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Interview with Child Charged with First-Degree Murder; August Jobs Numbers; The Good Stuff; CNN Hero; Interview with Aaron Arias and Jamal Harris, Teens Hailed as Heroes

Aired September 6, 2013 - 08:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): If convicted, Benjamin will be incarcerated until he's 21. After that, his future is unclear.


CUOMO: Joining us now from Amarillo are Ben Hilburn and his mother Monica Berry.

Thank you both for being here this morning. Can you hear me OK?



CUOMO: OK. Ms. Berry, I want to start with you. In these situations, parents often shelter their kids. They don't want them in the spotlight. But you believe you have to speak out. Why?

BERRY: I don't want this happening again to someone else. You hear too many horror stories out there and I feel like my son has unjustly been wronged.

CUOMO: You -- when you say this, what do you mean by this? How was he unjustly wronged?

BERRY: All the abuse that he suffered, that his brother and sister suffered all those years.

CUOMO: And I want to talk to you about that and what the prosecutor said.

BERRY: And their cries were unheard (ph).

CUOMO: I want to - I want to ask you about that. But, first, Ben, I know you just heard the 911 call there, right? I saw you listening to it.

HILBURN: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: That's the first time you ever heard it, am I right?


CUOMO: Do you remember that little boy? Do you remember who he was and what was going through his head?

HILBURN: Not very well.

CUOMO: When you hear it, what do you think?


CUOMO: It's a tough question, right?

HILBURN: Yes. It's been a while.

CUOMO: Your mother's talking about the abuse. You've talked about it. You say that's what was going through your head. That's what was making you act the way you did that day. Tell me about it. What was the abuse?

HILBURN: Depending on which crime - which - and --

CUOMO: I know it's tough for you to talk about, Ben.

HILBURN: I don't think I can do this.

CUOMO: I know. I know, Ms. Berry, that your son believes he was protecting his younger sister and brother that day. Give me the back story here so we understand what motivated this terrible act that day.

BERRY: Ben or myself?

CUOMO: You, Ms. Berry, please.

BERRY: There was abuse in the home. My ex-husband, their father, would hit them, kick them with steel toe boots on. If they were on the ground, he'd continue to kick them. There were numerous things that he did that just shouldn't have happened.

CUOMO: Help me understand this, Ms. Berry. The prosecutors say that people didn't come forward with proof of this. That they looked into the allegations. That the allegations had reports, but there was nothing to really substantiate it. You take issue with that and with the agency, why?

BERRY: Because there were nurses, counselors, countless people making phone calls on the abuse, including myself, but nothing was ever done. They saw the bruises, they saw the black eyes, yet nothing was ever done.

CUOMO: How do you explain it?

BERRY: How do I explain it? That was a - that's a small town, it's a small community. Everybody knows everyone.

CUOMO: Are you worried about what happens if this trial goes forward and your son is convicted? Even though it's juvenile, this will be with him. This is how he'll be seen by the system for years to come and who knows what happens in the future. What is your concern about that? BERRY: I don't want his life ruined over all of this. I will continue to fight for my son until there is no breath left in me, if I have to. CUOMO: Ben, I guess you've gotten to see how much your mother loves you over the last few years, right?


CUOMO: You trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, once this is behind you?

HILBURN: Yes. I've already decided.

CUOMO: What do you want to do?

HILBURN: I want to be a librarian. I belong with books and dust.

CUOMO: Books and dust. You want -- I don't think I've ever heard any teenager ever say that before.

You're being home schooled now, right, because the situation got too difficult for you at school after this happened, is that right?


CUOMO: So you -- the trial's going to come now, Ms. Berry. Do you think it's going to happen? There is a chance - there's still a chance legally, right, that a judge could find that the evidence isn't there for a trial to go forward, specifically the 911 call. Do you think it's going to happen? Do you think the state of New Mexico will try your son for premeditated murder for something he did at 10 years of age?

BERRY: Legally, I don't think they can.

CUOMO: But if it --

BERRY: They've been trying. They haven't been able to.

CUOMO: But if it goes forward, you'll be there and you'll have to deal with what comes, right?


CUOMO: Well, we'll be watching this trial. I know this is difficult to talk about, Ben, but it's - there are a lot of big questions here for people to think about in terms of what's happening to you and what it will mean for others. So, Ben, thank you for toughing it out with me this morning. I appreciate that.


CUOMO: And, Ms. Berry, thank you. I know this isn't easy for you either. A lot of mixed emotions here. So, thank you. And stay in touch with us if it goes forward to trial, OK?

BERRY: Thank you. CUOMO: All right, Kate, over to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris, thanks so much.

We have breaking news for you know. The jobs numbers. The monthly jobs numbers just coming in. Our Alison Kosik is here with the headlines.

What are we hearing, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing that this number's a miss, finding out that 169,000 jobs were added during the month of August. That came in lower than expectations. The expected was $185,000. The unemployment rate dipped to 7.3 percent.

You'd think that's good news, but the problem here is that you look deeper into the numbers and you realize what's behind that dip. That dip happening because 312,000 people dropped out of the labor force. They essentially gave up looking for work out of frustration or not being able to find a job. That's not really the right reason that you want to see for the unemployment rate falling.

And this happens to be the lowest level for the number of people who are looking for jobs. The lowest level since 1978. So what this is essentially going to do, because what's been happening here is the Federal Reserve has been really pinning its decision on whether or not to scale back its stimulus that it's been pouring into the financial markets. It's been pinning that decision on the jobs numbers, especially the August jobs number. So what this is essentially going to do, it's going to really create a big question mark for the Fed, is this strong enough for the Fed to go ahead and pull back on this stimulus?

I'm getting one analyst quote here who says, "this report is demoralizing to the unemployed." If that's the way the Fed think, I don't think that you're going to see tapering happen in this meeting that's happening in the next couple of weeks.

BOLDUAN: And you're really kind of hitting on the concern that a lot of people have is, you can't make too much of one month's job report -

KOSIK: Right.

BOLDUAN: But it's looking at that trend that seems to be trouble.

KOSIK: Exactly.


KOSIK: You look at from July to August, the number really didn't move much. It's really just treading water.



BOLDUAN: Well, all right, thank you so much. KOSIK: Sure. You got it.

BOLDUAN: All right, bringing breaking news to you this morning. Thanks so much.

CUOMO: Also marks the five-year anniversary since Lehman fell -

KOSIK: Yes, that's right.

CUOMO: And we had the bottom of the situation, December '08. This is the lowest number since then.

BOLDUAN: Uh-huh. That's right.

CUOMO: Alison, thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, next up in -- on NEW DAY here, we've had some tough headlines in the news lately. This could have been one of them, but, no, these two young fellows right here, a couple of brave teens out of Texas getting a whole lot of attention for all the right reasons because they sprang into action when they noticed a kidnapped woman in distress. We'll tell you their amazing story after the break.


CUOMO: Thank you for joining us here on NEW DAY. As your reward, it is time for "The Good Stuff." Today's edition, adults hating being disturbed by kids, right? We know it. On planes, long trips, especially at restaurants, OK. Ashley England of North Carolina knows that all too well. Only her case is a little different because her son, Riley (ph), has special needs. If they go out at all, Ashley's family is used to the stares and the sighs and worse from people who just don't understand. She's also used to rushing out of restaurants. So, when Riley got loud at a local restaurant recently, Ashley thought it would be no different. She quickly asked the waitress for the check. But what she got back was her faith in humanity.


ASHLEY ENGLAND, MOTHER OF SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD: She says, I don't know if I can do this without crying, but, you know, your meal's been paid for and this is the note for you.


CUOMO: The note read, "God only gives special children to special people." It was a rare kindness for a family that's used to having to try a little harder to do everything. To Ashley England, it is a lesson to everyone to think before you are unkind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ENGLAND: That note is very true. I wouldn't be able to do it without God by my side. Until a person has walked in the shoes that we have walked in, they have no right to say (INAUDIBLE). They take just a simple "I love you" from your child for granted.


CUOMO: A beautiful boy. Look at him.

PEREIRA: Look at him.

CUOMO: Look at him. And we'd like to thank all of you for sending in stories like this. We want to hear your good stuff.

PEREIRA: We need it.

CUOMO: It allows us to tell the good news. And it is a beautiful instruction. You don't know what people are dealing with when you decide to judge them all the time.


BOLDUAN: That's a good point.

PEREIRA: So true.

BOLDUAN: And you - and then you think everything that she goes through all the time and she's always so nervous about being in public and taking her son out, but she gets a little bit back.

PEREIRA: There is love everywhere.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's sweet. That is good stuff. Well, we love you.

All right, let's move now to some other good stuff. Now to a teenager who is on a mission to help the world's 20 million visually impaired children who can't afford eye exams, let alone glasses. Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with this morning's "CNN Hero."


YASH GUPTA, HUMANITARIAN: I was only five years old when I got my first pair of glasses. When I was a freshman in high school, I broke my glasses. I just couldn't see anything. And so I really realized just how much glasses meant to me. Without them, I really couldn't do anything normally.

I started doing some research and I learned that there are millions of students around the world who need glasses but can't afford them. I had this problem for one week, but these kids have these problems for their whole lives.

My name is Yash Gupta and I'm trying to help students around the world see better.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got some glasses for you.

GUPTA: Perfect.

I learned there are millions of glasses that are discarded annually in North America alone. So why not put them to good use?

So when I was 14, I started reaching out to local optometrist and putting collection boxes in their offices. We work with other organizations and then they distributed the glass.

The other way we distribute glasses is by going on clinic trips. Watching someone get glasses for the first time, you know, just really inspiring.

To date we've collected and distributed over $425,000 worth of eyeglasses, which is equivalent to 8,500 pairs. I'm 17 years old and although many people believe kids can't make a difference, I have. I think anyone can do that. It's just about being motivated and going out there and just doing it.


PEREIRA: Another moving story.

BOLDUAN: The little things you can do. Yes, I love it. I love it.

PEREIRA: I love that stuff.

All right, you want more good stuff?

CUOMO: Please.

PEREIRA: Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to speak with two teenagers. We're going to talk live with them. Their 911 saved a life of a woman. They helped thwart an abduction. These two fellows right here, they have reasons to smile this morning. It's an amazing story you do not want to miss.

CUOMO: That's a good smile. Good smile.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

A dramatic 911 call that led to the rescue of an abducted young woman in Texas. That 25-year-old was kidnapped at gunpoint, taken away in her own car. Two teens, these two guys, spotted her and just sensed right away that something was wrong. We are going to speak with these two handsome heroes in just a moment. But, first, we want to tell you their story.


AARON ARIAS, 19-YEARS-OLD (voice-over): So I'm on the highway. I'm witnessing a kidnapping.

PEREIRA (voice-over): Nineteen-year-old Aaron Arias and 17-year-old Jamal Harris are being hailed as heroes for making a 911 call that may have saved a life. While stopped at a traffic light two weeks ago, they witnessed a woman mouthing the words, "help me," from the back seat of a car behind them.

ARIAS: We turned around to check her out. You know my friend sees her going "help me, help me." And then while they're driving off she's just like hitting that back windshield. And we could see her hand and she looked frantic.

PEREIRA: For almost 12 minutes, Arias stayed on the phone and stayed in pursuit of the suspect, Charles Atkins Lewis Jr. (ph).

ARIAS: He's just swerving like crazy. I think he is going to try to confuse me.

PEREIRA: The two brave teens followed Atkins until the 25-year-old woman was finally rescued by police.

ARIAS: You guys are awesome. Oh, my God. Oh, my God, get him!

PEREIRA: Look closely at this dash cam video. You can see the victim being helped out by police who say Atkins struck the young woman on the head as she left a downtown Dallas office building and forced her into the car at gunpoint. She told police she feared she would have been raped and murdered if no one came to her rescue. A rescue unattainable if it wasn't for these two courageous teens.


PEREIRA: Just a couple guys out in their car. Well, joining me now from Dallas, Aaron Arias and Jamal Harris.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. We wish you a good morning. How are you?



PEREIRA: Well, we're glad it have a chance to talk to you about this moment. I want to find out how this all came about. What happened that day? Was this just a regular day, the two of you out in the car?

ARIAS: Ah, yes, I guess. We went to go pick up a friend. He had just gotten off at a Wal-Mart and we were going to go pick him up.

PEREIRA: And you're driving down the road. Something made you look at the car next to you. What was it?

ARIAS: It was this guy.

HARRIS: I looked at the car next to me and I saw a woman in the back seat. But, I mean, the reason that I honestly looked was because she was pretty attractive.

PEREIRA: Uh-huh.

HARRIS: As I was trying to explain it to Aaron, I was like, look at her, you know, this lady's pretty beautiful. And I could tell by her facial expressions on what she was trying to tell me, it was very serious. And I paid closer attention. And I could see her mouthing the words, "help me."

PEREIRA: OK. So, then, how did you alert Aaron? Aaron, you were driving?

ARIAS: Yes, I was driving. And then --

PEREIRA: And what did you say to - what did you say to Aaron?

HARRIS: I was telling him what I had seen. I was like - I was like, man, like, look, she's saying "help me." And he was like, oh, you know, let's focus on this light, because we were in a turn only lane. He was like, no, we got to go. I was like look - like, look at her. Like she's actually saying it, you know?

PEREIRA: So then, Aaron, when did you decide, I better pay attention, there is something kind of funky going on in the car next to us?

ARIAS: Well, you know, the moment the light turned green, they kind of left too fast and then I saw her hitting that back windshield and, you know, after what he said and what I saw, we had to go after them.

PEREIRA: So then you went after them and you called 911 at the same time, right?

ARIAS: Yes. But Jamal had my steering wheel while I was calling 911. Just saying.

PEREIRA: That's all right. We'll just get out in front of it, it wasn't the safest driving technique, but it did save a woman's life. So, on 911, you're probably thinking to yourself as you're telling the 911 operator, what did - what did you do to contrivance them that this was for real, that it wasn't a prank and that you were really concerned for this woman's well-being?

ARIAS: I guess they could tell in my voice. I do sound pretty frantic in that 911 call.

PEREIRA: Yes, you do.


PEREIRA: And so then you followed the car. At any point did you feel in danger?

ARIAS: Um, by the end. Close to the end we - I felt like, you know, he was slowing down, we were slowing down. He knew he was being followed. He might do something to her and, you know, maybe even us.

PEREIRA: And were either one of you thinking that maybe you should back off, you should change your route?

HARRIS: No. I honestly like never felt that way because what she was saying, I could tell she was serious and we wanted to stay through it to make sure that it actually was what she was saying and it wasn't an elaborate prank on just trying to fool two guys who were in the car next to her.

PEREIRA: All right, fast forward. The police eventually come, which I'm sure you felt like the savior's had arrived.



PEREIRA: And the police were able to apprehend this guy. At this point, what's going through your minds?

ARIAS: Thank God.

PEREIRA: You got a little more excited than that, Aaron. I heard the 911 tape.

ARIAS: Ah, oh, my God! Oh, my God!

HARRIS: The, oh, my God!

PEREIRA: And so the young woman was escorted to safety and that man is now under arrest. Have you had a chance to talk with that young 25- year-old girl? She was abducted. Did you have any idea that it was so serious for her?

ARIAS: You know, we talked to her at the scene, but afterwards we haven't been able to get in touch with her for legal reasons.

PEREIRA: Understandably. There's an investigation that has to happen now.

Jamal, Aaron, you're a couple young guys, one in high school, one in college, a lot of people are calling you her heroes today. I'm sure that's not something that makes you comfortable, but you do understand that what you did was an act of courage?

HARRIS: Yes, ma'am.


PEREIRA: Would you do it again?

ARIAS: Obviously.

HARRIS: Any time.

PEREIRA: What do your parents think of it all?

HARRIS: My mom -- because she's like a very Christian woman. So to her it was like God put you at that moment at that time. Like it was fate. That's all it actually could have been for that timing to be so perfect for us to actually see her. And it was night when we saw her. So she was like, it's a blessing that you could actually read her lips in the dark at -- the only light that we basically had was the stoplight.

PEREIRA: Well, timing really was of the essence. Aaron, Jamal, we are so proud of you. And I'm sure that the hug that you received from that young woman spoke more than words could say. Thank you so much for your tremendous acts of bravery and courage and for saving the young woman's life.

ARIAS: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Jamal Harris and Aaron Arias, what a couple of guys. Think on that as we go to break. We'll be right back with more NEW DAY.


CUOMO: Bobby McFerrin.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

Before we go, a quick look at what's coming up this weekend on NEW DAY.

You've heard of NSA leaker Edward Snowden and WikiLeaker Bradley Manning. But before both of them, there was "The Falcon." Christopher Boyce was an NSA contractor who sold secrets to the Russians. Well, CNN sat down with him for the first time, first on-camera interview in 28 years. That's this weekend right here on CNN. That will be a fascinating conversation.

CUOMO: And that is it. It will be. That's it for us here on NEW DAY. Thanks for joining us. It's time for CNN NEWSROOM with the one and only Carol Costello beginning right now.

Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: You have a fantastic weekend. Thanks so much.

PEREIRA: You too, Carol.


Happening now in the NEWSROOM -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sent you to stop the war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot afford to turn Syria into another Iraq.


COSTELLO: John McCain gets blasted. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much is the life of American servicemen worth?


COSTELLO: War wary and done with conflict, town halls becoming staging grounds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not listening to the people and staying out of Syria?


COSTELLO: Voters voice opposition and their absolute mistrust of Congress.