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CNN NEWSROOM

Iraq Vets Speak Out; Should Americans Be Tried for War Crimes; Jury to Decide in Grandmother Shooting Grandson Case; Ohio Teen Shooter Sentenced to Life.

Aired March 19, 2013 - 11:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now she's nearly 10. But Tony's marriage was a casualty of war, and relationships since haven't fared much better.

TONY RIDDLE, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: The same Tony that went over there didn't return, at all.

SAVIDGE: he struggles with PTSD and is still bothered by memories, like the two Iraqi girls killed by an artillery strikes Tony called in to protect his Marines.

SAVIDGE (on camera): That stuff still haunts you?

RIDDLE: Bad. I have nightmares of that particular one a lot. And in the dreams, they're asking, why?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Frustrated with the Veterans Administration, Tony went to college and will soon have a degree in psychology, which he plans to use to help vets.

RIDDLE: I've been there. I've seen it. I know exactly what you're dealing with.

SAVIDGE: Next stop was Aspen, Colorado, where, on a ski lift, I caught up with Casey Owens.

CASEY OWENS, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: I can't be more happier than to look out here and just be like, gosh, you know, God gave me a gift.

SAVIDGE: Casey moved here right after he started skiing, which was right after an Iraqi land mine claimed both legs on his second deployment.

SAVIDGE (on camera): So you ski down --

OWENS: Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

OWENS: This is one of my favorite runs, coming underneath the gondola. SAVIDGE (voice-over): He also runs and competes in a number of sports. He's an inspiration to a lot of folks, and will tell you without hesitation life is good.

OWENS: I have my bad days and good days, but when I'm having my good days, I definitely know I'm lucky to be alive and to experience this. You know? I got to, at age 22, to lead men into combat. And for a Marine, that's the greatest honor.

SAVIDGE: But for the really bad days, Harold, his special needs dog, calms his panic attacks and wakes him from nightmares. They are inseparable.

OWENS: My last stop was a Beer Garden in Bakersfield, California, where I listened to Evan Morgan play a song he wrote about the war.

(SINGING)

SAVIDGE: Casey had been the first casualty for cat team read. Six months later, it was Evan's turn, an IED blast.

EVAN MORGAN, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: I remember being pulled out of the vehicle and being laid on the ground.

SAVIDGE: Both men suffered similar injuries, but Evan was also left half blind. He dreaded the conversation with his then-fiancee from his hospital bed.

MORGAN: I said, you know, if you want to -- not leave, I don't think I said leave, but if you want to kind of move on, then you can. I would understand.

SAVIDGE: Jillian told him it wasn't his legs she'd fallen in love with. They married in the hospital chapel and today have two kids. Life's not perfect, but Evan knows, it's not bad either.

MORGAN: I'm always thinking that there's someone out there in the world that has it worse than me and there's someone out there that's doing better than me. And I try to keep that in mind day to day and try to live my life accordingly.

SAVIDGE (on camera): And you're OK with that?

MORGAN: Yes. Yes, I'm OK with it. I'm happy.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): A decade after we all went to war, it would be wrong to say that Tony, Casey and Evan are at peace. But deep inside themselves, they have managed to at least call a truce.

Martin Savidge, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: An undeclared war, an undeclared war, costing the lives of thousands of Americans, tens of thousands of Iraqis, billions of dollars gone. Can anyone be tried for this? Should anyone be tried of this? You might be surprised to hear what one of the world's leading war crimes experts and peace activists has to say about all of this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: The Bush administration went to war in Iraq 10 years ago today for two main reasons. They claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and could possibly use them against the United States and that Saddam Hussein was involved with al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks. Well, today, we know both of those claims proved to be false. Since the war, there have been demands that Mr. Bush and members of his administration, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and former CIA director, George Tenet be tried for war crimes. But can they be or should they be? There is one very famous man who says yes. Bishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the Anglican Church archbishop of South Africa says they should, they should be tried.

Our legal analyst, Lisa Bloom, is here with me and is an expert on the international criminal court.

There are so many issues, Lisa, when it comes to this kind of a thing. It is a sticky issue, it is a difficult issue, but a lot of people think, why hasn't there been any litigation?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And when you think of it more broadly, there have been a number of world leaders who have been prosecuted in international criminal courts. In South Africa, which had the apartheid regime, no one was prosecuted, ironically, they had the truth and reconciliation commission, which encouraged everyone, essentially, to talk to each other in commissions, acknowledge responsibility, and forgive. And yet Bishop Tutu, a very respected world leader, is now calling on President Bush to be prosecuted.

BANFIELD: So we are not signatories here in the United States of the international criminal court, and for good reason, Americans don't want to be prosecuted in criminal court.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: We don't want our soldiers hauled off of battlefields and thrown into international criminal court.

BLOOM: But isn't that interesting, because if we want others to be held accountable for war crimes, why shouldn't we accept jurisdiction of the same court?

BANFIELD: Isn't it a fair defense to say, it was a mistake. It was not intentional, it was not reckless. It was not -- aren't these fair defenses, if this were, in fact, the case.

BLOOM: Think of it this way, if someone invaded our country based on false premises and murdered 100,000 to a million of our people, as we are accused of doing in Iraq, depending on whose estimate we believe, would we be so sanguine? Would we be so forgiving?

BANFIELD: Well, someone did come to our country and murdered 4,000 people and we weren't sanguine. We were very offended.

BLOOM: 4,000, not 400,000.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: And we didn't go to court, we want to war.

BLOOM: And not under the aegis of a foreign government.

I just returned from a trip to Vietnam. In Vietnam, there is an American war crimes museum, where you can look at all of the terrible things that the United States did, like dropping Agent Orange in Vietnam.

There are many countries in the world where we are not welcome.

And I want to emphasize that Americans are welcomed in Vietnam, but what we did there is remembered and it's acknowledged. And I think the same thing is going to happen in Iraq.

BANFIELD: I think it's also critical to say to our audience that the international criminal court can prosecute for genocide, for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, but this incursion, this action in Iraq is actually qualified as a crime of aggression, and that's not covered. So unfortunately, it just can't be.

I have to leave it there, but it is such a somber occasion. And I'm glad you were here to mark it on the legal side of it all.

Lisa Bloom, thank you.

BANFIELD: 10 shots, 10, in the span of six months. Firing a gun 10 times in six minutes, and it's this woman who did it, admittedly. She is on trial for shooting and killing someone. It was her own grandson. But the question to the jury is, was it out of fear or was it out of anger? They're deciding that right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: An elderly grandmother shoots and kills her troubled teenage son. That's the crux of a murder trial that's now in the hands of a jury, deliberating in suburban Detroit. But it is not what the jury is deciding. The issue they're deciding is why, why 75-year- old Sandra Layne, seen here in court, grabbed her handgun and opened fire on her grandson, 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman. It happened in the home that they shared last may. That teenager had just moved in a few months earlier when his parents moved to Arizona.

In two days of testimony last week, Layne said that Jonathan was violent and very tough to sort of gauge and that she was terrified when she acted to save her own life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROSECUTOR: Did he strike you?

SANDRA LAYNE, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: In the head.

PROSECUTOR: Sorry?

LAYNE: In the head.

PROSECUTOR: In the head area? Well, wants? How does that happen, when he kicks you or strikes you?

LAYNE: I just shot the gun.

PROSECUTOR: How many times did you shoot the gun?

LAYNE: I don't know. I think -- I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: The prosecution knows the answer to that question. Sandra Layne shot the gun 10 times over a course of six minutes. She hit her grandson six times. In self-defense, she says that Hoffman spent much of those six minutes on the phone with 911, but listen to the call.

(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)

911 OPERATOR: 911, what's your emergency?

JONATHAN HOFFMAN, GRANDSON OF LAYNE: I've just been shot.

911 OPERATOR: What?

HOFFMAN: I've just been shot.

911 OPERATOR: Where are you at? OK, how did you get shot? Who shot you?

HOFFMAN: My grandma shot me.

911 OPERATOR: Your grandmother or grandfather shot you?

HOFFMAN: My grandma. I'm going to die.

(END AUDIO FEED)

BANFIELD: Well, if that person were attacking you and you shot him in fear of your life, you might stop shooting at that point when you hear those words, but Hoffman's grandmother did not stop. She was not done with him yet. 2.5 minutes later came this call.

(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)

HOFFMAN: (INAUDIBLE). I just got shot again. Help me!

911 OPERATOR: You got shot again? Are they still there?

HOFFMAN: Someone get help now! Now! I need help now!

911 OPERATOR: Are they still there? HOFFMAN: Please help.

(END AUDIO FEED)

BANFIELD: Hoffman did get help. Paramedics did get there. They sped there and they got him to a hospital and that's exactly where he died, in the hospital.

It's time now to call in the best of the bench on this case. Lisa Bloom joins me again with a former juvenile court judge in Fulton County, Georgia, Glenda Hatchett, a judge.

I want to preface this by saying that this young teenager did a have a past. He was involved with juvenile justice and there was a probation issue and there had been difficult times in this household.

So knowing that background, which the jury does know, Judge Hatchett, is this going to be a really tough case for this jury to see as self- defense, when you hear those tapes and you know the timing of this crime?

GLENDA HATCHETT, FORMER JUVENILE COURT JUDGE & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, yes. I mean, she's already shot him. He's on the phone with 911. What's troubling about this, Ashleigh, is that the police didn't have any indications that she had been wounded. So if he attacked her, it would be -- it would help her credibility if she showed some wounds. And also, I would be curious about the toxicology report, whether he was on drugs at the time of this incident. But when you keep shooting him over and over again, after he's on 911, after he calls again, it is going to be very hard, I think, to make out --

BANFIELD: Judge, sometimes I think that almost adds to the defense, like they just lose it.

Lisa Bloom, weigh in on this, if you will. I look at that grandma -- there's 75 and there's 75. Some 75s are not other 75s. But this 75, when you see her on the stand, to me, she looks extremely sympathetic. And jurors don't miss this stuff.

BLOOM: We believe she's got the granny glasses and she's got the grey hair in a bun. I don't know if that's what she ordinarily looks like. It's certainly the right look in this courtroom. My heart goes out to her. When I hear her staying on the stand, I don't know. I don't know how many times I shot him. I think that's a rare moment of honesty in an American courtroom. She's not making up excuses. She's not lying. She doesn't call in a high-priced defense expert to say she's got memory loss, right? So I'm very sympathetic to her. On the other hand, the law is about preserving human life, especially the life of a minor child, even a troubled young man. When he's shot and he's down, and he's called 911, I don't see any reason to continue to shoot him. So I think she's probably going to be found guilty, but I would expect a very light sentence, maybe probation, parole, monitored supervision. I don't think she's probably a threat to human life.

BANFIELD: And I feel as though that would be one of these cases where it is a long deliberation. Those jurors are going to have a really tough time. Don't forget, there is a dead child, as Lisa just put, in this case.

Thank you to you both. Do appreciate your insight in this case as well. A convicted killer wearing a T-shirt. Take a look. It says, "Killer." He's sitting in a courtroom, waiting to find out what the judge will sentence him for killing. Good idea? Bad idea? You'll find out, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: You might call this a gut-wrenching day in a courtroom. A young man by the name of T.J. Lane, sentenced to life in prison without parole. He will be there forever. He will not leave that prison unless he's in a box because he killed three students and wounded three others in Ohio last year. Here's what he wore to his sentencing. A white T-shirt emblazoned with the word "Killer" in handwriting. Family members of the victims were able to give impact statements in court today, even addressing Lane's parents, who one woman flat out called his, quote, "sperm and egg donor."

I want to bring back my legal analysts, Lisa Bloom, and TV court judge and former juvenile court judge, Glenda Hatchett, a former juvenile court judge.

The first question, ladies, how could this lawyer allow this to happen? I'm sure the lawyer knew nothing about it. He unbuttoned his shirt and opened it up for everyone to see.

Judge Hatchett, a judge seeing that can do a lot of things. What can a judge do or does it make a difference by this point?

HATCHETT: I don't know that it makes a big difference. If he had been in my courtroom I would have ordered him to put the shirt back on. His lawyer could have said, put your shirt back on. This is just -- it's almost an insult to the victims.

BANFIELD: Almost?

HATCHETT: It is. Is. It is. It is an absolute horrible insult to the victims' family. You're going to sit there with "Killer" across your shirt and they're grieving, the people who survived's lives will be changed forever, outrageous.

BANFIELD: Can I tell you, this wasn't the end of it, judge. He didn't just wear the T-shirt. He gave the middle finger to the courtroom and he also used profanity swearing at the courtroom.

Lisa Bloom, when you plead, three counts of aggravated murder and two counts of attempted aggravated murder, and one count of felonious assault, ostensibly you've made a bargain for a particular sentence. It's not like you can do anything more than life without the possibility of parole. This kid has nothing to lose, did he?

BLOOM: Right. In the U.S., juveniles cannot get the death penalty. He's got the maximum. You can't fix stupid. Make you can't fix mean. We can thank our lucky stars he's going away for life without parole. This is a sociopathic young man who has no concern about the damage that he's continuing to cause to victims' family.

BANFIELD: One thing you can fix, you can fix evil by locking them away. T.J. Lane, I'm here to say, with my panel, good-bye and good riddance.

Lisa Bloom and Judge Hatchett, thank you for that.

Stay with us. We're back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Moments from now, in Chicago, a funeral is to be held for a 6-month-old girl. She was in her father's lap when she was shot as they sat in a parked minivan. Her dad was also shot. He was changing her diaper at the time. He survived the attack. Police believe he was the target of the attack and not the baby.

Thank you for watching, everyone. It's good to have you with us. We're flat out of time.

AROUND THE WORLD is next.

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