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Who is Prosecutors in Kaufman County?; Pope Francis Celebrates Easter
Aired March 31, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Topping our news at this hour - who is killing the prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas. Questions are swirling after a Texas district attorney and his wife were found shot to death in their home. What is the connection to the murder of an assistant district attorney two months ago? We've got the latest.
And Pope Francis leads Easter Sunday mass with a huge crowd at St. Peter's Square but making it personal for at least one worshipper. We'll tell you how this non-traditional pontiff is leading the way.
First to Kaufman County, Texas. The deaths of district attorney Mike McClellan and his wife Cynthia are shaking that community.
It is about 30 miles outside Dallas but adding to the shock is that this comes two months after an assistant district attorney was murdered. Mark Hasse was gunned down in a courthouse parking lot. Listen to what the sheriff had to say when asked about a potential connection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that these murders yesterday are definitively connected to the murder -
SHERIFF DAVID BYRNES, KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS: I can't say that. No. We have nothing indicating that for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: A "Dallas Morning News" reporter (INAUDIBLE) told us her sources say they are pretty sure there is a connection.
Ed Lavendera is live for us now in Kaufman County. Ed, so what are you hearing about any kind of connection here and where the investigation goes from here?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Well, I just spoke with the county judge here in Kaufman County who had spoken with Mike McClellan just last week. He was telling me again the question that everybody wants to know at this point is, is there any indication that these two cases are related. This particular gentleman is not part of the investigation but it is the prevailing wisdom around here that many people continue to think that they don't see how these cases are not related. And that is what the county judge told me just a little while ago. He says it would be hard to imagine that these cases are not related somehow, that Mike McClellan and Mark Hasse, the assistant prosecutor that was killed two months ago worked very closely on cases.
We do know that authorities and investigators have been spending the last two months poring over the case files that Hasse had worked on looking for clues as to who might be responsible. That is what is going on now. However, in this particular murder investigation today, authorities being very tight-lipped about what happened but it is interesting because Mike McClelland was one of the people who came out and spoke after Mark Hasse was gunned down two months ago.
Listen to the way he talked about how badly he wanted to capture the culprits, the people who had murdered his co-worker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I hope that the people who did this are watching because we're very confident that we're going to find you. We're going to pull you out of whatever hole you're in and we're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. Anything that you people can do to accelerate getting our hands on this scum will be appreciated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Fredricka, the sheriff here in Kaufman County saying that so far they do not have - or they're not saying if they have the evidence to directly link these two murder investigations. But despite that, there are many people in high-ranking offices here in the Kaufman County area who are having a hard time believing that these cases couldn't be related somehow.
So that is obviously something that's being taken - a very close look at. Several local media reports describing the scene at the house where McClelland and his wife were murdered. The front door had been knocked down and that shell casings were found throughout the house. But investigators when we asked the sheriff about these specific details of the investigation, they refused to confirm any of that. So that's where we are right now, Fredricka, in a case that is really shocking and disturbing to a lot of people especially those who will be returning to work to the courthouse after this Easter Sunday. That county judge here in Kaufman County tells me that the courthouse here in Kaufman, Texas will be open tomorrow.
However, he cannot - wasn't able to tell me whether or not that would also include the prosecutors from the D.A.'s office, if those people will also be showing up to work. The sheriff did say that there are precautions being taken to protect county officials here in Kaufman County. Wouldn't specify exactly how or what that meant but that those precautions are being taken.
WHITFIELD: OK. So added protections, it is safe to say, will be offered or made available to these prosecutors in the county?
LAVANDERA: We asked specifically if that's what that would include. They wouldn't specify if that's what that - that's included. We're kind of left on our own at this point to determine whether or not we think that's happening. I think it is safe to presume that those - that that kind of protection is being offered but to what extent and to how many people, we just have no idea at this point.
WHITFIELD: And what about any similarities, are investigators willing to comment on that, similarities at the crime scenes of the house or even the parking lot where these two separate shootings took place. Yes, some of the local reports are that there were shell casings found in the house. How about any shell casings that may be compared that were found in the parking lot during that shooting two months ago?
LAVANDERA: If these reports are true that there was that kind of evidence inside the house, that would obviously give investigators something to go on. But after two months after the Mark Hasse investigation, there hasn't appeared to be any kind of headway in terms of naming a suspect or any possible motives behind the attack. We had really heard very little updates into that first murder and obviously with the murders of Mike and Cynthia McClelland this changes things dramatically here. It has many people on edge.
WHITFIELD: Ed Lavendera, thanks so much. Keep us posted as you continue to dig deeper on this story. Thanks so much.
And of course, we're asking more questions as well trying to find out the connections between these two cases that just took place yesterday and that of two months ago. The mayor of a town in Kaufman County and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes will be joining us live.
And Christians all over the world are celebrating Easter today.
In Rome, Pope Francis delivered his first Easter blessings since becoming pontiff. Thousands of worshippers from around the world packed St. Peter's Square. Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is in Rome.
JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Barely two weeks into his reign, Pope Francis, as he celebrated his first Easter mass, is putting distance between himself and his predecessor. For one thing, the new pope probably wouldn't have liked the term "reign." He already has done several things to show he's against the imperial nature of the papacy. He's indicated, for example, that he prefers the title of Bishop of Rome, simpler and less majestic than Pope or His Holiness.
There are plenty of other signs of a different approach. The broad smile and the wave as if he's identifying with specific people in the crowds. And the very conscious effort shown once again on Easter Sunday to reach out and touch the faithful. Benedict XVI is still alive and watching from afar but with each move no matter how symbolic, Francis seemed happy to abandon the austere and distant approach of his predecessor.
If differences have come up between the two folks, it's not been before the cameras. In addition to their face to face meeting they've had several phone conversations, including one this week that the Vatican spokesman described as intense.
There are the stylistic differences that set Pope Francis apart from Benedict. The iron cross and the more common dress. And there's already been one substantive change that has annoyed traditionalists. The way he included two women in a Holy Week ceremony representing the moment when Christ washed the feet of his 12 disciples. All men.
Was the new pope hinting that he was intending to elevate the role of women in the church? It was something that raised hopes among Catholic women at the Easter mass. Even as some remained skeptical that he can or will be able to bring about major change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he's going to make changes he needs to sort of move forward with the times and embrace today and stop trying to implement old ideas.
BITTERMAN: Still, as much as many Catholics, especially in the developed world, would like to see a more modern church, Pope Francis follows a pontiff who did not. Disagreeing on philosophical issues can be one way the new pope can prove he's different from his predecessor but a more and immediate visible way will be how he handles the festering problems of managing the Vatican. How he'll address the personnel changes many feel are necessary to firmly and finally deal with the sex scandals involving the clergy and charges of financial misdeeds.
(on camera): Vatican experts say the real test of a new pope begins now that the ceremonies are over. A test of whether he really can change the ancient institution he now runs.
Jim Bittermann, CNN, Rome.
WHITFIELD: In Los Angeles, police are looking for two men suspected of kidnapping and assaulting a 10-year-old girl. The girl was snatched from her bedroom in the middle of the night on Wednesday, but then found 12 hours later. Police have released a picture of one of her suspected captors. They also say there was no indication at this point that the suspect knew the victim or her family.
In New York, police say the two men seen running on this video may have been part of an abduction that took place in broad daylight. Two young girls told authorities that they saw one of these en force two people into a van at gunpoint. The van then sped off and the men ran away. Police say no one has reported anyone missing so they've put up posters in the area asking for help identifying either the suspects or the possible victims. Three shocking deaths in one Texas community over a two-month period. A district attorney, his wife and an assistant D.A. all killed. Are these top law men being targeted? I'll talk to the mayor of a suburban Dallas community up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BYRNES: We proceed to the scene and did find the district attorney Mr. McClelland and his wife Cynthia deceased at that time. They both had been shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That was the sheriff of Kaufman County, Texas giving the latest on this shocking case. A district attorney, his wife found shot to death just two months after an assistant district attorney was gunned down.
Joining me now on the phone is Darren Rozell. He is the mayor of (INAUDIBLE), a town in Kaufman County. Mayor Roselle, you say this was not a random act in your view. What do you believe is going on here?
MAYOR DARREN ROZELL, FORNEY, TEXAS: Right. In my view, it appears that it was not random, it was a targeted attack. That's really the message that we're trying to get across to the community right now. Of course, we're obviously really sad and shocked and there's some outrage, too, but we don't need citizens walking around in fear. The best thing they can do is pray for the McClelland family and support those that are handling the investigation.
WHITFIELD: All of those who are in law enforcement are, is there a feeling now that everyone is potentially a target?
ROZELL: Well, I don't want to say it is that widespread. This appears to be in my opinion county level. Of course it seems to be the D.A. department and I know that everyone is very concerned. This is not something that has happened before in Forney, Texas. Our county itself is relatively small, maybe a little over 105,000 or so people. Something like this really hurts.
WHITFIELD: The case of the assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, that still is unsolved. Soon after that took place two months ago, was there a feeling that there may be a greater - potentially a greater conspiracy to target prosecutors?
ROZELL: I don't know. I certainly didn't have that impression two months ago. I have to think now that those handling the investigation - my understanding is Texas rangers, U.S. marshals, FBI are all helping the Kaufman County sheriff's department with this. I have to think that those individuals are tying the pieces to the, connecting the dots, so to say and if there is some type of tie-in, I'm sure they're going to find it.
ROZELL: Mayor, stand by. Let's bring in former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes also joining us now live from Vancouver. So all right, Tom, you know, to what degree are federal authorities - the FBI in particular - being involved in this investigation in trying to connect any dots here?
TOM FUENTES, FMR. FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Hi, Fredricka. The FBI will be trying to analyze any of the leads and help with leads especially that go out of state. So you're in a situation now where the field is wide open in terms of suspects. You have prosecutors whose job it is to prosecute people and ultimately have people convicted and end up in prison.
That's certainly going to create a lot of enemies with people who may be very prone to violence. So the enemies list would be long. For both men, for both the assistant D.A. Hasse and for the district attorney, McClelland. His wife, unfortunately, was at the wrong place at the wrong time, being at home, unfortunately.
But my heart goes out to the Clement family in Colorado. Now you have these two families affected in Texas by individuals who obviously have a reason in their mind that they want to seek vengeance or attack law enforcement officials. If you include the Dorner case in Los Angeles last month, this is three months in a row that we've had law enforcement officials being targeted by individuals.
WHITFIELD: It is difficult for anyone not to want to connect what took place two months ago in Kaufman County involving the assistant D.A.'s shooting death and then what took place within the past 24 hours involving the D.A. of Kaufman County and his wife.
What are the common denominators besides the deaths are federal investigators or even local authorities going to be looking into? Would it be that they may have shared or been involved in similar cases? Among what things are going to be looked at, scrutinized very closely.
FUENTES: That's certainly the most obviously they both worked in the prosecutor's office of Kaufman, Texas. So the fact that they are both in that office, that they're both pursuing the same thing, the prosecution of individuals accused of serious crimes, would give them a great deal in common.
But for the investigators, they have to look at everything. They're going to have to analyze the phone records and internet records, interview everybody that knew both families and all the victims for any information, was somebody threatening them. Was somebody receiving phone calls or e-mails that they confided to a friend, neighbor or family member about? So all of those aspects have to be looked at.
If I could add one more important thing, in investigations even though things look very, very obvious as to in terms of OK , they're both prosecutors in the same office, for the investigators now they need to leave no stone unturned. They need to keep an open mind in an investigation like this because what happens, if you form a theory too early during an investigation, you may be looking at leads to prove yourself right subconsciously instead of looking at every possibility under the sun that could be responsible here.
WHITFIELD: And Forney City mayor, Rozell, if you're still with us, give me an idea, if you can kind of paint a picture for us. What is Kaufman County like? And when we talk about the kinds of cases that Tom was describing will be scrutinized and looked over t to see if there are any common denominators between the D.A. and the assistant D.A., what kinds of cases are prosecuted in Kaufman County, outside of Dallas?
ROZELL: Well, we're a smaller county, we're right adjacent to Dallas but we're smaller. There is a U.S. highway, highway 80 runs right from Dallas through Kaufman County and anything that could have happen in Dallas has the potential of happening in Kaufman County.
And just hearing what the FBI investigator said a minute ago makes me feel that much more reassured that I know the right people are working on this job. They're going to take everything. As he said, no stone unturned. They will be able to tie this in and find out who's responsible and hold them responsible.
WHITFIELD: Mayor Darren Rozell of Forney, Texas, right there in Kaufman County. Tom Fuentes, thanks so much joining us from Vancouver today via Skype. Thanks to both of you gentlemen. Appreciate it.
All right. Barely two weeks into the new Pope's leadership and he is already challenging some traditions that are hundreds of years old. Will his followers support Pope Francis or turn away?
WHITFIELD: As Christians celebrate Easter, a new Gallup poll reveals which U.S. cities and towns are the most religious. Provo, Utah leads with 77 percent as the most religious place, followed by Montgomery, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama. Burlington, Vermont is the least religious place, according to that Gallup poll.
All right. Pope Francis is being called the people's pope. He is seen as a friend of the poor and underprivileged and continues to break with many church traditions.
Matthew Bunson joins me now from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He is a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for biblical theology. Good to see you.
MATTHEW BUNSON, SENIOR FELLOW, ST. PAUL CENTER FOR BIBLICAL THEOLOGY: Very good. Happy Easter to you.
WHITFIELD: A happy Easter to you as well.
It would seem to be very awkward for any pope to be able to take the helm and his predecessor is still alive. But we're seeing in Pope Francis that he and Pope Benedict, or Emeritus Benedict, can really co-exist. This is a really special attribute, is it not? Of Pope Francis to be able to convey this? BUNSON: It is. One of the big questions that the cardinals were discussing in the lead-up to the conclave that elected Pope Francis or Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio of Buenos Aires was could they find someone who would be comfortable with assuming, not just the enormity of the papacy but the enormity of the papacy with his predecessor still alive.
And I think the cardinals universally are ecstatic with the way that Pope Francis has settled in with such ease into the job. Going of course to Castel Gandalfo just last week to greet Pope Benedict and call him my brother. It was a wonderful gesture. But I have to say that somebody who studies the history of the church, the visual of two popes embracing was pretty remarkable.
WHITFIELD: What a historic moment that was to see them like that, you know, kind of like a mano a mano. You know, they seem to be very different popes. But then you say if you listen to the homilies, if you listen to the messages, they are really in sync with one another. But there's something different about Pope Francis, everyone would agree, to be exhibiting that he's breaking from tradition in so many ways, shapes and form. Is he kind of building on what his predecessor has put in place or is he really departing and saying it's a new day?
BUNSON: Well, it is a logical question to ask. People are looking at Pope Francis and they see somebody very different certainly from Pope Benedict XVI. Different to some degree from even Pope John Paul II. I would contend that Pope Francis has settled in with such ease because he's at ease with himself. He's very comfortable with who he is and where he thinks he needs to take the church as head of the church.
However, that hallmark of humility and simplicity are his personal expressions as Pope. But he's also in continuity with the teachings that we've seen from Pope Benedict and especially Pope John Paul II in his reach to women, for example, that we saw in his Easter vigil homily, his worries about the impact of globalization on the poor and carrying forward what was the centerpiece for Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate which was called the New Evangelization, which is really helping descend, maintain and reinvigorate the Christian faith in parts of the world where secularism has an upper hand at least as far as the church is concerned.
So there is something wonderfully new about it but he's also maintaining the teachings of the church in wonderful continuity with the popes who have gone before him.
WHITFIELD: And perhaps no matter what your persuasion or belief, just seeing that moment that we've shown that picture today and we just did moments ago of the pontiff embracing that young man in the crowd, it just warms everyone's heart and certainly is such an endearing, beautiful moment. Perhaps that's kind of the symbol of this Easter celebration today.
Matthew Bunson, thank you so much for joining us from Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
BUNSON: My pleasure. Take care.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
All right. It is one of the most hot-button issues ever - gun control. President Obama heads to Colorado this week to sell his proposals. We take a look at how folks around the country feel about it.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Who is killing prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas? Questions are swirling after the district attorney and his wife are found shot to death in their home. It comes two months after the murder of an assistant district attorney. Officials in that area tell CNN it is hard to think the two cases are not related.
After a week of threats of war against South Korea, a nuclear attack on the U.S., things are relatively quiet in North Korea today. Top leaders only issued a statement declaring the country's nuclear arms a national treasure. There is speculation that North Korea's allies, Russia and China, may be pressuring Pyongyang to tone down its rhetoric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And the White House is stepping up pressure to get new federal gun laws passed. CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser checks out some new polls that show there is support for some parts of new legislation.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, Fred. President Barack Obama heads to Colorado this week to tout that state's new gun control measures as he tries to convince Congress to pass a law of its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our best chance in more than a decade to take common sense steps that will save lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: When Congress gets back to Easter recess, the Senate will move ahead on a bill that includes expanding background checks for gun sales. You know, there's strong public support for such background checks: 9 in 10 in a new CBS News poll said they back them. And there was no partisan divide, with Democrats, independents and even Republicans overwhelmingly in favor.
But the bill could face a tough go of it in the Democratic controlled Senate, let alone the Republican dominated House. Meanwhile, that same CBS poll and a recent CNN survey suggest that overall support for stricter gun laws is fading, 31/2 months after the horrific shootings at a Connecticut elementary school. And that's a point not lost on the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And the entire country was shocked and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and this time it would be different. Shame on us if we've forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: With supporters and opponents of gun control ramping up efforts, this fight is far from over, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Paul.
In Memphis, the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan held a protest Saturday. About 60 members gathered to protest the renaming of three Confederate parks. Police in riot gear maintained the peace with only one arrest for disorderly conduct. An anti-Klan rally located about 100 yards away attracted more than 1,000 people.
Is an immigration deal in the works? Some key senators say yes, but there still could be a holdout. I'm checking in with our own Candy Crowley next.
WHITFIELD: A leading voice of the conservative wing of the Republican Party says he will not filibuster upcoming gun control legislation. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham talked exclusively with Candy Crowley, host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." Candy, what does Graham want?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: So long as he is allowed and others are allowed to amend the bill that is brought to the floor. Lots depends on the rules and what's agreed upon in terms of bringing it to the floor. It's interesting obviously is that there are five Republicans that have said we're going to filibuster this if it infringes on Second Amendment rights or causes undue government surveillance of gun purchases.
And this is where the sticking point is because in the gun negotiations going on, our gun control negotiations going on now, Republicans have said the -- it isn't so much the background check at these gun shows as it is the paperwork that has to stay as a result of that background check with the sellers.
They think that just really amounts to a national registry of guns, which they believe is an undue burden and undue government intrusion into a Second Amendment right. So that's what it's about and Lindsey Graham says, look, as long as I can amend this -- and you can see where he's going here, which is enforcement -- then I won't filibuster it.
WHITFIELD: In your conversation with Senator Graham, is there a feeling that the killing of the Texas district attorney may influence the conversation about gun control or gun legislation that lawmakers will be taking up?
CROWLEY: Well, we don't know the circumstances or how whoever did this deed got their weaponry and what kind of weaponry it was. It is another thing that people can bring up.
But let's face it, we had 26 -- you know, 20 dead children and six teachers and school folks that were killed in an elementary school in Newtown. And so the gist of the argument is still the same and that is that you have those arguing that, in the end, this is going to be about burdening legitimate gun owners, because people who would go off and murder others are not all that interested in the legality of their weapons.
So it tends to be a debate to which items are added, other examples, but it doesn't tend to change the debate.
WHITFIELD: And now to immigration. It appears senators, some of them, are getting close to a deal. Senator Graham seems onboard but can it pass the House? Here's what he had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: I believe it will pass the House because it secures our borders. It controls who gets the job. As to the 11 million, they will be a pathway to citizenship but it will be earned. It will be long and it will be hard and I think it is fair. And the main thing, the combination of events in this bill will prevent a third wave of illegal immigration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Candy, as it -- as it pertains to Republicans kind of revitalizing the party, trying to reach out and attract more Latinos, how does this conversation parallel that effort?
CROWLEY: Well, they're very open and Republicans are very open and up front about the fact that they just got hammered by Latino voters in the last election. More than 70 percent of Latino voters voted for the president.
They don't want that to be a lasting legacy for the Democratic Party and they don't think that coming up with this immigration reform bill and agreeing to something is going to cure that. But they believe it removes a barrier.
WHITFIELD: Candy Crowley, thanks so much. And Happy Easter -- our host of "STATE OF THE UNION."
Michael Jackson's family says the concert promoter AEG is responsible for the singer's death. The wrongful death lawsuit is set to go to trial this week and the superstar's children just might be called to testify.
WHITFIELD: Nearly four years after his death, Michael Jackson's mother is trying to hold entertainment company AEG Live accountable for it. Katherine Jackson's blaming the company for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death. The trial begins Tuesday and Ms. Jackson is reportedly suing for billions of dollars.
Let's bring in CNN legal contributor Paul Callan and defense attorney Rachel Self.
Good to see both of you.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Nice to be with you.
RACHEL SELF, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: Paul, let me begin with you. This is a negligence case, a civil case. How will the Jackson family try to prove this?
CALLAN: Well, I think they're going to have a tough time. It is kind of a ridiculous case. Picture this. Michael Jackson says to the concert promoters, I want you to hire my personal physician, a guy who's licensed in four states and has never had a disciplinary problem brought against him, Conrad Murray.
The promoters hire Conrad Murray. Then at Jackson's request, he administers Propofol, killing Michael Jackson and now the Jackson family's trying to blame the concert promoter. They got to convince the jury of that and they want $40 billion. I say it is an uphill battle to sell that theory.
WHITFIELD: So Rachel, are you saying this is laughable?
SELF: Yes. I agree with Paul on this, Fredricka. I mean, what we're dealing with here, it doesn't make somebody professionally incompetent to have personal debt. And there's only one remaining claim here. And AEG actually has taken this one remaining claim up to the appeals court.
The negligent hiring claim is the only claim remaining. And they're saying, look, we can't see that it's reasonably foreseeable that this doctor was going to even be a bad doctor, let alone commit criminal manslaughter -- criminal manslaughter, in this case, which is what happened.
So I think that it is going to be a pretty strong case for AEG. But what AEG is saying to the appeals court is, look, we shouldn't have to go through the expense of having a jury trial here in this silliness that is this case.
And Katherine Jackson putting these kids through this, I mean, this is everything that Mr. Jackson didn't want to see happen to his children. He was an enormously private person. He was an enormously private person with regard to his medical records, with regard to his children. And to see everything being brought out for the purposes of $40 billion, which is unheard of, is really tragic.
WHITFIELD: And when you say putting these kids through this, you mean potentially Michael Jackson's children could be called to testify.
What would they have to offer and why would they be called, Rachel?
SELF: Well, they would be called to support any sort of emotional distress claim which, at this point, has been thrown out. And so I'm hoping that the judge does not make the children testify in this case. And I think that in this particular instance these children, under California law, had -- the statute of limitations on a wrongful death case in California is two years.
So technically the kids had until they were 20 years old to file this, because once they turned 18 their statute of limitations would have run. I think that putting the kids through this at this young age is just -- I think it's disgusting.
WHITFIELD: And go ahead, Paul.
CALLAN: Yes, I was going to say, Fredricka, what's weird about this case is obviously they have the right -- the family could sue Conrad Murray for medical malpractice. As a matter of fact, he's been convicted criminally and he's been sentenced, I think, to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.
But you could sue him for medical malpractice. But they're not satisfied with that because there's not enough insurance money available. So they've concocted this theory that the concert promoter is responsible for the death, because they hired the very physician Michael Jackson told them to hire.
So I think, in the end -- although maybe you could argue that there's something here for a jury to decide, it's a pretty uphill battle here to convince a jury to accept any of this.
And as Rachel says, if you've got to put the kids through the torture of a trial, you have to wonder what people are thinking in terms of bringing such an action.
WHITFIELD: Paul Callan, Rachel Self, thanks so much to both of you
CALLAN: OK. Nice being with you.
SELF: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: And a great Easter story to share with you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think -- yay! You found it!
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Kids with visual disabilities get a chance to be part of Easter egg hunts. You'll meet the people who make it all happen.
WHITFIELD: Well what do you suppose they're tossing right there, 25,000 plastic Easter eggs being dumped from that helicopter. Another 25,000 candy filled eggs were scattered on the ground. It happened yesterday at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. The event was free for all the kids below.
And Happy Easter, everybody. Those words from the president this morning as he and the first family were walking over to church services on this Easter Sunday. The first family attended St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House.
And here's a look at what's trending online. Christians all over the world celebrating Easter today in Rome. Pope Francis delivered his first Easter blessing since becoming pontiff. Thousands of worshippers from around the world packed St. Peter's Square to hear him.
And in just a few hours the NCAA Final Four will be set. Michigan just won its spot after beating Florida. Next hour, Louisville plays Duke for the last spot. Syracuse and Wichita State are in after wins last night.
And Grammy winning producer Phil Ramone passed away yesterday at a New York hospital at the age of 79. He helped shape the careers of such big names as Bono, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Frank Sinatra.
So how do children with disabilities participate in Easter egg hunts? Well, military and police bomb techs have found a way to help them. They're making audible Easter eggs to give all kids a chance to enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Here's Barbara Starr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNY (PH): Max (ph), I hear the Easter egg. Where is it? Go find it.
BARBARA STARR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Eight-year-old Max (ph) has plenty of challenges beyond his blindness.
JENNY (PH): Yay! You found it!
STARR (voice-over): His mother, Jenny (ph), cheers him on when he locates the beeping Easter egg. JENNY (PH): When it is the beeping Easter eggs he really finds it fun.
STARR (voice-over): For visually impaired children, an Easter egg hunt usually means sitting on the side. But at this suburban Virginia home, a most unusual group is helping bring some spring cheer to the kids.
Beeping Easter eggs are being assembled by military and police bomb techs. A battery, a beeper and a plastic egg is all it takes.
COMMANDER HUNG CAO, U.S. NAVY: You build these devices that make a sound so that blind -- visually impaired children can locate them.
STARR (voice-over): Iraq veteran and navy commander Hung Cao and his buddies have put hundreds of dollars into the effort.
Don Noha of the Virginia Beach Police bomb squad started much of the effort three years ago.
OFCR. DON NOHA, VIRGINIA BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: After the first -- or second year I started getting phone calls from as far west as Texas, as far south as Alabama, as far north as Massachusetts, all seeking information about how to build the eggs or how to obtain them.
STARR: I look at this table and to me, it looks like -- you should pardon the expression -- an IED factory.
CAO: It is basically taking something that was meant for evil and then turning it to good.
LT. GLENN MOFFAT, U.S. NAVY: Each person around this table has probably lost somebody or has known somebody or someone close to them who's been affected by IEDs and affected by bombs.
LT. COMMANDER TREVOR RITLAND, U.S. NAVY: To be able to use your skill set in a positive way is always a good thing.
STARR (voice-over): Hung's son and helper, 10-year-old Gabriel, says it is all about children who can't see well enough to hunt Easter eggs.
GABRIEL CAO, HELPER: I'd say that if they participated in a regular Easter egg hunt, then they probably would not get any eggs at all and then they'd be very sad.
STARR: Hung and his family have started a non-profit charity in hopes of raising enough money to build the beeping Easter eggs every year and send them to Easter egg hunts around the country -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The famous Shroud of Turin was broadcast live on television in Italy. Some believe it is the cloth that Jesus was buried in. Experts and investigations have claimed it's not authentic. But scientists who conducted new tests say it is old enough to have been actually around at the time of Christ. Either way, the Catholic Church says it is important to the religion, regardless of authenticity.
The latest information on the Texas district attorney murder mystery straight ahead.
And, hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn. Baseball begins this week. A look at what's in store for fans coming up in the next hour.
And if you have to go out today, just a reminder, you can continue watching CNN from your mobile phone. You can also watch CNN live from your laptop. Just go to CNN.com/TV.