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Cuomo Prime Time
Arbery Murder Trial Jury Deliberations Head Into Second Day; One-On-One With Attorney For William "Roddie" Bryan, Charged With Murder Of Ahmaud Arbery; Nightbirde Shares Update On Her Cancer Battle; Autopsy Shows Brian Laundrie Died By Suicide; NASA To Launch First Mission To Test Asteroid Deflection. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 23, 2021 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: only witness testimony from the sole survivor of this shooting who later recanted her account, saying she made a mistake. When Strickland left prison he told reporters he didn't think this day would come.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Strickland's release makes his confinement the longest wrongful imprisonment in Missouri history, and one of the longest in the nation. The news continues. So let's head over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hi, John, appreciated. I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME. The Arbery murder case now in the hands of the jury. We have a special guest tonight, one of the lead defense attorneys, as the nation awaits this verdict.
His name is Kevin Gough. You know him. You know him from this show, you know him from all his appearances now on television during the trial. He became controversial with what he said about black pastors, and worrying about them being in the courtroom of this trial, for the killing of an unarmed black man on a jog in Georgia.
Now, that was a suggestion that many took to have a racial bent, and the prosecution seized on it today in their closing argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR: The defendants never ever said "citizen's arrest." They never ever said, "We're making an arrest." They never said, "We saw him commit a crime." So ladies and gentlemen, where in the world did the citizen's arrest thing come from? Because it didn't come from the defendants on February 23, 2020. Did Ahmaud Arbery commit any offense in the presence of any of these defendants? The answer to that is no. Boom. Citizen's arrest is gone.
When three people chase an unarmed man and two pickup trucks with guns in order to violate his personal liberty, who gets to claim, I'm not really responsible for that. They know what they did it, they know why they did it. It's not a mystery to them. When you come back with your guilty verdict, all you're doing is telling them we know what you did too. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And they know why they did it. How large will that question loom in the jurors' minds? How difficult is this case for them? Nine counts for each of these three defendants, 27, right, they have to deliberate on. Travis and Greg McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan. Also remember this, no matter what happens in this trial, the men are facing federal charges as well, including hate crimes, so double jeopardy doesn't apply, even if they are acquitted, that federal case may go forward.
Now, the counsel with us tonight represents Brian, who helped trap Arbery with his vehicle in February 2020 according to authorities, before Travis McMichael shot him. He provided key evidence did Roddie Brian in this trial and on this show, recording the killing on his cell phone. Listen to what he told us on this program right before he was charged in May of last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Your decision to videotape this may be what makes all the difference in the administration of justice in this case, are you aware of that?
WILLIAM BRYAN, RECORDED ARBERY SHOOTING: Yes, sir. If there was no tape, then we wouldn't know what happened.
CUOMO: And how do you feel about that?
BRYAN: I would - hope that it in the end brings justice to the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Well, a video may very well help bring justice to the Arbery family. Now, Counsel Gough argued in court, his client was only armed with that cell phone. He didn't know Arbery was going to be shot. But the prosecution made the case for why it thinks Bryan is just as guilty as the others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUNIKOSKI: But for his actions, would Ahmaud still be alive. If he had not helped to stop Ahmaud with the Silverado would Ahmaud still be alive? The answer is yes he would have been.
Mr. Bryan played a substantial and necessary part in causing his death. He is responsible for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Let's bring in the counselor for William "Roddie" Bryan, Kevin Gough. Counselor, thank you for joining us.
KEVIN GOUGH, ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN JR: Glad to be here, Chris. How you doing?
CUOMO: I'm better than I deserve. Why do you believe that the jury should not hold your client as responsible as the other two men?
GOUGH: Well, you know, I don't really want to get into the details or try and summarize an hour and 45 minute closing argument. But, you know, the question here is when did Roddie Bryan know that the McMichaels were armed? When did Roddie Bryan know that they intended to shoot Mr. Arbery? And at that point, what could Mr. Bryan have done about it? Those were the three questions that I asked repeatedly. And we're still waiting for answers on that.
CUOMO: How do you expect them to get around the Georgia Law that every person concerned in the commission of a crime is party there to. Meaning, even if you don't have the gun, even if you don't pull the trigger, if you're part of what turns into a homicide, you are just as responsible as everybody else.
GOUGH: Well, and that's exactly what a good prosecutor would say and what a good prosecutor would argue with. And I think we can agree that the Arbery family in this case is represented by some very capable attorneys from the Cobb County District Attorney's Office. But at the same time, Chris, given your legal background, I'm sure you appreciate that the parties to the crime statute, particularly the one in Georgia, in this situation would require that Roddie intentionally helped them commit the crime. And he didn't do that. And that's what the evidence shows.
At the time of this shooting, as I've said many times, Roddie Bryan was a witness to the shooting. And indeed, is the witness to the shooting, and it's his video that will allow this jury to try and sort out what justice means in this case, between the Arbery family and the McMichaels.
I've said all along, that's not for me to decide, that's not for Roddie Bryan to decide, that's - its above our pay grade. We got 12 jurors here. We got a great, diverse, very thoughtful, attentive jury. Even watching them during the trial, I'm sure they've been taking notes, they've been very diligent. They've now got the evidence, and they're going to deliberate, they're going to continue tomorrow.
And, all we can do is hope and pray that they reach a true verdict. And I think that's all we can hope for, from our criminal justice system and from these 12 fine men and women of Glenn County.
CUOMO: You got three problems. One, he was in one of the vehicles that was trying to stop Arbery, it becomes what you and I know is a chain and battery, that he became part of the behavior that wound up leading up to this shooting. We'll see what the jury thinks about that.
One thing that you know, and I just want to make sure that the audience understands, the Arbery family doesn't have any lawyers in their courtroom. This isn't the Arbery family against McMichaels.
GOUGH: The Arbery family is the most well lawyered family in America right now.
CUOMO: Hold on, hold on. Counselor--
GOUGH: I don't know where you get that idea.
CUOMO: Counselor, this case is the prosecution on behalf of the people. This is a crime against the community. This isn't about our Arberys versus McMichaels. This is Arbery as a victim, and the crime is against the state, the crime is against the community, the crime is against the law.
GOUGH: Hold on Chris. Hold on. Now, you've been watching the same trial I have. There are three very, very capable lawyers from the Cobb County District Attorney's office sitting there at counsel table. Linda Dunikoski has lit the courtroom on fire every opportunity she gets. Paul, Larissa, they have all done an outstanding job. And that's just the three in the front of the courtroom.
You - maybe you've not been to Cobb County. Cobb County has an incredible district attorney's office. It's deep, it's well staffed, it's well funded. These people are here and they mean business.
CUOMO: But they are not just for the Arberys.
GOUGH: This case has been incredibly well represented.
CUOMO: First of all, it's not - I can't believe you're saying this--
GOUGH: Well, you're asking me about--
CUOMO: I can't - I can't believe you're saying this. I really can't.
GOUGH: Say what - we can't believe what, that I'm standing up and acknowledging?
CUOMO: The prosecution--
GOUGH: --that the Cobb County DHS office has done an incredible job in this case.
CUOMO: No, that's not what you said. That's not what you said. What you said was that the Arbery family has great lawyers. This isn't about just the Arberys, this is about the whole community that was wronged when their laws are broken, and someone is killed illegally.
GOUGH: Well, in this case - in this case, the Cobb County District Attorney's Office represents the victim and their family in this case, and they are well represented.
CUOMO: They represent the people and they are advocates for the rights of the victim, you know that and I feel like that takes me to my third point, which is. Why are you trying to make this so intensely personal about Ahmaud Arbery. Why bring up Black pastors and their presence and what you know, is a public accommodation being this courtroom, and you don't have a say and who comes in who doesn't come and observe? Why make that point? Why do you think about pastors in terms of Black and White?
GOUGH: I don't think of pastors in terms of Black and White. And let's be clear, if you were in that courtroom sitting in my chair representing Roddie Bryan, you'd be doing exactly the same.
CUOMO: No, I wouldn't.
GOUGH: So if it helps - if it helps you to make that point, you can be. If you were sitting there, you'd be doing exactly the same thing.
CUOMO: No, I wouldn't.
GOUGH: As would any--
CUOMO: You know, you don't even have a right to do it.
GOUGH: --criminal defense lawyer in America.
CUOMO: No, they wouldn't. To say you can't be in the gallery.
GOUGH: Really? Well, you know--
CUOMO: To say I don't want Black people in the galleries--
GOUGH: --we keep filing motions based on the law that your - I'm sorry, I didn't say that. Though, we have no problem with Black people being in the gallery, never did, never will.
CUOMO: Black pastors.
GOUGH: Read the motions, Chris, do the homework.
CUOMO: Black pastors?
GOUGH: Millions of Americans across this country are looking to you to understand these proceedings. Why don't you take the time and actually help them? Why don't you read the motions? Why don't you read the Supreme Court cases from the United States Supreme Court that we cited. Why don't you--
CUOMO: Let's say - let's say that people (Crosstalk)
GOUGH: Explain to the American people why the opinion of Supreme Court justices doesn't matter in this case.
GOUGH: Because we think it does.
CUOMO: Counselor, saying a lot is not the same as saying something that matters. You can flood the zone, the interview doesn't end.
GOUGH: We can agree on that.
CUOMO: What I'm saying is this, there is no Supreme Court case that says you can make a determination of who can be in the gallery watching a trial on the basis of race, you and I both know that. You said, Black pastors - you confused--
GOUGH: But the Supreme Court has said - (Crosstalk)
CUOMO: --you confused Jesse Jackson with Al Sharpton. And it seemed that a minimum of fit of ignorance, and at maximum, you making a race play in this trial, where you're not doing that?
GOUGH: Chris, you can call me - Chris, you can call me ignorant. You can call me anything you want. But I'm here representing Roddie Bryan. And I'm going to defend my client to the best of my ability. And I don't really care whether the people in the cheap seats like it or not. I'm here for one person, and that's Roddie Bryan. That's my job. And I know you respect that. And I'm sorry that we disagree on this issue. But I'm not going to back down from insisting that Roddie Ryan receive a fair trial.
And we have a judge who's working very hard to ensure that, the Cobb County DA's office is working very hard to ensure that, we have a sheriff here who's working very hard to ensure - to make the best of the difficult situation. And I hope that you can appreciate all that effort. I'm pretty sure the Arbery family appreciates those efforts to ensure that their son receives a fair trial. And I hope everyone can appreciate that.
CUOMO: Any victim of a crime is supposed to get this kind of representation. The Arberys is just getting what's do somebody--
GOUGH: Yes, sir. Yes.
CUOMO: --in this situation. And the judge felt no differently about what you said about Black pastors than I'm presenting to you right now. And I'm not calling you ignorant, I'm saying the statement was. There's a difference. But counselor, I appreciate you.
GOUGH: Chris, let me put it to you this way.
GOUGH: If - when every time a police officer is killed, we're going to allow the police department to stack the courtroom with uniformed police officers, I think, you'd agree that that would be inappropriate. Would you not?
CUOMO: I also would - I also would--
GOUGH: Would you not?
CUOMO: I don't know that it would be inappropriate. But I know it's not an analogy. Having Black pastors there to support the family, I don't think is going to have a chilling effect on a jury, nor should it. But counselor, I got to go. Well, I appreciate you taking the time.
GOUGH: Well, we - if we can we can respectfully disagree. Thank you for your time, Chris, tonight.
CUOMO: The only way to disagree is respectfully. Thank you for coming on the show. Kevin Gough, that's the counselor for Roddie Bryan.
Now, what I want to do is, let's talk to somebody else who understands the game of litigation very well, another criminal defense lawyer. What does he think of counsel's arguments? What does he think of this point?
And then we'll get to the real business. What is going to happen here? Does he believe this will be a quick deliberation? Walking up on me, might as well shake his hand. Joey Jackson, everybody when we come back.
CUOMO: Hard questions? What do you think is the Arbery murder trial a tough call for the jury? They've got to sort through a number of interlocking charges. You just heard counsel there, Kevin Gough, the attorney for William Roddie Bryan. Could his client's fate be different from the father and son who initiated the chase? Do you think any of them could go free?
Let's ask an expert Joey Jackson. I said it the other night, but I say it twice, because I mean it. I am thankful for you.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: You are a gift on and off camera.
JACKSON: I appreciate that. Thankful for you, too.
CUOMO: Let's go and reverse. What you heard from counsel, what's your take on the moves he's made here?
JACKSON: I think it's a little troubling. Look, I get, as an attorney, you have an obligation to zealously represent your client. But I think you also have an obligation to understand the facts and understand the law.
On the issue of the law. It's not about what happens outside the courtroom that's relevant. It's not about what's happening inside the gallery that's relevant. It's about or anywhere in that courtroom other than the witness stand.
He knows and understands that the jury will be instructed on that issue, not going to consider sympathy, not going to consider punishment, not going to consider what happens outside who's wearing what shirt, whose - whatever color. Consider what the witnesses say, consider what video you see, consider the evidence that comes out. And as an officer of the court, you have to know and understand that. And I get he's defending his client. There's a way to do it. I think that surpasses it, and I don't think it's appropriate. And for him to suggest to you, hey, if you're in my seat, you do the same thing. I certainly wouldn't. And, you know, I just think I'm little disappointed.
CUOMO: You've seen the Supreme Court cases, we quoted, we cited the cases there's authority. When has the Supreme Court ever said that you can make determinations about who can be in a gallery on the basis of race?
JACKSON: Not to my knowledge. The Supreme Court says you deserve a fair trial. That fair trial certainly is something that everyone's entitled to. I don't know that the fact that Jesse Jackson is present or Al Sharpton is present, or anyone else would deny your client a fair trial. I don't know that anyone protesting outside or otherwise expressing prayer or being in a vigil or anything else would deny your client a fair trial.
It's you that has the obligation as the attorney to do the trial. And on that notion, why not make an opening statement with respect to your theory of the case? Why not after every witness testify say to those witnesses, sir, you know, that my client, right, you represented this case, didn't you? You are an investigator, you investigated and you were aware that Roddie Bryan, he didn't see a gun. He didn't know that Travis had a gun. He didn't know that Greg McMichael had a rifle, et cetera. He just followed along after the fact.
And in fact, he cooperated at after the fact that what am I saying? I'm saying you give your client a fair trial, not by focusing on what the pastors do, but by focusing on your job, by having a theory, by attacking witnesses, by eliciting evidence that would be sympathetic to your client, for the jury, not by extraneous facts that have no relevance. And that's my point.
CUOMO: Well, and unlike a very good defense attorney, you left out a bad fact, which is when he was in that car, he was part of trying to stop an Ahmaud Arbery. And does that for the jury, put him in to the mix in a way where he loses the benefit of what he knew was going to happen or didn't know because he helps started.
JACKSON: So I think that there's a lot of bad facts for the defense, without question, and I think that all of them will--
CUOMO: All of them equally? You think all three will be equally--
JACKSON: I do.
CUOMO: --convicted? Not equal charges, but all convicted.
JACKSON: Yes. And here's why I do, right, and I say this objectively, not as a matter of the community - you know--
CUOMO: I'm also, that we don't want it. Its heard to read. It's hard to read.
JACKSON: Always is. Jurors are going to do their job. But what is my concern if I'm the defense? Number one, the Citizen's Arrest Law. The Citizen's Arrest Law speaks to the crime. What crime was committed that you can point to, what was committed in your presence? What did you have immediate knowledge of?
Don't talk to me about burglaries in October? Don't talk to me about boats and ships, and what happened weeks before. That day, did you have any evidence that Ahmaud Arbery was doing anything, much less of felony? So that would concern me? Because if you don't implicate and use that statute, then how do you justify detaining him, stopping him, and otherwise killing him? If you don't have that, then you don't have self-defense.
But here's another thing that should concern them greatly. What should concern them is the issue of self-defense. If you're the initial aggressor, you don't get the benefit. If you're engaging in a felony, like aggravated assault, like false imprisonment, you don't get the benefit of self-defense. And in the event, you're provoking, because you're pointing a rifle, you don't get that benefit. So that concerns me - last point.
And that is on the issue of Roddie Bryan, he's not similarly situated. He's in a different place. I think in my view, everyone does things differently, Chris, no one has a monopoly on wisdom. But if you're going to attack and say he's not similar to the other two, and you're going to attack the McMichaels, do that. Make that your theory from the outset, raise doubt on that issue, don't wait for your closing statement. Waive your opening statement and not cross examine on the basis of your theory.
I think if that were done, there could be a different outcome. And there could still be a different outcome. But I just think not enough was done to raise the specter of doubt as to any of those defendants. I see a verdict tomorrow.
CUOMO: Well, I'll tell you what, that will make sense if for no other reason, you just said as cogent as it all was, Thanksgiving is coming, and people want to get home. They want this off their plate, so they can have something else on their plate. And I'm not saying that out of disrespect, it's just human nature. People want to get on with their lives as well even on the jury.
JACKSON: That's a fact, Friday verdicts. And tomorrow is not Friday, but it's Friday.
CUOMO: That's right.
JACKSON: Right? It's a holiday. Christopher, Happy Thanksgiving.
CUOMO: I'm thankful for you.
JACKSON: Thank you.
CUOMO: Joey Jackson, ladies and gentlemen, the OAO, the one and only. It is Thanksgiving Eve, and I'm taking advantage of it. It is my favorite holiday. In fact, it's really the only one I care about. On the religious side I like Easter. But for these types of occasions, nothing beats Thanksgiving.
Many count their blessings. I go bigger than that. I'm thankful for all of it - the good, the bad, the ugly, why? A lot of reasons. But the one that matters most, it was cemented to me by the life example of our next guest, one of the most special people I have come across in this world. The bird is back and she ain't no Turkey. Nightbirde is here.
The America's Got Talent superstar. She left that competition to take on a much more important one against cancer. She's got a big update. I just want to see your face. I just want to hear her words, and I know you do too. Next.
CUOMO: You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy. Wow. People say a lot of things, but few walk the walk like our next guest. You know her and I know her as Nightbirde.
Now, you'll remember she's the courageous woman, who while battling cancer, went to audition for America's Got Talent earlier this year. And all alone she did it. Not only did she do it, not only was she impressive, she earned the Golden Buzzer from Simon Cowell for her performance. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIGHTBIRDE: It's OK. It's OK. It's OK. It's OK. If you're lost. We're all a little lost and it's all right. It's all right to be lost sometimes.
SIMON COWELL, ENGLISH TV PERSONALITY: Your voice is stunning. Absolutely stunning! And I, I totally agree with what Howie said. You know, about authenticity. There was something about that song and the way you just almost casually told us what you've been going through.
NIGHTBIRDE: You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore, before you decide to be happy.
COWELL: I'm not going to give you a yes. I'm going to give you something else now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, I have to tell you, everybody loses it when they see that moment. My phone is blowing up right now when people heard that Nightbirde is on. I got to tell you, that's not the moment that gets me when it comes to this young lady. It is all about - the moment that gets me is, every time I talk to her and I hear in her voice how much fight there is, no matter what she's against.
She left that competition to fight cancer. And that's why she's an inspiration to me, and to so many millions around the world. Her words hit like a heart punch. Powerful truth about finding the resolve to fight no matter what you're against. She wrote recently, "I'm not sure if I know how to fight for my life, but I do know how to open my eyes in the morning, and that's not nothing. I don't know exactly what it sounds like when God talks, but I recently started remembering my name because I heard myself whisper, 'Jane, you're so loved'."
Indeed she is. And for all the right reasons, and she joins us now. There she is. Hello, Nightbirde.
Hi, Chris. It's so good to be here. It's good to see you.
CUOMO: So what do you want them to know? How are we doing kid?
JANE 'NIGHTBIRDE' MARCZEWSKI, MUSICAL ARTIST: Well, you know what, I wish we would get a faster miracle. But, it's happening slow, little by little, day by day, I'm getting a little better.
I did get a scan result back and a bunch of stuff that was there has now disappeared. And a bunch of the really big stuff has gone down in size. So we're on the way. How do you feel about it all?
MARCZEWSKI: My goodness, it's a lot to process, the highest highs and lowest lows of my life all happening at the same time. And all of this playing out in front of millions of people is really - it's a lot to carry, but it's also such an honor, because the whole world is carrying their own - whole world is carrying their own - their own weight, and we got to learn how to do this together.
CUOMO: Are you comfortable enough with the struggle to continue to dare to dream about what happens next?
MARCZEWSKI: Yes, Yes, I think life sometimes is a game of choose your pain. So the pain of continuing or the pain of giving up. So the pain of continuing, there's a lot more uncertainty that way, but I think the pain of giving up is so much worse.
CUOMO: You said - you wrote about dreams of singing to the whole world at once. You said this is the dream. I'm in it. It's happening now. How so?
MARCZEWSKI: Well, it's funny, because I've dreamed about singing my entire life, you know, and I dreamed about growing up and dazzling the world and being this amazing singer, and being so beautiful and confident and brave and all of that. And I didn't think that it would play out this way.
I think a lot of us don't realize that we're in the middle of a dream come true, because life is so imperfect, and there's so much hard stuff, and unfair stuff mixed in. Sometimes we don't recognize that our dreams are happening and miracles are happening. And the miracle that I wanted is that I could skip the pain, you know. That this would go away super-fast. Or maybe - that it wouldn't have happened at all.
And I didn't get that miracle, not yet. But there's 100 other miracles. And if I only take the ones that taste sweet, I won't get any miracles at all. So I'm grateful for what I have.
CUOMO: Well, you should be tasting whatever you can, because you need to gain weight. That's what I talk to you about most of the time. So simple my medical practice is, keep eating. What does Thanksgiving mean for you this year?
MARCZEWSKI: Well, every year that - I every year that I get to gather around the table with people that I love, it's such an honor and a gift. I shouldn't - I should not be alive right now, based on the usual statistics, so every year when this time comes around, it's special for the whole family.
CUOMO: Have you gotten used to how heavy the truth that is? Right? Everybody talks about life and death over the most trivial things. That is totally normal. And for you to say I'm not supposed to be alive right now, is a 100 percent accurate statement.
CUOMO: How do you deal with that emotionally?
MARCZEWSKI: Well, I think every moment that we breathe is a miracle and a gift. Most people don't know what a joy it is to wake up in the morning without pain, because they've just experienced maybe a normal life. But those like me who face death on a day to day basis, sometimes I think we're the luckier ones because we get to really see the sweetness of life. And the miracle is to love and be loved and to dream and to have a chance at a future.
I don't know if I'll ever get used to the weight of that, or I don't know if I'll ever - I don't know if it'll ever become casual to me again, just to live.
CUOMO: You got big things happening. I'm compromised, because I know things and I can't say things. But that's on you. But you are writing, and you are planning on putting together what really will be a magnum opus. Every songwriter and singer has their whole life to do their first album, and then you're probably could like four months into your second one.
But you are working on what you hope is really the collection of songs you've ever - always wanted to write. How's the writing, and how strong is the voice?
MARCZEWSKI: I'm so proud of everything I'm writing right now. Again, pain can be a gift, because it really, really drives you to deep places to dig for gold. Sometimes you got to dig really, really deep for gold. And that's what I've been doing. I'm really proud of the stuff that I'm working on. And the voice is getting there. Today, I actually sing a lot. And even though it's not up to 100 percent, I'm just so happy to be singing, I could not stop smiling today.
CUOMO: I love it. I love it. I love all of it. I love the way you approach the struggle. I look forward to talking to you. I love checking in with you. And I love what you mean to this audience and every audience that's lucky enough to be exposed to what you're about - your art, but also the art that you put in to your everyday life.
You're a special kid, I tell you that all the time. Because I mean it. And I am thankful for you Nightbirde. I will speak to you on Thanksgiving, I'm sure. But I am thankful for you and that you've been a gift to my audience of perspective. Thank you.
MARCZEWSKI: Well, thank you. It's amazing to share this with the world and with your audience. I'm honored.
CUOMO: The honor is mine to be sure. And you have big news coming for people and I can't wait for you to break that, and I will be with you in the spirit and body all along the way. Have a happy Thanksgiving. I'll talk to you soon.
MARCZEWSKI: You too. Bye.
CUOMO: Nightbirde. We'll be right back.
CUOMO: News on a story that's no longer in the headlines, but you can forget. Brian Laundrie, even in death, he took something away from the family of Gabby Petito, the opportunity for answers.
A Florida Medical Examiner did confirm, though, that Laundrie shot himself in the head. That's how he died. Gabby's family is now left without any good options for piecing together the chain of events and decisions that robbed them of the 22 year old Long Island, New York native.
They're left with fractions, little bits of moments, partial understanding. Their daughter crying in the back of a police car in Utah, interspersed with snapshots that she shared with the world on social media and she and Brian documented during their cross country van trip.
In a statement the Petito family says, "It's been asked not to make any comments, because the FBI is still investigating and the U.S. Attorney's Office has not determined if anyone will be charged."
Now, we'll have to see if that investigation can go any further. And if there are any clues in the evidence found like a notebook that was near Brian Laundrie's body. Or if the obvious evolves into a reality, which is Laundrie's parents, what do they know about what happened to Gabby Petito? The idea that their son said, nothing to them is almost incredible at this point. Why else would they have gone quiet on the Petito family? Why else would they not speak to authorities? Today's announcement answers one final question. But it leaves many more unanswerable.
Now to the harsh realities of this world, let's cast our eyes above to the possibilities of the great beyond. There is a spacecraft that's going to be launched tonight on a collision course with an asteroid. I know, I saw the movie too. But this is the real deal, man.
It's the first ever mission, something right out of sci-fi, but it's all too real. And I have the man who can explain it better than anybody. Here is he's such a big deal. He's got three names. Neil deGrasse Tyson, next.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, DIRECTOR, HAYDEN PLANETARIUM: Ready for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT: What is this thing?
TRUMAN: It's an asteroid, sir.
PRESIDENT: How big are we talking?
SCIENTIST: Sir, our best estimate is 97.6 billion--
TRUMAN: It's the size of Texas, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT: What kind of damage--
TRUMAN: Damage? Total, sir. It's what we call a global killer. The end of mankind. Doesn't matter where it hits, nothing would survive, not even bacteria.
PRESIDENT: My God. What do we do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: I'll tell you what we do now. There's 23 years since that classic scene in Armageddon, right? NASA is finally answering the question for real - or at least it's trying to. They're going to launch a first test mission to deflect an asteroid. How? You think I know? I have this animation for you that they're sending.
But much more importantly, I have Neil deGrasse Tyson with us. Nobody understands the science, but also the practicality of this the way Neil does, and it's a pleasure to have you, as always.
TYSON: Good to be back on.
CUOMO: Pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, pleasure. So-- TYSON: Well, I can't believe you lead off with Armageddon, which violates more laws of physics per minute than any other movie ever made.
CUOMO: You know what, we are all too dumb to know that, except for you, Neil. Oh, go ruining the dream.
TYSON: OK, sorry.
CUOMO: That's why people don't know about this.
TYSON: It's a reality check on our pop culture.
CUOMO: I'm just upset. It was Bruce Willis. I don't like to see him go down on anything. All right, so let's talk about what this is with the man himself right now. Here we are. OK. So what did they find that gives us such a great test subject here?
TYSON: So what we have going on here is we have the inner solar system - Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. And then we have Jupiter, and all these - this like spirograph. Oops. That's alive.
CUOMO: Don't worry about it.
TYSON: It's alive.
CUOMO: Don't worry about it. Don't worry, you're only a physicist.
TYSON: No, this is cool.
CUOMO: Don't be afraid of it. Knock yourself out.
TYSON: There we go. OK.
CUOMO: Its 30 years to school--
TYSON: --(Crosstalk) we're live here. OK. So, this is the asteroid belt. And so it's a region have countless - hundreds of thousands of asteroids, each with its own independent orbit around the Sun. Some of them cross Earth orbit, or come very near to us, and we call those NEOs - Near Earth Objects.
And so one of them comes near enough to Earth to do this redirect experiment. Otherwise you waste a lot of energy going so far out into the Solar System. It's a Dart mission. The double asteroid redirect test? So let's look at it here.
CUOMO: Yes, good. This is it. The next one we'll say what that is, the Dart mission. All right. So this is what they found. They identified this and why do you - why are you so appreciative of what they found here as a model for this experiment?
TYSON: Yes, it's a great question. Because if you just tried to deflect a random asteroid, so many things influence an asteroid - solar heating on one side, versus another, it could hit another object. Whereas this is a double asteroid. I mean, we think of Earth and the Moon as a binary system. This is a binary asteroid. There's a big one, and there's a little one.
And so we have their orbital parameters, perfectly understood. So that if you go in and just deflect the moon, even by the tiniest amount, you can compare the future data with your data from the past, and you can accurately measure what effect your mission had, on the trajectory of that moon.
CUOMO: Just because I am always worried about myself, is there any remote possibility that they're tracking right now about something that may - this may happen? Or is this just to know what you could do?
TYSON: It's a test. It's a test of, can we change the orbit of an asteroid. And here's what you have to keep in mind, we cross the street all the time, the same streets where trucks are there, you don't get hit. Why? Because you're crossing at a different time.
So the three ways you can deflect an asteroid, one of them, you can slow it down. That way you pass before it hits, OK. You can speed it up, it passes in front of you, before you hit - before it hits. Or you can redirect it into some other - some other point. And so - or you can do it Bruce Willis style, and blow the sucker out of the sky.
But at least in America, we're good at blowing stuff up and less good at knowing where the pieces go, so better just deflect. And so what this is going to do, I think on your next - your next one, you get to see. Yes, here comes.
So here's the Moon, there's the main asteroid, and here's the Dart mission. It deploys a little camera and it slams into it. That will slow it down.
CUOMO: And you said, this is about the size of the Statue of Liberty?
TYSON: Yes, about the size. It slows it down, and it falls into a lower orbit around the main asteroid. And that way we can measure it. By the way, it's going to slow it down by a half a millimeter per second. So that doesn't sound like much. But it's a total slowing down of the object, and that accumulates over time.
CUOMO: How do they know that's what's going to happen?
TYSON: Well, because we know the mass of it. And we know the math that the thing that its hitting is 1000 pounds, and it's going to hit it at about four miles per second.
CUOMO: If you know all this--
TYSON: Well, you can calculate that.
CUOMO: Big brain, then why do we have to do all this?
TYSON: It's always good to test. So a couple of things. We don't fully know the structure of the asteroid. Suppose it hits it, and it breaks off a piece. And that flies off in another direction, yet the main piece was hardly touched, or hardly influenced by it. So the integrity - the structural integrity of the asteroid, is a very important thing to know, before you start slamming into it, believing you're going to change the direction of the entire object.
CUOMO: This is very cool. And we - they - how long will it take to get the footage back to know what happened?
TYSON: Yes, so we have to go greet it. All right, as it comes near the Earth, this would - makes this a relatively fast and affordable mission. These asteroids happen to have orbits that come near the Earth. So we will intersect it as it nears the Earth.
Just remember, we are launching this tonight at 1:20 a.m. Eastern time, right. And it we are getting launched on a moving platform the Earth, to intersect the orbiting object of another moving platform. It will intersect it in October - early October 2022.
But keep in mind, just so we can do a shout out to the orbital dynamicists. This is going to a point in space where this asteroid will be in October in order for it to hit it. So it's not aimed for it right now. They both are on a convergent trajectory. So all this was going on, it's a marvelous, beautiful ballet.
CUOMO: And might save the world someday.
TYSON: Choreographed by the forces of gravity. And once we know how to do this, and we can do it well, and do it better, we'll say, if we see an asteroid coming and we know it early enough, you can deflect it by the tiniest amount. And that little amount, that little drift you put in, and if you get it early enough, will accumulate and take it out of harm's way.
And I expect this, if we're good at this, we can assure our own survival relative to what happened to the dinosaurs long into the future. Because you know if the dinosaurs had a space program, they still be here. And we would continue to be hors d'oeuvres running under T-Rex's feet.
CUOMO: You would find a way to be - fine, listen. Let me tell you everybody loves Neil deGrasse Tyson. He has been educating me for 20 years. I learned about global warming. He don't even remember in the natural museum - The Museum of Natural History, Neil deGrasse Tyson helped me with a special at ABC News and told me, if you're going to learn about one thing in science for your job, learn about climate change.
And here you are today. Thank you so much. You're right once again and your gift to the audience.
CUOMO: I'm thankful for you this Thanksgiving.
TYSON: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. We'll be right back with the upgrade. That was perfect.
CUOMO: Thanks for watching. I know I speak for the entire team when I say this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for you. Thank you for the opportunity of doing the job. Thank you for the good, the bad, the ugly. All of it helps us get to a better place, and that's what it's all about at the end of the day.
Enjoy your family. Enjoy everything you can. Be thankful.