korea is going to launch at some point our way. How would that work? Well, as North Korea launches a missile, all those early warning systems would send the coordinates of the flight back to these response missiles, which would then fire and go up and try to hit it and take it out. Ideally, they would like to hit it early on or in the middle, and as last resort, way over here. But what they want is numerous shots at it so they can stop it, that's really the goal.

And they have to have numerous shots, because this is all still fairly new technology and it's not all entirely reliable. As I said, we don't know that the North Koreans at this point can really get a missile to go this far, but our ability to intercept it and stop it is also a tricky, tricky thing to pull off.

Look at the things we would use for this. There is a two-stage missile. This is what we would launch out of Alaska or California, and it would release something like this, this is called an exoatmospheric kill vehicle.

It's made by Raytheon, and you see it's got those little propulsion units around it there. It also has an infrared guidance system in the nose. And that, when it gets released, locks in on the nuclear warhead in this missile, and it will guide this in to actually smash into that at about 17,000 miles an hour, and tear it apart. It does not explode.

This is about as big as a refrigerator. It just smashes into it and tears it apart. You can imagine how difficult that is to pull off. But this is the technology that we are trying to perfect so that we can stop the North Korean technology if and when they ever get it perfected and actually can threaten the U.S. mainland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: Really an amazing visual there thanks to Tom Foreman for that.

In Maryland, a man is dead after contracting rabies from a donated kidney. Three other patients from Florida, Georgia and Illinois also received organs from the same donor. They are now being given anti- rabies shots. The organs were not tested for rabies before being delivered for transplants.

Two hit-and-run cases in rural Mississippi are raising questions about hate crime allegations there, one last summer and one in 2009. In both cases, the victims were African-American men; the later one is under investigation. But the earlier one was not investigated. That is until our Drew Griffin started asking questions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cross is so far off the road, you might never notice it unless you were looking for it. Ruby Burdette never misses it. She put it here three and a half years ago to mark the spot her son died and a mystery began. They know he was hit by a car?

RUBY BURDETTE, MOTHER OF GARRICK BURDETTE: That's what they say.

GRIFFIN: Did they ever find who drove that car?

BURDETTE: No.

GRIFFIN: Do you feel that they did an adequate investigation to find who did that?

BURDETTE: No -- I don't really -- I can't say because they say they're still investigating. I don't know. No one relates to me anything.

GRIFFIN: They're still investigating?

BURDETTE: Yeah.

GRIFFIN: Garrett Burdette was 41. He walked wherever he went. In rural Panola County, that can be dangerous, especially if you are black. In November of 2009, Burdette's body was found on this site. The autopsy revealed multiple injuries consistent with being hit by a vehicle. For three years, there's been nothing more than this simple one-page incident report about what happened. No one in the Panola County sheriff's department ever bothered to do anything else.

Did they ever come up and down these streets handing out flyers, knocking on doors, asking people if they've seen anything?

BURDETTE: No, not over this way.

GRIFFIN: Do you know of any activity that way?

BURDETTE: No, no one said anything.

GRIFFIN: So how do you know they're investigating?

BURDETTE: Well, they had put it on the paper, you know, when they found him dead. And then they had put it on there and they wrote it in the newspaper. They said it was still being investigated.

GRIFFIN: Ruby Burdette's hope rests in this one small news article from three years ago that says police are still investigating. CNN has learned they never really have.

JOHN CHAMPION, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, PANOLA COUNTY: Never have. Case turned into us.

GRIFFIN: In January we asked the district attorney who covers Panola County to search his records to find out if anyone from the sheriff's office had contacted him regarding Garrett Burdette's killing. There was nothing.

CHAMPION: Which means one of two things. Either it ended up being an accident, which we would not have had or they never found the person that did it.

GRIFFIN: What blacks in this rural Mississippi county believe is that law enforcement treat crimes and investigations differently depending on the color of the victim's skin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: Now, this is not the only case without an investigation. Coming up, Drew Griffin looks into other similar cases in an investigation that got him threats from the local sheriff. The details are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: Welcome back.

Before the break, we brought you the story of Garrett Burdette. He was killed in a hit-and-run accident that wasn't investigated until our Drew Griffin started requesting questions about it.

Drew discovered the case while looking into a very similar case from last summer. Both victims were African-American, both in Panola County, Mississippi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Last summer in rural Panola County, Johnny Lee Butts, a 61-year-old black man walking far off the shoulder of this road was deliberately run over and killed by a car carrying three white teens. The driver told police he thought he hit a deer. His two passengers both say the 18-year-old driver steered straight for him. The driver's charged with murder. The DA, though, says there's no evidence to suggest a racial motive.

Johnny Butts brother says the white local law enforcement simply don't want to know the truth.

(on camera): Do you believe that the sheriff and the district attorney either don't want to or are afraid to know the truth?

FRED BUTTS, BROTHER OF JOHNNY BUTTS: I actually think they don't want to. They don't want to push that issue.

GRIFFIN: They don't want to push race?

BUTTS: I actually believe that. They don't want to push that issue.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That belief was confirmed to Fred Butts just days after his brother's death and literally just around the corner, these four boys walking on the side of this road say they watched as a white Jeep with two while men barreled over the top of the hill, increased speed and aimed right at them.

(on camera): And they were laughing when they passed by?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

GRIFFIN: And just kept going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. GRIFFIN: Scared you, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Parents reported it to the police, no follow-up ever took place. When we tried to reach Sheriff Dennis Darby in January about the boys' claims, the sheriff told us not to, quote, stir up trouble in his county, adding you do something with this and I'll be coming after you.

The Panola County Sheriff Department refuses to talk to us about this case, as well. But we can tell you three and a half years later, the hit-and-run death of Garrett Burdette remains unsolved. And as far as we can tell, for three and a half years, this sheriff's department has done very little to find out what happened.

(on camera): Has anybody from the sheriff's office investigated the DA's office been in contact with you?

BURDETTE: No.

GRIFFIN: Never?

BURDETTE: Never. Never.

GRIFFIN: Never came to ask you if your son had any enemies, any problems with anybody?

BURDETTE: No. Nothing.

GRIFFIN: And how can you say they're still investigating?

BURDETTE: I'm just going by what the paper -- what the papers say.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Last month, CNN again tried to ask the Panola County sheriff's department about the unsolved hit-and-run death of Ruby's son. This time we advised the sheriff's department CNN would be airing this report. And again, we got no response. But hours later, Ruby Burdette did.

BURDETTE: He came in, he said he was an investigator. He introduced himself. We sat at the dining room table and he started talking. He told me he apologized for no one coming out before now.

And he told me that the first investigators they had didn't do anything. He said he was the one that -- he hoped, you know, to see this thing come to an end. He said he would -- you know, if anyone could be found, he was going to find them.

GRIFFIN: She doesn't know why now, why it took so long and why for three and a half years no one in the sheriff's department seemed to care that a black man was run over and killed. But all that time this grieving mother has held on to a newspaper article hoping one day its story would be true.

BURDETTE: I just want it to be over. I just want to know. It's like eating away with me, just eating away with me. But being a mother, I want the truth to come out.

GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Panola County, Mississippi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: And our thanks to Drew Griffin for that.

Well, 10 years ago, the U.S. was on the verge of war. Now what is left of the country American troops were sent in to liberate. You're going to hear why one family says no much but they're not leaving. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: Tuesday marks 10 years since the U.S. military action against Iraq began. Bombs pounded Baghdad and Iraq President Saddam Hussein was eventually caught and the country began rebuilding.

But one family tells our Arwa Damon what is left of Iraq is heartbreaking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In another time and place, 22-year-old Sama might have pursued her passion for music and the arts. And 14-year-old Zeina's first memory might not have been a bombing close to her kindergarten. The sisters belong to a rare species, the remnants of Baghdad's professional elite who stayed through the worst of the violence even as their friends packed up and left. Their mother Basma is an IT professional and human rights activist.

(on camera): And why did you stay?

BASMA AL-KHATEEB, MOTHER: I still got hope back then.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't lose hope.

DAMON: Right now it's worse than 2006, '07 '08.

AL-KHATEEB: Of course. It's entrenching, 2006, 2007, there were militias.

DAMON: And there were bombings, no-go areas. Today fewer Iraqis are killed, but do they feel safe?

AL-KHATEEB: No, no. The fear is different. The fear is different. You don't know who is in the next car.

SAMA WAMEED, DAUGHTER: I think people changed. I think they came -- the ones who were good left and the only -- only the bad people stayed here.

DAMON: What was it like for you, actually?

ZEINA WAMEED, DAUGHTER: It was frustrating. I was depressed. All my close friends left the country.

DAMON: Did you ever say I want to go too?

Z. WAMEED: No because I know that she's doing the right thing. Not leaving. I know there's hope.

S. WAMEED: We trust her.

DAMON: But you've changed your mind now.

(voice-over): Even Basma, the eternal optimist drained of hope.

AL-KHATEEB: You don't feel it's home anymore. I don't know I can do anything. And for youth, when they were in the track of university going, the (INAUDIBLE) takes them, they take lessons and they would go to exams, I know, but afterwards what?

S. WAMEED: So when I walk, I don't feel comfortable because I feel threatened that someone might hurt me or, you know, harass me or do anything to me. And I -- I can't feel safe unless I am with my mother or with someone who is older than me.

DAMON (on camera): You guys are just online all the time?

Z. WAMEED: I have two Wi-Fis. One of is not enough.

AL-KHATEEB: So it's mostly their life.

DAMON: So you're living in a virtual world effectively.

AL-KHATEEB: Now they meet at home.

DAMON: Insecurity, corruption, harassment, the space to enjoy life stifled.

AL-KHATEEB: I see my friends' sons and daughters are graduated and working. It's like slavery. They work like morning. They work at night but the income is not - no social protection.

S. WAMEED: (INAUDIBLE) know what to do. I realize this is not right. It is not right to stay here and this is no place for us because if I stay here, I have to be corrupt also to live, to survive.

DAMON: A lot of people have a tendency to look at the numbers. They'll look at the numbers of people who were killed, but from everything you three are describing, that's not your barometer.

AK-KHATEEB: No. It's about how to live like human beings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no future here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: Here are the numbers. The number of U.S. war dead is more than 4,000. The number of Iraqi civilians killed is estimated to be at least 134,000. In addition, the war may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number.

Coming up, a story about love and perseverance, a mother and the son she thought she had lost in the system nearly two decades ago are finally reunited. And a reminder for you to watch CNN's new show "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPERT" starts Monday afternoon, 4:00 Eastern. Don't miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: Welcome back.

Here is an amazing story of patience, perseverance and love. A woman finally adopts the son she thought the system had swallowed up nearly two decades ago.

Here now is Paul Vercammen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations to you both.

MAURICE GRIFFIN, LISA'S SON: Thank you so much.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's official. Lisa Godbold adopted 32-year-old Maurice Griffin, the foster son she once lost.

GRIFFIN: All I can say is finally.

VERCAMMEN: They walked out mother and son as ruled by a judge in San Diego juvenile court.

LISA GOLDBOLD, MAURICE'S MOTHER: He's so happy. But it's a little bittersweet. You know, it's been a long time coming. It's a little bit bittersweet. But I'm so overjoyed.

GRIFFIN: For me, it's great, like I said, best day of my life. I fought for 10 years, you know and finally the day came. And I wouldn't say I ever lost hope, but I didn't know if it was ever going to happen.

VERCAMMEN: Maurice was 13 years old when he says the system destroyed his then family apart because of a complex dispute over spanking. Authorities took Griffin from Lisa, her husband, Charles Harris and their two biological boys.

GRIFFIN: I just felt like I was abducted, like I was just abducted and, you know, plopped somewhere else and told to, you know, deal with it.

GODBOLD: Probably one of the saddest days of my life. I mean, we were heartbroken.

VERCAMMEN: Maurice landed in boot camp for troubled teens. Charles died. Lisa eventually remarried, moved away, changed her last name. Contact with Maurice was severed. GODBOLD: I always thought about him, but truthfully, you know, the odds were that he was probably going to wind up in prison or he'd die.

VERCAMMEN: But they still looked for each other. Six years ago, a key stroke of lady luck, Lisa found Maurice on MySpace. They renewed the adoption quest.

GRIFFIN: I love you.

VERCAMMEN: Lisa and Maurice say the adoption is an international symbol of hope for orphans.

GODBOLD: Anyone who has considered being a foster parent, it's the hardest job you will ever love and it pays off a thousand fold.

VERCAMMEN: Thinking back on that road, what you know now --

GRIFFIN: I win.

GODBOLD: You do win.

GRIFFIN: I win.

GODBOLD: You do win.

GRIFFIN: I mean, I fought tooth and nail and it all meant something at this point. The only thing I want to say is I win.

VERCAMMEN: Paul Vercammen, CNN, San Diego.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: Such a happy ending after all those years. Love that story.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Me, too.

HENDRICKS: CNN NEWSROOM starts at the top of the hour.

Good to see you, Fred. What do you have?

WHITFIELD: We have lots -- you know, if you happen to have a ticket for a cruise, you know, all that's happened involving the Carnival Cruise lines may be a bit of a deterrent. However, we're going to talk about what you do with that ticket in terms of what kind of protection should you expect when you get on board Carnival Cruise lines or any other cruise liner, especially these days.

Then our legal guys will be along with us. We've got a fascinating prenuptial case to talk about. This involves a New York woman, who went into a pre-nup, she signed it on the condition that it would be invalidated once she and her husband had kids. Well, it led to a very messy divorce and court case involving that pre-nup, but a very surprise ending.

Then, of course, we're also going to talk about Iran suing the makers of "Argo." How far will that go? Is that something that will be a proceeding that unfolds in the states, in Iran, all because Iran is saying it didn't like the depiction of the Iran hostage crisis or will it be somewhere else overseas, perhaps France?

All that and more straight ahead at Noon, Eastern time. Just hang out with us all day long because we'll be here.

HENDRICKS: We're going to do it. Thank you. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDRICKS: In case you haven't heard, Carnival Cruise ships have been having some mechanical trouble recently. The most recent incident happened aboard the Carnival Dream. But so far the passengers, they're not deterred. Many say they would cruise with Carnival again.

Our John Zarrella has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what dreams are made of -- luggage from the Carnival Cruise ship Dream, a mountain of it, stacked at the airport in St. Maarten. Their vacation cut short by a balky generator on the ship, passengers were being flown home. For Carnival, the "Dream's" problems while in port are part of a growing nightmare.

CHRISTOPHER MULLER, PROF. OF HOSPITALITY, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Carnival has so many working ships that to say that the fleet is in distress is maybe a little bit broad, but clearly something is not working right.

ZARRELLA: Last month it was the Triumph, an engine room fire stranding the ship in the Gulf of Mexico until it was towed into Mobile, Alabama. This week, besides the Dream, the Elation out of New Orleans experienced what the company says was a very minor issue with a maneuvering system. That cruise went out as scheduled.

The Legend out of Tampa is heading home at a reduced sailing speed and was forced to cancel a port call in the Cayman Islands. It too, experienced a maneuvering system issue. An engine manufacturer says across the industry, breakdowns are often about more than just the equipment.

ANDREAS JUNGINGER, MAN DIESEL AND TURBO: Most cases, it was never a matter of just technical failure. It was a combination of technical issue and human error.

ZARRELLA: Whatever the reasons, Senator Rockefeller isn't happy. The chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation sent a letter to Carnival Corporation's CEO Mikki Arison (ph), writing quote, it seems that Carnival has failed to take any meaningful course of corrective action after these continual incidents. This needs to change, end quote.

Carnival says it's doing everything it can. A day before the breakdown on the Dream, the company announced it was, quote, conducting a comprehensive review of its entire fleet, end quote. Friday afternoon, "Dream" passengers began arriving back in Orlando, not just OK but happy, how the cruise line took care of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would do it again next week if I could.

ZARRELLA: It may not have been a dream vacation, but a couple extra days in St. Maarten, not so bad.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDRICKS: St. Maarten makes it better.

WHITFIELD: I know.

HENDRICKS: Right?

WHITFIELD: I wouldn't mind be stranded there.

HENDRICKS: "CNN NEWSROOM" continues with Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Just a little wrinkle in their plans. didn't expect on getting on a plane.

HENDRICKS: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: They're happy.

HENDRICKS: Have a great day.

WHITFIELD: You, too.