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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Murder Mistrial; Ethiopian Airlines Co-Pilot Hijacks Own Plane, Flies To Geneva, Seeks Asylum; Kentucky Pastor Dies From Snakesbite: An Inside Look At Snake-Handling In Churches; U.N. Report Details Unparalleled Crimes Against Humanity In North Korea.
Aired February 17, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Tonight the jury could not decide whether killing an unarmed teenager was murder or self-defense. But almost everybody is deciding what they think of the case and what it says about race and justice in America.
We have quite a conversation. All sides, so you can decide for yourself.
Also tonight, how an airline pilot hijacked his own flight. Why he took it, where he took it, what happens to him now.
And later, we'll take you inside a church that puts faith to the test by handling poisonous snakes even when it brings death.
We begin, though, with the Michael Dunn trial. The outcome a hung jury on the murder charge. Reawakening many of the same feelings as the Trayvon Martin case and prompting so many of the same questions. Not just about how the case was tried, but the bigger picture as well. About race and justice in Florida that other states around the country that share Florida's Stand Your Ground law. Even if that might not have been central here.
The question is whether a criminal justice system that is color-blind on paper ends up being otherwise in practice to the point that young lives are lost.
So did the law make it easier for Michael Dunn to pump three shots into Jordan Davis and harder for the jury to reach a verdict?
We'll have a conversation shortly but first Martin Savidge brings us up to date.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a shocking crime. It started as a disagreement over loud music at a gas station and ended with 17-year-old Jordan Davis shot to death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god, somebody is shooting.
SAVIDGE: Police say Michael Dunn fired nine times into Davis' SUV even as it sped away. He then drove off with his fiancee to a hotel. He never called police. To many, the death of Jordan Davis was senseless and defenseless. But the 47-year-old Dunn told a different story, claiming he simply asked for the music to be turned down. But Davis began making increasingly violent threats.
MICHAEL DUNN, CONVICTED OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER: It sounded like a barrel coming up on the window. Like a -- like a single shot shotgun.
SAVIDGE: Dunn said he fired in self-defense. No witnesses saw Davis with a gun and no gun was found in the SUV.
JUDGE RUSSELL HEALEY, DUVAL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: We are here to commence the trial.
SAVIDGE: Many people felt the first-degree murder case against Michael Dunn seemed open and shut. For prosecutor Angela Corey, it was a chance of redemption. Just seven months earlier, she had failed to convict George Zimmerman for killing another unarmed African- American teen, Trayvon Martin.
HEALEY: Just so you know, we've got two more witnesses for today.
SAVIDGE: But Dunn's defense poked holes in the state's case, suggesting Jordan Davis had a gun that his friends threw away after driving off in the SUV. And that cops bungled the case by delaying to look for it.
CORY STROLLA, DUNN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Never checked the Bushes, never checked the dumpsters. But you know when the detective alleges they did it? Five days later.
SAVIDGE: The prosecution had a weapon of its own. Dunn's fiancee tearfully testified he never told her Davis had a gun and uttered the words that became a verbal smoking gun. Repeating what Dunn told her as they first pulled up next to the SUV with a thumping base.
ERIN WOLFSON, PROSECUTOR: And what did the defendant say?
RHONDA ROUER, MICHAEL DUNN'S FIANCEE: I hate that thug music.
SAVIDGE: Dunn took the stand in his own defense. He seemed mild mannered, even meek as he vividly described his fear of the young men in the car beside them.
DUNN: I was in fear for my life and I was probably stunned.
SAVIDGE: The trial took just days. And many expected a verdict in hours. But deliberations dragged on and on. After four days it was clear the jury was divided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury find the defendant guilty of attempted --
SAVIDGE: Dunn was found guilty on three counts of attempted murder. But a mistrial was declared on the charge of murder for the death of Jordan Davis. His heartbroken parents thanked the jury just the same. LUCIA MCBATH, JORDAN DAVIS' MOTHER: We're so very happy to have just a little bit of closure.
SAVIDGE: And as protesters demanded that she resign, prosecutor Angela Cory was promising a retrial. And once more, many Americans found themselves wondering about the state of Florida, and whether justice was served.
BERMAN: Martin Savidge joins us right now.
So, Martin, what happens now with Michael Dunn?
SAVIDGE: Hello, John. Yes, well, he faces a lot of time. By our count it could get up to 75 years he'll get for the attempted murder charges. However, he's still has to be sentenced. That's scheduled for the end of March. His attorney is talking about the possibility of appeal. You've already heard the prosecutor say she wants to retry him on murder. If that happens, the defense say they will ask for a change of venue -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Martin Savidge for us, in Florida. Thanks so much.
I want to bring in Davis family attorney John Phillips, and also Chuck Hendrix, a former neighbor of Michael Dunn's who was on the witness list, but never called.
John, first of all, I want to talk about your clients, Jordan Davis' parents. I'm sure that going into the verdict, you prepared them for the possibility of guilty, prepared them for the possibility of not guilty. But we're in this strange middle ground right now, a mistrial on one count, guilty on others. How are they doing right now?
JOHN PHILLIPS, DAVIS FAMILY ATTORNEY: They're OK. Jordan's birthday was yesterday, we had a private ceremony and they're -- you know, they understand what the jury's done and frankly we can't wait to hear from the jury and see how many hung up, you know, whether it was one, or whether it was two or why they couldn't reach a decision.
BERMAN: Yes. Perhaps that will help plan strategy for the future.
Does the Davis family believe that the Florida state attorney Angela Corey overcharged in this case, you know, seeking first-degree murder? A lot of people suggesting that if she'd gone for manslaughter here, the jury might have an easier time convicting?
PHILLIPS: You know, usually people think of first-degree murder as planning a blueprint, and going out and buying a gun, and having this ornate plan. But Michael Dunn had a plan of his own, and it was you're not going to talk to me like that, fired three shots, fired four shots, paused, got out of his car, fired three more shots. Not to mention all of the back and forth with his gun.
And, you know, that's a serious issue, and Angela Corey wanted it -- the jury to look at it as a serious crime, premeditated murder.
BERMAN: Now there were three convictions here on three counts of attempted murder. Dunn was found guilty of that. Each of those counts carries a minimum of 20 years, which means, for all practical purposes, Michael Dunn will be in prison for the rest of his life. Given that, the family of Jordan Davis, are they prepared to go through a trial again on a murder charge?
PHILLIPS: Certainly. Michael Dunn in their eyes isn't just an attempted murderer, he's a murder. He completed the act of killing their son. And they want justice for Jordan.
Yes, Michael Dunn will be spending the rest of his life in jail, but he hasn't faced ultimate justice for Jordan Davis.
BERMAN: Chuck, you live next door to Michael Dunn for eight years. And you say the man you watched on the stand was different than the man you lived next door to. How would you describe the Michael Dunn that you know?
CHARLES HENDRIX, MICHAEL DUNN'S NEIGHBOR: All I can say is, what you see in public is not necessarily what you get behind closed doors.
BERMAN: And behind closed doors, what do you get?
HENDRIX: From my perspective, egotistical and arrogant individual. He was always right and smarter than everybody else.
BERMAN: So when you learned that Michael Dunn had been arrested for shooting and killing Jordan Davis, were you surprised?
HENDRIX: No, sir, I was not.
HENDRIX: His superior-than-thou attitude and my personal experience with him trying to convince me I was wrong when I knew I was right, and how infuriated he'd get if you didn't agree with him. He could be pretty intense.
BERMAN: Pretty intense.
So, John, do you think it might have made a difference if the jury was able to hear from Chuck, from neighbors like this who offer a different account of Michael Dunn?
PHILLIPS: We believe show. And I addressed this in the defamation lawsuit and into documentary film making that's being done on Jordan Davis' life. And got to see more of the Michael Dunn in that missing period. You know, the witnesses that testified were his father's friends or some that he had only seen three times in 15 years.
And we all have to ask ourselves, if we were on trial for murder, it wouldn't happen to average people, but if we were on trial for murder, wouldn't we have better friends than that, and there's that gap missing with Michael Dunn, and witnesses like Mr. Hendrix helped fill that gap.
And we need them to come forward and tell their sides of the story so that this family can get justice, that you can't victimize the victim by calling him a thug. And Michael Dunn is this, you know, Caucasian businessman and that gives him the benefit of the doubt.
BERMAN: And, Chuck, again, you say the Michael Dunn you know is different than the one the jury saw. You say there were times where Dunn's ex-wives came over to your house and they talked to you about violent incidents inside their house. What did they tell you?
HENDRIX: He was beating on them. Both of them at one time or another had come to my house and said that he had put his gun to their head and threatened to blow their brains out. Now like I said, in both the interview with Jacksonville sheriff's department and for the documentary I stated quite emphatically I never witnessed it, but they came to me complaining about it.
BERMAN: All right. John Phillips, Chuck Hendrix, thank you so much for talking to us. Appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: Thank you very much.
HENDRIX: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, turning now to our "Equal Justice" panel. Attorney and children's advocate Areva Martin, former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin, also criminal defense attorneys Mark Geragos and Mark O'Mara. Mr. O'Mara successfully defended George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin killing.
Jeffrey, I do have to start with you because we just did hear from that neighbor of Michael Dunn who made some claims, saying that Michael Dunn, a violent man. He said he's seen evidence that he beat his ex-wives.
We never heard this type of evidence on the stand in this trial. But there's a reason for that?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right. I don't think any of that evidence would be admissible. When you have a criminal trial, you can't put on a witness to say that the defendant is simply a bad guy, egotistical or whatever the phrase he used. That's just not considered relevant evidence to the precise facts before the jury.
And also, the most inflammatory thing he said about the alleged use of the gun against these women, that would also probably be irrelevant, but it was also hearsay. He didn't see it, so I don't see any way he would be allowed to testify with that. Yes.
BERMAN: I just want to get that out because it does color the discussion now as we look at what happened.
Mark Geragos, a lot of people were surprised by this verdict in Florida. You were not among them. You suggested all along that this would be a hung jury. Why? MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Because the racial make-up, race informs everything in the criminal justice system. Sunny had sent me the racial breakdown of the panel originally and I said on this show, I said, to me it has all the earmarks of a hung jury.
This is -- and actually for the people who are criticizing Angela Corey for not going for manslaughter, it actually was a pretty smart stroke for her to charge first-degree murder because she may have well have not gotten a racially diverse jury in Florida. You only -- and Mark O'Mara, I think, will back me up on this.
You only get 12 jurors. Remember, Zimmerman was 6. You charge first- degree murder you get 12 jurors, that's why you have some racial diversity here.
BERMAN: But you say the racial make-up is behind the hung jury. Spell it out for me here. You're saying that the white jurors --
GERAGOS: White jurors have a tough time looking at a situation like this through the prism of their own experience. You know, when people use the term thug, when people use that rap music, I've heard it myself in kind of behind closed doors. People have come with a lot of baggage and that baggage is brought right into a jury room. There are people who Michael Dunn resonates with, and unfortunately, I think that has a racial basis.
BERMAN: So we don't know because we haven't heard from the jury yet. We don't know for sure why they made their decision or who on the jury made that decision.
But, Areva Martin, you were surprised by the hung jury. You listened to a lot of the testimony here and you thought there was a good solid case for first-degree murder?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN ATTORNEY: I was surprised, John. I thought, and Mr. Guy in particular, at the rebuttal of his case, summed up so well what those jurors could do, which is use their common sense in finding Michael Dunn guilty, and I thought that the way he laid out the case for them, he gave them a clear pathway to do that, but I agree with Mark, that there is a culture, in particular in Florida, that says that even the slightest altercation can end up in the use of deadly force.
And particularly when that altercation is with an African-American teenager. And that's really what's scary about this case. And I applaud the states attorney for saying they're going to retry Michael Dunn. It doesn't matter that he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail. What matters is that we have to change this culture that says African-American teens get labeled thugs or gangsters because of the kind of music that they listen to.
That's just not acceptable. Kids are dying, and we have to do something about that.
BERMAN: Mark O'Mara, what about that culture that Areva talks about in Florida? You tried a case famously that fell smack dab in the middle of that culture in these issues? Of course with George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. What do you think about what she's saying?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I don't think it's limited to Florida. I have to defend my state a little bit. I think it's throughout the nation that we have a concern about the way young black males are treated in the system. I've said this many times, I've represented them throughout by the 30-year career and a bunch of them, and I know the way the system is sort of biased against them, as Mark said, it shows up in a jury selection process with who you have on your jury panel.
And there's no question it shows up when you have a black defendant compared to a white defendant. So it's definitely there. My frustration is that we have focused our anger on this Stand Your Ground issue or self-defense issue. Self-defense is never going away in Florida, it's never going away anywhere in the country because it's a very appropriate protection to have.
Stand Your Ground, I mentioned is sort of this strange uncle of self- defense, it's there as well as not used very often. But the reality is, and I think people are very frustrated with the way that these two cases who were white men shooting black males seem to use a statute that gave them an out. When I think the real frustration is more the indictment of the system that they've been working under for the past 50 or 100 years.
TOOBIN: But I just think these two cases, it's obvious why we lump them together. But I think they're very different. The Zimmerman case to me -- anyway, was a hard case. I don't really know what happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. This struck me as an easy case. I mean, this guy shot nine times into a car with unarmed kids and then ran off --
GERAGOS: Which is (INAUDIBLE).
TOOBIN: -- and never said anything to his girlfriend about a gun. I mean, you know, what does it take to get a conviction?
GERAGOS: Because I -- you know, most of the studies show, and I think Mark O'Mara will agree with me, from trying these cases because the overwhelming number of these cases that are in the criminal justice system are not white guys with black victims, young men that are victims, the usual case is a young black defendant who is being processed through the system.
That's who prosecutors are used to demonizing, that's who juries are used to being afraid of and they kind of prey on that. The system is designed to kind of mess with young black males. I don't care what anybody says, you can see it in every courtroom and I'll agree with you, Mark, it isn't limited in Florida.
I tried cases all over the country, and young black males are kind of the ripe -- the target, if you will, of the criminal justice system.
BERMAN: OK, then, so, Areva, you first and -- MARTIN: And John --
BERMAN: Go ahead -- go ahead, Areva. I just want to say how do you win, then?
MARTIN: I just want to comment on your point about the prism, so as I'm going around -- and this isn't, you know, scientific by any means, but talking to African-Americans about this case, you know, there was such disbelief that given the facts as we were shown throughout the trial, that anyone could determine that Michael Dunn was anything but guilty.
And looking at him testify, we heard his neighbor talk about his arrogance, that arrogance was very apparent to me as I watched him testify. He cried. He wept about a dog and getting that dog some papers so he could potty the dog. But yet his comments -- and the fiancee, absolutely, his love for the fiancee, but his emotion about the killing of that young man was so different, flat. Absolutely flat.
And I think that was very telling about the attitude that we now are hearing his friend described as going to be portrayed in this documentary.
BERMAN: Mark, someone on that jury had to believe Michael Dunn. They had to believe that Michael Dunn reasonably felt there was a gun there even though there was no evidence of a gun. They had a reason to believe that Michael Dunn thought his life was in jeopardy even though no one else testified to that fact, Mark.
O'MARA: And I said that -- yes. And I said that the prosecution did not do a good enough job to get their conviction for first-degree murder. First of all, I don't think it was a first-degree murder unless truly Dunn was just as arrogant kind of guy who walked in with a chip on his shoulder, was willing to unload his weapon on a black male. If it wasn't that, then I don't think it was a first-degree murder case.
But I think what happened was because they -- because of the way Dunn reacted and the way he presented himself, and because of the way at least Dunn presented and also the three other teens presented that Jordan was acting somewhat in an arrogant way himself, that they really questioned whether or not Dunn turned into a first-degree murderer at that moment or if he thought he saw a weapon.
I don't think there was ever a shotgun in that car. But there is one thing that I don't think was focused on by the defense. They talked about a tripod being in the car, they talked about the kids hiding or stuffing something underneath the seat. That's where the tripod was found. If in fact Jordan had that tripod maybe just to put a little fright in the guy next door who was making a complaint about the music.
If that's what happened and that's what Dunn saw, then it does make some sense that he may have been acting in unreasonable self-defense, but self-defense nevertheless. BERMAN: We will -- we will pick this up this conversation in just a moment.
Mark O'Mara, Jeffrey Toobin, Mark Geragos, Areva Martin, thanks so much for being with us.
We're going to speak about whether this legal system puts young African-American at risk and you'll hear from George Zimmerman. He's speaking about his acquittal and get this, why he considers himself a victim, that's coming up.
BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Whether or not Florida State Attorney Angela Corey ever secures a guilty verdict on murder charges against Michael Dunn, he is all but certain to spend a long time in prison for the other charges. In this, he differs from George Zimmerman who is a free man today.
In other ways, though, Zimmerman shares a lot with Michael Dunn, including whether you think it's justified or not, a sense of victimization.
Shortly before the verdict, Zimmerman sat down with "NEW DAY's" Chris Cuomo and talked about how that belief is shaping his future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ACQUITTED OF MURDER IN TRAYVON MARTIN'S DEATH: I'd like to professionally be -- continue my education and hopefully become an attorney. I think that's the best way to stop the miscarriage of justice that happened to me from happening to somebody else. I don't think it should happen to anyone, ever again, not one person.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: What was the miscarriage of justice?
ZIMMERMAN: The fact that two law enforcement entities stated that I had acted within the laws of our nation in self-defense.
CUOMO: You don't think it was about the law.
ZIMMERMAN: I know it wasn't, yes.
CUOMO: And what does that make you?
ZIMMERMAN: Like a scapegoat.
CUOMO: A scapegoat for?
ZIMMERMAN: The government, the president, the attorney general.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Others argue that far from being victimized George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn by and large benefited from a legal system that makes it very hard to convict anyone claiming self-defense. Harder still when the shooter is white and the dead person is black.
Benjamin Crump is the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family and joins us right now.
Ben, thanks so much for joining us. Zimmerman says he was within his rights to shoot Trayvon Martin because he was acting in self-defense. Michael Dunn says he was working in self-defense as well, when he shot Jordan Davis. So Florida's self-defense laws, which do include the Stand Your Ground issue, are they broken?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, PARTNER, PARKS AND CRUMP: Absolutely. John, when you think about this verdict recently with Michael Dunn, even though he's off the streets, this Stand Your Ground law allowed him to escape criminal liability for the death of Jordan Dunn just as George Zimmerman escaped criminal liability for the death of Trayvon Martin.
And that's a problem, what messages we are sending out. When you think about these verdicts. When you kill an unarmed black child, you don't go to jail, but when you shoot and you miss attempted murder on the other occupants on the car you get found guilty -- held accountable. Marissa Alexander, a black female in Jacksonville Florida, shot a warning shot on the ceiling. She says Stand Your Ground. And she was convicted for 20 years.
So what message are we sending? Don't miss? Is that what Stand Your Ground law means? Don't miss? If you miss, you know, you get off. But if you kill a young black man, you go home. And that's just troubling.
BERMAN: Do you think the verdict here would have been different had Michael Dunn been black and Jordan Davis been white?
CRUMP: No question about it, this is an equal justice issue. Where else does it work in America if you reverse the roles and you have Jordan Davis killing unarmed Michael Dunn, or you have Trayvon Martin killing unarmed George Zimmerman, where in America aren't those young black men convicted of first-degree murder.
And so we are just troubled as black parents, and black professionals, black lawyers saying when does the system work for us equally like it works for your children.
BERMAN: The system is run by the prosecutors here, by the government. Are they up to the task here? You said the prosecutors are so used to prosecuting young black men, it's like their fish out of water in these cases.
What do you mean by that?
CRUMP: Well, I don't think they understand the culture of Trayvon Martin. They don't understand the culture of Jordan Davis, and it's a situation, can they even relate to them and say their life has value, and this is not a case about loud music. They try to say loud, hip- hop thug music which are code words for black and other racial epithets.
And really what this was about was a Stand Your Ground law that legalizes murder of certain individuals in America, namely minorities, namely young black men.
BERMAN: You've worked hard with Trayvon Martin's parents, you've been through a lot with them. What advice would you now give to the family of Jordan Davis as they look ahead?
CRUMP: Well, certainly Trayvon's parents and Jordan Davis' parents have communicated frequently, John. They're part of a fraternity that nobody wants to be involved in. And I believe Jordan's father told Mr. Martin that he was supporting him, watching him, going to rallies, never knowing that he was going to be in Tracy Martin's seat months later.
And so the message is, we all have to do something about this, we have to go to the legislature, we have to vote, and we have to serve on juries. Because I think, as Mark Geragos and Sonny Hostin said, it matters when you have diversity in that courtroom because we got to make sure that they can understand that all young black men aren't criminals, they're not thugs, and a lot of us are good decent people that want our children to have what you want your children to have.
BERMAN: Benjamin Crump, appreciate your perspective here. Thanks for being with us.
CRUMP: Yes, sir.
BERMAN: And a quick reminder, we'll be exploring the story and the implications of it in much greater depth later tonight in a special "360" Race and Justin report. Catch us starting at 10:00 Eastern time that's right here.
And just ahead for us next, a hijacked plane bound for Rome lands safely into Geneva. New details about what happened midair after the co-pilot commandeered the flight and locked the pilot out of the cockpit.
Also Gary Tuchman takes us inside a church where deadly snakes are a measure of faith, despite the dangers that they pose.
BERMAN: Tonight new details about the hijacking of the Ethiopian airplanes jet at the hands of its co-pilot. That's right. The co- pilot hijacked his own plane. He commandeered the flight originally bound for Rome, when the pilot was in the bathroom. The flight eventually landed in Geneva in Switzerland, where the hijacker is in custody, thankfully no one was hurt.
CNN Fred Pleitgen joins us right now and Fred, what's the latest here?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Well, there are so many bizarre details. It's really hard to know where to begin. As you said, the co-pilot waited for the pilot to go to the bathroom and then locked him out of the cockpit. What we hear from passengers on the plane is that apparently the pilot noticed what was going on.
He started banging on the cockpit door and then through the intercom, the co-pilot threatened to crash the plane if the pilot didn't stop. So then he re-routed the plane. It was supposed to go to Rome. He then went to Geneva in Switzerland and while he was in the air, he was hovering around there for hours.
He was negotiating, trying to get asylum in Switzerland much the plane was forced to land by two jets. He landed the plane, put it down on the tarmac and then got out of the cockpit with a rope, and then gave himself up to authorities. So right now, he is in custody -- John.
BERMAN: Out of a rope? I mean, there's -- it seems like there's easier ways. There are easier ways to get asylum if that's what you're after, which leads to the question, what happens to this guy now, is he going to be extradited back to Ethiopia?
PLEITGEN: Well, as I said, he's in custody right now and the Swiss authorities are telling us that it's too early to tell. Purely Ethiopia is a country with a lot of internal problems and there are people who seek asylum in other countries from Ethiopia all the time.
However, the Swiss are saying, clearly, hijacking a plane is not the way to do this, and if anything, he will probably end up in jail or be deported as you said, now, air piracy as they call it in Switzerland carries up to 20 years. So this man is clearly in for a lot of trouble -- John.
BERMAN: Now you said that the pilot at one point was banging on the cockpit door to get back in. What about the passengers. Luckily, we know they weren't hurt.
BERMAN: But what do they know about what was going on?
PLEITGEN: You know, that's one of the really bizarre things about this as well, he did apparently make that cockpit announcement, so some of them knew what was going on, but there are other passengers who apparently either slept through all this or didn't know what was going on.
And many of them apparently when the plane landed. This is the really strange thing. They actually thought they had just touched down in Rome. So they were quite surprised when a Special Forces unit of the Swiss police entered the plane and told them to put their hands up and there would be a search of the plane and finally let them off.
But as you said at least nobody was hurt on that flight, apparently most of them were taken on buses and then brought to Rome later. Their final destination, but clearly a lot of them only after touching the ground did they notice that something was very wrong with their flight -- John. BERMAN: It raises so many questions about the possibility of rogue pilots and security, how do you protect yourself from something like that. Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much for joining us, really appreciate it.
There's a lot more happening tonight, Susan Hendricks has an AC 360 Bulletin.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, late word tonight of injuries on board a United Airlines flight out of Denver. The plane encountered severe turbulence as it was making its descent into Billings, Montana. The captain declared a medical emergency. Three crew members and a number of passengers were hurt on board.
Investigators in four states are scouring cold case files after a 19- year-old murder suspect. Miranda Barber told a reporter she killed more than 22 people. She's charged in the killing of a Pennsylvania man, some experts are now raising doubts about her serial killing claims.
And more than 60,000 babies, a record high were born in the United States in 2012 through the use of reproductive technology. Most were conceived through in-vitro fertilization. That is according to a new report, which also found more women are using one embryo at a time to avoid multiple births.
A Mississippi couple got more than they expected without any help from fertility treatments. They thought they were having triplets. During the delivery, three baby girls turned out to be four baby girls. Quads without fertility treatment is rare enough, but on top of that these quads are identical making them, John, off the charts rare.
BERMAN: I have a couple identical twins of my own so my advice to this couple is color coding. Assign a color to each one and stick with it for four or five years.
HENDRICKS: That may work, four girls, I'm exhausted thinking about it.
BERMAN: With quads, nothing is going to work for a long, long time, right? Susan Hendricks, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, this is a crazy story. A Kentucky pastor who started a reality show about snake handling in church dies from a snake bite after refusing to be treated. We'll take you inside a similar church to see why deadly snakes are part of the service, despite the obvious dangers, that's next.
And later, North Korean defectors talk about being tortured for watching soap operas, imprisoned for trying to find food for their starving families. A scathing report from the United Nations on the brutality of the North Korean regime, stay with us.
BERMAN: A Kentucky pastor has died after being bitten by a snake at the church for handling poisonous snakes was part of his style of worship. Jamie Coots died Saturday night at his home after refusing medical treatment. Coots knew the danger involved in snake handling. He had been bitten about a half a dozen times before and recovered.
But this time, the rattlesnake bite proved fatal. Now Coots starred alongside Pastor Andrew Hamlin on the National Geographic Channel's reality show "Snake Salvation." In 2012, Gary Tuchman went to Hamlin's church to find out why this small group of preachers still insists on handling snakes as part of their services.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This church in the heart of Appalachia is completely quiet just before the service begins, except for the creature inside the slack box. It's a rattlesnake and it's rattling. It's one of seven deadly snakes about to be used in a wild ceremony in God's name.
This is Pastor Andrew Hamblin. He is a 21-year-old serpent handling pastor at the Tabernacle Church of God in Tennessee. He his wife and the rest of the congregation practice Christianity much differently than almost all other Christians using venomous snakes as part of their service. Why? They point to the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark Chapter 16, Verse 18.
It's stated in part, they shall take up serpents. Believers like Pastor Hamblin say when God anoints them, they have an obligation to do this, and that God will protect them. Even if they are bitten, their belief is God will heal them, no doctors necessary.
If it looks dangerous, that's because it is. It's also illegal in the state of Tennessee. That only strengthens the pastor's conviction. Snake handling in churches is a tradition in decline, but Hamblin wants that to change.
(on camera): It's against the law to have snakes in a church in Tennessee. Does that concern you?
ANDREW HAMBLIN, PASTOR: No, sir, it doesn't. If someone wants to get bit and die, I know the authorities would come in on us and shut us down. That's why I stress so much to my people to make sure. If it's their appointed time to die, there's nothing I can do to prevent it.
TUCHMAN: These things can kill and do they do kill.
(voice-over): Just a few weeks ago, the pastor of this church in the remote West Virginia town of Matoka was bitten by one of his rattlesnakes during his service. He refused medical care. As he got seriously ill, he gave his permission to go to a hospital. But it was too late, he died the same day. The pastor's father died the same way three decades earlier.
(on camera): Pastor Wolford died two days after his 44th birthday. Outsiders were not invited to the funeral. But perhaps it's not surprising that the funeral home tells us snakes were part of the grave site ceremony. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any time it could turn on me and bite me. If you let it bite or won't let it bite, the Lord will let it hurt or not let it hurt, it's up to God.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Roy Lee Christian Junior is the assistant pastor at another church in West Virginia, the Church of the Lord Jesus in the town of Jolo. He was at the service where his friend, Pastor Wolford, was fatally bitten. He's shocked and saddened, but his faith remains the same.
(on camera): It says they shall take up serpents. That doesn't mean you have to, does it? Is that your interpretation that you must take up serpents?
ROY LEE CHRISTIAN, JR., ASSISTANT PASTOR: Well, if you believe the word of God strong enough, and you really believe it, and the Lord moves on you, you'll do it.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Back in Tennessee, the 21-year-old pastor says he's been bitten four times in two years. He almost died after the first bite, and says he's prepared to lose his life from a snake bite if God determines that's how he should go.
HAMBLIN: I realize that, and I thought about, I have. I really thought about it, that's why it pays to be ready spiritually.
TUCHMAN: Another verse from the New Testament states that faith quench the violence of fire. So that's why this test of faith happens in many of these services. This is called handling fire, people burning their hands, arms and other body parts with flames shooting out of bottles.
(on camera): Are you ever worried that seeing people burn themselves and the snakes will frighten your children?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
TUCHMAN: How come?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When God's in it, there isn't no harm in it.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This woman heard crying during much of the service. The pastor saying she had been going through some emotional difficulties. She then took to the altar, grabbing a rattlesnake and shaking with abandon. To us, it looked like she had no idea about the personal risk. The pastor claims God had anointed her to handle this deadly serpent.
The people we talked to at this church know what happened to the pastor in West Virginia, but that risk won't stop them from coming back to this church, looking for salvation in ways both unusual and illegal. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Tennessee.
BERMAN: Coming up, inmates in North Korean prison camps so desperate for food they eat live worms that they find in the fields. That's just the tip of the iceberg about what a U.N. commission found out about North Korea's crimes against humanity. The horrors of a newly released report next.
BERMAN: A United Nations report released today paints a picture of horrifying conditions in North Korea, from excruciating treatment in prison camps to discrimination, abduction and arbitrary detentions. Now this is the results of an 11-month investigation. The report flat out says that North Korea has committed unparalled crimes against humanity.
The head of that commission told Reuters that the crimes they heard about going on in North Korean prison camps are strikingly similar to what the Nazis did during World War II. The commission gathered evidence from more than 100 victims, witnesses and experts to come to this conclusion.
CNN international correspondent, Paula Hancock, joins me now live from Seoul, South Korea. Paula, this report really lays out in brutal detail the horrors to this regime subjects its people to.
PAULA HANCOCK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. We really haven't seen this kind of report before. This is unprecedented. The stories themselves may have been heard before and that's certainly shocking. But to put them all together, really catalogues what the report refers to as unspeakable atrocities.
Eighty defectors and witnesses gave testimony, 240 more did it in private because they still have family in North Korea and they were concerned that there would be reprisals against their family. Some of this testimony as you is horrifying. The chair of the commission said he was driven to tears by some of it.
For example, one woman refers to a fellow prisoner in a prison camp who gave birth to a child and was forced to drown that child in a bucket of water. A prison guard forced her to do that, she was begging him to allow her to keep the baby, but she was beaten until she drowned the baby.
Now just to give a quote from the report mentioning that forced infanticide. Qoute, "In most cases, guards at the detention facilities, in which repatriated persons are held forced either the mother or a third person to kill the baby by drowning it in water or suffocating it by holding a cloth or other item against its face, or putting the baby face down so that it cannot breathe.
Now, we also heard testimony about starvation, about public executions within this camp, one man testified he had tried to escape, tried to defect, but was caught and held in a detention camp, this is what the report says about him. Quote, "The inmates only received five spoons of boiled corn three times a day." He personally witnessed 13 men dying during his time.
Their bodies were wrapped up and left for days for the other inmates to see so as to instil fear in them. The guards told them, this is what happens when you abandon your country. Hundreds of testimonies just like this one, John, as I said a horrifying report, but one that the U.N. says has to have international attention.
BERMAN: Just to be clear, this report is from the United Nations, this is an official report, how did they get this information?
HANCOCK: It was mainly from defectors who had escaped North Korea, witnesses, those who had been inside the prison camps, had been tortured or starved within North Korea itself. It was also from corroborative evidence like satellite imagery and human rights groups -- John.
BERMAN: All right, Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul, this report is horrible. I'm sure there will be much more about this on the days ahead. Thanks so much, Paula.
Some breaking news for us next. More on the airliner hit by turbulence out in Montana, We'll speak to a reporter where that flight landed that's just ahead.
BERMAN: We are following some breaking news tonight. The United Airlines flight badly shaken up by turbulence, a number of people on board injured. This is on approach to Billings, Montana. So joining us now by phone, Simone Dealba of CNN affiliate, KTVQ, Simone, I understand you were there when the passengers got off the flight. What did you hear?
SIMONE DEALBA, KTVQ REPORTER (via telephone): That's right. After the fact we were told that the experience was terrifying, it was chaotic, there were people hitting the roof of the plane, one woman specifically lost her baby from her arms. Really the experience for passengers was chaotic and pretty very overwhelming.
BERMAN: Do you have any sense of the number of injuries?
DEALBA: What we are told is several passengers and three crew members are injured now. We're not sure of the extent of the injuries, but that is what we are told at this point in time.
BERMAN: What are you hearing from United? Any sense of what caused this? Just standard turbulence in the air?
DEALBA: It does appear that turbulence, I mean, we are talking severe turbulence seems to be the issue. According to United Airlines however they are saying that the flight safety team is going to investigate what happened further. I know a point of contentions was passengers were saying they weren't getting a response to what happened.
BERMAN: We do understand that one woman hit her head during this turbulence, which can be deadly at times when it is severe. Simone Dealba, thanks so much for being with us in Billings, Montana. We'll keep our eye on this to see what we learn throughout the evening. That does it for us right now. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of 360, "Race, Justice in America." We will be unpacking the Michael Dunn case and its implications for all of us. Meanwhile, "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts right now.