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Tariq Khdeir Freed from Israeli Jail; Preliminary Hearing for Justin Ron Harris; Hot Car Case: What's Next?; Casey Anthony: Her Life Now
Aired July 5, 2014 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MASON TVERT, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT: Marijuana is a less harmful substance and there's no reason we can't start treating it that by regulating it and taxing it as Colorado has begun to do.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: All right, Mason Tvert, Robert Corry, got to go. Thank you so much.
Good afternoon. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Don Lemon.
And we are going in-depth this hour on a heartbreaking story. Tears in court as damning allegations emerge about this Georgia father accused of murdering his 22-month-old son. Police say he was sexting with a half dozen women while his son died in an SUV under the blistering Georgia sun. Suspicious internet searches by the father, questionable comments by the mother. We're talking about this story for the entire hour right after a quick check on today's other top stories.
American and Iraqi analysts are trying to confirm whether the man in this video really is the leader of ISIS, the extremist group that is steamrolling across Iraq. The video popped up on the internet that reportedly shows Abu Bark al-Baghdadi leading prayer at a mosque in Mosul yesterday. There is only a few photos about Baghdadi's circulating out there, not much as known about. And he hasn't been seen in public since ISIS began assaulting and taking control of towns in Syria and Iraq.
A plane carrying undocumented immigrants arrived in San Diego late yesterday from Texas but officials are not saying where these migrants are being taken. It is for security reasons after protesters demonstrated in Murrieta, California, earlier this week saying undocumented migrants were not welcome in their town. The counter- protesters were also there calling for compassion.
Shocking detail after shocking detail, sexting, disturbing internet searches, and more revealed in really jaw-dropping testimony at the pretrial hearing for a Georgia father accused of murder in the death of his toddler son, left all day in his father's hot car.
Justin Ross Harris says this was all an accident. Prosecutors say they have the evidence to show he did it on purpose. We're going in- depth on this story all hour and you will hear at length from those who spoke inside the courtroom. You'll also hear from our panel of experts.
But first, CNN's Victor Blackwell takes us into the courtroom.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What was Justin Ross Harris allegedly doing while his it 22-month-old son Cooper suffered in the back of his scorching SUV?
PHIL STODDARD, DETECTIVE, COBB COUNTY, GEORGIA POLICE: He was having up to six different conversations with different women. The most common term would be sexting.
BLACKWELL: Stunning claims of raunchy text messages, suspicious internet searches and a plan to kill his son.
STODDARD: Evidence is showing us right now he's got this whole second life that he's living with alternate personalities and alternate personas.
BLACKWELL: Harris sat shackled and sullen as detective Phil Stoddard with the Cobb County police department detailed x rated messages allegedly exchanged the day cooper died, including with a then 16- year-old girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were photos being sent back and forth between these women and the defendant during this day while the child is 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.
BLACKWELL: No visible reaction from the 33-year-old's wife, Leanna Harris, who sat with her family and supporters in a packed courtroom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a loving father. He loved his son very much. We went on family vacations together, and he was a good dad.
BLACKWELL: But just five days before Cooper's death, detective Stoddard says internet searches revealed that Harris watched videos online about the dangers of being trapped in a hot car and that Harris visited a web forum devoted to the child-free lifestyle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don't have any evidence that he actually typed in a Google search or red search or anything for child-free.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting so far afield from the events of June the 18th. This has got nothing to do with those events whatsoever. The status of his marriage and his fantasy life has got nothing to do with the events of June the 18th. We're -- we're just getting so far afield, judge. This isn't relevant to anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge, this goes to the state of mind in the two weeks leading up to the death of this child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this occurred within two weeks?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overrule the objection.
BLACKWELL: The detective also testified the couple had financial problems and took out life insurance policies on Cooper.
STODDARD: They had a $2,000 policy on Cooper. The first policy is the $2,000 policy through the home depot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second one, is this something they got back in 2013?
STODDARD: Yes, November 2012 is when he signed up for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And was this something he still had at the time of the child's death?
STODDARD: That is correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how much was the policy?
STODDARD: That's a $25,000 policy.
BLACKWELL: Stoddard laid out the strange way he saw Harris reacting the day Cooper died.
STODDARD: He saw him trying to work himself up and we are watching on the cameras and he's walking around and rubbing his eyes, and he is, you know, trying to look like he was trying to hyperventilate himself. No tears, no, you know, real emotion coming out of him, except for, you know, the huffing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And through the time you're talking with him about his son and this son's death, did you ever see any tears coming from him?
BLACKWELL: Even more bizarre, how witnesses Leanna Harris reacted at the daycare when she was told that Cooper was never dropped off.
STODDARD: And in front of several witnesses, all of a sudden she states, "Ross must have left him in the car." and they're like, what? There's no other reason. Ross must have -- no other explanation, excuse me. Ross must have left him in the car. And they tried to console her. And they're like, no. There's a thousand reasons, you know. He could have taken him to lunch or something. We don't know yet. And she's like, no.
BLACKWELL: And then another shocker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any injuries to the child's face? STODDARD: There were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what were those?
STODDARD: The way it was explained, there were several marks on the child's face. It would have come from the child or a scratch being made while the child was alive. And then not healing, not scabbing over or anything like that and just soon after he passed away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any injuries to the back of the child's head?
STODDARD: Yes, there were abrasions to the back of the child's head.
BLACKWELL: After three hours of stunning testimony, Judge Frank Cox denied Harris' bond, the defense maintaining --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not criminal negligence. It's a horrible tragedy and an accident.
BLACKWELL: Victor Blackwell, CNN, Murrieta, Georgia.
CABRERA: Shocking, unexpected, unbelievable. Those are just a few words to describe that court hearing for Justin Ross Harris. And that's just a preview of what we're talking about all this hour. Our panel of experts, lawyers, a psychologist, a jury consultant, are going to help us break it all down right after a quick break.
CABRERA: Our in-depth discussion of the Georgia father accused of leaving his son in a hot car to die continues in just a moment.
But first we have this just in to CNN. The United States government now confirms that a teenage boy beaten by Israeli troops in Jerusalem is an American citizen. This is what 15-year-old Tariq l Khdeir looks like today. He's shown on a video being held down and punched by Israeli forces on Thursday. The U.S. state department has reacted.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is at the White House.
Sunlen, what are U.S. officials saying about this incident?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this is a strongly worded message by the state department just sent out. They say they're deeply troubled by this report.
I want to read you what Jen Psaki,t he spokeswomen to the state department just sent out. She says quote "we are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. We're calling for a speedy, transparent, and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force. We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents."
Now, I should note to you, Ana, that at almost the same time that the state department sent out this message, the Israel's justice ministry, they also announced they are launching an investigation into this -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks for that.
Let's return now to our discussion about Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia father accused of some shocking behavior before and after allegedly leaving his young son to die in a hot SUV.
Let me bring in our panel of experts. Criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Holly Hughes, psychologist Judy Ho, jury consultant and the author of "Acquittal" Richard Gabriel, and defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos.
Thanks to all of you.
Let's start with you, Holly. I know you know the players in this case, the judge, assistant district attorney. What can you tell us about how these people are going to impact this case?
HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I know Judge Cox. I practiced in front of him. And he is only the magistrate, Ana. So he will not be participating going forward. This will be sent up to superior court judge. But Judge Cox was true to form. He listened to all the evidence. He let both sides get in what they wanted, and then he ruled very toughly as he's known to do, I'm not going to send a bond here. And what he said, Ana, which was striking was, I've heard evidence that might turn this into a death penalty case.
Now, the district attorney assigned, Chuck Boring, we watched him do his thing. And I actually practiced with Chuck in the Fulton district attorney's office. He is a top-notch, excellent lawyer. And he is going to continue to do what we saw in that hearing. Step by step investigate this, put that timeline together, go back and investigate every aspect of this case. And I wouldn't at all be surprised to see this investigation expanding beyond just this named defendant right now.
CABRERA: Danny, you're a criminal defense attorney, what did you find perhaps most damaging of what the prosecution laid out?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well first, what was most shocking was the sexting evidence. But legally, it may not have been as significant as some of the other evidence, evidence that largely flew under the radar. For example, the fact that the defendant was only 30 seconds away from where he had last buckled in the child to when he arrived at work. That was a bad one. There was evidence that the police used a mannequin, a mannequin that was smaller than the 22- month-old child, put it in the car seat, the top of the mannequin's head was still visible, given this was a smaller mannequin. Because why is that significant? Because it's all evidence that this could not have been a mistake, and rather, it goes to his intent. The other evidence, the sexting, the internet searches, those largely
go to motive which, although goes it's evidence of intent, by itself it's not intent. It's actually evidence that the defense attorney argued, and I think there was some support for this, that it was improper character evidence. But reasonable minds could easily differ and the judge erred on the side of letting it in.
Bottom line, while the sexting was scandalous, not as legally significant as some of the other pieces of evidence which I agree will probably eventually lead to this being an indictment on a capital case.
CABRERA: I want you all to listen here for just a moment. This is a moment from the hearing between the police detective and the senior assistant attorney. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STODDARD: Justin took Cooper out to the car. He went into the back seat where the car seat was situated. It's a rear-facing car seat so Cooper's head would be in between or almost in between the two front seats. He put Cooper in the vehicle. He stated he strapped him in tight. He went through a little spiel about how he'd watched You Tube videos about, you know, car seat regulations and stuff, and he knew that this was the right car seat and the right way of doing it. And he straps him in tight. And Cooper gives him a kiss. And he gives him a kiss back. And he says he always gives him the kiss in case they get into a car accident and he dies. He wanted Cooper to, you know, his last memory or Cooper to remember that he had been loved or that his daddy loved him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he straps him in before driving away, and kissing him, son's kissing him back, they're having a conversation?
STODDARD: That's correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you talked about this u-turn and then going to a light. Where you make a decision to either gore to work or turn to the day care.
STODDARD: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The u-turn about how far is it to get from the chick-fil-a to this u-turn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you get to the u-turn, what direction would he have had to turn to see the oncoming traffic and then make the u- turn?
STODDARD: It's a left-hand u-turn. He would have had to look to his right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the time from the chick-fil-a to that light where he had to make that decision, have you driven that distance? STODDARD: I have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times?
STODDARD: Ten at least.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long does it take to get from having left the chick-fil-a parking lot to that light?
STODDARD: 30 to 40 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So 30 to 40 seconds from the time he has strapped his child, in kissed him, and then he says forgot?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Judy, the prosecution here is trying to show what they say is obvious negligence or maybe even worse on the part of Harris. Do you think the strategy works?
JUDY HO, CLINICAL AND HUMAN PSYCHOLOGIST: I do. Because I think once you start to actually numerical -- put the numerical basis on what we're seeing here, in terms of the time frame, we realize that anybody wouldn't have a problem remembering what they just did 30 to 40 seconds ago. And I think what the father's argument was, that he had spent all this quality time with Cooper when he was strapping him in, actually goes against him. Because that means that he had a meaningful interaction with his son less than a minute prior to that.
CABRERA: And Richard, you've been a consultant for the defense in some big cases, like the Casey Anthony trial. As we start to see the prosecution here sort of laying out its case, even though this was just a probable cause hearing, do you see anything or hear anything that they presented as being sort of a slam dunk for prosecutors or insurmountable for the defense?
RICHARD GABRIEL, JUDY CONSULTANT: Well, let's not make any mistake. The trial has actually already begun even though we have just been hearing preliminary hearing because jurors and prospective jurors that will eventually be called are hearing this. Obviously, at a lot of volume right now.
I don't see a slam dunk. In fact, some of this pretrial publicity and some of this stuff could actually work against the prosecutors. They have to be real careful, especially with the motive and the texting and sexting evidence. Because what tends to happen is the jurors go, what does that really have to do -- is that character evidence?
However, the character stuff is crucially important. Motive is important, even though legally it may not be quite as significant because jurors always want to explain the behavior. They want to understand really what happened with this guy? Is there true intent there? Is it just negligence? And they use that character evidence, the kissing of the child or the routine that he has when he straps his child into the seat as evidence of either that this is true forgetfulness or the intent to kill his own baby.
CABRERA: And all this evidence coming out certainly tugs at people's emotions. Jaw-dropping details really have emerged. All of you stay with us. We're going to look closer at just who is Justin Harris? The defense called up friends, family, even co-workers he had lunch with the day his son died, their arguments in court next.
CABRERA: The evidence against that Georgia father accused of murdering his 22-month-old son by leaving him in a sweltering hot car for seven hours may seem overwhelming. But this is important to remember. He has not been convicted.
Now, during Justin Ross Harris' probable cause hearing Thursday, his attorney sketched out his defense, calling his family members, friends, co-workers to testify that the now murder suspect was a loving father. Harris sat without emotion until an eyewitness described what he saw the moments after cooper's body was taken out of the car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEONARD MADDEN, EYEWITNESS: Well, he was saying, oh my God, oh my God, my son is dead, oh my God, my son is dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he say it matter of factually or plainly like you're speaking? Or was it with any particular inflection?
MADDEN: It sounded as though he was saying it out of hurt and disappointment, desperation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he screaming?
MADDEN: He was yelling, head of hollering, he was screaming. Much as I would in the event if I were in that situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you observe him sobbing, crying, anything of that nature?
MADDEN: All of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say again?
MADDEN: All of that. He was crying. He was hollering. He was -- yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well, a panel is back.
Holly, of everything said in court Thursday, how much will a jury hear?
HUGHES: They will hear most of it. But it will be from different witnesses. In these probable cause hearings, hearsay is allowed so they only have to call the detective. He's able to say, yes, I talked to these girls he was sexting with, this is what they told me. That's standard hearsay. What will happen at trial is those women will take the stand. You will see most of this evidence come in. I fully expect the defense to file a motion in limine. You saw how hard they were fighting. Objecting over and over, saying this isn't relevant, it's too far afield.
The judge may carve it down a little bit. He may say, OK, I'll let you talk about the actions two weeks before or a month before but you can't go back a year. So we might not hear all of it but we will hear substantial amounts of it and anything that was close in time we're going to hear straight from the horse's mouth. We're going to see those women, we are going to find out who they are.
CABRERA: And we'll hear more exact words straight from them in terms of what exactly transpired.
Richard, we already know there's been intense media coverage of this story, do you think potential jury pool is already tainted?
GABRIEL: I think so. I mean, the truth is that as we've seen with other high-profile cases, they can overcome it. But it's so difficult. Because everybody starts forming opinions, they start seeing the coverage, they start obviously forming impressions of the defendant. They have conversations with their friends and their family about it. So they start really anchoring in really how they feel about this case.
Then what happens is they show up in court and the judge says, well, can you set that all aside and just go ahead and judge everything from the witness stand? A juror says yes. But how do you literally wipe all that stuff out of your mind? So it becomes a very challenging issue for both the courts and quite frankly both parties.
CABRERA: Danny, why wouldn't the defense just try to waive this probable cause hearing?
CEVALLOS: OK. The decision to waive a probable cause hearing is always intensely case-specific. But one reason why a defense might put on the probable cause hearing is not because they think they'll have a chance to win it. The bottom line is, statistically, it's very rare to get a case thrown out at a probable cause hearing. It happens.
So instead, it takes on a secondary meaning for defense attorneys. And that meaning is, get as much discovery, as much testimony, as much information as you can out of the lead detective and any other witnesses they call. And you saw the defense do just that. They are locking in that lead investigator on his testimony so that later on at trial, he cannot add to or vary or deviate from that testimony. That becomes a secondary and probably more important purpose for a defense attorney of a probable cause or preliminary hearing. Get as much discovery as you can before the judge shuts you down.
CABRERA: Strategic, then.
CEVALLOS: Very strategic.
CABRERA: And speaking of strategy, Judy, how important is hearing from people who know Harris? We heard from a lot of eyewitnesses so to speak. Not eyewitnesses but character witnesses in this case, testifying on behalf of Justin Ross Harris.
HO: It's very important because people need to see a more human side of this person. And I think all the media coverage has really been slanted against this father. A lot of the people are very, very suspicious of this father, especially with all the facts that are coming out. So it's important for us to hear from the family and friends who will all say that he is a great father, he's always been a stable father, but of course all of these details that we're hearing about really confounding things here.
CABRERA: Well, the court hearing for Justin Ross Harris was full of stunning details. Sexting, financial issues, troubling web searches just part of the new evidence that was presented in court. We're going to dive into those details next.
CABRERA: We certainly can't stop talking about the poor little boy outside Atlanta who died in his car seat while his father did or did not know where he was. Now, the judge decided to move ahead with murder and child cruelty charges against the boy's father. This is Justin Ross Harris. We've also now learned that the father was allegedly doing some questionable things while his baby was slowly dying in a boiling car. Odd internet searches, even sexting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STODDARD: He visited several sites, it was people who die. Once again, may not be the perfect -- but it's like people who die, shows videos of people dying. And it is all circulates from suicides to Iraq executions, those types of videos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: My panel of experts is back.
And Danny, we were just hearing about Harris' computer searches. He was researching people who were dying, just seemed to be obsessed with death in a way. He also searched about child-free life. Do these searches hold up in court?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first, that question, yes. As long as this evidence -- it's like any other evidence. It's like a letter. As long as it's authenticated, as long as it's relevant, and as long as it's accurate, it is an accurate representation of what the defendant actually did, it will come in.
The question is whether or not it should come in, because the judge can exclude it if it's highly prejudicial. If it's too prejudicial to even come into evidence. But I suspect that those searches that were conducted anywhere close
in time to the actual event where the child was left in the car are going to come in, because the prosecution will argue they are relevant, they're probative of motive. Why Justin Ross Harris is alleged to have done what he did.
But as a general rule, whether or not to let in Internet searches is a fascinating cultural issue because in a way, what do they actually tell or reveal about ourselves? They certainly reveal our curiosity because we search things when we're curious. But as a bigger question, do they really reveal our state of mind? Do your Internet searches over the last month accurately tell everyone about you? Do my Internet searches tell people -- paint an accurate picture of myself?
To many people, they'll say, well, yes, absolutely, if it's on your mind, that's who you are. But to others may say, look, my Internet searches are just the meanderings of a curious mind. They really tell you nothing about the person that is me. CABRERA: So that's going to be something the jury will have to
decide, just how important those Internet searches really are.
Holly, what about the alleged sexting? Is that evidence too prejudicial?
HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know what, your gut is, yes, it's prejudicial. Everything's prejudicial if it makes a defendant look bad. But what we have to do is that balancing test that Danny was talking about. A judge is going to look at it.
Now, in just about every state in the Union, you don't have to prove motive. It's not one of the elements of the crime. But every human being sitting in the jury box wants to know why.
So yes, there's going to be a motion in limine, they're going to duke it out ahead of time. It's coming in, though, Ana. And, you know, he did all kinds of Google searches. He did a Google search for how to survive in prison. He should have done one for how to survive in hell, because if stuff is true, he's well on his way.
CABRERA: Let's talk about little Cooper's mother, Leanne Harris, a lot of people have been questioning some of her reaction and some of the things she said reportedly by what we heard from the detective. Listen to this moment of testimony about her conversation with her husband.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROSECUTOR: Did his wife ever say anything to him about what he said to police?
DETECTIVE PHIL STODDARD, COBB COUNTY POLICE: She asked him -- she had him sit down and he starts going through this and she looks at him, and she's like, "Well, did you say too much?"
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: So, Judy, does this tell you anything about her as a person?
JUDY HO, CLINICAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think there's been a few things that have come out in terms of her testimony, in terms of what she said, when they were at cooper's way what they were doing. And she obviously in a lot of ways was standing by her husband, really saying she trusted him and he was making great decisions for their family so there's no reason to doubt him now.
But it seems like she's also jumping so quickly to a place of acceptance about her son's death. And that's not what we really expect of most human beings. You know, we all grieve in different ways but this is very, very fresh. And she at her son's funeral started talking about how she was happy that he wasn't going to have to live through a very, very difficult life because of how difficult our world is. That seemed like a very un-motherly type of reaction to have so soon after the son was found dead.
CABRERA: And now, it's just one of the questionable things she had said in the days after and even the day of her son's death when she went to pick him up from day care. We heard that she had said, "Oh, he must have left him in the car, he's not here." And that had a lot of people's ears perking up.
We're going to talk more about Leanna Harris and her involvement or potential involvement in this case.
But, Richard, first, sexting, web searches -- how will some of these details, true or not, impact the case in trial?
RICHARD GABRIEL, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, the prosecutors actually have to be pretty careful with that, because although it's sensational and it really paints a very bad character portrait there, jurors can be quite critical and say, are you using this evidence just to try to emotionally move us to try and convict this guy? And it can have a backlash effect for the prosecutors.
I do want to say this about the mother is that, to a certain extent, she is on trial as well. And she may very well be the most important witness in this entire thing, because they will, to a certain extent, depending upon live he decides to testify or not, be judging his conduct through her. And to a certain extent, jurors will be looking at the reflection of the family unit as a whole to see whether there's something truly forgetful or something so dysfunctional that both of them actually wanted to be rid of the child.
So, it's a very interesting dynamic. It's a family really that's on trial, the whole thing.
CABRERA: And in fact, that leads us right into what we want to talk about on the other side of the break. Some say it's shock, others say it's proof that they're guilty. Everyone's eyes are on Justin and Leanna Harris and the emotions they do or do not display. An in-depth analysis of their reactions, up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CABRERA: We are continuing our conversation on the Atlanta-area toddler who died in a hot car and people are fired up about this during break even. That's why I'm smiling coming back from break. Very sad story, heartbreaking story. That's why people are still talking about it everywhere you go.
My panel of experts is back.
Let's talk a minute little Cooper's mother, Leanna Harris. She admitted to police that she did look up some Web sites about kids dying in hot cars. She has an explanation for that. We also learned about a couple of life insurance policies on their son.
Richard, since we ended with you, we'll start with you this time. What do you make of both Justin and Leanne's demeanor in court thus far?
GABRIEL: Well, it's very hard to judge. The problem is we look at them because I think as Judy said, we have expectations of how these people should look after the tragic death. There's been lots of commentary about, they're not emotional, they don't seem to be doing it, they're not going through the proper grieving process there. As if we expected them to be sobbing continuously about the death.
And the truth is that we look for these cues to tell us how they feel but it's hard to know. Everybody processes emotion in a very different way. And some people go into shock states, they go into denial. And so, it's very hard to judge exactly how they're feeling. Whether it's reflective of some dysfunctionality or whether they are just grieving, they're just not showing it.
CABRERA: Judy, as a psychologist did you take or learn anything from what you saw in their facial expressions or body language?
HO: Well, like Richard said, it is very difficult sometimes to know how people grieve. And there are a lot of different processes of grief. I think right now everybody's looking at them because everyone wants an explanation for why this happened. I don't think anybody wants to believe that this could happen to such a seemingly well- oriented family from the outside.
But what we know from the research is that fathers who murder their children are usually people who are without mental health history of any sort, without any kind of criminal history either. So, it's not really surprising that there are people who are surprised by this and who are coming to this father's defense, because on the outside, they look good. But oftentimes for fathers who do murder their children, one of the main motives is that they feel overwhelmed, like they can't take care of the family anymore, and that's what they turn to, they turn to this very last resort.
CABRERA: You know, it's so interesting, Holly, because going into this probable cause hearing, public perception was really behind the defendant in this case. And it seems that there's been a 180.
HUGHES: Right. It is extremely unusual. Typically when we hear about, you know, a child death, a parent is accused of killing a child, and we can hearken back to the trial that Richard worked on, the Casey Anthony trial. Everyone aligns behind the prosecution right away. You know, they want to hang that defendant from the nearest yardarm.
And here the initial backlash was against the state which we rarely see. People were lining up behind the defendant. There were over 11,000 signatures on a petition trying to force the Cobb County district attorney, Victor Reynolds -- drop the charges, how dare you go after this grieving father?
In just the course of that three-hour hearing, Ana, we saw the warm turn, as it were. We started to hear all of these things that we weren't privy to because the investigation was ongoing. And people were literally -- we were reporting this, Brooke Baldwin and I were on air listening to Victor Blackwell he was texting and letting us know what was going on. People were beginning to leave the courtroom, those folks who had come in to support him were petering out the back door.
Now, we can't say it's because of the testimony. But we can say we certainly saw a departure from the original reaction in this case.
CABRERA: Danny, one of the things that came out in that courtroom had to do with some recorded conversations between Justin Harris and his wife. They didn't realize they were being recorded. They thought they were having a private conversation. And she started asking him, how much did you tell them, did you tell them too much? What about that standing out to you?
CEVALLOS: First of all, I'm astounded how the public is unaware that once you are in custody, there is virtually no such thing as a private conversation. I know D.A.s who build evidence, they just go to the records at the prison where a client's being held and just look at who he's talked to.
So those recorded conversations can be very damning because the public or a jury's going to assume, they thought nobody was listening, now we get to hear what they have to say. And all of the conversations like that, all go to intent. It's fascinating too, because when you remember, this probable cause hearing was about felony murder. And that predicate felony was a negligence crime.
And yet we have all this evidence, not only against the defendant about his supposed intent and his motive, but now, even the wife sitting in the stands. You see her getting hit with shrapnel. If anything is a harbinger of things to come, that tells us that we can expect not only that the charges against the main defendant, Justin Harris Ross, Justin Ross Harris, will be upgraded, but also that the wife should expect to see some charges too.
CABRERA: You think she's going to be brought into the case?
CEVALLOS: I think if anything -- there would be no other reason at a preliminary hearing to introduce specific intent evidence, not only of the main defendant at the bar of the court, but also against a person sitting in the gallery as spectators.
CABRERA: I hear it. Does anybody disagree with what Danny's saying?
CEVALLOS: Holly, back me up.
HUGHES: Danny is dead on.
CEVALLOS: Thank you.
HUGHES: And back to what Dr. Judy and Richard were talking about, people grieve in different ways, it's not so much the lack of emotion or the affect that is going to hang these two. It is the words.
When you hear them speaking in that room and he says to his wife, he being the defendant, "I dreaded how he would look," OK.
Now, if I'm the mother I'm going, what do you mean you dreaded? You thought about this ahead of time? Did you plan this? My gut reaction is, you SOB, what did you do to my baby? Right? I mean, come on!
But she doesn't even blink. And when they say to her at the day care, he wasn't dropped off -- now, bear in mind there was testimony from the lead detective that at 3:16, Justin Ross Harris texted his wife and said what time are you picking my buddy up? So in her mind she knew her husband had allegedly dropped that baby off. So, there's no reason to say, he must have left him in the car.
I mean, you thought of thought, did he get sick, did somebody rush him to the hospital, was there a car accident? But just 40 minutes earlier, he had texted her and said what time are you picking my buddy up?
So I'm not passing judgment on their affect or lack thereof or emotion. I'm listening to those words and I'm saying, she knows a lot more than we think she does.
CABRERA: All right, we're going to take a quick break. What will happen next in this case? Stay with us as we look at what's ahead for Justin and Leanna Harris when we come back.
CABRERA: Bombshell testimony out of a Murrieta, Georgia, courtroom this week. It's just the beginning in the shocking case of a father accused of leaving his son to die in a car in the scorching summer heat.
My panel of experts joins me again.
Holly, let's start with you, what's next for Justin Ross Harris?
HUGHES: There will be a grand jury convened and they will do pretty much what you saw happen at the probable cause hearing. The detective will go in, he will testify, the D.A. will be there, and he will present what he believes are appropriate charges. So again, we may see this upgraded to a malice murder charge. He'll ask the grand jury to vote on it and they will either return an indictment or not.
I'm pretty sure we're going to get a high indictment on this one but I also think that simultaneously, the investigation is going to continue and we may see charges brought against Leanna if they're able to develop the evidence to support those charges.
CABRERA: Danny, will the charges stay the same for Justin Harris?
CEVALLOS: Highly doubtful. Look at the facts. The primary crime he's charged with is one of negligence. All the evidence we heard at that preliminary hearing was evidence about why he might have purposefully left this child in the car.
Why would the D.A., why would the prosecution, introduce this evidence of specific intent, of malice, if they intended to keep the murder charge as it is? Which as it is, is a negligence-type murder.
Georgia has only one kind of murder, there are no degrees. Yet I think we can expect this to be upgraded. I think the prosecution is strongly considering death penalty.
CABRERA: Wow. What about the family of this couple? This is just the beginning for them too, of course. How are they likely to handle this?
HO: Well, I think right now what they have to focus is on still staying tight as a family, being able to console each other, because really, it's hard to tell what's going to happen here. I think one of the strongest tools the defense has is actually the fact that Justin Ross Harris will be sitting there, developing a relationship and a bond with the jury, who may end up being sympathetic towards the end because they've gotten to know this person.
CABRERA: Richard, is this the next big trial in America?
GABRIEL: Sure looks like it. It's got all the hallmarks. It's got -- obviously so wrenching. You know, the death of a child. I think it touches us so meaningfully.
That's why to a certain extent we have to reflect, we look at ourselves, we look at the times where we have the impulse to leave our child in the car. And maybe we didn't, maybe we just ran an errand, stuff like that. So, it's got all of the things that make us compelled to watch something like this.
CABRERA: It's one that really touches people deeply, I think, like you said, because it involves a child. And I can say -- I can speak for myself as a parent and for other parents when I'm talking to them about this story, they say, it just hurts so much to think of something like this happening to my own child.
So I think you bring up why this is such a hot-button case. We have a lot more to talk about, of course, on this case, but no time today. Holly Hughes, Judy Ho, Danny Cevallos, thank you all for joining us.
Richard Gabriel, you're going to stay with us because of your unique perspective in another child murder case in the news this week.
Stay with us.
And it's been three years since Casey Anthony was found not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. Up next, exclusive images of Casey Anthony and details on what her life is like now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY MASON, ATTORNEY: She hasn't been freed from her incarceration yet, because she can't go out. She can't do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: It was a verdict that shocked America. In 2011, Casey Anthony walked out of a court a free woman after a trial marked by controversy, secrets, and prosecutors arguing that she killed her 2- year-old daughter.
Now, the circumstances surrounding young Caylee's death are still a mystery. In a CNN exclusive, we now know what life is like for Casey Anthony today.
And, Richard Gabriel, a jury consultant for Anthony's defense, is with us to discuss one of the most talked about cases of this decade.
But, first, Richard, let's look at this report from CNN's Jean Casarez.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three years after being acquitted in what was described as the death penalty trial of the century, Casey Anthony remains a virtual prisoner according to her attorney, Cheney Mason.
CHENEY MASON, ATTORNEY: She hasn't been freed from her incarceration yet, because she can't go out. She can't do anything.
CASAREZ: Mason and his wife are among Anthony's few friends. He shared these recent pictures of her exclusively with CNN. He says Anthony fears for her life and remains isolated from her family.
CHENEY MASON: She does not have any blood family anymore. She has no contact with them.
CASAREZ: No contact with her mother?
CHENEY MASON: I think she's had a few phone conversations with her over the years. That's it. No contact.
CASAREZ: Her father?
CHENEY MASON: None.
CASAREZ: Her brother? CHENEY MASON: None. Not likely to ever be.
CASAREZ: Cheney Mason, one of Anthony's criminal defense attorneys, has penned a book "Justice in America." He says Casey makes a meager living working from her undisclosed home in Florida.
SHIRLEY MASON, WIFE OF CASEY ANTHONY'S ATTORNEY: I know that she has very -- very strong feelings about what has happened to her. I also know she's very saddened by her loss. And she never will forget her daughter Caylee, ever.
CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.
CABRERA: Some of Casey Anthony's former attorneys have been doing what they can to help her. Casey Anthony though denied our request for interview.
And we have Richard Gabriel back with us, the author of a new book, "Acquittal." Richard, you advise Casey's defense attorney Jose Baez. What qualities were you looking for in potential jurors in this case?
GABRIEL: Well, when you're doing work, especially on a death penalty case, the thing you're most significantly looking for, people who are just going to have a hard time applying a death penalty. And that's the first and foremost thing. But we were looking for jurors who would be willing to really dig into the evidence, would turn a keen and skeptical eye, and were smart about it. Because we knew that so much of the emotion of this case was what the prosecutors were counting on to drive the jurors to just thinking, she's a bad mother and she lied, so therefore she must be guilty.
So, we really wanted jurors smart, skeptical, and really dig in. And that's what we ultimately I think got in this jury.
CABRERA: Richard, I know you met with the Anthony family. Did you believe any of them were capable of telling the truth? George, Cindy, Casey?
GABRIEL: Well, I think when you sit there in the living room after especially such a huge tragedy, and at that point, we also had the rumors and we had some indication that Casey had talked about the sexual abuse of George. And so, you're sitting there trying to make sense of it. You don't know really what the truth is.
But you know that need the surface of this seemingly idyllic and middle-class home, there is lurking something else, something different there. And -- because a woman who loses a child and doesn't talk about it for 31 days is so puzzling to you.
And so, you really struggle with what's the truth here? And it's not so black and white. It's very gray. And it was such a mystery I think ultimately for the jurors in the case.
CABRERA: And you wrote in your new book that we just mentioned, I have never run across a stronger or more palpable anger than I encountered in this case. What do you think triggered that public anger? Was it the media to blame?
GABRIEL: I don't think it was solely the media. The truth is that we as a country were invested in that case. There was a missing child. That reaches out to all of us. All of us think of our own children being lost. And so, we hoped and prayed for months and months that she would be found safe and sound.
And not only is the tragedy of her finding her dead there, but then all of a sudden the behavior of Casey Anthony, we needed to have a vent to have some way of expressing that deep sorrow. It obviously became directed as anger and the conclusion that Casey Anthony must have been guilty of her own child's death.
CABRERA: And she walked out a freedom. Ten years from now, will Casey Anthony do you think be able to walk down the street without being hassled, without being harassed?
GABRIEL: I don't know. I mean, the truth is that we have a long memory. You know, think of O.J. Simpson. Think of these cases. We become publicly invested.
And this is why I say, you know, American justice really isn't "American Idol." We have to trust our jury system, of those jurors who are hearing the evidence, hearing things we aren't at home. I'm not sure if Casey will ever not be the pariah that she is today. Hopefully time will heal some of this for all of us.
CABRERA: Richard Gabriel, thank you so much for your time this whole hour, we appreciate it.
GABRIEL: Thank you.
CABRERA: And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Cabrera in New York. Stay with us.