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Veterans' Deadly Wait; Senator Stabbed, Son Dead; New Legal Troubles for George Zimmerman; Congressman Arrested For Cocaine Possession

Aired November 19, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Tonight, only on "360" they are supposed to care for America's veterans. Instead, some VA hospitals are telling them to wait, wait for potentially life saving tests and then wait more and patients are dying because of it.

Also, a father and well-known lawmaker is stabbed. His son is shot and people are asking did an over burdened mental health system contribute to the tragedy?

Later, George Zimmerman is out on bail, charged with assault. But as you'll see, that wasn't his only legal hassle today.

We begin, though, with a story you won't see anywhere else. A CNN investigation that is literally life and death for anyone who has reason to suspect they have cancer, any wait for answers fears like too long. And medically speaking, some waits can kill.

With that as the backdrop, here is the headline. Some of America's military veterans, men and women, we all owe a tremendous debt to, are dying. They are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at some U.S. Veterans Hospitals. At one hospital patients die for one reason -- they were made to wait too long to get a simple colonoscopy that would have detected cancer and saved lives. And what's worse, the VA knows all about its problems and has done almost nothing, nothing to prevent some veterans from dying for -- who are dying for care.

Here's investigative correspondent Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To understand the problems with the VA a good place to start is the Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina, where veterans waiting for simple gastrointestinal procedures like colonoscopy or endoscopy have been dying. Six so far confirmed and sources tell CNN, the number of vets dead or dying of cancer because they had to wait too long for diagnosis or treatment could be more than 20.

DR. STEPHEN LLOYD, S.C. MEDICAL ENDOSCOPY CENTER: It's very sad because people die.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And they didn't have to.

LLOYD: They paid the ultimate price.

GRIFFIN: At a veteran's hospital.

LLOYD: Uh-huh.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. Stephen Lloyd is a private physician, specializing in colonoscopies in Columbia, South Carolina. He is also one of the few doctors in the area willing to speak on the record.

LLOYD: People that had appointments -- had their appointments canceled and rescheduled much later and in some cases that made an impact where they went into a later stage and therefore lost the battle to live.

GRIFFIN: And this wasn't just some oversight by the hospital. Documents obtained by CNN showed the hospital knew its growing waiting list and delays in care were having deadly consequences. Medical investigators reviewed the cases of 280 gastrointestinal cancer patients in Dorn and found 52 of the cancer cases were associated with a delay in diagnosis and treatment.

CNN has obtained individual cases like this one, a vet who had to wait nine months for a colonoscopy, a significant delay, according to VA record, which would have impacted the stage at which he was diagnosed. Records indicate by the time this veteran had surgery, his cancer was at stage three. A second patient had to wait four months for an appointment, 10 months for an endoscopy, at which time he learned he had later-stage cancer of the esophagus.

The internal VA report says without the delay, his cancer would have been diagnosed much earlier and, though, the report doesn't say if the vet lived or die, it does say an earlier screening would have provided earlier detection with better survival.

O'NEAL SESSIONS, COLONOSCOPY PATIENT: There is a little problem that the VA had.

GRIFFIN: O'Neal Sessions, a Vietnam vet, is one of the lucky ones. He says VA doctors at Dorn Medical Center told him just this spring, he didn't even need a colonoscopy, it's advice he ignored. So this fall he had one on his own and his private physician found and removed four polyps, two of which were precancerous. His doctor says had he waited another few years, he would have had colon cancer.

(On camera): It's got to be a little disheartening.

SESSIONS: Yes, it is. The VA is not doing the -- my feelings is that the VA is not doing their pre-stuff that they should do to protect the veterans.

GRIFFIN: Most troubling of all is the problem here was identified. More money was given to fix the problem, and what happened? The waiting list grew.

REP. JEFF MILLER (R), CHAIRMAN, VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: We appropriated $1 million because VA asked for it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Florida Congressman Jeff Miller is chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Of the million dollars Congress specifically gave to Dorn to pay for care for vets on the waiting list, only a third was used for its intended purpose. Documents exclusive to CNN show at that same time the waiting list kept growing. In just five months, from 2500 patients to a backlog of 3800. Some patients waiting eight months for appointments.

MILLER: They will say that we redirected those dollars to go somewhere else that was needed. Where would it be more needed than to prevent the deaths of veterans? These are real people that we're talking about that are being harmed, either made sick, will be sick in the future or had died.

GRIFFIN: And it's not just delayed colonoscopies and it's not just in South Carolina. The VA now says other facilities have been under scrutiny over possible delays in treatment or diagnosis. But the Charlie Norwood Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, three veterans are confirmed dead as a result of delay in care and internal documents show a waiting list there of 4500 patients. The VA also investigated delays in Atlanta, Georgia, north Texas and Jackson, Mississippi, and claims in Texas and Mississippi there were no adverse outcomes due to delays.

DEBRA DRAPER, DIRECTOR, HEALTHCARE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICER: Well, long wait times and a weak scheduling policy and process had been persistent problems for VA and both GAO and the VA's inspector general have been reporting on these issues for more than a decade.

GRIFFIN: Debra Draper with the Government Accountability Office has been reporting to Congress on the delays in care for years. She says it's so bad she and her staff have found evidence the VA hospitals actually try to cover up wait times, fudge numbers, back- date delayed appointments just to try to make things appear better than they are. She says just getting someone to pick up the phone to make an appointment at a VA hospital can be difficult.

(On camera): The care is being delayed, there's no doubt about it.

DRAPER: Well, it's unclear how long it's being delayed because no one can really give you accurate information.

GRIFFIN: And report after report, the Government Accountability Office makes recommendations but the problems persist at many hospitals.

DRAPER: Nothing has been fully implemented that we know of at this point.

GRIFFIN: So you make recommendations and they say they are working on it?

DRAPER: Yes, and we will be following up.

GRIFFIN: In fact, time and time again, even at hospitals where veterans died waiting for care, administrators got bonuses, not demotions, according to congressional investigators. CNN's repeated request for interviews with the VA have been denied and even Congress has had its request for information ignored.

MILLER: Unfortunately if they treat members of Congress, the U.S. House and the Senate this way, imagine how they treat the average veteran out there, the person who has served that's trying to get information from them. I can't imagine the grief that they may be going through.

GRIFFIN: As for the veterans waiting for care at Dorn VA Hospital in South Carolina, the VA would grant no interview, but told us the consult delay at Dorn VAMC has been resolved. Cases are now tracked daily and additional staff hired. But sources at Dorn, both patients and medical staff, tell CNN that's just not true. The problems continue and veterans are still facing delays in care that could be killing them.


BLITZER: And Drew Griffin is joining us now.

Drew, so this isn't getting any better, the veterans are just waiting and waiting, is that right?

GRIFFIN: That's right. We've learned this is a waiting list system. The appointment system nationwide. It's antiquated, Wolf. It's not uniformly used hospital, and it just fails these veterans time and time again. We did learn that there was an internal system- wide review but quite frankly, Congress, the Inspector General's Office, the Government Accountability Office have heard all this before and our sources tell us it just doesn't seem to get any better.

BLITZER: The one thing we didn't see in your reporting is anyone responding to this directly from the Veterans Administration. I know you tried to get reaction.

GRIFFIN: Yes, and this was kind of stunning. The VA's administration is really thumbing their nose at us, but also thumbing their nose at Congress.

Let me tell you what were we told, Wolf. We requested an interview with the National Medical Director for the VA about what I think is a pretty serious issue. A public affairs officer told us right away the chances of that were slim to none. And then called back saying, well, in fact, the answer is no.

BLITZER: It's pretty shocking. I know this report is going to generate some reaction. We'll watch it together with you, Drew. Good reporting, thanks very much. Ad a quick reminder, if you have a story idea for Drew or for CNN Investigation, just go to Let us know what you have.

Just ahead, what could be another case of life and death and timely access to health care, in this case mental health care. A father and rising political star nearly killed, police suspect his son took his own life. Could it have been prevented? Dr. Drew Pinsky is standing by to join us.

And later, a legal double whammy for George Zimmerman. We're going to tell you about the criminal charges he now faces and the legal surprise he got in jail.


BLITZER: Family tragedy is sadly public tonight. Creigh Deeds, Virginia's 2009 Democratic nominee for governor, is recovering tonight from a brutal knife attack. His son Gus is dead of a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted.

How the father survived is hard to imagine. Why the son did what he apparently did to his father may never be fully known. What is coming to light, however, is how troubled Gus Deeds may have been, how far his family went to try to help him, and how far short that help may have left everyone concerned.

There is a lot we're learning right now. Chris Lawrence is in Charlottesville, Virginia. He's joining us not far from where the senator is recovering.

So, what's the latest, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right now tonight Creigh Deeds has been upgraded to fair condition from critical. Police are not searching for any additional suspects. Meaning the mystery of exactly what happened and more importantly why rests entirely with the father and son who the only two in that house when this altercation happened.

It happened this morning. Remember, this was a man who was running for governor just a few years ago with his son by his side, but police say there was an altercation this morning in which Creigh Deeds ended up stabbed multiple times in the upper torso and the head. His son would die by a single gunshot wound.

Police say Creigh Deeds walked about 75 yards down a hill, out to a main road where his cousin picked him up, called 911 and then he was airlifted to the hospital -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris, according to reports, the senator's son Gus was given a mental health evaluation yesterday but was released. What more can you tell us about that?

LAWRENCE: That's right, the "Richmond Times Dispatch" is reporting that Gus Deeds was brought in under an emergency custody order to the local county hospital. He was evaluated there, but then turned away after a few hours because there were no beds available.

Now the facility will not confirm that he was brought in under that order, but they do say anyone who is brought in under that -- under that particular order cannot be held any longer than six hours.

And CNN also reached out to Virginia officials to get some explanation of the bed policy. They tell us that the availability of beds across the state for these types of emergencies is, quote, "tight," but normally, combing multiple hospitals around an area, normally a bed is found. The key here is that this is an extremely rural area, limited cell phone service, not that many other hospitals around -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What do we know about the relationship between father and son?

LAWRENCE: By all accounts, it was very close. CNN, again, spoke with the family friend just tonight who said look, they had a close relationship. The son was a student at the College of William and Mary since 2007. He dropped out for a time to help his father campaign. We saw those pictures of them together on the campaign trail. In fact, this family friend says that the father and the son sort of -- he moved his son back in with him recently to try to help him get his life together.

And that sort of indicates that the family knew in this case that there were perhaps some trouble, some problems, and may have been trying to get him the help that he needed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence reporting for us. Thanks.

I want to bring in addiction medicine specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of HLN's "DR. DREW ON CALL." Also Paul Mones, author of "When a Child Kills."

Dr. Drew, the fact that an emergency custody order was issued for Senator Deeds' son yesterday, what does that tell you and what exactly does that mean?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": That tells you that he could be held against his will, that he was deemed to be in a state where he could not be relied upon to have any judgment about his own care. That is a status that's specific to Virginia, that's reserved for people who are seriously ill, mentally ill and require an emergency -- emergency room evaluation. Then they can have a judicial action for treatment, but these are very cumbersome procedures.

Wolf, we every day are talking reports where doctors can't do their job because of the encumbrances they get into to do what's right for patients. If patients don't want treatment, their rights and privileges supersede their own safety and the safety of people around them.

BLITZER: A county official, Dr. Drew, said the senator's son Gus was released from a psychiatric facility yesterday because there were no beds available. You heard that in Chris Lawrence's report. Does that make sense to you?

PINSKY: Yes. No, it doesn't make sense to me. I think that's possibly true that might have been another element in the decision making, but usually what happens is the patient reconstitutes, the family reassures everybody that they'll take care of him, and many times against the doctor's better judgment, the patient is allowed to go out with pressure from the patient and family, but the reality is clearly this kid should have mandated treatment and that would have ended up in a much better place. He could have had adequate care and done well.

BLITZER: Paul, you say that in cases where an older child kills a parent, they usually have a good relationship. A lot of people I think would find that surprising. Explain.

PAUL MONES, ATTORNEY AND AUTHOR, "WHEN A CHILD KILLS": Yes, it's counterintuitive. Every year, Wolf, in the United States about 1.5 to 2 percent of all the homicides -- excuse me -- are people who kill their parents, kids who kill their parents and in these circumstances, it's counterintuitive but they have a close relationship, especially people in their early 20s typically with the parent.

It's that the parent and the child have sort of an enmeshed relationship, and when you see these tragedies happen, usually they have been a long time in coming and while they sometimes can be prevented through adequate mental health intervention, oftentimes just the tightness of the relationship and the volatility of it, so there's an undercurrent of real anxiety in the relationship, even though the parent loves a child and shows the child great concern.

These cases are also marked by great emotion. In fact, what we heard in this case that there was numerous stab wounds, one of the phenomenon that happens here is the phenomenon called overkill where the parent is not stabbed once but stabbed numerous times.

I represented teenagers all over the United States and young people all throughout the United States who have committed these offenses where there are numerous shotgun, numerous gun wounds, numerous blasts from a shot, or stab wounds. So this is kind of common. It seems uncommon but we do see these cases throughout the country, unfortunately on a regular basis.

BLITZER: Yes. It's pretty shocking. No matter how many times you see it.

Dr. Drew, you say this isn't about whether they had a good relationship or not. You say the issue here is the son's mental health particularly whether or not he was homicidal or suicidal, right?

PINSKY: Yes, and Paul and I are really saying the same thing, which is that this is an enmeshed relationship with a young man, dad and young man, who had -- severe enough mental illness that he needed to be just yesterday held against his will. And 18 to 24 is a window in which major mental illness usually emerges. So whether this was some significant psychiatric problem or addiction, whatever it might be, it's right in that window where these things can become very symptomatic.

MONES: Right.

PINSKY: And so much so that he was held against his will and parents, particularly enmeshed parents, think they can handle this. It just all smells like the family reassured the doctors they'd take care of things. I don't want -- certainly there's no blame to be laid here. We want to take care of our kids.

MONES: Right.

PINSKY: We think we can take care of our kids. But many times they need to be in the system.

BLITZER: You want to weigh in, Paul?

MONES: And one of the things in -- yes, in these cases there is something called the -- these homicides happen in what's called the homicide-suicide access, and I'm sure Dr. Drew knows what I'm talking about there, where when people get so severely depressed, and we're not talking about episodic depression, we're talking about long-term depression. In fact these kids have ruminated about these offenses.

They have thought about the killing beforehand and if you are at a point where you could think regularly about killing yourself and killing somebody else, that switch gets turned off and it's much easier to kill the person who you're with and also kill yourself, and so we see this homicide-suicide flip regularly in these kinds of cases.

In fact, a number on my cases, the kids have thought about killing themselves or tried to kill themselves with hours, minutes or days of the homicide.

BLITZER: Pretty shocking stuff.

PINSKY: Very sad.

BLITZER: Paul Mones, thanks very much. Dr. Drew Pinsky, thanks to you as well.

MONES: Thank you.

BLITZER: You can always catch Dr. Drew's program, by the way, 9:00 p.m. Eastern on HLN. And for more on the story go to

Up next, George Zimmerman charged again in Florida, this time with assault. We're looking at his repeated run-ins with the law since he was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin.

Also ahead, a Florida congressman now charged with cocaine possession.


BLITZER: "Crime and Punishment." George Zimmerman is a freeman tonight. He posted bail this afternoon, was released from custody in Seminole County, Florida.

Earlier handcuffed and wearing a prison jump suit, Zimmerman appeared before a judge. He was arrested yesterday charged with aggravated assault, domestic battery and criminal mischief. His girlfriend called 911 alleging that Zimmerman pointed a shotgun at her.

Here's part of that call.



UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: 911 police, fire and medical.

SCHEIBE: I need police right now.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK, what is your address?

SCHEIBE: You're breaking stuff in my house.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, ma'am? What's going on?

SCHEIBE: He is in my house breaking all of my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) stuff because I asked him to leave. He has his freaking gun, breaking all of my stuff right now.


SCHEIBE: No, this is not --


SCHEIBE: I'm doing this again? You just broke my glass table. You just broke my sunglasses, and you put your gun in my freaking face. And told me to get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out because this is not your house. No, get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. What is your name? OK. Where is his weapon at?

SCHEIBE: He just put it down.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK, and this is --

SCHEIBE: No. Get out of my house. Do not push me out of my house. Please get out of my house.


SCHEIBE: No, you're going to -- are you serious right now? UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: I'm sorry --

SCHEIBE: Are you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kidding me? He just pushed me out of my house and locked me out.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. You're outside now?

SCHEIBE: Yes, he locked me out of my house.


BLITZER: Zimmerman will be arraigned in January. Prosecutors also alleged he tried to choke his girlfriend 10 days ago but he hasn't been charged with that at least not yet.

We also learned late today that while he was in jail last night, his estranged wife Shellie served him with divorce papers. Since the summer when Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, he's had several run-ins with the law.

David Mattingly has that part of the story tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many thought this was the last time they'd see George Zimmerman inside a courtroom 15 months after his arrest for killing Trayvon Martin, and then a highly contentious 15-day trial George Zimmerman walks out a freeman on July 13th.

His not guilty verdict sparked protests across the country. After all the media attention, his lawyer said he wanted to get back to life as a private citizen.

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He now needs to get on with his life after having suffered several traumas.

MATTINGLY: But on July 28th he found himself involved with law enforcement once again. Zimmerman is pulled over for speeding in Forney, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you heading? Nowhere in particular? Why do you say that?

MATTINGLY: He informs the officer he has a gun in his glove compartment with a legal permit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and shut your glove compartment and don't play with your firearm, OK?

MATTINGLY: Zimmerman is let off with a warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a safe trip. MATTINGLY: About a month later on September 3rd, he's pulled over again for speeding, this time in Florida. The stop recorded on a camera worn by the officer. He gets a ticket but this time there's no weapon in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up.

MATTINGLY: Then, more serious troubles with the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On your knees. Cross your feet.

MATTINGLY: On September 9th, four days after Zimmerman's wife Shellie files for divorce, she calls 911 and tells authorities that he showed up to her father's house and brandished his firearm.

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, FORMER WIFE: He continually has his hand on his gun and he keeps saying step closer. He's just threatening all of us --

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Step closer and what?

S. ZIMMERMAN: With his firearm. And he's going to shoot us.


MATTINGLY (on camera): Police briefly detained Zimmerman but never charged him citing insufficient evidence and that brings the post-verdict Zimmerman saga back to the present in Seminole County, Florida.

SCHEIBE: He's in my housebreaking all my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) because I asked him to leave. He has his freaking gun breaking all of my stuff right now.


SCHEIBE: You just broke my sunglasses and you put your gun in my freaking face.

MATTINGLY: George Zimmerman's girlfriend of the last few months, Samantha Scheibe, tells authorities he pointed a shotgun at her. In a strange twist, Zimmerman decides to call 911 as well. He says he wants to tell his side of the story.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. What's going on there?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: My girlfriend for lack of a better word is going crazy again.

MATTINGLY: He insists he never pointed a gun at his girlfriend, but is arrested and charged with felony aggravated assault. He tells police they argued over her pregnancy and her desire to raise her baby on her own, which she denies to police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, Mr. Zimmerman. MATTINGLY: Today just over four months after being acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was back in court and could face years in prison. David Mattingly, CNN, Sanford, Florida.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's dig deeper on George Zimmerman's new legal issues. Just a little while ago, I spoke with CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor and legal analyst, Mark Geragos, a criminal defense attorney.


BLITZER: Sunny, we now know the alleged victim, the former girlfriend had another alleged incident involving some violence, alleged violence we should say from Zimmerman, what, about a week or so ago, the allegation being battery by strangulation. If true, how does that figure into this whole case?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the judge already considered that and raised his bail. His bail was normally going to be about $5,000 and the judge upped it to about $9,000, but it really shows this pattern of domestic violence. This is not the first time he's been down this path. Since 2005, this is the third woman that has alleged that he has physically abused her. Now we have this new girlfriend that is saying not only was he violent to her just recently and sort of, you know, put this gun in her face, but then also strangled her, tried to strangle her last week.


HOSTIN: Mark, Mark --

GERAGOS: The easiest way -- George Zimmerman is to call the police and say George is waving a gun.

HOSTIN: Are you kidding me? Are you saying he's the most unlucky person in the world that all of these women are alleging really almost the same exact thing --


HOSTIN: Is he the victim or just unlucky?

GERAGOS: I'm not saying that, but I will tell you that it's entirely possible that somebody understands if you want to get rid of George Zimmerman, the east easiest way to do it is pick up 911 and say he's got a gun.

BLITZER: You know, Mark, I want you to listen because someone said this is a case of he said, she said after hearing the two 911 calls, one from the former girlfriend, one from Zimmerman. I'll play a little of both of those calls to 911. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SAMANTHA SCHEIBE: He's in my housebreaking my -- because I asked him to leave. He has his gun breaking all of my stuff right now. No, this is not --


SCHEIBE: I'm doing this again? You just broke my glass table. You just broke my sunglasses and put your gun in my freaking face. Are you freaking kidding me? He just pushed me out of my house and locked me out.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. You're outside now?

SCHEIBE: Yes, he locked me out of my house.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. What is going on there?

ZIMMERMAN: My girlfriend is, for lack of a better word, going crazy again.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK, the police is already there so why are you calling? What happened?

ZIMMERMAN: I just want everyone to know the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK, the officers can speak with you on scene. Have you already spoken with them?

ZIMMERMAN: No, but they are pretty upset I think.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Are there any weapons in the house?

ZIMMERMAN: I have a weapon. She has weapons in the house.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: What about your weapon?

ZIMMERMAN: It's in a bag locked.


BLITZER: So Mark, the deputies were outside the door trying to get into the house. Zimmerman was inside, rather than open the door he calls 911 to supposedly tell his side of the story. Does that strike you as odd?

GERAGOS: No, it's genius. I mean, it's obvious, somebody is familiar with the system. Remember whoever calls 911 first is the victim when the cops come out, especially in domestic violence. So he understands that. He understands when the cops are there, they don't care what he is going to say. They are not going to record it. They are not going to have him on tape.

They are going to have her tape on the 911 call. So what he's doing is he's calling 911 because then there is going to be a record of it. He sounds calm and deliberate. I think a stroke of genius. I'm surprised more defendants don't do it. BLITZER: You think it's a stroke of genius, Sunny?

HOSTIN: Wow, I actually am terrified by it. You are hearing someone who is setting up a defense by calling 911, someone who clearly is really familiar with the ins and outs of the legal system. I'm terrified when I hear how calm he is in comparison to what we're hearing from the real victim I think in this case, the woman is saying --

GERAGOS: Sunny, you've made up your mind who is the real victim and who is not. I get it.

HOSTIN: Well, I've tried domestic violence cases. I've tried domestic violence cases.

GERAGOS: How do you know she's the real victim?

HOSTIN: He's had three of them. Three women since 2005, they are accusing him of the same exact behavior. I mean, there is such a clear pattern.

GERAGOS: He's not being convicted --


GERAGOS: It's three strikes he's out.

BLITZER: Final thought, the comparison is being made between George Zimmerman and O.J. Simpson, Sunny, your thought?

HOSTIN: Yes, it's the first thing that came to my mind, Wolf, when I heard about this case. Often times you see defendants who have been convicted in the court of public opinion much like George Zimmerman, but not convicted in the court and often times when you exhibit this kind of criminal behavior, you will end up back within the legal system and we see this resolving door, and I think that's where George Zimmerman is headed.

GERAGOS: Well, the problem with Sunny's analysis of it is he hasn't been convicted. We have this thing that gets into her crawl, which is called the presumption of innocence and as long as you haven't been convicted, I don't think you should use a subsequent case to redress the prosecutors from before.

BLITZER: Mark Geragos, Sunny Hostin, guys, thanks very much for joining us.

HOSTIN: Thanks, Wolf.

GERAGOS: Thank you.


BLITZER: Just ahead, politics and cocaine, this time south of the Canadian border, the charges that freshman Congressman Trey Radel is facing. Plus tonight, big 360 interview, Anderson talks with Magic Johnson, the day he told the world he is HIV positive and why he says his good health today as a curse and not just a blessing and also opens up about his gay son.


BLITZER: Tonight, another collision of politics and cocaine. For once the Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, is not part of the story. U.S. Congressman Trey Radel, a Florida Republican was charged today with misdemeanor, possession of cocaine. He will be arraigned tomorrow. He faces a possible sentence of 180 days. The freshman lawmaker has apologized in a statement.

Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash joins us now with the latest. Dana, what's the latest we know about this arrest, how it unfolded because it happened late last month. We are just finding out about it now.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is kind of surprising, Wolf, that the arrest did happen two weeks ago. It didn't get out. It was a scene out of the TV show "The House of Cards." But we know now because the charges were filed today and he is due in court tomorrow. He should appear there.

BLITZER: I understand the congressman has released a statement. What is he saying?

BASH: Well, he's not denying it. He's not denying using cocaine or being charged or arrested for possessing it and he's apologizing to his constituents for letting them down, letting his family down and announced he's an alcoholic. Let me read you part of the statement that he put out. He said, "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice as the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them."

BLITZER: Any reaction, Dana, from senior Republicans? This is a first-term congressman and doesn't have a lot of name recognition outside of his own district. Do you think he'll get support from party leaders?

BASH: He's a freshman Republican and the party leader, the main one, the House Speaker John Boehner said members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, but this should be handled through the courts and by his family and his constituents so it's unclear if the House would move to reprimand him in any way. I think that will be determined what happens with the courts.

You're right, Trey Radel certainly is not a household name, but he is someone who caught the attention of a lot of us who cover Capitol Hill because he's 37, quite young and part of a new breed of lawmakers in both parties whose are trying to break the mold and change things. He tries to be a different Republican, not a Tea Party guy. In fact, Wolf, he called himself a hip-hop Republican.

BLITZER: He's a former journalist, news anchor and intern at CNN, right?

BASH: He was an intern at CNN. In fact, that's how I got to talk to him first when he was sworn in earlier this year because he came up to me and let me know that he was an intern a few years ago for our network.

BLITZER: Dana Bash, thanks so much for the reporting.

There is a lot more happening tonight. Susan Hendricks has the 360 News and Business Bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, an update to a story from last night. The White supremacist and convicted murderer who was set to die by lethal injected in just a few hours in Missouri has been granted a stay of execution by a federal court. Joseph Paul Franklin killed as many as 22 people in the late '70s targeting African- Americans and Jews. He also shot "Hustler" publisher, Larry Flynt.

The alleged gunman in the shooting at LAX that left a TSA officer dead is out of the hospital now. The suspect was shot by police during the incident November 1st. After being released from the hospital this morning, U.S. marshals took him into custody.

And the death toll continues to rise after the devastating typhoon in the Philippines. More than 4,000 people have now been reported dead. More than 18,000 are injured and 1,600 are still missing.

Residents of Washington, Illinois were allowed to return to get personal belongings today or what is left after a tornado damaged about a thousand homes in the city really leveled the homes. At least eight people died as multiple storms ripped through the Midwest on Sunday.

The Air Force launched 29 satellites into orbit tonight, the most ever launched at one time. They were aboard a rocket that lifted off from a facility in Virginia a short time ago and included the first satellite made by high school students ever to go into space. So those students are proud tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That was going on. Susan, thanks very much.

Just ahead, Anderson's big 360 interview with Earvin Magic Johnson, the basketball legend opens up about his gay son and decision 22 years ago to tell the world he is HIV positive.


EARVIN MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm the blessing and the curse of HIV.


JOHNSON: I'm the blessing because people are talking about it and ran out and got tested at that time. I'm the curse because of what you just said. People now say, well, HIV is nothing because if I get it, I can be like Magic. He's doing good.



BLITZER: A few people will mark World's AIDS Day on December 1st with the extraordinary perspective of Earvin Magic Johnson. It's been more than two decades since the basketball legend announced he was HIV positive and retired from the Lakers. He was only 32 years old.

To fully appreciate the courage that he took, you need to remember the near hysteria surrounding HIV AIDS at that time. By going public, Magic Johnson, an athlete, would seemed invincible became proof the HIV can strike anyone. He helped change attitudes and still is.

Today Johnson's good health is testament to how far treatment has come and his son, E.J. has come out as gay. In tonight's big 360 interview he opened up to Anderson about all of this.


COOPER: It's amazing to me, it's been, what, almost 22 years since you announced you were HIV positive. Take me back to that moment. How frightening was that to make that announcement at that time?

JOHNSON: Yes, it was definitely frightening. You didn't talk openly about HIV and AIDS. You had to whisper about something like that and then I had to go in front of the world and tell them, you know, I had HIV. So you are talking about an emotional roller coaster ride on that day.

COOPER: On the one hand you want people to understand this is a condition like diabetes, you can live a normal long life with this, but at the same time, do you think there is young people that feel like it's no big deal being positive?

JOHNSON: Yes, because I'm the blessing and the course of HIV.

COOPER: How do you mean?

JOHNSON: I'm the blessing because people ran out and got tested at that time and the curse because what you just said, people say, well, HIV is nothing, because if I can get it, I can be like Magic. He's doing good. I can do the same think he's doing and take the same medicine he's taking and be OK. In 22 years millions of people have died.

COOPER: There is one in five Americans who are HIV positive, never been tested and don't know it.

JOHNSON: Don't know it and they are infecting other people, so that's the biggest challenge and problem right now.

COOPER: Get people tested. JOHNSON: Get people tested. When I first announced it, everybody ran out and got tested. Magic Johnson? It happened to him? Then it can happen to me. Now, everything else is at the forefront, HIV and AIDS --

COOPER: People don't talk about it anymore.

JOHNSON: No, no.

COOPER: You don't see it on the news. You don't see it on television shows. There is a silence around it again, which is killing people.

JOHNSON: Yes, it's killing people and then you think about -- here these people are going around who don't know and infecting other people and it just keeps going. It just keeps going and keeps going. So this really hurt the black and brown community.

COOPER: The fact that young people, you know, people who have received the education about it know, you know, they probably had it in school, maybe they know about safe sex are still getting infected. How do you overcome that? How do you stop it?

JOHNSON: That's the challenge. They think nothing can happen to them. At the end of the day, in our community, we have to start accepting those who are gay in your family like my son, E.J. come out. Cooky and I will support our son 150 percent, but we're one of the minorities in this. In the black community, young gay men or young ladies who are lesbian are afraid to tell their parents.

I want my son, E.J., to talk to me about everything. I want my son Andre to talk to me, my daughter, Elissa. Yes, I go to church, I'm a Christian, but at the same time, this is reality, you know. My son is gay, that's reality. Nothing is going to change. I tell pastors that. I tell my pastors, other pastors.

I tell black Christians who came after me, you know, I said, I love my son. Nothing will change that. I don't care if you don't agree and you don't want to deal with me or don't like me, that -- that's on you. But I said, tell me when it hits your own family, you know, then you going to have to make a decision.

COOPER: Having a gay son, did that kind of change your perspective in any way?

JOHNSON: No, no, because I think for me, first of all, I have gay friends but dealing 22 years ago, you know, it was basically a white gay man's disease. So I was in that fight with them. OK? They did a wonderful job of educating their community, a wonderful job.

COOPER: Extraordinary.

JOHNSON: Extraordinary. We need to learn from them, the black community and Latino community. It didn't change because I've been working side by side with gays for a long time. I think what I wanted the gay community to do for me is help my son, right? Gave him the right information, help him to grow and be a good young man, things I can't talk about that I don't know about they can help him. So that's what I want.

COOPER: You're proud of your son?

JOHNSON: I am. I mean -- you know, my son is a senior. He's doing great, and he loves himself. What he did was he saved a lot of people's lives, too. Because -- also, a lot of young people decide to tell their parents once he came out so it's great to see that.

COOPER: An honor to talk to you, thank you.

JOHNSON: My pleasure, thank you.


BLITZER: Impressive guy, Magic. That moment, by the way, when he made that announcement, it's hard to over state how elect electrifying it was. I remember it well, I'm sure a lot of you do, as well especially the enormous heart-felt reaction everybody had to what Magic said. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: He changed TV news forever, built a media empire, won the America's Cup, the World Series and the heart of the film legend, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner. There is no one else like him. Good night. I'll tell his story in the documentary "Ted Turner The Maverick Man" that begins at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Happy birthday, Ted. That does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts right now.