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Syria: It's a Declaration of War; Tamerlan Burial Plot Remains Elusive

Aired May 5, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

Not in my grave yard. That's the word from several cemeteries to the funeral director who has the body of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Just wait until you hear what he plans to do.

And, you know, it just happened again. Little kids shooting kids. So, how much of the fault lies with the parents, or are companies marketing to children the ones to blame?

Well, we have a winner, right? The most exciting two minutes in sports is over, but the race for the Triple Crown has just begun. Will the three decade drought be broken?

It is Sunday, May 5th. Happy Cinco de Mayo. I'm Christi Paul. Thanks so much for keeping me company here.

Eight o'clock on the East Coast. We're just glad to see you.

Now, I want to tell you, first of all, one of stories that we've really been watching closely, dramatic development in the fighting in Syria overnight. Syria's deputy foreign minister is telling CNN Israel has issued a declaration of war.

Now, look at what you're seeing here. This is new video into CNN that shows the aftermath of that overnight attack.


PAUL: You understand you saw the bomb and then you heard it a few seconds later. It traveled like thunder, it was that big. Huge explosions rocking that Damascus suburb, and this went on for hours, people.

Syria says Israeli rockets hit a government research facility there.

So, I want to bring in CNN's Sara Sidner. She's in Jerusalem right now.

An, Sara, is this seen as a big escalation, that's happening there? SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly inside of Syria it is, and hearing from the deputy foreign minister who spoke to our Fred Pleitgen who's in Damascus. He's saying, look, this is a declaration by the Israelis, this bombing just on the outskirts of Damascus, on a research facility, according to the Syrian regime.

Israel has not commented officially. We haven't heard any comment from the prime minister's office, or the foreign ministry or even the military. What we have heard from officials who have spoken in anonymity, they've said, look, we have been watching weapons movement inside of Syria. We have the capabilities to do that, and we will not let any weapons of mass destruction or any very dangerous conventional weapons, like surface to air missiles end up in the hands of Hezbollah, which is on the other side of the Lebanon border.

Hezbollah considered a terrorist organization by the United States and by Israel, and they exist there, according to Israel, as a proxy for Iran. They know that weapons have been moved around. We've also heard that from U.S. officials that there has been movement of weapons inside of Syria.

You know, this war has been going on, civil war inside Syria for more than two years now. It's had a devastating effect on the people there.

Israel is extremely concerned, as is the U.S. as are some of the chemical weapons, which are believed to be large caches of chemical weapons in bunkers, in depots all across Syria, that those may at some point be used on a mass scale. We had also information from the U.S. and Britain and Israel that they believe that there's chemical weapons have been used in a small scale setting. But a big concern that those are going to end up in the hands of terrorist organizations and be used against different entities, Israel being the closest.

So you're seeing some information coming out from the Syrians that Israel did strike inside of Syria. We also heard just a few days ago from U.S. officials who said there was an initial strike that happened either Thursday night or Friday. We're not sure yet exactly what was struck, but we do understand from U.S. sources that they believe Israel's planes were flying over Lebanon.

The Lebanese have confirmed that, and that they struck from inside Lebanon into Syria, not breaking over Syria's air space, but breaking Lebanon's air space. Lebanon is very unhappy about that as well -- Christi.

PAUL: OK. So, we're talking Syria, Lebanon, Israel -- what does all of this mean for U.S. communications with the West?

SIDNER: Well, we've heard from the president who has talked about the scenario. He was asked directly, was Israel involved in striking inside Syria? He said, look, that's for the Israelis to talk about. That's for Israeli officials to comment on.

What we can say is we give the permission, we back Israel in defending itself and that Israel has the right to defend itself against -- whether it's weapons of mass destruction or very dangerous weapons that are conventional weapons. What we also know from the Israelis is that I was on the border there in the Golan Heights with Syria and also looking over the Lebanese border this past week, and what we understand is there are a lot more troops in place, and there are more tanks, for example, that have been brought up to that area.

We also have heard today that two Iron Dome batteries, that's the anti-missile batteries used, as you might remember, in the Gaza war to knock rockets out of the sky, those have been used on the northern border because the army has assessed they are needed there -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sara Sidner, we're so glad you're able to bring us the very latest there. Thank you so much.

All righty. We want to take you to Boston now because officials are still scrambling to find a final resting place for one of the bombing suspects. Officials at three cemeteries have refused to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev saying they fear a backlash from the public.

Meanwhile, investigators are still pressing Tamerlan's widow as to what she might know about the bombs, which, by the way, were allegedly made in her own home.

CNN's Erin McPike is in Providence, Rhode Island. She's near Katherine Russell's attorney's office.

And I'm wondering how much of her you've seen in the last couple of days.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christie, we saw her yesterday. She was outside in her parents' backyard playing with her young daughter, who's almost 3 now, and one of her friends, and she left her parents at home with a friend for three or four hours yesterday afternoon.

So, we did see quite a bit of her, and we've been seeing her almost every day in the past week. She's been going on a couple of errands. She's also been coming here to her attorney's office, where she's been meeting not only with her attorneys but also with investigators.

In the week before, we didn't see much of her at all. She spent three full days locked up, basically, inside her parents' house. We couldn't see her at all. We have seen more as she's gotten some semblance of normalcy, not a lot of that, of course, when her husband is now dead. But we have seen a bit more of her than we have in the past, Christi.

PAUL: You know, the thing is investigators, we know, did find explosive residue in Katherine and Tamerlan's apartment. So, a lot of people might be thinking, isn't that hard for her to argue she didn't know anything about the bomb plot?

MCPIKE: Christi, from the very beginning, her attorney has maintained she was very busy, that she was raising her young daughter, that she's only 24, and Tamerlan was, of course, 26, and this young couple had a toddler, and she was very busy raising that child. Also, in this young couple, Katherine Russell was the bread winner. She was working 75 to 80 hours a week, so double your typical work week, and outside the home for that entire time while she was in somebody else's home as a home health care aid, and Tamerlan didn't work.

So, the bottom line is she was very busy and gone a lot. So, that's why her attorneys have basically said, of course she wouldn't have known, Christi.

PAUL: Of course, conversations with her and authorities most likely not over at this point. Thank you so much, Erin McPike. We appreciate it.

And I want to tell you the owner of the funeral home that is now holding Tamerlan's body says he will start trying again tomorrow to find a cemetery that will agree to bury the suspected bomber. Peter Stefan spoke yesterday with CNN.


PETER STEFAN, FUNER HOME OWNER (via telephone): They don't want to do it, they won't do it, and I can understand the point of view. But as I said, my view is that we have to do something. We have to bury the person.

And this is what we do in a civilized society regardless of the circumstances. I can't separate the sinner from the sins. I can't pick and choose what I do. In this country, we bury the dead. As I've mentioned many times, we bury the Oswalds, the McVeighs, the Dahmers, the Bundys. This is no different.


PAUL: And we've been asking what you think should happen here. So, tweet me if you will, @Christi_Paul. We've gotten a lot of responses. And they're all very polarized about it.

So, where you do think he should be buried.

Moving on here, five women escaped from a limousine after it caught fire. This happened near San Francisco. But look at the flames that just engulfed this limo.

Four of the survivors, we know, were rushed to the hospital. Five other women in that limo did not escape. They died. Police had to shut down part of the bridge for the investigation, and it's not clear what started that fire just yet.

And still a thing in southern California here, though different area, firefighters are tackling a fast-moving wildfire on the ground and from the air at this point. They're hoping to have it fully surrounded as soon as Monday, but the so-called Spring Fire is nearly 60 percent contained at this point. It's blackened 28,000 acres in Ventura County outside L.A., this roared to life just three days ago on Thursday. Nearby schools were closed as a precaution, and two young brothers say, well, this experience has been a little frightening to say the least.


CALVIN WATERMAN, NEWBURY PARK RESIDENT: It's been kind of scary because we were getting packed up to being ready for evacuation. When we got dismissed from school, there's been ashes coming down, and the sun's all a different color from the pollution. It's been crazy.


PAUL: What an experience for them. Firefighters could get some help from the weather today. We hope that for them.

Winds have calmed down quite a bit. There's a 20 percent chance of rain for later today. So, hope that helps them.

OK. So let's get to the Kentucky Derby. There is a new winner, of course. Halfway through the race, Orb was nearly in last place. Then he came from behind to steal the win at the mud soaked derby, as you know. Now Orb and his jockey, Joel Rosario, going to take a shot at winning the Triple Crown with the Preakness later this month, the Belmont Stakes in June. No horse has won all three races, by the way, since 1978.

It might be time to prepare for another round of gun debates. That's because NRA executive Wayne LaPierre decided to make Boston part of his anti-gun control speech. And a lot of people are talking about that. Stay close.


PAUL: All weekend, the NRA has been hosting its 142nd annual meeting. This is in downtown Houston. And according to estimates, more than 70,000 people have attended the weekend's gun shows, their seminars, their rallies.

Well, yesterday, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre really sparked controversy when he invoked the Boston terror attacks during one of his speeches, asking, and I'm quoting here, how many Bostonians wish they had a gun two weeks ago? Listen to more here.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: How many Bostonians wish they had a gun two weeks ago? No bill in Congress, no Rose Garden speech will ever change that inescapable fact that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


PAUL: Now, LaPierre and Sarah Palin also criticized the Obama administration for, quote, exploiting victims of gun violence. So, speaking about guns and victims, it's hard not to talk about this heart breaking story in Kentucky. Do me a favor. Whatever you do -- take a look at your screen.

That 2-year-old little girl was shot to death by her 5-year-old brother. Of course this was an accident, people. Their mother was at home at the time. She had just stepped outside before the gun went off. You can't imagine what this was like for her.

Here's where most of the controversy lies in a lot of people's conversations. The .22 caliber Crickett rifle belonged to that 5- year-old boy. It was his birthday present.

The family says they kept the rifle in what they considered to be a safe spot. Well, two popular bloggers are joining me now, Trisha Haas and Trudi Roth.

We thank you both for being with us.

So, I know you both have a lot to say about this. But, Tricia, let me start with you.

When you first heard the gun belonged to the 5-year-old, what's your initial thought?

TRISHA HAAS, FOUNDER, MOMDOT.COM: It's shocking. Honestly, to learn that a gun that was marketed to children was used in this horrific accident, it blew my mind. Why are we marketing guns to kids at all?

You know, in a world where we give our kids delusions -- I wouldn't say delusions, but excitements like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, we're going to expect them to turn around and understand the finality of death. It's impossible for them to comprehend.

And in this case with the 5-year-old, when I read the news story was that he really didn't understand what happened. That to me alone reminds me that kids should not be in the hands -- or have an opportunity to get their hands on a weapon.

PAUL: OK. So, Trudi, what about you? What was your initial impression?

TRUDI ROTH, FOUNDER, BITCHINSUBURBIA.COM: I mean, I'm not going to say it's not a terrible story and a horrible tragedy, because it is, but on the other hand, you know, is it the marketers? You know, is it their problem? It is.

But it's also the parents' responsibility. If you're going to bring guns into your home, take care to lock them up and be safe about it. This child got to the gun because it was sitting in the corner next to a bb gun that was his as well.

You know, I don't have guns in my home. I don't support it myself. It's in our world. You know, when 94 percent of people in this country support background checks and the Senate can't get it through, you know, that's an external thing that is saying to America, yes, well, it's a reality.

OK, parents, it's a reality.

PAUL: Let's talk about that marketing real quickly. This was Crickett, as I understand it, the manufacturer, and apparently they do market specifically to a younger audience. They have colorful guns. They have a cartoon mascot.

So, Trish, let me throw that to you. Should there be a marketing age or any limit to how they craft their ads?

HAAS: Absolutely. I mean, think about it. We used to market cigarettes to children. We took that stuff away. You know, the candy cigarettes and the ads that target kids.

Why is this any different? This is a weapon. You not only can kill, obviously, in this case, a family member, but you can kill anybody. What if this was a child that walked into this house that didn't belong to this family, and they see this pink gun or blue gun. At what point do we draw the line?


HAAS: They look like weapons.

PAUL: Trudi, let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Therefore guns should like weapons

Let me ask you this, we should You have to get a license to drive. You have to get a license o fish. Should there be training for anybody of any age who wants a gun as purchased?

ROTH: Of course. Let's get clear. The little boy didn't own the gun. Mommy and daddy owned the gun. You have to be either 18 or 21 to own a gun.

So it's their gun. I don't care what it looks like. It is their gun. It is their responsibility. And that's -- that's a non- negotiable.

And marketers are going to do what marketers do. I am a marketing professional. I have been for 20 years. And you know what --


PAUL: Yes, as a marketer, do you feel any responsibility for a situation like this in the way that Crickett marketed.

ROTH: This is a very loaded question, pun intended. Of course, they bear some responsibility, but are they ultimately responsible? I mean, I made a decision when my children were young not to have guns in my house.

And by guns, I don't mean ones that shoot and kill, I mean plastic toy guns. I didn't like it. It's not a message that I want to share with my children. So I didn't. There were no guns in my house.

Even a super soaker gun from Nerf that's fun and exciting for kids, wasn't in my house. That wasn't part of our world. Marketers can market all they want. It's really the parental responsibility to say, I have a gun in my house. It might be cute. It might be pink, which is insane -- they may not say that part. I say that part.

PAUL: Right. You say that part.

ROTH: But it should be locked up.

PAUL: Yes, Trisha Haas and Trudi Ross, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

HAAS: Thank you.

ROTH: Thanks.

PAUL: Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on this, our thoughts are with this family. This is a really awful story that certainly brings to light a conversation that needs to be had. Thank you very much, ladies. Appreciate it.

A teenager have you see this, surfing off coast of Florida almost becomes lunch for a stealthy shark. You know what Michael Alder has to say about his close encounter.


PAUL: Good morning.

I want to tell you about the mom who resurfaced this week after vanishing 11 years ago in Pennsylvania. She is now in jail in Florida. Brenda Heist turned himself in on Friday. She's accused of violating probation, forgery, and giving a false name to police. Obviously, that's the latter picture of her on the right. That's her mugshot.

Heist walked into police last week and said, look, I'm a missing person. She said she left her husband, life, and daughter back in 2002 because she was stressed. A woman who knew Heist as Kelsey Smith spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper.


SONDRA FORRESTER (via telephone): When I did ask, she made it clear that she never had kids and didn't want any. She told me she had a miscarriage, but I don't believe -- I don't remember what she said. She either got her tubes tied or something like that.

But she made it clear she didn't have any kids, never wanted any children, that her mother had died at a very early -- she grew up without a mother and that she was a widow. She said she'd been married for like 20 years.


PAUL: Heist's daughter and husband, by the way, say they have no interest in seeing her now.

A Florida teenager is recovering, thankfully, after a shark tried to take a bite out of his leg. It happened along the Atlantic coast near Melbourne beach specifically. Sixteen-year-old Michael alder and his friends didn't notice any trouble in the water although black tipped sharks we should say have been spotted in that area recently.

He told CNN affiliate central Florida News 13 about that attack that left 20 teeth marks in his foot.


MICHAEL ADLER, SHARK BITE SURVIVOR: But I wasn't in that much pain at all. I thought it was like pretty cool that I just got bit by a shark because it hasn't really happened to too many people.


PAUL: It's a good story because he's OK and thankful for that.

A declaration of war. Now, Syria is vowing revenge after huge explosions rocked a Damascus suburb. We've got dramatic new video for you next.


PAUL: Mortgage rates at a record low this week. Take a look.


PAUL: Hey, up now, and we've been waiting for you. Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Christi Paul. So grateful for your company.

Bottom of the hour right now and here's some of the stories that we're watching for you.


PAUL: That's just one of the huge explosions that rocked the suburb and the Syrian capital overnight. Syria says Israeli rockets targeted a military research facility. Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister tells CNN Israel has basically issued a declaration of war. He says Damascus will retaliate in its own time, in its own way.

Now there is no official comment from Israel by the way but it has indicated that it will do what it thinks is necessary to stop the flow of weapons from Syria to anti-Israeli Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. Ok let's get you to southern California because firefighters hope to have that massive wildfire fully surrounded by tomorrow. The so- called spring fire is nearly 60 percent contained now. And helping fire crews are these calmer winds and cooler temperatures. Rain is also forecast for later today so we certainly hope that for them.

You know well-wishers have been flocking to Boston's Copley Square since it reopened more than a week after the marathon bombing. And CNN National correspondent Susan Candiotti was there. And she ran into a very special visitor. Take a look at this.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): For the second weekend in a row, as people pour into Copley Plaza to pay their respects to those who lost their lives and to those whose lives are changed forever by the bombing, someone we didn't expect to see, Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a professional dancer who lost part of her leg in the bombing. For the first time in 18 days after leaving the rehab hospital she and her mother were outside and came upon this memorial.

ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, BOMBING SUVIVOR: We were just out walking around and doing some errands and just trying to kind of find some sort of normalcy and we just -- we just happened upon it so --

CANDIOTTI: What did you think of what you saw?

HASLET-DAVIS: The outpouring of support I've already known before seeing the memorial was -- was huge but after seeing the memorial and seeing people there and just paying their respects and hearing people tell me that -- that I was an inspiration, that everyone, all of the victims were an inspiration, I know that I wish that the other people that are still in recovery could be here right now seeing it with me. They deserve to see it so.

CANDIOTTI: Did anything in particular stand out in your mind as you looked at the mementos that people have left behind and the signatures?

HASLET-DAVIS: You know, I think it's just -- it isn't one in particular. I think it's just the amount of people that really stands out. The amount of people that have -- had an outpouring of support and -- and love and just encouragement all around. It was really stood out to me.

CANDIOTTI: One thing that stood out to me is how many people came up to you and wanted to be photographed with you and wanted to congratulate you and touch your hand.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes, yes, they did.

CANDIOTTI: Tell me about that.

HASLET-DAVIS: I think it's -- it's very sweet, first of all, that they -- they would want to give me their support but I think it's also for them it's also important to see that all of us that were affected are moving on and trying to find again some sort of normalcy. And I think it's important for them to be able to see that. And for them to be able to kind of have that knowledge that it goes -- it goes on, life goes on after such a horrible tragedy.

CANDIOTTI: You are an inspiration. Thank you.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.

CANDIOTTI: For those who recognized her, it was a special moment. It was for us too.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Boston.


PAUL: Boy, what a true representation of a survivor too, huh?

And check out this great video from last night's Bruins game. Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman there, he lost both of his legs in the April terror attack, made a surprise appearance to hype up to save the hockey team before their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bauman served as the Bruins honorary banner captain as you can see the black and gold flag he's waving leaves and what else, "Boston Strong." Unfortunately, the Leaves beat the Bruins, but you know they won't focus on that right.

Ok let's take you to Key West. Heavy rains left up to eight inches of floodwater in a lot of places. In fact take a look at this video from an iReport Henry Allen. Henry thank you for send it in. He says the water didn't recede for five hours. And people have a real time -- hard time getting around that island. Even though he says some stores put out sandbags, others were forced to temporarily close because of all that flooding.

And I want to take you back out to the fire in California, thanks to our iReporter Reina Malik she captured this image of the Camarillo fires. Those aren't clouds, people that's smoke. The wildfires burned 28,000 acres. And as I said, they are expecting some rain today.

So let's bring in CNN meteorologist Alexandra Steele at the Severe Weather Center. So gosh we've got flooding on one end of the country, fires on the other end.


PAUL: Give us some relief. Is there any?

STEELE: Yes there's relief on both fronts. So that is the good news and you know it's amazing this is the catalyst for change. This area of low pressure right here in California. It's amazing how the change of weather patterns, so dynamically affecting this fire fight. Now 60 percent contained and of course out of control two days ago courtesy of this area of low pressure. What it's bringing a change in the wind direction, calmer winds, a cool down from 92 degrees; 90s, 20 degrees above average, Thursday and Friday temperatures now in the 60s.

And now a return to this normal, damp, cool water coming off -- this wind coming off the water importing that really marine layer and the moisture laden atmosphere that has made all the difference. So clouds today, rain tonight, chance for showers Monday and Tuesday and temperatures so dramatically changed. So kind of part and parcel to fixing and really quelling this fire are these changes dynamically with the weather. The moisture content, the lower humidity and of course, the rain.

So here's what we're seeing now. There is the West Coast with that. They really need the rain, right? On the East Coast, it is just a flood of rain record rain in places like Atlanta, Georgia dating back to 1916. That's how much rain we saw yesterday.

So here is the radar picture all the way from the Midwest to the southeast Atlanta now catching a break. The next wave of rain poised to move in so another one just three inches expected. But a break in the action there until later this afternoon and tonight. Atlanta almost 3.5 inches. Chattanooga, Nashville, you see all these numbers just off the charts, all record setting for rain for the day.

But it is on the move now. More rain from the southeast making its way into the mid-Atlantic for Washington, for Virginia, bringing potentially up to four inches to five inches plus as we head into Wednesday and Thursday. So, dramatically different conditions across the country -- you know we need the rain desperately on one side and it's just an inundation and onslaught elsewhere.

PAUL: Yes it's hard to believe it's May.

STEELE: I know right.

PAUL: Here in Atlanta thank you so much Alexandria.


PAUL: Everybody take good care, no matter where you are.

STEELE: That's right.

PAUL: Coming up, find out how four words in support of another athlete in a tweet caused a former Green Bay Packer an invitation and more than $8,000.


PAUL: For today's "Faces of Faith", we're talking about Twitter, bullying, and Christianity because this week one tweet cost former Green Bay Packer Leroy Butler more than $8,000. Now here is the thing he was supposed to be a paid guest speaker at a church in Wisconsin about his book on bullying. So that $8,000 (inaudible) to speak. Then he sends this tweet saying, quote "Congrats to Jason Collins" unquote. Now, remember, Collins just came out as the first openly gay athlete currently in a major pro sport. Now Butler explained to CNN's Anderson Cooper the pastor cancelled his appearance because he seemed to support homosexuality.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": Just to be clear, you weren't going to be speaking to these about Jason Collins. You were actually speaking about bullying.

LEROY BUTLER, FORMER GREEN BAY PACKER'S SAFETY: No, yes, yes. Anderson, it was -- I speak all the time, every summer to churches, organizations. I mean, I do it all the time. And I tell my story, how a single parent home, African American from the projects, going to Florida State and playing for the Green Bay Packers for 12 years, invented the lambeau leap, which was a great story.

I wasn't necessarily going into that because that wasn't part of my story. But when I touch on bullying, you know then that's the problem that they had because they didn't want me to use Jason as a part of the bullying, and I thought, well, that's just crazy to me.

COOPER: There were some provisions, I understand, that the church laid out to you that that they said, if you did such and such --


COOPER: -- you could still come and speak. What did they say that you had to do?

BUTLER: And this is when I got angry because it kind of tests -- it tests you as a man and they basically said this. If you apologize, ask God for forgiveness and remove the tweet, then you will be able to do the speaking engagement with the kids. And I said, well, so basically you're asking me to some 16-year-old kid is somewhere in a closet with his father's gun that he's found and he's thinking about putting it to his head because he's been tormented in school every single day because they may have found out he was gay or they suspect that he's gay. He doesn't have a voice right now. You're asking me to take all that back so he doesn't have a voice.

I won't do that. That's taking my dignity and respect away. I want that young man to come out of the closet, put the gun down, and you a part of society. When did we get to this starting to judge who gets to be a part of what society, it just bothers me.

And I told the pastor, blame it on my mom because my mom brought me up to love everybody.


PAUL: Butler by the way, isn't naming the church because he says, he doesn't want them to be a target for hate mail. For more stories on faith, be sure check out our belief blog at Well, tales of drug abuse, failed intervention, massive debt problems -- and that was just the first week. We're going inside the Michael Jackson death trial with one of the week's star witnesses.


PAUL: Good morning.

Hey, we don't want you heading into the week blindsided. Let's get you informed here. First of all, on Monday, help may be coming soon to the Boston bombing victims. They're expecting to hear how that $28 million fund is going to plan to distribute money, including, quote, "Well over a million to families of victims who died or lost more than one limb." So that's coming up on Monday.

Let's fast forward here to Thursday. Prince Harry is headed to the states for a week. We know he'll be taking a special visit to Hurricane Sandy victims across the country. And his last visit was in May of 2012 -- so about a year ago.

All right.

Also on Thursday, Washington is holding its first Congressional hearing on the Boston bombing. Boston police commissioner Edward Davis, we know, is expected to testify in that.

Let's head to Friday. Lighten it up a little bit. If you are a movie buff, "The Great Gatsby" premieres, the 3-D adaptation, of course, of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby McGuire. And you can just get away from real life with that for a little bit.

Until Sunday, you'd better answer to mom. You cannot forget that. Mother's Day, next Sunday, May 12th -- make sure you are prepared, right?

We do want to focus on the Boston bombing today. Those hearings on Thursday and likely going to look at a lot of unanswered questions in those attacks, including what the U.S. knew about the elder Tsarnaev brother and whether intelligence was missed in that whole thing.

Candy Crowley is in Washington this morning. Candy, I know that you're going to be speaking with representative Peter King about this, this morning. He's on the homeland security committee. What do you want to ask him specifically about that?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": I want to know what he wants to know on the issues mentioned on the intelligence committee. They are privy to a lot of these things. So much over the past two and a half, three weeks has been about, you know, just information kind of coming at you. So when you sort it all out, what holes are you looking at? What is it that you want to plug? What is it that you need to know to make some sort of judgment on how this all works? By this I mean, the homeland security team.

PAUL: I know you're going to be discussing the recent missile strikes in Syria that we've been covering this morning too, right.

CROWLEY: Absolutely, both with Peter King and Senator Dick Durbin, who as you know, is the number two Democrat in the Senate. So Syria, we heard this week, from Chuck Hagel, the new Pentagon chief, that the U.S. directly arming some of the rebels in Syria was something they were considering. It made quite news at the time because we know the President had rejected the advice of some of his advisors who had said, we need to do this some time ago.

But the White House says, look, it's always been on the table but then you take these overnight bombings, presumably from Israel, trying to cut off weapon supply to Hezbollah. And you just get this sense of this tinder box, and the question is what does the U.S. do next?

PAUL: Yes, the pictures are incredible. Candy Crowley, thank you so much, we'll be watching. Stay here for "STATE OF THE UNION with Candy Crowley. It starts at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 a.m. Pacific here on CNN.

Listen, apparently dark secrets are coming out in Michael Jackson's death trial. My next guest says all those details could backfire though for the defense. You're going to hear from attorney Tom Mesereau, who's going to testify on behalf of the Jacksons. That's coming up next.


PAUL: Come on, you know you want to follow that man there, right?

It promises to pack a punch. We're talking about the new "Iron Man 3" now, and apparently it's doing just that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want an empty life or a meaningful death?


PAUL: Oh, yes, action packed. The much anticipated movie raking it in at the box office. The super hero flick starring Robert Downey Jr. pulled in, listen to this, an estimated $68.5 million in North American movie theaters. And that was just for Friday. At that rate, industry experts think, it could pull inasmuch as $175 million by the end of today, people. Good heavens.

Usher is taking a break from the stage. Instead, he's going to head to the big screen. The Grammy award-winning singer and song writer is going to play Sugar Ray Leonard in an upcoming movie. The boxing flick is also going to star Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez.

All right. Week two of the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial begins tomorrow. That's when a coroner's toxicologist apparently is going to testify about the drugs that were found in his body after the autopsy. Jackson's mother and three children -- I just want to remind you here -- are suing AEG Live. They're blaming that concert promoter for the icon's death because it they hired Conrad Murray.

But AEG contend Jackson chose and controlled Murray, not them. Defense attorney and former attorney for Michael Jackson, Tom Mesereau is joining us now. Good morning Mr. Mesereau. So glad to have you with us.


PAUL: Thank you. I know that you're testifying on behalf of the Jackson family expected this week. Why are you on their list? How is that going to help their case?

MESEREAU: I was Michael's lead criminal defense lawyer in his criminal trial in 2005. Nine months before the trial, Michael fired his attorneys in Los Angeles, hired me. I brought in new investigators, new paralegals, new lawyers. We prepared for nine months, we went to trial for five and a half months and acquitted him of every single charge.

The reason I'm on the plaintiff's witness list is that the defense, the concert promoter wants to bring in evidence that he was charged with child molestation. Apparently, they want to do to try and claim that his reputation was damaged and not as valuable as his mother and children claim.

If they do that -- and they've already alluded to the fact that they will in their opening statement -- the plaintiffs want me to come in and testify to what happened in the trial, what the accusations were, and that he was completely vindicated and exonerated. The jury came back not guilty 14 times, 10 felonies and 4 lesser included misdemeanors. It was a clean sweep. And I'm there to defend Michael Jackson.

PAUL: Don't know if that's the only thing, but AEG's attorney warned during the first week they'd hear some ugly stuff about Michael Jackson. What else do you think they might have up their sleeve?

MESEREAU: Oh, I think they're going to claim he was hopelessly drug addicted. They're going to claim he couldn't perform, that he was physically beat up and not doing well in rehearsals. All of this is contradicted by the fact that they entered into a business agreement with him; that they invested $30 million before the concerts even began. Obviously, they believed in him.

And I think all of this is going to backfire because why were they in business with him if they think he was so awful?

PAUL: Well, not only that but just from a legal standpoint and I think we have seen this -- we talked about this in the Jodi Arias case as well, when you attack a victim, you're attacking somebody who's dead. That could certainly come back to haunt them, couldn't it?

MESEREAU: Well, it certainly could, and they're going to be doing it right in front of his three wonderful children, his lovely mother, who's in her 80s. It's a risky strategy, but they're doing it to try and one, see if they can win the case, and if they can't, they want the damage amount to be low. And I think it's risky.

PAUL: What do you think is the strongest element to the family's side of this case?

MESEREAU: Well, I think the strongest element is that apparently one of the co-chief executive officers of the concert promoter AEG had been a manager of Michael in the '90s, knew he had a prescription drug issue because doctors had been describing a lot of it to him after he accidentally burned his hair during a Pepsi commercial, and that they were put on notice that they needed the right type of physician to handle his issues.

And I think the theory is going to be that, yes, maybe Michael Jackson introduced them to Conrad Murray, but they agreed to hire him, they agreed to pay him, they agreed to supervise him. They wanted him to continue administering to Michael Jackson, and they assume responsibilities for Murray, and in the process they assume responsibilities for Michael's death.

PAUL: Tell me, how long do you think this trial is going to last, Tom?

MESEREAU: I think it's going to be a couple of months. There's a huge witness list for the plaintiffs, a huge witness list for the defense. All trials bring unexpected developments, and very often from day to day, attorneys will shift strategies depending on what witnesses say or don't say. I think, when all is said and done, this thing is going to last probably a good eight weeks.

PAUL: Do you think his children will have to testify in any way? How are they holding up, do you know?

MESEREAU: My understanding is they're holding up very well. They're actually in school. I think it would be wise for the plaintiffs to have them testify because I think what their father meant to them and what they lost is a serious issue in the case, and the idea that the defendants would try to put a low value on what these children lost in a loving father is an issue.

PAUL: All right. Tom Mesereau, so good to have you with us today. Thank you for making the time.

MESEREAU: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

PAUL: And thank you. Thank you.

And thank you for making some time for us in your morning. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts right now.