Return to Transcripts main page


Police: Suspicious Internet Searches By Father of Child Who Died in Hot Car; NYC Approves Settlement With Central Park Five; Mississippi River Crests, Flooding Parts of Minnesota; LaBeouf Arrested for Lighting Up on Broadway; U.S. Faces Belgium in World Cup; U.S. Flies Armed Drones Over Baghdad

Aired June 27, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Harddrive forensics. An internet search on the deadliness of hot cars is raising new questions in the death of a toddler who was left in a sweltering SUV.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Then, eyes in the sky. Eyes with missiles, the U.S. flying armed drones over Baghdad. Is this a sign that air strikes are about to begin?

PEREIRA: And she is a high powered CEO and a mom. GM's Mary Barra was asked by NBC's Matt Lauer whether she can be good at both.

Lauer now in the hot seat -- would he have asked the same question to a man?

BERMAN: Hello there, everyone, I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. Happy Friday, those stories and much more, right now, @THISHOUR.

We want to begin with new evidence in the case of a Georgia toddler who died when his father left him inside a sweltering SUV. Police have uncovered disturbing Internet searches made on his father's computer, including a search for how long it takes an animal to die in a hot car.

BERMAN: Now the father, Justin Ross Harris, is behind bars in Marietta, Georgia, charged with murder.

Our Victor Blackwell, outside that jail that's near Atlanta, Victor, what more are you learning right now about this investigation?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're awaiting the release of several of the initial search warrants as part of this investigation. That will tell us more about what police expected to find and what they were searching for.

But let's talk about those searches that police found allegedly on Harris's computer. A source with knowledge of the investigation tells HLN's Nancy Grace that police found searches of "dead animals and hot cars" on Harris's computer.

Now, we have to add two caveats here. We do not know if Harris actually conducted those searches or when those searches were conducted, but since that has become public, so much of the public support has started to wane.

In fact there was a petition that had more than 11,000 signatures. It has now been withdrawn, and in its place, one of the organizers posted, "I think that based on the recent developments, this petition is no longer relevant. I still pray that this was truly an accident."

Also about $22,000 in a funding site online vaguely says that it was raised for expenses for the family. That has started to slow, now just $22,300.

We've confirmed through Home Depot that their nonprofit, the Homer Fund, will actually be paying for Cooper Harris's funeral tomorrow in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, so we'll find out where this $22,000 is going.

We also know that Justin Harris himself will not be going to the funeral. Jail officials confirm that this morning. It had been up in the air before now, but we now know that he will not be going. He will be staying here behind bars.

PEREIRA: So, obviously, you are telling us about the family, and we haven't heard from the mother. Have we heard anything from any of the family members at all?

BLACKWELL: The only thing we have received from the family is that obituary that was published in the Tuscaloosa newspaper. It's an extended obituary in which it says that Cooper's mother and father loved him very much.

It was a unified statement with all of the family members' names there. But as far as something directly to the media, either defending Justin Ross Harris or explaining it, nothing of the sort.

PEREIRA: All right, Victor, we appreciate it. Thanks so much for that. This is such a heartbreaking story.

BERMAN: Terrible.

Now, you know, we should point out dozens of children die from heat strokes from cars every year, but it does seem that the authorities there are investigating, may suspect that something nefarious could be going on here.

We want to take a closer look at the evidence, the legal twists and turns in this case.

PEREIRA: For that, we turn to our Ashleigh Banfield, host of CNN's "LEGAL VIEW."

Ashleigh, it's interesting, this aspect of the Internet search showing up that this father was looking for -- somebody on that computer was looking for how long it take for an animal -- it's so grim, I can barely even stand staying is -- how long it takes for an animal to die in a hot car? ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, "LEGAL VIEW": It sounds damning,

doesn't it?

PEREIRA: It sounds super incriminating.

BANFIELD: Yeah, and it would be if you knew for sure. You hit the nail on the head, if it's him on the keyboard.

Lots of people in an office have access to keyboards. That's what a defense attorney will point out, first. You cannot prove that was the man typing. Just ask Casey Anthony.

PEREIRA: Good point.

BANFIELD: She was charged for murder. There were searches for chloroform on the family computer. It was never really determined who it was making those keystrokes.

I can give you countless other cases where it didn't work out. Justin Barber killed his wife, shot her and then shot himself. And it turned out he had searched for how to shoot yourself without killing yourself. And, ultimately, he did not prevail in that case.

Both Florida cases, so it can work against you, and you can certainly find a good defense for it too.

BERMAN: But it's certainly part of the investigation. That part is clear.

Let's talk about the wife now because it doesn't seem like she's talking, but as we've learn again and again, and we all know from Law 101, that in itself shouldn't be incriminating.

BANFIELD: It's never incriminating for all of you innocent people watching this program right now, if you ever find yourself anywhere near an issue with the law, get a lawyer, even if you're innocent.

It's the most protective thing we have in this society, because sometimes I'm inconsistent. My children have pointed out to me how I say one thing, but I do another, and I forget.

Inconsistencies can trap in a case and make you look very guilty even when you are not. So the fact that they may lawyer up, it will never go to a jury. A jury will never find out that you got a lawyer.

They are not allowed to find out that you got a lawyer. It's your constitutional right. It's the smartest thing you can do even if you are a hundred percent innocent.

PEREIRA: But that gets away from the fact, at the end of the day, that baby is gone, and there are mourning family members, including that mother, so at least the attorney can protect her from some of the questions and inquiries are going to be coming her way as well, a little bit privacy.

I want to ask you about the cause of the death, because the medical examiners office already told us, the toddler died hyperthermia, not to be confused with hypothermia.

That's the cause, but then why are they waiting on this toxicology result before they give an official cause of death.

BANFIELD: So what the medical examiner does is they determine two things, cause of death -- what actually killed you -- and manner of death -- how did that killing actually happen.

So they need to find out if there's some toxicology that actually counts here. Was that child given a sedative? Why on Earth would that child be given a sedative if that child were given a sedative? Was that child given a sedative in an enormous amount, which is damning itself?

So, ultimately, until they find that, a medical examiner uses a lot of facts to base some of these things, but ultimately, they can use something like toxicology, too, to determine whether it was a homicide or, in fact, a murder as opposed to an accidental death.

BERMAN: (Inaudible) deal with this, see what's going on down there. Ashleigh --

BANFIELD: And there's still lots we have to find out, lots.

BERMAN: That's so much for being with us. Of course, you can catch Ashleigh on "LEGAL VIEW" for much more on this case and so much more. That is about 54 minutes from now, right here on CNN.

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at some of the other stories that we're following @THISHOUR.

A dark chapter in New York history stands to close today. City officials have signed off on a $40 million civil rights settlement with the so-called "Central Park Five."

The black and Hispanic men were wrongfully convicted in the beating and rape in 1989 of a white female jogger in Central Park. That horrific crime polarized the city of New York. It also sent five men to prison.

Then in 2002, a serial rapist and murderer confessed to that crime and insisted that he had acted alone. An attorney for several of the men is expected to announce the settlement any minute.

BERMAN: Parts of Minnesota, underwater after the Mississippi River crested last night in St. Paul. It's about six feet above flood stage right now. This is from the heavy rains that have been pounding that state this month, and there is more rain in the forecast for the weekend.

The governor there declared more than 30 counties disaster areas. President Obama -- who, by the way, is in Minnesota -- has promised federal waters.

And floodwaters have also been hitting New Hampshire. Look at this. Severe weather brought about seven inches of rain to some place in the Granite State. Several campers caught in the storm had to run for higher ground.

PEREIRA: Miserable camping trip there.

Actor Shia LaBoeuf was led away in handcuffs after he allegedly lit up a cigarette at a Broadway theater, inside it, during the performance. Police say the "Transformers" actor was drunk and disruptive.

He's been charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. But we've been told that he has been released on his own recognizance.

BERMAN: It's always interesting to me how performers or celebrities who have had problems in the past just can keep on having them right before our very eyes.

PEREIRA: Yeah, it is. It's like watching somebody come undone in a certain way, isn't it?

BERMAN: Ahead for us @THISHOUR, they survived the group of death. Next up, Belgium! The U.S. faces Belgium, so what is this Belgium anyway? What do we really know about Belgium?

PEREIRA: We know a lot about Belgium. What's wrong with you?

BERMAN: They have waffles. I know about waffles, but what else? Do they have soccer skills?

PEREIRA: Yeah, they do. They really do.

Also, it is certainly a balancing act, being a top executive and a mom at the same time. Matt Lauer now getting blasted for asking the CEO of GM, Mary Barra, if she can be good at both. Was that question sexist?

BERMAN: And what does Belgium think about that?

PEREIRA: OK, really?



TIM HOWARD, U.S. SOCCER TEAM GOALKEEPER: Conditions were tough. We played in nasty weather before. We got thrown for a loop a little bit, not being able to warm up on the field.

But that happens, and we've been in that position before. So it was just trying to refocus and make sure that little things like that didn't throw us off, and I thought we played well. Although we lost, we played well.


BERMAN: One of the world's greatest goalkeepers, Tim Howard, man, that guy is awesome.

Tim Howard of the U.S. soccer team getting ready for a big match on Tuesday, the biggest yet. Yeah, sure, they lost to Germany one-nothing but you know what? It was good enough. They played well enough in the qualifying round to get themselves into the round of 16.

PEREIRA: So, here's the deal, that means Tuesday, it's make it or break it. No more groups, no more map. It's win or go home.

So will Team USA be able to beat Belgium? That's one of the questions we have for Lara Baldesarra who is in (inaudible), Brazil.

The other question I have, of course, is if you've learned how to samba in your time in one of most beautiful countries in the world. We'll get to that in a second.

So let's talk about this.


PEREIRA: Is there a sense from the people that you're talking to, the other sportscasters that you've been hanging out with, rubbing shoulders with, that they are feeling confident that the U.S. can pull through in this game?

BALDESARRA: Some are feeling pretty confident. Others not so much. Personally, I'm feeling very confident.

Now, that's not to say that Belgium is going to be a pushover by any stretch of the imagination. This Belgium team, this team is full of superstars, but they are not really quite superstars yet. They are going to be superstars.

This is a team that people say in four years in the next World Cup, this is the team to watch out for. This year, Belgium has come into the World Cup as kind of that dark horse. They could do it. They could pull an upset here.

But they are still pretty young. The average age is 26-years-old.

However, this is a team where there's some players like Eden Hazard. He plays for Chelsea. He's an attacking midfielder. He has actually drawn comparisons to Lionel Messi.

And you guys know, if anyone is drawing comparisons to Messi, the greatest player in the world right now, then you know that he's pretty good.

But I think that the USA can get past this team. They have the physicality. They have the tactical ability. They have Jurgen Klinsmann who has just put this team together and really doing a fantastic job with them, even though the USA lost to Germany, one-nil, last night.

BERMAN: This is a big change of tune for you, Lara, who has been picking against the USA from the very beginning, including when they were heading into the game against Ghana. For the record, we do appreciate the assistance we are getting from you right now. And you do correctly note that Belgium has one of the youngest teams at this World Cup, and hopefully we will prey on that inexperience. Lara, you know we say Tim Howard on the lead into you, in an

interview. Tim Howard, on the of the mega starts on team USA, I wonder who is going to come out of this World Cup, from America, as the next soccer matinee idol.

BALDESARRA: As the next big American star?


BALDESARRA: There could be a couple of players. I think this year it's going to be Kyle Beckerman. I think he has just been absolutely stand out. No, he is not somebody that we talk about to often because he plays as more a defensive mid-field role, so he is not the attention grabber who is up there scoring goals. He's not Tim Howard, who is basically standing on his head to make incredible saves.

But I think that Kyle Beckerman, especially in the last match, he was actually the man of the match. This guy is really proving his tactical awareness, he is proving his discipline in his position. He really is someone to look out for. I think that he could really break out and everybody will know his name, plus he has a very distinct looks; it's hard to not know who he is in the on the pitch.

BERMAN: The man hasn't cut his hair, apparently, for two years. So kids will be wearing Kyle Beckerman t-shirts around the USA coming up soon. Looking forward to that.

PEREIRA: The team now has some rest up until Tuesday. Obviously they will have some pretty rigorous training and practice, but you also my dear, have a bit of a break, you have a weekend in Brazil. What are you going to do with yourself?

BALDESARRA: I lost what you are saying for quite a bit then, but if you ask me what I'm going to do until Tuesday, I am finally -- maybe I will take you up on the thought of learning how to samba, why not? That sounds like fun.

No, I am going to be heading to Salvador. I am going to be covering it all. And I actually have a question for John. Is it true, John, that you wore your American soccer shorts under the desk the other day?

BERMAN: I couldn't hear what you are saying. My producer was talking to me at the same time. Could you repeat the question?

BALDESARRA: I was asking, if I correctly heard that you were wearing your American soccer shorts under the desk the other day while you were broadcasting on TV?

BERMAN: And nothing else. Lara Baldesarra for us in Brazil. Great to see you, enjoy your weekend.

PEREIRA: Ahead @THISHOUR, the U.S. has eyes in the sky over Baghdad. Now the drones are armed. We'll talk about if this is a significant step toward air strikes ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: @THISHOUR, the President giving remarks about the economy at

a bandshell in Minneapolis. This is the second day the President has been in Minnesota. Let's listen to what he has to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What Rebecca wrote was, it's amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to. We're a strong, tight knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times. And that describes the American people. We too are a strong tight knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times. And today over the past 51 months, our businesses have created 9.4 million new jobs, our housing market is rebounding, our auto industry is booming, our manufacturing sector is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. We've made our tax codes fairer. We've cut our deficits by more than half. More than 8 million Americans have signed up for private insurance plans through the affordable care act.

So here in Minnesota you can now say that the women are strong, the men are good looking, the children are doing well, the children above average and 95 percent of you are insured. And as thanks to the hard work of citizens like Rebecca and Ben and so many of you that we've come farther, we've recovered faster than just about any other advanced economy on Earth. More and more companies are deciding that the world's number one place to create jobs and invest is once again the United States of America.


PEREIRA: The president there speaking in Minneapolis, outside Minneapolis at Lake Harriet, a bandshell there. Framing his comments, obviously about the economy, with the fact that a lot of Americans are still struggling to get on their feet financially, reading from a letter he's received from a woman who has been challenged with that very issue.

BERMAN: The economy shrank nearly 3 percent last quarter, so the president taking his message out of Washington, trying to pump up the consumers out there, getting them feeling good about things.

PEREIRA: Getting some support there in Minneapolis. You can hear some of those responses there.

BERMAN: Blue state. You can continue watching this on taking that live. We'll be right back.


PERIERA: New developments in the Iraq crisis. CNN has confirmed that the U.S. is now flying armed drones over Baghdad. Prior to today, U.S. officials had said all drone reconnaissance flights over Iraq were unarmed.

BERMAN: And official tell CNN the armed drones are not to be used for offensive air strikes against militants. They are added protection for U.S. military advisers now on the ground in Iraq. I want to bring in our military analyst retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, a former military liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Rick, as I was saying, they are defensive in nature. You are nodding your head.


BERMAN: A missile strike, whether defensive or offensive, they both go boom.

FRANCONA: It's offensive if you are on the other end of it. This is playing with words. I think it's a good idea to have a capability up there in case they need it. A drone by itself is not a good defensive weapon. All those other aircraft flying over Iraq make better defensive platforms to protect anybody that gets in trouble. All the other aircraft that are flying over there, if they have the capability to carry arms, they are. No Air Force or Navy commander is going to send pilots up there without adequate self protection.

PEREIRA: You are saying what a challenge it is right now with Syrian war planes, U.S. war planes.

FRANCONA: And now we've got Iranian drones operating in the same area. Then today we saw reports tat the Iranians are moving intelligence assets into Al -Raseed air base in southeast Baghdad. Which I Suppose it where they have those drones based as well.

PEREIRA: I want to ask you about something else that we are learning today. That Iraq is buying secondhand military jets from Russia and Belarus, essentially, the Iraqi prime minister telling the BBC that, essentially, they are fed up with waiting for the U.S. to step in and provide this kind of aid.

FRANCONA: The Iraqis have contracted four F-16's. The first ones have been delivered, but they have been delivered in Texas where the pilots are undergoing training. It's going to take awhile for that pipe line to flow all this f-16 equipment and pilots and aircraft to Iraq. They are going to go to other countries and buy secondhand equipment because they wanted an immediate capability. This presupposes, of course, that the Iraq's know how to fly these Russian airplanes. Of course the Iraqi Air Force of old used basically Russian and French equipment. They may have pilots from old school who are able to fly these. But I think it is and act of desperation, looking for some capability against ISIS, Because ISIS presents a real threat to them.

BERMAN: It's complicated. Who is going to fly the Russian planes, what happens to those personnel that do fly them?

FRANCONA: The Russians will be happy to fly them in, because this gives Russia another in in the Middle East. You saw they are in Syrian, they are making deals with Iran. They are making deals, now, with Iraq because they want to be players, they want to be powers in the region again.