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Texas Gunfight; FAA to Close Towers; President Obama in Middle East

Aired March 22, 2013 - 15:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I put my arms over my baby and he shot me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why my little one? Should have just taken a pocketbook and go.


LEMON: A mother says two kids tried to rob her before shooting her baby in the head. And, today, a town's wrath.

Paris Jackson, questioned about the days leading up to her father's shocking death.

And a man pretending to be a pilot, sweet talked his way into the cockpit, we're on the case.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. It's the top of the hour. Thank you so much for joining us. We're going to begin with this. A man who led police --


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And a man pretending to be a pilot sweet-talks his way into the cockpit. We're "On the Case."


LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. This is the top of the hour. Thank you so much for joining us.

We are going to begin with this. A man who led police in Texas on a guns-blazing chase and was fatally shot at the end now has been identified. His name is Evan Ebel. He is described as a white supremacist gang member who served prison time in Colorado. Investigators say there may be a whole lot more to this story.

They say evidence found in Ebel's smashed-up Cadillac could link the dead driver to the murder of Tom Clements. He's Colorado's prison chief, who was slain at his home on Tuesday night. There can also be a link to a murder last Sunday of a pizza deliveryman in Denver.

With us now by phone from Colorado Springs, Colorado, is Paula Presley of the El Paso County Sheriff's Department.

Paula, we understand your department has sent people to Texas to search that Cadillac, correct?


LEMON: OK. So the one driver who has been found by the dead white supremacist, the one driver, what links him or the car to the murder of Tom Clements?

PRESLEY: Well, at this point from our office investigation, which is the murder of Tom Clements, we became -- we were notified of this from Texas authorities because the vehicle matched the description of a BOLO we put out for a vehicle matching that description that was seen in the area near the residence of Tom Clements the night of his murder.

LEMON: What more can you tell us about the driver of the car?

PRESLEY: Don't have a lot of information on the driver of the vehicle, other than what we have received from Texas identifying him, and we do know that he is a parolee from Colorado out of the Department of Corrections.

LEMON: OK. We have learned from CNN's Drew Griffin, as part of our investigative unit here, that authorities near Dallas are looking at Ebel in connection to the murder of an assistant DA who was prosecuting members of the Aryan Nations. Do you know anything about that?

PRESLEY: That is the first I have heard of that. No, I don't know anything about that.

LEMON: OK. What about the reports that the killing of Tom Clements possibly carried out by Evan Ebel might, might -- have been ordered from inside the Colorado prison system from -- and by whom?

PRESLEY: Again, we don't have any information on that. Obviously, those are leads, so to speak, that we will be following up on. The fact that he was in prison, I think the question is what was the motive, what would have been his specific motive for targeting Mr. Clements?

So certainly we have a lot of investigation that we still have to do to determine what the motive was and to determine whether or not there was anyone else in connection with that. That being said, obviously we will look through those -- that information that we're receiving and coordinate with the Department of Corrections to see if there is any information that would validate that.

LEMON: Paula Presley, thank you very much.

Breaking news now. I'm just getting word from the FAA that the FAA has announced it will close nearly 150 air traffic control towers at regional airports.

Want to go live now to Rene Marsh at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.

What are you hearing?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Don that this information coming from the FAA literally just minutes ago and so you have people who are working in these air traffic control towers, just finding out that they will be without jobs.

Many of them don't quite know what's next for them. We're here in Frederick, Maryland. This tower you see behind me, get this, Don, it was built with federal stimulus money. We're talking about $5.3 million spent to build this tower here. And now just minutes ago, they have been told by the FAA that starting April 7, they will be shut down.

Joining me live now is Christopher Swan. He is an air traffic controller inside of this tower here.

You have been doing this for 19 years. When you heard the news, just 30 minutes ago, what was your reaction?

CHRISTOPHER SWAN, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: It was silence. It's a very somber mood up in the tower. I personally almost got sick. This is everything I have worked for in my entire life. I came from nothing, and made something of myself and now it is all gone.

MARSH: I mean, you all knew that this list was coming out. You knew that it was coming and I know you mentioned earlier that was tough in itself, just waiting for this list. And now we have this 149 towers that will be shut down and yours is included.

But, still, hearing and seeing the name on that list must have been tough.

SWAN: Yes, it is very rough. When we were waiting, that I thought was the worst. But now actually getting the news, it is a very sad day for much of us, and but I guess now the heal process can actually begin.

MARSH: All right. Thank you very much for talking with us here, Christopher.

And you know what? There are about 1,000 other air traffic controllers today have a similar story, getting the same kind of news Christopher is. We will send it back to you, Don.

LEMON: All right, our thanks to Christopher and Rene Marsh. We appreciate that.

In other news now, President Barack Obama wrapping up his tour of the Middle East before arriving in Jordan. The president closed a three- day visit to Israel with a solemn visit to the Holocaust Museum, reaffirming the Jewish state's right to exist. He then met with Jordan's King Abdullah, promising $200 million in aid to help the country as it struggles with a Syrian refugee crisis. He also talked expectations for peace in the Middle East.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a trip to make sure I'm doing my homework. We set expectations low precisely because there has been a lot of talk over decades, but it hasn't produced the results that everybody wants to see. Let me listen to the parties first.


LEMON: Straight to CNN's John King, who is in Amman, Jordan.

John, what is the most important agenda item in Jordan for the president?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, the most important item is that aid you mentioned. Jordan is being overwhelmed, swamped by refugees from Syria coming in, several thousand a day, approaching the half million mark here.

This country's economy was already struggling to begin with. And officials here say it spent somewhere in the ballpark of a billion dollars to deal with all the Syrian refugees. The United States is already number one, the president noted, in the international community, in putting up both cash and other humanitarian resources to help with the refugee crisis, but he is promising as you noted about $200 million more.

That's the most important takeaway from the Jordanian perspective. They need the financial help and while in the meeting with King Abdullah the president also able to talk about what is the Jordanian government and its intelligence service, which is a good thing, what is their assessment of what is going on in Syria, where are those chemical weapons, how long does the king think Bashar al-Assad can hang on? An update on Syria the most important item here.

LEMON: What was really accomplished, John, in this trip overall?

KING: You know, you have to say, Don, I think what was accomplished was some important foundations were set down. We will see in the weeks and months ahead whether they produce the results the president wants.

Let's go through one of them that was very important that was not on the schedule. That was the president brokering a call this morning between the Israeli prime minister and the Turkish prime minister, two traditional allies who have not had normal relations for about three years now. Remember that Gaza blockade. Israeli commandos killed some Turks on a boat out that trying to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. Relations broke off.

The president brokered a call this morning in which Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to Prime Minister Erdogan, promised to bring restitution to the families. Back in the United States, people might say, why do I care? These are two very important countries in the region from a security standpoint for the United States.

And so to have them back, at least close to back on the same page, is very, very important. Also, comparing notes with the Israeli leadership about the diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program, Israeli officials, Don, if you talked to them a year ago, even six months ago, they weren't sure the president meant it when he said all options were on the table. They didn't think Tehran would take seriously the president's threat that if diplomacy fails military action would come.

Israeli officials now say they have looked the president in the eye and they take him at his word. They may not have the same exact timetable, but they believe the president would act. As you noted, another big takeaway, trying to get the parties, the Palestinians and Israelis back to the bargaining table, but the president is not in too much of a hurry here, because he knows if you bring them in too soon, things will collapse.

So, we will judge that one a month or two from now, Israelis able to bring that about. And lastly, Don, the president had a rocky public image in Israel, a key U.S. ally. An American president wants to be popular in Israel, not just to have the Israelis like him. It helps him with a domestic political audience back home and the White House feels 1000 percent it accomplished that goal.

LEMON: All right, CNN's John King, Amman, Jordan. John, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

The Marine Corps is reeling from another tragedy, just days after seven Marines died in a training accident in Nevada. Military investigators are trying to piece together why three Marines were fatally shot early this morning at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, south of Washington, D.C. One of the dead was the gunman.

The commander said all three were permanently assigned to the base's officers candidate school.


COL. DAVID MAXWELL, MARINE CORPS: The shooter, an active-duty Marine, was pronounced dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound by law enforcement at the scene. Two other victims, a male and female, both active-duty Marines, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The three Marines involved in this incident were all permanent personnel assigned to officers candidate school. All of the candidates in the school are accounted for and safe.


LEMON: Names of the victims are being withheld until their families are notified.

This is a very sad story coming out of Brunswick, Georgia. Police say they will leave no stone unturned in the shooting death of a 13-month- old boy. The boy was killed yesterday morning in a residential neighborhood.

CNN spoke with the mother who says she was walking her son when two boys tried to rob her. You got to see this. Listen.


SHERRY WEST, MOTHER: And then all of a sudden he walked over and he shot my baby right in his face. And he must have died instantly because I screamed for help, and a neighbor called police, and he ran off, he got scared.

But I screamed and I wheeled my baby really quick to a safe place inside the gate of the blue house on Ellis (ph) Street. And then, you know, I took him out of the harness, and I tried to perform the CPR, but I saw his lungs inflating, but he was not breathing. And there was no pulse. And by the time the EMTs got there, the police, they tried to do CPR also, and they -- we lost him.


LEMON: Unimaginable, one way to describe it.

To our Nick Valencia now in Brunswick.

Nick, horrific story. What are police saying about this?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Don, I just got a phone call in fact from Officer Todd Rhodes (ph). I just got off the phone in fact moments before you got to me.

They will have a press conference at 4:00 p.m. and when I asked them if they had any suspects or persons of interest in custody, he said, only -- quote -- "You have to be there." What police are saying varies slightly from what the mother is telling us. The police say that they have more than 30 leads in this investigation. They also say they have no suspects so far in custody.

Now, what happened yesterday, happened about 9:30 a.m., just a few blocks from where I'm standing, the mother, I interviewed her earlier, Don, and she told me she was walking, just a normal day, walking in the morning, strolling her baby along, when two young boys approached her. She said she's never seen them a day before in her life. She said they tried to rob her. She also said there were eyewitnesses that saw what happened.

Now, here's where I want to be very clear about this. In this press conference just a short time ago, police told me that there are a lot of rumors and discrepancies about the information being disseminated. It seems as though, Don, that this information, these discrepancies are coming straight from the mother. In a press conference, they addressed these rumors. Take a listen.

LEMON: Apparently, Nick, we don't have that. But you said there is a press conference happening soon. They will update us. How soon?

VALENCIA: They are going to update us. Just in under an hour, there will be new information. In that press conference, Don, I asked, because of the discrepancies, you know, police say there were no eyewitnesses, they're also saying that there was no clear motive, despite what we're hearing publicly. So during that press conference, I asked officer Todd Rhodes if Sherry West, the mother of this 13- year-old, was being considered a suspect.

He said he couldn't comment on an ongoing investigation and refused to give further comment on that question -- Don.

LEMON: Discrepancies. You have to be there. There's a lot that we're going to get answered in this press conference. Nick Valencia, stand by. We will be waiting on you. Appreciate your reporting.

And coming up here on CNN, Paris Jackson questioned about the days leading up to her father's death. But lawyers hit a roadblock when they try to question her little brother Blanket.

Plus, the woman acquitted of murdering her roommate during a drug- fueled sex game could be retried. That's next.


LEMON: "On the Case" right now, Amanda Knox, a college student who was acquitted of killing her roommate in Italy, could be retried in Italian court.

Italy's highest court will hear the case and decide whether or not it agrees with the acquittal and the release of Knox in October 2011. Worst outcome, Knox would be retried, but she would not have to appear in court in Italy.

Pop icon Michael Jackson's youngest son Blanket is being asked to testify about his father's last days. In fact, lawyers for AEG Live, the company accused of being liable for Michael Jackson's death, want the judge to order Blanket to testify. But Blanket's doctors warn it would be medically detrimental to the 10-year-old boy.

He was just 6 when Michael Jackson passed away. AEG lawyers already questioned Michael's two other children, Paris and Prince. Jackson's attorneys say AEG behaved aggressively and erratically with the children.

CNN's legal analyst Sunny Hostin is here and anchor of HLN's "Evening Express," Ryan Smith," are "On the Case" right now.

We have two brothers on the couch, and one sister in the studio.

RYAN SMITH, HLN ANCHOR: I will take it. I will take it. (CROSSTALK)


LEMON: OK. So let's go to Sunny first.

Is this legal team going too far in questioning the children, Sunny?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, they're not questioning them on the witness stand, right? They're not questioning them at trial. They're questioning them during a deposition.

And lawyers are given pretty wide latitude pretrial, during the discovery process. But there is something to be said about what is in the best interests of this little boy. If you have a doctor saying this really could be detrimental, he's only 10 years old, he is a minor. He was only 6 when this happened, so I suspect the judge is going to look at the very alarming accusations, but, again, we're not talking about trial, we're talking about a deposition, and lawyers are given pretty wide latitude during this part of the discovery process.

LEMON: Do you want to comment on this, or you want to go and talk about Jodi Arias?


SMITH: No, I will say really quickly, they have to give it up on the 10-year-old Blanket, because he was too young to know about any of this.

Remember, they're basically saying in this lawsuit that AEG is responsible for the death of Michael Jackson in a way because they hired him, Murray, and they also failed to supervise him. That's the claim.

I can understand why you talk to the older children, the oldest of which -- yes, the oldest of which said he knew some things about his affairs, but not the youngest one.


LEMON: OK. I know you hear this name in your sleep, Jodi Arias.


SMITH: I feel like I'm living and breathing Jodi Arias.

LEMON: Jodi Arias. The next case stems from the Jodi Arias trial, a petition to create the Travis Alexander law. It seeks to protect the image of murder victims like Arias' ex-boyfriend, Alexander.

Over 1,000 people signed the petition on so far. And here is part of it. It says unsubstantiated claims about a murder victim should not be permitted without evidence and should only be allowed if substantiated and directly related to a defense, not as a means to tarnish the image of the victim in the eyes of the jury. Has Travis Alexander's image been destroyed by his trial, by this trial?

SMITH: It has. And I don't like what's happened to Travis here. But you know what? This is our system. And here's the problem. She needs that right to a fair trial. Everybody does in this country. We're all entitled to it.

If we start getting into the nuances of her claim wasn't substantiated, we have a problem with the fair trial rights. Imagine this. Imagine somebody is abused and they kill someone. I'm not saying Jodi here because her story is full of lies, but let's say that happened.

LEMON: And holes.


SMITH: Yes. And let's that happened and that person never talked to anybody, never told anybody about it. Does that mean that we wouldn't let her use claims that were unsubstantiated because she didn't tell somebody else or talk to someone else? That's just an example, but you got to preserve somebody's right to put on a case.

SMITH: Sunny?

HOSTIN: Yes, I completely agree.

I hated when I was trying these kinds of cases, these domestic violence cases where you had a victim, and the defense was trash the victim. You often see these kinds of defenses, but again there is evidence because she is sitting on the witness stand, subject to cross-examination, giving her version of events.

That is considered evidence in our system. I think we have the best system in the world. I think Ryan is right. She's been tested, a lot of lies have been coming out of her mouth, and it is going to be up to the jury to determine what they believe. But you have to let her testify, you have to let her put on her case, her evidence.

LEMON: Listen, can we just talk about the fascinating because both of you guys have been covering this trial and every one -- working out at a gym with a trainer today, he said my girlfriend leaves this HLN all day. it's on in the background, and I say to her...

SMITH: This is a good thing.


LEMON: And I say -- I know it is a great thing. And he said, I say to her, honey, it is the same thing, she's not on the stand anymore.

What is the fascination here?

SMITH: It is the story and it's her circumstance, I think, more than anything else. I think a lot of people out there are saying how can she be asking us to believe this? But because the story has so many layers, it is almost like you want to keep listening just to see what is next, to see what they have on tap, to try to at least explain any of what happened there to make any sense.

I think that's the toughest thing for people to buy, but that's what makes people latch onto it.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Ryan Smith. Thank you, Sunny Hostin.

SMITH: Sure.


LEMON: Two brothers on the couch, one sister in the studio.


SMITH: Got a nice ring to it.

LEMON: We considered a replacement brother. Come sit over here. Come in. This is replacement brother. Three brothers on the couch now.

SMITH: It's still three brothers on the couch.

LEMON: The world is OK. Thank you, guys.


LEMON: You're a good sport, and one sister.

We all shop online. You can save time and energy and maybe. But everyone could soon pay more from things on the Internet. We will tell you about a proposed online sales tax.


LEMON: Today is World Water Day, an effort to combat a global crisis. It is a fight that 2009 top 10 CNN Hero Doc Hendley wages every day.

Recently, it's taken him to the front lines of another humanitarian emergency in Syria.


DOC HENDLEY, CNN HERO: Here in the U.S., it is hard for us to understand the water crisis because we have it right at our fingertips.

There are some countries where it takes many women and children four and five hours every single day just to get water, and then it's absolutely filthy, and it is making their children sick. When you see that firsthand, you can't help but be changed from that.

My name is Doc Hendley. I used to be a bartender and now I bring clean water to the world. The water is not going to be making you feel sick to your stomach anymore.

CNN Heroes changed everything. Before, we were able to reach four different countries. Now we're in 15 different countries. Syria is our latest one. In Syria, every single day, people are leaving their homes fleeing to the border areas. And these camps, the living conditions, they're terrible. They don't have access to even the basic essentials.

Right now, we're actively working in two camps in the northwestern region of Syria. I was able to bring about 350 water filters just a couple of months ago. Syria is the very first location that we're actually using these filters. They filter up to 250 gallons of water every single day for 10 years.

We have a partnership with an organization called Stop Hunger Now. We will be sending a container with 250,000 meals and another 1,000 water filters. This will be just the first of many shipments hopefully. There is really no way to describe this feeling when you see a family have crystal-clear clean water for the first time.

A lot of people think, what can you do? But you can make a difference in one family's life. That's a huge thing.


LEMON: Up next, news on every one and everything, including a new museum exhibit showcasing David Bowie memorabilia, why a Google exec went to a country where Internet access is rare, the push by some U.S. lawmakers to start an Internet sales tax, the bizarre propaganda video released by North Korea -- the power block next.