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PAULA ZAHN NOW

NTSB Investigates Deadly Chicago Plane Accident; Organ Donor Dilemma

Aired December 9, 2005 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Paula has the night off. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, what we are learning about that terrifying plane accident in Chicago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): A fatal combination.

MARIA VELASQUEZ, WITNESS: There was so much snow everywhere.

COLLINS: In Chicago, bad weather, a short runway and an airport smack in the middle of a crowded neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I looked on the corner of 55th and Central, there was a -- there was the airplane in the middle of the street.

COLLINS: Tonight, new details about the disaster at Midway.

Angel of death -- a ruthless serial killer who took the lives of 29 people now wants to save one life by donating a kidney. What is the catch?

JOHNNIE MASK, ATTORNEY FOR CHARLES CULLEN: He knows he's done evil. He wants to do something good.

ZACH MARTIN, SON OF VICTIM: That's just a -- it is balderdash.

COLLINS: And why are his victims' families dead set against it?

And flushed with pride -- wait until you see these incredible pictures, parents toilet-training their babies as soon as they're born.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ninety percent of poops and I would say 75 percent of pees...

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: End up in...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... in the potty.

COLLINS: Can this really be the end of the dirty diaper? (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: We're beginning with the improbable deadly accident at Chicago's Midway Airport, because it could have happened just about anywhere.

Roughly this time last night, a 6-year-old boy was killed when his family's car was crushed under the nose of an airliner that had skidded off a runway, through a perimeter fence, and into the middle of a busy street.

Now, even though did happen in Chicago, hundreds of cities have older, smaller airports enclosed by urban landscapes, like this, of roads, homes and stores, landscapes of potential disaster.

But before we consider that should be done, Brian Todd has the very latest on the crash investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Southwest Airlines jet is still sitting in the middle of Central Avenue. Traffic won't run through here again until the plane is moved some time this weekend, after investigators have finished combing through the wreckage.

The plane's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder are already being analyzed by the National Transportation Safety Board.

ELLEN ENGLEMAN CONNERS, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: There was 32 seconds from touchdown until the aircraft hit the fence. Air traffic control reported runway braking to be fair on most of the runway and poor at the end.

TODD: Passengers say, the accident happened so quickly, they were barely aware of what was going on.

MIKE ABATE, PASSENGER ON CRASHED AMERICAN AIRLINES 737: The "Oh, my God" moment was the big, huge bump. You know, at this point, you just don't know where you're at. But it was a quick, "Oh, my God." You know, it was one of those things. And then we stopped within probably three to five seconds after that. And then you look out the window and you realize you're in the middle of a city street.

TODD: Only two of the 103 people on the jet were injured, and only slightly. But the jet smashed into two cars. Joshua Woods and his family were in this one on their way to visit relatives. The 6- year-old boy was killed. His two younger brothers and both parents were among those injured on the ground.

The CEO of Southwest Airlines came to Chicago to express the company's condolences.

GARY KELLY, CEO, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: There are absolutely no words to adequately convey our grief and our sorrow over this tragedy. As a company, our main priority is for the safety and well being of our customers and our employees. And we will work earnestly to help those in need.

TODD: Southwest Airlines officials say the Boeing 737 was relatively new and the pilot had more than a decade of experience. NTSB officials say it could take a year to complete their investigation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, asked why it might take that long to complete this investigation, one NTSB official said they're looking at what she called the universe of conditions surrounding this accident, from toxicology tests of the crew, to interviews with air traffic controllers, to the myriad of mechanical situations that could have played into this accident -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. It seems like a long time, Brian, because they do have the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, and we know that they were intact.

But let me ask you. Do you know if investigators are, in fact, looking at other conditions on the ground when they look at this investigation?

TODD: They are, indeed. They're looking at everything from the -- the snow conditions on the runway, which -- is -- is variable, depending on the witness accounts that you hear.

One witness on the opinion said that it looked like the runway wasn't plowed at all. They couldn't tell the difference between the runway snow and the snow on the -- on the grass on the side. But aviation officials said the runway had been salted throughout the day and cleared throughout the day. So, there is a little bit of conflict there.

They're looking at the visibility factor. Aviation officials are telling us there was about anywhere from a quarter-mile to a half-mile of visibility when the plane approached the airport, but it was through very heavy snow.

Also, a very critical factor, the length of the runway -- the length of the runway at here at Midway Airport is only about 6,500 feet. That's one of the shortest runways in the country. So, they are going to be looking at that as well.

COLLINS: All right, Brian Todd, thanks for following the story for us.

The Chicago accident is renewing demands, in fact, for hundreds of airports around the country to extend their buffer zones to give pilots a wider margin for error. A possible factor in the Chicago crash are the shorter-than-normal runways at Midway Airport, as you just heard Brian Todd say. There is simply no room to extend them.

Here now, Miles O'Brien to give us a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Airline pilots call it USS Midway, as in the aircraft. and landing here at the landlocked, hemmed-in Midway Airport requires almost as much precision.

JON REGAS, FORMER AIRLINE PILOT: You take a great responsibility landing at Midway Airport because of the close proximity of all the buildings, and the roads full of traffic. You have to be spot on.

O'BRIEN: Former airline captain Jon Regas has flown in and out of Midway dozens of times. And, every time, it has tested his mettle.

REGAS: The only way to approach Midway is to make a good, firm landing on the main wheels at the proper touchdown speed.

O'BRIEN: The longest runway here, at only 6,522 feet, is the shortest strip used by big airliners in the U.S. And it is considered the toughest destination among the tightest urban airports.

Washington's Reagan National, New York's La Guardia and Burbank's Bob Hope all have longer runways.

REGAS: Is Midway an unsafe airport? Sadly, last night, it was.

O'BRIEN: The weather is what pushed the limits too far, snow, freezing fog, visibility a quarter-mile, a ceiling of only 200 feet, a tailwind, and a runway glazed with snow and ice.

(on camera): With perfect flying, the books say a 737-700 needs 4,200 to 4,500 feet to land safely on a dry runway. If the pilots flew the radio beacon, as they should have, down to the landing area, the touchdown zone, those two white dashes there, they would have had about 5,000 feet of runway ahead of them. But it was covered with snow.

ABATE: It felt like a normal landing. I mean, we -- we landed hard on all three wheels, but didn't realize that something was going awry until we were not able to decelerate like normal. And, you know, the terminal to my right, because I was at the exit window, went by pretty quickly, and -- and we were still at a pretty good clip. That's when I realized something wasn't going well.

O'BRIEN: Making matter worse at Midway, the end of the runway is only 280 feet from that road. These days, the FAA requires 1,000 feet of overrun space.

That's not possible at older urban airports like Midway.

(voice-over): Still, 14 other older urban airports with no space to spare have installed resting systems, crushable concrete or foam that can bog down a plane that is out of control, stopping it in an instant. There is no such system at Midway.

REGAS: Is it money? Probably. Is it stubbornness? Probably. This phenolic foam is -- can be a real life-saver. And, in my humble opinion, if there had been between 500 feet and 1,000 feet of phenolic foam at the end of the runway at Midway, the only thing we would be talking about is a slightly damaged airplane, as opposed to a tragic killing of a child.

O'BRIEN: Midway is not inherently unsafe on a good day. But, on a bad day, like this, all that seems clear is, for airline pilots, it is one of the country's most challenging airports.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: A recently passed federal law requires nearly 300 airports around the country to either extend or improve their runway barriers by the year 2015. President Bush signed that bill last week.

Joining me now, attorney Ronald Stearney, who is representing the family of Joshua Woods, the 6-year-old boy killed in the Southwest plane accident.

Thank you for being here, Ron.

I know that you had a chance to speak with Joshua Woods' family today. What did they tell you happened?

RONALD STEARNEY, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF JOSHUA WOODS: Well, as I understand it, they were on their way to the grandparents' house.

And they had just stopped at McDonald's, and were proceeding north on Central. And, at that time that they were getting close to the airport, Joshua was a typical boy, who -- interested in planes and trucks and that sort of thing, and father was pointing out airplanes. And, as they approached the field, they were passing by the field, they heard the noise, the roar of some jet engines.

And this noise continued to rise in volume, until it was a deafening roar -- and then, bang, the plane landed on top of the car. After that, the father looked around to see what was going on, to see what was happening with his family. Everyone was panic-stricken. He was very much afraid for the safety of his family.

But he looked out the window of his car he was driving and saw the turbine engine right outside the window. And it was still turning. But he wanted to get his family out, so he exited through the window and managed to get one of his sons out, but due to the damage to the car, was unable to get his wife out or the other two children, until paramedics or some help came to the scene. The father was injured in the crash itself, as was the mother and -- and the two other children.

COLLINS: It is just awful. We're looking at some of the pictures, right next to you there, of -- of the car underneath that engine.

Tell me a little bit about the rest of the family. How are they holding up? STEARNEY: Well, as you can imagine, this is absolutely devastating. It is more than can be taken in, in a normal course of events. We have the holidays coming up.

This is a typical American family. In fact, as they were driving up the street -- the father is a fan of Bruce Springsteen -- and they were listening to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," and little Joshua was singing along when the car got hit.

COLLINS: Well, you just can't think of -- of anything more tragic.

I do know that, Ron, the family hired you to represent their case. Are they thinking of suing anyone, whether it be the airport or Southwest Airlines?

STEARNEY: Well, I want to clarify that. We have known the Woods family for a while, many, many years.

And, because of the media attention involved in this case, they were getting flooded. They called us to help them to try and preserve their privacy. And it really has been an issue. It is bad enough to lose your child, but then to see reporters hunting you down, or looking for you, and then seeing other news accounts that are not relevant to this situation floating, it is -- it's -- it just makes a -- a bad situation worse.

And, so, the first order of business is to try and ensure my clients' privacy..

COLLINS: Right.

STEARNEY: ... the Woods' family privacy. And then we will obviously look at all legal recourse that -- if it becomes necessary.

COLLINS: All right.

Well, Ronald Stearney, we -- we certainly appreciate your time tonight, and do respect the Woods' family privacy and offer them our condolences as well.

STEARNEY: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you, again.

STEARNEY: Thank you.

COLLINS: An admitted serial killer is offering to donate one of his kidneys for a transplant operation. Would you take it? Would you even let him do it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Don't you think that's a bit ridiculous?

MASK: I can't say why he would do it at this point in time. Does it matter?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: What are the ulterior motives behind a potentially life-saving offer? Stay with us for that.

And, also, a child-raising controversy that could drive mothers and even fathers nuts. Can you potty-train a baby as early as six weeks old, if you never even put them in diapers?

And Jeanne Moos gives some experts a sneak preview of the new movie "King Kong." Suppose they will go ape over it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Just a few hours ago, a deadline passed in Iraq for four abducted Christian peace activists, including one American. An insurgent group had threatened to execute them if their demands were not met.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports about the fate of another American hostage taken some time around November 25.

And, just a short time ago, Iraqi citizens captured a high- ranking member of al Qaeda, who was wanted in connection with several kidnappings and killings. Amir Khalaf Fanus, also known "the Butcher," was handed over to U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Aneesh Raman has been working these stories all day for us. And, tonight, he joins us from Baghdad with the very latest.

Aneesh, it is Saturday morning there now. Any update that you might have on the hostage situation regarding the four Christian peacekeeper activists?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, good evening.

No word yet on the fate of American Tom Fox and the three other Christian aid workers. We tend to find out in instances like these on extremist Islamic Web sites. As you mentioned, though, the deadline is upon them. They were kidnapped some two weeks ago in Baghdad, being held by a previously unknown insurgent group called Swords of Justice.

Their demand is the release of thousands of Iraqi prisoners. The last we saw Tom Fox was in a video released Wednesday. He was shown in an orange jumpsuit as a prisoner, blindfolded. Since then, there have been calls really around the world for the release of these four aid workers and also in Baghdad at Abu Kalifah (ph) Mosque, as well as other mosques in the capital, calls and prayers on Friday for the release, saying that this sends the wrong message to the Muslim cause to the world outside of Iraq.

But, again, we wait now to find out what the fate is. The only hope that is being found, Heidi, is that this is the second deadline. The first was on Wednesday. It was delayed. So, the hope is that it could be further delayed.

All governments, the two Canadians who are there -- the Canadian government, the British government, and the U.S. government actively trying to figure out a way to resolve the situation -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Aneesh Raman in Baghdad -- thank you, Aneesh.

Still ahead tonight, we will hear more from a man who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. This is his first full day of freedom.

And later, moms and dads -- how does total freedom from diapers sound? Well, some people assure us there is a way to potty-train your baby in less than a year.

Right now, though, it is time for an update on the weather and the hour's other top stories.

Here's Sophia Choi at Headline News.

SOPHIA CHOI, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Heidi.

Well, the storm that battered the Midwest buried New England today. Up to a foot of flakes snarled commuters, shut down airports and kept snowplows in motion all day long. The first major snow of the season decorated the landscape, but it also triggered a rash of highway accidents.

The Justice Department tells an appeals court, accused terrorist Jose Padilla's complaints are moot now that he's been charged. Padilla sued after being held for more than three years. But the court also wants the government to explain why it had said he planned a dirty-bomb attack, but never charged him with that.

Outspoken New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin does it again. He told a conference of local officials that Congress is constipated when it comes to helping New Orleans recover from Katrina and hasn't done much to improve disaster response.

In Montreal, former President Bill Clinton told a global warming conference the Bush administration is flat wrong on the issue. Delegates from 180 countries gave him a standing ovation after he called for a major push for solar and wind power.

Heidi, I guess he still knows how to work a crowd, huh?

COLLINS: Guess so. Sophia, thank you.

Next, a serial killer says he wants to save a life by donating one of his kidneys for a transplant. But the son of one of his victims says, hold on a minute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: He wants the attention. He wants to play everybody to make him look like he really is an angel of mercy. He wants to, in his own -- I think, in his own way, show once again his -- he's got the power over life and death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Would you let him donate his kidney? Would you accept a transplant from a prisoner? I will ask a man who did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Generally, the offer of a potentially life-saving organ donation is a reason to celebrate. But one such offer in New Jersey is sparking a lot of outrage. That's because it comes from a self- admitted serial killer and because it comes with a string attached.

Here is Jason Carroll.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear the statement you're about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

CHARLES CULLEN, CONVICTED MURDER: I do.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors say, over the course of 16 years, he became the worst serial killer in New Jersey's history. Charles Cullen was a nurse. He admitted killing 29 patients by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs. He was convicted and is due to be sentenced in the next few months. He faces life in prison.

Zach Martin, whose 60-year-old mother, Eleanor, was Cullen's first known victim, is planning to attend that sentencing.

MARTIN: I cannot get the image of mom dying out of my head. I mean, it is forever there in the back of my brain. I will never forget that moment when she took her last breath and what I saw.

CARROLL: Martin wrote a book about what happened, and now he's outraged. And the reason is this. The man who brought death to so many victims is claiming he wants to help save a life. Cullen wants to donate one of his kidneys to a relative of his ex-girlfriend.

MASK: He knows he's done evil while practicing nursing. And, in a sense, he wants to do something good.

MARTIN: I think that he wants the attention. He wants to play everybody to make him look like he really is an angel of mercy. He wants to, in his own -- I think, in his own way, show once again his -- he's got the power over life and death.

CARROLL: Cullen's attorney does not believe he wants more attention. But he won't speculate on the serial killer's motives.

MASK: What difference does it make? I mean, no one can get into one's mind. I can't say why he would do it at this point in time. Does it matter? CARROLL (on camera): What matters to the families of Cullen's victims is that he's requesting the surgery take place here in New York City, instead of in a hospital in New Jersey, where he's being incarcerated.

(voice-over): Cullen's attorney says the recipient's doctors are in New York, so that would be the best place for the surgery. And Cullen has added this. Until now, he has exercised his right not to appear in court when he is sentenced. But if his wish to donate a kidney is carried out, he will appear, giving his victims' families a chance to address Cullen face to face about the pain he has caused them.

MARTIN: Don't you think that's a bit ridiculous? If they allow me to do this, then I will sit and listen to what everybody has to say, because I'm such a good guy. I -- I don't buy this for a minute. That is just a -- it -- it is balderdash.

CARROLL: Medical ethicists understand the emotions surrounding Cullen's the decision. But they say it is still an ethical one.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, ETHICIST, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: He's voluntarily donating his kidney to help someone else. That would be a very ethical -- and, usually, we actually think it is an altruistic thing to do, and we praise people who do it.

MARTIN: If he really wants to donate the kidney, then he has to do it whatever way possible and not having any strings attached to it.

CARROLL: Ultimately, a judge will make the final decision about the kidney donation and about where it should take place, about whether a man who took so many lives should be allowed to help save one.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Somerville, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: So, if you needed an organ, would it matter if it came from a person convicted of a violent crime?

Well, James Machonis received a transplanted liver that came from an inmate who was killed in a Florida prison. He's joining me tonight from Fort Lauderdale.

Thank you for being with us, Jim.

JAMES MACHONIS, RECEIVED TRANSPLANTED LIVER FROM PRISONER: Thank you.

COLLINS: I know that you did receive your liver from an inmate who died very violently in prison. Do you ever wonder about that person?

MACHONIS: I think about him every day. I thank the lord that he put him on this Earth. And I think, in his final exit, he just said, I want to do something good and gave his life to me. I mean, his -- a good organ was a gift of life to me. It's -- I survived because of his organ.

COLLINS: Would it matter to you what kind of crime he committed? Like, what if he was a child molester or -- or maybe, as in this other story, a serial killer?

MACHONIS: Well, first of all, it wouldn't matter. It's not a morality issue. I mean, mine was a life-and-death situation. I needed a new liver in order to do continue living.

I believe an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If you take someone's life, you deserve to die.

COLLINS: As we said, we do know that he was a convict. We don't know what kind. But I think people out there tonight might really wonder if you ever feel like you have a bit of evil inside of you.

MACHONIS: Not -- not one bit, to be honest with you. I'm as happy as can be. I'm -- I'm vibrant. I have a great wife, great parents. My mom and dad live in Worcester, Mass. Everything is fine for me.

COLLINS: What do you say, though, to the people out there who are -- who are vehemently opposed to inmates donating their organs?

MACHONIS: Well, it saved my life.

And, if it was your daughter who needed a -- a liver or a kidney, it was your son or your husband or your wife -- some day, that might happen -- I think you might change your mind, because it gave me a good life and I'm -- productive life now.

COLLINS: We're looking at some pictures of you, I believe, right after the surgery.

Let me ask you about victims' families. Do you think that they should have a say in whether or not inmates get some kind of public redemption by donating their organs?

MACHONIS: Absolutely.

In a case like this, where he -- I don't know if he confessed, but he is a serial murder -- I -- I believe he should be put to death. I mean, I would want his organs, and I -- that's not the point. I think the point is, if someone can get his organs and it will let someone live, that I would be for, not for the person himself. I think he should lose his life.

COLLINS: All right. So then let me double check. Getting a liver from an inmate, did that change the way you feel about the death penalty at all or you've always been in favor?

MACHONIS: I've always been in favor of the death penalty. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. I believe if you kill someone then you deserve to lose your life.

COLLINS: Well, James Machonis, we appreciate very much your insight in all of this. Thank you.

MACHONIS: Thank you very much.

COLLINS: In just a moment, a man who spent nearly a quarter of a century in prison for a crime he did not commit. And a family that never gave up its fight to prove his innocence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would tell me all the time I don't want to leave you here. I said I'm coming home. I'm coming home some day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Stay with us for an amazing emotional visit with a man who is free for the first time since 1982.

And later, something all of us moms or dads have to endure for years. Is there really a way to fast-forward potty training and say good-bye to changing diapers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Imagine being convicted of a crime and then being sentenced to life in prison even though you were completely innocent. Well, that's exactly that what happened to a Georgia man named Robert Clark. But he never gave up on proving his innocence.

And yesterday after more than two decades behind bars, he was finally released. Tonight, he's enjoying his first full day of freedom.

Our David Mattingly spent some time with Clark, as he prepared to begin his new life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Locked in the embrace of family, a beaming Robert Clark stepped out of an Atlanta courtroom a free man after serving more than 23 years in prison for a rape, robbery and kidnapping he did not commit.

When we met Clark, we found that his smile hadn't dimmed. And his grip on his sister's hand had not loosened a bit.

(on-camera): It looks like nobody wants to let you go now.

ROBERT CLARK, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: I don't want to let them go no more. You know, they didn't go off and leave me. You know, I was taken away from them. So it is like I went off and left them.

MATTINGLY (voice over): Clark was just 21 in 1982 when a judge gave him a life sentence for the brutal abduction and rape of a woman, who mistakenly identified him as her attacker.

In an effort led by the Innocence Project, recent DNA testing finally showed that authorities jailed the wrong man.

Now 45 and middle aged, Clark returns to an unfamiliar world. The young child he left behind is a grown man. The family he knew now includes five grandchildren, he had never met. He carries a pack of tissues for the frequent tears of joy.

VIRGINIA JACOBS, ROBERT CLARK'S SISTER: I can't help it. I'm a cry baby. When I used to go see him I would cry. Because I knew he had no business being there. And he said, don't cry. It is going to be okay. And I said, but you have no business here. You have no business here.

CLARK: She used to tell me all the time, I don't want to leave you here. I said I'm coming home. I'm coming home some day.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): And you did.

CLARK: And I did yesterday.

MATTINGLY: Of the 164 people freed by DNA testing, the Innocence Project claims no one spent more time wrongfully imprisoned than Clark. And yet Clark remarkably claims to hold no anger or bitterness. Something he attributes to his mother and her unwavering belief in his innocence.

Lula (ph) Clark died just weeks after learning the DNA testing would be done. Clark and his siblings say they now speak to her through prayer.

(on-camera): What do you say to her now?

JACOBS: I say, mama, he's home. Your baby is home.

MATTINGLY: What would you be like today if she hadn't been supporting you this entire time?

CLARK: I wouldn't be the same. I wouldn't be all smiles. I probably would be bitter. If she didn't believe me, you know, I probably would be bitter. She believed me all the time.

MATTINGLY: What would that have done to you if you let the bitterness and the anger take over?

CLARK: It probably would have destroyed me. Yes.

MATTINGLY: It sounds like your mother saved your life.

CLARK: She did. She did. JUDGE DOROTHY ROBINSON, COBB COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Truth is finally out. The truth that you knew all along. And that truth is setting you free at this point.

MATTINGLY: As for the life ahead of him, Clark's attorney says he faces years of emotional and social adjustment. In two similar cases, the state of Georgia paid exonerated inmates restitution after their release. One received $500,000. The other a million.

Clark says money would help but nothing, he says, can buy back what was taken from him. He has no plans, but to make the most of his long awaited freedom no matter how hard it might be for him to believe.

(on-camera): How does today feel different?

CLARK: It don't seem like it is real. It seems like -- I don't know. It seems like there are strings attached. You know, I just got to cut the wires off of me knowing I ain't got to go back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And there is a twist in this case. The same DNA test that cleared Robert Clark has also, according to the Innocence Project, implicated a former friend of his, Floyd Arnold.

Arnold is currently serving time in prison now on a charge of cruelty to children in Georgia and is due to be released in January that will obviously change, Heidi, if the investigators decide to act on this new information. And right now they're not commenting on what they plan to do.

COLLINS: It's just an amazing story.

David, how did investigators focus on Clark in the first place?

MATTINGLY: Well, Clark was actually spotted driving the rape victim's car. A car that he claimed all along that he had borrowed from Floyd Arnold, who was his friend at the time.

But the Innocence Project claims that no one ever looked into Arnold, that they had a case of tunnel vision and focused entirely on Robert Clark at the time.

COLLINS: Also curious to know what those investigators, who were involved in the case back in 1982, are saying now with this huge turn of events?

MATTINGLY: Everyone who will comment is expressing sorrow for what happened to him in this case, and are looking forward to possibly having the right person blamed for this trial. We'll see how the investigation goes.

One important comment that was reported in the "Atlanta Georgia Constitution" came from the actual victim in this case. She said that there now are two victims in this case, her and Robert Clark. COLLINS: Well, that's for sure. He's got quite an unshakeable spirit though.

David Mattingly, thanks for that.

Coming up, can you believe mothers are trying to potty-train kids as young as six weeks old?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Coming up, would you be willing to do this at least 20 times a day to get your baby out of diapers?

And later on, Jeanne Moos tries to make some trouble for the new "King Kong" movie. She found an audience that isn't computer- generated.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: If anybody said that you could toilet-train a newborn baby, you would probably think they were nuts, right? Well, they're not even close to being able to walk at that age, let alone use the bathroom. But you are about to meet some parents who are trying just that with their newborns, and they say it works. Here is medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zander (ph) lives the life of your average baby. Daddy takes him on airplane rides. Mommy feeds him and cleans him. But here's the one rather unusual part. When Zander has to poop or pee, he often uses the potty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You still straining?

COHEN: That's right. Zander, 7-week-old Zander, uses the potty. And if you think that's odd, keep watching because it gets even odder. Frankly, Zander's parents, Corey Lynn Campbell (ph) and Eric Singer (ph), think American society is kind of odd for putting babies in diapers all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea of a baby sort of sitting in his own urine and feces is not -- you know, it is sort of -- you know, when you think about it, it's not very nice, so.

COHEN: They subscribe to a theory called the elimination communication. The elimination part, use diapers as little as possible and your baby will likely be toilet trained by his first birthday, rather than by his third like the average American baby. The communication part, it only works if parents keep a watchful eye on their baby, look for a squirm, a grimace, something that lets them know it's time to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea is to, you know, sort of get in touch with when your baby needs to go and then just hold him over a receptacle.

COHEN: This whole concept was so mind blowing that I joined Eric and Cory Lynn at an elimination communication meeting in New York City. It's part of diaperfreebaby.org and they say their Web site is booming, coordinating meetings in 37 states and around the world. This woman hasn't even had her baby. She's four months pregnant and wants to learn how to start elimination communication or EC, right at birth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have actually just housebroken my dog, and I know there's no comparison.

COHEN: The group leader's advice.

CHRISTINE GROSS LOH, DIAPERFREEBABY.ORG: Just plunging in and take your baby's diaper off and seeing where that takes you is a really important first step.

COHEN (on camera): Why does it matter when a child gets out of diapers?

LOH: It really does not matter when a child gets out of diapers. It's about communicating with your child about something that he is trying to tell you from the time he's born. They are born with that instinct not to soil themselves.

COHEN (voice-over): But this is where doctors think parents may be a little off base. Famed pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton says that this is more about the parents.

DR. T. BERRY BRAZELTON, PEDIATRICIAN: Why, as a culture, are we so uptight about when a child gets toilet trained? I keep wondering why parents feel under so much pressure.

COHEN: Dr. Mark Wolraich is a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and wrote their guide to potty training. He doesn't think EC is necessarily harmful, but he worries parents could get too pushy.

DR. MARK WOLRAICH, PEDIATRICIAN: I certainly sense some element of this is a parental achievement or achievement in their children as a reflection of how they are doing.

COHEN: Maybe so, but these parents point to some of the practical aspects of EC. Consider these statistics. In a year, a baby goes through roughly 2,500 disposable diapers. Multiply that by three and it's 7,500 at a cost of $3,000 before the baby is toilet trained. And every year, according to the "New York Times," 22 billion disposable diapers end up in U.S. landfills.

(on camera): So here's the big question. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think why we do EC is we do it because we feel like it's good for Nashama (ph).

COHEN: Lamell (ph) and Nashama Ryman (ph) are EC veterans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The current stats are something like 90 percent of poops and, I'd say, 75 percent of pees ...

COHEN: End up in the potty?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... in the potty.

COHEN (voice-over): Lamell watches for a sign that 9-month-old Nashama is ready to eliminate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that was a nose rub.

COHEN (on camera): That was a nose rub. So what do we do?

(voice-over): This nose rub was a false alarm. Lamell keeps watch. In the mornings when Nashama needs to go more frequently, she ends up on the potty every 20 minutes or so. That's right. Every 20 minutes. Many new, overwhelmed parents would find that daunting.

DR. MICHEL COHEN, AUTHOR, "THE NEW BASICS": You see a lot of parents are actually pretty stressed out with taking care of babies because of this performance-oriented way of doing things.

COHEN (on camera): But to do this, what happens if you are cooking something or you had to answer the phone or if you had another child. Could you really be paying attention to little signs like that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do the very best I can. And when I'm not able to catch it, like I can't even see her right now, so she could be making a puddle on the floor right now for all I know. So I just go wipe it up. It's not a big deal.

COHEN: Why should she have to communicate her eliminations? She's nine months old. Why can't she just be sort of free and easy and use a diaper?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a great question. I mean, I think that really cuts to the core of why I bother with this altogether. I actually really feel like she's happier now as opposed to when she was wearing diapers, up until she was four months old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job, kiddo.

COHEN (voice-over): And that's how Eric and Corey Lynn feel, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Usually he'll, you know, he'll sort of have a big poop and then, you know, look up at us in the mirror and just grin and smile, which was not the case when he -- before, when he was going in his diaper most of the time.

COHEN: Any place apparently is better than a diaper. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: I'm not saying a word.

Lower energy prices translate into a higher Dow. Sophia Choi has details in tonight's Headline News "Business Break."

(BUSINESS BREAK)

COLLINS: A movie theater near you is about to get attacked by a giant ape. But is a computer-generated King Kong convincing enough for these guys?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thumbs up, thumbs down? Thumbs up. Thumbs down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Stay with us for some more monkey business from Jeanne Moos.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: The new Harry Potter movie has been king of the box office for the past three weekends. But the boy wizard is about to get a more formidable challenge, from the return of the he who must not be named. The holiday blockbuster movies are arriving at theaters this weekend. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" opened today, targeted especially at families and at evangelical Christians. For more mature audiences, though, there is "Brokeback Mountain." It's a western and a love story, and it is getting quite the Oscar buzz. But be advised, the couple isn't a man and a woman.

The string of big movies isn't about to let up. "Memoirs of a Geisha" also opened today. And Steven Spielberg's new film, "Munich" is also coming up.

And then there is this: The gorilla in the room. "King Kong" premieres next Wednesday nationwide. But some very lucky New Yorkers have already gotten to see it, including Jeanne Moos and friends.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS (voice-over): These days, King Kong can do no wrong. There is the remake, the video game, the lotto named after him...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The King Kong millions jackpot...

MOOS: There is the King Kong costume that even dogs like.

The giant ape's popularity has rubbed off on chimps. Sharper Image is selling a $150 interactive chimp. But it's the movie that is generating the buzz. Who better to review it...

(on camera): Come on. Movie time. "King Kong."

(voice-over): Who better than the Siskel and Ebert of gorillas? Well, Siskel may be gone, but Laila (ph) and Keosha (ph) are alive and well, thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

"King Kong" seemed to be a real nail biter, though it's tough to trust movie critics who seem to enjoy the film just as much in rewind.

Since there was no concession stand, they made do with regurgitating and re-eating past meals.

(on camera): It's not exactly popcorn.

JASON ROWE, SR. KEEPER, BRONX ZOO: Bringing it back to enjoy it all over again.

MOOS (voice-over): What does it mean when your movie critic starts licking the glass during pivotal scenes?

Our visit coincided with one by the actor who played King Kong -- sort of. Andy Serkis also did expressions in motion capture for Gollum in "Lord of the Rings."

For Kong, Serkis studied the gorillas at the London Zoo. One female got so attached to him that when Serkis' real wife showed up, the jealous ape tossed a plastic bottle.

LORRAINE ASHBOURNE, ANDY SERKIS' WIFE: She just leapt and went, and squished all this juice all over us.

MOOS: No wonder the ape fell for him. Listen to how he speaks.

(on camera): It's in gorilla there.

ANDY SERKIS, ACTOR: It's in gorilla, yeah.

MOOS: How does it go?

SERKIS: He goes, like that.

MOOS: He's a beast.

(voice-over): Our critics' interest in "King Kong" tended to wander. And what do gestures like this mean?

(on camera): Thumbs up, thumbs down? Thumbs up. Thumbs down.

(voice-over): Was Laila literally trying to knock the film?

These aren't the first apes to watch videos. Casey at the New Orleans Zoo was famous for watching gorilla porn. The inexperienced bachelor was shown tapes of gorilla courtship and mating, in hopes he would catch on. Zoo officials don't know if it helped. After watching the tapes over and over for a couple of weeks, Casey got bored.

As for "King Kong," maybe it didn't get too two thumbs up or four stars, but it did get four licks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beast looked upon the face of beauty.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Oh, yummy. All right.

Well, that is it for us tonight. Thanks for joining us, everybody. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts now. His guest, Marlo Thomas tonight. Have a terrific weekend, everybody.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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