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JonBonet Ramsey's Murder Docs Released; Earthquake Hits Japan; Former Drone Operator Speaks; Murder Suspect's Mistress to Take Stand

Aired October 25, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much.

Happy Friday to all of you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin the hour with new revelations in one of the most sensational crimes really of the late 20th century. It has been nearly 17 years and still no one has been charged in the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey. But today, for the first time in this case, we have these four pages of grand jury documents that have now been released.

The bombshell, the grand jury wanted to indict the little beauty queen's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, on charges of child abuse resulting in death and being an accessory to the crime. District attorney said, quote, "Can't do it. Not enough evidence." That was back in 1999. But, you know, years and years passed. JonBenet's parents were suspected in her killing, only later to be exonerated.

JonBenet Ramsey was found strangled in her upscale Boulder, Colorado, home, the day after Christmas. This is back in 1996. Her body dumped in the basement. There was a ransom note demanding specifically $118,000. And so, back to the news today. Some of these documents released are about Patsy Ramsey, the mother, who died of cancer back in 2006. The others, about John, who did not want the documents to come out.


CRAIG SILVERMAN, LEGAL ANALYST: There has always been the dispute, was this an inside job by the Ramseys or was there an outside intruder? It appears the Boulder grand jury believes it was done by the Ramseys. That's quite a revelation.

JOHN RAMSEY, JONBENET'S FATHER: We think it was a pedophile. We think it was a male.


BALDWIN: John Ramsey's attorney protested today's release. This is what he said, quote, "public release of the allegations of an unprosecuted indictment only served to further defame him and his late wife."

So what exactly is in these documents, these grand jury documents? They accuse the Ramseys of, quote, "unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly, and feloniously permitting a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health."

This case is still open. So why release these documents now? Let me bring in CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos, and CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

So, Jeffrey Toobin, I just want to begin with you because, you know, I have read, I have re-read what's been released today and maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm not seeing any kind of smoking gun, still.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all. No. This is simply a charge that the grand jury wanted to bring in 1999, which the district attorney, Alex Hunter, said, I'm not going to bring because I don't see the evidence that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these parents committed these crimes. I think history has vindicated Alex Hunter's decision because later DNA tests showed that some other person apparently was responsible for this crime. The parents have been exonerated, but we still don't know who did it.

BALDWIN: We do know that there -- originally there are these 18 pages, Danny Cevallos, to be unsealed. And then shortly after the release, you know, long time Ramsey family attorney Lynn Wood called for the release of the full grand jury record, not just these, you know, their term, historical footnotes. So why, Danny, why only release four pages.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there's a huge difference and it's a public policy reason. The real question is, why release the four pages to begin with?


CEVALLOS: But releasing grand jury testimony is a very dangerous thing to do. Again, public policy is that grand jury proceedings are held in secret. They're held in secret for a reason. Maybe people might fear reprisal. They've always been secret. It's safeguarding the process. So you cannot release the grand jury documents, even though, in this case, the suspect, Ramsey, may have wanted them to be released, or the attorney wanted them released.

The other thing, of course, he said is that he mentioned today that it might be a defamation. But the reality is, every day -- essentially, a grand jury proceeding is a probable cause type hearing. Every day these probable cause hearings go on in the form of preliminary hears, defendants are set free, and, yes, is it defamatory in a sense that they were brought to a court and held to answer? Yes, but that's the way our criminal justice system works. You get accused, you get cleared, and there's not a whole lot you can do to wipe your record clean.

BALDWIN: So in addition to just the few pages released today, we know that the Boulder D.A. has decided to issue, quoting, to issue a statement in the form of an op-ed piece to be published in this Sunday's edition of "The Boulder Daily Camera" (ph), this is Boulder's local newspaper. Really to either of you, Jeff Toobin, first, what we think - what do we think he will write? What might he say? TOOBIN: Well, I don't know what he'll say, but I think the public position of the Boulder D.A. has been that this case is still open. We are looking for clues. If there is evidence that ties to any specific individual, we will prosecute. But the parents have been exonerated. That's the position of the D.A. And anything other than that will be a significant change of a position. And I don't think there's any reason to suspect there will be one.

BALDWIN: Danny Cevallos, do you agree? I mean where really can this, does this go?

CEVALLOS: Yes, the D.A.'s already taken a position, as Jeff said, that this is a -- there wasn't anything more -- although the grand jury concluded there's probable cause, that is not anywhere close to the same standard as beyond a reasonable doubt. And the D.A. in Colorado, like almost every other jurisdiction, has complete discretion ultimately in deciding whether or not to bring or not bring a case.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. OK.

TOOBIN: And it's just important to point out --


TOOBIN: That the DNA evidence that led to the exoneration in 2008 was not available to the grand jury in 1999. So they didn't -- those tests had not been done yet. So that puts, I think, the decision by the grand jury in a somewhat different light. They might have come out with a different decision if they had had the evidence that came out later.

BALDWIN: Still a mystery all these years later.

TOOBIN: It sure is.

BALDWIN: Jeffrey Toobin, Danny Cevallos, thank you.

I know so many of you follow this -- every bit and piece of this story. You can read these documents that were released yourself. Go to And for more on the case and what's been released today watch "AC 360" tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now this.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Breaking news. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake has hit the eastern coast of Japan and now tsunami advisories in effect for the coast, including the area near that Fukushima nuclear power plant where that tremendous accident happened back in 2011. Chad Myers joining me now.

Chad, what do you know?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think this tsunami alert is for a wave of about three feet. OK, considering what they had in the same area a couple of years ago, a three foot wave isn't going to affect too many people. Not that many people really rebuilt right next to the coast.

What the problem is, is the shake. The shake is about 300 or show miles from Tokyo. Here's Tokyo itself. But a couple hundred miles from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. This is a power plant that is completely crippled. It's shattered. It's fragile. Water is leaking all over the place. They don't need anything there to be shaking again.

And this is likely a 7.3 to 7.5. The numbers are shifting back and forth, as they always do with a large quake. This is likely an aftershock of the much bigger, initial quake. And you think, how could it be an aftershock? That was years ago. Well, sure, to a person, that's a long time, but to the earth, two years is not a long time. It's the same fault. It's the same fault system. It's likely the same shake.

There's no alert for a tsunami for Alaska, for Hawaii, for the United States at all. They don't believe any waves went this direction at all. All the waves went this direction, as the last time it did as well, but probably only about a 1 meter or less wave there and they can handle that.

BALDWIN: Chad, stay with me. Let me go to Paula Hancocks. She's our correspondent in Tokyo right now. She's joining me on the phone.

And, Paula, 7.3 magnitude. Did you feel this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Good morning, Brooke. Yes, I did. This certainly was strong enough to wake me up. It was ten past two in the morning when it actually hit. I'm pretty sure it would have woken a fair few people up.

So, yes, it was a sizable quake down here. It was about maybe 300 miles away from the epicenter here in Tokyo. But it definitely was strong enough to wake people from their sleep.

At this point, just watching Japanese media as well, obviously. Their -- the television stations have been warning of this tsunami warning and showing the different areas along the eastern coast of Japan where this possible tsunami may have hit. They're now saying that the time of that possible tsunami, the expected time has passed. And as far as I can see from details from the Fukushima area, of course, remember this is where the crippled nuclear power plant is.

BALDWIN: Of course.

HANCOCKS: It doesn't appear at this point as though there is any damage. At least we're not hearing from TEPCO, the operators, that there has been any damage there.

MYERS: Good.

BALDWIN: We're going to keep in close contact with you because as you - to use your word, cripple -- crippling. I mean that earthquake, and ensuing tsunami, absolutely crippled that town, many towns in and around these certain areas of Japan. Paula Hancock in Tokyo, Chad Myers, thank you very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: We'll come back to you as soon as more news warrants.

Coming up, CNN speaks with an American who pushed the button in deadly drone strikes and now, as a result, he says he's coping with PTSD. You will hear straight from him and his chilling confessions, coming up next.

Plus, a doctor is accused of drugging and drowning his wife. And, today, the mistress in the center of it all is expected to take the stand. Stay right here. This is CNN.


BALDWIN: A single button is pushed, and thousands and thousands of miles away, a hellfire missile shoots down from the sky. And in his underground U.S. bunker, an American watches as a man's leg is blown off and he bleeds to death. That story, one of many from a former U.S. drone operator who has stepped from the shadows to shed light on those who fly and fight with pilotless planes. Brandon Bryant flew drones for the U.S. Air Force and he says he was part of a team whose missioned killed some 1,600 people, and one of those killed, he believes, was a small child.


BRANDON BRYANT, FORMER DRONE OPERATOR: It like really open my eyes to how -- what the war was about. That it's not clean. Like, we were told that this was a clean -- everything was precise and you can -- we're not a scalpel, we're still a missile and there's still mistakes that happen. And there's a lot less mistakes than an F-16, but it still made me feel like - like, I just ended a human life, you know? How is anyone supposed to deal with that?


BALDWIN: Wow. Hala Gorani joining me now.

You conducted this interview. And it's saddening, it's fascinating, because so often we've been hearing from, you know, men and women from the battlefield, you know, with -- diagnosed with PTSD. This is the first I've ever seen of someone sitting far, far away, pushing a button and suffering in the same way.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Right. And especially considering the drone program, the U.S. drone program, has been in the news so much lately because you had Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and now the United Nations discussing the drone program and how often it does kill civilians. According to Amnesty, 30 civilians were killed in four attacks between May 2012 and July 2013. Other critics of the program say essentially this fuels terrorism because it creates so much resentment on the ground that it might be the best recruiting tactic for al Qaeda.


GORANI: But then again you have others who say, no, this is actually more precise than a combat operation. Certainly more precise than an F-16.

But Brandon Bryant is a fascinating example. He essentially was one of the earliest recruits in this drone program. He sits in a windowless bunker. He is given the order and the target and he pressed a button, and half a world away, there's a kill.


GORANI: And, in some cases, as you said, he thought he'd killed a child. This is something he had a very hard time with. He cried. He said it made him feel like a sociopath, that it made him feel divorced from humanity.

That being said, his superiors have insists they don't think a child was killed. That they believe that it was a dog. But I did ask him, how do you - how do you deal with that when you go home, on the drive home, when you've pushed that button and you know you've taken a human life? This is what he told me.


BRYANT: We were consistently told, when I was going through training, that our job was to kill people and break things. And that's like one of those mantras that people say to get themselves to be ready to do stuff like that. And I don't think that I could have ever been ready. I wasn't prepared. And it's largely my fault. But it's also the fault of the people that initiated the training.

We were told to shut up and color, and we couldn't talk to a psychologist and we couldn't do this. And if we talked to anyone, we'd lose our clearance. And so some -- it affected a lot of people. And it, like, it would have been a lot better for us if we would have been able to sit down and talk with someone, to rationalize our -- what has happened.

The effect isn't physical at all. It's completely psychological. You hear the hum of a computer, you don't feel the missile coming off the rail. You watch it. And that disconnect right there, I think, affects a lot of people. And the reality is, is that nothing is clean. Like it can't ever be clean. Like, there's a reason why war is hell and it's dirty and gross and no one wants to participate in it, because if it was clean, then everyone would want to be a part of it.


BALDWIN: And so also just to be clear, we were talking, as we were listening to him, the picture that we saw next to him speaking to you, that's what he sees half a world away from windowless bunker.

GORANI: Right. It's like a video - exactly, it's like worse than a video game. There's less resolution.

BALDWIN: It's reality.

GORANI: But what he sees and he knows that what he's seeing are human beings there. And in one case he mentioned the child. But in other cases, he saw somebody with a leg bleeding out. Other people killed. Yes.

BALDWIN: I wanted to point this out. We put these numbers on the screen because the drone program, you can see the numbers, very popular among Americans. This is a "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll. Sixty-six percent of Americans favor the U.S. drone program. But I'm curious, you've talked to someone just recently who says the drone strikes are down. Civilian deaths are down.

GORANI: Right. And I'd be interested in knowing what the results of an opinion poll like that would be if Americans had more information about this drone program.


GORANI: The government does not release, obviously, targets.

BALDWIN: People have been calling for transparency.

GORANI: We do not know exactly the number of people who were killed. We don't know how these target lists are drawn up. There's so much we don't know about a very, very secret program. I did speak with Ben Emerson, the U.N. special reperator (ph) on human rights and counterterrorism. He's right now essentially leading a panel at the U.N. on the drone strikes across the world. And one thing to note is that it appears as though the U.S. is moving away from as many drone strikes as it conducted a few years ago. This year we're seeing fewer drone strikes and fewer civilians killed as a result.

But again, those numbers are very hard to confirm because the government won't release specific information about it. And if you'll remember, these raids that we saw in Somalia targeting an al Shabaab leader, the capture in Libya of a suspected al Qaeda operative, all these things appear to suggest that the U.S. is moving a little bit away from drone strikes and more toward these targeted raids.

BALDWIN: It's just an incredible interview just given the perspective that we haven't heard. (INAUDIBLE).

GORANI: Right. He says he's speaking out because he wants Americans to hear directly from people who were responsible for being the operatives in this case.

BALDWIN: Thank you for allowing him to do that. Hala Gorani, I appreciate it.

Coming up, a new ad slamming the tactics of the NSA. And the folks in the ad, celebrities. We'll share their message with you.

Plus, things are getting a little bit more twisted here. The twists and turns in this trial of a doctor in Utah accused of murdering his wife. And today his mistress and young daughter are expected to take the stand and describe the moment she found her mother's body in the bathtub. That's next.


BALDWIN: The mistress in the murder trial in Utah, the doctor -- the mistress of the doctor expected to take the stand very shortly. Lawyers for Martin MacNeill say his wife, Michele, died of natural causes, but prosecutors say MacNeill killed his wife back in 2007 in order to be with this mistress turned nanny, Gypsy Willis. And MacNeill has already proven that he will break the law for this woman.

Here's the thing, MacNeill served four years in a federal prison for stealing his adopted daughter's identity and giving it to Willis. He had that child sent back overseas. And in the latest developments here, MacNeill's youngest child will focus on a ruling the judge gave today. Ada, who is now 12. So keep in mind, she was just six years of age, and she was the one who found her mother's body in that bathtub.

I'm going to turn now to Jane Velez-Mitchell. Forgive me, Jane. I thought there was some sound happening and not, so I'm just going to come straight to you. Live television.

I know we're - we are awaiting, we believe Gypsy Willis will be taking to the stand here any minute now. What are - what are we supposed to be hearing from her?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Well, really, we're all on pins and needles because this is the blockbuster testimony. This is, according to prosecutors, the motive for murder. This is the woman that Dr. MacNeill wanted to be with, and that's why prosecutors say he wanted his wife out of the way. Gone. Bye-bye.

Now, Gypsy Willis has said in the past under oath, yes, OK, we had an affair. Big deal. He was happily married, and this was something that was fun and exciting on the side. Nothing to see here.

Now, the prosecutor says, look, this woman is no angel. You talked about that identity fraud. She was also convicted for identity fraud for stealing the identity, along with Dr. MacNeill, of the MacNeill's adopted daughter. And there is a witness who is expected to testify that Gypsy has said some really, really creepy things to her that this other witness who is expected to testify interpreted as Gypsy wanting Michele, the wife, out of the way.

Now, Gypsy has a rock solid alibi. She is not accused of murder. I want to make that absolutely clear. She was in a car with somebody driving somewhere at the time that all this went down. But the prosecution wants to show that Dr. MacNeill was so obsessed with this woman, he had put her up, but he wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted her in the house, and that's why just a few days after his wife dies under very suspicious circumstances -

BALDWIN: He married (ph) the nanny.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He moves her in as the nanny. And, of course, you heard Rachel yesterday, the adult daughter, saying -


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She didn't do any nanny work. She was making goo-goo eyes at him the whole time.

BALDWIN: She knew what was going on, that one daughter. And so this -- this is this one storyline that we're following and we wait for the mistress to take to the stand today.

On the other side, they had these eight children. This little itty bitty Ada, she was six when she found her mom in this tub. She's now 12. The judge made this ruling this morning. Tell me what that involves. Tell me when we might see her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is very strange and complicated. Essentially this little girl, who is now 12, soon after her mommy's death, her adoptive mommy, it turns out, it turns out it was her biological grandmother, but that's a whole other story. She goes to live with Alexis, Dr. MacNeill and the dead woman's adult daughter. Now, Alexis is the one who led the charge to have her dad prosecuted for murder. So living with her, is her mind poisoned by Alexis? That's what the defense said. Well, the judge kind of agreed. He said, look, her memory gets sharper and sharper the longer she lives with Alexis. I'm not going to allow her to take the stand on direct. I'm going to play a tape that she made about a year or so after her mom died where she describes what she saw when she went into the bathroom and saw mommy in the tub, and then we're going to allow her to be cross-examined in person as the 12-year-old girl that she is now and questioned on redirect by the prosecution. So that's very odd. It's kind of a cobbled together way of having her testify, but he felt that that was the fairest way for the defendant.

BALDWIN: Got it. Wow. There is a lot going on with this trial. We appreciate, Jane Velez-Mitchell, you keeping up with the twists and the turns and the subplots and the testimony.


BALDWIN: We will be waiting to see if this mistress testifies. Jane Velez-Mitchell, we watch you each and every night on HLN, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks, Brooke.


OLIVER STONE, DIRECTOR: Every American is at risk for getting caught up in the NSA dragnet.

JOHN CUSACK, ACTOR: Including average citizens not suspected of a crime.


BALDWIN: Recognize these faces? Celebrities attacking the NSA. And they're asking you to fight back. We'll debate an issue that impacts your privacy. Plus, the most inspiring moment you will ever see on the field. Need I say more? That story behind this video is next.