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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
School Shooting in Georgia; Manning Sentenced; Three Teens Charged with Shooting Baseball Player; Woman Convicted of Infanticide May Walk on Technicality
Aired August 21, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A nurse, sentenced to 99 years for purposefully giving a baby a lethal injection and possible killing dozens more, may be about to walk free, and all because of a legal loophole in Texas.
Plus, brand new disturbing video of one of the three Oklahoma teenagers accused of gunning down a college baseball star from Australia. His homeland is up in arms over the senseless crime and the unimaginable motive.
And, if all that talk of the NSA tracking phone calls and e-mail wasn't enough. Just wait until you hear about the network that they used to track our internet activity. Better watch where you click.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And it's Wednesday, August 21st. It's good to have you along for the ride today.
I want to begin with that school shooting in Georgia, an elementary school, an images that without question you just never want to see, children, ages four to 10. running for their lives because there's a gunman discharging an A.K. inside their school.
We are so glad to report that no one was hurt at this time and that the alleged shooter, Michael Brandon Hill, is now behind bars and he is facing multiple charges.
Our David Mattingly is live in Decatur, Georgia. David, what more have you been able to find out about this particular suspect and his background?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, Michael Brandon Hill was actually in trouble with the law before he even came to this elementary school.
Back in March, he was arrested for terroristic threats and acts. And we spoke to the DA in a neighboring county where the arrest actually took place. He said that Hill threatened to kill his brother via a text message.
Well, he was arrested, he was charged, he went before a judge and his sentence was three years probation. He was ordered not to go anywhere near his brother and his family members.
Also, he was told to take anger management classes, and the DA says there's no indication that he ever took any of those classes.
But as far as why he showed up here at this school is still something of a mystery.
We know that he spoke to the two women that he took hostage in the office when he first arrived, and one of those women actually was ordered to make a phone call to a local television station because he wanted to tell that station that he was not afraid to die and that he wanted them here to capture the moment when he killed police officers.
Fortunately, none of that ever happened. He never left the office. He fired about six shots at officers, didn't hit anyone. They returned fire.
No one was hurt and it was actually one of those office employees who convinced him to give himself up without incident and without anyone being harmed here.
BANFIELD: David, tell me about her. I'm hearing her name is Antoinette Tuff and she's an absolute hero.
MATTINGLY: That's right. And this is really remarkable, a tremendous show of bravery by this woman under extreme circumstances.
She convinced this young man to take off his backpack, which we're told had ammunition in it, and to give himself up and to lay down on the floor so that officers could come in and arrest him.
And she had a -- gave some details to ABC and to a local affiliate here. Listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTOINETTE TUFF, SCHOOL BOOKKEEPER: He said that no one loved him. and I told him that I loved him, that it was going to be OK, that we were going to get out safely.
And then I told him if he just go ahead and surrender, since he didn't hurt anyone, that I would stay there with him until they came to get him.
And so I walked through taking everything out of his pocket, taking all of the magazines that he had loaded, all of the additional weapons and everything that he had on him out of the bag and put the bag on the counter along with everything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And just listen to her, how calm, how methodical she was able to talk to him under such duress, Ashleigh.
She is responsible for making sure that miracle happened here today, or yesterday, that everyone got out of here without harm.
BANFIELD: Oh, without question.
David Mattingly, thank you for that report, David Mattingly live for us in Decatur, Georgia.
Now especially since Newtown, schools are on high alert for this very scenario. Most kids are either back in school or headed.
Take a look at this drill. I want to repeat, it's a drill. It's a simulation. It was done by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, New Jersey, just yesterday.
That is just astounding to see that. I'm happy to report a lot of these are actors, but it looks and sounds so real. Listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (Inaudible). Inside the school gymnasium, I'm getting confirmation we have a shooter on the second floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: The actors were playing the roles of anguished parents who were looking for information and looking for their kids.
This drill cost officials $140,000 to actually do, and the Department of Homeland Security paid for it so that police and others know what they are supposed to do in the event of a real shooting, God forbid, a shooting like Newtown.
I want to bring in Jeff Parks, a Homeland Security official and a U.S. Army vet. He recently completed something called threat awareness training for DeKalb County, Georgia schools resource officers and he's got one of the topics that he deals with, which is called "Preparing for an Active Shooter."
Jeff, it's just so timely that I've had a chance to speak with you. Given what happened in Georgia just yesterday, you must have been pretty surprised to see those aerial shots and those kids running for their lives.
Did they do from your assessment looking at these shots -- did they everything that they were supposed to do?
JEFF PARKS, HOMELAND SECURITY PROFESSIONAL (via telephone): Ashleigh, thanks for having me, and I think they did an outstanding job, and that young lady, while I didn't deal with the faculty themselves, but the school security resource officers, did an outstanding job of keeping calm and keeping this guy focused on her and allowing others to safeguard the kids.
To answer your question, you know, of course, from the media coverage, it looked like they were working on doing everything as best they could. There are always things that I think we could do better, but I have talked to DeKalb County school resource officers and the police department and just a great success.
BANFIELD: So, Jeff, I wanted to ask you about the woman, Antoinette Parks. Our David Mattingly just reported on her real heroics in dealing with this alleged shooter, basically talking him down and telling her own personal stories, all in the face of this young man allegedly holding an AK-47.
Is that the right thing for school officials to do? Should they engage a shooter?
PARKS (via telephone): Well, like so many things when you're dealing with a threat to life and to people, you know, it's very situational- dependent.
What she did do, in my opinion, that was outstanding, again, was keeping calm, keeping him focused and, by talking to him and engaging him, she didn't have much choice from the local report, of course.
I mean, she could have done the wrong thing, but she had him face-to- face, so they were already engaged, talking to him, keeping him calm, her staying calm and keeping him away from the kids and hopefully alerting the administration that they did have an active shooter scenario in place.
BANFIELD: Jeff Parks, it's really good of you to join us. Thank you.
And also thank you for the work that you're doing. I think there are a lot of teachers who could really benefit from your information and your guidance.
Jeff Parks, joining us live, thanks.
And, by the way, coming up at 3:00 Eastern hour here on CNN, we're going to speak with the police chief, live, about the school shooting, get the latest details on just exactly what happened in that incident yesterday.
This just in, Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison and also given a dishonorable discharge. The United States soldier leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.
He's be credited for the roughly three-and-a-half years that he's already served. According to the military, Manning is required to serve one-third of that sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.
And coming up later, I'm going to speak with the attorney for Julian Assange, the founder for Wikileaks, over what he thinks of this sentence, given that Wikileaks was the beneficiary of all of his crimes.
We were anxiously awaiting, will he or won't he testify? Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead, is defending himself in court.
But when it came time for him to present a case, he said, no, thanks. He didn't even call a witness, not even himself, which would have been odd, questioning himself on the stand.
It didn't happen, and closing arguments are expected to begin tomorrow at 9:00 in the morning. If he's convicted, he does face a possible death sentence.
Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, could soon be out from behind those cages, a free man. State media is reporting than an Egyptian court has ordered him to be released from prison.
He was convicted for not preventing the slaughter of protesters during that uprising that ousted him from office in 2011. He was sentenced to life in prison, but a court accepted his appeal for retrial earlier this year.
Why isn't he being held pending retrial? A law there is not allowing it.
Got some new information from an autopsy report on war correspondent Michael Hastings who died in a car accident back in June. The 33-year- old was likely killed within seconds when his Mercedes slammed into a tree in Los Angeles.
He may have been using marijuana to treat PTSD before his death, according to the autopsy, but the coroner says that it's unlikely that it was a factor in the deadly accident.
Got some new video just discovered of one of the young men accused of being a killer in a college baseball slaying. Look at these pictures.
That baseball player was just out for a jog and ended up dead. This is 15-year-old James Edwards, Jr., and what he's doing is remarkable, given that he's just been charged with a chilling first-degree murder. Got more details, coming up.
BANFIELD: This story is sending shock waves across the United States and all the way around the world in Australia.
A talented Australian baseball player living his dream here in the U.S., instead dead, shot in the back while out for a jog.
The suspects? Three teenagers, 15-year-old James Edwards, 16-year-old Chancey Luna and 17-year-old Michael Jones.
And the motive the police say the teenagers told them? Simply that they were bored.
Shocking new video as well from the social media, Vine, shows Edwards, the youngest, the 15-year-old, laughing and showing off a rifle.
Here is CNN's Alina Machado. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): There's a young man. He's just fell over in the ditch and he's got blood on him.
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A frantic call for help by a woman who saw Chris Lane moments after he was gunned down during an afternoon job.
DISPATCHER (via telephone): Is he breathing? Is he is conscious? Is he talking to you at all? What's he doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): He's not conscious. Is he still breathing? Barely.
MACHADO: Police in Oklahoma say the 23-year-old East Central University student from Australia was the victim of three teens on a mission to kill.
DANNY FORD, DUNCAN, OKLAHOMA, POLICE: It was in the second interview of the 17-year-old. He was asked why they did it, and he basically said, we were bored. We didn't have anything to do and we decided to somebody. He was our target.
MACHADO: Fifteen-year-old James Edwards, Jr., and 16-year-old Chancey Luna are charged as adults with first-degree felony murder.
Seventeen-year-old Michael Jones is accused of being an accessory to the crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to ensure that we see these three thugs pay for what they did to Christopher Lane.
MACHADO: The father of one of the accused says he's also suffered a loss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Families in Australia are hurting. I'm hurting the same way. I don't cry on the outside. I'm crying right here from the heart right now.
MACHADO: Lane's college baseball coach described him as kindhearted with a magnetic personality.
The murder has sparked outrage in Australia where former deputy prime minister, Tim Fisher, released a statement cautioning Australians about going to America.
He says, in part, "Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice. I am deeply angry about this, not just because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers, but it's a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA."
Alina Machado, CNN.
BANFIELD: Just a distressing story, joining me now is Danny Cevallos, defense attorney and newly named CNN legal analyst.
So, Danny, I want to talk to you about the circumstances in this story. Had we not been talking about a 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old triumvirate, this is without question a death penalty-eligible crime, isn't it?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. As you know, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2005 executions for juveniles who committed their crime while juveniles. But they will be charged with first-degree murder as adults. There's no question about that. They won't get any protection under the juvenile justice code nor will they be charged as youthful offenders in Oklahoma. They will be tried as adults.
The only question at this point, the only question mark is why the driver, Jones, has only been charged with accessory after the fact. What you're going to see in the defense of these three individuals is that each of them is going to start playing hot potato and that hot potato is the trigger man. Who pulled the trigger? And you better believe that initially the statements they all gave statements that said I didn't do it.
BANFIELD: So if you could just quickly tell me, if you find -- if a jury finds -- if it ever gets to a jury -- that there is a guilt in the case of the murder, what is the maximum that a 17-year-old charged as an adult and a 16-year-old charged as an adult can face and then what's the maximum for the 17-year-old just charged with accessory?
CEVALLOS: Okay. So for the two charged with first-degree murder, they are facing life. For the 17-year-old -- and it's interesting because Oklahoma has very big differences between age 15, 16, and 17. But this 17-year-old, as he's only charged with accessory right now, his max is half of the maximum you could get for -- that would ever underlying felony that he helped with. What does that translate to based on his prior record score, only a judge or a jury will ultimately decide.
BANFIELD: Wow, but a lot more than I thought; just as an accessory he can face a significant amount of time. Danny, thank you for that. We'll continue to watch and see what transpires in those hearings that are undoubtedly set to continue. Danny Cevallos live for us.
A nurse who killed an infant and possibly murdered dozens of others could soon walk out of prison free unless other charges are brought up against her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's not getting out. She's not going to get out. If my son has to be exhumed to prove that she murdered him, then that's the step we'll take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: One mother's promise to keep a woman branded the angel of death, Genene Jones, behind bars for life. Randi Kaye has the story of the killer nurse coming up next.
BANFIELD: She is suspected of killing as many as 46 children. In 1984 Genene Jones was convicted and sentenced to 99 years for the murder of a 15-month-old. She got a whole bunch of extra years just to make sure she'd stay behind bars, But after serving just a third of her sentence, this former Texas nurse may soon be a free woman to walk amongst you and me and everyone else and all because of a loophole in the law. And needless to say, victims' families are furious about this. Here is Randi Kaye on the effort to keep her locked up for good.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Back in 1982, Chelsea McClellan, just 15 months old, needed immunizations. It was routine stuff. Chelsea's mother, Petti, took her to the local clinic in Kerrville, Texas. But what happened next was anything but routine. That's because Genene Jones was the nurse on duty at the clinic. Chelsea's mom remembers what happened next, when all hell broke loose.
PETTI MCCLELLAN-WIESE, DAUGHTER KILLED BY NURSE: She gave her her first shot in her left thigh and she immediately started gasping for air, turned around and gave her another one and she immediately just went limp and quit breathing.
KAYE: In the chaos of rushing Chelsea from the clinic to the hospital, Genene Jones somehow slipped into the ambulance and gave the little girl a third shot. Petti would later learn that the nurse had injected her daughter with a drug called succinylcholine which causes muscle relaxation and short-term paralysis. It stopped Chelsea's heart. Two years later in 1984, Jones was convicted of infanticide and sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing Chelsea. Plus, 60 years for injuring another child who had survived. To this day, she still says she did nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss Jones, do you have any reaction at all?
GENENE JONES, CONVICTED OF MURDER: Leave me alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have anything to say?
JONES: Leave me alone.
KAYE: For Chelsea's parents, the verdict was bittersweet. Their daughter was gone, but her killer would spend the rest of her life behind bars. At least that's what they thought.
It turns out, Genene Jones is scheduled to walk free.
Jones will be automatically released because of an old Texas law designed to prevent prison overcrowding. The mandatory release law allows inmates convicted of violent crimes between 1977 and 1987 to be automatically released if their good behavior credit plus timed served equals their sentence. The law was changed in 1987 to exclude violent criminals, but it isn't retroactive.
It's now a game of beat the clock. Chelsea's mother and Andy Kahn (ph), a victim's advocate for the city of Houston, are desperately trying to find other mother's whose babies may have been killed by Genene Jones.
A new conviction could keep her locked up. Otherwise, Kahn believes, she'll be the first serial killer ever to walk free.
ANDY KAHAN, VICTIM;S ADVOCATE, CITY OF HOUSTON: In reality, she would have served less than one year for every infant she has credited with murdering. It's unheard of and it's never happened before in our country's history.
KAYE: Sadly, there's reason to believe that other victims exist. When Jones worked at Bexar Hospital in San Antonio between 1978 and 1982, her shift became known as the death shift because so many babies were mysteriously dying. Cheri Pendergraft worked alongside her.
CHERI PENDERGRAFT, GENENE JONES PAST CO-WORKER: The death rate was higher than it had been in previous months and previous years as I went back. So we started to question, why is that happening? And I also noticed that it tended to concentrate more on the 3:00 to 11:00 shift which was the shift that Genene was working mostly.
KAYE: Genene Jones was suspected of killing as many as 46 babies but was only charged in the death of Chelsea McClellan. Kahan's job is only complicated by the fact that many of the victims' records were either destroyed or disappeared, but so far two mothers have reached out to him. Marina Rodriguez lost her son in 1981 after she says Genene Jones gave him a shot at a San Antonio clinic. At just 5 months old, he had a heart attack and died.
MARINA RODRIGUEZ, BELIEVES JONES KILLED HER SON: All of a sudden he turned blue and I heard code blue and then, you know, of course they put me to the side because I'm a young mommy and I'm freaking out.
KAYE: Back then, Marina was just 15, too young to afford a lawyer. Her parents were migrant farmers. Marina couldn't even read.
How would you feel if she got out?
RODRIGUEZ: She's not getting out. She's not going to get out. If my son has to be exhumed to prove that she murdered him, then that's the step we'll take. They are not dealing with a little girl anymore. This is a woman now.
KAYE: Marina Rodriguez and the other family's are Petti McClellan- Wiese's only hope.
MCCLELLAN-WIESE: 30 years in prison is not justice for Chelsea.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Houston
(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: That's great reporting by Randi Kaye. How likely is it that that nurse, Genene Jones, will ever walk again? I want to bring in defense attorney and also former prosecutor Randy Zelin and as well defense attorney and good friend, old friend, Midwin Charles. Nice to see you both. Tank you.
Randy, as a former prosecutor, does it boil your blood when you hear about stories like this, where a loophole allows a person who had a 99 year sentence, plus an extra 60 for good measure for the injury of someone else, to walk free after, oh I don't know, 30-ish?
RANDY ZELIN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Unfortunately, blood boiling really doesn't have any place here. There is a law. Whether we like the law or we don't, there is a law on the books that says because of jail overcrowding between, I believe it was 1977 and 1987 in Texas, prisoners are eligible for release.
This woman is eligible for release. If we don't like it, we either change the law and the law was changed but it's not retroactive to her or we look at why the jails are overcrowded to begin with, because this is just a symptom of the problem. The problem is, we have too many people, and not enough jails and this is the result.
BANFIELD: So Midwin, you would think, then, that any kind of revision would look at making things retroactive for violent offenders. Maybe not for drug offenders. We've been talking about that in the federal system with Eric Holder's recent moves but what about this: can you make something, today, retroactive, or do they have to go the additional prosecution route. Meaning, find another victim, because there's no status of limitations on murder, and prosecute her all over again?
MIDWIN CHARLES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you can find another victim. As you said, there's no statute of limitations on murder but you have to prove that case. So simply just because you charge her for murder, you still have to find witnesses from the 80's. You still have to find evidence from the 80s. So who is to say whether or not you could secure a conviction. Prison overcrowding truly is a huge issue in this country. Each year, Ashleigh, we admit 600,000 people into state and federal prisons. So, Randy's correct when he says that this is just a symptom. This is a huge, huge problem. We've got to find a way to deal with it.
BANFIELD: It's a nice wake-up call when you think about a woman like this getting out. So, another quick question, and it has to do with dealing with an additional prosecution. If that's the only route to keep her behind bars, there are plenty of people who want to come forward and help out. One of them is Rodriguez wants to exhume her own baby to find out if her baby is a victim of this woman. But memories are corroded, evidence is corroded, and you know how hard it is to do this. So, what are the odds that you can get a conviction 30 years later?
ZELIN: Look, it's happened. And with the advent of the technology that prosecutors and law enforcement has, we have DNA, we have all kinds of investigative tools. So the reality is -- and let's be practical. All you do -- all you need here is enough evidence. What we call reasonable cause. More likely than not to get an arrest warrant, to get an indictment, you hold this woman, you keep her behind bars, and you put your case together. So if the goal is to keep her in, you can keep her in.
BANFIELD: Real quickly, the fact that her shift was called the death shift between 1978 and 1982, is that evidence or is that anecdotal?
ZELIN: It's so hard to say in a vacuum whether or not that evidence will be permitted. Remember we don't ever want to convict someone on evidence that doesn't directly tie to the crime (ph), and certainly we don't want to convict someone by a propensity. So to say in a vacuum, is it going to come in? It's way too early to tell, but remember signature crimes, that can come in to evidence.
BANFIELD: And other people were working that shift.
ZELIN: There were.
BANFIELD: All right, you two, stand by. I have a lot more to attack. Thank you, Randy Zelin and Midwin Charles. It's like a court TV reunion.
Hannah Anderson, you know her as the California teenager who was kidnapped by a family friend, and now her abductor's family wants her DNA. This is a very strange twist. And guess what. A few other details, may be even stranger. Coming up next.