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Michigan Shooter's Mother Found Guilty; Missing Military Helicopter; DOJ Report on Biden Could Drop Soon; Swift's Eras Tour in Tokyo. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 09:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning there is a new legal precedent in Michigan, that parents of a school shooter can be held directly responsible for their child's crimes. Jennifer Crumbley was found guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the mass shooting committed by her son. Her sentencing hearing is set for April 9th. Her husband, James, goes on trial next month.

Here now, from Pontiac, Michigan, CNN's Jean Casarez, who's been there for the later stages of this trial.

Jean, and CNN actually hearing from the jury.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it's very interesting what the foreperson is saying. You know, this jury, they deliberated over ten hours. This is a community that has lived with this mass school shooting for two years now.

CNN did speak with the foreperson as she was coming out of the courthouse yesterday. And she said several things. First of all, she said that both sides were very well represented in that jury room. So, that is obvious that there were two sides to this. People for guilt, people for not guilty. We know what happened in the end. But she also said, lives were in the balance with this verdict, lives, plural, which is very interesting. And then, as to the question of, how did you reach the unanimous verdict of guilty, here's what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that really hammered it home is that she was the last adult with the gun.


CASAREZ: So, she was the last person that had the gun. Now, remember, she and Ethan went to the shooting range on Saturday, practicing with the gun. James was delivering DoorDash. So, he was not able to go. But remember that jury question they had. And it was, can we infer evidence that the prosecution did not put on about how the shooter, Ethan, got that gun. And that would have been for the day, in his backpack, for the shooting.

There is not an answer to that in the evidence at all. So, it appears as though they looked at the next-best thing, what was in the evidence, and that was Jennifer, as the adult, when they went to the shooting range that day.


BERMAN: That is really interesting to see how they process this.

And, Jean, the husband goes on trial soon, the exact same charges?

CASAREZ: Yes. Yes, absolutely. March 5th. But let's see what happens. It's in this courthouse. It's in this community. This jury has lived through the mass shooting.

John, I was in the courthouse this morning. I was talking to some people that worked there. They said that so many of the workers in the courthouse, their kids go to Oxford High School. And when this happened, that it was - it was mass confusion inside this courthouse. People were running down hallways, not knowing what to do.

So, when you think about how they all have lived with this, that emotion is still there. And the sentencing of Jennifer Crumbley, April 9th.


And Michigan law encourages victim impact statements. And that would be the families of those four young students that were gunned down by Ethan Crumbley and possibly those that were shot but survived.

BERMAN: That could be devastating.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much for being there.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John, and joining us now is CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson.

Joey, good to see you.

Let me ask your response based off of Jean's reporting there, just in terms of what the jury was thinking. The foreperson saying that it really came down to, who was the last adult with the gun and Ethan.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Rahel, it's about accountability, right? And I think the jury was focusing in on that. Remember, this was not a murder case. Murder being, it was goal, intent, objective. This is about carelessness. Involuntary manslaughter seeks to get at, right, is it foreseeable, number one, that if you act in that way and you put a gun in that child's hands, in terms of accessibility, could something like this happen? Number two, on the issue of notices to the mental health maladies of your son, what did you know or what should you have known? And so I think, ultimately, the injury concluded that the mother did not act reasonably and, as a result, said, you know what, you're going to be held accountable, and that's what they did.

SOLOMON: Implications of this seem - seem pretty massive. Talk to me about sort of the implications both for - for other parents but also for the father of the shooter.

JACKSON: Yes, you know, Rahel, that's a great question. And the reality is, before getting to the father, I think the implications on every mother and father in the country are going to be important. Why? Because this prosecutor basically said, I'm mad as heck and I'm not going to take it anymore, and decided to use this law, involuntary manslaughter, which, again, is a gross carelessness, right, were you grossly careless, to say, I'm going to criminalize your behavior if you put a gun in the wrong hands and succeeded in doing that. So, I think the deterrent value, I think the value of care and people being more reasonable and responsible. And with respect to your -- the other question, the father, James Crumbley, who's going on trial, I think it's bad news. Why? Because he is the person who purchased the weapon. He's the person who was supposed to secure the weapon. And he's the one that Jennifer Crumbley was blaming on with respect to allowing Ethan to get access to that weapon. So, it cannot look favorable for him as his trial comes along (ph).

SOLOMON: And to that point, Joey, we actually want to play for you a clip of Jennifer Crumbley when she was testifying, what she said about who sort of managed the gun in the house.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are guns your thing?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. But do you have awareness about guns within your home?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Who is responsible for storing the gun?

CRUMBLEY: My husband is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Explain why you say he's responsible for that role.

CRUMBLEY: I just didn't feel comfortable being in charge of that. It was more his thing. So, I let him handle that.


SOLOMON: So, if you're on his team, obviously this jury thought there was enough evidence to convict her. And he's going to face the same charges in a few weeks. JACKSON: That's a problem because remember what she was banking on,

Jennifer Crumbley, was the blame game, that dad was responsible for the gun. The school should have taken more activities and steps to alert her as to her son's mental health issues. The school handed him back the knapsack that had the gun. The blame, blame, blame. If you're the dad, who actually is the one responsible for this weapon, I mean you're going to have to really predicate your defense and say, you hid that weapon as well as you could. You had no idea. I just don't know, Rahel, if that works.

SOLOMON: Really quickly, Joey, likelihood of an appeal here for Jennifer?

JACKSON: I think there will certainly be an appeal. It will be predicated on a few things. I think they tried to get the testimony of Ethan Crumbley admitted. Hard to make that an appealable issue because you can't really compel testimony. Yes, he's pled guilty, but he's appealing his really verdict.

The other issue related to the sense of these records. Apparently, there were psychiatric records which would suggest that the parents didn't know. Jennifer Crumbley wanted those admitted. They were not.

And then the other issue was, she was cross-examined on being a swinger. The relevance of that. The prejudicial value of that. All of that will play big. Let's see what the appeal holds, but it absolutely will be appealed (INAUDIBLE) soon.

SOLOMON: Joey Jackson, thanks so much.

JACKSON: Thank you, Rahel.


BERMAN: All right, we are standing by for the release of the report from the special counsel investigation into President Biden's handling of classified documents. So, how will the White House respond.

Nearly 500 mudslides in Los Angeles area alone and now at least nine people have died across the state.



SOLOMON: We have some breaking news into CNN. A search is underway for a missing U.S. military helicopter in California. Five Marines were onboard.

Let's get right to CNN's Natasha Bertrand, who joins us with all the details.

And, Natasha, what more can you share with us?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Rahel, information is scarce at the moment but we are getting a new statement in from the Marines that says, quote, "the U.S. Marine Corps is searching for five U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, Third Marine Aircraft Wing." These Marines were apparently flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Creech Air Force Base, which is in Nevada, to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which is in San Diego on February 6, 2024, when the aircraft was reported overdue. Essentially, they lost contact with it and they did not recognize when it was - when it was supposed to land, it did not land when it was supposed to.

And so the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, according to this statement, is now coordinating a search and rescue effort with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the civil air patrol. And they said the most up-to-date information will be released as it comes available.


So, information kind of scarce at the moment.

We do know that they are searching for these five Marines that were onboard this helicopter. But at this point it is just not known what that helicopter's fate was and where these -- where it was last seen, Rahel. So, we'll have to just wait and see what the Marines continue to update us on with this.

SOLOMON: And, Natasha, no understanding of sort of what they were doing. I mean, obviously, that's a region that's sort of going through a lot of severe weather right now, California and Nevada. No sense of sort of what they were doing?

BERTRAND: No sense of that. I mean we do know that this particular helicopter, it is a heavy lift helicopter. It is operated by the Marine Corps pretty regularly. This is not an osprey, for example, that has been grounded following recent crashes. So, it is unclear at this point what actually led to this helicopter kind of disappearing. But we'll have to wait and see what the Marine Corps says about this.

SOLOMON: All right, Natasha Bertrand, keep us posted. Thanks so much.


BERMAN: All right, this morning we are standing by for the Justice Department to release the report by special counsel Robert Hur on President Biden's handling of classified documents. Sources say this report, it's coming soon.

Now, unlike the Trump case, criminal charges are not expected. But White House aides close to President Biden say that they are bracing for a backlash.

CNN's senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz is here with the very latest on this.

Soon, today, maybe, Katelyn?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: John, we will have to wait and see exactly when this report is released. But we are expecting the release of yet another special counsel report. This is special counsel Robert Hur, who was appointed to look into the handling of classified records that would have been in Joe Biden's possession after he left the Senate and his vice presidency, found in two locations connected to him.

Now, President Joe Biden did speak to the special council as part of the interview process for this, along with other witnesses. And so when this report is released, special counsels do have to give their findings to Congress and also to the attorney general. It will lay out the findings of what happened with these classified documents.

Very important point, though, that the sources are telling Hannah Rabinowitz, Paula Reid, Even Perez, and others on this story, that there are no criminal charges expected in this special counsel investigation. Even though a special counsel does have the power to bring criminal charges. Still, the other expectations here is that politically this report, and its release, could invite comparisons to the case against Donald Trump. The criminal case against Donald Trump related to the mishandling of classified records after he left the White House at Mar-a-Lago.

Of course, though, John, just to reiterate, there's a difference in a special counsel's report where one results in criminal cases and the other is a report of, this is the law, this is the findings, these are the findings, with no criminal charges, which is what is expected for the current president.


BERMAN: All right, waiting to read it, which we will, very closely, the minute it comes out.

Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.


SOLOMON: All right, Taylor mania has taken over Tokyo. Coming up, we are live in Japan where fans have descended from around the world for her Eras Tour.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: At least nine people have died and millions are still under widespread flood threats after a powerful storm brought days of rain, high winds and dangerous flooding to California. The worst of the rain is over, but authorities have reported nearly 500 mudslides in Los Angeles alone, with close to 70,000 people across the state still without power.

A new court filing accuses the head of the far-right cable network, One America News, of seeking more information from an anonymous friend who sent in passwords of Smartmatic employees after the 2020 election. Smartmatic, the voting machine maker, claims these e-mails are evidence of potential crime by network executives, which they deny. This is the first time the company described documents emailed to OAN as containing stolen information and stolen passwords.

And three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas is giving the gold another go. Douglas tells NBC, she is set to compete at the winter cup later this month and says she is aiming for a spot at the Paris Olympics. This month's event will be her first competition since helping the U.S. win goal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. That was, by my count, nearly eight years ago.


SOLOMON: All right, Tokyo, are you ready for it? Taylor Swift just wrapped up the first night of the Asia-Pacific leg of her record- breaking Eras Tour. Thousands of devoted fans lined up outside the Tokyo Dome yesterday for the first of four sold-out shows happening this week.

And in just four days experts expect single - that Swift could single- handedly boost Japan's entire economy.

CNN's Hanako Montgomery is in Tokyo and saw the excitement firsthand.



HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): International pop star Taylor Swift is now in Japan, kicking off the international leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour, much to her fans' delight.

CROWD (singing): And I cry like a baby coming home from the bar. Oh, I'm fine but it wasn't true.

MONTGOMERY (voice over): Amid this "Lavender Haze," Swifties are relishing this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

ANDI FACHRUL, ATTENDED ERAS TOUR: I am super excited to see her because this is actually my first time seeing her (INAUDIBLE).

MONTGOMERY: First time.

FARCHRUL: This is my first time seeing her. And, just imagine, this is the very person that I grew up with. This is the very person whose music I've been listening to since 2012.

MONTGOMERY (voice over): Other Swifties say the four concerts just aren't enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, so I quit any job when she announced this Eras Tour.

MONTGOMERY (on camera): You quit your job when she announced the Eras Tour? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did.

MONTGOMERY: Can I ask why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because last time I went to six shows on her Reputation Tour, but, yes, you know, it wasn't enough.

MONTGOMERY (voice over): Tens of thousands of fans lined up for souvenirs. As other Swifties exchanged friendship bracelets and flaunted their Eras-themed outfits.


MONTGOMERY: And Taylor Swift is bringing the fans and the big bucks to Japan. Experts that we spoke to estimate that she will generate more than 230 million U.S. dollars for her four-day concert here in Tokyo.

MONTGOMERY (voice over): As fans from South Korea, China, New Zealand, and the United States, descend upon Tokyo to see their favorite pop star. They're making the most out of their Swift-cations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've always wanted to go the Japan. So and just --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, if we're coming, make it count.


MONTGOMERY (on camera): Now, it's all fun and games when you're a Swiftie, but the billion dollar question for our billionaire, will Taylor Swift make it back in time for Super Bowl Sunday to kiss her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, from the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, I'm not a betting woman, but I think it's safe to say she is going to make it back in time for that kiss with plenty of time to spare. It does not take a time machine, just a private jet, which she does own.

And, of course, there is that time difference here that works in Swift's favor. Vegas is 17 hours behind Tokyo. So, again, Swifties, I think they can be rest assured that they will see that happily ever after on Sunday.

SOLOMON: It sounds like all of the stars aligned for the stars to kiss here.

But, Hanako, that was such an interesting piece. I have a question about the woman who quit her job. Don't you need your job to afford the tickets to see Taylor Swift so many times?

MONTGOMERY: You would assume so, right. But, you know, Kana Yishiona (ph), she told us that she had saved her money to see Taylor Swift. I mean she is an extremely dedicated fan.


MONTGOMERY: She learned English just so that she can understand Swift's music. SOLOMON: Yes, that's passion.

Hanako Montgomery, good to see you. Thank you.


BERMAN: All right, we are standing by, waiting to hear from the Israeli prime minister with new reporting on the Israeli reaction to the Hamas proposal for a ceasefire. How Israel feels about it all.

A king with a cancer diagnosis. A princess recovering from surgery. How Prince William is stepping up to keep the royal business afloat.