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Arming Teachers; Michael Jackson Death Trial

Aired April 2, 2013 - 15:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Brooke Baldwin.

No new leads to report this hour in the Kaufman County, Texas, killings. But we're getting in details about the deaths of district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia. Their bodies were found Saturday morning at their home near the town of Forney. Assistant DA Mark Hasse was gunned down in January.

George Howell is on the story.

So, George, what have you learned about the killings of Mike McLelland and his wife?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are now getting some new information.

We're learning from the search warrant affidavit about what happened in this case. First of all, we know that the victims, that Mr. McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, they were discovered by friends who were trying to reach them repeatedly. And we also know that Mr. McLelland reached out to relatives, talked to relatives over the phone. That's what we learned from the search warrant affidavit.

And also investigators now, they are trying to track down mobile phone information from a cell tower near that home. But, again, when it comes to the actual investigation, they are very tight-lipped, not really giving any new details as to what they are looking into at this point, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, George, they have also named a temporary district attorney. Are there protections in place for that person and how about for other public servants there in that county?

HOWELL: Yes. Brandi Fernandez, we know she has taken over and she will be in that position for 21 days until the governor of the state, Rick Perry, appoints a new district attorney.

We also understand that she is under great protection, has good security around her, as do many of these public officials. In fact, we spoke with a district attorney who is in nearby Anderson County, and just listen to how he feels about doing his job given the environment here. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOUG LOWE, ANDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I feel like that Mike was murdered for what he did. And so it makes it kind of -- it is a little scary to people like me. But it's not going to change the way I do business. And I'm not going to walk in fear. I'm not going to not prosecute people I aim to prosecute. But you got to be careful.


HOWELL: You can tell that the public officials, the district attorneys, even law enforcement, they are highly aware, acutely aware of the danger of their jobs.

They are just trying to pay as much attention as possible to their surroundings as they continue to try to look into this case.

WHITFIELD: And, George, what about -- reportedly, there were security cameras at the home of McLelland. What has been learned about whether there is any kind of surveillance, you know, video that comes from those cameras, what they're able to glean from those cameras, if anything?

HOWELL: You know, that's a very interesting point. We have been trying to push to get more information about it. All we know at this point is that there were security cameras in that home.

These are the cameras, though, that are not looped to any outside source. In fact, they are cameras that are inside the home, to our understanding. But, you know, there is a lot of information we're trying to get from investigators. They're not releasing it. And, again, it is the question of whether they have more information that they want to release right now, they don't want to tip off the people they're looking into, or, you know, Fredricka, if they don't have a lot of information at all.

There are so many different angles to look into in this case. There's the possible connection to the Aryan Brotherhood, the question as to whether this is drug related to a drug cartel or the question of an inside job, Fredricka. We just don't know at this point. There are no suspects in custody, but fair to say these investigators have plenty of angles to look into as they try to get to the bottom of it.

WHITFIELD: Right, still lots of questions. All right, thanks so much, George Howell. I appreciate that.

All right, we have a developing story out of North Texas now as well. These two prisoners are still on the loose at this hour. The one on the right is being held on a -- on capital murder. His name is Brian Allen Tucker. John Marlin King on the left was being held for evading a theft charge. Well, they escaped from this facility, the Hopkins County Jail.

It is just north -- northeast, rather, of Kaufman County, which is reeling from the recent murders that George was telling us about of the two prosecutors. A jail spokesman says he believes there is no connection between today's escape and those murders in the nearby county.

All right, it has been one controversial answer to a national dilemma. Stop a school shooter by arming school workers. That's one reaction to December's mass killing at a Connecticut elementary school. Well, today, a task force backed by the NRA gave the details on just how to do that. The group called National School Shield offered eight recommendations, among them, a model training program to teach school resource officers how to handle a weapon on campus.

Also recommended, an online self-assessment tool for schools to figure out their vulnerabilities. The group also proposed a pilot program that would not only determine if a student's likely to become a shooter. It would provide mental health services for the troubled student.

The father of James Mattioli, a 6-year-old killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, showed support for what National School Shield hopes to do.


MARK MATTIOLI, FATHER OF VICTIM: I just applaud you for doing this, and I think it is important if you look at what took place in Sandy Hook, mental health is a huge component of that. We need to focus resources, attention, research. That needs a big component of this. We need the kids to be safe.


WHITFIELD: All right, joining me now to talk about the proposals, John Lott, author of "More Guns, Less Crime," and Lily Eskelsen, vice president of the National Education Association.

Lily, let me begin with you. What is your reaction to this National School Shield program?


We need something that, yes, will deal with the mental health issues for so many of our students, but we need -- I will know something is real...


WHITFIELD: What do you mean something real?

ESKELSEN: When you find a way to take the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous people.

This is totally silent on that. And you can't avoid that if you're going to really talk about prevention.

WHITFIELD: You're talking about lawmakers, lawmakers who have to do something to change some of the restrictions in place or lack thereof. You want to see something that has much more sweeping I guess effects to remove certain weapons from the hands of some people, all people?

ESKELSEN: There is two ways to approach this.

And one of the ways is to just ignore the fact that this is happening because people can easily get such incredibly dangerous weapons. And to say we have no plan to actually do anything about that that would prevent it, so our plan is to assume that it is going to happen again, and then we just put more guns in schools so you can shoot the shooter.

We know that something real -- we talked to our National Education Association members, three million people who work in America's colleges, universities, public schools, preschools, and we said, what's the answer? And they said, you have got to get the guns out of those schools. We don't want more guns in schools. I'm a sixth grade teacher. I don't want someone to make me have to read -- teach reading and then be a sharpshooter.

WHITFIELD: And that's exactly what I was going to ask you. As a sixth grade teacher, you're uneasy with the idea of you or any other teachers being taught firearms safety. And it also sounds like you're uneasy with the idea of security personnel, armed security personnel in your school.

ESKELSEN: Columbine had an armed guard. Virginia Tech had a security force.

Fort Hood, Texas, had an Army around that mass shooting. It didn't stop it. It didn't stop it. And,by the way, the military, the generals at Fort Hood didn't say, you know, what we're going to do is put all kinds of armed guards in the commissary, the P.X., the library for the soldiers.

What they're talking about here for schools, I mean, what do you do for the movies that people were killed standing in line in Colorado trying to go to the movies? Gabby Giffords, the mass shooting was in a parking lot for a supermarket.

This is not this is not something that is happening on school grounds. This is happening all over.


All right, so, Lily, a moment now.

John, what is your response to this? You're the author of the book "More Guns, Less Crime," which infers that you would like the idea of more guns in some capacity, whether it be through security measures or the teachers in schools. What do you say to Lily then?

JOHN LOTT, AUTHOR, "MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME": Well, we have tried a lot of the laws that she's talking about.

We had a federal assault weapons ban. We have states -- Connecticut had a very strict assault weapons ban beforehand. Here is the deal. You just look at the cases she just talked about. Every single one of those, with just one exception, in fact, all the multiple victim public shootings in the United States except for two cases since 1950 have all occurred with guns are banned.

The Fort Hood case, soldiers weren't allowed to have guns there. Virginia Tech case, you had one security guard for every 80 acres of land at the school there. The Columbine case, she may not realize this, but the armed security guard that they had there flowed down the attackers by about five minutes. You may remember. I'm sure it seared in lot of people's memory.


WHITFIELD: So, are you saying more -- using that as an example, more would help prevent the taking of more lives?

LOTT: Right. Here's a simple question.

Let's say, God forbid, a violent criminal was stalking you or your family. Would you feel safer putting a sign in front of your home that said your home was a gun free zone? Would that stop them from doing that? I don't think you would do that. I don't know anybody who would put a sign like that in front of their home.

And yet even though nobody would put a sign like that in front of their own home, somehow we want to go and put signs like that in front of all sorts of other areas. We understand if you put a sign like that in front of your own home, that would attract the person to attack there. The Connecticut case -- can I say just one thing quickly?


LOTT: Can I say one thing quickly?


LOTT: We know now that in the Connecticut case this guy attacked the school because he thought he could get a lot of victims. He had a chart that was seven feet by four feet where he listed the number of people killed in past multiple victim public shootings in the media coverage that he would get -- that they got.

He attacked this place precisely so he could kill people to get media coverage.


WHITFIELD: How about this? Lily, John, both of you clearly want children to be safer in schools.

LOTT: Right.

WHITFIELD: That is the common ground. But clearly the complicating factor is, how do you do that? And it sounds as though, I mean, this is no overnight fix. Obviously, that's why we're talking about it today. But are either one of you in any way, shape or form comforted by what you heard today in terms of any movement or any proposed idea? Yes or no?

ESKELSEN: There is no comfort in something where you're desperate for a real solution, something that is not just a bait and switch or to get people not to see how important it is that we deal with the fact that we are selling such deadly weapons and letting anybody really have one.


WHITFIELD: All right.

LOTT: In Connecticut, this guy was planning it for two years in advance. Time after time, you see these multiple victim public shootings, people planning years in event.

Europe, Germany has all sorts of those types of laws that she's talking about and yet they had -- they had two of the worst public school shootings in the world have occurred in Germany.

WHITFIELD: All right, John Lott.


LOTT: Two of the three worst have occurred in Germany.

WHITFIELD: Thanks to both of you for joining us. We appreciate it.

All right, and this just in, breaking news now, you heard earlier during the Jodi Arias trial, a motion was being made to have this declared a mistrial because juror number five had apparently spoken about the case to other jurors and the defense said this is a recipe for disaster here, mistrial. The judge has weighed in on this, that motion dismissed.

However, juror number five has been dismissed. But the case goes on.

We will, of course, be joined by our reporters there on the team momentarily as we get more information on this case. So the Jodi Arias trial does move on. However, one of the jurors has been dismissed.

All right, the other big case we're following for you, child molestation, drug addiction, manslaughter, all of that, some of the ugly topics that could be fair game in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, which just began in Los Angeles today. At stake, billions of dollars for AEG Live. Jackson's mother and kids claim the pop star's last concert promoter is responsible for his passing.

The family alleges AEG hired and supervised his former doctor, Conrad Murray, who gave Jackson the powerful drugs to induce sleep and prepare him for a series of concerts. AEG live says none of that is true and Michael Jackson, himself, is the only one to blame for his passing. That will be their defense.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is outside the courthouse for us now in Los Angeles.

But first the big hurdle of selecting a juror and -- a jury and that is going to be very complicated here, right, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is not going to be an easy process at all. This is the juror questionnaire. It's 29 pages long, and 25 of the pages alone are -- relate to Michael Jackson.

They have to go through 35 jurors at a time to either figure out whether they can even spend the two to three months this trial is going to take. They're going to need a pool of about 100 jurors, they believe, that can actually spend that time and then they will whittle them down to the 12 jurors and the five alternates. Probably beginning next Wednesday, they will start to actually question them.

Right now they're just going through the bulk, with 35 jurors at a time, trying to figure out whether they can actually do this sort of stuff. The questions here are everything. You know, what is your opinion of Michael Jackson? What is your opinion of prescription drugs, do you know anybody that has been addicted to prescription drugs, do you have a -- what do you think about celebrities? It's such a wide-ranging number of questions.

It's also very clear that a lot of the evidence in this case is going to relate to Michael Jackson's past history, because many of the questions in this questionnaire relate specifically to that.

WHITFIELD: And so, Miguel, while we know there is a trail by way of e-mail that talks about whether AEG is promising Michael Jackson what he wants by way of having Dr. Conrad Murray, there was no contrast, or is there? Isn't that at the core of this case, the agreement or lack thereof?


MARQUEZ: Yes, exactly. This is -- look, there was a contract. Dr. Murray signed it. AEG and Michael did not. But there was a contract. There was drafts.

AEG's claim is that Michael Jackson brought in Conrad Murray. He was known to him long before they cooked up this idea of doing the This Is It tour. And Michael Jackson's family saying, no, you guys hired him, you were paying him, he was your responsibility, we have inside e-mails to prove it. And, you know, let's go to court.

WHITFIELD: All right, Miguel Marquez, thanks so much from Los Angeles. We will check back with you as the case continues to unfold.

All right, so Conrad Murray, well, he is telling his side of the story in his first television interview from jail. It is an Anderson Cooper exclusive tonight, 8:00 eastern time, right here on CNN.

All right, straight ahead, North Korea raises the stakes. That video playing out on North Korea's state-run television showing troops opening fire on symbols of both the U.S. and South Korea.


WHITFIELD: South Korea is on alert and the U.N. is on edge as North Korea steps up its nuclear threat. The isolated country says work is under way to rebuild a mothballed nuclear reactor, seen here being destroyed back in 2008, a facility able to produce bomb-grade plutonium.

We have heard North Korea declare its nuclear weapons a national treasure, but despite North Korea's hopes of establishing itself as a nuclear state, and today's threats to revive the nuclear cooling tower, the U.S. doesn't seem to be buying it.


VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: As National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said, I think less than a month ago at the Asia Society, the United States will not accept the DPRK as a nuclear state.

QUESTION: You do understand the concept of the news cycle, so if something is said today...


NULAND: Our position has not changed since National Security Adviser Donilon stated it quite emphatically a month ago.

There is a long way to go between a stated intention and actually being able to pull it off with all that that would entail, but, you know, were they to be able to put themselves back into a position to use the facility, that would obviously be extremely alarming. But, as I said, it is a long way from here.


WHITFIELD: These words seemingly in conflict with the U.S. Navy's actions sending the USS John McCain, a guided missile cruiser to the Korean Peninsula.

Although there have been no new threats against the U.S. today, as Kyung Lah reports, U.S. soldiers are still in North Korea's sights.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The message is clear. North Korean soldiers firing on a paper target with the words "USA" on the helmet. A live fire drill that aired on state TV vowed to show its enemies, the United States and South Korea, that it was ready to fight, showing off the military's skill with weaponry and the nation's top athletes running through physical drills with ease.

The hermit kingdom releasing this video just days after it declared it was in a state of war. This is not the first time North Korea has aired this sort of military readiness video. In March of last year, it pledged a -- quote -- "sacred war" against South Korea. State video showed soldiers unleashing dogs in the snow, attacking an effigy of then South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.

A train is shown running over a cutout of the president. State TV also showed the military using rocket launchers to blow up an effigy of the then president, who they called the leader of the -- quote -- "puppet nation of traitors." But what is unusual about this latest video is the rare show of firing on a U.S. target, even if it is just paper.

The Pentagon says it remains unconcerned about what North Korea says. The U.S. cares what it does.

GEORGE LITTLE, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: We haven't seen any kind of troop movements on the North Korean side that would indicate imminent military action. So we think that things may be dialing down just a bit on the Korean Peninsula. At least we hope so.

LAH: South Korea responded to North Korea's days of threats with a warning of its own. South Korea's president announced any provocation by North Korea against her country would result in a strong response and initial combat, essentially lowering the military's barriers to respond immediately to a North Korean attack.

(on camera): The big concern here on the peninsula is miscalculation, that in this heated environment, there could be a mistake, either from the North or the South, and then this region could trip into conflict.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Seoul.


WHITFIELD: Teachers, principals and other educators of Atlanta Public Schools reporting to jail today to face charges in a massive cheating scandal. Up next, find out how these teachers allegedly scammed the system and their schools.


WHITFIELD: All right, today is the deadline for dozens of former Atlanta schoolteachers, principals and administrators caught up in a cheating scandal to turn themselves in.

So far, at least five of the 35 defendants have surrendered to police. The defendants include former Atlanta Public School Superintendent Beverly Hall. Among other things, they're accused of racketeering and making false statements. Prosecutors say they changed test scores or helped students cheat. Performance bonuses were based on improved scores.

One of defendants who surrendered was Tameka Goodson, a former improvement specialist. Her lawyer said she's not guilty.


RAYMOND LAIL, ATTORNEY: This is the closest she's ever been to a jail in her life. She has been an educator since she graduated from college and has been an educator for about 20 years now. So it's very unfortunate. She's absolutely not guilty of these charges and we look forward to going forward with this case.


WHITFIELD: Goodson's bond is $200,000.

Up next, news on everyone and everything. She's a supermodel and now Heidi Klum, call her Wonder Woman. Hear how her quick action on vacation helped save her son's life.

Plus, ka-ching, his team went from relatively unknown to the darlings of the NCAA Tournament -- now a new gig for the coach who put Florida Gulf Coast University on the map.