CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Accused Rapists Found Guilty; CTV: 2 Inmates Escape, Steal Helicopter; Obama Eyes First Mideast Trip, CPAC Session on Race Disrupted; Two Killed at California Raceway; St. Patrick's Celebration; Kobe's Injury Controversy; Changing Catholic Church

Aired March 17, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

We're going to get you up to speed on the day's headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MA'LIK RICHMOND, CONVICTED OF RAPING DRUNK CLASSMATE: I had no intentions of doing anything like that. I'm sorry I put you guys through this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The verdict is guilty. A juvenile court judge found two teenagers in Steubenville, Ohio, guilty of raping a drunken classmate and one of them guilty of posting a nude photo of the girl on the Internet. The world was watching the case. We're going to talk about their sentences and hear from the people there coming up here on CNN.

Pope Francis gave his first noon blessing today before a cheering crowd of more than 200,000 people in St. Peter's Square.

Forgiveness was a key theme in the pope's address and a rare move for a pope. Pope Francis walked into the crowd to greet people. He also sent out a message on his Twitter account asking people to continue to pray for him.

We're going to talk more about the new pope's down to earth style next hour with religion professor Brent Strong.

Amtrak has resumed rail service between two major East Coast hubs, Boston and New York. It was interrupted by a freight train derailment near New Haven, Connecticut, early this morning. Crews have since cleared it away. Travelers affected by the disruption are being offered refunds or vouchers for future train travel.

It is our top story this hour, a high profile rape trial in a small Ohio town. Two high school boys, football players, they're accused of sexually assaulting a classmate during a night of drunken partying and then posting pictures laughing and joking and bragging about what they have done on social media Web sites.

Today, we heard the verdict. There was no jury, just a judge, and this is how he announced the boys' fate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE THOMAS LIPPS: Throughout the trial, the court is being able to view the demeanor of the witnesses, judge their credibility, and weigh the evidence presented to the court. The court has done so in this case. And it is the court's decision that both of the defendants are hereby adjudicated delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt on all three counts as charged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is another way of saying guilty. Both teenagers, 16 and 17-year-old, guilty of rape. They will both have to do time in juvenile detention, possibly until they're 21 years old. They'll also be announced as sex offenders.

After the judge's announcement, the boys were given a chance to speak to the judge, the victim and their families.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHMOND: I never had any intention of doing anything like that. I'm sorry to put your guys through this.

TRENT MAYS, CONVICTED OF RAPING DRUNK CLASSMATE: I would like to apologize to (NAME DELETED), her family, and my family and community. Those picture should haven't sent out, let alone should be taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I'm now going to let you hear the voices of some of the adults involved in the case. The father of one of the convicted boys and the mother of the 16-year-old girl the boys are now convicted of raping.

First, Nathaniel Richmond, father of 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATHANIEL RICHMOND, MA'LIK RICHMOND'S FATHER: I just want to let everyone know even though I wasn't there for my son, I feel responsible for his actions, even though I didn't tell him to do them or I wasn't there when he done them. But I feel responsible, and almost bear this pain with him and everyone else.

And I must help him heal and help heal my community, in some way to make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else. Young kids make positive decisions. Let them know the things that alcohol and how it can lead to bad decisions that can destroy your life and affect your life for the rest of your life. And that's bad.

Those two, Trent and Ma'lik, will learn a valuable lesson from this, and become a product citizens in this world one day. I know all of our problems that we have in this world one day, God is going to fix them. And I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Now we have the words from the victim's mother. We're not showing her face or revealing her name to protect her daughter's privacy. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIPO)

STEUBENVILLE RAPE VICTIM'S MOTHER: It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in or what sports you've played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach, or a parent. It's a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion but a lack of any moral code. Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you.

You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grown and move on.

I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions and pray hard for his forgiveness.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

LEMON: Make sure you stay right there. We're going to break down the verdict legal point by legal point. There's a lot that's unique and unusual about this Steubenville rape case. That's coming up in just a few minutes here on CNN. So, don't go anywhere.

We want to talk more about this case after a quick break. A criminal defense attorney, a former prosecutor both will join us.

And later this hour, tragedy at the track. Two race fans die when a race car goes out of control.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In Pennsylvania this evening, there will be a memorial service on the campus of Seton Hill University. The university community is remembering lacrosse coach Kristina Quigley. The 30-year-old pregnant coach and her unborn son were killed when the team bus crashed on the way to a game yesterday.

The driver of the bus was also killed. Two others on the bus remain in the hospital right now.

Take a look at this, I-95, near Daytona Beach, Florida, where smog and smoke closed the interstate for several hours. This affected traffic near Daytona Beach, a heavily traveled section for tourists going to Disney World and other attractions. Several accidents were reported before the interstate was closed. It has now been reopened.

The latest misadventure for Carnival cruise lines ended early today when Legend returned to port in Tampa, Florida. Engine problems reduced its speed and forced the ship to abandon one scheduled stop, Grand Cayman. But Carnival says the Legend is problem-free now and will head back out to sea right away. There other Carnival cruises ended badly in the past month, with very, very unhappy passengers.

Well, this is our top story this hour on CNN, and a horrific one -- the end of a rape trial that sent two teenagers to juvenile detention, possibly for several years. This is Steubenville, Ohio. A judge today convicted two high school football teammates of raping a classmates when she was too drunk to resist.

But there's another side to this case. What happens after the sexual assault? I want to talk about this with criminal defense attorney, Anne Bremner, who is live in Seattle right now.

Anne, thank you so much for joining us.

Before we get to the questions --

ANNE BREMNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you.

LEMON: -- this is horrific all the way around. This young woman's innocence was stolen. Two young teenagers now have to go to detention. Lives ruined all the way around here.

BREMNER: Yes, lives -- it's just beyond horrendous, and it's lasting in its impact, of course, not just by virtue of the sentences and the stigma on both sides of the equation, but also, of course, through the social media and everything that will never be erased from the Internet. It's just horrific and horrendous.

LEMON: Yes, and just the victim here, horrific for her to have to deal with this --

BREMNER: Oh my gosh.

LEMON: -- family, knowing about this in the community.

The key to this case, though, let's talk about it. You mentioned social media, the pictures, video, text messages that spread around the girl's school. Without them, would be even be talking about a rape conviction today?

BREMNER: Maybe not. In fact, you can say probably not in a case like this, especially because she was so intoxicated. These cases have always been he said/she said kind of cases. But when there's intoxication, in a lot of ways, you don't have a victim that can't remember. If there's no other witnesses, you don't have a cases.

But with social media, with text, video, photographs, e-mails -- it's just amazing what kind of case you can build. Indeed, they did build a case against these two young men who are going to serve time now for rape, and she's going to serve some time, of course, as being identified through it all, really, so to speak, as a victim of rape?

LEMON: What do you think about this, Anne? The one boy, Trent Mays, in the courtroom, never apologized for the rape he was charged with, and he only said the pictures never should have been sent around and never should have been taken. Do you think this boy realizes he's been charged with raping a classmate?

BREMNER: Who is sorry now?

LEMON: Right.

BREMNER: I mean, that's the most horrific thing to do. I mean, secondary only to the rape. And then, of course, you see the regret and recrimination and the apologies now.

Who is sorry now? I mean, he wasn't sorry then. And maybe it shouldn't have been out there. But what about everything else that happened?

I mean, it's just -- you know, I don't think we imagined this day, you know, as lawyers, at least when I started practicing, that we would see this kind of evidence and this kind of lasting impact on victims, victims from this evidence.

LEMON: The Ohio attorney general wants the grand jury to convene, Anne, next month. What good will that do? I mean, could more charges come from other people or from other people involved in this rape case?

BREMNER: Absolutely. I mean, this is a case where at least three witnesses had immunity. But then you had others that wouldn't cooperate and come forward. One way to get that cooperation is through a grand jury. A grand jury can subpoena witnesses, documents, and they act in secret. I mean, it's all confidential. And so, it's a way to get the information you need.

Who was complicit? Who didn't tell? Who covered it up? Who didn't report a crime?

All of those things, those are all criminal acts. So, it's not over yet. This is a case, of course, the first tried through social media evidence. It won't be the last, but it will continue with the grand jury as well.

LEMON: What do you think about this trial happening without a jury? They intentionally handled it this way to make it faster to accommodate the judge's calendar.

BREMNER: Well, you know, juvenile justice is different. I mean, we call these fact-finding hearings, not trials. We call it detention, not jail.

We call the whole proceeding, one that's tried before a court. It's tried before a judge because juveniles can't have jury trials legally. And that's because they used to basically be dependency kind of cases back before the late '70s, and they only criminalized juvenile proceedings but not all the way to where we get a jury.

And the judge fast tracked it. That was his schedule. Probably one of the fastest trials we have seen in a high profile case in a long time.

LEMON: Yes, Anne Bremner, thank you very much. Always appreciate your perspective.

BREMNER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: OK.

Unveiling the new Republican Party, all colors, all ages now welcome. We're talking about the all new GOP with our political analysts. You don't want to miss our conversation. That's next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanjay, looking good. Looking good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be putting this device on, Sunday, and say we need your heart rate and respiration rate in what we call the physiology.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This weekend on "THE NEXT LIST", how wireless health care could change your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very much more sophisticated way to assess somebody's fitness real time and allow them to create a plan around their fitness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is getting more and more precise. It's going to help you to elongate your career or make it the best of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm continually interested and fascinated by how much athletes, patients, everybody wants their own data.

GUPTA: Meet Dr. Leslie Saxon (ph). This Sunday on "THE NEXT LIST".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I have some breaking news just getting here, and it involves two escaped prisoners. Two inmates who commandeers, apparently, a helicopter from a correctional facility in Quebec, Canada. We're being told that they put a gun, reportedly put a gun to the helicopter pilot's head in their escape. It's believed they had an accomplice. This is all reported by CTV, Canadian television.

It's believed the two men escaped with the help of an accomplice. They are hunting for the escapees who reportedly got away after that, after commandeering a helicopter. A white Cadillac after they left the helicopter. They have also been in touch, reportedly, CTV, have been in touch with a crime reporter this afternoon.

Not sure what the demands are, but two inmates escaped from a prison, commandeered a helicopter in Quebec, Canada, don't know exactly where they are now. We'll continue to update you on this developing story as we get more here on CNN, until 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. President Barack Obama, let's talk some politics. The president about to take his first trip to the Middle East since taking office. He'll arrive in Israel on Wednesday where he'll meet the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He will also travel to the West Bank where he will visit with the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, and he'll make a 24-hour stop in Jordan.

CNN's Athena Jones has more on what the president faces on his trip.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama last visited Israel as a candidate, during his 2008 campaign for the White House.

Five years later, a bloody conflict raging in Syria, rising tensions about Iran's nuclear program, and a stalled Middle East peace process, the stakes are much higher.

So, what can the president hope to achieve?

HAIM MALKA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: This trip is about managing Middle East problems. It's not about solving problems. The president is going out to try to reach the Israeli and Palestinian publics and try to convince them that he is attune to their interests.

JONES: Convincing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow more time for diplomacy to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon will top the agenda.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Iran --

JONES: In an interview with Israeli TV, the president insisted this approach is working.

OBAMA: We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon. But obviously, we don't want to cut it too close. What we're going to be doing is continue to engage internationally with Iran, understanding that we have set up the toughest sanctions ever. It's having a significant effect.

MALKA: That's going to be a tough sell, both for the Israeli leadership and the Israeli public which have been very suspicious and skeptical of the president's policies on Iran.

JONES: He'll meet in the West Bank with Palestinian leaders to talk about economic development and the peace process, though analysts and White House officials say significant progress on that front is unlikely.

OBAMA: The only solution is for each side to recognize the legitimate interests of the other.

JONES: The president will also return to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum to lay a wreath, view the Dead Sea scrolls, visit Bethlehem, and deliver a speech to college students and other Israelis before departing for Jordan.

(on camera): The White House says the president is particularly looking forward to his speech to the Israeli people. Much as he does here in the States, he'll be trying to shape public opinion on Iran and other issues by speaking directly to the public.

Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right. Let's turn now to Republicans and their political future.

Our CNN contributors are revealed, L.Z. Granderson and Ana Navarro. L.Z., of course, is a senior writer at ESPN, and Ana is a Republican strategist.

Ana, we saw you this morning. Styling and profiling on the big show. Don't get too big for your breeches now.

(LAUGHTER)

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You can cut me down to size any time you want, Don Lemon.

LEMON: OK, so, no, you did a great job. And I want to start with this, because I really want to get into this conversation.

Let's start with the party chairman, Reince Priebus. He's on "Face the Nation" today. He unveiled a new $10 million plan to reach out to minority voters.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: It will include hundreds of people, paid, across the country from coast to coast, Hispanic, African-American, Asian communities, talking about our party, talking about our brand, talking about what we believe in. Going to community events, going to swearing in ceremonies, being a part of the community on an ongoing basis, paid for by the Republican National Committee, to make the case for our party and our candidates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, so L.Z., you are independent, right? Is that how you describe yourself?

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

LEMON: OK, you're a person of color. Is that going to help the GOP with people of color?

GRANDERSON: You know, to me, it's a backwards approach. It takes the idea or the notion that Democrats are figured out minorities, when actually if you look at Congress, what you begin to see is that minorities are part of the Democratic Party and that is the difference. You can't just send people as spies into neighborhoods to promote your message.

If you want to know what minorities are interested in, you have to listen. He said talk, talk, talk. You have to listen, listen. For them to truly have an inclusive party, it's not about paying people to go to neighborhoods, it's about having representatives of their party actually be part of that community and part of that neighborhood.

So, I'm really excited to see that they're taking this more seriously, I think they're taking the wrong approach. You have to be part of the community, not just visit their community.

LEMON: All right. Ana, go ahead because I know you're rearing to go.

NAVARRO: I think this is exactly what he wants to do. He wants to send people there to be part of the community. I think he understood that one of the mistakes the Republican Party has often made is to parachute into a community six months before an election. I think Reince Priebus understands that you have to be there building bridges, building relationships, listening, being part of the community.

I give him a lot of kudos and a lot of credit, Don. You know, he took the old smelly cadaver of the 2012 election and he did a full autopsy. They did more than 50,000 polling and surveys. They acknowledged the problem and now they're setting about to implement some actual solutions.

LEMON: Ana --

NAVARRO: There's things a political party institution can do. There's things Congress can do. The RNC can't make policy. They can build party.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let me jump in, let me jump in, because we've got a lot of stuff. I want to ask you this. If you -- if you move into my house and I don't agree with what you're saying, it doesn't matter that you live with me or are no longer in my community or house, if I don't agree with the message and the policy, you're not going to win me over.

So is it about just going into the community? Or is it really about the policy? What policy changes, maybe those policies aren't resonating with people of color.

NAVARRO: I think that's the whole thing, but the RNC doesn't make policy. The RNC is the institution. It's the structure.

What they can do is outreach, what they can do is party building. What they can do is exactly what they're suggesting they're going to do. Policy making is up to Congress.

I think that, you know, let's give them credit for at least taking some steps, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: At least they're doing something, which is better than one, not acknowledging the problem, and two, not having any constructive suggestions and solutions on how to address the problem.

LEMON: That's exactly what L.Z. just said.

Listen, this won't help. I want to give this example. You were at CPAC this week. I want to show everyone at incident from Friday. It had a session titled trump the race card. Are you sick and tired of being called a racist when you know you're not? When a guy stands up and disrupted the moderator and appeared to defend the benefits of slavery. Listen closely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

K. CARL SMITH, FOUNDER, FREDERICK DOUGLASS REPUBLICANS: When Douglass escaped from slavery, I think 10 years or 20 years after he escaped slavery, he writes a letter to his former slave master and says, "I forgive you. For all the things you did to me."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For giving him shelter and food for all those years?

SMITH: No!

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. We'll talk about this one right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back to our political discussion in just a moment. First, let me give you the headlines at the bottom of the hour here.

There are two prisoners that have escaped in Quebec, Canada. They commandeered a helicopter and then took off in a white Cadillac. Those are pictures of the prison where they were until they made that prison break, holding a gun to the helicopter pilot's head.

More information on the story as we get it here on CNN. They are still on the loose. A manhunt going on right now.

The Steubenville, Ohio, rape trial is over and the verdict is guilty. Two teenagers, high school football players, now convicted of raping a girl during a night of drunk partying and one of them found guilty of sending out a nude photo of the girl. The two boys ages 16 and 17 will serve sentences in juvenile detention, possibly until they're 21.

The teenage victim's mother had a chance to address them in court today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did not matter what school you went to, what city you live in, or what sport you played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach, or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion but a lack in any moral code. Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you.

You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on.

This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, learn, and grow. I pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions, and pray hard for his forgiveness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There is no jury in this trial. It was juvenile court. A judge delivered the guilty verdict.

An update on that story just moments. But let's get back now to our political contributors, L.Z. Granderson, a senior writer at ESPN, and Ana Navarro is a Republican strategist.

We were talking about before the break that the session at the CPAC conference this week titled "Trump the Race Card. Are you sick and tired of being called a racist when you know you're not one?" A guy stands up, disrupts the moderator and he appears to defend the benefits of slavery.

Listen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Douglass came from slavery, I think 10 years or 20 years came from slavery, he writes a letter to his former slave master and says, I forgive you for all of the things you did to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For giving him food and shelter --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- no.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, so listen, he says forgive them for what? He's talking about Frederick Douglass, and Frederick Douglass wrote a letter to his former slave master saying, I forgive you. The guy says, forgiven for what, for providing him food and shelter, and putting a roof over his head and what have you.

Listen, Ana, let's just be fair. This is one guy, right? But we all know one person or a few people can throw a monkey wrench into something like what Reince Priebus is trying to do, spending $10 million on minority outreach. NAVARRO: Don, it's unfortunate. It's disappointing. It's stupid, it's racist. There should be no room for that in the Republican Party, there should be no room for that in America. But it also did not happen at an official CPAC event. You should know that CPAC is a fundraiser, and every sponsor gets two hours to put on their own panel.

This was a panel that was put on by one of the sponsors. I have spoken to CPAC leadership about this particular incident. They've got the information on this man. They're not going to ever allow him into any CPAC event before -- again. But, you know, there were 10,000 people that went through there in three days.

Have you ever been to any political event where there's thousands of people, you know it's very hard to keep some jerks out, to keep the crazy out. You've got 10,000 people in three days, I can also tell you that CPAC did some great efforts to have more diversity than I have ever seen at CPAC.

They had 10 black conservative speakers on the stage at official CPAC events. I know that doesn't sound like much.

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: But you tried to find 10 conservative black speakers and you tell me if it's not a great effort on the part of CPAC.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: L.Z., I mean, is it fair to link him this one guy who sit up -- fair to link him to the Republican Party and CPAC's efforts in any way?

GRANDERSON: I think it's fair to link him to the Republican Party, but I don't think it's fair to paint the entire Republican Party as being represented to by this one person. You know, we have to go back to see where the tide really turned, right? And that was 1964 Civil Rights law being signed by Lyndon B. Johnson. And he said, and this is to paraphrase him, I have lost the South for a generation, meaning the Democrats have the lost the South for a generation.

And if you really peel back what he's trying to say is that anyone who is against this idea of diversity is going to free the Democratic Party and go to the Republican Party, and since the signing of this law, Democrats have had a very difficult penetrating that block of the South States, of the traditional southern states.

And racial tension is a part of that bloc. Now if the Republican Party really wants to move forward in terms of having diversity, it needs to acknowledge, acknowledge, and I say this is who we are, but acknowledge that that part of our history is who still continues to make up a small fraction.

LEMON: Quickly, L.Z..

GRANDERSON: Of the Republican Party. And we're not going to continue to allow these people to be there anymore. There was a CNN employee who had shells thrown at her and was called a monkey. Had they gone on stage and said this kind of attitude is kind of -- actions not tolerated here at the RNC, we would not continue to embrace these kind of people. They didn't do that. They ignored it. And I hope they don't ignore this because it's not what they should be doing.

LEMON: All right. L.Z., that's going to has to be the last word.

NAVARRO: No, they didn't ignore.

LEMON: Ana, thank you very much. We have --

NAVARRO: They got -- they got -- those people got thrown out.

LEMON: We have breaking news. Thank you guys. Sorry. We have some breaking news that we have to get to. I want to show you pictures now. We'll tell you more after the break.

This is from South Bend, Indiana. There has been a small plane that crashed near some homes near the South Bend, Indiana, Regional Airport. We'll get to that out of the break, and next as well, the tragedy at the track. Two race fans die when a car goes out of control. We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A deadly accident at a California race track last night. A 68-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were killed when a car went out of control, and slammed into the pit area at the Mary Jo Raceway.

Paul Vercammen following this story for us now.

Paul, this crash occurred even before the race began. Do we know what happened?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Yes, Don. We understand now that it was a warm-up lap. And we also want to tell you that this affects the entire Johnson racing family of northern California. That's because the sheriff's department confirming to us that the 14- year-old victim was a cousin of the driver, 14-year-old Marcus Johnson. Also 68-year-old Dale Wondergem was killed.

Now the sheriff's department said they both had a reason to be in the pit area and were connected to the race. And what one witness told me over the phone is he thinks he heard what happened. A gas pedal stuck. Because he says the car never throttled down after it hit a wall and crashed right into that pit area. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL HAWES, RACEWAY OWNER: He was not trying to come off the track. He was trying to make the corner. And he didn't make the corner and went flying out the exit. It started tumbling and struck two people and a quad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's devastating. Coming out to have a good time and fun. And especially people in the pit. But you never know what's going to happen because, you know, it's racing, and you know, so racing could be dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And more on the 17-year-old driver in this sprint series. It's not unusual to have teenage drivers. He has been at it for four years. His name is Chase Johnson. He's considered a star of this racing circuit and his family well known in racing circles. And this up and coming star they said was a bright spot in his home speedway of Petaluma. And we talk to an official there and he basically said they are deeply saddened by this entire tragedy and they hoped for healing last night. The drivers donated all of their entry fees to the families of the victims.

Back to you now, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much for that, Paul Vercammen. We appreciate your reporting.

We have to get to some breaking news now. This is out of South Bend, Indiana. There has been a small plane crash. This is from our affiliate WSVT. There are some pictures there that we have.

WSVT and they're reporting that a small jet has hit at least three homes on a street there just southeast of the South Bend Regional Airport. We're told at least three people have been brought into memorial hospital, that's according to a hospital spokesperson in Indiana. Numerous sources tell us there were children in one of the homes. No word on the -- on fatalities, if there are any.

Investigators are trying to shut off gas to the neighborhood because there is a gas leak. The neighborhood is being evacuated and a tactical rescue crew has been sent in.

Details on this story and more after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Look at that. Did you see that? Millions of people chugging green beer and wearing leprechaun hats as they celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

I was going to say, that sounds like New Orleans. St. Patrick's Day began as a celebration of a man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Now it's mostly about having fun. Right?

CNN International's Azadeh Ansari joins me now.

St. Patrick's Day isn't just for Irish people, right? It's much, much more. How did St. Patrick's Day become a global celebration?

AZADEH ANSARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL DESK EDITOR: That's a great question, Don. But again, the roots of this holiday go back to its Catholic traditions. Right?

LEMON: Right. Yes.

ANSARI: But it's evolved into this secular holiday and one that's embraced by millions of people around the world. And if we trace this back to the famine of the 1800s which caused a lot of Irish Catholics to flee Ireland and go to neighboring countries and come to the U.S. they brought with them their traditions. So naturally they shared their traditions, their cross cultural exchanges, and from that, we have now St. Patrick Day celebrated around the world. And not to mention, it's big business.

LEMON: It is. Yes.

ANSARI: OK? There's a lot of money to be made here.

LEMON: Yes.

ANSARI: It's not just all about drinking and wearing green.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: No, it is. You sell green products. Green beer and drinking.

ANSARI: All of that stuff.

LEMON: I went out with some friends who were visiting last night for St. Patrick's Day. And I was like, I saw a black leprechaun last night. It was a lot --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: There's a lot of green beer being drank last night.

Listen, so I live in Chicago.

ANSARI: Yes.

LEMON: And every year they would -- you know, in the Chicago River, they --

ANSARI: Put dye.

LEMON: Put dye in it and they dye it green. How much dye does it take?

ANSARI: Forty pounds, Don. You know that's a vegetable dye. It only lasts for a few hours.

LEMON: Right.

ANSARI: But it's environmentally safe, at least that's what we're told, but I want us to go to some celebrations that take place around the world.

LEMON: OK.

ANSARI: Took place today. So we had celebrations obviously in Dublin, which was the biggest one. We had about 800,000 people turned up.

LEMON: Goodness.

ANSARI: And city officials wanted this to really be a boost given the fact the city itself had taken such a big hit from the eurozone crisis.

LEMON: Right.

ANSARI: So then we had, believe it or not, in Shanghai, they had celebrations as well. And I have to say in Shanghai, dance -- a traditional Irish dance has become very, very popular.

LEMON: Right.

ANSARI: And that is another tradition that's carried throughout the world, right?

LEMON: All right.

ANSARI: So --

LEMON: And then also in England as well.

ANSARI: And England as well, right. And New York City. You know, so --

LEMON: Is it St. Paddy's Day? Is that incorrect?

ANSARI: It's St. Paddy, with two D's and not two T's.

LEMON: Paddy's. Yes. No, it's Paddy's. Yes. OK. Got you. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

ANSARI: You're welcome.

LEMON: Appreciate it. Nice green skirt --

ANSARI: Nice green tie.

LEMON: Blouse. Thank you.

One NBA team certainly living it up, living up to their name, they are hot, and Kobe Bryant goes down. And a Hawks player is getting death threats for it? Is that the results of winning -- of a winning superstar or a whining -- excuse me, and winning one as well?

We're talking sports. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: That's nice, isn't it? Let's talk some sports now.

Terence Moore is here. He's a sports contributor to CNN.com and a columnist at mlb.com.

Good to see you. You're doing double duty.

TERENCE MOORE, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: You too. Thank you very much.

LEMON: Because we are going to be doing a preview of the NCAA basketball tournament next hour here on CNN. Some unfamiliar teams on a role. There's Ole Miss winning the SCC tournament. A lot of fun stuff going on. We'll talk about it next hour. But I want to start, first, with an NBA controversy that you and I both witnessed.

MOORE: Yes, sir.

LEMON: Firsthand. The Hawks and the Lakers. Wednesday night, next door, right at Phillips Arena, right next door to CNN, you and I were at this game. And this is the view I had that you're looking at. I was sitting right next to this guy. I mean, you'll see me like run over with my camera and take a picture.

MOORE: Is that legal? Are you allowed to do that?

LEMON: Yes.

MOORE: OK. You did it.

LEMON: Yes, I did.

MOORE: OK.

LEMON: Yes. That's Kobe Bryant. There, that's me right there. Kobe Bryant injured after he missed a shot that would have tied the game. The Lakers lost and then the controversy. Kobe accused the Hawks' Dante Jones of intentionally hurting him. Called the play dirty and he said it was dangerous. Lakers fans saying terrible things about Jones on Twitter. He's even getting death threats. What are your thoughts?

MOORE: Well, you know, I was at the game also. And I was very close to -- not as close as you were because I'm not a celebrity, you know, I was pretty close. And watching --

(LAUGHTER)

Watching that in real time, it was not intentional, which means that it wasn't intentional. And I tell you, it is very disgusting that you have the NBA saying that the referees should have called a foul on that play. The reason it's disgusting, let's be honest here. I am not a Kobe basher, but Kobe is just upset, because look at that, wide- open shot. He missed it. The great Kobe Bryant. This is his way of trying to save face. You know, he's down there a little bit too long. You got to pick him off from that.

LEMON: Yes, I said -- I sent out on social media, I said Kobe took a tumble. And I didn't think he was going to get up. He was down there so long. And I went over, he's seen I took the pictures, I think some of the pictures I have are there. But I was like, is he going to get up? I mean, do you think he was faking?

MOORE: Well, I would say he's faking but let's put it this way. I mean --

LEMON: That's my picture.

MOORE: You're fallen, you can't -- able to get up, I think he could have gotten up there. But -- and listen, to be fair, the NBA has got this rule that when you're the defensive player you must not allow the offensive player to come down unmolested to the court. OK? But in a situation like this, where the guy is going for the game-winning shot, if you're the defender, it should be like that old baseball rule. The tie goes to the runner. The tie in this case should go to the defender.

LEMON: OK. Let's move on now and talk about the Miami Heat. Another victory today. Now the second longest in league history. Twenty-two games. How they doing it?

MOORE: Well, I tell you, put this in perspective, Don, they have not lost since prior to the Super Bowl, OK? And that was February 1 when they lost. And they're not doing it with just the big three, led by LeBron James. It's all these other guys, too. You know, a guy like Shane Battier. Shane Battier is doing it not only with his legs and arms but also with his mouth.

You know, they're talking about how he gives this rousing speech after their loss on February 1st. Say hey, guys, we've got to get this thing together. You know these guys should be a motivational speaker somewhere.

LEMON: Yes. When will it end? You got a prediction?

MOORE: It's going to end tomorrow.

LEMON: Really?

MOORE: Yes, against Boston. Because this is going to be -- let's call it the Ray Allen revenge game. Ray Allen is their Hall of Fame -- a future Hall of Fame player who was with the Celtics for five years. And they were rather upset with the Boston players and also the fans that it went to the enemy, Miami. They're going to win this game because they don't like Ray Allen, particularly Kevin Garnett.

LEMON: All right. That Hawks and Lakers game was a good game, wasn't it?

MOORE: It was very good game.

LEMON: I thought --

MOORE: Particularly if you're a Hawks fan.

LEMON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK) MOORE: If you're a Lakers fan, not so much.

LEMON: No, but I thought it was -- Kobe, after the second half, wow. That comeback. He almost did it.

MOORE: He can do it. He did it.

LEMON: He almost did it. All right, Terence, stick around. You're not going anywhere. We're going to be back in the next hour, he is, to talk about the NCAA tournament and selection Sunday. So make sure you stick around. He's going to stick around as well.

Here's your chance to test your skills against me and other CNN anchors in the official NCAA March Madness bracket challenge. Just go to CNN.com/brackets and join the CNN group to see if you can pick the tournament better than me. Again, just go to CNN.com/bracket.

And just ahead here on CNN, a story we have been following closely since the beginning of the year has come to a conclusion. A verdict in the case of two high school students accused in a sexual assault of a teenage girl.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The celebration is over. Pope Francis are still going strong in many Spanish speaking countries but they also had been unusually intense in the United States. That's because of a steady change happening in Catholic Churches across the country.

CNN's Tom Foreman has today's "American Journey."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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.

ALEX DOALLIN, CATHOLIC: Full of joy. Happy. Very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we say in Latin America, viva el 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 birth 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. Only half of all Catholics under the age of 40 today are Hispanic.

FOREMAN: While many white Catholics have been slipping away from 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 fastest 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 through us more effectively.

FOREMAN: And what they share may be more than Spanish. It's the language of change.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Hello, everyone, Don Lemon here, top of the hour. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.