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Interview with Rob Lowe; MacNeill Trial; Monthly Jobs Report; New Details in Teens Death

Aired November 8, 2013 - 08:30   ET


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The defense case consisted of just four witnesses, the most significant, an ergonomics expert testifying that MacNeill likely could not have pulled his wife out of the bathtub without help, something prosecutors believe he lied about. MacNeill's defense team says the rest of their case will be tied together this morning in closing arguments.

RANDY SPENCER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, I think closings are very important. This has been what is turning out to be a four-week trial and there's a lot of information that's been presented. And we've done our job in the system and before long it will be the jury's turn to do theirs.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Provo, Utah.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much, Ted.

Breaking news now. We're finding out just how many jobs were added last month. The monthly jobs report coming out. And Poppy Harlow is just getting the numbers.

What do you see -- what are you hearing, Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a huge surprise to the upside. This economy, in October, added 204,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stands at 7.3 percent. That's just a slight tick up in unemployment. But 204,000 jobs added is a lot. Economists told CNN Money they predicted 120,000 jobs added. And looking at this year so far, 204,000 job gains is actually, looking at this, the second best month we've had in all of 2013.

The big question, guys, and we were talking about this, is when you look at the government shutdown, there was a lot of concern that that was really going to skew these numbers, the unemployment rate may tick way up and that that would be skewed because when people were surveyed they would say, I'm not working, but, you know, they went back to work when the government reopened. It doesn't look like that happened here. It might have happened a little bit and that may be why unemployment ticked up from 7.2 percent in September to 7.3 percent. But 204,000 jobs added is a lot.

We're going to get more information. We're going to look at things like labor participation rate, how many Americans are working that want to be working. We're also going to look at hourly wages. And when you head into the holiday season, this is - this is very important.

BOLDUAN: What this means for consumer confidence.


BOLDUAN: But at least for now, 204,000, that's higher than what we were talking about, a lot of the expectations.

HARLOW: This is going to help. It's higher than what we were talking about. Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Poppy.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, more on the bizarre case in Georgia where a teen ends up dead in a rolled up gym mat. His name is Kendrick Johnson. His parents have always maintained something there isn't right. They believe there's foul play. Now they believe there's proof of that as well. They join us to talk about it.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, almost 50 years after the Kennedy assassination, a new film depicts the events surrounding that day. The star, Rob Lowe, joining us to talk about "Killing Kennedy."


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

A new video raises even more questions about whether Kendrick Johnson's death was an accident. Take a look. That's Kendrick Johnson seen walking, disappears. And other students appear with no explanation. What can we learn from this? Joining us this morning are Kendrick Johnson's parents, Jacquelyn and Kenneth Johnson, and attorney Benjamin Crump.

Thank you to each of you for being with us this morning.



CUOMO: Let me ask you, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, have you heard from the sheriff? Have you heard from federal authorities? Are they keeping in touch with you?


CUOMO: And how do you read that? Do you believe you should be in the loop, that there should be more communication here?


K. JOHNSON: Yes, it should.

CUOMO: And explain why. K. JOHNSON: Because they should keep us informed of what's going on in our son's case.

CUOMO: And, Mr. Crump, if we can go to you, the attorney for the family. Mr. Crump, how do you read the actions of the larger investigation that's going on now? Is it to your satisfaction?

CRUMP: Chris, I think everybody who sees this case believes that there is something awfully suspicious about what happened to Kendrick Johnson. They do not accept the sheriff's conclusion that he climbed into a wrestling mat, got stuck and died. And now with the release of these videos, it raise even more questions, because out of 36 videos, 36 angles, only one of them is distorted, one of them is blurry, and that is the one that was facing the corner where the wrestling mat with Kendrick Johnson's dead body inside it. And that's the only one that's corrupted.

CUOMO: All right, so the implication is that it is corrupted. I'm taking that from your statement. Let me ask you though, have you had the chance to review other video from that camera? Does it ever have a clear shot of the area in question?

CRUMP: It does not, Chris, and that's the problem because all of the other 35 videos are sunny and clear, and there's no problems. But this one video is distorted and so, just like this whole case, it just adds to the mystery. This is a real life murder mystery, unfortunately. This is their child and it's real, and we have to solve this murder mystery.

CUOMO: And that's why I just want to make very clear that we know this isn't about mistake. That this may be about potential misdeed or misfeasance in the investigation. I'm asking you, Mr. Crump, have you ever looked at any other shots from that camera that shows clear video of the area to show the camera was functioning properly as opposed to being manipulated?



CRUMP: What -- when his body is discovered, you can see that the motion sensor camera picks up the (INAUDIBLE) when they discover him. So why isn't there any coverage when Kendrick was placed into that mat or how he arrived there? If it's motion sensor, it should pick up any movement. And also there is time stamps on the photos that we were given from the freeze frames of the video, but what we received from the sheriff's department yesterday has no time frame, so that again raises even more questions and puts even more doubt into this family why they can't get to the truth.

CUOMO: Are you getting any straight answers about this area that you're discussing now. Thirty-six different angles but mostly jump cuts, as you said, some blurry images. It seems as though it's edited. Is that a fair criticism? Is there any response on that?

CRUMP: Well, Attorney King and I, we've looked at it very carefully. We looked at it with different officials. And there is no explanation as to why there were time stamps on the freeze frame and there are not on what they released. They have not answered any questions to us on that issue in detail. But it's commonsensical when you look at this video, two plus two does not equal four on this video, and everybody says it doesn't make sense.

CUOMO: The other thing that raised a lot of suspicions here was the -- what happened with the body of this boy, to put it as sensitively as possible, are you getting any clarity on explaining that process? And again, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, I'm sorry to have this part of the discussion in front of you, but I know that the answers are very important to you, and this is something that does require an answer and I know you're looking into it, Mr. Crump. Is there anything there?

CRUMP: Yes. As we've said, it is so mysterious that his fingernails were cut back, his vital organs were missing when his parents had to exhume him. His clothes that would have valuable DNA and valuable blood evidence on them as - is missing. So why is this that we can't get clear answers? Why is it so hard for them to get the truth? It's been 300 days now. They've stood on street corners with signs saying, will you help us find out who killed our son, because the sheriff's department has only given them the manner of cause of death as an accident, and they know that is not true.

CUOMO: You know for all horrible reasons, Kendrick's life has been a function of how he died and the investigation into it. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, it's every bit if not more important that people remember about this young man and his life and who he was and who he wanted to be. Can you please remind us of what was lost in this situation? Can you tell me a little bit about your son to remind people of who we're talking about here?

K. JOHNSON: Yes. Kendrick, you know, he was an average teenager. You know, he had a dream. I mean - I mean he was a kid that knew where he wanted to go in life. You know, he wanted to be somebody. And, you know, we never had a problem out of him. And he was just a joyful child. I mean we don't understand, you know, why this had to happen to such a good child. You know, he never gave us any kind of problem. And, you know, he just had his head screwed on tight. He had a dream. He wanted to be somebody. He was determined to be somebody.

CUOMO: Well, we know that you've been doing sit-ins. We know that you've been pushing every way you can to get answers. It's certainly a situation that begs too many questions at this point.

Mr. Crump, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, thank you for joining us. Please stay in touch with us about the continued search for answers here because if there's no clarity in how this was conducted and what really happened, there will be no justice in this situation. So, please, stay with us and thank you for joining us this morning.

CRUMP: Thank you, Chris.

K. JOHNSON: Thank you.

CUOMO: Kate, over to you. BOLDUAN: Chris, thank you.

Each week we're shining a spotlight on the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013, as you vote for the one who inspires you the most at Today we take you to Camden, New Jersey, one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., where 42 percent live under the poverty line. Tawanda Jones, though, is on a mission to turn that around.


TAWANDA JONES, CNN HERO: It's very hard for children growing up in Camden today. It's dangerous. You can hear gunshots almost every other night. These kids want more. They don't want to be dodging bullets for the rest of their life.

My name is Tawanda Jones and my mission is to empower the youth of Camden, New Jersey, through the structure of drill team. What I try to do in order for them to go (ph) to the right path is simple, you instill discipline. Drill team is really just the facade to bring these children in because it's something they love to do. Then once I have them, I introduce them to the college life.

In Camden, the high school graduation rate is 49 percent. But in my program, it is 100 percent graduate. We have never had a dropout. We need to take back our city and, most importantly, take back our youth. Let them know that we really care about them.

I don't think people really understand how important it is to have these children succeed. When you do this, you get great rewards. It's better than money.


CUOMO: There's not a bad choice in there. I mean there are just so many people doing extraordinary things.

BOLDUAN: I know, it's tough. It's very, very tough.

CUOMO: Boy, oh, boy.

Coming up on "NEW DAY", Rob Lowe. Yes, you'll hear a lot about how he looks, but I'll tell you this, as handsome as he is, his looks mean something very different in the role that he plays as former President John Kennedy. And talk about owning a role. Wait until you hear what Rob Lowe did to prepare for his new movie "Killing Kennedy."


PEREIRA: Generations of Americans know exactly where they were when the found out that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Now, a new film based on the book by Bill O'Reilly takes a deeper look at the two men who intersected on that November day and the months leading up to it.

Actor Rob Lowe is tasked with portraying the president. Take a look.


ROB LOWE, ACTOR: (inaudible) This was supposed to be Joe (ph). This is the oldest. Father always thought it would be Joe. And he was shot down, and we were all stunned. Cut into the way things were supposed to go. You know, it was supposed to be me (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was always supposed to be you.


PEREIRA: The star of "Killing Kennedy," Mr. Rob Lowe is here with us once again. Good morning you. What an uncanny resemblance you strike.

LOWE: Thank you.

PEREIRA: It's unbelievable.

LOWE: Thank you.

PEREIRA: He's one of my heroes, so to have an opportunity to bring him back for a brief shining moment was -- was -- was pretty fun.

PEREIRA: But because somebody is your hero, that adds a certain amount of personal pressure to you as an actor, I can imagine.

LOWE: It does because, you know, he's arguably the most recognized face of the last -- of the century. And people have a very definitive take on what he sounded like, and what he looked like, and what he meant to them. So you have to honor that, but also, you have to make it your own. So it's -- was definitely a challenge.

BOLDUAN: And this -- this man and the event of killing Kennedy has been an event that has been analyzed over and over again. That brings a great challenge to taking it on again. How is this portrayal different? What did you do?

LOWE: I look at it like this, that if Shakespeare were alive today, he would have written two or three plays about the Kennedy family, and actors would traditionally play JFK like they Hamlet or King Lear. They just would. I mean, people have played JFK, and they'll play him long after I have.

So the question becomes, what do I bring to a classic Shakespearean character that others do? And that's the challenge. For me, it was -- I was very interested in the details of him as a man and not as a martyred icon, as a husband, as a father, as a brother, as a son, with hopes and dreams. Just -- just -- he was just a man at the end of the day. And -- and how do you portray that?

CUOMO: Now, the -- the movie is based on a book by a man named Bill O'Reilly. Do I have it right?

LOWE: Apparently, he's on television.

CUOMO: Right, and he's basically a straight-line reporter, not known for much outside of that.

LOWE: That's right.

CUOMO: Now, when the project came to you and you knew that Bill was attached to it, what was your first present sense? And then how did that develop for you over time?

LOWE: Well, the first thing I looked at was I couldn't believe how successful this book was.

CUOMO: Right.

LOWE: I mean, I thought, wow, this has got a built in audience of people, which in today's world is just such a great thing to have because you got to break through the clutter. And then I read the book and Ridley Scott, who produces the movie, and I had a conversation about how we wanted to handle it because it really is an historical look. It's not a sugar coated version, but it's also not one of those ones that's looking to be overly provocative.

CUOMO: Right, it's not highly conspiratorial.

LOWE: No, it's not. So I thought that was really good to do now at the 50th anniversary. I thought it was an important time to do it in that way.

CUOMO: Did Bill say to you, "You don't have what it takes, Lowe, to play this!"


LOWE: No, there was a lot of finger pointing, and a lot of -- and then there was a lot of, "Lowe, let me tell you!"


LOWE: I was with him last night at the DC premiere. He's been so supportive and so great. And I did get a good review because I don't really want to cross Bill O'Reilly so much.


BOLDUAN: I wonder why.

LOWE: Yeah, he was -- he has been -- he's been great.

PEREIRA: Oftentimes -- we talked to you when you were here for "Behind the Candelabra". That film changed you, and you had a great time making it. This is a very different kind of film and a different kind of role to sink into. And you had your own opinion going into this about the events of that day. Did it change how you felt about that day in a way or about the man or the family?

LOWE: I was -- I think what it did was it re-underlined how I felt going in. You can't believe the amount of wit this man had. To -- to study the press conferences, it's like Jay Leno doing a monologue. I mean, there's like -- it sounds like a laugh track has been pumped in.

I mean, reporters just -- they literally were rolling in the aisles for him. He was the first telegenetic (ph) president, as we all know. But that was organic to him. That wasn't -- he wasn't studying old footage of John Kennedy to be charming at the podium, which is now what every politician does. He was that man. And at the end what I came away with, was what an amazing love story he had, in spite of its complications with Jackie. It was truly one of the great American love stories I think.

PEREIRA: "Killing Kennedy," National Geographic Channel, it's -- it's a role that I think we all can't wait to see you in. This is going to be a tremendous film. Thank you so much for joining to us talk about it, Rob Lowe, your sophomore visit to the "NEW DAY" set.

LOWE: And you guys are holding down the fort very well.


LOWE: It looks quite good.


CUOMO: Gotta keep it up till it's paid for.

LOWE: That's right. That's right.

PEREIRA: Thanks for being here, Rob.

We'll be right back.


CUOMO (voice-over) And coming up on "NEW DAY" this little boy is about to stun you. But it's not what he does, but what he believes about life that is so important for us all to hear. The good stuff, coming up.


CUOMO: (inaudible) for you there as we come to the good stuff. Friday is Feel the Love Day, and feel you shall.

Thirteen year old Tyler Bain from Texas. Tyler loves only one thing more than football, and that's his own Pine Tree Junior High Pirates. That's the team. Tyler can't play, though. A car accident when he was three left him paralyzed. But he's still very much a part of the team as a manager. And he would become, in my opinion, the MVP. Here's how.

Final game of the season, team facing its biggest rival. They didn't think they had a chance. So Tyler showed his teammates that there is no challenge you can't take head-on, giving them a surprise they will never forget.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TYLER BAIN, STUDENT MANAGER: Now, they have in their mind we can't beat them. We can't do it. Now, if I walk onto the field, I'll tell them, "Hey, if I can walk, anything is possible. Y'all can beat these guys."


CUOMO: He had never done that in public before. He's been trying it in private. He had worked for 10 years for that moment. Needless to say, not a dry eye in the house. But more important, because more than the action here is the message. You are not your limitations.


BAIN: I have my up and downs, I admit it. But I don't quit. And the next day I get right back up, say, "Hey, I can do this." You gotta work hard, but you can do it. You can do anything you set your mind to.


CUOMO: And look, that is the message. Did they win the game? Nope.


CUOMO: And you know what? It doesn't matter because that was the best moment you could ever hope for having your kid play sport, to learn that kind of lesson of resilience. That is the good stuff. Tyler, you are the man. We love you here at "NEW DAY."

PEREIRA: That's the way to go into a weekend.

BOLDUAN: Great point. All right, that's it for us, but before you begin your weekend, NEWSROOM with Carol Costello begins now.

Hi Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I know you all three of you are going to be sitting there watching me, so I appreciate that.


Oh, I love that. Thank you. Have a great weekend!

"NEWSROOM" starts now.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Happening now in the "NEWSROOM," the Philippines getting pounded, one of the biggest storms ever recorded on the planet now raging cutting off parts of that island nation.

Also, new bullying claims from the attorney of Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin. The football player may not have been the only one targeted by his teammate.

Plus this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you it's first-degree murder.

FORD: But I'll fight him. I'll (INAUDIBLE).

COSTELLO (voice over): The mayor of Toronto does it again, Tom (sic) Ford apologizing for threatening to kill someone.