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Hurricane Arthur Moving Full Steam Up East Coast; Georgia Prosecutors: Harris Sexting as Toddler Died in Car; More Immigration Protests Possible in California; Declaration of Independence Typo?

Aired July 4, 2014 - 08:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back. Time now for the five things to know for your NEW DAY.

Number 1, Hurricane Arthur moving full steam ahead up the East Coast. It made landfall overnight in North Carolina; heavy winds and rain putting holiday plans for millions in jeopardy.

Georgia prosecutors say while Justin Ross Harris' toddler son was dying in a hot car, he was sexting with six women, including one who was underage. A judge refused to grant bail in his murder case.

More undocumented immigrants could arrive in the southern California town of Murrieta today. There's concern it could spark more protests from local residents who called the transfer "an invasion."

Mississippi's Republican primary called into question. Tea Party- backed state senator Chris McDaniel served papers to Senator Thad Cochran's son Thursday, indicating he plans to challenge the results. McDaniel just told us he believes there was improper crossover voting.

A big day for the horse men and women of the esophagus, the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place on Coney Island. Seven- time champ Joey Chestnut will try to break his own record of 69 hot dogs in ten minutes.

We're always updating the five things you need to know. So go to for the latest. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I hope you and your boys have a hot dog or two. Not that many though, OK, Christine? Happy Fourth to everybody watching today.

We want to turn to a story that is causing a lot of people some consternation. It's a really troubling court case that we've been following. Startling details were revealed in court about Justin Ross Harris; he is the father accused of leaving his little son, a toddler, alone in a car for many, many hours, where he died. A detective testified Harris was sending explicit text messages as his son was dying. Harris also had two life insurance policies on the toddler.

You're going to hear some of the testimony for yourself right now. Let's take a listen.


PHILIP STODDARD, COBB COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Ross must have left him in the car, and they tried to console her. They're like, no, there's a thousand reasons. He could have taken him to lunch or something. We don't know yet. And she's like, no.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, 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: These conversations he's having with these females, were these -- of what nature were they?

STODDARD: The most common term would be sexting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there anything about prison or anything like that you noticed in the web searches?

STODDARD: He did. He also did a search how to survive prison. They had two policies on Cooper -- the first was a $2,000 policy through the Home Depot. There was a $25,000 policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did his wife ever say anything to him about what he said to police?

STODDARD: She asked him -- she had him sit down and he starts going through this and she looks at him, she's like, well, did you say too much?


PEREIRA: We want to bring in CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos. Happy Fourth, my friend. Thank you so much for agreeing to come in and talk about this.

This story is almost too much to bear, a 22-month-old is gone and now we're trying to figure out what happened. That testimony yesterday -- you're a defense attorney. You're going to listen to it in a certain way, but you're, as a defense attorney, also going to try to stay a couple steps ahead of the prosecution. What did you see yesterday? What alerted you, what alarmed you? What would your plan of attack be?

Let's start at the top, what did you see?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I just came from Atlanta where the scuttlebutt, the buzz around the courthouse was that we were going to hear bombshell testimony --

PEREIRA: Boy, did we.

CEVALLOS: -- at that prelim, and did we ever. But the other part, too, is that we all get to see the different procedure of a preliminary hearing. It's the prosecution's show. The takeaway is that, yes, there was some bombshell testimony and the police introduced a lot of evidence of what we call motive. Now, motive isn't intent. They're not the same thing.

PEREIRA: Very different.

CEVALLOS: Yes, but motive can be evidence of intent. And the prosecution's position was all of this sexting, these searches, they didn't go necessarily to what he was doing at the time of, but they go to his state of mind in the weeks preceding this incident.

PEREIRA: Setting the stage if you will.

CEVALLOS: Exactly, exactly. And when it comes to the defense, their position was that all this motive evidence is just improper character evidence. You're basically trying to convict my client because of his bad character. He's a creep. He sexts people; he may have sexted somebody who was underage. He's a lousy guy and therefore his character is bad and that's why he's a criminal.

PEREIRA: The prosecution is saying, look, this is a bad guy, he's capable of bad things. You, as the defense attorney or the defense team that he has, will say none of that is relevant. None of that is relevant.

It leaves an unsavory taste in our mouth. It's unbelievable to listen to this, especially when you think about the fact that that man's wife is sitting in the courtroom have to listen to her husband's indiscretions. What is the work now that the defense has cut out for them?

CEVALLOS: The defense has a lot of work. Now that the case has been held over by the judge, they have to review all this discovery that we heard about at the preliminary hearing.

And I have to say the prosecution has done a lot of really strategic moves. First of all, charging felony murder. Now, this is a complicated thing. Felony murder is an unintentional killing, it's almost a legal fiction. It doesn't make sense to call it murder. Because they're using a predicate felony, that's the child neglect, which is just a negligence a crime. It's a oops, I made a terrible mistake.

But in Georgia, when a killing results as from an inherently dangerous felony, then you can be charged with felony murder, which is the highest degree of murder. Georgia doesn't have degrees of murder. Murder is murder, whether you intentionally kill or, in this case, you commit a crime of just negligence and the prosecution chooses to charge with you murder.

It's a brilliant strategic move because the prosecution now only has to prove negligence. Criminal neglect.

PEREIRA: OK, so now, the neglect aspect of it. I think you could look in certain sides that just forgetful neglect or, as you said, criminal neglect. How deep down is that -- do they have to go? Because they have to account for every moment, every action we hear about the police arriving at the vehicle. It was hot. The smell of a body that was already dead, and yet the father had gone back to the vehicle and put something in the car and then left. That's also difficult to overcome for the defense.

CEVALLOS: You hit it perfectly. Look, it's the rare case that we get direct evidence or a confession where a defendant says, "You got me, I did it." So we have to draw inferences from behavior as to what was in someone's mind when they did something. And that, if we separate all the sexting evidence, the crucial intent evidence was exactly that -- it was coming out to the car, looking in the car. Did he look in the car such as a reasonable person would never believe that you couldn't have noticed your boy in the back seat, even if he was facing backward?

PEREIRA: I want to talk to you about another intent angle of this -- is the internet searching.


PEREIRA: The internet searching to me seems to speak volumes. How much of it is admissible? How much of it can they prove was him? Several people could have access to a computer. The things that he searched for, first blush, it looks bad. He was searching for life -- how to survive life in prison, how long it would take a child or an animal to die in a car. Those are awful things just at first blush.

CEVALLOS: Right, but let me play devil's advocate. Remember the police are obviously choosing the greatest hits, their favorite searches, that he may have conducted. Now, you consider all the different searches that people conduct in one day. Now, I admittedly -- I don't necessarily look up some of the things he looked up.

PEREIRA: Most of us don't.

CEVALLOS: But they're picking the most damaging to him. So the thing that --

PEREIRA: But even if they're in there --

CEVALLOS: Oh, yes, absolutely they are damning, there's no question about it.

The other thing about internet searches is it always raises the question they have to be authenticated, we have to find out if he was the one who actually conducted them. And what kind of seven are we talking about? What words were used? Maybe -- I mean people sometimes write very specific questions into their browser. Others people just write a few key words. What exactly were the searches. The internet makes suggestions; sometimes it's accurate, sometimes it's not. Now taking a step back, if he conducted those searches, that's some

real evidence the defense is going to have to contend with. But I think the way they do that is make it seem less guilty than it appears right now. What kind of search was he conducting? Were there other key words in that search that may broaden the scope of the search? And did he maybe just sort of surf along clicking on suggested websites? So really, internet searches are a new form of evidence.

PEREIRA: They are.

CEVALLOS: They are, in a way, a glimpse into our meandering minds, what we think about at any given moment and it's interesting to see how the courts incorporate them as evidence.

PEREIRA: Danny Cevallos, always a pleasure to have you here, especially on the Fourth of July. Thanks for making the time to get up early on a holiday. Thanks very much.

CEVALLOS: Glad to be here.

PEREIRA: All right, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, we're going to have much more on Hurricane Arthur. It's picking up speed as it heads northeast. So what areas are most likely to feel the impact beyond North Carolina? We'll have that after a break.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We're following that breaking news, Hurricane Arthur picking up speed, it's barreling up the East Coast. The eye now in the waters near Virginia, but not over land. The storm sure left its mark in North Carolina, power knocked out to thousands, life guard stands flipped over, windows shattered, debris whipped around by fierce winds.

So what's next and who should be looking out? Meteorologist Indra Petersons is live in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Indra, what's the latest?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Kate, we're at that point in time now, right as I say this, these huge gusts still continue to come in right now. The latest reports still giving us gusts about a good 40 miles per hour out here, really kind of just blowing all of the sand in your face.

But the good news is this system Arthur actually continues to make its way offshore; it's headed out of the area. If you actually take a look up at the sky, every once in a while we get a little break in that cloud cover, which is great news. It means at least for all of us out here, we're starting to dry out. But by no means does that mean the danger is gone out here.

There are so many concerns. It is the Fourth of July. People are now waking up and they think Arthur's on its way out, they're thinking about having a beautiful beach day. And it's the last thing they should be doing. Remember, all of that water that came in -- I can show you the huge erosion here on the beach. We had a good four or five feet of beach erosion out here, and all that water that came in now needs to make its way back into the ocean.

So the concern with that is, especially when you talk about everyone that's vacationing here for the Fourth of July holiday, is these strong rip currents. Remember, it gets caught out there right on the sandbars that's underneath the water. It tries to push out so it finds that one hole in the sandbar from the storm and all rushes out in one strong current and only takes seconds for people to get caught up in these and have them push out into shore. And we've already seen people swimming even in the early hours this morning, and I can imagine as the sun starts to come out, more people are going to be attempting to get out in the water.

Flooding and drowning, that is the biggest concern when you talk about hurricanes. And again, on the opposite side, right now you see the water retreating into the ocean from what we saw this morning. Because the first half of the morning, we saw these easterly winds. On the back side of the system, as it's still pulling out, we're still talking about some of the westerly winds here. And on the opposite side of the Outer Banks, remember, we have the sound. So that's where we saw a lot of storm surge out there, good three to four feet.

When you just hear the number above ground three to four feet, you probably go, that's not a big deal. Wrong. You're talking about three to four feet like this; it takes six inches of water to knock you off your feet. And although it comes in quickly, it takes a long time to recede, it can take hours for that water to move out of the area. And we're already hearing on Highway 12 we're still talking about flooding out there. So that's another concern as the system of course pushes in your direction, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's moving fast. Thank you so much, Indra. We're watching that all throughout the day, of course.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, as we celebrate Independence Day, we're looking at a surprising new find in our nation's founding document. Could a typo alter how some interpret the meaning of the Declaration of Independence? Conspiracies!



PEREIRA: And Happy Fourth to everybody. Welcome back. Of course, we are tracking Hurricane Arthur, but first, a little July 4th trivia for you.

The Declaration of Independence of course one of the most iconic documents in our nation's history. Did you know, though, there might be a pretty significant typo smack in the middle of it? The issue is with one of the most famous lines in the entire declaration. "They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But, according to Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, that period here in the 1823 copperplate, long presumed to be a precise copy of the Declaration of Independence, should be not a period at all, it should be a comma. What might -- may not seem like a huge change may actually alter how we interpret the document's meaning.

Allen says the period here creates the impression that the list of self-evident truths ends with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but swap it for a comma and the thrust of the sentence changes to underscore the importance of government in securing those rights.

Refer to the original document, you say? Not so fast because, well, take a look for yourself. That's what the original looks like due to poor preservation techniques during the 19th Century. Here is a clue, however. Thomas Jefferson's draft uses -- let's go for it, here I can draw and show it to you -- right here it uses a semicolon, not a period. Fascinating! Look at history, right?

BOLDUAN: Which, of course, may be even harder (ph), because the semicolon is one of the most confusing parts of English grammar.


PEREIRA: I know. And we just modeled it. Thanks, Thomas. Really?

BOLDUAN: My English teachers from high school would say, "Don't go to Kate on this one; she's not going to help you out." That is fascinating, though, Michaela. Thanks so much.


PEREIRA: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Let's ponder it, because I need some help. Coming up on NEW DAY, much more on Hurricane Arthur -- where the storm is now and what you can expect to see today.



ROMANS: Come on! In the USA! It's one song and you know the words.


PEREIRA: Remember a year ago, what we were doing?


ROMANS: Statue of Liberty was open.

BOLDUAN: Oh my gosh, that's right.

PEREIRA: Remember that? BOLDUAN: How, a year? Time flies. It's been a busy day though. Hurricane Arthur --

ROMANS: Here she is.

BOLDUAN: There she is -- hello, lady. Hurricane Arthur not dampening the nation's celebrations, just forcing some of them to go off maybe a little bit early. What a beautiful display we want to show you as America celebrates Independence Day.

ROMANS: That's not the beautiful celebration. There it is.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

PEREIRA (voice-over): I love them.

BOLDUAN: I know. I love fireworks.

PEREIRA: I like the surprise ones, you don't know how they're going to end.


ROMANS: A few towns will be doing theirs tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: Which is good.

ROMANS: Some did it yesterday, Boston did it yesterday. So we'll see.

PEREIRA: Clear weather for some places tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: Regardless, it's still the Fourth of July. Happy Fourth, everybody. A lot of news happening so let's get you over the NEWSROOM with Ana Cabrera in for Carol Costello. Hi Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hi guys. Great way to end the show there for you this morning. Never get old, those fireworks. Happy Fourth.

Lots to talk about today in the CNN NEWSROOM.