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Fort Hood Shooter on Trial; Fort Hood Victims Denied Benefits; Bradley Manning's Father Speaks Out; George W. Bush Undergoes Heart Procedure

Aired August 6, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, why an admitted mass killer who wants to plead guilty is being put through a trial for the killings that he admits and the repercussions for his victims that the government not calling what he did an act of terrorism.

Also tonight this man was allegedly a convicted sex offender who violated parole 15 times, only to be released again and again. The 16th time they let him go and police say he became a killer. Parole officers say if something isn't done, he will not be the last.

We're "Keeping Them Honest" with a 360 exclusive investigation.

And later, how does one of the most physically fit presidents ever wake up one day with serious heart trouble. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here with information you need to know even if you feel just fine tonight.

We start, though, tonight with the beginning of one of the most unusual and possibly most traumatizing murder trials in a very long time. The defendant, U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan, shot and killed 13 people nearly four years ago at Fort Hood in Texas. He wounded 32 more.

He went on his rampage three weeks before he was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan walking into a troop processing center, shooting unarmed soldiers and officers. He says he did it for Allah. Did it as a soldier in the war against America and the West. He admits all this, by the way, but he legally cannot plead guilty.

So today in opening statements on day one of his court martial acting in his own defense, if you want to call it that, he made a case for the prosecution, and that only begins to cover the strangeness of these proceedings.

As for how traumatizing it may be, Major Hasan will shortly be questioning some of the very people that he himself shot. And on top of that, get this, he's still pulling down a paycheck from the Army. He's earned hundreds of thousands of dollars while awaiting trial.

We'll explore that outrageous angle in just a moment. But first Ed Lavandera who's covering the court martial.

Ed, you were there in court today. Take us inside. What was it like?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, in many ways it was really intense. I think many people are anticipating to see what Major Nidal Hasan, how he was going to act, how he was going to behave, but it was the prosecutors that started off with an incredibly vivid and dramatic picture. Methodically going through the steps that Major Hasan took in this massacre.

And you know, it was very powerful and poignant at many times the prosecutors talking about the screams of a pregnant victim who was dying, screaming, my baby, my baby, and then another witness describing how soon her voice went quiet, and that was the moment that she had died.

So very powerful testimony and descriptions of what happened in those brief moments when this massacre took place.

COOPER: And I know Hasan is representing himself. He gave his opening statement today. It was relatively short. What does he even look like now? Because we're showing all these different pictures of him. Does he have a beard in court?

LAVANDERA: He does have a beard. And you know, we should point out here that the military officials here are being very strict about what kind of access we are able to see of Major Hasan. There is limited seating in the courtroom for news media that is lotteried off every day but his movements are not allowed to be photographed while we're here inside Fort Hood.

He was brought to Fort Hood in on a helicopter. He's being kept at a county jail not too far away from here. We are not able to either photograph or even look at that helicopter taking off from the Army post here. So he is in a wheelchair. He is paralyzed from the waist down. He's very subdued.

And it's almost, Anderson, like there's two different things going on in this courtroom. Prosecutors fighting for the death penalty in this case, and Major Hasan, essentially fighting his own war, which is to justify the killings of fellow soldiers and wounding more than 30 others.

COOPER: And it is incredible that he's going to be able to question the very people that he shot. And he offered to plead guilty both to the prosecutors and the judge. His offers were denied. Can you explain why?

LAVANDERA: Well, those are the rules of the code of military justice. And it is -- when someone is eligible for the death penalty, and that is what prosecutors are pursuing in this case, the defendant is not allowed to plead not guilty. They have to put on a not guilty defense, but it was really strange.

The judge started off the day by saying that Major Nidal Hasan has pleaded guilty and not an hour later you saw Hasan there in the courtroom claiming that he was the shooter and the evidence will clearly point to all of that. So in many ways it was all kind of surreal. It doesn't seem like Major Hasan is interested in any way in defending his guilt or innocence. He seems bent on trying to justify what he had done.

COOPER: And how long is this expected to go on for?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, it's interesting many people thought this could take several months but they went through, I think, close to a dozen witnesses today. Prosecution witnesses are, despite the way Major Hasan is handling his own defense, they seem -- the prosecution seems to be just going on as -- and they will put out everything.

I would not be surprised if you hear from virtually every witness that was inside the room where the shooting started. You will hear all of that. They will continue to go on as if Major Hasan were putting on a worthy defense. So -- and Major Hasan didn't cross examine but I think had a couple of questions throughout the day so this might not take as long as many people expected.

COOPER: All right. Ed, thanks for your reporting.

Now "Keeping Them Honest," the mentioned the story that you might not know about or might not like if you do. All this time, while he's been awaiting trial, Major Hasan has been drawing a paycheck, and get this, more than a quarter million he's made so far. That's the way the system works.

Meantime, because the federal government for a number of reasons has refused to classify the massacre as an act of terrorism, shooting survivors say they can't take advantage of badly needed services or receive military honors. That's also how the system works. And critics say how it's failing to work for those who truly need it.

Our Randi Kaye tonight is "Keeping Them Honest".


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten minutes. That's all it took for Major Nidal Hasan to kill 13 people and injured more than 30.

November 5th, 2009, at Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Center. The chaos captured in this video obtained by ABC.

Sgt. Shawn Manning on FOX News.

STAFF SGT. SHAWN MANNING, FORT HOOD SHOOTING VICTIM: I remember, you know, rapid and shooting as fast as he could possibly shoot.

KAYE: Hasan fired more than 100 rounds from two pistols. Hours later, the president made this promise to the victims.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As commander in chief, there's no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for.

KAYE (on camera): Nearly four years later, survivors say they feel cast aside and they still wonder how the U.S. government could label this workplace violence instead of combat related terrorism. That designation means the victims have lower priority access to medical care and fewer financial benefits than those whose injuries are labeled combat related.

(Voice-over): Army Specialist Logan Burnett was shot three times during the attack. He spoke to KXAS.

SPC. LOGAN BURNETT, FORT HOOD SHOOTING VICTIM: The day that came out was the day the government looked at every single one of the victims of the Fort Hood shooting and spit in our faces.

KAYE: Sergeant Shawn Manning has lost tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.

MANNING: I was shot by a terrorist, and they don't want to call it an act of terrorism and deem my injuries combat related. I think it's just -- I mean, ridiculous.

KAYE: Civilian police officer Sergeant Kimberly Munley helped end the attack by shooting Major Hasan four times. Honored for her bravery at the State of the Union a couple of months later but now she tells ABC she feels betrayed by the president.

SGT. KIMBERLY MUNLEY, FORT HOOD POLICE, TOOK DOWN HASAN: If I were to see him again, again it's not about me, but I would just beg him to please take care of them.

KAYE (on camera): Why not classified the shooting at Fort Hood as a terrorist attack? The Department of Defense has said Hasan may not have been able to receive a fair trial had the U.S. indirectly declared him a terrorist and it could have opened the door for an appeal. But an attorney representing 150 victims in a civil suit against the Department of Defense and the FBI disagrees.

He says at the time the U.S. government was looking to close Guantanamo Bay prison, home to hundreds of accused enemy combatants, so the idea of a terrorist attack by a U.S. soldier who is Muslim wasn't optimal.

(Voice-over): Witnesses say Hasan shouted, "God is great," in Arabic before opening fire and Hasan has said he acted to help defend the Taliban. That, lawyers for the victims, say is proof of a terror attack. They also point to the FBI's disclosure that it had intercepted communications between Hasan and U.S. born radical Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Major Hasan, who has renounced his citizenship, is still on the military's payroll being paid more than $300,000 since the shooting. The Army can't stop paying him unless he's found guilty. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: I want to dig deeper on that now with Virginia Republican Congressman Frank Wolf and retired sergeant, Howard Ray.

Congress Wolf is co-sponsoring legislation on pay for alleged violent felons. Sergeant Ray was in the line of fire at Fort Hood and is credited with saving nine lives, six troops and three civilians that day. We spoke a short time ago.


COOPER: Congressman Wolf, you've introduced two bills related to this case. The second of which deals with Hasan's salary. I think a lot of people are stunned to learn that he's received around $300,000 in pay since the 2009 shooting. What would your bills do?

REP. FRANK WOLF (R), VIRGINIA: The bill would put the money in escrow for anyone charged like this and if they were found innocent they would receive the money. If they were guilty, they would not get the money because you should not be paying somebody, particularly in a case like this being involved in an act of terror.

COOPER: Sergeant Ray, do you agree with the congressman? I mean, do you think this guy Hasan should be getting his salary?

SGT. HOWARD RAY, RET., U.S. ARMY: Absolutely. When we have a capital offense like this, you know, that pay should be suspended. There is no reason, especially in a case like this, where there is really insurmountable evidence even before the case had even started. The pay should absolutely be withdrawn or at least held on to until the case is over.

COOPER: And Sergeant, also, I mean, I think a lot of viewers will be surprised to find out that the victims aren't eligible for Purple Hearts and can't receive all the benefits that come along with that.

RAY: Absolutely. And of course, a lot of that has to deal with, you know, the classification of this terroristic act. You know, the Department of Defense have said that this was just a mere workplace violence and, you know, I've heard that they cite the reason for a fair trial as their reason for doing that. But I don't think that's true at all.

I mean, when we look at all the evidence that has been presented, even to this point, it's very clear and even through the words of the individual himself, this indeed was a terrorist act. It should be classified as such. So individuals like myself or others are not prevented from getting the treatment, medical care and Purple Hearts that they deserve.

COOPER: Congressman, I want to play something that then Homeland Security adviser John Brennan said in 2011. Let's play that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And it's al Qaeda's adherence, individuals sometimes with little or no direct physical contact with al Qaeda, who have succumbed to its hateful ideology and who have engaged in or facilitated terrorist activities here in the United States.

These misguided individuals are spurred on by the likes of al Qaeda's Adam Gadahn and Anwar Awlaki in Yemen, who speak English and preach violence and slip videos over the Internet. And we have seen the tragic results with the murder of military recruited in Arkansas two years ago and the attack on our servicemen and women in Fort Hood.


COOPER: And Congressman, I should point out he's now the head of the CIA. Do you think politics is at play here in terms of not declaring this an act of terrorism and rather workplace violence, because the Pentagon is essentially saying that it -- you know, there might -- by declaring act of terrorism before the trial, it may make the trial more difficult because Hasan could claim he can't get a fair trial.

WOLF: That's ridiculous. Mr. Leiter, who is head of the Counterterrorism Center, which was in McLean, in my district, initially called this an act of terror. This was a political decision and my committee funds the FBI. The FBI was told to use criminal statutes, not terrorist statutes.

He hollered "Allahu Akbar" when he was shooting. Secondly, he was in direct contact with Anwar Awlaki. Awlaki was a radical imam who was killed by this administration by a drone missile. A drone missile killed him is actually an American citizen. There are connections with regard to Anwar Awlaki and the major.

The fact is if you read the book "Dirty War" talks that Anwar Awlaki's father and mother wanted Anwar Awlaki to meet with their son, the major, because they thought he was drifting. This was a terrorist act, clearly, so I think there was politics involved in it.

COOPER: And Sergeant Ray, you -- I mean, you know better than anybody, you have no doubt this was a terrorist incident.

RAY: Absolutely, I mean, to call it anything else I think would be criminal.

COOPER: Congressman Wolf, a special report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security titled "Ticking Time Bomb" detailed a number of warning signs about Hasan. What lessons do you think can be learned from this case to prevent another tragedy like this?

WOLF: Well, the military and the Department of Defense should not be politically correct. I have talked to some doctors who practiced with the major. They say he was advising young men and women who served in the military who were in Afghanistan and Iraq to turn themselves in as war criminals.

The military and the Department of Defense knew that this person was being radicalized. He was being radicalized when he was at Walter Reed and they knew it. But I think they were very politically correct. If you even remember when the -- when this act took place, the head of the army made some very strange political correct statements. So when you see something like this, you got to deal with it when you see it.

COOPER: Yes, and I think that's going to stun a lot of people tonight.

Congressman Wolf and Sergeant Ray, good to have you on. Thank you.

WOLF: Thanks so much.

RAY: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. I'm tweeting about this right now @andersoncooper. We're talking about it on Twitter.

Just head tonight, also a 360 exclusive. An interview with Bradley Manning's father. I speak to him about -- speaking out really for the first time since his son was convicted of leaking 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks. What does he say to those who call his son a traitor. Find out tonight.

Also troubling new details tonight about the python that killed two young brothers just 4 and 6 years old.


COOPER: A 360 exclusive tonight. The sentencing phase of Bradley Manning's trial is in its second week right now. Today a military judge consolidated some of the Army's private criminal convictions, reducing his maximum possible prison sentence to 90 years instead of 136 years.

As you know, Manning was convicted of stealing and leaking 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks. He was acquitted of aiding the enemy which was the most serious of the charges but he was found guilty of violating the Espionage Act.

To some, the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst is a traitors, to others he's a hero. To Brian Manning he's a son whose in deep trouble. They haven't talked in months. Bradley Manning dropped his dad from his visitor's list in confinement.

In this first interview since the court martial began Brian Manning made it clear he has not given up on his son. Here is my exclusive interview.


COOPER: So when you heard the news of your son's conviction, 20 counts, what went through your mind?

BRIAN MANNING, BRADLEY MANNING'S FATHER: I was relieved to know that he had taken that one charge out that --

COOPER: The aiding the enemy charge?

MANNING: Yes, so I was a little relieved about that, but then I still did the math in my head and said well, if he was sentenced to all the other crimes, it'd still be -- you know, he'd be 90 to 100 years old before he ever saw the light of day and it was -- it kind of upsetting and frightening, you know, that your son is being accused of these horrible breaches of security.

COOPER: Early on, I know you were defending your son saying you believe he's innocent, that he is a scapegoat. Do you still believe that he didn't leak classified documents?

MANNING: In my heart I believe that. And --

COOPER: You believe he's innocent?

MANNING: Right, and logistically, I can't understand because knowing the computer as well as I do, how you can get that much data out of a room with three other people in there, you know, sitting in close proximity where everybody can see what everybody was doing, it's -- I can't understand how that could be done.

COOPER: So you think he's being set up?

MANNING: Well, there was an altercation, I guess, where he struck one --

COOPER: His superiors.

MANNING: One of the people that he worked with.

COOPER: Right.

MANNING: And so after that, the relationship between -- I think it was three other people really soured. So I don't know if somebody tried to turn the table on him or whatever.

COOPER: He said to the court -- I mean, he confessed that he did leak to WikiLeaks, and he said to the court that he wanted to, quote, spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.

MANNING: Yes, I think he was grandstanding. He was -- been used to running his life on his own. He was a man of the house. And he had problems adjusting to that. So I feel part of that was -- he had a lot of pride.

COOPER: There are some people who believe your son is a hero for what he -- for what he says he did. When you hear that, what do you think? MANNING: Well, you know, I get a -- a certain amount of pride when they said, you know, that he's been nominated for the Nobel Prize, and other comments they've made about, you know, supporting him.

COOPER: I'm just trying to see where you are on this because on the one hand you say there's no justification for leaking classified information, and the other hand, when you hear people call him a hero it gives you a sense of pride.

MANNING: Right, and you have to separate those because, I mean, I never since day one of when I was in the military with a clearance, to this day I have never said a single word of what I did.

COOPER: Right.

MANNING: You know, and that's going back a long ways. And I wouldn't -- I wouldn't -- I wish he had the character, you know, to stay that way.

COOPER: So you think if he did leak this information that would be a wrong thing?


COOPER: You do?

MANNING: To me, you know, it's my country as well. And leaking information that's going to damage my country and the soldiers in our military, you know, that would be very upsetting.

COOPER: If you were able to talk freely with him, what would you say to him?

MANNING: I was -- would basically tell him, you know, right off the bat that he had no excuse whatsoever for allegedly releasing that information.

COOPER: Is there any message you want to get across to him?

MANNING: I'd like to, you know, just like in Quantico but right before we ended our visit, it was always, I love you, son, and he said, love you, dad. And I still love my son.

COOPER: I'm so sorry we're meeting under these circumstances but I appreciate you talking to me.



COOPER: Bradley Manning's father Brian. You can see much more of my interview with Brian Manning on our Web site at

Coming up next, we've seen him bike. We've seen him run. He works out more than most of us. He's also recovering tonight from heart surgery. Why President Bush's story could be your story no matter how healthy you try to be. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's potentially life-saving information tonight.

Later how heroes tackled this man. An alleged gunman. Police say he'd already killed three and might have killed more if they hadn't acted.


COOPER: Tonight former President George W. Bush is said to be recuperating well after having a stent placed in a blocked artery earlier today. He's expected to leave the hospital tomorrow.

Former President Clinton who had the same procedure back in 2010 reached out to Mr. Bush today. Doctors found the blockage, they say, yesterday during his annual physical. Former President Bush has long been known as a fitness buff. He worked out regularly during his two terms in office.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.

So what do we know about this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's 67 years old. We're told that this happened on a routine physical exam. So they gave no indication, at least from what we've read, that there was any problems ahead of time and that's sort of an important point, which we'll talk about.

But he -- something during the exam alerted them. It was some cause for concern and that led to the placement of this stent. So -- and I think we have an animation just to show what that is, basically. But essentially you're trying to unblock an artery. You put a catheter up into the artery and unblock it sometimes with a balloon. But ultimately put this stent in place with sort of this metal scaffolding.

You -- you're familiar with this, Anderson.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: You've seen this. It's sort of more permanent fix and sometimes these stents will actually release some medication, as well, to keep that blood vessel open.

COOPER: But I've seen studies, I think, that these are kind of -- people say they are overused, they don't actually reduce heart death by any appreciable amount.

GUPTA: I think if you look at the specific question, do people live longer with stents? You're probably right. I don't think there's a lot of evidence to say people live longer. But part of it is that people may live a more -- a higher quality of life, not have chest pain or some of the symptoms that are sometimes associated with heart disease. But you know, what's interesting is that typically these stents are reserved for people who are actually having an active problem -- in the throes of a heart attack or having significant symptoms. And again, when you read this release from President Bush's office it said it was a routine physical.

And in that case you're absolutely right, there is not a lot of evidence to show that it works well on people just because.

COOPER: So here's what I -- you know, you and I talk about heart disease all the time because both we have positive family histories. I don't understand. I mean, you would assume President Bush has been getting regular checkups. You would assume he's been getting the latest heart scans and ultra fast CT scans that you and I have had.

How can it suddenly they discover, wait, there is now have blockage that we need a stent? Isn't that something you could track if you actually have regular checkups?

GUPTA: You probably could track this and by the way, we had the same conversation about President Clinton several years -- just a few years after he run for the White House.

COOPER: Your artery doesn't suddenly get all blocked, does it?

GUPTA: No. Unless you do certain tests like angiograms, you may not be getting a good look at the artery itself. What you're trying to figure out is how the person doing? Are they having chest pain? Can they run? Can they go up a flight of stairs without getting shortness of breath? He may have been doing fine in all that stuff and then more recently started to have problems as the artery became progressively more blocked. It doesn't happen overnight, but the symptoms from it can happen much more quickly or suddenly.

COOPER: How common is it for someone his age to have a blockage like this?

GUPTA: You know, it's pretty common, if you think about it we all develop some degree of atherosclerosis from a pretty young age even if you look at teenagers, they starting to develop some of fatty streaks in their blood vessels. You know, by all accounts, he is a pretty healthy guy. But, you and I know, Anderson, this is the biggest killer of men and women alike. If you look at people in his age range, probably about half of them have some significant degree of atherosclerosis. They may not need what he had done, but it is pretty common.

COOPER: Sanjay, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it.

COOPER: Coming up next tonight, an exclusive 360 investigation reveals about a parole system that sends violators, we're talking about convicted sex offenders back on the streets time after time. Tonight we're keeping them honest.


COOPER: Two boys found dead. Authorities say they were apparently killed by a python. The shocking details ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back. If you've been following our keeping them honest reporting over the years, you know we do more than point out when the government fails to do its job, we also identify the people that are responsible so everyone can hold them accountable. Nowhere is that more important than public safety because when the system fails, lives can be lost.

Well, tonight, how the parole system is failing in California. Convicted sex offenders are arrested and often spend less than 24 hours in jail. You may ask why, mostly because of a new law addressing a very real, overcrowding state-wide. However, as Drew Griffin found out in this exclusive report, that law is costing lives. Here's "keeping them honest".


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's early on a Tuesday evening in Stockton, California, parole agents are arresting 41-year-old Jack Turner described by agents as someone with an extensive history of sexual violence. Tonight, though, his only problem is the GPS monitoring ankle bracelet he is required to wear has run out of power.

It's a parole violation, not an actual crime, but he's still tracked down, found on the streets of Stockton by agents who know his usual hangouts, taken to a jail and less than 20 hours later, not even a full day behind bars, Jack Turner is let out. He may be a sexual offender. He may have a dangerous past, but Turner knows violating parole in the state of California means almost nothing to him.

(on camera): How many times do you think you've gone through this parole violation procedure?

JACK TURNER, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: Last week, this week, last week, the week before that, probably before that. So they know me real well here, so I'm always --

GRIFFIN: Is it always the same, come in, spend a night, come out?

TURNER: Come in, spend the night, come out.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In Stockton, California, this convicted sex offender has no real incentive to follow any rules of his parole, which is why Parole Supervisor Susan Kane is trying to sound the alarm. She is speaking out against the state's wishes saying she believes the public is not safe. She says she's speaking out for herself personally and not the Department of Corrections.

SUSAN KANE, SUPERVISING PAROLE AGENT: In all my years of law enforcement and it's been over 30 years, I for the first time feel at a total loss. That I can honestly say we do our job. We do the very best job that we can, but we can't protect the community with this. We can't protect them from these sex offenders because they get out of jail the next day.

GRIFFIN: How did this happen? Two words, prison overcrowding. There is simply not enough room to keep people in jail. The state of California tried to solve its own prison overcrowding by passing a bill called AB109, backed by the Governor Jerry Brown. It called for a realignment of where criminals serve time, low-level offenders and especially parole violators would no longer come to state prisons.

They would instead go to county jails, but in San Joaquin County, they are in order to control the overcrowding. According to the sheriff, the state dumped it's problem on the county, and the county is now dumping criminals on the streets.

(on camera): So no matter what the state or the governor says are the county's duties in terms of handling these parole violators, you just have no room?

UNDERSHERIFF JOHN PICONE, SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: The overcrowding situation is such that we can't afford -- we can't keep them here because of the court order. So we have to follow the court order.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In this county, it is Judge Richard Giuliani who makes those decisions about who stays behind bars and who doesn't. On the day we met him, he had released four inmates, 10 the day before. Amazingly, he admits shouldn't be on the streets.

(on camera): Are you comfortable with who is being released?

PICONE: I'm not comfortable releasing anybody. I think it's a -- it's an unfortunate reality, and we do the best that we can by prioritizing the people we do release.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Parole violators like Jack Turner who have not committed a new crime are usually the first to go. Susan Kane says parolees are especially sexual predators know they can get away with almost anything.

KANE: I even had a parolee who was upset last week because we arrested him for being around minors when he's a child molester. He said you can do whatever you want for me, I'll be in jail one night and when I get out I'm doing what I want and I'll make your life miserable.

GRIFFIN (on camera): This is a child molester?

KANE: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This past February, Sydney Jerome Deavila, a convicted sexual offender was picked up by Stockton police, not knowing what to do, police brought the homeless man to the home of his grandmother, Rachel Russell. It was February 8th. UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: 911, what is your emergency?

RACHEL RUSSELL: Yes. The police just brought this boy, Sydney Jerome Deavila, to my house an hour ago and told him not to go back out no more and they would leave him alone. So he sneaked out again and now he's tearing up my property and my car.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Was she scared of him?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Steven Russell is Deavila's uncle, he says his mother was the only person in the family who still held out any hope for his nephew, but in February, Deavila began to frighten even his own grandmother. On February 13th, Deavila was arrested yet again, the 16th time for violating his parole. He had cut off his GPS ankle bracelet. To Steven Russell, it was a relief.

(on camera): You guys thought he was in prison?

STEVEN RUSSELL, SON OF VICTIM: Yes, he was -- he was in jail and he had a violation of parole, failure to register as a sex offender, he kept taking the tracking device, removing the tracking device, so when he was picked up, we knew he was going to get some time and so, there was a big relief.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The relief was short-lived. Deavila's 16th parole violation was considered not enough to hold him in a crowded jail. Judge Giuliani made the decision and for the 16th time he was released.

(on camera): And what happened after that?

RUSSELL: He went over to my mother's house and killed her. He killed her, and he left her body in the backyard in a wheelbarrow. He raped her. He murdered her, and he robbed her.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The State Department of Corrections says overall, its new policy is working well, but it's second in command says perhaps the judge was at fault for releasing Deavila.

MARTIN HOSHINO, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION: I do, you know, consider the judge's position on this and not knowing I wouldn't second guess all the difficult decisions he has to make, but there were perhaps characteristics and attributes about that particular case or individual that should have been given more consideration and weight in the determination.

GRIFFIN: Steven Russell found his mother in the backyard, police found Deavila on the streets. He has been charged with murder and rape and technically his 17th parole violation. He's entered a plea of not guilty.


COOPER: That was Drew Griffin reporting. Jerry Brown, California's governor has to say to this. He's not talking to Drew. An official of the Department of Corrections did, however, telling Drew that the real issue is judges needing to do a better job determining who does and doesn't get out. Drew also spoke with parole officers and local law enforcement in San Joaquin County, all of whom say this new system absolutely led to the killing of Rachel Russell.

Coming up, horrifying story, two little boys, just 4-and 6-years- old apparently killed at a sleep over. Police say they think 100- pound python is to blame. I'll speak with animal expert Jeff Corwin ahead.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight, the father of two missing children speaks out. A massive search is underway in California tonight after their mother was found dead.


COOPER: There is breaking news tonight out of Southern California in the disappearance of two children. Isha Sesay joins us with the 360 Bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the breaking news, a dramatic plea tonight from the father of two missing children. Reaching out to the man suspected in the disappearance of Ethan and Hanna, ages 8 and 16 and suspected of the murder of her mother and fire at a San Diego home. That's where the mother's body was found. A statewide amber alert went out. A short time again Mr. Anderson spoke out.


BRETT ANDERSON, FATHER OF MISSING CHILDREN: Jim, I can't fathom what you were thinking. The damage is done. I'm begging you to let my daughter go. You've taken everything else. Hanna, we all love you very much. If you have a chance, you take it. You run. You'll be found.


SESAY: Mr. Anderson did not mention his son, the Sheriff's Department officials saying they remain hopeful, he, too, is alive. Again, a manhunt is underway for suspect, James Dimaggio, a friend of the murdered women.

Elsewhere, two men are being held as heroes for tackling the alleged shooter who opened fire in a Pennsylvania town hall meeting. Officials say the suspect was angry with local officials. His Monroe County home was recently condemned and purchased by the township. Three men were killed in the shooting Monday night. Several others were wounded.

A 360 follow, the Pennsylvania girl who underwent lung transplants in June is up and walking with the help of a therapist and a walker. Sarah's quest for a transplant prompted a change in national policy. She turns 11 tomorrow. Happy birthday -- Anderson.

COOPER: We wish her well certainly. Isha, thanks.

Moving on tonight, new details about a deadly python attack during a sleep over. It's heartbreaking, horrifying story. The 6- year-old Conner Bart and his 4-year-old brother, Noah, went to bed at a friend's apartment in Canada and were found dead the next morning. Authorities believe a 100-pound python killed them after escaping from its cage in the apartment and crashing through the ceiling over the boys. A criminal investigation is underway.

Jeff Corwin, the host of "Ocean Mysteries" on ABC joins me now. So Jeff, what do you make of this? Does it make sense to you that a snake could do something like this?

JEFF CORWIN, HOST, ABC'S "OCEAN MYSTERIES": Well, Anderson, you can't forget what these snakes are. Some of the most powerful predators on the planet and if you don't respect them and give them the space they need, they can be dangerous, and this is not the first time a human being has been killed by an African rock python. With that said, this is incredibly, incredibly rare. Humans are not the target prey for snakes like this.

COOPER: Humans aren't on their food chain?

CORWIN: No, not at all. This is an animal that's eating everything from large reptiles to even antelope. So they are big enough, especially a snake this size that's somewhere between 10 and 15 feet in length weighing well over 100 pounds, this is a creature strong enough. It's strong and big enough to dispatch and swallow a small antelope. So it's a reminder really, you know, the price we can pay when we're not careful keeping these animals in a captive environment.

COOPER: I've read some experts saying that the snake might have been spooked when it happened upon the kids and clung to them. Do you think that's a possibility?

CORWIN: No, that's not how they operate. They use a process of constriction as a way to kill their prey and basically, they are latching on with razor sharp teeth. They coil around their prey and as they inhale and tighten muscles along the sides of their body, the prey that they are eating, in this case, the tragic death of these poor kids, they no longer have the ability to inhale.

And rarely is it a defensive mechanism. What is unusual, though, is I've heard reports that they weren't seeing lots of bite marks on these kids. Typically they latch on and then constrict, but it's not impossible for them to initiate the constriction.

COOPER: I mean, this may be a dumb question but if someone encounters a snake like this, what is the best thing to do?

CORWIN: Well, you know, try to not get entangled in the coils. This area in Canada where it happened, it's actually illegal to keep this species of python and the reason why is because of tragic accidents like this.

COOPER: As -- if you were struggling, that allows the snake to constrict even tighter, correct?

CORWIN: Absolutely. Struggling, pushing away from that animal does not cause it to uncoil. In fact, you know, it will be surging with energy and that predatory reaction is in play and the more you struggle, the tighter it gets. In fact, one of the best things you can do is just sort of hold it up, relax, get to the head and unravel the snake.

The muscles that this creature uses to kill its prey are in the side of its body. So if you push against it just the right way you can unravel it like a coil or like spring. But if you're a little kid, you just don't have that information.

COOPER: Just unthinkable. Jeff Corwin, good talking to you. Thanks.

CORWIN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time for "The Ridiculist." Tonight we have a story from Georgia where a man went to McDonalds and placed a standard to go order. Chicken sandwich, fries and seven double cheeseburgers, but lo and behold, when he looked in the bag, they only gave him six double cheeseburgers so he went back to try to remedy the situation with the woman at the counter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was trying to get an attitude saying I'm going to call the police.


COOPER: That's right. It's been awhile since we had a good 911 call, hasn't it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm up here at the McDonalds up here and I ordered like, seven burgers and I went to my vehicle, right, and I came back in and they took a burger from me. I told them they did was six burgers. They won't give me my burger.


COOPER: Yes, so the police wasn't loving it at all. They actually arrested that gentleman charged him with abusing the 911 system and he had to spend the night in jail. He says he didn't know he was misusing 911, but that he did learn a lesson.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to say check your food before you leave. Always be careful when you go buy food anywhere you go.


COOPER: It's very true. Clearly he's not been watching "The Ridiculist," however because we've been over this. It bears repeating, do not call 911 if you're short a double cheese burger. Any sandwich based situation is not an emergency.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm at grateful deli and I specifically asked for little turkey and little hum and a lot of cheese and a lot of mayo and they are giving me a hard time. I was wondering if you could stop by. I was just wondering if you could just --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're calling 911 because you don't like the way they are making your sandwich?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So then don't buy it.


COOPER: Yes. Good advice? Not an emergency, also, varying interpretations of the phrase all you can eat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you need the police department for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm eating at this restaurant, all you can eat fish. I just asked for some more fish. They gave me four pieces.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they refuse to give me any more fish and it's on the sign in the front of the building all you can eat Friday fish fry.


COOPER: And most of all, if you remember nothing else, if you and your spouse decide to make a batch of pot brownies, whatever happens next does not constitute an emergency.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're dying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much did you guys have? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. We made brownies and I think we're dead. I really do. Time is going by, really, really, really slow. What's the score on the Red Wings game?


COOPER: Now if you can say I think we're dead. Chances are, you're not dead. So next time you need a hockey score, there is not enough mayo on your turkey sandwich or have a burger emergency, remember, there is no such thing and do not call 911. Call us. We're in the book under "Ridiculist." Look us up.

That does it for us. We'll see you again at 11:00 tonight, another edition of 360. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.