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Don Lemon Tonight

Crumbley Parents Facing Four Charges; A $10,000 Reward Offered By U.S. Marshals; A Challenge For Prosecutor To Pass A Case; Alec Baldwin Facing Backlash. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON CNN HOST (on camera): So, this is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you for so much joining us. We appreciate it.

This is our breaking news. The FBI, U.S. Marshals, and sheriffs, deputies in Michigan actively searching at this hour for the parents of the 15-year-old high school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley.

James and Jennifer Crumbley now facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Attorneys for the couple claimed hours ago they left town after the shooting for their own safety. But tonight, signs the couple took steps to help them remain out of sight if - if they want, taking thousands of dollars out of an ATM and turning off their cellphones.

And even with this horrific mass shooting taking a bizarre legal twist the community in Oxford, Michigan gathering tonight to remember what gathers most. And that's the four innocent teenagers killed and the seven people wounded.

We are covering all angles of the story at this hour for you. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us now from Pontiac, Michigan with the very latest on this. Good evening to you, Shimon.

The community is on edge, there was a vigil tonight at the high school that resulted in scenes of panic. What happened there?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Don, this is really tough to watch. There was this vigil, family members, people from the high school, everyone gathered for the first time able to be together. And someone passed out and everyone panicked because they started calling for help and people just started running, thinking the worst.

Take a look of some of the scenes and what was going on there just a short time ago.


UNKNOWN: What is it?

UNKNOWN: Stay calm. Stay calm. Stay calm. Stay calm, everyone. It's all right. It's OK.

UNKNOWN: Relax. Relax.

UNKNOWN: It's all right. It's OK relax. Relax everyone. It's OK. More will be hurt by running. Somebody just went down. Relax. Slow down.

UNKNOWN: It's OK, everyone.


UNKNOWN: Please, go back to your places, everyone is OK. Everyone is OK.

UNKNOWN: Relax, please.


PROKUPECZ (on camera): And Don, really, this shows you just the fear, right, that still exists in this community. And probably will exist for a long time. You hear the sheriff there telling people to relax, but that's what's going on right now. People are really, really afraid.

LEMON: Yes. And tension. And they are angry as well that something like this could happen. Shimon, you know, it's been a day of wild developments in the story. In this case, really. There's now a man hunt for the parents of the accused shooter. Talk to us about what's happening here?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So, they are still on the run. What's really interesting is that there was this lawyer who claims to represent them. She told us in a statement that they weren't going anywhere. That they were going to come back, that they just left for security reasons but they were planning to be back here today at 4 o'clock for an arraignment.

It's now 11 o'clock and they're nowhere to be found. And as you've said the U.S. marshals and the fugitive task force are out searching them, for them. But there is a lot of back and forth here as to whose fault this is. Is it the sheriff's fault? Is it the prosecutor's fault?

Take a listen to some of what the prosecutors said explaining some of what happened here.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: The prosecutor's office doesn't arrest people. We were in constant communication with the sheriff's office. Our prosecutors that were leading the case and they were surveilling them and we were told they were surveilling them. We were getting updates about the cell phone pinging. And they -- they conveyed to us that they were confident where the two people were.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PROKUPECZ (on camera): And Don, lastly also, what happened was

several hours ago I spoke to the undersheriff here. He said the last time they talked to the lawyers for these parents was around 4 o'clock.


And at that time the lawyer said they had not spoken to their clients. So, of course now the big question is, where are they? There are certainly does not appear any, any reason to believe that at this point that the parents intend to surrender, Don.

LEMON: It is really it is so bizarre. I mean what happened to you there at this evening with the parents, and of course this horrific, horrific shooting with four -- with teenagers dead.

Thank you, Shimon. I appreciate it.

I want to bring in CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe. And Casey Jordan as well join -- they both join us.

Good evening to both of you.

Andrew, the Crumbleys withdrew $4,000 today reportedly from the ATM. About a half hour from Oxford. How much will that help law enforcement track them down? It's interesting, $4,000. I mean, that's a lot of money to be able to withdraw from an ATM. There's usually a limit.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is. And obviously those limits can be different for different people. I'm not sure how they work that out. But, you know, these are exactly the sorts of things that the FBI and the marshals and the sheriffs are looking at right now. So, you are going to take every single fact you know about these people.

Former addresses, colleagues, neighbors, friends, family members, e- mail addresses, phone numbers, known credit cards, ATM cards, all of that can be helpful when you are trying to find someone who's on the run. It's very, very hard, Don, to be on the run.

It takes an enormous amount of money and it usually takes someone who has the cunning and the street smarts to be able to pull it off. It doesn't look like these two people fit that description, so I would expect that they will be caught, you know, sometime in the not-too- distant future.

But law enforcements have got their work cut out for them now because this is a situation that really never should have happened.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, Casey, I've got to ask you, there were so many red flags outlined by the prosecutor. Listen and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCDONALD: The morning of the shooting the next day, Ethan Crumbley's teacher came upon a note on Ethan's desk which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cell phone.

The note contains the following. A drawing of a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words, quote, "the thoughts won't stop, help me," end quote. In another section of the note with the drawing of the bullet with the following words above that bullet, quote, "blood everywhere," end quote.

Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of the person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, quote, "my life is useless," end quote. And to the right of that are the words, quote, "the world is dead," end quote.


LEMON (on camera): It's like, Casey, it is like he was coming apart and this is playing out in front of everyone's eyes. What gives here?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, I'm very happy that we now have the details of what exactly prompted that meeting with the parents. When we were chatting last night, Don, we didn't know what exactly the leakage was. But now that we have these details, we know that the school acted properly. They called the mother, who, as we know did not actually return their calls. She got their voice mail and instead she texted her son, LOL, don't get caught next time.

And then the following day when this notebook the drawings that help me, blood everywhere, the teacher was so disturbed she took a picture of it, which was an important evidence, because then, he scrolled it out. But the most important thing we learn from this meeting with the prosecutor this morning is that the parents attended that meeting.

They resisted taking their son home with them at that moment. Even though they were informed they must get him mental health treatment within 48 hours. Instead, they wanted to leave him in school and they did not ask if he had a gun or alert the school officials. That he had just bought a gun four days before and he had that gun potentially in his possession.

And that is why all the attention is on these parents. And a very rare and unprecedented charge four counts of involuntary manslaughter for these parents, basically for being a party to the crime and not acting responsibly, acting recklessly when they knew he could have the gun.

LEMON: What do you think of these charges, Andrew, that are unprecedented? Talk to me about that.

MCCABE: Yes, I totally agree with Casey, it's unprecedented. We don't typically see this. I mean, there are definitely -- there is a history of cases that have brought against parents who were, you know, in the home with a gun out that was maybe falling to the hands of a young child who uses to hurt themselves or someone else. So, we have seen parents held responsible in those fact patterns. But

never on a fact pattern like this in the wake of a mass shooting or school shooting.


But you have to say after listening to what we learn from the prosecution today on these facts it's absolutely called for. I think it's still going to be a hard case to prove reckless homicide or negligent homicide is always a tough thing to prove to a jury.

But you really have to go forward with facts like these because it's such a complete offense to the community and to the victims in this horrible crime.

LEMON: Here's a breaking news on this case. You can see it there on your screen. U.S. marshals announcing a $10,000 reward to find the parents of the suspected school shooter. And there is there wanted poster right there for one of the parents for Jennifer, for both of them. For Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley, the father and mother of Ethan Crumbley.

So, listen, how, in the, Casey, so you've covered these cases a lot, how much does it help?

JORDAN: The reward it helps. Not because anyone is going to drop a dime for $10,000, but because it keeps their faces in the news. And we don't know. I mean, they're not cooperating, in spite of what their lawyer might say they have not heard from them since yesterday. They did not stick around town to turn themselves in as a lawyer said. So they are on the lamb. Let's not sugarcoat this.

And they could be anywhere, hence the $4,000. Now we can't trace them so easily as Andrew would point out with their credit cards, and they're staying at hotels are going through E-ZPass or something like that.

So, their intent, I think is really clear. Turning off their phones, getting $4,000 in cash, probably heading for the Canadian border, or as you pointed out, the comfort zones. But the more eyes that are looking for them the more likely they are either be caught or turn themselves in. I hope they turn themselves in. That would be the best thing for them at this juncture.

LEMON: It's -- it would be, you know, it's really interesting for parents to do that to a kid because this kid is alone now. Obviously, well, accused in the shootings and now no parents. Right? It's a tragedy all the way around. And then you have people in the community who are wondering, where are these parents who the prosecutors says have culpability in the killing of their kids and the injuring of others here?

Andrew, I'll give you the last word on this.

MCCABE: Don, I think the only thing I can say at this point is, it's about time. You know, we have got to do something to try to stem this tide of violence on our schools and if holding parents responsible for the actions of their kids when they get their hands on guns and weapons that they should not have access to, then so be it.

So, we'll see how this case plays out, but I think it's a highly significant step in the interest of safeguarding our kids. So, we'll see where it goes.

LEMON: It's bizarre and sad all the way around. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.


JORDAN: It sends the right message.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. Thank you.

JORDAN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you very much. Joining me now Michigan Democratic Senator -- State Senator Mallory McMorrow. Thank you, State Senator, for joining us. I really appreciate it. How are you?

STATE SEN. MALLORY MCMORROW (D-MI): Don, thanks for having me. Having -- having a tough week.

LEMON: Yes. Parents, teachers, siblings in mourning over the death of the four students. And to add to that pain the parents of the suspected shooter are missing tonight. There is a whole lot of pain going on in the community but there's also anger as well. Talk to me about what's happening here and what you're -- what you're hearing?

MCMORROW: It is. You know, this is something that the community has been crying out for, for decades now. It's been 22 years since Columbine, and even when I was running for office for the first time in 2018 for the seat, it was students after Parkland who requested meetings with me and were demanding that I do more.

Because we have an entire generation of kids now who isn't looking at if this is going to happen but when. And this never should have happened and the reality is these kids are right. It happened and it happened here.

LEMON: You tweeted out, State Senator, that you heard from a teacher who survived the shooting. What did she tell you?

MCMORROW: Yes. This is a teacher who lives in my community and I just got a message from her the day after who said in talking with some of her colleagues that they need direction and that she needs to do something more tangible than cry. And they are ready to act. Parents are ready to act. Other kids are ready to act.

And you know, I think right now, we all have to support the families and the friends of the kids but we also have to take action now.

LEMON: What is that action? What are they ready to act upon?


MCMORROW: We need to pass gun legislation here in Michigan. We have introduced, and by we, I mean, Democratic colleagues of mine, dozens of bills over years. One that would have required that parents secure firearms and create a felony if that weapon gets into the hands of minors. Which is not something that we currently have on the books.

And I'm very appreciative of the prosecutor for pursuing involuntary manslaughter. But that is something that maybe could have persuaded these parents to lock a gun away instead of putting it in a drawer along with dozens of other bills that the Republican led legislature has just refused to take up.

LEMON: Let's talk about the school now. Because there is a whole lot of blame, right, to go around. Obviously mostly on the suspect and the parents here. Right? But should the school have been required to get law enforcement involved when they observe Ethan searching for ammunition on his phone? And then later saw the drawing of the semiautomatic weapon and a billet with blood everywhere?

MCMORROW: Yes. I think anytime you go through these situations there are going to be layers of issues that need to be addressed. But we also have, you know, most schools in my district in around metro Detroit have been closed since the shooting happened because of copycat threats.

And our staff and administrators are bombarded and stressed out over the past year. The reality is even if all of these things had happened, if they had had the meeting, if they have seen these drawings, if he was searching for ammunition, the simple truth is if he didn't have access to that gun he wouldn't have been able to kill four students.

LEMON: Right. You are right. State Senator McMorrow, thank you. Again, I'm really sorry this is happening in your community. And I appreciate you joining us to help your community and the country get through it. Thanks so much.

MCMORROW: Don, thank you for covering it.

LEMON: Here is our breaking news. The manhunt going on right now for the parents of the Michigan shooting suspect. And new disturbing evidence today about what happened in the days before the killing of four teenagers in the school where there is supposed to be safe.

And now the marshals announcing that there is a reward, a $10,000 reward for finding those parents who are now on the run.



LEMON (on camera): We are learning now details tonight about the horrific school shooting this week in Michigan as U.S. marshals late tonight announced a reward of up to $10,000 to find the suspects parents. They are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Now prosecutors laying out chilling red flags in the days before shots

rang out at Oxford -- in Oxford High School.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more now.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Before the gunfire, the terrified students, police, and ambulances there were warnings.

MCDONALD: There was absolute reason to believe that this individual was dangerous and disturbed.

FOREMAN: Authorities suggest the immediate trouble starts November 26th when James Crumbley takes his 15-year-old son Ethan to buy a Sig Sauer 9-millimeter pistol at a local gun shop. Although the dad fills out the paperwork, the son posts the picture on social media.

MCDONALD: Along with the caption just got my new beauty today.


FOREMAN: The sheriff says by law the gun can't actually belong to the boy, raising key questions.

BOUCHARD: Was it given to him? Was it allowed to be picked up and taken freely at his discretion? Or was it stolen?

FOREMAN: November 27th, prosecutors say the mother, Jennifer post mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present. November 29th, a teacher reports the boy is searching for ammunition on his cell phone in class. Officials say the school calls and e-mails the mom, no response.

But Jennifer texts her son, LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught. The next day another teacher sees the boy with a note.

MCDONALD: A drawing of a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words, quote, "the thoughts won't stop. Help me," end quote. In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, quote, "blood everywhere," end quote.

FOREMAN: There is also, prosecutors say, a drawing of a bloody body, the words, "my life is useless. The world is dead." Shortly after 10 a.m. officials say his parents come to a meeting at the school are told their son must get counseling. But they resist taking him out of school. Don't mention the new gun and the boy returns to class. His parents leave.

BOUCHARD: We have to believe that he had the weapon either on his person in his backpack or somewhere secreted in that travel route.

FOREMAN: Just before 1 p.m. investigators say Ethan goes into a bathroom with his backpack, comes out gun in hand firing. Four students were killed, seven wounded. He is apprehended minutes later. At 1.22 officials say, his mother text, Ethan, don't do it. His father --

MCDONALD: Upon hearing that there was an active shooter on that day, Mr. Crumbley draws straight home to his home to look for his gun.

FOREMAN: One thirty-seven, the dad calls 911 to report his gun missing and to say his son may be involved. But in the wake of the note just hours before the violence, officials clearly thought there should have been more.

MCDONALD: The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable. And I think it's criminal.



FOREMAN (on camera): Of course, there are questions about whether school officials acted properly, but the prosecutor says simply anyone who saw the warning signs who could have stopped this should have done something. Don?

LEMON: Tom Foreman, thank you very much. Joining me now Dave Aronberg. He is the state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida. Dave, thank you for joining us this evening. I wish we were talking about something better. But my gosh, what an awful story.

You know, parents are rarely charged in school shootings. Do you believe four counts of involuntary manslaughter can be proven given the allegations the prosecutor laid out?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good evening, Don. This case presents a set of egregious facts that really don't exist elsewhere. That's why you haven't seen this kind of charge previously. Because here you have parents who bought their child, 15- year-old, a gun.

And then they were told by the school administrators that he not only had search for ammunition on a cell phone during class. I mean, the mother seems to support that, thought it was a joke. But also, was drawing these disturbing drawings showing bloodshed and use of gun and these terrible words. Like the thoughts won't stop. Help me.

And even after that, they did not bother to tell the school that their son had a gun. They didn't check the son's backpack. They didn't even take the son home. They just let him go back to class.

So, when you talk about involuntary manslaughter, you're talking about recklessness that is an amount of recklessness that is disregard for the safety of others. So, this could be what that statute means.

LEMON: You know, Dave, most people will be outraged with the parents for call to the school after the teacher reported that incredibly disturbing drawing that you just mentioned. The parents knew that they had provided him access to a gun as you said. But apparently, didn't take any steps to secure the weapon. And then wanted him to stay in school. If proven, if that is proving, what does that mean legally for this case?

ARONBERG: Well, first for the parents, even though there is no obligation that they have to lock down the gun, in the state of Michigan they can still be criminally charged for recklessness. They allowed their son to get access to the gun knowing that he had clearly some issues.

As far as the school is concerned, I don't think anyone at the school is going to be charged criminally. Because according to the reports no one at the school knew that he had a gun or an access to a gun. But I'm sure they will be sued civilly. Because civil negligence is a much lower standard. And you only need to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence.

And think of what the school administrators did. The counselors, the administrators, they told the parents to make sure he gets counseling within 48 hours. And then they allowed him to go back into the classroom. I mean, that is why people are so upset right now. And that's why I think they're going to be sued civilly.

LEMON: You know, the prosecutor also told Wolf Blitzer that when the mother and son were texting about the ammo search, she wrote, did you tell him about the gun? What kind of evidence does that make?

ARONBERG: Well, when you have that kind of evidence, I mean that shows that people knew that there was a gun involved that he had access to the gun. That it's not a surprise. See, when it comes to recklessness you have to show that you acted with a disregard for the safety of others.

It's like when someone shoots into the air on New Years' Eve doesn't intend to kill someone but when the bullet comes down and kill someone. So, when you say the words like hey, did you tell them about the gum? Well, that shows that you had a level of knowledge that this kid had access to a deadly weapon.

This is someone who is a ticking time bomb. And the parents were alerted to it, the school knew about it. The difference between the parents and the school though, is that the parents knew he had a gun, the school did not. That's the difference in my mind between criminal charges and potential civil liability.

LEMON: How do you see this playing out? Do you think that these charges will stick, Dave?


ARONBERG: Well, first of all -- I think that it will be up to a jury of course. But I think that these are good charges. From what I see, it's all about the facts. It doesn't matter that this had never been charged before, Don. It's just what are the facts of this case.

And these are unusually egregious charges -- excuse me, egregious facts. And I think they lead to these charges and could lead to a conviction. The problem is the burden is so high. You've got to prove this case is beyond any reasonable doubt.

Now the first though, is to find the parents. I think they will be found. And then they risk having their pretrial release revoked. Which means that when they get arrested the judge could make sure that they spend every day between now and trial behind bars.


LEMON: Dave Aronberg, thank you very much. I appreciate it, sir.

ARONBERG: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: What Alec Baldwin says about the deadly shooting on the "Rust" film set getting a lot of push back. Did he raise even more questions about what happened?



LEMON (on camera): Alec Baldwin speaking out last night for the first time since the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead. Baldwin addressing the two civil suits against him. Listen.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: There are two people that filed civil suits so far. And one of them walked up to me outside the church probably within 15 or 20 minutes of the event itself and put their hand on me and said, you realize that you have no responsibility for what's happened here, don't you?


BALDWIN: No comment. One of those two and now that person is suing me. Now, again, they're entitled to change their mind. More importantly, they're entitled to sit down with a lawyer who will convince them to change their mind.

Serge, for example -- this is the only thing I'll say about someone specifically. He was her dear friend. He was a very close friend of hers and that he's chosen to file his lawsuit in advance of Matthews --

STEPHANOPOULOS: When there is only so much money.


LEMON (on camera): Joining me now, Sharon Waxman, the founder and CEO of The Wrap, and CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin. She is also the author of "Awakening, Ladies, Leadership and the Lies We Have Seen -- Lies We Have Been," right?


LEMON: Told. Yes. There was a word missing there. Thank you, Areva. I appreciate you finishing that for me. Good evening to both of you. Sharon, I want to start with you.


LEMON: Last we spoke, right after the interview aired, what was the response -- what has the response been like today? Did Alec Baldwin make his case convincingly or did he make things worse? What do you think?

WAXMAN: Things are pretty mixed I have to say. I mean, some people were calling his tears crocodile tears. I watched that. That didn't strike me at all as crocodile tears. I'm sure he seemed really, really torn up by this. But a lot of people pointed out that he didn't really take responsibility. I think that's the part that strikes people as somewhat, I dare say, arrogant, or you know, entitled as a Hollywood celebrity.

And I'm sure Alec Baldwin, who is a polarizing figure in the best of times, felt frustrated and he didn't get to tell his side of the story, that he's convinced that he didn't pull the trigger, which a whole bunch of gun experts, including the guy on your show last night kind of laughed at.

So, he wanted to say his truth and also expressed remorse for the death of Halyna, but he didn't take responsibility. He said someone is responsible but it isn't me. That was sort of the quote that resonated with people.

So, I think that, look, he's very good and he's very used to speaking in the court of public opinion and I've heard a lot of lawyers comment today that from a legal standpoint it wasn't a good idea. But I'm sure he felt that he needed to make his case to the public and fill that void that's been out there since the shooting as far as his version of the story goes.

LEMON: Look, I agree. Given the circumstances, I mean, it's got to be hard for anyone. Obviously, it's hard it's hard for Halyna Hutchins and her family -- Halyna Hutchins' family, her husband and their children and their family.

But, you know, being the person who was there, who took her life, it's unimaginable how Alec Baldwin feels at this moment. And I do think that it was sincere, you know, the emotion, at least. Whether it was a good idea, not my call. I'll leave that up to people like Areva Martin who I'm going to ask the next question to.

He's already being sued, Areva, by two crew members, gaffer Serge Svetnoy, and script supervisor, Mami Mitchell or Mami Mitchell -- excuse me. He said that he was -- he's told that he was likely -- highly unlikely that he's going to face any sort of criminal charges. But could he be in some trouble here?

MARTIN: Yes, Don. I'm not sure who told him that and I'm not sure how reliable that information is. The only person that, you know, is responsible for that decision is the prosecutor and the last words we heard from that prosecutor is that this is an open investigation and no one is off the table. And she didn't say no one except Alec Baldwin.

So, I'm not sure he's getting good information. And I understand his desire to want to get his story out, you know, but quite frankly, this isn't about him. Someone was killed on a movie set. You shouldn't die on a movie set. You shouldn't die when you go to work to make a movie.

It's an open investigation that's taking place. That investigation is both criminal and we know there are civil lawsuits that have been filed and others that are likely to be filed. So, I just think there was no win for him in trying to get his story out, specifically if he wasn't going to accept full responsibility. This notion that he didn't pull the trigger, I think for a lot of people they found that to be an offensive way to describe this horrific tragedy that happened on a movie set.

LEMON: Let me -- I want to get this in really quickly before we run out of time. The D.A. of Santa Fe, New Mexico releasing a statement.


Here's what it says, my office is exploring various legal theories at the time -- at the time. Everyone involved in the handling and the use of firearms on the set had a duty to behave in a manner such that the safety of others was protected, and it appears that certain actions and inactions contributed to this outcome. What do you say to that, Areva?

MARTIN: Everyone. That's what I've been saying, Don. You and I have been having this conversation since this happened and I've been, you know, consistent in saying everyone. She's not exempted him from potential criminal liability and he just needs to be patient and let this process plays.

So far, he's already expressed his remorse to the family. He's tweeted about it. You know, he's put a statement out to the public about how horrible he feels and everyone knows that he feels horrible about it.


MARTIN: But this is a legal case. This is a criminal investigation and the investigators need to be able to do their job.

LEMON: Yes. That's all we have time for with the breaking news earlier. Thank you very much, Sharon and Areva. I'll see you both soon. Appreciate it.

Ahmaud Arbery's family might never had gotten justice if his murder case hadn't fallen into the right hands. Now, the former district attorney who initially looked at the case is facing charges for how she handled it.


LEMON (on camera): More than a week after a jury found three men guilty in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the focus is turning to the former district attorney facing charges related to her handling of the investigation.

Jackie Johnson has been voted out of office and indicted on charges of violating her oath as well as hindering law enforcement. Now, Arbery's killers aren't ones facing the prospect of prison.

Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An hour Gregory McMichael, his son, Travis' neighbor, William Bryan Jr. chased down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery on a Sunday in South Georgia, Greg McMichael was on the phone.

GREG MCMICHAEL, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S FATHER: Jackie, this is Greg. Can you call me as soon as you possibly can?

SAVIDGE: Calling Jackie Johnson, the local district attorney.

MCMICHAEL: My friend and I have been involved in a shooting. And I need some advice right away.

SAVIDGE: For years, McMichael worked with Johnson, investigating cases for the Brunswick D.A.'s office. Now, as he stood with Arbery's blood literally on his hands, McMichael made sure police knew about the connection.

MCMICHAEL: I was chief investigator with the D.A.'s office for 23 years.


MCMICHAEL: So, I know what you got to do.

SAVIDGE: No one was arrested that day or for months to come. The Georgia attorney general contents Johnson's influence on the case not only delayed justice for the Arbery's family but also nearly denied it. In September, more than a year after Arbery's death, the grand jury indicted Johnson for violating her oath of office and obstructing police. Arbery's family applauded the move in a virtual press conference.

WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: She didn't pull the trigger, but she is just as much to hold accountable as the three guys who actually did this to Ahmaud.

SAVIDGE: Johnson turned herself in at the Glen County Jail but was free in less than an hour and didn't have to pay any bond. According to the indictment, Johnson directed police not to arrest Travis McMichael that day even though he shot at an unarmed Arbery three times point blank with a shotgun, hitting him twice.

The indictment also says that after recusing herself, Johnson recommended another district attorney, George Barnhill, never disclosing she'd already talked to Barnhill about the case. Barnhill would send a letter to police, advising the shooting was justified, saying, we do not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties.

That could have been the end of the case if not for one thing. The public released more than two months later of the cell phone video showing Arbery's pursuit and murder, outraging a nation. Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested within days.

CNN has made numerous attempts to contact Johnson or her legal representation for comment without response. Johnson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and defended her actions, including during a virtual debate when she was running for reelection.

JACKIE JACKSON, FORMER BRUNSWICK DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I'm sorry that from the very beginning a lie was told about how my office handled that case. That case is a terrible tragedy for our community and it's a tragedy for the family. I'm sorry about how things happened. I'm sorry that a lie got started and I could not turn it back.

SAVIDGE: Voters didn't buy it. After 10 years in office, Johnson lost the election. Now, there is one top prosecutor prepares for a prosecution like none she's ever faced before, her own.


SAVIDGE (on camera): The next legal step for Jackie Johnson would be an arraignment but no court date has been set for that yet. If she were to be found guilty of the most serious charge, which is violating her oath of office, she could face anywhere from one to five years in prison. Don?

LEMON: Wow. Martin, thank you. We'll be right back.



LEMON (on camera): The Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2021 have been announced, one of whom will be named the CNN Hero of the Year by you. So, in the last week of voting I want to reintroduce you to another of our incredible top 10 heroes -- well, top 10 heroes. It's correct.

Dr. Patricia Gordon left her Beverly Hills practice to begin her mission to eradicate cervical cancer globally. Watch this.


UNKNOWN: Free cervical cancer screening. Screen and treat for free of charge.

PATRICIA GORDON, CNN HEROES TOP 10 FINALIST: There are 350,000 women dying a painful, undignified death globally, and it's almost 100 percent preventable.


So, this is everything you need to screen and treat a patient. We bring in these big suitcases. We teach local health care professionals the see and treat technique. At the end of week of training, we packed up that suitcase and give it to the nurses that are going back to their clinics.

Within a day, we can literally save 20, 30 lives depending on the number of women we screen. But there were 8,000 women alive and well and able to provide for their families. It's honestly the most rewarding thing that I could have ever imagined in my life. I think I'm the luckiest doctor that ever lived.


LEMON (on camera): Go to right now to vote for her for our CNN Hero of the Year, or any of your favorite top 10 heroes.

Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.