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Hurricane Arthur Close To Landfall; Father of Child Who Died in Hot Car Denied Bail

Aired July 3, 2014 - 19:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Batten down the hatches, here comes Hurricane Arthur. We are bracing ourselves for impact from the first major storm of the season.


GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: This is no time to put your stupid hat on. Don't get brave just because you see some good waves out there. Stay out of the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This storm does not have to cause loss of life.


TAPPER: Hurricane Arthur is forecast to become a monster Category 2 storm packing winds upward of 100 miles per hour. North Carolina is taking a direct hit. We'll take you there live as residents head for the hills. Welcome to our special breaking news coverage here on CNN. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. I'm Brooke Baldwin here at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We're here to bring you the latest on these two breaking stories this hour.

TAPPER: First, Hurricane Arthur whipping the beaches of the Carolinas right now and very close for the eye to be making a direct hit. Our reporters are scattered all along the coast ready to bring you every angle of the storm.

Alina Machado is in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Rene Marsh is in Morehead City. Joe Johns is way out on the outer banks in Kill Devil Hills and our own Chad Myers, of course, is standing by in the CNN Severe Weather Center. We will get the very latest from all of them over the next hour as this massive storm barrels north.

BALDWIN: So Jake, that's one massive story we're watching tonight. The other, did you watch this hearing out of Georgia today? The staggering jaw dropping details from this Cobb County Courtroom for this probable cause and bond hearing for the father of a boy who died in this hot car. Here he was today in his orange jail jumpsuit.

This is Justin Ross Harris. He was denied bail after the judge ruled that he will stand trial on felony murder charges for leaving his 22- month-old son, Cooper, in a hot car on a 90-degree Georgia day. A police detective here testified today that Harris was sexting with at least six different women, one of whom was 17 years of age, sending nude photos of himself on the day of his son's death.

Also tonight we can tell you that there are two life insurance policies that this couple apparently took out on this little boy. So we will have much, much more on this hearing and the implications coming up in just a couple of minutes.

TAPPER: That's right. A heart breaking case, but let's go first back to that hurricane and Alina Machado, who is in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Alina, this storm were told could dump more than six inches of rain in some areas and it's already started to fall where you are.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. It's actually been on and off here for several hours in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Right now we just have wind, but conditions here continue to change moment to moment it seems. We are hearing reports that there are more than 6,000 customers in the county that we are in.

In New Hanover County, North Carolina, right now, that do not have power. Where we are it appears that there is power. You can see some of the lights in some of the houses behind me. We also are hearing that for the most part people are heeding the warnings in terms of people being in the water after authorities told them not to be in the water.

If they are they are listening to police when they approach them to tell them to get out of the water. So far no rescues. We've heard reports of minor flooding in low lying areas. We're getting whipped here, but we're hanging on -- Jake, Brooke.

TAPPER: Alina, the winds are expected to get up to 100 miles per hour. What's it like there now? How bad is it?

MACHADO: We're feeling wind gusts. It comes and it goes. Definitely, though, when we took a stroll by the beach not too long ago, the rough surf is obviously there, but right now it seems like the winds are picking up quite a bit, Jake.

TAPPER: Alina Machado in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, stay safe. With landfall potentially imminent, our Rene Marsh is on the shoreline in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Rene, you've been talking to officials at a State Emergency Operations Center. How prepared is North Carolina for this storm?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, when you speak to them, they say they're very prepared. In the words of one emergency management director, he says we don't plan hour after hour. We plan 12 hours ahead because if you don't plan 12 hours ahead, you are behind. So that has been the strategy here. We know that within these coastal communities, what they're doing, a curfew.

So just in the hours before this storm really gets close to the coastline and really starts causing some trouble, people will be told that there's a curfew. You should stay indoors, stay off of the roads. I want to give you a live look where I'm right here. You can see the surf is very rough.

We are getting a break from the wind and the rain at this moment. But Alina just talked about it, this goes and it comes. We're at this moment where we're getting a break. You can see people are out. No one in the water that we can see at the moment, which is good news. And then we see this police officer who's walking here.

He's making sure that people are being smart about it here. If you are going to be out here, they want you on the shore. They do not want you in the water, Jake and again the time that we spent here within Atlantic City as well as Morehead City, their bottom line is this -- they haven't told people that they must go. They say they're not at that point yet.

Of course at any point notice things could change depending on the strength of this storm. But they want people to, again, prepare, if there are things outside of your home that could become projectiles as the storm inches closer, they want you to take that sort of -- those sort of pieces of equipment or whatever it may be up so that you don't have more problems. But again you can see for yourself, a little bit of calm before things get rough again for us here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Rene Marsh in Morehead City, thank you so much. CNN's Joe Johns is about 3-1/2 hours up the shoreline in the outer banks, specifically in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. This hurricane's threatening to do some serious damage the farther north it goes up the coast. What exactly are you seeing where you are right now?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing a lot of chop in the waves, a lot of mist has rolled in here. The visibility has changed for the worse over the last several hours. The beach is starting to be clear. There are people out here and a lot of them, in fact. I can tell you so many people we have talked to here who are further down the coast have moved to this area in Kill Devil Hills because they were evacuated or otherwise couldn't get where they are going.

So this is sort of a way station for people to try to wait out this storm and see what happens. One of the big problems, of course, is not just the weather, which of course could be severe, Jake. It's also a concern about the road. North Carolina 12 we talked so much about out there really just washes out with sand, with water and the problem is there are emergency people standing by to try to clear that road, but they're not going to be asked to clear that road while the storm is still in effect.

That's a question of their personal safety. People are being warned if you decided not to evacuate, you should reconsider that at all costs because, number one, you're going to have to stay where you are, sustain yourself for up to 72 hours, and the other factor, of course, is if something happens and you've got a problem, the emergency people may not be able to get to you.

So that's why people are being encouraged to evacuate, they're moving to higher ground, which is here in Kill Devil Hills. People are planning on waiting out the storm. As you can see, everything behind me is just a precursor of what is expected to come tonight.

TAPPER: Joe Johns in Kill Devil Hills in the outer banks of North Carolina -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jake, watching all these different people out there, everyone has one of these and if you're not under mandatory evacuations. People want the great pictures. But please, please be safe, I'm sure Chad Myers would echo what I'm about to say. It's hugging the coastline. As you're watching that radar and this hurricane spin, spin, spin, where is it exactly right now?

MYERS: It's to the south of our Alina Machado, right due south of her by about 35 miles. People are looking at this, the empty spot. The eye. The eye isn't windy. The eye isn't stormy. It's the eye wall that we're concerned about and that's what's now on shore. All the way from Surf City back down to our Alina Machado, all the way to Kerry Beach and all the way back up to where the next live shot location is, there's Atlantic Beach right there.

So as the storm moves this way and the bosses about an hour ago said is there any way that this misses? No, there's no way that this storm misses anything because the dangerous part of this storm is going to travel right along the coast, right through there.

So this is exactly what we don't want. We'd love to have it go down here and move out to sea, that's probably not going to happen. If you keep that eye wall on shore for hours and hours, that's where the real damage comes from -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: What about farther up the east coast? We're focusing on North Carolina. But earlier thinking of Boston pops, 4th of July, what will those folks be seeing?

MYERS: You know, it makes a run at Nantucket, it really does, about an 80-mile-per-hour storm. Eventually you move off shore and you're away from Norfolk and Hampton Rose, but this is where we're seeing the approach to New York City. We could see outer bands in New York City tomorrow afternoon, there will be outer bands in Boston as that right there is the middle of the cone, but that right there is the left side. That would be the most dangerous situation if we actually got this thing to run over Cape Cod -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Chad Myers, we'll stay in close contact with you, of course, as we're live over the next couple of hours on CNN watching this storm barrelling through. We'll check in with Chad. Jake Tapper, to you in Washington.

TAPPER: Thanks, Brooke. Storm conditions in North Carolina are getting worse by the minute. Right now, more than 7,000 customers are sitting in the dark along the Carolina coastline. Bill Blair, the mayor of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, we've been trying to reach him. Is he on the line? We don't have him on the line.

Right now back to Alina Machado, who is in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Alina, what's the situation right there? You just heard from Chad Myers, the storm is about 35 miles away from you. MACHADO: Yes, Jake, we're feeling consistent wind here. Not much in terms of rain, which is surprising to me, but the wind is pretty steady. I would imagine that the closer that Arthur gets, the worst this is going to get here -- Jake.

TAPPER: I want to bring back Chad Myers in the CNN Severe Weather Center. You've been talking all day, voicing your frustrations with the people who are going into the water. You heard the governor of North Carolina telling people not to put their stupid hats on, not to try to be gutsy and go out there and surf those waves. What have you been seeing as you have been following the reports from our correspondents all along the North Carolina shoreline?

MYERS: There got to be a threshold. For a while it was fun for these people that were in the water. Then all of a sudden when the first squall came in, they all started running because the winds went from 30 to 60 and here's a shot right now from Wrightsville Beach. The only issue with this picture right now is that this water should be there. It's here and that's the rub because we're now two feet over where low tide should be.

And I can show you that on a scale here. This is where the water should be -- hard to see, but you'll get the idea. That's one foot. That's where the water dam should be right now. It's at three feet. Guess what happens for the next six hours? We go up from here. That's when the real scouring, the real beach erosion is going to take place because this water is not only going to be here but on the dunes and through the dunes and even probably on to the roadway there in Wrightsville Beach.

Alina, you're still seeing pretty heavy wind. They're going to come and go, and for you they're actually going to change directions because you're almost directly on the eye wall right now.

MACHADO: Well, Chad, I wouldn't be surprised to see that. We have seen the wind change direction throughout the course of the day. And quite frankly, right now it seems to be picking up quite a bit. But we'll keep monitoring this, Jake and Chad.

TAPPER: Alina, we spoke with the head of the National Hurricane Center who said one of his big fears is not only the wind damage and the damage caused by the storm itself, but also the water surge that you heard Chad talking about. What have you seen if anything in terms of the water surge there in Wrightsville beach? Is water higher than it was yesterday? Is it flooding into the streets?

MACHADO: We have seen the water going up along the beach, but in terms of street flooding, what we're being told by the police department here is that there is flooding in low lying areas. That flooding happened earlier today in the first few bands when Arthur rolled through here. That flooding receded. I'm imagining as the winds and the rain continue to pick up, that may come back. But so far, at least here in Wrightsville Beach. We've had some good news and that's that there isn't widespread flooding as far as we're concerned -- Jake. TAPPER: Not yet anyway. Alina, Chad, Joe, Rene, everyone standby. We'll take a very quick break. When we come back, more on our continuing coverage of Hurricane Arthur as it barrels into the North Carolina coast.

BALDWIN: We'll talk about that tonight. The other major story we're following for you today this gripping court hearing. Shocking new accusations against this father, this man here in the orange jumpsuit. This is the man charged with killing his 22-month-old toddler by leaving him in his hot car. What he was texting multiple women when his son died.


TAPPER: You're looking at some live shots from Hurricane Arthur. Arthur making landfall in North Carolina. Welcome back to our special live coverage of the hurricane as it slams the east coast. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.

BALDWIN: And I'm Brooke Baldwin in CNN Center in Atlanta. Winds around 100 miles per hour. Hurricane Arthur could bring a lot of damage and impact to families obviously out and about hoping to enjoy their 4th of July holiday weekend -- Jake.

TAPPER: That's right. Of course, there's much more serious concerns that that, with storm conditions in North Carolina getting worse by the minute. Right now more than 7,000 customers are sitting in the dark along the Carolina coastline because of power outages.

Let's go now to Bill Blair. He's the mayor of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Sir, thanks so much for talking to us. First and foremost we hope you're staying safe and the people in your town are safe. The waves at Wrightsville seemed to be intensifying from the second from the images we're seeing. Tell us what's happening right now. Mayor Blair, can you hear me?

MAYOR BILL BLAIR, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): I can hear you. Can you hear me?

TAPPER: I can. Tell us what's happening right now in Wrightsville Beach. Tell us what you see.

BLAIR: It's picked up significantly in the last 30 minutes. The winds have picked up and it's raining pretty hard now. So last check on the radar looks like we were due east. Eyewall was due east of here. We're probably pretty close to the eye wall at this point. Probably going to get a little worse before it gets better.

TAPPER: What have you told the people of Wrightsville Beach? Have they been told to evacuate, to go indoors, to stay out of the water?

BLAIR: I think the concern about the Wrightsville Beach residents, we have no power outages or any of those issues here, but we are concerned about beach erosion, and that would be one of the biggest concerns. We won't really know the effect of that until after the -- until probably tomorrow morning because the early reports are moderate erosion which is a big deal for the beach.

TAPPER: Does that have any short-term implications or just long term, beach erosion? It seems like we've lost Mayor Blair's communication right now. So we're going to go to our next segment, which is a question about how should the communities in these areas prepare.

Joining me on the phone is somebody who has much experience with this, Lieutenant General Russell Honore, who commanded efforts after Hurricane Katrina in the south of the United States where it was hit. Sir, thank you for joining us. How should these communities in North Carolina and Virginia and elsewhere be preparing right now?

LT. GENERAL RUSSEL L. HONORE, U.S. ARMY (voice-over): As we approach nightfall, number one, I've been monitoring for the last 24 hours and there's still people using the concept of category of storm particularly whether they're going to vehicle wait. We need to move away from that language and be more precise and tell people they can expect two to three feet or in inches in your neighborhood.

We have to start talking effects of the storm as opposed to category because people are still using that old language. Well, it's only a Category 1. Guess what? Tonight, we have a possible Category 2 with over 100-mile-per-hour winds and gusts that will turn the lights off. If you're within 100 miles of this storm, you can expect to be without electricity for several days.

Of course people who live along the coast who have come to that level of comfort of riding out, now you have thousands of people who are visiting who want to make the best of the weekend. And we've got to be more precise. And that is you move away from a hurricane. You don't move near it and hope it doesn't hit you. We've got to get more precise with that language -- Jake.

TAPPER: Well, let me invite you to be more precise because right now we're looking at images from the outer banks, which is the northern shoreline of North Carolina. Hurricane Arthur right now hitting southern North Carolina, but obviously it won't be too long before some serious effects are felt in the outer banks. I'm looking at these images, families, young people and children walking on the beach in the outer banks. What's your message to them?

HONORE: Well, I think our city fathers, speaking of the mayors and the Chamber of Commerce people, folks need to get very specific. When we start talking about category of storm, there's nobody on the beach. Close the beach. I know there's always talk about people have a freedom to do what they want. They don't know, Jake, most of these people are operating because they may see a television camera out there who is a well-trained, well-resourced backup team and they say we can go on the beach, too.

We need to be very specific and tell people stay away from the beach! The beach are closed because many of them are visitors, Jake. They don't know. Everybody wants to get this thing through here so we can go on with the fourth of July. We have to be more precise and give people warnings that the lights will be out and it won't be just hours, it will be possibly days. It won't be just hours. The roads are going to be closed. We have to get more precise in our language. I know it's not good for business. You can't have two things. You can't have a hurricane and have businesses open. They have to close.

TAPPER: General, should -- I mean, you're telling these people who are on the beach right now -- and we're seeing live images of them walking dogs and walking with their children. They're in the northern shoreline of North Carolina where the storm has not come at least not yet to the degree that Hurricane Arthur is hitting southern North Carolina, you're saying get off the beach. Should they be leaving the coast? Should they be leaving their cars and heading west or is it OK for them just to be staying in their homes?

HONORE: Jake, I would tell them, if you can see water and you are on the coast, you need to get out of there. Because if it's surge, surge will put surge in, as Chad will dictate here in a few minutes, 20, 30 miles inland. If you're on the coast and you can see water and you live anywhere under the storm, you need to move away from this storm. It will be easier to come back if the power's still on, but if you're in that area, I can guarantee you lights are going to go out. You won't have running water. You won't have electricity and you're going to be miserable. You move away from storms, not ride them out.

TAPPER: I think we got communication back with the mayor of Wrightsville Beach, which is in southern North Carolina, Mayor Bill Blair. Mayor Blair, I'm hoping you can hear me. If you heard General Honore who obviously was in charge for some of the response to Hurricane Katrina if 2005, he is saying not only should anybody on the beach in North Carolina get off the beach, he's saying if you can see water from your home, you should be getting in your car or your SUV and heading west and getting out of town. I don't think that that is what you have told the people of Wrightsville beach. What's your message to Lieutenant General Honore?

BLAIR: Well, I think in some degree he's correct that if you get a storm that's above a certain category, I think you definitely need to get out of harm's way. I think public safety's very important. On a storm like this, however, at a Category 1, maybe Category 2, this beach has been through many storms like this and there are a lot of folks that live on the beach.

I think it's up to them to decide at what level they need to get off the beach and get out of harm's way. I don't think it would be automatic at this level, but I think if it got worse than that, then it would be a great idea to get off the beach and go inland. I do agree with that.

BALDWIN: Lieutenant General Honore, I don't know if you heard Mayor Blair right there, if you did, you're welcome to respond.

HONORE: Our elected officials, God bless them. They're in a heck of a position with business on one side and people on the other. Hurricane sandy was a superstorm. It got downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane. 90-mile-per-hour winds with surge with this storm coming at night, it could create a lot of damage. We hope for the best, but we got to prepare for the worst. And in this case we need to be telling people definitely they need to move away from those coastal areas and get away from that water because either the surge or 6 inches of rain will fall in those areas and roads will become impassable and power will go out. It will turn the lights off.

TAPPER: General Russel Honore and Mayor Blair of Wrightsville Beach. Mayor, our thoughts are with you in North Carolina right now. Winds now hitting 100 miles per hour. And they could get worse. The winds already knocking out power on the coast. More on that in a minute.

BALDWIN: Yes, just looking at these live I've been watching people stand-up paddle boarding. A guy on an SUV. I have been to Wrightsville having gone to school in North Carolina. Pay attention to what General Honore just said. It will just get worse. More on that in a minute.

Also today the dramatic court hearing for the father accused of killing his 22-month-old son in that hot 90-something degree day in that SUV. How did his wife react? She was sitting in that courtroom. Second row. How did she react to the shocking allegation that her husband was sexting with multiple women the day little -- his little child cooper died? We'll talk to a reporter who was in the courtroom and saw it all, next.


TAPPER: You're looking at some live pictures. These are from the outer banks of North Carolina. That's in the northern part of the Carolina shoreline. This is specifically, this one is from Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

You're watching our special live coverage of Hurricane Arthur as it slams the East Coast, specifically the Tar Heel State. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.

We're also covering some stomach-turning allegation coming out of Cobb County, Georgia. Our Brooke Baldwin is in Atlanta. She has the details -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, I think stomach-turning, Jake, is the best way to put it. I mean, when you listened to the details today you almost wanted to put your lunch down. I mean, the picture that the prosecution painted of this father, Justin Ross Harris, is nothing short of jaw- dropping, damning for him.

Here's what's happened today. This is a probable cause and bond hearing. So, today, a judge ordered that this father be charged with the murder of his own son here, a 22-month-old baby boy named Cooper who died trapped in his car seat in a sweltering hot SUV.

And if you heard about this story already today, if you thought it was tragic enough, it gets worse. On multiple levels, it gets worse.

A lead detective testified today that Harris was sexting pornographic images of himself to six women, including a 17-year-old girl, all the while his toddler is sitting strapped alone at his workplace in a scalding hot car for seven hours. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you uncover anything on what he was doing during that day while his child was out in the car?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you uncover?

STODDARD: He was having up to six different conversations with different women it appeared from the messages from Kik mostly, which is a messaging service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a computer-related messaging service?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And these conversations he was having with these females, were these -- of what nature were they?

STODDARD: The most common term would be sexting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were photos being sent back and forth between these women and the defendant during this day while the child's out in the car?

STODDARD: Yes. There were photos of his exposed penis, erect penis being sent. There were also photos of women's breasts being sent back to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, did you actually -- had you located every one of these girls that he'd had contact?

STODDARD: I have not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you located any of them?

STODDARD: I've located two of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first one, I won't use the user name. But I guess let me for lack of a better term, the older one. Did you speak with her?

STODDARD: I did. She said she first met Ross, and she knew him as Ross through Scout, which is another messaging service. And that he met up and wanted to hook up with her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did she talk to you and confirm the nature of what you saw on these chats back and forth?

STODDARD: Yes, she did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I'm going to turn your attention, was there also another girl that you met and that you've spoken with?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how old is that girl?

STODDARD: She's 17 at this time.


BALDWIN: So that right there, that exchange between the assistant district attorney and the lead detective here a total bombshell for anyone who's been following this case.

On the flipside, the defense is maintaining that this father, despite that, totally forgot to take this boy to day care. But that detective says in the weeks before little Cooper's death, Harris did an Internet search for how to survive in prison, is what they found on his computer. And they also found that he looked at Web sites that were advocating living this child-free life, along with finding online videos of people, of animals dying.

Our correspondent, Victor Blackwell, who was inside the courtroom the entire time these new details, damning details were emerging. So, we're going to analyze this with a panel in just a moment. But, Victor, I just want to get straight to the emotion because I know you were watching this father. The wife was in the courtroom as well, virtually emotionless.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For most of the time, yes. This was expected to go 90 minutes, went on for three hours. And in response to the testimony about the sexting, especially with a then- 16-year-old girl, there was no visible response from the wife here, Leanna Harris, although there was an audible gasp from other people there in the gallery.

Look, nobody who came here today and sat in that gallery expected to hear testimony about X-rated messages being passed between Ross Harris and six women the day that his child was there in that car. The big headline before today was that the two of them had discussed with detectives that they'd searched information about children in hot cars and the temperature that would be required for those children to die.

But as you said, we heard about other text messages. We also heard about two gasp-inducing or gasp-prompting moments on the day that this child was found. First, when Leanna Harris showed up at the day care center to pick up little Cooper, she was told he wasn't there, he didn't come in today. And according to Phil Stoddard, the lead detective, the witness says the first thing she said was Ross must have left him in the car.

That's the first thing that had people kind of turning and looking at each other. There was a second moment in which we're told that the two of them, both parents were in a room together, they did not know there was a double sided mirror. So investigators were watching them.

First, Harris, Ross Harris told his wife that he dreaded how the boy would look at the time of his death. Dreaded as if he'd considered what the child would look like dead before the child actually died. Also, when the mother, Leanna Harris asked her husband, did you say too much? Both times we saw people kind of looking back and forth at one another.

There was also a time in which the defense attorney here, Maddox Kilgore, asked the investigator white surprise you if I told you that Ross Harris is deaf in his right ear? Now, remember Ross Harris is in the driver's seat, the child is to his right in the back seat. So, it possible that Harris did not hear the child if the child was making any noise in the backseat?

We also heard from Harris' brother, Ross Harris' brother, other co- workers who said that he was a great father and he was very passionate about his son. That's when we saw Ross Harris start to cry, cried three times in the courtroom.

Of course, we'll hear a lot more of this as we move to trial.

BALDWIN: We will. We're going to stay on this.

Victor Blackwell for us outside that courthouse in Cobb County, Georgia. Thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this, including why some of the evidence we heard today might not be used in a trial down the road. Our legal panel weighs in. A lot to talk about, next, here on CNN.


TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN special coverage.

We're following the breaking news as hurricane Arthur lashes the North Carolina coastline. You're looking right now at live images from Kure Beach, the outer banks of North Carolina, I believe, 100-mile-per-hour winds. The promise is for over a half foot of rain.

This news and the storm have sent thousands packing. It's causing havoc, ruining holidays all up the Eastern Seaboard. Of course, the threat is much larger to vacations.

We are, of course, also bringing you some coverage of a shocking story out of Cobb County, Georgia, this evening, where a father stands accused of intentionally, intentionally letting his toddler die trapped in a hot SUV. Brooke Baldwin joins me from Atlanta.

Brooke, what was so astounding is just a week ago we thought that this was a horrific story, but nothing more than just a horrible accident. But now the district attorney is painting a much grimmer picture.

BALDWIN: Oh, people were jumping all over the district attorney in Cobb County. I mean, there were tens of thousands of people signing a petition wanting the charges to be taken down, at least, a lot of sympathy for this father. You know, people say this kind of thing can happen on accident.

But when you start to hear the details today, it may start to change your mind. Again, this is just probably cause and bond hearings, there are two sides to every story, but it's incredibly disturbing, some of the details emerging today.

You're looking at his face. He was emotional just a couple of times. This is Justin Ross Harris.

And here's one of the details we learned today, that he was allegedly sexting with 10 different women while his son sat trapped in that sweltering hot car that June day. This is according to one of the detective's testimony there. And he says, one of those women, even asked the man, if he has a conscience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He talks about being a guitar player with this girl. He asked him about cheating on his wife. Did she ask him a question about his conscience?

STODDARD: She did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did she ask him?

STODDARD: She asked --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is this other girl he's sexting with.

STODDARD: She does.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Irrelevant to anything.

JUDGE: Final question he says, Mr. Kilgore, I'm going to allow the question and answer, then we'll move on.

STODDARD: She said something to the effect of do you have a conscience?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was his response?



BALDWIN: A lot to talk to tonight. Let me bring our legal panel, legal analyst, Sunny Hostin and Paul Callan, and criminal defense attorney Holly Hughes.

So, let's begin tonight here. Listen, there is so much we can talk about between the sexting, between possible involvement or questioning about the wife's role of financial issues in the marriage, about lack of sexual intimacy issues of the marriage in and of itself. Three minutes apparently from this breakfast that morning to when he got to work. So, let me just begin, Holly Hughes, with you. What was the number

one thing that stood out in this three-hour hearing?

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That the state finally told us a motive, Brooke. Last week, we all heard that it was an accident and people were, you know, I can understand that. They were sympathetic to this detective.

But today, today, the state laid out piece by piece, they built up that brick wall and they spelled out for the potential jury which, let's face it, they're all watching this, why you would have done such a horrific act? That's the number one takeaway from today's hearing, I think.

BALDWIN: Sunny Hostin, what do you think?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I agree. I mean, I've been saying all along, this is something that happens, unfortunately, horrifyingly, all over our country. We know that last year in 2013 over 40 children died this way. I wrote an op-ed for and I explained that I, too, left my child in the car when she was 14 months old. Thank God she was OK.

So, I think we were all trying to give him the benefit of the doubt about this terrible epidemic that does seem to be happening around our country. But today, we certainly heard a motive. And that's what the prosecution really needs to show a jury.

Of course, it's not the element in any crime, but a juror I think is going to have a lot of difficulty thinking that a father would bake his child intentionally in a car. Well, when you hear evidence, Brooke, and I think it would come out at trial, when you hear evidence that a father was on the Internet, on Reddit, looking at child --


BALDWIN: Let me get to that. That's enough. I'm so glad you brought that up. That's one of the questions, one of the new pieces of information that dropped a lot of jaws probably in that courtroom.

Roll the sound. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any topics of concern, first of all, regarding death?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you tell the judge about that?

STODDARD: He visited several sites, and these sub Reddits is people who die. Once again, it may not be the perfect it's like people who die and it shows videos of people dying. It's from suicides to Iraq, executions, those type of videos.


BALDWIN: So, Paul Callan, you hear that. But on the flipside they brought up a number of different witnesses to testify on the defendant's behalf saying that he seemed not at all, nothing seemed out of the ordinary that day. That he seemed genuinely bothered, that eyewitness on the scene saying this man was screaming oh, God, oh, God. Then you hear this detail about how during lunchtime, this father went away to Home Depot bought light bulbs and had his friends drive him to his car so he could put them away.

(A), you would think he would smell the smell of death as detectives described but why ask the friends to come so close to the car if he knew what he was doing?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think a lot of very smart lawyers and good people in Cobb County, Georgia, were giving this guy the benefit of the doubt. And they said how could somebody deliberately kill a 22-year-old child? And today we found out a lot of really horrible things about why he might have done that.

Now, why would he bring his friends close to the car? The defense attorney made a big deal about that in his closing argument saying, well, he wouldn't do that. Well, I think he would do that because it would demonstrate that he didn't know the child was in the car. Obviously, he didn't bring them close enough to the car that they could smell the stench when the door was opened, and not close enough for them to actually see his child in the car.

And bear in mind one of the pieces of evidence was that although this was a rear-facing car seat, the 22-month-old had outgrown it and his head actually protruded above the top of it. And he had to look backwards when he was backing the car up.

So, a lot of pieces came together in this puzzle indicating that there is evidence to prove he was well aware that the child was in the car and was probably setting up an alibi for himself of some sort by involving his friends and co-workers.

BALDWIN: Detective pointed out it would take three minutes to go from breakfast in which he took his boy out to go to Chick-fil-A to head to work. How could you forget about your child in three minutes? I'm sure the defense could try and will try to defend that.

Let's keep this conversation going. Sunny Hostin, Paul Callan, Holly Hughes, thank you so much. We have much more to talk about on this case out of Georgia, coming up.

Also ahead, LaGuardia Airport, on a normal day is enough to make rational people go full Alec Baldwin. Add Hurricane Arthur and you have a full pledge trouble nightmare on your hands. How bad will the travel gridlock get? Well, we will take a look at that.


TAPPER: Welcome back to a CNN special breaking news coverage of hurricane Arthur. You're looking at some live footage right now coming from the outer banks of North Carolina. That's the northern part of the Carolina shoreline.

New tornado warnings coming in, three eastern Carolina counties now. The hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, getting stronger, travel plans could be affected. For thousands of miles, more than 40 million are expected to head out for the Fourth of July, 3 million by plane.

Alexander Field is live at LaGuardia for us.

Alexandra, this is the busiest week of summer travel. How are things looking there now? Obviously, things up there can be affected by what's going on in North Carolina.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, and we aren't quite feeling the effects of Arthur up here yet, but what we know is that we do have a big threat of thunderstorm that's causing chaos for a lot of people, Jake, as you mentioned. This is --

TAPPER: Looks like we're having problems with Alexander Field's microphone. We will come back to here.

Coming up, Arthur aiming for a direct hit on NROTH Carolina. We're talking about the eye wall now, revving up to become a stronger hurricane than it is right now. Millions in its path. We're going to take a look at who's most at risk.

Stay with us for our special breaking coverage.