Return to Transcripts main page


Defense Rests In "Loud Music" Murder Trial; "Historic, Crippling" Ice Storm Moves South; Sex Offender Linked To 1975 Case Of Two Sisters; Gold Medal Hopeful Shaun White Gets 4th Place

Aired February 11, 2014 - 14:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you know what to add to that, Brooke, there's a reason we look at our children's eyes. Look at mommy and tell me if you took that cookie because we want to see how people respond when they tell what their truth is and whether they tell a lie. That's what court is. I hate to say it, but it is effectively a bit of a show.

You start to feel for someone when you look right at them and hear them answer over and over, you feel whether they're telling the truth or not. I have to be honest with you. Watching this from the beginning to the end, it's not sound bites. There is a feel that I didn't expect to get given the basis of the stories that have about told coming into this case. I hope everybody watching knows, there's a big difference watching start-to-finish testimony hearing a sound bite or reading a headline about it.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Couldn't have said it better myself. Ashleigh Banfield and Mark O'Mara, we will stay in close contact with you. As we mentioned the defense officially rested in this Michael Dunn trial. A 15-minute break here, we'll be watching closely to see when this thing picks back up. My thanks to both of you. Don't go too far.

Coming up, I want to move along and talk about a storm of historic proportions. That's the exact phrase we're getting now from the National Weather Service. Look at this map, bracing for a, quote, "catastrophic winter storm." But is Atlanta ready this time? We will take you outside to the ground along those interstates that were a mess not too long ago.

Plus, spoiler alert, let me wave my arm, spoiler alert here, if you're watching the Olympic, hit mute. Just in, American snowboarder, Shaun White has not medaled in Sochi, hear what went wrong next. You're watching CNN.


BALDWIN: All right, past the bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin, the gloves are off. The city of Atlanta gearing up for another monster winter storm determined not to lose round two. You remember what it looked like, thousands of kids and drivers stranded on frozen highways. Look at this. Can you believe this actually happened?

This time city and other leaders in the area say they are indeed prepared for the worst. It's just what they might guess. The weather service is warning this ice storm could be catastrophic and reach what they're calling historical proportions, anxious southerners, heeding the warning as well.

You see empty shelves, at grocery stores, stocking up on food and ice. Let me repeat this. No one wants a repeat of last month and this wallop is around the corner. We're tracking this storm. But Ed Lavandera, you're tracking this storm. You saw the total kerfuffle two weeks ago. Is it still raining? How cold is it?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not that bad, just a light drizzle, but the knockout punch that mother nature delivered a couple weeks ago. Still left many in the Atlanta area dazed and confused. Walking around staggering making sure that does not happen again. On the roadways, as you can see things moving slowly, a light drizzle. Roads are doing fine for now.

The question comes hours ahead and into Wednesday morning when the worse of this ice storm and winter storm is headed this way. Many people gearing up for that. Making runs to the grocery store. You heard reports of bread and all of the basics basically out at many grocery stores across the area. All of this for a storm, what we've predicted could bring about an inch of ice. That's the way life is in the south. Just an inch of ice could cause all sorts of drama, headaches and a lot of tension -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Ed, thank you. So an inch of ice, when does this officially hit?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is a different storm. It officially gets here 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. That's when it gets really bad. That will stop so many people from going to school, going to work.

BALDWIN: Yes. They're already cold. They're not going to school.

MYERS: That's different than the storm we just had where everybody was at work and it happened at 2:00 p.m. This is going to be an ice storm that knocks down a million power lines. We'll not get those up for weeks. There will be millions of people without power.

Not just Atlanta, Birmingham, Augusta, Columbia, Charlotte, to very big cities all along the southern tier, along I-20, I-85. An inch of ice on a branch of a tree will bring that tree down. Augusta may look like a links course with no trees on it by the time we get to play the masters if all of those trees fall down as we think a lot of them will.

BALDWIN: If you are really saying a million people without power and people are listening right now because they can at the moment, turn on TV and listen on the radio. What is the best piece of advice for preparing?

MYERS: Charge your phones. Make sure you have enough prescriptions to deal with it. If you don't have power the pharmacy won't have a power. They can't refill the prescription without a computer. Make sure you freeze stuff, and all of the stuff in the freezer is good and solid. And turn up the heat a little because that will be off for a long time make sure you find friends if it does go off that they still have heat.

There will be people two weeks from today that still don't have power. You knock down that many power lines, no matter where you bring mutual aid in, you can't bring the power lines up. We like to get mutual aid from South Carolina and North Carolina. They need their power lines. Then a snowstorm for D.C., Richmond, Philadelphia, D.C. could have a foot of snow by Friday night. Where are they going put that?

BALDWIN: This is one of those times I hope you're wrong. I hope you're wrong. Thank you. We'll talk in a little bit. Give us an update.

Coming up two little girls vanished about 40 years ago, disappeared without a trace. Now they have a possible break in the case, the clues that could breathe new life into this decade-old mystery. That's next.


BALDWIN: Police in Maryland are breathing life back into a cold case that involves not just one, but two little girls from the same family. Last time the parents of Shiela, the one on the right with glasses, saw their girls that was when the last U.S. troops were pulling out of Vietnam or about to. March 25th, 1975, Shiela, 12 at time, Katherine, 10, walked to Wheaton Plaza, an area strip mall. Take a look at some Easter decorations and those little girls never came home. In 2000, their mother and father, expressed agony over what was taken from them.


MARY LYON, MOTHER OF MISSING SISTERS: The brides he didn't walk down the aisle. The grandchildren we didn't have, the sons in laws, we didn't have.


BALDWIN: Now 39 years later the FBI and local police are asking for any information on this man. Take a look. Lloyd Lee Welsh Jr., a sex offender in prison for unrelated crimes. Why?


CHIEF J. THOMAS MANGER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND POLICE: Investigators have established the fact that Welch was at Wheaton Plaza on March 25th, 1975. We've also established that Welch was observed paying attention to the Lyons sisters while at Wheaton Plaza. Welch now has multiple convictions for sexual offenses against young girls and has been incarcerated since 1997 in the state of Delaware for one of these offenses.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Joining me now, John Ryan, the president and CEO for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. So John, welcome. I know you know this. So many cold case, unsolved this this country. The fact you have chief of Montgomery County Police four decades later, coming out, showing this guy's picture, releasing his name. What does your gut tell you about this?

JOHN RYAN, CEO, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: First we commend the FBI and Baltimore P.D. for continuing this investigation. It will be almost 40 years since these two young girls were abducted. But that's not an aberration anymore. Law enforcement has focused more resources, energies, constantly reviewing these cases of long-term missing children and the good news is we see success in either identifying the suspects many years later or more importantly, either recovering the children or counting for their whereabouts. So, we commend them for continuing this effort.

BALDWIN: So, you commend them, but sort of back to my question. I know a lot of leads. I can't imagine the leads these parents have faced through the decades, only for it to go cold. Do you think the fact police are releasing this man's name possibly in connection could really mean something?

RYAN: Absolutely. They would not have released this information if they did not have every reason to believe that he was a person of interest, based on the eye witness testimony that they revealed during their press conference today.

BALDWIN: And then just finally, you know, the year was 1975, as we mentioned, just reading the story. I think the parents said, kids, come back by 4:00 or so. Children, even still today, because they were 10 and 12, wandering around town pretty freely. I know the girl's brother ultimately became a detective. How did this story, this disappearance, impact this community?

RYAN: From all accounts, from the moment these two youngsters were abducted, this was a high profile case and the interest in this case never waned. I spoke to some of the investigators in my office who have worked this case for over 20 years and have been in touch with the family, the Lyons' family throughout that time, and people still talk about that day as if it happened within the last few days. It's incredible. I heard some of the, you know, former classmates and friends of the Lyons' sisters interviewed the last 24 hours, and their memory is like this happened yesterday.

BALDWIN: I don't think I believe in closure, but I hope for this family and community, they are able to find some peace. John Ryan from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, thank you so much.

RYAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: All right, Olympics time, winter games. If you are watching the halfpipe tonight, massive spoiler alert, turn away. Don't turn me off. Turn away if you have to. We'll talk about Shaun White, the flying tomato, U.S. gold medalist hopeful missed out on gold in the halfpipe. In fact, he didn't even medal, falling on his first run, not scoring high enough on his second. This wouldn't have been the snowboarder's third Olympic gold. He wanted it, a feat not seen before by any American male Olympian. We're all sitting around watching the Olympic router on these TVs, for Shaun White. What happened?

LARA BALDESARRA, CNN SPORTS: It was crushing. No one expected this. He went out in qualifying and he had the top score, just before and in his practice runs, did very well again. He landed tricks. He was nailing tricks. He was proud of himself. He was ready to go. A lot of people say, maybe it was the conditions then, maybe that's what got to him. But, no, because those practice runs were right before, I think because he was chasing history, because possibly his legacy was on the line, because he had thrown out the chance to compete in slopestyle, a lot was riding on this. The pressure might have gotten to him.

BALDWIN: He bailed on the slopestyle, wanted to focus, as you said, on the half pipe. He was criticized for pulling out in slopestyle. I was asking you, why do you really think he did? You said to protect himself. If he didn't do well, it would be more of a sting later on.

BALDESARRA: Athletes all have a mental advantage. When you are the best in whatever sport it is that you compete in. You set the bar. You're the guy that everyone wants to beat. You go out and lose even an event that's not exactly your bread and butter it kind of takes away that mental advantage that you have over your competition. They all of a sudden say, look, I can beat the best. I can beat Shaun White. You lose that when you go to compete in halfpipe. But at the same time, I do think he was generally concerned about making sure he was fit and healthy to compete in halfpipe. He is not exactly a young pup. He's 27 years old --

BALDWIN: So old, so old.

BALDESARRA: For snowboarding, it is.

BALDWIN: That makes me feel ancient. Lara Baldesarra, thank you very much. At least he has two gold medals. Thank you.

Coming up, did House Speaker John Boehner pull a 180 when it comes to the debt ceiling? We'll tell you exactly what he said that has Republicans waving the white flag today.

Plus, President Obama hosting a very complicated -- that's quite the right word -- state dinner tonight for the president of France. Find out what to expect and the interesting seating chart involved in this one. Stay here.


BALDWIN: Big to do in Washington, D.C, one of those moments where the White House, people's house, gets gusted up with a rare state dinner with the French. Got to do it up big, it is the French. Among other things, the White House chefs authored this creation. Take a look. What is that you say? Well, let me tell you. This is terrarium salad with greens from the White House garden. Brianna Keilar joins me now live, our senior political correspondent. And, you know, I guess the pressure is on the White House tonight. Is it not?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I would say big time. You talk to White House officials, they'll say it's a big deal any time they have a state dinner. This hasn't happened very often. This has only happened a couple times in two years that the president has had one. But you talk to folks who have worked on state dinners that involved the French and they say, this is a big deal. The French set the bar pretty high when it comes to culture. This one in particular is a big deal.

Look at the salad. Look at entertainment, Marry J. Blige. They're pulling out all of the stops. There was a press conference between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande. Substantively speaking, the French have certainly come to President Obama's aid, recently, especially on Syria when the U.S. military strikes. France was backing the U.S. when Great Britain wasn't. That's the reason why a French reporter asked if France is a better friend of the U.S. than Great Britain. Here's the president's reply.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERIACA: I have two daughters and they are both gorgeous, and wonderful. And I would never choose between them. And that's how I feel about my outstanding European partners. All of them are wonderful in their own ways.


KEILAR: There you go, Brooke. Diplomacy in full swing with President Obama's answer there.

BALDWIN: Well said, Mr. President. You mentioned, of course, the French president, President Hollande is there. And much to do, Brianna over who he sits next to with the state dinner. We know it won't be his significant other, had the whole recent breakup. Do you know the latest on the seating chart?

KEILAR: That's right. Normally what would happen is the spouse, or in this case, France's first lady. Not married to Hollande. Until recently not here because of allegedly a tryst between Hollande and an actress there in France. Normally the spouse would sit next to the president.

We're told by people who put on dinners like this and organize seating charts that if there's an easy way around it, it won't get in the way of things. You can put Hollande between the first lady and president, they can get creative. It won't be a problem but we're seeing affairs of the heart eclipsing some foreign affairs in this visit because this is very recent with President Hollande showing up without a partner.

BALDWIN: Quick changes happening behind the scenes there in the building behind you. Brianna Kielar, thank you my friend. And not much drama this time, no threats of financial chaos, threats of market meltdowns, none of that, right? Around sundown, the House of Representatives is to vote to raise the nation's borrowing limit with zero conditions attached, which means the so-called Boehner rule goes right on down the drain. House Speaker John Boehner has done a big 180. He will allow this vote on a measure his Republicans loath without even mounting a fight.

John King joins me now from Washington. Could you please explain to me why this is so, so significant, this is huge doings in Washington?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He didn't even ask for a seat at the state dinner in exchange for this vote, Brooke. This is a big deal because if you look at the conservative blogger today. There are a lot of headlines, Speaker Boehner fails, Speaker Boehner retreats, Speaker Boehner blinks. The Senate Conservative Fund, an influential fund here in Washington, conservative, says, Speaker Boehner should be replaced.

Why would he do this? He's taking a hit in the short term to do things that benefit Republicans in the long term. What did you talk about? Potential for market turmoil and for Republicans to blamed for something. What did he do? He couldn't find the votes to say, link this to a Medicare fix, couldn't find the votes to link this to something else, maybe military pensions.

He decided instead let the Democrats pass this, most House Republicans vote no. He will get hammered for a day or two but he believes November, like he did on immigration, he's avoiding a land mine that could hurt the Republicans in the long run and willing to take a short-term hit.

BALDWIN: First time I read this midterms came to my mind as well. Meantime, John King, another delay on the Obamacare calendar. The president had a chance to explain that today. What did he say?

KING: He didn't mention his two daughters when he answered the health care question.

BALDWIN: That was pretty good.

KING: Yes, he was ready for that question. That shows a guy that was briefed. Those question come, Mr. President, he put that on the tee --

BALDWIN: He was ready.

KING: On the health care question, he gave a ho-hum answer. If you watch what Republicans are saying, it's anything but ho-hum. The president said, well, we delayed this mandate on a small number of businesses because this is hard to implement. We don't want to hurt anybody. We don't want to finish anybody. They said we need more time. We're giving them more time.

It sounds easy, sounds non-confrontational. That's the president's answer. Welcome to the politics of Obamacare. The Republicans saying another deadline extended. More proof to them. The law too big to succeed, you want to extend that deadline. Extend the mandate again. Republicans see this as proof this is fundamentally flawed.

The president said we'll have a longer transition. What does it do? Guarantees the volume is up for 2014. Republicans think this is the biggest issue. Why does the speaker not want a debt ceiling fight? So he can focus on Obamacare. We fought about it in the last presidential election, we'll fight about it again in 2016.

BALDWIN: John King, thank you.

Coming up, much more on this winter storm about to hit Atlanta? We'll see if they're ready this time.