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New Warrants for Georgia Hot-Car Death Toddler; Man Survives Shark Attack at Manhattan Beach, CA; New TSA Screenings Around Personal Electronics; Close Calls in the Sky

Aired July 7, 2014 - 11:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Sixteen new search warrants released this morning. Investigators looking for clues about what happened the day a Georgia toddler died in a sweltering car, whether his father abandoned him on purpose and what the child's mother knew.

MICAHELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: A seven-foot-long great white sinks its teeth into the torso of a swimmer. He lives to tell about it. You'll hear him talk about what it was like to be eye to eye with the great white.

BERMAN: All right, check out this terrifying video, a plane nearly collides with another. It wasn't the only close call this weekend, either.

Hello, everyone, I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira, it is 11:00 a.m. in the east, 8:00 a.m. out west. Good morning to all of you, those stories and much more, right now, @ this hour.

BERMAN: A couple of significant developments this morning in the death of a Georgia toddler who died in a baking SUV.

First off, a short time ago investigators released 16 new search warrants in the case against the child's father. Among things investigators are now looking for, medical records for both the father, Justin Ross Harris, and Cooper, the son who died after his father left him in a Georgia car in sweltering Georgia heat.

They are also looking for the computer-related things, but as these investigators build a murder case against the father, some of their attention is shifting now to the child's mother.

PEREIRA: Let's bring in our Nick Valencia. He has been covering this story for us from Georgia.

All right, Nick, good morning to you. Thank you for joining us.


PEREIRA: Give us an idea of these new warrants. What specifics do you know?

VALENCIA: John and Michaela, for as many pages as we got this morning from Cobb County officials, it really didn't reveal too many details that we didn't know already.

As you mentioned in the lead in to this report, they are looking at Cooper Harris's medical records to see how the child was developing, just 22-months-old when he died.

They're also looking into the Justin Ross Harris, his father, his medical records as well as an SD card, an external hard drive, and the home.

As we've been reporting, Justin Ross Harris failed to tell investigators that he went back to his car in the middle of the afternoon to drop off what we now are some light bulbs that he purchased during lunch.

In these search warrants, we find that there is a search-and-seizure warrant for the home to see if there's any light bulbs missing or if there are fixtures, light bulbs that were broken to justify that purchase in the middle of the afternoon.

Now on Justin Ross Harris, he woke up in a Georgia jail where he has been for the last week, and we asked Cobb County jail officials to talk to us about the conditions that Justin Ross Harris is being held in.

They said it's their policy not to comment on those conditions, guys.

BERMAN: Nick, a lot of people have been talking about the mother since the funeral service, since the day in court last week --

PEREIRA: Her reaction.

BERMAN: -- now the idea that investigators could be looking at her, do we know anything knew on that front this morning?

VALENCIA: The fact is that she's not been charged, officially, and she's not even been listed as a suspect, officially.

We did call the Cobb County magistrate to see if there's any warrants or arrest warrants, things like that that may indicate that police are about to make a move on her, but they were unwilling to discuss that.

I did call over the weekend, and they told me there was no indication that there is a search warrant or arrest warrant.

But, as you mentioned guys, a lot of the attention is being focused on her reaction and her emotions, or lack thereof, at the funeral that was two weekends ago in Tuscaloosa.

She was crying, but it was really the grandparents that were showing the raw emotions, those sobs, those heavy tears.

Leanna Harris, you're looking at her here, and the reaction during that probably cause hearing last week, many commenters saying that she really didn't show too much, and she was mostly stoic.

But, really, what is a normal reaction after a child dies? A lot of that can be drawn into debate. No doubt about it, though, Leanna Harris is being looked at by the public at the very least.

PEREIRA: It's hard to no know how any of us would react in a terrible situation like that.

Nick Valencia, continue to cover that story for us. We'll get back to you if there's any other developments. Thanks so much for that.

BERMAN: We're going to continue to talk about this. We're going to bring in Ashleigh Banfield, our friend and the anchor of CNN's "LEGAL VIEW," also here, Page Pate, a Georgia criminal defense attorney.

Page, I want to start with you. Nick was talking about those warrants that we got our look at today. To me, the thing that jumped out really more than anything else, the light bulbs.

Light bulbs may not seem like an important things, but I think it shows you what the investigators are up to here. They are questioning every little piece of the father's story and in some ways the very foundation of the story, that nothing was wrong, that he was simply going out to buy light bulbs to toss them in the car casually.

They want to know if he even needed light bulbs.

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's right. I think police have been incredibly aggressive about the way they're pursing this case, and I think the reason is because the district attorney wants to have solid evidence of intent.

I don't think that this district attorney is comfortable charging Mr. Harris with murder unless he can use as a basis for that murder charge a first-degree child cruelty charge. And I think we heard this at the probable cause hearing.

They have a lot of evidence to suggest intent, but think they are going to keep looking, keep working the case until they've got that locked down.

PEREIRA: Do you agree with Page, Ashleigh? What's coming next? What do you think are next steps here?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, "LEGAL VIEW": Yeah, well, they even said in the hearing last week that we've only just scratched had surface, which means they've got a lot of computer forensics that they have to get through.

They probably want to get through all of the devices that Leanna Harris has as well.

I wouldn't be surprised -- and, Page, you can probably weigh in on this -- but I wouldn't be surprised if they are going to do everything they can do squeeze the wife.

Whether or not they have something from her, get her. Get her to give up anything.

PEREIRA: Divide and conquer. BANFIELD: Divide and conquer. And I have to say, it's the way the

system works.

When you threaten someone with something like felony murder, which carries the death penalty the state of Georgia, that is terrifying. It is absolutely terrifying.

And oftentimes it works very well for people to do these things. It was him. I didn't do it. I can cut a deal or not be charged as all.

But, ultimately, I think we're only seeing the beginning of the charges as well. I think felony murder would be one. I think he's probably going to face this exploitation issue with this minor.

BERMAN: He was sending texts -- sexts, I should say -- sexting a minor.

BANFIELD: Sixteen-years-old, I believe, at the time, and you know what? We still don't know what else they have, and I think it's going to be a while before we do find out.

PEREIRA: Real quickly, they're originally from Alabama.


PEREIRA: They moved to Georgia.

BANFIELD: Yeah. To my knowledge.

PEREIRA: So that's interesting, because, again --

BERMAN: What if she goes home?

PEREIRA: What if she goes home and --

BERMAN: So we have a pretty good system in the state of this union. We have what's called extradition. Sometimes people fight it. It doesn't always do you well to do so.

I've never really -- Page, you tell me. I've never really seen the gain of fighting extradition, certainly state to state. It's usually something that's waived and it happens. What do you think?

PATE: The only time we would contest is if there's really an issue about is this the right person, if there's a question of identity. In those cases we will contest.

But you're right. Normally, we're going to waive it because it gets the person back into the jurisdiction where they need to be, in and it gets the process working and started.

BERMAN: Page, talk to me about Leanna Harris here, the mother. What do you think investigators are up to here?

We've heard so much about her verbal reactions to a couple of key moments here. When she first found out at daycare that her son never arrived, her first reaction was, oh, my husband must have left the child in a car. That struck many people as odd.

And then again in the police station when she found out her husband was in custody --

PEREIRA: Did you tell them too much?

BERMAN: Exactly. She asked him, did you tell them too much?

Those statements seem odd. Are they dangerous, though, for her in terms of the possible charges?

PATE: They're dangerous, but in my opinion, it is not enough. Strange reactions, stranger statements, number one, as you guys have pointed out before, how do we know how someone is going to react when they just lost their child? That is something that I don't think a law enforcement officer can testify to unless he's been through that experience, and even then different people feel grief differently.

But I think they are going to focus on her, and the way I think they are going to try to build a case is to focus on this electronic evidence. Are there any communications between her and her husband that would suggest, number one, she had some idea that this was going to happen --

PEREIRA: Text messages.

PATE: -- or two -- right, text messages. Maybe a discussion of the life insurance policy.

BANFIELD: (Inaudible).

PATE: Something to show she knows what's going on.

I don't think they're going to charge her until they have that kind of evidence.

BERMAN: One thing is sure. A lot of this is being played out in the public as we see the releases, the dribs and drabs.

Ashleigh Banfield, thank you so much. Page Pate, great to have you with us.

Again, you can watch "LEGAL VIEW" with Ms. Banfield here right here on CNN at noon Eastern. Don't miss it.

BANFIELD: See you then.

PEREIRA: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, from taking a swim to being caught in the jaws of a great white shark, the survival story, the man who got away, you can't miss this.

BERMAN: And, then, you'll want to make sure your smart phone battery is charged before your next flight. Why? Because airlines are beefing up security, and you might not get on the plain if it's not charged.

We'll tell you why the airplanes and the airports are taking these new measures, next.



STEVEN ROBLES, SHARK BITE VICTIM: Bit right into my torso. And I'm staring at the shark eye to eye just right there.

And I can feel the vibration of the shark gnawing into my skin. You can feel the whole body shaking.

And, you know, I grab his nose with my hand here and try to pull it off of me. And, fortunately, the shark released itself. I really thought that might be it.


BERMAN: Thank you for joining us. Seeing that sound bite there, the teeth marks all over his torso.

PEREIRA: It's the stuff nightmares are made of, long-distance swimmer Steven Robles, right there, describing what it was like to have a seven-foot-long great white shark -- which isn't really a big shark -- bite into his torso over the weekend. Obviously he's quite thankful to be a alive.

A witness cell phone video captures the terrifying moment. Robles is screaming for help. Others in the ocean swam for their lives.

BERMAN: (Inaudible) Seven-feet isn't too big of a shark. I think it's plenty big.

Robles says the shark's bite wasn't very deep. He did need stitches. But you can see the pictures right there. Still just doesn't look good at all. He is not sure if he will ever get back in the water, he says. Understandable.

Marine scientist Chris Wojcik joins us with more. Chris, I don't want to excuse the shark --

PEREIRA: Are you a shark apologist?

BERMAN: -- because I don't think the shark's behavior is justifiable. However, he was hooked on a line and he was being baited. There was chum in the water there. So this is an angry shark who really may not have known what he was doing.

CHRISTOPHER WOJCIK, MARINE SCIENTIST: Absolutely. I'll be a shark apologist if you don't want to be.

The shark was brought to the bottom of pier, and from what it looked like on the video, the swimmers just sort of swam between the fisherman and the shark, so eventually they were going to run right into one another.

PEREIRA: This happened in Manhattan Beach, California. I know that the folks there are kind of getting used to seeing great whites in the area, which is shocking to some.

How concerned do we need to be? Are we prey to them?

WOJCIK: I don't think you need to be that concerned, to be honest with you.

Someone that I spoke to yesterday who lives in the area had been telling me they are getting used to having these juvenile great whites swimming right off the beach.

In fact, they seem them off the pier on such a regular basis that people are going out, expecting to be able to take pictures of them on any given day.

PEREIRA: But attacks are rare.

WOJCIK: Very rare. Yeah, it's just -- these sharks being juvenile and as small as they are, they really don't see something as large as a human being as a normal prey. They are used to eating fish.

BERMAN: Small but big enough to bite him on the stomach and grab hold, so this guy, Robles, you know, he described trying to pull the shark off him. He was smacking its head.

Is that smart? Is that the way to react when you are being attacked by a great white shark?

WOJCIK: It's really about the only thing you can do. They don't generally listen to reason. You can't reason with them.

PEREIRA: Yes, let's talk.

WOJCIK: Yes. The shark's nose and it's eyes and things they hold most dearest to themselves are their sense and their nose are right there. So if you start to fight they generally back away.

PEREIRA: We've been reporting a lot on sighting. I know attacks are rare. We've reported on them occasion. The numbers are up. Remind viewers why that is. Obviously their food supply is on the increase, that is one aspect correct?

WOJCIK: Right. We're getting a lot better about conserving the fish and fisheries. Which means that their food sources are going up in numbers. But also the federal government, and the state of California for that matter, have put a total ban on all killing of the great whites. So you can't fish for them. You can't target them.

PEREIRA: And to that end this fisherman says he wasn't trying to catch a shark. He didn't know what he had on the line, right?

WOJCIK: That is exactly right. He said he wasn't trying to catch that species of shark, and we have to take him at his word, but he was shark fishing.

BERMAN: Seems to me the guy shouldn't be swimming, it wouldn't be smart for a dude to be swimming right from front of an area where a guy is shark fishing. Seems like a bad combination to me.

WOJCIK: Well you could look at it from that way or the other. Which is maybe you shouldn't be fishing for sharks. In area's where there --

BERMAN: Sure, either way. It's bad combination either way.

WOJCIK: It definitely is. So you sort of have to -- As a fisherman you have a certain responsibility, sort of like a surfer you shouldn't be surfing through the middle of a swimming area because you might hit someone.

PEREIRA: This is a ridiculous question I am about to ask, but I am fully acknowledge my own ridiculousness, just go ahead twitter. You know how when a bear comes into a neighborhood and it gets a taste of the human garbage in the trash cans or what have you, they have to take it way far away because they don't want it to come back, because it has gotten a taste of the easy food. That is not -- Do sharks have that kind of memory?

WOJCIK: I think that perhaps. I mean they could see a certain area as a place that, you know, food is readily available. If you ever see more than one shark in one particular area and they are hanging out, they are more often -- generally it is because the feeding is good. And, in fact, they go thousands of miles and come back to the same spot the following year.

PEREIRA: This was not - again we are going to shark apologists. I will be I know you don't want to be. This wasn't a shark attack. The shark was kind of in the wrong place.

WOJCIK: It is an unfortunate encounter. Yes, exactly.

PEREIRA: Encounter, there you go.

BERMAN: That wasn't that ridiculous question. That was one of the 30 top things that freaked me out about sharks.

PEREIRA: Good thing you have another thing to worry about.

BERMAN: Well yeah, but no, that was a great question. Thank you very much. Great to have you with us.

PEREIRA: Good to see you.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, there is a new reason to be anxious about your rapidly diminishing smart phone battery. What is it? Airport security measures, new ones that could mean you cannot get on the plane unless you are charged. We'll explain why after the break.


BERMAN: So the next time you take a flight home from overseas, you could face some new security measure. You may be asked to turn on your phone, your iPad, you laptop to prove they are not bombs.

PEREIRA: Add to that in a couple of weeks you could be shelling out more for a ticket with security fees going up, our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here to break it all down with us, as is former New York state Homeland security director Michael Balboni. Good morning to both of you. Hi again Christine, I should say.

Why don't we start with you, Christine. So we're going to see these new security measures affecting people flying into the United States from Europe and overseas.


PEREIRA: Help me understand how this is going to help, by just turning on our devices? And isn't that just going to slow everything down?

ROMANS: It might slow things down a little bit, but people just need to be prepared. Make sure they are juiced up, because they are going to want to see, at some of these airports. Two hundred and fifty different airports have direct flights form Europe and the Middle East to the United States. You are going to want to make sure that there isn't a bomb in there, that it is actually a laptop or a cell phone, that is what they want to find out.

There are new and inventive ways terrorists are trying to blow up a plane. That is their holy grail, pun intended, and that is exactly what they're trying to prevent.

PEREIRA: Will they likely have people start turning them on while they are in line?

ROMANS: That would be a smart way do it. But also be prepared for screenings after you have gone through the airport screening when you are going tot boarding. Also shoes, there could be increased scrutiny of shoes as well.

I am going to be honest with you, yesterday J. Johnson, who is the DHS secretary, he has on NBC's "Meet the Press." He also didn't rule out -- he wouldn't speculate as to whether this could happen in the U.S. as well. Right now, we are seeing this in foreign airports, should start soon if you haven't seen it already. But depending on what they are seeing on the intelligence side, you know, I think we should be prepared for longer lines.

BERMAN: Michael, what does this prevent? They can catch people doing what if they have a cell phone or a computer that doesn't turn on?

MICHAEL BALBONI, FORMER NEW YORK STATE HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: Remember the cartridge bomb from Yemen? We didn't catch that as a result of any screening. We caught that as a result of intelligence. Because when you take these peroxide-based devices, this material, and you wrap it around the instrument itself, you can't tell what's going on.

And here is the other thing. Bomb techs spend their whole careers learning how to look at a screen and determining what is in fact a bomb. A screener in an airport, they don't have the same level. And it's very difficult to see non-ferrous non-electrical devices. So when you turn it on, it works. And that is part of the reason they're saying lets add another layer so we can determine if it's not a bomb.

BERMAN: One of the things you always tell me is you are not always searching for the bomb, you are searching for the bomber. When I heard this, I thought of your wise lesson there. Do you think they will be looking at these people and how they react or interact with their devices as they are turning them on our off? It gifts you another chance to look at someone.

BALBONI: It does. People wonder why no, why are we doing this. And what I pick up is there is an operational timeline that has been determine that people are trying to do this. And the strategy here is to push them back. And sit there and say, no, we know, we have intelligence you are looking at these types of ways you can get these things secreted on the plane. And we're going to try you throw you off your game.

PEREIRA: But not a specific threat.

BALBONI: Not a specific threat.

ROMANS: You just know that they want to do this and they are working toward it.

PEREIRA: They want to be a step ahead if they can.

BALBONI: It's still coming from the Yemen bomb making expertise and the Isis -- and the access to the visas and to passports for travel. This is really what's causing then to be this concerned.

PEREIRA: And quickly, there is this news about new security fees? Can you tell us about that?

ROMANS: It is going to be July 21st, you are going to be seeing higher security fees, their TSA passenger fees. It is going up. Right now it is limited to $5 for a round trip ticket, a direct flight. It is going to go up to -- there is a budget fight here with Washington, that's part of this. The airlines are not saying they are going to pay it all on to you. But many of us who fly airplanes -- usually when there are higher fees you end up paying it. But those higher fees are coming. And interestingly, 75 percent of this higher fee is not going to new measures or new technology. It is just go going to fill budget gaps that are currently there.

PEREIRA: Christine Romans and Michael Banboni, thank you. We'll stay aware. We know it's coming at least.

BERMAN: Keep those devices charged.

PEREIRA: Exactly. All right, ahead @ THIS HOUR, a little too close for comfort. Two different incidents this week, this weekend rather, of planes avoiding collisions. We will talk about it.

BERMAN: Then, the alarming cycle of violence. An American teen beaten in Jerusalem amide protests for a murdered Palestinian teenager, his cousin. We'll tell you how he's doing this morning ahead @ THIS HOUR


PEREIRA: Welcome back. A couple of really close calls in the skies. Check out some scary video of a flight landing in Barcelona. It had to pull up at the last second to avoid colliding with a plane on the runway. Through there is a long telephoto lens on that, so it's a little further away, yet still.

BERMAN: Still had to abort the landing there. And in Houston, over the weekend, two planes came closer than considered safe. A Singapore Airlines flight took off and didn't level off as required getting too close to an inbound Delta flight. L

et's talk about this, because it seems like it's happening more and more.

PEREIRA: We have been talking about it a lot at this hour.

BERMAN: David Soucie is CNN safety analyst and former FAA inspector. David, generally speaking whose responsibility is this? Is this an air traffic control's issue? Are they just missing something here?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: There are two issues going on here. The last person who could have avoided this from happening was the flight crew in the ground aircraft who is responsible to look up in the air to look to see if there is any aircraft approaching before they cross the runway. Regardless of whether the air traffic controllers tell them to cross the runway or not. And the secondarily the aircraft controller should have made a warning and said, look you need to stop and hold short of that runway before they did.

David we've heard, over the last few years, about staffing of the air traffic control towers and the staffing issues going on there. A lot of the older more experienced controllers with years of experience retiring and bringing in new blood and new controllers. Could there be a disconnect on how those people are being trained and/or their own inexperience?

SOUCIE: Well both of the those things actually, Michaela. One is the fact that Patco, if you remember way back when they had the strike, that President Reagan just decided to replace everybody that was on strike. So when he did that there was a mass influx of people.