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At This Hour

Jury Deliberations Enter Second Day In Arbery Murder Trial; Eight-Year-Old Boy Dies In Christmas Parade Tragedy In Wisconsin; Americans Set Out For Busiest Travel Days Of Pandemic; China Accuses U.S. Of Sending "Wrong Signals" To Taiwan; U.S. Embassy Warns Of Unusual Russian Military Activity Near Ukraine. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 11:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Deliberations enter a second day in the Ahmaud Arbery trial. Will jurors convict or acquit the three men accused of killing him?

Holiday rush. Tens of millions of Americans will travel this Thanksgiving as travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels.

And Thanksgiving safety. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging again. We have tips on how to stay safe as you gather for this holiday.

We do begin with the jury in the trial of the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. They have resumed their deliberations for a second day. And just a short time ago, that jury which is made up of 11 white people and one black juror, asked to see video of the shooting and also to hear the 911 call that one of the defendants made before Arbery was shot.

Now each of the defendants, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory, and neighbor William Bryan face nine separate counts.

CNN's national senior correspondent Sara Sidner is live at the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia.

Sara, what can you tell us about today's request by the jury?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is clear this jury is taking their role as jurors seriously. They want to look at the evidence. And when jurors do that, they are talking about the very crux really of what happened here in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery because the videos that they asked for, they asked for the version of the video that is very high def, they can see everything and they asked for it to be slowed down.

There was a version of that video that was slowed down. They also wanted to hear that 911 call from Greg McMichael as Arbery was being chased by all three men. And what you hear -- you know, when you hear this from the jury, they wanted to see each of these videos three times. So clearly this is really, really important evidence to them, as you might imagine. It is the incident all pretty much caught on video.

And so clearly they are looking at the incident itself and trying to figure out what to do. We should also mention that each of these men face several murder charges as well as aggravated assault and false imprisonment. They are accused of using their two vehicles, their two trucks in entrapping basically Ahmaud Arbery on that day in February and then Travis McMichael shot him with his shotgun.

Now the defense is saying that they were trying to make a citizen's arrest. They believe that Arbery had committed a crime, particularly burglary, although it was pointed out by the prosecution that they never saw a crime being committed by Arbery on that day and that is part of what the law says you must do before you can affect a citizen's arrest.

For their part they're saying, the was self-defense, that this was self-defense. That there was a fight over the weapon. The prosecution saying, look, these men tried to act as police officers, as law enforcement instead of just waiting for law enforcement to show up. They took it into their own hands and they did so illegally and murdered Arbery.

I do want to point out that there has been a lot of racial over and undertones in this trial throughout, and the family really feeling that in a very strong way. We heard from Al Sharpton who has been in and out of Brunswick and with the family. Here is what he had to say about what he heard in court after a comment by one of the defense attorneys about Ahmaud Arbery's appearance, talking about his long, dirty toenails.


REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They sat and heard some of the most racist statements made in a court of law that I've heard in the decades I've been out here.


SHARPTON: I've sat in many courtrooms. I've never sat in a courtroom where a victim was akin to an animal talking about dirty toenails, like he was not even a human.


SIDNER: So the dehumanization of Ahmaud Arbery who was shot and killed back in February 2020 has been a real pain for the family, his mother running out of court once she heard the attorneys say those words -- guys.

MARQUARDT: All right. Sara, we'll certainly come back to you if there are developments. Sara Sidner there in Brunswick, Georgia, outside the courthouse. Thanks very much.

Joining me now to discuss all this are Joey Jackson, a CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, as well as Shan Wu, he's a defense attorney and federal prosecutor. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me today. Joey, I want to

first go to you. As you heard Sara there saying, the jury requested to see that video, that moment that Ahmaud Arbery was killed. They wanted to watch it three times. They also want to listen to the 911 call.

What does that tell you about what this jury is thinking on this second day of deliberations?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. A couple of things, Alex. It's good to be with you and Shan. Listen, when you look at the actual tape, what does that do? It takes you to the actual event.


And when you're looking at that, you're looking at the issue of self- defense. And so you wonder whether or not the jurors are focusing in on, there's been a lot of discussion about whether the self-defense was justified or not. Right? That's a major basis. When you look at that, you examine, the jurors asking, was there provocation on the part of the defendants? In the event there was provocation, guess what? You're not entitled to self-defense.

Were the defendants committing any felony, aggravated assault, right, when you use your trucks in order to assault Mr. Arbery, that would be a violation and therefore you would not, in commission of that felony or false imprisonment, get the benefit of self-defense. Then finally, if you're the initial aggressor, you wouldn't get that.

Also, Alex, I'm kind of thinking that if they got even to the issue of self-defense, whether it means the jurors have concluded that this citizen's arrest law would be applicable, the prosecutors spent a whole lot of time saying there's no applicability, there was no crime committed that they had immediate knowledge of, and certainly one not committed in their presence. So why would they're even chasing him.

It wasn't a felony which would allow them to chase him. So as I assess and look at that, you have to wonder whether they're focusing in on that issue and when they do, last point, is it as to one particular defendant? Is it as to another defendant? Have they made a decision as to one and are parsing out what the conduct was of the others? But they're honing in on the central issue of the case, that's for sure.

MARQUARDT: Shan, I want to ask you a little bit more about this 911 call. The jury asking to hear part of that call that was made by the defendant Greg McMichael. He's the father, he was in the bed of that pickup truck. But the jury that only wanted to hear the very beginning of the call, where the dispatcher asks what's your emergency and you can hear Greg McMichael saying, quote, "There's a black male running down the street."

Why would they want to listen to just that part?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, that really goes to the heart of the case, doesn't it? Because the whole point here is what motive do they have to think there's a crime? What motive might they have in terms of racial. That was a very powerful moment because the dispatcher saying what's your emergency, the emergency? Black guy running down the street. Not really an emergency, racial motive there.

So it's very important that they're looking at that. I have to say I agree with Joey, it's an interesting juxtaposition here. If I were the prosecutor, one, I don't like holiday verdicts as a prosecutor, people are feeling kind of generous, they're feeling pressured. But if I'm the prosecution here, I don't want them looking at that last moment where there's this struggle and encounter because that does go toward self-defense.

I want them looking at what led up to that. I would like them to be asking to review the evidence about how they followed him, how they boxed him in, the earlier encounters, because that's the big picture of them being the aggressors, planning to find him, to hunt him down, to trap him that way. But, on the other hand, when you juxtapose that moment, which is self-defense with the 911 tape, you know, they're looking at the two crucial moments in the case.

Also, I would say, Joey's analysis of how they're deliberating, I would concur with it. It looks like they're being pretty methodical because for them they have to think about self-defense obviously. And it might be a good sign for the prosecution that they're looking so intently at that because it may mean that, look, obviously there's a death here or shooting death. They may have already decided that they've met elements for some of those felonies and they need to really dive in and see if self-defense overcomes that or not.

MARQUARDT: Yes, Joey, I do want to ask you to sort of get inside the minds of these jurors because this is a complicated verdict sheet. You have these three defendants, nine counts for each defendant, three lesser charges for William Bryan. Each obviously had distinct roles in this killing. How do you think this jury is working through this very long list of charges?

JACKSON: You know, it's interesting -- great question, Alex -- because the prosecutor really laid out the narrative that she would want them to buy into. And when I say that, she was really a professor when she gave her closing argument as well as her rebuttal. And if you're looking at it, and you're a juror, from her perspective she went through the elements. Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you what citizen's arrest means. Do you see a crime?

Right, to Shan's point, they're not looking at things leading up to this which leads me to conclude, you know, did they conclude that citizen's arrest was applicable here such that they're honing in on the specifics of self-defense? If they'd gotten to that part, then you're going to ask questions, at the time that there was this, you know, fatal shot, was there immediate fear of death or serious bodily injury?

Were the shots fired proportionate to any threat posed? Did in fact the defendant at that time act reasonably under those circumstances? And then, to your last point, Alex, to your level of complication, even if they make those conclusions, now they have to go back and say, well, wait a minute, he might have been in immediate fear at the time and he might have in fact acted proportionately. But wasn't he the aggressor? And didn't he provoked the attack? And

wasn't he engaged in other felonies such that we shouldn't give him self-defense? So a lot of questions to be asked if they're following those jury instructions, that of course we believe they're doing just that.

MARQUARDT: All right, gentlemen, we've got to leave it there.

Joey Jackson, Shan Wu, thank you so much for breaking that down. I know you'll be watching this very closely in these final hours or days of this trial.

JACKSON: Thanks, Alex.


MARQUARDT: And developing this morning, an 8-year-old boy is now the sixth person to die after an SUV plowed through a crowded Christmas parade in Wisconsin. The suspect, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks is being held on $5 million bail, he faces five counts of first-degree intentional homicide. More charges are expected.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with the latest.

Adrienne, what have you learned about this young victim, the sixth person to die in this horrific incident?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, that child was 8-year-old Jackson Sparks. According to a gofundme page, surgeons operated on his brain Sunday. And on that gofundme page, his family wrote they needed a miracle. But yesterday we learned Jackson was the sixth person to die. His brother is 12 years old and was also injured. His brother, Tucker, according to the family, has skull fractures but was expected to be released from the hospital this week.

We learned about Jackson's death on the same day 39-year-old Darrell Brooks was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide. The charges will likely -- well, we know the charges will increase because of this sixth death. We also learned not 48 people were injured, but at least 62 people were injured. And the 39-year-old suspect Brooks, his bond was set at $5 million.

And the prosecuting attorney said it was extraordinarily high, but she spent about 10 minutes in court outlining Brooks' extensive criminal history, citing those concerns and those reasons for the high bond -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, our thoughts of course are with the families of that young boy and everybody else who's affected in that horrible tragedy.

Thanks so much to Adrienne Broaddus there in Waukesha.

Coming up, holiday travel rebounding to pre-pandemic levels. Tens of millions will hit the roads and head into the skies to celebrate Thanksgiving. We've got live reports on what to expect. That's coming up next.



MARQUARDT: The Thanksgiving travel rush is now well under way. Millions of Americans are piling into planes, trains and automobiles to spend the holidays with loved ones.

Holiday travel is expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. AAA is estimating that 53.4 million people will be on the move this weekend. That's 13 percent higher than last year. You'll also be shelling out a lot more to fill up at the pump with gas prices the highest levels in a decade.

CNN's Pete Muntean is live on I-95 in Aberdeen, Maryland, with more -- Pete.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Alex, you know, we've been talking a lot about air travel and AAA predicts about 20 million people will take to the skies for the Thanksgiving holiday. But what's so big are the numbers today when it comes to driving. AAA predicts the vast majority of people will hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday. 48 million people will travel by car.

And what's so interesting is that those numbers really aren't that far off from where we were back in 2019 before the pandemic. This projection actually only about 3 percent lower than the actual numbers we saw two years ago. What's also so interesting here is that folks are really going to have to swallow the cost of all this. The price of a gallon of gas on average has hit a seven-year high, $3.40 on average across the country.

That's $1.30 higher than it was this time last year. So the bottom line is that the traffic is back, the cost is back, and AAA says that people are still going to drive. Here is what travelers are telling us.


JOSE, CALIFORNIA DRIVER: They're too expensive for me, but I was running out of gas. I should have chose wisely, but it was last minute. So I had to do it. I had no choice.

ALANA JACKSON, CALIFORNIA DRIVER: I planned to fly, but you've got to pay it, I suppose. There's nothing you can really do about it. It's definitely affecting my pocketbook. So I guess I just have to work harder to get the money to get to go where I need to go.


MUNTEAN: Worst time to drive according to AAA noon to 8:00 p.m. today. If you're going to hit the road, wait, according to AAA until after 9:00 p.m. tonight. The Maryland Transportation Authority runs the Maryland house rest stop here off of I-95 and Aberdeen between Wilmington and Baltimore. It seems like traffic is picking up now. And they're saying you might want to wait until after 11:00 p.m. tonight if you pass through this major thoroughfare up and down 95 on the East Coast -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: So hit the road late or early. Pete Muntean, thanks very much.

And from those busy roads where Pete is to the skies. TSA is expecting to screen more than 20 million air passengers at airports all across the country over this long holiday weekend. It is the biggest test for airlines since the start of the pandemic as they face staffing shortages and waves of unruly passengers.

We find CNN's Dianne Gallagher live at Charlotte's International Airport with more.

Dianne, what are you seeing on this Thanksgiving eve?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Alex, it looks a lot more like travel in 2019 did than what we've seen over the past two years.


At this point there's a bit of a lull in these lines, but in part because the airport keeps opening up new security lines moving passengers around saying that they were ready for this increase in holiday travel.

On Friday TSA said it was the busiest air travel day since March of 2020. And look, the numbers have continued looking more like 2019 numbers since. On both Monday and Tuesday TSA screened more than two million passengers. That's about 90 percent of what they screened on the same day two years ago which, of course, for a lot of people in the airport today is the last time they were at an airport.

And so there's a bit of rustiness for a lot of travelers right now, something that airlines are saying, look, go ahead and arrive even earlier than you think you need to. Arrive two hours earlier, make sure that you are patient and make sure that you wear a mask because you have to wear them inside airports and you have to wear them inside airplanes. And you mentioned those unruly passengers.

That is something they're trying to avoid, especially with some of the staffing shortages and issues we've seen with cancellations last month and the month before -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Travel rustiness, but certainly some relief for millions of people that they're getting back to normal and heading to see loved ones over Thanksgiving.

Dianne Gallagher, in Charlotte, thanks very much.

And developing this morning, San Francisco's district attorney has charged nine people with felonies in a series of brazen smash-and-grab robberies at a Louis Vuitton store and other luxury shops in the city's Union Square. Police say that some 40 looters snatched whatever they could before jumping into several cars waiting outside and taking off with more than $1 million worth of merchandise.

This wave of thefts is happening in other cities as well. At least 20 people broke into a Nordstrom in Los Angeles on Monday night, smashing the window with a sledgehammer. Three suspects are now in police custody after a high-speed chase with police.

And take a look at this. In Oak Brook, Illinois, video capturing at least 14 people rushing into another Louis Vuitton store and making out with more than $100,000 of merchandise there. Unbelievable video there.

All right, well, coming up, a new warning to Americans from the U.S. embassy in Ukraine as fears mount over a possible Russian invasion. Those details next.



MARQUARDT: All right, well, also developing this morning, China is accusing the U.S. of, quote, "sending wrong signals" after President Joe Biden invited Taiwan to a democracy summit next month. Tensions between the United States and China remain strained.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: I'm Steven Jiang in Beijing. Just over a week after the virtual summit between President Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Taiwan has again become a source of contention between the two governments with Beijing accusing Washington of, quote-unquote, "providing a platform" and sending a wrong signal to so-called separatist forces on the island after the White House invited Taiwan to attend its inaugural Summit for Democracy scheduled to take place virtually early next month.

China has expressed its firm opposition to this move with a Foreign Ministry spokesperson saying Taiwan has no status under international law other than being a part of China, even though the two sides have been governed separately for over seven decades since the end of the Chinese civil war, and the ruling Communist Party here has never controlled the island.

Tension has been rising across the Taiwan strait for months with the Chinese military sending a large number of warplanes into airspace around the island and with U.S. officials warning a rising threat of a Chinese attack against the democratic island.

Now unsurprisingly Taiwan's government has welcomed the invitation saying it recognizes the island's status as a promoter of human rights and democracy, values that President Biden has vowed to put at the forefront of his foreign policy agenda as he tries to block the rise of authoritarianism around the world, a trend very much led by China.


MARQUARDT: All right. Our thanks to Steven Jiang there in Beijing. The Biden administration also keeping a close eye on what's happening

in Ukraine with the U.S. embassy in Ukraine today issued a security alert warning American citizens of what they called unusual military activity by Russia near the border between those two countries. Now it comes as Russian troops have been amassing and concerns growing of a potential invasion by Russia into Ukraine.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Kiev with more on these new developments.

Fred, you've been spending time with the Ukrainian military. What are they telling you? What are you seeing?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're extremely concerned, Alex, about the situation in the east of Ukraine, and not just in the east of the country, but also the northeast of the country, where you have the border at Belarus. Of course we have to keep in mind that Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko also an ally of Vladimir Putin. But then specifically also in the southeast of the country. Of course near Crimea and the Sea of Asaf.

We were actually able to get on a patrol with the Ukrainian Navy in the Sea of Asaf on an artillery boat and they said of course they understand that down there at this point they are outgunned.