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Steubenville, Ohio, Rape Trial Verdict; Corporate Jet Crashes in South Bend, IN, Neighborhood; Pope Francis Gives First Noon Blessing Today

Aired March 17, 2013 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

A lot of news to get to, this hour.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). I'm sorry to put you guys through this.


LEMON: That is one of two high school students found guilty of rape today in Steubenville Ohio. After four days of testimony, a judge sentenced them to serve time on charges they sexually attacked another high school student while she was too drunk to say no.

Stay right there, full details from our reporter who was inside the courtroom for the entire time. That's coming up in just a moment here on CNN.

At least two people were killed today when a small corporate jet crashed into a neighborhood in south bend, Indiana. Police say three others were injured. The two fatalities were believed to be aborted plane. The jet struck two hours houses before becoming embedded next to a third and they reportedly experienced mechanical problems while on a flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Members of the Seton Hill University women's lacrosse team wept for their beloved coach at a memorial service tonight.


LEMON: The chapel was standing room only, filled with mourners. Coach Kristina Quigley 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. Three members of the team are recovering from injuries and were unable to attend the service.

Two inmates escaped from a maximum security prison in a hijacked helicopter in Canada this afternoon. According to police, two gunmen ordered the pilot to fly to the prison near Montreal. They lowered a ladder. The inmates climbed on board and flew to freedom, but it didn't last long. One already has been captured. Police had the other one cornered. We will have a live report in just a few minutes.

And in a case that has captured the nation's attention, two teens accused of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl during a booze-fueled night of partying learned their fate today. The high school football players were Steubenville's big red never took the stand but maintained their innocence throughout, but the judge found them guilty on all counts.

And CNN's Poppy Harlow was in the court for the entire trial - Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Don. Well, as you know, this case has put the town of Steubenville, Ohio in the spotlight for months, but today the judge made his verdict known to all.


HARLOW (voice-over): The mother of the 16-year-old victim spoke out for the first time since Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond raped her daughter saying this after court ended.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in or what sports you have 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 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, grow 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

HARLOW: The convicted rapists, both teenage boys, showing remorse after being found guilty.

TRENT MAYS, CONVICTED DEFENDANT: I would like to apologize to (bleep), her family, my family and community.

MA'LIK RICHMOND, CONVICTED DEFENDANT: Would I like to apologize. I had no intention to do anything like that, and I'm sorry to put you guys through this. I'd just like -- I'm sorry I ruined her life

HARLOW: 16-year-old was raped during a series of late night parties in August when she was drunk.

JUDGE THOMAS LIPPS, FOUND DEFENDANTS GUILTY IN RAPE CASE: The court is 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.

Ma'lik Richmond, sentenced to a minimum of one year in a juvenile correction facility for rape, Trent Mays to a minimum of two years, guilty of rape and of taking and distributing an illegal nude photograph of the victim. Both Mays and Richmond will also have to register as juvenile sex offenders. Prosecutors said the girl was so intoxicated she wasn't able to consent to anything.

MARIANNE HEMMETER, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: This case is about a 16-year- old girl who was taken advantage of, toyed with and humiliated, and it's time that the people who did that to her are held responsible.

HARLOW: Eyewitness testimony from three teenage boys, all friends of Mays and Richmond, and all granted immunity from criminal prosecution, was damaging. One witness saying he videotaped Mays performing a sexual act on the girl during a car ride between parties. Two others testified they saw Richmond do the same later that night while she was lying naked on the floor. In the state of Ohio, this act performed without consent, constitutes rape.

MIKE DEWINE, OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL: There seems to be an unbelievable casualness about rape and about sex. It's a cavalier attitude, a belief that somehow there isn't anything wrong with any of this.

HARLOW: Text messages, tweets and photos were at the center of the trial. Fellow teens vulgarly joked about the rape. Song of the night is definitely "rape me" by Nirvana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if that was your doubter?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In f that was my daughter, I wouldn't care. I'd let her be dead.

HARLOW: Witnesses read text messages including this one from Trent Mays to a friend.

Yes, dude, she was like a dead body. I just needed some sexual attention.


HARLOW: Now in addition to handing down this sentence, the court ordered that Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond also receive treatment while they are serving time to ensure they do not commit another sex crime.

Additionally, Ohio's attorney Mike DeWine held a press conference where he said that a grand jury will be convened here to determine whether or not others committed crimes in this incident - Don.

LEMON: Poppy, thank you very much.

As you heard Poppy say, the state's highest legal authority says this trial maybe over, but he's not finished with the case. We are going to hear for more from him now.

Part from he says, the Ohio attorney general wants to convene a grand jury, and he wants more people to answer for what they know. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEWINE: There seems to be an unbelievable casualness about rape and about sex. It's a cavalier attitude, a belief that somehow there isn't anything wrong with any of this. Rape is not a recreational activity. We cannot bring light to this without the convening of a grand jury. They have 16 witnesses who wouldn't talk to us. This community also desperately needs to know that justice was done and desperately needs to know that no stone was left unturned.


LEMON: We will talk more about this now. Paul Callan is with me. He is a CNN legal analyst in New York.

Paul, you heard from the state attorney general there. You are - you are familiar with the Steubenville rape case. Can the attorney general call the grand jury, and would that necessarily mean charges for more people?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, it definitely could mean charges for more people. In fact, there could be other students, other juveniles involved, but also there's the possibility that the parents of the defendants engaged in some kind of a cover-up or friends engaged in a cover-up.

Now, we don't know whether those specific accusations would be made, but those would be the kinds of things that a grand jury would be investigating. So, there could be additional charges coming down the road if the evidence is there.

LEMON: So Paul, what would a grand jury do that a solo judge couldn't do?

CALLAN: Well, the grand jury has broad powers. They can issue subpoenas. They can compel individuals to testify. A judge can't do that. A judge can only hear the testimony of the case in front of him. A grand jury has wide-reaching powers to bring in evidence and force testimony from those who don't want to cooperate.

LEMON: Is this process over for those boys? Can they appeal the verdict?

CALLAN: Yes. They can appeal the verdict. And you know, I think what you have to say, that courtroom scene today was a -- it was a highly emotional scene. A lot of tears by the defendants and, of course, by the -- you know, the victim issued a statement indicating that tears were shed by the victim as well.

But, you know, in the end, these guys got a slap on the wrist in the sense that the case was treated as a juvenile case. Had they been tried as adults as they would have in many other states, they would could have been facing 20 years in state prison. As it is, one will do a year, the other may do as much as two years, and then they have to register as sex offenders, and that's going to haunt them for the rest of their lives. But in the overall context of things, they were treated rather leniently as compared to how kids are often treated in rape cases. LEMON: Let's talk about the person affected most by this, and that's, of course, the victim in this case. Will she be a part of any future cases if a grand jury is convened?

CALLAN: I think it's unlikely that she would personally be involved unless she would have to testify against other students who may have been involved in aiding and abetting in the commission of this crime. I'm not clear precisely what the attorney general is looking into here.

As I said, it's one of two things though, that other people were involved in the crime, that's aiding and abetting the actual rapists, or that there was a cover-up after the crime, and that sometimes can be as serious as the crime itself, depending upon what laws are involved. So we will have to wait to see what the attorney general is looking at.

LEMON: Thank you, Paul. Appreciate it.

CALLAN: Always nice being with you, Don.

LEMON: More now on that daring prison escape in Canada. Police have three people in custody, including one of the escapees, and they reportedly they have the other one cornered.

So, let's bring in CBC reporter Tom Daigle. He is live in Montreal.

What is the latest on the standoff right now?

THOMAS DAIGLE, CBC REPORTER: Well, as you mentioned, Don, police at this hour telling us that second escapee from that prison has been cornered or they have him surrounded anyway. Apparently right now they are negotiating with him. They already have three men or three people, at least, in custody. The other escapee, and two other people who apparently worked with these escapees to get them out.

LEMON: How could something like this happen? I mean, escaping from a helicopter inside of a prison?

DAIGLE: Yes. I mean, it sounds like something from a movie really, and it really has many people here in Canada, in Quebec really baffled. What apparently happened is at least one, perhaps two accomplices, got a helicopter pilot, somehow forced him to fly over this prison, fairly low apparently. Someone was able to drop down a heard or a rope of some kind, and those two inmates were able to grab it and quite literally fly away.

Now, there are so many amazing little bits to this story. One of the interesting bits is that one of the men who escaped prison was able to then call a local radio station here in Montreal and talk about the whole affair. He said that he had been shot in the calf. He said he wasn't doing that bad. He said he was OK, but he said that this, quote, "isn't going to end well and that I am ready to die."

Now, after that police were able to track down the helicopter that was used in the escape, and the pilot, that man was later taken to hospital. He was treated for shock. We are told he is going to be OK. But he was able to meet with police and tell his version of the story. And, like I said, police at this hour tell us they have the second inmate, the second escapee surrounded, and perhaps it's just now a matter of time.

LEMON: CBC reporter Thomas Daigle, reporting from Montreal. And we appreciate you joining us on CNN.

Coming up here, the RNC is unveiling the new Republican Party, all colors, all ages, now welcome. I will explain.

Plus, the streak continues. The Miami heat just sealed their 22nd win in a row. James tells us what he thinks is behind this historic run.


LEMON: President Barack Obama about to take his first trip to the Middle East since taking office. He will arrive in Israel on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Topic one, the threat of a nuclear Iran.

The president will also travel to the west bank for talks with Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas and he will make a 24- hour stop in Jordan before flying home.

Tomorrow, Republicans will kick off an effort to attract new voters and reform way they choose their White House nominee.

CNN's political editor is Paul Steinhauser and he's here.

Good to see you, my friend. Not on the campaign trail.

Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus offered a preview of the plan this morning. Let's take a look at what he said and then we will talk.


REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It will include hundreds of people, paid across the country from coast to coast, in 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.


LEMON: $10 million campaign just for one year.

So Paul, outreach is one thing, but is this all about delivering a message, or is it about modifying that message to make it more appealing to minority voters?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, the Republican Party chairman has been talking a lot this weekend about this report. And you what, Don? You are right. It sounds like is less about the Republican Party changing its principles or policies and more about changing its message and marketing and delivering of the message. It's just really what it sounds like. So, it's not policy, but the way they get the policies out to the people.

And the chairman also said that they need this branding and this marketing, not just in the couple of months leading up to a presidential election, but they need it year round, and they need it in places, the chairman says, where they normally don't go like blue states and like urban areas. And - well, it's kind of obvious why they are doing this. Go back to last November. The Republicans didn't win back the White House. They didn't win back the Senate, and they definitely had a problem with younger voters and with minority voters, Mitt Romney, not doing very well at all with either of those groups. So, that's why you are seeing this, and $10 million is a lot of money, Don. And that's why they hope they can make some changes here.

LEMON: Yes. And if you are in the battleground states, I was in a battleground. You were all over as well. We went to a number of them. And he saw -- they are taking a page out of Obama playbook because they were -- they had been in those communities. Their ground games were amazing. They knew the people in those communities and they had personal relationships and that's how they won. And today, Reince Priebus admitted that as he was announcing that they are going to announce his plan come tomorrow.

What will go beyond voter outreach here in this announcement? Will they go beyond voter outreach? What else are Republicans planning, Paul?

STEINHAUSER: This is what we think we are also going to see in a plan when it comes to a couple other areas where Republicans really didn't do well compared to the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party. Digital is one area. And they are going to put a lot of money and a lot of manpower into digital to get their message out more effectively, on the social networks and social media, so look for a change in digital.

And another thing, this is fascinating, Don, for people like you and me who follow this. The chairman talked about changing the primary system. They want a maybe more condensed primary system, over with by April or May and also move the conventions up, Don. They want to see Republican convention in June or July so the Republican nominee is going to have that money coming to them a lot earlier. And want to cut back on the debates. Let's be honest, a lot of Republican debates in the last cycle, which is great for us, maybe not so great for the party as the candidates kept attacking each other, Don. So, a lot of interesting stuff coming out tomorrow. Will it make a difference? We'll find out in 2016, right?

LEMON: Yes. He said maybe 10 or 11, not 28 debates or so, debates that they had and whether beating each other off on the stage.

STEINHAUSER: A record amount last time.


Thank you, Paul Steinhauser, appreciate it.


LEMON: Coming up, on his first Sunday as pontiff Pope Francis made one thing clear. He seems determine to break the mold throwing protocol and predictability to the wind.


LEMON: Just a few more hours left on St. Patrick's Day. We have seen some great parades this week and worldwide. It was cold today in Dublin, Ireland, but the Irish spirit and likely some Irish whiskey get parade watchers warm. A quarter of a million lined the streets of Dublin.

Green beer was flowing in Boston. It was their 112th St. Patrick's Day parade. Irish heritage runs deep in Boston, and it shows eclipsing Dublin even. A million people showed up for the music, the floats and to occasionally get bean in head with candy along the parade route.

And when you think of Irish celebrations, well, you may immediately think of shanghai, right? Probably not, but today in the world's most populated city, they had Irish songs, dancers doing the jig and an east meets west display. This traditional Chinese paper dragon dyed green, of course.

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


POPE FRANCIS, CATHOLIC LEADER (through translator): I warmly greet all the pilgrims. Thank you for coming and thank you for your prayers. Do pray for me, please.


LEMON: Forgiveness was a key theme in the Pope's address. He also sent out a message on his twitter account asking for people to continue to pray for him. Pope Francis doesn't seem to be a stickler for papal tradition.

Ben Wedeman has more from Rome.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If Pope Benedict was the intellectual's Pope; Francis seems to be shaping up as being the people's Pope.

It could be any church, the priest greeting worshippers one by one after Sunday mass, but it wasn't any church, and it wasn't any priest. It was Pope Francis at the Santa Anna parish church in the Vatican. His charm offensive moving full steam ahead, he stepped outside the Vatican and into Italian territory to greet well-wishers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was watching some of the video when he came out of the church, and obviously he seemed very personable. He's really connecting with the people.

WEDEMAN: In his first Sunday as pope, Francis appeared at the window of his papal apartment overlooking a packed St. Peter's square, speaking of forgiveness and compassion. And eliciting a laugh when he insisted he wasn't providing free advertising for a cardinal whose writing he praised. He ended his message with a simple wish. Have a good Sunday and have a good lunch.


WEDEMAN: Just four days on the job, and Pope Francis is already shaking things up, even his own television station. Vatican TV is calling him the unpredictable Pope. Maria Laure , an Argentinean like the Pope, already feels closer to the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the problems that the cab lick church has had is that they were so high and we were, you know, a little bit too low, so now he's coming closer, and we're very happy for that.

WEDEMAN: His personal style is going down well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seems like a very nice guy, very humble, very down to earth.

WEDEMAN: With a new hand at Vatican helm, the faithful are dancing to a new rhythm. And it's a rhythm that might bring new life to a church in need of change.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


LEMON: All right, Ben. It still one of the most powerful images from the war in Iraq. The Marlboro Marine, this picture made that marina hero, and then his life fell apart. We'll hear from him right after this.


LEMON: We'll be the first to tell you, this is breaking news, Hala, and it is history, the war in Iraq is officially over. U.S. troops are moving across the border into Kuwait now, Hala.

I remember that evening well when I announced on CNN that all U.S. combat troops had left Iraq. That was December of 2011. This week will mark the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. March 19th, here in the states, March 20th Baghdad time in 2003.

America's part of the war may be over, but Iraq remains a violent and unstable place. A car bomb killed at least ten people just today in northern Iraq. Remember this face? It remains one of the most powerful and lasting images of America's involvement in the Iraq war. This is a U.S. marine. His photo was taken by a "Los Angeles times" photographer in Fallujah in 2004. We wanted to check in and see where this marine is today, so we asked the man who took the picture.


LUIS SINCO, PHOTOGRAPHER: I found myself involved in the assault in Fallujah, under constant enemy fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, I look back at it now and think about firing at another human being. How do you justify it?

SINCO: We were up on the rooftop, and a break in the action, he propped up next to me and started smoking a cigarette. I took the photo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Fallujah, I acted like it never happened.

SINCO: It shows a kid who had basically gone through a horrifying experience, traumatic experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first time I ever thought about committing suicide was in Iraq, maybe a week after he came out of Fallujah.

SINCO: did not see him for a good year after Fallujah. His company was deployed to Katrina, but I did not know that he was suffering from PTSD.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vets connect with other vets. I didn't have another vet that I could lean on.

SINCO: When I was there for the first visit, he said you should come to my wedding. So I ended up going to his wedding because it was so emotional for him. Within a two, three-week period he was completely spinning out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was so much counseling that had to be done for myself that I really couldn't deal with mine and Jessica's problems on top of it.

SINCO: His wife ended up calling me, saying she hadn't seen him in days, could I come over there and help look for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt that it was something that I brought on myself and that that was, you know, my weight to carry, not hers. And before I put her through that, I'd rather be without her.

SINCO: I went to his uncle's house. He looked horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had more or less planned out my death, and I was actually kind of happy for a moment thinking that I wasn't going to feel anything soon.

SINCO: There was a lot of carnage in that battle. There were a lot of young men, boys dead in the street, and I thought to myself one more death out of that, and I'm supposed hang out long enough to get the photo of him putting the gun to his head? I cannot do that, so I stepped in and said let's get you some help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad that I'm still here, confused as to why I'm still here and why other people aren't.

SINCO: He is intensely private now. He had been under the spotlight for many, many years, beginning with the publication of that photo. I think he just wants to move on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As much as you want things to be the same, they can never be that way again.

SINCO: He is doing all right. He's back together with Jessica. He's met a doctor that has helped him with his physical problems and has actually gained enough trust to have from Blake to have Blake go see a doctor with mental issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any day above her is a good one. There's no promise of tomorrow.

SINCO: It's going on nine years since I took that photograph. There hasn't been a day that it hasn't crossed my mind. The meaning that I find in it is that it's about survival. I mean, when you survive, that that's the sweetest victory.


LEMON: One more note about the Iraq war. As we remember ten years since it began, and this note is mostly numbers.

Brown University report found that the U.S. war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion with nearly a half trillion dollars in benefits owed to Iraq war veterans. Over the next 40 years analysts expect that veterans will -- the veterans bill to grow to more than $6 trillion.

More than 4,000 American troops died in the Iraq war. That ground report estimated at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians were also killed.


LEMON: The NBA's Miami heat, they have done it again. They won their 22nd in a row today, beating the Toronto Raptors, 108-91. The heat now they have tied for second, the second longest winning streak in league history. They face a tough challenge tomorrow against Boston. Heat star Lebron James says his team is ready.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT FORWARD: I think the most important thing for us tomorrow is our intensity. You know, we're going in there. We know they are going to be ready for us. We will ready for the game, and it's a team that we could possibly see in the playoffs. So, you know, I'm not worried about our level of play or our level of focus because we know what type of team we're playing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right, you can see more of Lebron James tomorrow.

Rachel Nichols of CNN sports interviewed James, and can you see it on "the Lead" with Jake Tapper starting at 4:00 eastern right here on CNN.

All right. The 68-team bracket is set. March madness has arrived. Rex Chapman is here to break it down. He writes for, and he's also analyzing the tournament for our friends over at turner sports.

OK. And you're an outstanding player yourself not too long ago. You probably still really good, right?


LEMON: Oh, come on.

CHAPMAN: OK. So, Louisville is the top seed overall Kansas, Indiana, Gonzaga are other number ones. So any surprises for these brackets, do you think?

CHAPMAN: Well, you know, I'm a University of Kentucky alum, and, unfortunately, my wildcats didn't make the field this year, which is not, you know, not something that happens every day. Team wins it one year and comes back and doesn't even make the tournament next year so I'm a little upset about that.

LEMON: What happened?

CHAPMAN: It's just a tough year, actually, a whole different team this year. All of our guys left and went to the NBA last year, came back with a whole new group.

LEMON: So they are young.

CHAPMAN: Yes. And best player got hurt, tore his ACL, so, you know, it's a lit bit of a setback but we've got a great tournament lined up this week.

LEMON: So, there's always a Cinderella story.


LEMON: Right? Who do you see? Do you see one this time?

CHAPMAN: You know, it's hard to call a number one seed a Cinderella. But Gonzaga had been the Cinderella.

LEMON: Really.

CHAPMAN: Not a team that was highly thought of going into the season. They are 30-2. They maybe haven't played as good a schedule as some of the other top teams in the country, but they are talented. They are awfully tough. Mark Few (ph) is a great coach, and this team can really, really make some noise. And I would really be surprise federal they are not in the final four.

LEMON: So, I was right in here and I said earlier it's going to be Gonzaga and Kansas, and Kansas is going to come out on top. First, I wanted to say Gonzaga, but then, I don't know, something said Kansas. What do you think?

CHAPMAN: Yes. Kansas is a terrific team. Bill Self is a great coach. They have terrific players, one freshman who is absolutely phenomenal. A guy named Ben McLemore. We will be talking about him in the NBA here in a few years. But I really like the Louisville Cardinals.

LEMON: Do you?

CHAPMAN: I do. Rick Pitino is great coach. Cardinals gave my Kentucky squad last year an awfully tough time in the time four, and they have pretty much everybody back. Got some new players, and Rick is always, always has his team ready to play this time of year.

LEMON: Did you see the good night brackets we have downstairs in the atrium?


LEMON: It s huge. DO we have the video, that look at that time lapse video.


LEMON: So tomorrow, the mayor and then the CEO of Turner broadcasting, the mayor will be out there and they will do their brackets.

CHAPMAN: That's really cool.

LEMON: They will climb up on the ladder. Isn't that cool?

CHAPMAN: That's amazing.

LEMON: Isn't that amazing, all excited here.

So, what do you guys like, you do, where you, for a former basketball player, what do you do for March Madness? Are you sitting at home like just eating it up?

CHAPMAN: Absolutely.

LEMON: Besides the chicken wings and beers.

CHAPMAN: Yes. It's great. Great, this time of the year, you know. Best three or four weeks of the year as far as I'm concerned. You know, in the College basketball, really doesn't get any better. Still enjoy watching the NBA and watching the college kids, there's always that measure of uncertainty going on. LEMON: Yes.

CHAPMAN: So it's a lot of fun.

LEMON: I'm going to give you a sheet of paper, all right? That's for my bracket so don't go anywhere. Again, I'm soliciting help from everybody.

All right, thanks Rex.

CHAPMAN: Thanks.

LEMON: Always good to see you. Good luck requests your brackets.

CHAPMAN: Appreciate it.

LEMON: And mine as well.

Coming up, it was meant to be a minority outreach channel but a conservative Republican event was sent into a tailspin when a participant was heard defending slavery. That story next.


LEMON: A man appeared to defend the benefits of slavery at a huge gathering, a political conservative called CPAC. I want to show you video from a session called "trump the race card. Are you sick and tired of being called a racist and you know you're not one." listen closely.


K. CARL SMITH, FOUNDER, FREDERICK DOUGLASS REPUBLICAN: When Douglass came from slavery, I think 10 years or 20 years after he escaped the slaves, he writes a letter to his slave master and said I'm going to forgive you for all the things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forgive him for giving him shelter and food?



LEMON: So I spoke with our political panel about this incident.


ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: 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 fund-raiser and every sponsor gets two hours to put on their own panel. This was a panel that was put on by one of those sponsors. I have spoken to CPAC leadership about this particular incident. They have got the information on this man. They are 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. You ever been to any political event where there is 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 that you that CPAC did some great efforts to have more diversity than I've ever seen at CPAC. They had ten black conservative speakers on the stage, at official CPAC events. I know that doesn't sound like much, but you try to find ten conservative black speakers and you tell me if it's not a great effort on the part of CPAC.


LEMON: Lz, I mean, is it fair to link this one guy who stood up apparent link in to the Republican party and CPAC's efforts in any way?

LZ GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: 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 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 Johnson. And he said, this is to paraphrase him. I've lost the south for the generation, meaning the Democrats have lost south for a generation. And if you really peel back what he's trying to say is that anyone who was against his 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 time penetrating that bloc of the south states, of the traditional southern states, and racial tension is part that have block.

Now, if the Republican Party really wants to move forward in terms of having diversity, it needs to acknowledge, acknowledge, not say that that's who we are, but acknowledge that that part of the history is continuing to make up a small partial of the Republican Party. And we are not going to continue to lobbyist to people to be there anymore.

There was a CNN employee who has had shells thrown at her and was called a monkey. Had they gone, and statement says this kind of attitude is kind of attitudes not tolerated here at the RNC, we would not continue to embrace those kinds of people. They can do that. They ignored it. And I hope they don't ignore this because that's not what they should be doing.


LEMON: With all the other stories going on, you may have missed this one. This week an assault ban bill was OKed for the full Senate to take up. We ask you, does it have a chance? Your responses, next.


LEMON: This week a Senate panel sent a proposed ban on assault weapons to the full Senate for a vote. It would the first real test since the president began what's considered the biggest push for gun control in decades. The bill's sponsor democratic senator Dianne Feinstein admitted that the road is uphill.

Earlier, political comedian Dean Obeidallah put the question on social media. He has got like seven twitter followers.



LEMON: So, here's what we asked. We asked whether you think that this ban has a chance of getting through Congress. So, here's what one person says.

Hate to poop on your parade but Boehner went let it get to the floor for a vote. It can make Republicans vulnerable before 2014 mid-term elections, and then someone else writes to Dean, it will never get through the house unless, of course, Obama comes out against it.

So Dean, people seem skeptical about Congress. Is that shocking?

OBEIDALLAH: Not shocking at all. It's unreal. You know what makes it really unbelievable to all of us is that 90 percent of Americans in polls support universal background checks for anyone buying a gun, what's called the gun show loophole. But still, this may not pass congress, That's hit the ban. Doesn't work on the budget, you know, It doesn't pass gun control to. Me I think we should take a page from the NHL owners and NBA owners and lock Congress out for a month. Let them work in a parking lot or the motel 6 or something. Because they doing the jobs. And I think Democrats and Republicans and Democrats should unify on the outside and make them do something object inside for us.

LEMON: So Dean, I stopped reading tweets on the air, but I'm doing it just for you, all right?

OBEIDALLAH: This is big. This is retro.

LEMON: All right. So, we followed up the skeptics with this question. How can we push Congress to just get things done? One of your fans tweeted, I'd lock them all in a room with the same stuff they feed federal prisoners and not let them out until they get something done.

Another person writes make their paychecks tied to performance like they do teachers, and finally someone says lock them in a dark room and play Justin Bieber at max volume until they yield.

OBEIDALLAH: Those are all great ideas, Don. I think the last one with Justin Bieber music would violate the cruel and unusual punishment prohibition of the 8th amendment. But, I think that people are upset with Congress. Congress has to do something here. It's beyond me, frankly what, we can do as -- we complain about Congress yet re-elect 90 percent of them last time when they were up for re- election, so it's a frustrating time. We all complain about it but yet do nothing about it on Election Day about it. That's where we must wake up.


Hey, listen, you know, having a little bit of fun with it, but it's a very serious issue. I mean, if this is just a Senate panel now. This goes to, you know, to the floor, it's going to be a big deal.

OBEIDALLAH: It won't get to a vote. They need 60 votes to stop discussion on any piece of legislation in the Senate, and it's clear from everyone that they are not going to get the 60 votes, even to stop debating on the universal background check which is remarkable to me.

When you have over 90 percent of Americans and gun owners, everyone has paid for except for one big organization, the NRA does not want it in certain right fringe you know, fringe Republicans. It's shocking to me.

LEMON: Power of one big lobbying group. Thank you, Dean.

OBEIDALLAH: Not own that big.

LEMON: Nice to see you.

OBEIDALLAH: Good to see you, Don.

A look ahead right after this.


LEMON: Now, to the big stories in the week ahead. We begin tonight with the president's plans for the week.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: After trying out his charm offensive on Republicans for the last week and a half, President Obama will work on his international diplomacy.

On Tuesday, two days after St. Patrick Day, he welcomes the prime minister of Ireland over to the White House and then Mr. Obama embarks on a very important overseas trip to the Middle East. That is where he will sit down with Israeli leaders.

He will also meet with the leaders from the Palestinian authority before making his way to Jordan. It is during this trip when Mr. Obama is expected to issue a very strong warning to Iran that they will not be able to develop nuclear weapons.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

Well, coming up this week on Wall Street, a host of major companies will report their earnings. We'll hear from FedEx, General Mills, Nike and tiffany.

In terms of economic news, the fed announces its latest raid decision. That comes on Wednesday, and we'll be listening very closely to comments from central bankers on overall economic recovery, especially after a particularly strong February jobs report. Then on Thursday, we'll get the latest existing home sales numbers for the month of February. Those are key because the existing home sale actually make up about 90 percent of the overall housing market so that will show us if the rebound we see in housing is indeed continuing.

We will track all of that in the latest business news you in CNN money.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: I'm "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT's" A.J. Hammer. Here's what we're watching this week, celebrity obsession with the Jodi Arias trial. It's stars can't stop talking and tweeting about the ride trial including reality start you a Aubrey O'Day. Don't miss my one-on-one with Aubrey about her Arias obsession.

LEMON: All right, thank you guys.

Now, an update two the daring escape we told you about, one that didn't last long.

Two inmates climbed a ladder from a dangling helicopter this afternoon at a maxim security prison outside Montreal. According to police, two men ordered the pilot at gunpoint to fly to prison -- to the prison, but within the hour -- within hours police captured the first inmate. The man who told a radio station that he'd rather die than go back to a cell.

Well, just moments ago, after cornering the other inmate and negotiating with him, police captured him, too. They are both back in custody.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Thanks for watching. Have a great night and a great week.