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Biker Investigation Not Over; Horrifying Crash at Grand Prix; Zoo Worker Mauled by Tiger; Tornadoes, Floods Threaten Eastern U.S.; Boy, 9, Hops Flight to Vegas.

Aired October 7, 2013 - 11:30   ET



MARGARET CONNELLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Edwin Mieses was critically injured. His family says he's paralyzed. Now the police are asking for the public's help to identify these two people who they believe were present at the assault, all in an effort to further piece together this puzzle that's far from complete.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks to Margaret Connelly for that report.

And joining me now is CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Mark O'Mara.

I'm dying to ask you. There's so many aspects of this particular crime. Let's start with this one. We've got three guys who are facing charges. At least two of them saying it was the other people. I may have been there but I didn't get involved in the actual fighting and the hurting. In there's no video showing them doing it, how hard is that to prove for the prosecutors that they were the ones that struck the blows?

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I have to give you two answers. First of all, this is a traditional self-defense case, that Mr. Mieses was acting in self defense.

But talking about the people themselves, it's going to be difficult to prove the case against them because, as we know, the state carries a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that these people committed a crime. The other answer is this. And if, in fact, these people were acting in concert with other people, and they seem to be, that's a conspiracy. And the prosecution will say you are all guilty of responsible for everybody else because you were acting in concert, and they may charge him with conspiracy, which is going to make the prosecutor's job easier.

BANFIELD: Mr. Cruz continued his interview with Dan Harris on ABC saying I wasn't slowing down to bump that vehicle or cause trouble, I was looking for my friends. I want to keep that video looping if we can while you answer this next question. Because if he goes to trial, that will play over and over. Does it even matter what Mr. Cruz might have been doing when he started to back up, perhaps into that SUV? O'MARA: Well, if his position is going to be, it was coincidental that I was slowing down right in front of the SUV that was in the group that we were all antagonistic towards -- and a jury may buy that. It seemed obvious from the video that what he was doing and looking back at the car is that he was looking at the car and slowing down. But, yes, it may have an impact on a jury on a jury looking at this case to say was he acting in a certain way. I think the jury is going to look at this and feel the fear that the SUV driver had and say this was a group surrounding the vehicle and acting in a way that gave him reasonable fear of imminent injury. I think Cruz is going to be held responsible for the, as to the other people as well.

BANFIELD: I mean, when I watch that over and over and you hear him say, I was looking around for my friends, it's tricky. It's hard to believe that when you see him looking behind at that bumper.

Mark O'Mara, I have to leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us today. Appreciate it. Good to see you again.

O'MARA: Sure, Ashleigh. Thank you.

BANFIELD: Coming up, horrific crash, incredible video as well. Watch. The driver surviving this. We're going to hear from a man that was inches away in the bleachers and actually hit by that debris and caught most of this on tape himself.

And later a woman mauled by a tiger at an Oklahoma zoo who says it was all her fault. But not the first time this zoo has been in the headlines. We're right back after this.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to "Legal View."

You've seen these pictures. Just a horrifying crash at the Grand Prix in Houston, landing the driver in the hospital, and at least 13 people who were in the stands hurt as well.

Our Mark McKay has more.

MARK MCKAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last lap horror in Houston. Three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti attempting to make a high-speed pass instead goes airborne, cart wheeling and destroying the crash fence as his care virtually disintegrates around him. Franchitti's car hits the back of another car, forcing his car to slam into the track side fencing, too. Debris rained into the spectators stands injuring at least 13.

Carl Daniel shot this unbelievable video of the crash from the stands.

CARL DANIEL, WITNESS: The other driver and his right front tire actually drove up or on onto the left rear tire of the drive he was attempting to pass. The car we want into the air and it started coming towards the fence. This all happened in less than a second. There was no time to move or run away. The thought in my mind was that these were going to be the last moments that I were going to be experiencing on earth.

MCKAY: Franchitti is hospitalized with injuries ranging from a concussion, broken right ankle and spinal fracture that won't require surgery. He's married to actress Ashley Judd, but they announced they were separating earlier this year. Judd tweeted her thanks for the prayers and said she and her dogs, who were on the way to Houston.

The Franchitti crash came 10 days shy of a two-year anniversary of a spectacular Indy Car crash in Las Vegas that took the life of driver Dan Wheldon. In the wake of that tragedy came calls to protect the fencing at oval tracks. Sunday's race was held on a street surface in the shadow of the Houston Astrodome. It serves as another example of a dangers associated with a sport that thrives on speed.

Mark McKay, CNN, Atlanta.


BANFIELD: Coming up, with no I.D. and no boarding pass and no grown up with him, a 9-year-old kid manages to sneak past airport security and gate agents and hop a flight to Vegas, alone. That story is coming up.

But first, a worker at an Oklahoma zoo severely mauled by a tiger and she's admitting it's all her fault. We'll tell you what she did, why she did it, and why it's still a problem for the zoo, next.


BANFIELD: So, you know when you go to a zoo and there are signs saying do not feed the animals, do not touch the animals? In Oklahoma, a worker at a zoo decided to defy those rules and put her arm in a cage and it did not turn out well.

Here's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A horrific incidence at this Oklahoma animal rescue zoo. A 500-pound tiger attacked a worker feeding it through the wire fence, pulling her entire left arm through a tiny four-inch square hole. She was airlifted to an area hospital where doctors saved her arm.

JOE SCHREIBVOGEL, OWNER, G.W. ZOOLOGICAL PARK: My heart goes out to her that one of my tigers did this.

MARQUEZ: In a statement on his Facebook, Schreibvogel said the employee violated the safety protocols of placing any part of the body inside the cage. He also wrote, during the entire event, she was awake and saying it was her fault.

SCHREIBVOGEL: She assured me even in the helicopter that she was going to come back to work.

MARQUEZ: It's not the first time Schreibvogel, also known as Joe Exotic, and his park have been involved in controversy. In 2006, the USGA suspended his license and fined the zoo $25,000 for several violations. And it's currently under investigation for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs.


MARQUEZ: In 2011, the Humane Society conducted an undercover investigation, placing an operative in the park for four months. He shot this video of what they claim was a 24-month-old tiger attacking a child.




MARQUEZ: USA regulations say only big cats up to 12 months old can interact with humans. The park website says it has rescued 150 big cats and more than 1400 animals.

RON MAGILL, ZOO MIAMI: And it takes tens of thousands of dollars to maintain a large carnivore of that type properly.

MARQUEZ: G.W. Zoo declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and he posted his $1300 water bill on Facebook and asked for the public to help pay it.

Ron McGill says Zoo Miami's four big cats are a full-time job and much more needs to be done across the country to regulate who can keep wild animals.

MAGILL: There is a huge problem in this country with everything from lions and tigers to other large predators that people are keeping privately under the premise of being a sanctuary. These are accidents waiting to happen.


BANFIELD: Thanks to Miguel Marquez for that report.

Now, the zoo owner was live on CNN's "New Day" this morning and he was defending himself as well as the zoo over these allegations.


SCHREIBVOGEL: I don't worry about what the Humane Society or PETA has to say about anything because, A, they're not here, and, B, they know nothing about our facility and, C, I really would not comment on an organization that killed 87 percent of the animals that they got their hands on last year while we work 24/7 to give up everything in our lives to keep these animals alive.


BANFIELD: He also added that Saturday's attack is the first time that there's ever been an injury at least to humans at his zoo.

Coming up next, from tornadoes to floods to snowstorms, nasty weather is affecting a very big part of the United States. It's a good chance that you had one of those issues in your backyard. We're coming up next.


BANFIELD: So, this is the "Legal View," but I want to give you the weather view for a moment. There's something serious brewing right now in the Mid-Atlantic region. On the right side of your screen, I know it's hard to tell, but that is Washington, D.C. And on the left side of your screen, that is New York City. And specifically, that crane right there, that was the spot where the crane broke during Superstorm Sandy during last year. And if you can believe it, there is an actual tornado watch for New York City and a number of other areas along the Mid-Atlantic.

I want to bring in Chad Myers by the Severe Weather Center.

I always panic when I hear about any kind of possibility of a tornado in a place that just is junked together with concrete and glass.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No question. Also even with the wind of 60 or 70 miles per hour, trees are going to come down. Power lines are going to come down. Right into Baltimore, D.C., and west of Richmond, Virginia, a large line of severe weather. One tornado warning not that far, north of Spotsylvania County and move up to La Plada (ph), if it keeps rotating. We'll watch that for you. Here it is. All the way to Albany to Philadelphia. This weather is coming in from the west. Airports are going to be a mess today. If you're in the area, literally, watch out for trees, limbs and power lines that will come down as the weather through your neck of the woods -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: You better keep on it for us, Chad.

MYERS: I will.

BANFIELD: I'm watching out the windows and the weather gets darker and darker.

Appreciate it, Chad Myers --

MYERS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: -- live for us.

Coming up, catch me if you can in real life. This time, the star is a 9-year-old kid. And no drama. It's real life. Sneaking past security, sneaking past the gate agents and getting on a plane to Vegas. How on earth can something like this happen?


BANFIELD: So any fourth grader on any given day would be busy going to school and back and maybe going to baseball. But not the 9-year- old kid that slipped through the TSA and gate agents and got on a plane to Vegas by himself. How did he do it?

Here's George Howell with the story.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where it all started. A 9-year-old boy walked off a light railcar Thursday and into the Minneapolis Airport with plans to travel, but no ticket. He passed through the security checkpoints of TSA screening with no problem.

(on camera): Then he continued on to the "G" concourse, specifically here at gate G-4. It's still unclear how he got past the ticket agent who was collecting tickets here.

(voice-over): What we do know is this minor did board flight 261 and traveled 1300 miles to Las Vegas. Officials say it wasn't until the flight crew became suspicious because he was traveling alone and contacted Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, who took the child into custody upon landing.

TERRY TRIPPLER, THEPLANERULES.COM: I think they should take him to the table and let him play a little because his luck was doing well.

HOWELL: Terry Tripler said the whole thing highlights big gaps in children especially when it comes to children.

TRIPPLER: That 9-year-old child does not need identification. I can understand, standing behind a family, officer, whatever, they family is checking in and they're not aware that he's standing behind them. I can understand that. I cannot understand the Delta gate agent. This is where I put the major problem. It happened there.

HOWELL: While no one would talk on camera, we did get a lot of statements, first from the TSA, essentially saying they did their jobs. Quote, "The child was screened along with all other passengers to ensure that he was not a threat to the aircraft." And then Delta. Quote, "Delta is taking this incident very seriously and working with authorities in the investigation. Due to the fact that it involves a minor, we are not commenting any further at this time."

For the traveling public, we know the rigorous routine of the airport screening.

SOGE MANFREOI, AIRLINE PASSENGER: We have to go through taking out shoes, putting them in the belts, go through the thing.

HOWELL: It's a mystery how a child could have slipped through the cracks.

GORDON SELINGER, AIRLINE PASSENGER: I'm quite surprised that he got through security that we, as adults, got through.

HOWELL: George Howell, CNN, Minneapolis. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: This story screams for a legal analyst, doesn't it? That's where Danny Cevallos comes in.

I only have one question. Between, the parents and the TSA and Delta, who is the most at fault here.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You can start with the parent and then, second, maybe you can say the gate agent. Because ultimately, the gate agent has to check the ticket. TSA will make the argument, if children are hovering near parents, TSA's duty is security.

BANFIELD: My TSA agent always asks me to put my kids forward so my kids could tell them their name on their own.

CEVALLOS: Sure. That's why I put them third. Second is the gate agent. You have to scan that ticket one way or the other. You have to have an explanation as to why that child is coming on board, unless their sitting on your lap. I'm pretty sure -- I'm not a parent -- but 9 year olds are not sitting on any parent's lap.

BANFIELD: Can I ask you a crazy question here?

CEVALLOS: Sure. I love them.


BANFIELD: You're on them, too. 9 years old, any culpability? Any juvy culpability for what this child did?


BANFIELD: Nothing?

CEVALLOS: No, no. No matter what state, I doubt there's juvenile culpability. However, there is what's called a dependency position. The local department of human services may open a petition against these parents because, is this child safe and are his needs being met? That answer may be no. And they may open a petition and look into whether or not the household is a safe one.

BANFIELD: I can't wait to see what the parents' story is in all of this.

CEVALLOS: Me neither.

BANFIELD: Whether they were franticly looking for this child and the child was on a plane.

CEVALLOS: Or maybe there deserve some culpability.

BANFIELD: You never know.

Danny Cevallos -- crazy, crazy story -- thank you for that. Thank you for watching, everyone. It's been good to have you with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Stay tuned for AROUND THE WORLD coming up with Suzanne Malveaux and Michael Holmes after this quick break.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: We're following three big stories right now. Two secret U.S. terror raids, one a success, one a big unknown, an accused terrorists in Libya with a $5 million reward on his head is captured outside his home.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Navy SEALs come under heavy fire trying to nab another accused terrorist in Somalia.

Also a week after the shutdown, hear what furloughed workers and Republican leader, John Boehner, are saying next.

MALVEAUX: Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

Let's start with that daring raid in Libya.