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Nidal Hasan Jury Begins Sentencing Deliberations; 2 More Whistleblowers Against Charity; Mother of Dead Infant Attacked on Witness Stand; DiMaggio's Sister Speaks Out

Aired August 28, 2013 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Our Ed Lavandera has been following the trial. He's live at Ft. Hood.

Where are we standing right now? Are they getting towards the very final words?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are just moments away from the jury beginning the deliberation process in Nidal Hasan's sentencing. Closing arguments have wrapped up. Prosecutors spent about 45 minutes speaking with the jury this morning. Nidal Hasan chose not to say anything.

There's a lot of questions. We've talked a lot over the last few weeks about how Nidal Hasan wants to be seen as a martyr and the prosecutor ended their statement to the jury addressing that point, saying, quote, He is not giving his life, we are taking his life. He will never be a martyr because he has nothing to give. He is a criminal, a cold-blooded murderer."

But for most of those 45 minutes, Ashleigh, prosecutors spent snapshots of each individual victim killed, going through all 13 of them, talking about their families, the struggles that their loved ones have been through. Incredibly powerful testimony and incredible descriptions of what these families have been through and the lives that were taken here, and every story ended with the image -- and the prosecutor talking about the image of two uniformed soldiers walking up to the homes of their loved ones to deliver the news that their loved ones had been killed here at Ft. Hood. That's how it ended here and that's what the jury is going to take into the deliberation room -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: I kept waiting for the allegation that he was not in defense of others and say, no, no, I did this to defend the Taliban but nothing yet.

Ed Lavandera, thank you for that.

So what plays out next? What happens today?

Let's bring back in Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst.

When a jury goes back into the deliberation room, they kind of can do whatever they want.


BANFIELD: And that means, if there were ever a case for a death penalty, this would be one but they may feel otherwise. Explain that.

TOOBIN: Yes. This case has been a form of attempted slow-motion suicide by Nidal. He has been basically baiting the American legal system to execute me so that he can be a martyr. So you could see, in theory, a jury saying, oh, you want to be a martyr? We're just going to make you sit in prison for the rest of your life and deny you even that.

BANFIELD: This is from the gut. This is what the instructions would tell them.

TOOBIN: Yes. But I don't think that's going to happen.


TOOBIN: I think that's a little too clever by half. This is a jury being given -- remember, this is military officers, a court-martial these are people used to following directives.

BANFIELD: They are smart.

TOOBIN: They are smart. They're better educated than the average jury.

BANFIELD: That's why I asked you.

TOOBIN: They are going to look at this and say, this is a death penalty case.

BANFIELD: This is a man --


TOOBIN: If he wants to call himself a martyr, help yourself. But we're going to execute you.

BANFIELD: We're going to have to disagree on this because he's sitting in a wheelchair. He'll be a paraplegic for the rest of your life. There's maybe one thing worse than being in prison the rest of your life and that's being a paraplegic in prison for the rest of your life. You don't think the 13-member panel knows that?

TOOBIN: Given the magnitude of these crimes, given the jury instructions in order to what you need to find to find the death penalty, it's all there. If he wants to see himself as a martyr, fine. But I think they will view their job as following the jury instructions and giving him the death penalty. Now, whether it's actually carried out is a very separate question.

BANFIELD: The president has to sign this, doesn't he?

TOOBIN: The president has to sign it. I don't think that's a barrier. I don't think any president, Barack Obama or his successor, will have a problem but it hasn't been since 1961 that there was a military execution in this country. There are a lot of legal impediments in the way of this.


BANFIELD: You may be back to analyze this verdict in 20 minutes.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you. Thank you for that.

We have some reporting we want to give you, Keeping Them Honest. A charity that collects millions of dollars to grant wishes for dying children spent next to nothing on those children or those wishes. Two more whistleblowers are speaking out.


BANFIELD: "Keeping Them Honest," the charity that pulls on the heart strings and opens the wallets, raising big money from donors but spending nearly nothing from the children that it claims to care about, children who are sick, many of them dying. We've reported on a rogue's gallery of shady charities but the Kids Wish Network is in a class of its own. Along with "The Tampa Bay Times" and the Center for Investigative Reporting, we've identified it as the absolute worst charity, the rock bottom when it comes to how little out of each dollar actually raised it actually spent on helping those it claims to be raising money for.

Yesterday, we told you about a former employee who blew the whistle on the Kids Wish Network and then paid a steep price. Today, two more whistleblowers are speaking out.

Here is part two of Drew Griffin's report.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These former employees say they are afraid to show their faces because they are afraid of getting sued for telling what they say is the real truth behind the Kids Wish Network. The charity raises millions and millions of dollars, $22 million just last year, but uses less than 3 percent of that cash to fulfill wishes of sick children. The Kids Wish Network does fulfill wishes but these employees say not by buying them with cash. The trips, the airline tickets, the amusement park tickets are all donated and that includes the toys and school supplies and clothes given away when Kids Wish Network holds events for sick children.

UNIDENTIFIED FORMER CHARITY EMPLOYEE: It was whatever we had in the warehouse, we would try to fit it to that age group that we were giving it to.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And was it basically the company's leftovers?

UNIDENTIFIED FORMER CHARITY EMPLOYEE: Yes, that's what it seemed like, yeah. GRIFFIN (voice-over): So what happened to the actual donated money? In 10 years, Kids Wish Network raised $127 million and nearly 90 percent of that money went to professional fundraisers, not sick kids. The sick kids, they got at most 2.5 cents of every dollar raised.

The charity's attorney insists there's "nothing illegal about the fundraising." Maybe not. But this former marketing associate says there was something wrong to him about how they did it. At events where sick children were given the surplus goods, his job was to photograph those kids for promotional purposes and he was told "the sicker the better."

UNIDENTIFIED FORMER CHARITY EMPLOYEE: They wanted the most sick kids. And I can understand that a little bit where they were going with that but my view was that maybe you should show the kids being satisfied by it, not necessarily only showing the upset and sad kids. That was my thought process. It just never was heard.

GRIFFIN (on camera): So they wanted sick kids?

UNIDENTIFIED FORMER CHARITY EMPLOYEE: Uh-huh. That's what will make them the money.

GRIFFIN: And who told you that?


GRIFFIN: The boss?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): The boss, Anna Lanzatella, runs the charity that we're talking about and, no, she's not talking.

(on camera): Anna Lanzatella?


GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin with CNN.

LANZATELLA: Hi, Drew. Nice to see you.

GRIFFIN: Nice to see you. Can we ask you questions about the ratings that have come out --

LANZATELLA: No, I'm sorry. There's been so many misleading reports that have been made that we've asked our attorneys to take a look into everything. And I'm not going to be doing any interviews.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Bad press is nothing new to Kids Wish Network. Local news channels in the Tampa, Florida, area have done several reports. Last year, the city of Savannah, Georgia, canceled a Kids Wish Network event after Savannah's major criticized the charities practices. But still people give millions and millions, believing their dollars are going to help sick children when, in truth, it is literally pennies of those dollars being used.

(on camera): Does it surprise you that after all the reporting done on this group, they are still in business?


UNIDENTIFIED FORMER CHARITY EMPLOYEE: It surprises me every single day.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Drew Griffin, CNN, St. Petersburg, Florida.


BANFIELD: A mother whose baby was shot while in the stroller takes the witness stand and you will not believe the questions she endured from the defense, asking her about her mental state, her drug use, her insurance policy. Again, a mother who lost her baby. Our legal team tackles this approach, next.


BANFIELD: Today, in a courtroom in Marietta, Georgia, something that you just don't see every day -- a mother whose 13-month-old baby was shot and killed in broad daylight in the stroller, the mother getting attacked on the witness stand. That's what was going on in court. She testified this morning for the second day. The defendant is DeMarkus Elkins. He was 17 years old when prosecutors say he pointed a gun at Sherry West, tried to mug her, shot her, and then murdered her baby boy in his stroller in cold blood earlier this year. And her testimony was so moving yesterday that several jurors had to cover their mouths with their hands and even cover their eyes at times.


UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: Miss West, do you see in this courtroom today the man who shot and killed your baby Antonio Santiago?



WEST: The young man in the blue.

He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby and I said, please don't shoot my baby. He shot a warning shot to the ground. I asked him, why are you doing this? Please don't do this. And he -- it felt like he shot me in the ear, then he shot me in the leg. He walked over and shot my baby. I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby but he still shot him.


BANFIELD: That's pretty hard to do a cross-examination when you've got a witness like that, right?

The defense attorney stood up. His name is Kevin Goff -- and all I can say is that this is what he did. He just attacked her from all angles.


KEVIN GOFF, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: One of the mental illnesses from which you suffer is bipolar or manic depression?

WEST: Bipolar.

GOFF: Another is post traumatic stress disorder?

WEST: Yes.

GOFF: Another is borderline personality disorder?

WEST: Yes.

GOFF: Another is paranoia?

WEST: Yes.

GOFF: Is it possible, ma'am, that you may be mistaken in identifying Mr. Elkins as the shooter? Is it not possible that the shooter is in fact the individual that you picked out of that set of pictures, Dominique (INAUDIBLE)?

WEST: No. Mr. Elkins was standing two feet in front of me.

GOFF: Ma'am, did you not complain about the cost of taking care of Antonio Santiago in the days after his death?


GOFF: Did you not complain about the burden of caring for Antonio Santiago?



BANFIELD: I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos, and HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Joey, I understand that you have to defend your guy. You have to do everything you can. But does there come a point where you will destroy the jurors, in your eyes?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Ashleigh. The problem is you have to walk the fine line. What is that fine line? You want to zealously represent your client but at the same time you have a risk of a jury that antagonizes you and a mother lost a 1-year-old baby and that's problematic. And so this attorney is taking a big risk here. Will it pay off? Well, that's yet to be seen. But by attacking her in the manner that he's attacking her, you run that risk.

BANFIELD: He even went as far as saying, did you really need to go to the post office in such cold weather?


BANFIELD: Where does that get you?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The defense attorney has an obligation, a zealous representation. He's got to go as far as he can go within the rules. And in a case like this, where it looks like it's a dead-bang loser, as we call it in the business, the strategy may be, go for broke.

Look, the system works. If the jury doesn't like the direction that he's going, then the defendant will be punished. It's an example of how the system works. Do not hold that attorney in contempt. You should praise him. He's been an essential part of the system.

BANFIELD: What does he have to lose? Oh, lord. Gosh, it's just painful to watch that.

Danny Cevallos, Joey Jackson, thank you so much.

JACKSON: Thank you.

BANFIELD: The sister of Joe DiMaggio -- James DiMaggio -- I beg your pardon -- the man accused of kidnapping a San Diego teenager, his sister says there's a lot of information that does not add up in this case. More on the relationship between James DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson when we come back.


BANFIELD: The twists and turns in the Hannah Anderson abduction case just keep coming. Now the alleged kidnapper's sister is publicly criticizing the police investigation and telling CNN that they have not really proven that James DiMaggio killed Hannah's mother and brother.

Here's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a contentious interview --

LORI DIMAGGIO, SISTER OF JAMES DIMAGGIO: How do you know that he did it, would be my question for you.

MARQUEZ: -- speaking exclusively to CNN's Piers Morgan, the sister of James DiMaggio, the man killed in the shootout with the FBI in the Idaho wilderness after kidnapping Hannah Anderson. And, the investigators say, he tortured and murdered her mother Christina and 8-year-old brother Ethan before setting fire to his own house.

DIMAGGIO: I would like to remind you, at this point, my brother is still a suspect. He is not a killer. He is accused. And again, it is alleged. MARQUEZ: Lora DiMaggio holds out the possibility her 40-year-old brother is a victim, casting blame on 16-year-old Hannah Anderson.

DIMAGGIO: The Hannah Anderson that I saw a few nights ago on the TV is certainly not the girl that stayed in my home three weeks prior to them disappearing.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, PIERS MORGAN: What do you mean? What do you mean?

DIMAGGIO: I remember very vividly telling my brother she's trouble.

MARQUEZ: Last week, Hannah Anderson broke her silence in an interview on NBC, where she insisted it was all James DiMaggio's doing.

HANNAH ANDERSON, KIDNAPPED BY DIMAGGIO: He was picking me up from cheer camp and he didn't know the address or, like, where I was, so I had to tell him the address and tell him that I was going to be in the gym and not in front of the school, just so he knew where to come get me.

MARQUEZ: Lora DiMaggio, while offering no evidence, disputes that.

DIMAGGIO: In my heart of hearts, I think that Hannah perhaps got herself into a situation that she couldn't get herself out of and I do believe that my brother gave his life to protect her.

MARQUEZ: Finally, DiMaggio says she wants to see more evidence from investigators. Evidence not likely to come as the investigation is closed.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


BANFIELD: We are keeping a very close eye, keeping tabs on the situation in Syria. And coming up at the top of the hour, AROUND THE WORLD has special coverage coming, including reports from our own Christiane Amanpour and CNN's only Syrian anchor, Hala Gorani. A special hour on the crisis in Syria is coming up.


BANFIELD: Think you can have a successful career in music if you can't even hear? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to tell us, "You bet." It's today's "Human Factor."



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Deejay, Robbie Wilde, he lives in a world of rhythm and beats. He just can't hear it. A severe ear infection while a child left him completely deaf in his right ear and 80 percent deaf in his left ear. ROBBIE WILDE, DEEJAY: My mom was crying. My doctors said -- me, being with the one with the hearing loss, I went up to my mom, like it's OK, I'll be all right. I promise you. I can see. I'll be fine.

GUPTA: Although hearing is the most important sense in a deejay's life, Wilde was still determined to make it.


GUPTA: He went to deejay school to learn the art of turntablism and he relies on a computer to see the music. Red is a kick from the base. Blue, that's a snare. Greens are vocals.

WILDE: I don't want you to see me as a deaf deejay or a deaf kid trying to deejay. I want you to see me as a great deejay that happens to be deaf. I don't want sympathy. I'm don't want, let's give him the gig because he's hearing impaired.

GUPTA: Wilde's skills got noticed by H.P., which earned him in a spot on a commercial, thrusting him on to the world stage.

WILDE: It doesn't matter that I can't hear the music.


GUPTA: Besides, Wilde says, some things are just better left unheard.

WILDE: There's a lot of sounds out in the world you don't want to hear. I like it muffled. I like who I am. I'm proud of who I am.


GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


BANFIELD: You can make an appointment to watch "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." Saturday afternoons at 4:30 eastern or Sunday mornings at 7:30 eastern.

That's all the time I have for you today. But stay tuned. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to this special hour on the crisis in Syria. We'd like to welcome our viewers here in the United States as well as those watching from around the world. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Richard Quest, in for Michael Holmes today.

MALVEAUX: We are zeroing in on all aspects of the crisis in Syria as a U.S. military strike appears imminent. It was one week ago today that the world watched in horror the aftermath of an apparent chemical weapons attack in entire neighborhoods near Damascus. QUEST: It is likely not an if, but a when, that the U.S. will launch an attack. So we are devoting the entire hour to this crisis. It's something CNN --