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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Judgment Day for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; Virgin Islands Vacation Brings a Family within Inches of Death; Aaron Hernandez Trial Latest; NuvaRing Blamed for Fatal Blood Clots; Remembering Paul Walker; Pandas Having Prolonged Fun. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 6, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. Hope you had a good holiday weekend.
There is a lot happening tonight. The big story, judgment day for the man whose own lawyers admit he did it, made the bombs, did the plan and planned the killing, the maiming of innocents at the Boston marathon. Closing arguments of the trial, the jury starts deliberating today. The big question, how will the controversial defense strategy that infuriated survivors play with the jurors?
Also tonight, a Virgin Island vacation brings a family within inches of death. How a pesticide that was banned for indoor use 31 years ago ended up inside their hotel and allegedly in their bodies.
And later tonight, a widely used form of contraception to help the young woman who used it and the heart attack that took her life. What the story says about the risk factor tens of millions of women might not know about but could be facing.
We begin tonight with the breaking news out of Boston where jurors will take up the marathon bombing case department. Now, they are going to have to decide whether or not to find the defendant guilty of 17 counts. Anyone of which could result in the death sentence. Now, we say killer and not alleged killer because his attorney, as I mentioned, openly acknowledges that he did what he did. The defense is that this man, 19 at the time, fell under the sway of his older brother and was simply going along with him. If not for him, she says, it would not have happened.
Now, on hand to hear all this, some of the survivors and some who lost loved ones. Alexandra Field was also in the federal courtroom and joins us from Boston.
So the prosecution ended its case the way it's started focusing on the youngest victim killed in the bombing, the 8-year-old Martin Richard.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. They started in opening statements talking about martin Richard. They rested on Martin Richard. And again in their closing argument, they talked about Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who bled to death on the sidewalk on Boylston Street. They talked about Crystal Campbell, Lindsey Liu who also bled to death, about Shaun Polier (ph) who was killed after he was shot between the eyes. Martin Richard's parents were in the courtroom to hear all of this.
They have been fixtures in that courtroom. They watched as prosecutors pointed to pictures with Martin with his brother and sister watching the marathon. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in that photos standing behind them. It was taken moments before that backpack bomb exploded.
The prosecution telling the jury Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could not help but to see those children standing right there where he placed that backpack, Anderson. It is really powerful words to leave the jury with before they set out to deliberate tomorrow morning.
COOPER: And the defense obviously, they consistently tried to portray their client as being brainwashed into doing this by his older brother. How did they push that narrative in the closing argument?
FIELD: They did. They told the jury from the beginning they wouldn't try to disprove the facts that the prosecution would present. They again, in their closing arguments, said they had not sought to do that. Instead, they're trying to help the jury to understand what they believe motivated Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. There is a picture that is in stark contrast to what prosecutors say. Prosecutors say he's an evil jihadist that prepared an attack on America. (INAUDIBLE) that he left when he was hiding in the boat proves that. He writes, we Muslims are one body, you hurt one, you hurt us all. Instead, the defense knows this was a 19-year-old who was misguided, who was vulnerable; he was vulnerable to the influence of his older brother who had excessive influence over him. Enough influence to draw him into these attacks. The defense underscoring certain points over and over again saying it was Tamerlan who did the bulk of the research. Tamerlan who also bombed, Tamerlan who bought the part. The prosecution saying that doesn't matter. Dzhokhar participated. They are equal partners in crime, Anderson.
COOPER: What do expect -- I mean, the jury starts deliberating tomorrow. I guess there's no way to predict how long they'll be out for?
FIELD: Yes. We all know there's no way to really predict this. So we know that they've got to go through 30 different counts. The judge spent a lot of time today laying out the instructions, how they should look at each of the charges. When it comes down to -- there are 30 charges, 17 of these charges carry a possible death sentence. If the jury convicts on just one of the 17 charges, then phase of this trial starts since it's basically a reset of the trial, Anderson, where we go back to openings more witnesses, more testimony. At the end of that, the jury would be set to decide whether or not they felt Tsarnaev was deserving of a death sentence.
COOPER: We will be watching. Alexandra, thanks very much.
More now, on the defense strategy for keeping their lint alive, as Alexandria just mentioned, as Jason Carroll now reports it resembles the defense in that other notorious case of two killers, one older a similar case terrorizing the capital a few years ago.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is not exactly what one might expect to hear from an attorney defending her client. But today, Judy Clark closed her case basically telling jurors her client Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty, quote, "we've seen shocking videos, we've seen horrific photos. For this destruction, suffering and profound loss, there is no excuse. No one is trying to make one.
Also saying, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stands ready by your verdict to be held accountable for his actions. Not making excuses and ready to be held accountable, so what is exactly is Clark's defense for someone who the prosecution says brought terrorism to backyards and to Main Street. Clark told jurors, if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened.
Throughout the trial she's argued Tsarnaev did it because he was under the influence of his older brother, Tamerlan. If the jury accepts that argument, it could be enough to save Tsarnaev from the death penalty. It's a strategy that has worked before.
[20:05:48] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: A shocking series of shootings in what is normally a quiet area outside the nation's capital.
CARROLL: October 2002, the nation's beltway in the grip of fear as random victims are shot by a sniper stalking roadways in the Washington, D.C., area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really sad to say we're not safe anymore.
CARROLL: After ten are killed and several injured, police capture John al-Muhammad, he is 41, and his then 17-year-old accomplice Lee Boyd Malveaux (ph). In the opening statement of Malveaux's trial, much like Tsarnaev's, Malveaux's attorney immediately admitted guilt, saying about his client, we are not suggesting to you that they got the wrong man.
Malveaux's attorney argued the 17-year-old's mental state was in question and he should be spared the death penalty. He blamed it on brainwashing saying, quote, "Lee Malveaux was under a degree of indoctrination." Argument worked. Malveaux was spared the death penalty and instead sentenced to life without parole, while Muhammad was sentenced to death. He died from lethal injection in 2009. Years later from his prison cell, Malveaux at 27 years old, explained to the "Washington Post" what it was like living under Muhammad's spell as a teenager.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He told me the old person has to die. Lee Malveaux has to die.
CARROLL: Tsarnaev's attorney argued during his trial, he too was under the spell of an older man. But the prosecutor in his rebuttal told jurors, don't be distracted by arguments about what his brother did, versus what he did. It makes no difference.
CARROLL: This is hardly Clark's first tough case. He actually has a history of saving clients accused from heinous attacks, including the una-bomber Ted Kosinsky (ph) and Atlanta Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph.
Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
COOPER: I want to look closer at the so-called Lee Malveaux defense with a pair of former federal prosecutors, CNN legal analysts Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin.
Sunny, do you think this is going to work?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I actually don't think it will work. And I think there's just so much evidence in this case that Tsarnaev really had the intent to do these crimes, especially I think what is most damaging is the message that he wrote on the boat. He wrote that all alone, he knew his brother was dead, and he still sort of wanted to exact this revenge on America. And was explaining why he did it. I think that is going to be extremely important to the jury in this case. And I suspect that we, you know, won't hear from Tsarnaev. I think that --
COOPER: By the way, he wrote that at a time when -- I mean, arguably he was near death, bleeding, you know. He was cornered.
HOSTIN: That's true. When people say you're your most honest.
COOPER: Right. He could have written something like, I'm sorry. I regret this or something like that. There was no regret and there never has been.
HOSTIN: That's right.
COOPER: Jeff, I mean, the big difference, obviously, between the two cases, the age gap of Muhammad is 24 years older than Malveaux and the D.C. sniper case, these guys are only seven years apart. And you know, there is a college student we're talking about, not some guy whose, you know, mental capacity may have been, you know, questionable.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I mean, look, I don't think Judy Clark had a lot of good options in defending Tsarnaev. It's not like there's some better strategy out there. And I do think the best thing she could have done for her client is blame her older brother.
But as you point out, it's not really all that parallel to the Malvaeux situation. That was very much a father/son relationship. And this is a brother relationship. And also, Tsarnaev does not give off the impression of being an oppressed person. He was a college student. He was out and about. You know, after the bomb, after this 8-year-old was dying, he went and bought a sandwich. I mean, it is just -- there are no appealing facts for Dzhokhar. I mean, it's just - it is a bad, bad set of facts for the defense. And I don't see -- you know, their hope is to get one juror, that's all they need is one juror in the penalty phase. Who knows, they may get one.
COOPER: Let's talk about that penalty case, Sunny. Because in some cases it's like another -trial and it's very possible this guy could take the stand.
[20:10:00] HOSTIN: That is true. It is like a mini trial. And we're going to hear about mitigating factors. We're going to hear about aggravating factors. And usually you do your extensive testimony in this stage of the trial. And the defense is betting on this phase of trial. Because let's face it, from the very beginning she said this is not a whodunit, he did it.
I think that she's going to try to explain his actions, and bottom line is, who better to explain his intent than Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The problem, I think, is that we haven't seen any remorse during this trial. And I suspect that if he gets on the witness stand, we'll see somebody who's very radicalized, somebody who isn't showing remorse and that would be the worst thing possible for Judy Clark.
What she has done well, I think in watching the trial, is she has almost been a mother figure to him. She has sort of fixed his tie. She's rubbed his back. And that certainly is not lost on this jury. She's made him appear to be a person. She's personalized him.
And as Jeff said, they only need one juror, one juror that has some sort of empathy, some sort of connection, thinking, you know, wow, he's so young. This could be my son, this could be my brother, this could be my friend. If they get that one person, especially in Massachusetts where there's not overwhelming support of the death penalty, he could have his life spared.
COOPER: There are a lot of counts to go through, do you think this is going to take a long time?
TOOBIN: I don't think the guilt phase will take a very long time. Frankly, I can't remember a trial where guilt has been conceded like this. So yes, it is 30 counts, it will probably take a couple days. But the defense in this case has been entirely focused towards the penalty phase. The guilt phase has been a given.
I actually don't think that there's any chance Tsarnaev himself will take the witness stand. There is too much really appalling behavior for him to explain. Better to have other people talk about their relationship, better to have other people talk about the situation in the former Soviet Union. Create a picture of what he was going through. But hearing him have to describe every action he took as he committed this monstrous, monstrous act, I just think that's a recipe for disaster.
COOPER: A lot of survivors who would like to hear him actually step up and do that obviously. But it seems like that won't happen.
Jeff Toobin, thank you. Sunny Hostin as well.
Coming up next, more breaking news. The defense rests in another high-profile murder case. Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez charged with shooting and killing Odon Lloyd. Now, the defense only made a brief presentation. We have the details on that. Also, the killing of an American in Yemen, the mass exodus from the
fighting there and a chilling possibility that some prison inmates who escaped in the chaos may once have spent time at Guantanamo Bay.
[20:16:18] COOPER: Well, there is more breaking news tonight. The defense has rested in another murder trial that is getting a lot of attention, national attention. Former New England patriots Aaron Hernandez is charged with murdering semi-pro player Odon Lloyd who was shot and killed not far from Hernandez's home.
Now, the state put on a massive case, more than 130 witnesses, plus video from his home security system to suggest he was holding the murder weapon. The defense, by contrast, took less than one day, calling witnesses aimed at bolstering a theory suggesting that his two co-defendants were high on PCP when Lloyd was murdered, and therefore, might have been prone to violence.
Details on that all now from Susan Candiotti outside the courthouse in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Do the prosecution took weeks laying out their case against Hernandez. I mean, I was surprised the defense called just three witnesses.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the defense made the bulk of their case, Anderson, during the cross- examination of state's witnesses. And really, that's a very normal thing to do in cases like this, arguing in this case, that prosecutors were sloppy in handling evidence. And saying, for example, was that really a gloc in Aaron Hernandez's hand or maybe just an ipad? But it's going to be really hard for the defense to walk away from that image of Aaron Hernandez picking up Odon Lloyd in a car, driving to an industrial park, leaving the industrial park, and pulling back into his home driveway less than a mile away, minutes after the murder. And Odon Lloyd not being in that car anymore, Anderson.
COOPER: And I mean, the defense clearly, I guess, believed the prosecution didn't meet their burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt. Obviously, the burden is on the prosecution. Closing arguments start tomorrow. Do we know what to expect?
CANDIOTTI: Well, each side will get about an hour and a half to make their case. Prosecutors saying that Aaron Hernandez fully put this whole plot together, got his buddies together, and murdered Odon Lloyd. The defense will say he did not. Maybe he was there. But there's no proof that he pulled the trigger. And instead arguing that perhaps it was Ernest Wallace and Odon Lloyd who as you said were just high on angel dust and they're the ones to blame.
But what the jury hasn't heard, really, Anderson, is a clear motive. All they know is that Aaron Hernandez was mad at Odon Lloyd about something that happened two nights before that, but nothing really solid.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, because a lot of people thought while this was a slam-dunk for the prosecution early on, I mean, a lot of the evidence was not admissible in court. And text messages and the like that Odon Lloyd sent. In terms of Aaron Hernandez's demeanor, what's it been like throughout the trial?
CANDIOTTI: I'll tell you, when the jury is present, he is all business. He really pays attention to all the evidence that's being put on in this case, even consulting with his lawyers. But when the jury is not there, and the cameras are not allowed to roll, that's when you see what can only be described as a swagger when he walks into court. He appears very self-confident and smiling and laughing with his family members who aren't there very often, but rarely glances over at the victim's mother, Anderson, who has been there every single day.
COOPER: Yes. Susan Candiotti, Susan thanks very much.
Halfway around the world, an American has been killed and others are scrambling to escape the fighting in Yemen. In just the last few days, thousands of foreign nationals had fled the country. Their outgoing flights (INAUDIBLE) with incoming airstrikes. And as Jim Sciutto reports for us tonight, they're the lucky ones.
[20:14:56] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Yemen in collapse, running gun battles on the streets of key port city of Aiden and now, desperate attempts to escape.
CNN's Nima Elbagir flew into the capital Sana'a on a rare commercial flight. Residents run for their lives. The flight crews nervous to get off the ground within minutes of landing. Caught in the cross fire, American Jamal al-Abani killed by mortar fire as he tried to evacuate his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter to their home in California.
Countries from India to China and Russia have now evacuated their citizens, but the U.S. has not. The U.S. embassy closed and Special Forces no longer on the ground, U.S. citizens looking to leave the country are seemingly on their own.
MARIE HARF, SECRETARY STATE SPOKESWOMAN: We are very clear with American citizens that this is not a place they should go, that we have limited ability, particularly now.
SCIUTTO: The departure of all U.S. forces, diplomats and many intelligence gathering resources leaves a one-time success story in utter disarray. A U.S. counter terror official calls the situation, quote, 'dire." And warns the terror group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula stands to gain greater ability to carry out terror attacks as U.S. counter terror pressure has weakened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very concerning to have the U.S. operating blindly in Yemen. One of the organizations that has been most interested and capable of strikes in the U.S. homeland, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula has increased its control of territory. SCIUTTO: Also standing to gain, Iran. The Houthi rebels who have
U.S. allied government forces on the run are backed by Tehran. The U.S. is now monitoring whether Iran is sending arms to them, even the midst of progress on sensitive nuclear negotiations.
SCIUTTO: Tonight, there is still no state department plans to evacuate the many Americans in Yemen, many of them dual nationals. The state department has been warning them for some time not to go to the country. They say they have limited ability to get them out. So those Americans there, they have to rely on now, Anderson for help from countries like India, other international organizations. It's causing a lot of frustration among those Americans there and their families outside the country.
COOPER: It's hard to imagine. Jim, thanks very much.
Up next, poisoned in paradise. How a family found themselves fighting for their lives just hours into their Caribbean vacation.
Also tonight, a young woman dies of a heart attack. Doctors say a popular form of birth control could have been a factor in her death. We investigate tonight.
[20:26:38] COOPER: Well, it was supposed to be a fun, relaxing trip to the U.S. virgin islands. Instead, officials say a family from Delaware, a mother, a father, and their two sons, were poisoned in paradise, exposed to a banned, highly toxic pesticide.
Miguel Marquez reports.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The emergency call, a family of four apparently overcome by fumes, when emergency workers arrived at the resort, Steven Esmond was unconscious. His wife, Theresa Devine, and their 16 and 14-year-old boys were experiencing seizures. The entire family airlifted to hospitals in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really scary to think that this could happen to somebody that you know.
MARQUEZ: The family staying in the upper floor at a home on the Caribbean resort. The lower floor was being fumigated using the odorless, colorless pesticide known methyl gas, more commonly known methyl bromide. It's been banned from indoor residential use in the U.S. and its territories since 1984. The U.S. department of justice has now opened a criminal investigation.
Methyl bromide is mainly used in agriculture, injected more than a foot below the ground into strawberry or tomato fields. The ground itself covered with tarp to slow the gas's escape. It can be used in some commercial structures, but even then, the makers' instructions are clear, the building must be completely sealed and adjoining buildings sharing a common wall should be cleared of occupants before fumigation.
Poison experts say, it doesn't take much of the pesticides to sicken humans from nausea to vomiting and in some cases even unconsciousness and death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're one of the families that everyone loves to be around.
MARQUEZ: Today, a glimmer of hope in a statement from the family lawyer, James Maron. Steven Esmond is improving and in stable condition. His wife Theresa Devine released and doing well. Their two teenage sons remain in critical condition. But they are hopeful for a fuel recovery.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Scary stuff.
Joining us is Dr. Patricia Salber, an internist, emergency medicine and host of "the Doctor." Excuse me, the "Doctor Weighs In."
It is terrifying what happened to think that happened seemingly so fast. And they were having seizures and the dad was unconscious when the paramedics got there. Is that consistent with this methyl bromide?
DR. PATRICIA SALBER, HOST, THE DOCTOR WEIGHS IN: Yes. Everything that we've heard so far is consistent with exposure to methyl bromide. There are often early symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, kind of non- specific symptoms. But when it progresses, it does end up with people having seizures, and unfortunately coma as well.
COOPER: Does it relate to different -- I mean, does it base on exposure, different people experience different things? I mean, I assume if they're all in the same room they got the same level of exposure. And the mom was released from the hospital, seems to be doing better than her husband and sons are.
SALBER: Sure. There are a lot of things that affect how somebody is affected. We know that children, for example, often have worse outcomes than -- small children have worse outcomes than adults, because the substance is inhaled through the lungs, and sometimes absorbed through the skin. And they have a larger surface area for that absorption. But it is hard to say whether everybody had an identical exposure depending on where they were in the condo.
COOPER: What is treatment actually look like?
[20:30:00] SALBER: Well, there's no specific treatment, unfortunately, in terms of an antidote that we're used to thinking about for poisons. Rather, all of these victims of this poisoning would have been treated in a manner that we call supportive. Which means you would have given them I.V. fluids. If they were having breathing problems, which is very common, that they get fluid on the lung, that you would give them oxygen, in some case they would be put on a ventilator. My understanding is I think at least two of the victims were put on a ventilator. And then you treat whichever organ systems are having problems. So it could be renal failure, they may need dialysis, it could be problems with the liver, it could be problems with exposure on the skin. So, a whole variety of symptoms that the people who are taking care of these victims are dealing with right now.
COOPER: And then are there long-term effects that you have to worry about?
SALBER: Yeah, unfortunately there are long-term effects. And most of them are neurologic. We do know that you can have complete recovery in some cases. But we also know that people, particularly with serious exposures may have long-term neurologic deficits.
COOPER: Dr. Salber, I appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much for being with us.
COOPER: Scary stuff. Just ahead tonight, the controversy over a popular form of birth control that some families believe killed their daughters. The "360" investigation next.
COOPER: If you're one of the 10 million women who use hormonal birth control, you'll want to watch this next story. One popular birth control method is being blamed by some families in the lawsuit for the death of loved ones. Now, the birth control that's called NuvaRing. It's available in the U.S. since 2002. At least 830,000 women use it. The story in "Vanity Fair" also details some of the dangers, and we wanted to look further. And while studies have shown that potentially deadly side effects are extremely rare, fewer than 11 cases per 10,000 women who use it for a year, families affected point out that the incidence of life-threatening blood clots is still double with NuvaRing than with older birth control pills. One couple told us their daughter wasn't properly warned of the dangers they believe NuvaRing poses and they believe it destroyed their family. Randi Kaye reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm (INAUDIBLE) and big country music fan.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: May 2009, an animated Erika Langhart speaking at her school, American university. High achieving, energetic, a zest for life. By the time she finished college, she had already visited 37 different countries. Her parents, Karen and Rick Langhart could not have been more proud.
RICK LANGHART, ERIKA LANGHART'S FATHER: I learned more from her than she ever learned from me. She was an amazing young lady.
KAYE: Was an amazing lady, past tense, because in November 2011, just days before Thanksgiving, Erika at 24 suddenly collapsed in her Virginia apartment.
Her boyfriend, Sean Coakley, was just arriving for dinner. But the attendant here at the apartment complex was first to hear Erika's cry for help and called 911. Sean entered the building right here. Once upstairs he found Erika on the kitchen floor.
Back home in Phoenix, Karen Langhart's cell phone rang.
KAREN LANGHART, ERIKA LANGHART'S MOTHER: Picked up the phone and answered it. Hi, Shmoo (ph), can't wait to see you. Shmuberries (ph) our nickname for her. And it was Sean.
KAYE (on camera): Her boyfriend.
KAREN LANGHART: Her boyfriend. And ...
KAYE: What did he say?
KAREN LANGHART: And he said, I -- I -- there's a problem.
KAYE (voice over): Karen and Rick wondered what could have caused their young vibrant daughter to suddenly collapse. 2,000 miles away, they had no idea what paramedics were up against.
RICK LANGHART: She had a heart attack. And then two more on the way, over to the hospital in the ambulance. And then another one in the hospital. And she -- she never woke up.
KAYE: Erika was dead. She had been a healthy 24-year-old. So immediately the question, why? A risk factor according to the hospital would come as a shock. Something Erika's mother says they were never told about. Something tens of millions of women in America might not know about.
(on camera): When you were speaking to the emergency room doctor, did he ask you anything about what your daughter might have been on or if she'd been using birth control?
KAREN LANGHART: He asked if she was on birth control and then what type. When I said that she was on birth control, and it was the NuvaRing.
KAYE: What did he say in response?
KAREN LANGHART: He said, well, there's a link between NuvaRing and pulmonary embolisms.
KAYE (voice over): NuvaRing, one of the most popular birth control products on the market. The manufacturer says, 44 million prescriptions have been filled for women in the United States alone. Hospital records cited NuvaRing as a risk factors for causing a blood clot to break free and travel to Erika's lungs, cutting off her oxygen instantly.
RICK LANGHART: After our conversation, and remove the NuvaRing immediately. It was -- it was -- it was a nightmare.
KAYE: The Langharts had no idea the NuvaRing birth control their daughter had been using for four years had already been linked to other women's deaths, according to lawsuits. The Langharts and 3,800 others sued the manufacturer Merck claiming NuvaRing caused injury or death.
The NuvaRing is a type of birth control that first became available to women in the United States back in 2002. It's a flexible ring that releases a combination of hormones, including what's called a third generation progestin, or synthetic hormone. Now, when it first came on the market, it was touted as a break-through device. One that's inserted vaginally that sends hormones directly into the blood stream. It stays in for three weeks, so no bother of a daily pill. Convenient? Absolutely. But safe? It depends on who you ask.
The manufacturer Merck acknowledges a very small risk of blood clots. But stands by its product saying, there is substantial evidence to support the safety and efficacy of NuvaRing. Still, since the mid- 1990s, there have been multiple studies suggesting that while a third- generation progestins are generally safe, they're approximately twice as likely to cause blood clots as those used in older birth control pills.
KAYE: By the time Karen and Rick arrived at the Virginia hospital center in Arlington, Erika was in a coma, in the ICU.
RICK LANGHART: They basically told us that she was brain dead. And that's it.
KAYE (on camera): So, you were never able to speak to her again?
KAREN LANGHART: We miss her so much.
KAYE: Less than a year later, 2,000 miles away, in Utah, Megan Henry had the scare of her life.
MEGAN HARRY: If would have known it, I never would have taken.
KAYE: Megan, it turns out, was a classmate of Erika's at American University. She's training to compete in the Olympics in skeleton high-speed downhill sledding. That scare back in August 2012 threatened her Olympic dreams.
HARRY: It's like, you know, an elephant was sitting on my chest all the time.
KAYE: Within weeks of starting the NuvaRing, Megan collapsed during training, unable to breathe. She went to five different doctors. Not one could diagnose the problem. Until she went to see a pulmonologist. HARRY: He was like - I definitely think that you have blood clots and
it's from the birth control.
KAYE: Ex-rays followed by an ultrasound and a CAT scan, and it became clear Megan's life was in danger.
HARRY: He just started telling me, like you have multiple pulmonary embolisms in both lungs.
KAYE: According to her hospital discharge papers, the NuvaRing was probably the risk factor for her pulmonary embolism. Megan went from peak physical condition to using a breathing machine. She was put on blood thinners, too. The doctors told her it's too risky to use hormonal birth control again.
HARRY: Easy, safe, that's really how it's presented, these easy-safe low-dose hormone, you know. And it turns out it wasn't that at all.
KAYE: Merck denied our request for an on-camera interview. Instead, it gave us this statement. While there is a very small risk of a blood clot when using NuvaRing or any combined hormonal contraceptive, this risk is much less than the risk of blood clots during pregnancy and the immediate postpartum period.
COOPER: Randi joins us now. So, what is it that the families and attorneys are saying is so dangerous?
KAYE: Well, NuvaRing contains, Anderson, what's called this third generation progestins, or these synthetic hormones. And early on when birth control first came on the market they caused a lot of problems for women. They caused acne, they caused weight gains. So, the drug companies, the drug makers were really looking to play with the recipe a little bit, if you will. So, they came out with these newer hormones, this third generation progestins. But the lawyers say that these are much more prone to clotting, and then those clots can lead potentially to these fatal pulmonary embolisms. And if the warning isn't clear, and as in the case of the NuvaRing, it's very deep inside the label that's inside the box, and these women don't know where to look for them, it can be a real risk.
So, Merck as we said, wouldn't talk to us on camera, but they did issue this statement saying that the product information for NuvaRing has clearly stated the risk of blood clot since the medicine was first approved by the FDA in October of 2001 and has continued to be updated as data became available. And I thought, should also mention that this lawsuit that we mentioned, these 3,800 families, Merck did not admit any wrongdoing, but they did settle last year for $100 million with these families.
COOPER: And is there a group to monitor this company?
KAYE: There is. It's called the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And we actually spoke with their vice president of health policy. And she believes, Anderson, that NuvaRing is a very safe and effective method of birth control. In fact, I asked her, would you put your own daughter on it? And she said absolutely. But she also did point out that NuvaRing isn't the only birth control that women should worry about, it's not the only one that uses these third- generation progestins. She also said that she believes NuvaRing does deliver this low and steady dose of the hormone as the label says it does. She believes in that fully. And she did point out, though, and this is interesting, that there are a lot of conflicting studies, whether or not NuvaRing is risky, whether or not there really is a low and steady dose which may be why the NuvaRing label reads that there may be an increased risk. Because the bottom line is, we don't really know. And that's very scary for a lot of women.
COOPER: The key, clearly, for any viewer who wonder what they should do, is to consult with your doctor.
KAYE: Absolutely. And make sure their doctors informed about this.
COOPER: Randi, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
"Furious 7" left other films in the dust on its opening weekend. The huge opening weekend. Fans flooded theaters, of course, to see Paul Walker's final scenes. The actor died before filming was finished. The legacy he - coming up.
COOPER: "A Furious 7" shattered box office records over the weekend, earning more than $145 million. The franchise is one of the biggest brands in Hollywood. And this latest installment has special significance. As you probably know, longtime cast member Paul Walker died in a car crash before filming was finished. Grieving his loss, the filmmakers had to figure out also how to complete Walker's scenes and say farewell to his character. Not an easy task. Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the film franchise that made Paul Walker a massive star. "Fast and Furious," on its seventh installment began filming in September of 2013.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have friends, I got family.
SIMON: But only two months after production on the movie started, tragedy. Walker was killed in a speeding car. The moment of impact captured on this surveillance video. The car slamming into a light pole and tree, bursting into flames. His business partner, Roger Rodas, who was driving at the time, also dead at the scene.
ANTONIO HOLMES, WITNESS: There was nothing. We tried. We went to the fire extinguishers.
SIMON: A coroner's report indicated the car was traveling at an unsafe speed, more than 100 miles an hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. Neither occupant had drugs or alcohol in their systems. The driver Rodas losing control for unknown reasons.
In the days that followed, it became clear how much Walker was loved by his fans. The oldest of five siblings, Walker grew up with a strong Christian background and faith.
SIMON: Apart from acting, he was known for his humanitarian work. In 2010, he took a team to Haiti to help with earthquake relief.
PAUL WALKER III, PAUL WALKER'S FATHER: I'm just glad every time I saw him I told him I loved him. He said the same to me.
SIMON: As the realization set in, questions turned to the franchise.
PAUL WALKER: I'm going to get you out of here.
SIMON: How to finish the latest film. This was Walker just before the release of the first movie, explaining what made it all work.
PAUL WALKER: You know, you hear about egos, and, you know, people that are difficult to work with. And blah, blah, blah, blah. But everyone in this, we got along really well.
SIMON: Most of Walker's parts were already shot when he died. Still, the script had to be rewritten. Producers decided they would retire Walker's character. Walker's brothers used his body doubles to finish scenes. And CGI, computer generated imagery, was used to super impose Walker's face onto their bodies.
LUDACRIS, ACTOR, "FURIOUS 7": I'm sure he's smiling right now, because the way that this movie is done is it's always honoring him and paying homage to him. And I think that in the end people are definitely going to love the way his legacy is being carried on.
JASON STATHAM, ACTOR, "FURIOUS 7": He was one of the coolest chaps I've ever met. He wasn't a Hollywood type, he wasn't interested in the glam and the glitz. He's more about his family and about helping other people.
SIMON: Paul Walker is survived by a 16-year-old daughter and now a legacy of the most successful Easter weekend film of all-time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the plan?
PAUL WALKER: One last ride.
SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
COOPER: A lot of people went to watch. More happening tonight, Gary Tuchman has "The 360" news and business bulletin. Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson. "Rolling Stone" magazine is facing a possible lawsuit over its retracted article called "A Rape on Campus." The Phi-Kappa-Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia plans to "pursue all available legal action against the magazine for what it calls "reckless reporting."
This comes a day after a scathing external view of editorial lapses of "Rolling Stone."
Outside Washington, D.C. and the Maryland suburbs, a massive fire at a commercial building consumed more than just property. Two fire trucks went up in flames. Fortunately nobody was hurt.
From the White House Instagram account, the first family and Easter, all dressed up for the special day. Also in the photo, their dogs Bo and Sunny. And First Lady Michelle Obama today was more casual showing off her dance moves at the annual White House Easter egg roll. She performed with the crew of "You think you can dance" to encourage children to exercise.
An incredible rescue in Russia, the subway station in Moscow. Commuters rocked a train to free a woman. This - incredible pictures. Her foot got stuck between the train car and the platform. She was treated at a local hospital. She will be OK. Some leg injuries. But Anderson, this makes you feel good about humanity.
COOPER: Wow. Amazing to see everybody pitching like that. It's great. Gary, thank you very much.
Just ahead, a panda delivers another kind of blockbuster performance. Yeah, you're going to like this one, I think. Or be offended, maybe, I'm not sure. "The Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: Time for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, we're talking about panda sex. That's right. Panda sex. I said it. Specifically, a rather frisky gentleman in China named Lulu who recently set an endurance record for furry fornication and in the very next day broke his own record and probably something else. Now, I want to -- what does that even mean, he broke something else. Are we talking about like a -- anyway, I want to show you this image with a major disclaimer. This is actually the tamest freeze frame we can isolate of Lulu and his mate. And when I say freeze frame, you're correct in assuming that there is a panda sex tape floating around. Full speed, 50 shades of black and white, I've seen it, and frankly, I cannot unsee it.
Let me break it down for you. Assuming Lulu and his mate are real bears, and not just two people having sex in panda suits, which is a very real possibility, the first round of panda intercourse -- I really cannot believe we're doing this -- lasted eight minutes. Not bad. Especially when you consider the average role in eating bamboo can last as little as 30 seconds for pandas. But get this, the next day, I don't know if it was a Wednesday, but apparently every day is hump day in Lulu's world. Thank you very much.
Try the wheel. We'll be here all week. Anyway, the next day Lulu got his free con for 18 minutes. Albeit with a different mate. Seriously, 18 minutes. Said to be a new panda record. They keep track of these kind of things. We're not going to show you the video, we think the expression on Lulu's face speaks for itself. Take a look. There it is. All that's left at this point is finding his pants and sneaking out, folks. That is one satisfied panda.
Now, I think we have some other images of the panda in after-glow. Sorry. Wrong photo. Easily mistakable, though, easy mistake, apologize for that. The video of Lulu has gone viral. And zoo officials reportedly dubbed him, I swear I'm not making this up, I read it online, so it's got to be true, the zoo officials have started calling him the enduring brother. Because I think that's frankly - thank you, no, but seriously, they're calling him the enduring brother. I don't think it's a bad - thank you. I know it's a bad translation. Anyway.
Here's another shot of Lulu, the enduring brother. Thank you very much. Looking pretty pleased with himself. Looks exhausted, frankly. Honey, give me five minutes, I'll be ready to go again. I don't know why my panda in hit voice is the same as my lurking voice, frankly. There's no connection.
Of course, life for Lulu and other giant pandas, it's not all 18- minute sex. They're an endangered species, obviously. According to World Wild Life, Panda, there are just over 1,800 left in the world. So next time you see Lulu beaming after doing a panda style, remember, it's all in the name of nature, people, and "The Ridiculist."
COOPER: I apologize for any children who are watching.
That does it for us. We'll see you again at 11 p.m. Eastern for another edition of "360". Weed, too. Cannabis Madness starts now.