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Prosecutors Detail Stunning Evidence Against Brian Walshe; Looming Battle in Congress as U.S. to Hit Debt Limit Tomorrow; 14 Dead, Dozens Hurt in Helicopter Crash Near a Kindergarten in Ukraine. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 18, 2023 - 10:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Just after the top of the hour, I'm John Berman.


Just moments ago, prosecutors laid out, frankly, a shocking case against Brian Walshe in court during his arraignment. They say the Massachusetts husband charged with the murder of his still missing wife, Ana, searching online for things like best way to dispose of a body and can you be charged with murder without a body.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, that's really just the beginning. Some of his searching were just extraordinarily gruesome.

Prosecutors also say evidence of blood was found in Walshe's car, and that bought items, including tarps, protective suits, mops and cleaning supplies.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is outside the courthouse in Quincy, Massachusetts, where Brian Walshe was just arraigned. This was an extraordinary level of detail, Brynn, some of which we just never heard anything like it before.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, just stunning detail of the actions, prosecutors say, Brian Walshe took after his wife, Ana, disappeared, not only after but also before. Let's get to that frenzy, guys, of Google searches prosecutors say he did in the hours after January -- of January 1st, a number of Google searches on his son's iPad. Take a listen to just some of them.


LYNN BELAND, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF NORFOLK COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS: At 4:55 A.M. on January 1st, he searched, how long before a body starts to smell, at 4:58 A.M., how to stop a body from decomposing. At a5:20 A.M., he searched, how to mound a body. At 5:47 A.M., ten ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to. At 6:25 A.M. on the 1st, how long for someone to be missing to inherit. At 6:45 A.M. on the 1st, can you to throw away body parts.


GINGRAS: And prosecutors say those Google searches continued into the following day. They also laid out even more evidence, saying they had surveillance video of Brian Walshe or someone that appeared to look like Brian Walshe throwing away heavy garbage bags at a number of different dumpster locations. And they were able to locate a number of personal items in the trash collection center that belonged to Ana Walshe, very descriptive about what they found, including her COVID-19 card, a necklace, a Prada purse. They said there were DNA traces on a number of items that was both Ana Walshe or Brian or both.

And, again, Google searches were also, according to prosecutors, prior to January 1st, they said Brian Walshe was Googling on December 27th which state is best to divorce -- is the best place to have a divorce. So, at that point, obviously, too emotive there.

Guys, my colleague, Jason Carroll, he was inside the courtroom. He said that Brian Walshe essentially was just stoic through all of this, didn't really react to all of this evidence that was being laid out in front of him. He's now being held without bond. And, of course, he is now going to be in course in February. We, of course, will continue to follow this, guys.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. There was a live camera there. So, we saw the stone face as all of these details were laid out, just gruesome and jaw- dropping. Brynn Gingras, thank you.

Well, let's discuss all of this with Defense and Trial Attorney Misty Marris. So, Misty, before we heard all of these revelations, the big question we had asked is how can you charge someone with murder and improperly moving a body without that body? And now we know. This is a plethora of detail that they laid out, that the searches, the gruesome searches he made. What stood out to you the most?

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It was so much to unpack because the searches really gave investigators a blueprint of what to look for and where to look. So, what stood out to me, the first thing that you have to do in a no-body murder case is prove the person is indeed deceased. So, here, we have all of those messages about disposal of a body, then we have the forensic evidence, now we have Brian Walshe in the evidence where that evidence and blood evidence, hacksaw, where that was found.

That's how prosecutors were able to put together that picture, also that all of those messages regarding how do you dismember a body, how long will it take a body to disintegrate, formaldehyde, all of that, that is where the prosecutors are getting that aspect of dismemberment, moving the body improperly.


So, we see how it all played out.

And another interesting aspect, we're seeing motive. We're seeing motive come together from those messages. A Google search, where is the best place to get divorced on December 27th. Later, how long does somebody have to be missing in order to collect an inheritance. The story is really coming together and those Google searching, they were essential to putting together the pieces.

BERMAN: So, it is interesting in terms of what was found in dumpsters. He visited several dumpsters, they say, around Southeastern Massachusetts. Some of the items he had placed in dumpsters, they say, had been destroyed or incinerated. That could be -- and the prosecutors seemed to lay this out there, this could be, they think, maybe the body itself. What they did find was some of the tools and they had blood with DNA on it. What rules, if any, exist in the prosecutor's case? Does the absence of a body harm their case?

MARRIS: Well, absence of a body is always going to be a hurdle, and because the body tells the story. It tells the where, the when and the how. It's the single best piece of evidence for prosecutor to say establish that a murder occurred. However, in this particular case, now we have items that can be directly linked back to Ana in that dumpster.

What prosecutors are going to have to show without a body is that a human being could not have survived whatever happened at the location in that basement, that the body parts are incinerated, that there was an actual death that occurred. And that's why we saw linking where that evidence was back to Brian Walshe being in the area linked back to the messages.

So, yes, the answer is there's always going to be a problem for prosecutors with no body, but with the advancement in forensics, it's not an impossible hurdle.

GOLODRYGA: Just unbelievable detail. Quickly, if I can get you to just weigh in on one last question. Without the body, though, I mean, clearly, this guy is not a genius in covering his tracks, but he did mislead investigators long enough that we believe the body had been incinerated. Does that make it harder for them given those few days that he was misleading and lying to them?

MARRIS: It is more difficult, because now investigators have lost days where they could have identified additional evidence to link him to the murder and, in fact, prove that a murder occurred. So, it's a hurdle, but the messages, that really closes the gap there, because it tells the story and it links all of that forensic evidence. It gives a motive, which is something we did not necessarily expect to hear today, in writing from the defendant. So, only time will tell how that plays out, but I think right now we have a strong circumstantial case.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Misty, thank you.

MARRIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, the White House and House Republicans are gearing up for a fight as the U.S. is set to hit the $31.4 trillion borrowing cap tomorrow. That is the debt ceiling. With me now is Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, he is a member of the Budget Appropriations and Foreign Relations Committee. Good morning, Senator, nice to see you.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Good morning, John. Great to be with you.

BERMAN: So, yesterday, on the debt ceiling, you said there will be no negotiations over the debt ceiling, paying our bills on time. If there's not going to be any negotiation, how's there going to be an agreement to raise it?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, John, we cannot negotiate over whether the United States pays its bills on time. At the end of the day, we have always paid our bills. And if we stop doing that, you're going to have an economic catastrophe.

And so what we're saying is that House Republicans don't get to demand that we enact their right-wing agenda in exchange for them agreeing to do what we all should do, which is pay our bills on time. I think you're going to hear in the coming weeks and months about the discharge petition in the House, looking for a few House Republicans, the reasonable Republicans, to join with Democrats to get this done.

BERMAN: Aside from a discharge petition, and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, that's a legislative maneuver to get around the idea of getting it on the floor to speaker, aside from that, how would you convince them to vote to raise it without a negotiation?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we're going to rely on the American people and small businesses and everybody else in the country, which really is all of us, to remind them of the catastrophic consequences of being reckless and refusing to vote to increase the debt ceiling.

Again, I think as your viewers have learned over the years, we're talking about paying bills that are already due and owed.


And you and I, if we woke up this morning saying we're not going to pay our mortgage or we're not going to pay our car payment, there would be consequences. And if the United States wakes up one day and says, we're not going to pay our bills on time, it's a meltdown for the economy.

And so I think as the clock ticks, Republicans in the House are going to have to face a moment of reckoning. Do they really want to be responsible for the meltdown of the American economy and all the fallout for working people throughout the United States.

BERMAN: But you really just think that this is going to change their mind? I mean, have you met them?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, they're very far out there, there's no doubt about it. And now they're signing a bunch of them to the oversight committee, but we don't need a lot. Because the margins are so tight in the House, we just need a handful of House Republicans to do the right thing and sign a discharge petition and avoid a default. So, that is the path forward if Speaker McCarthy and others are not going to do the rational thing, the right thing for the country, then we're just hoping for a few. We're hoping there are a few, John, Republicans who don't want the United States to default on its debt for the first time in our history.

BERMAN: And just to be clear, I think you used the word, economic catastrophe. You're willing to risk that by saying, we're not going to talk at all.

VAN HOLLEN: John, we're not risking it. We're ready to vote today to lift the debt ceiling and make sure that we pay our bills on time. Secretary Yellen told us yesterday that the date is probably sometime around early June. So, we certainly have got to get our act together before then. But, no, we're willing to vote today to do the right thing, to prevent any kind of economic catastrophe.

What Republicans are saying, I just want everyone to understand, is that you have to enact our right-wing agenda. We don't know if they're going to be demanding cuts to social security, Medicare, defense, non- defense, education, in exchange for doing what we all should do under our sworn responsibilities, which is to protect the country, and that, of course, includes the economy.

BERMAN: You, of course, are in the Senate now, but you're an alum of the House. I will ask you about your alma mater, as it were. You mentioned committee assignments a moment ago. George Santos, congressman from New York, who has admitted to lying about his resume, got committee assignments, small business, science, space and technology. What do you think of that?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think it's interesting that Republicans said that they were going to assign him to insignificant committees. Now, they're apparently telling all the small businessmen and women throughout the country that the Small Business Committee is an unimportant committee, and they're willing to assigned Santos there, someone who defrauded his constituents to get into Congress.

So, look, I don't think he should be in Congress, but I think it is very telling about, you know, the double talk Republicans use for small businesses, that they decided to put him on that, which they have described as an insignificant post.

BERMAN: What questions do you have for the Biden White House on the classified documents that have now been found at an office and his private residence? Have they been forthcoming enough?

VAN HOLLEN: I do, John, think they've been forthcoming. I mean, as they've discovered new documents, they have reported that, they have provided the documents to the National Archives, as they should, and I expect that they will continue to make sure that we're provided with information. Of course, now the attorney general has appointed a special counsel to look into this. So, that will be the forum for review of the president and those documents. But, again, the question is what did they do when they discovered it? And they self-reported and they did the right thing. I mean, when you look at what the former president did, it was the opposite. He didn't self-report. He took the documents. And the big issue legally has been, what did he do when the government asked for the documents back, for the unauthorized documents to come back? That's the question. In the Biden case, they decided to provide them themselves. In the case of former President Trump, he resisted all efforts to get them returned, including a subpoena. So, that's why that case is where it is right now.

BERMAN: Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland, we appreciate seeing you this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you. Thanks, John.

GOLODRYGA: And still to come this hour, top Ukrainian officials, parents and young children killed this morning when a helicopter crashed outside a kindergarten near Kyiv.


We'll take you live to the scene, next.

Plus, the man accused of being the mastermind behind shootings that targeted Democratic leaders will make his first appearance today in a New Mexico court. We'll show you the video of his interaction with one of his alleged targets.

BERMAN: A dire plea for basic necessity, the water war in Arizona, as official tried to trade the blame.



GOLODRYGA: Well, this morning, crews have ended search-and-rescue operations after a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten outside Kyiv, Ukraine, just as parents were taking their kids to school.

Here is what we know. At least 14 people are now confirmed dead, including the Ukrainian interior minister and several members of his team, along with at least one child. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko paid his respects to the victims from Davos this morning.


MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: He's a young guy, a very patriotic guy, doing a lot of things for Ukraine.

It's a big tragedy for Ukraine, for his family and also children.


BERMAN: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the incident a terrible tragedy. CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is on the ground in Brovary, in Ukraine, where this helicopter crashed. Clarissa, what have you learned about this incident?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that Ukrainian security services, the SBU, have opened what they call a pretrial investigation to try to determine what happened exactly and how it happened. But at this stage, John, I would say that there's no indication that foul play was a factor here. The weather this morning was very bad. We've spoken to people, neighbors living around here who said that the fog was so thick they couldn't even see the crash right away, they could hear it first.

We know, of course, now 14 people were killed, all nine on board, including, as you mentioned, the interior minister, his deputy, the secretary of state of the interior ministry and six others, but the others who were killed on the ground were basically parents dropping their kids off at the school. At least one child among the dead. We saw them moving the bodies out of the area, as they combed through the wreckage of the kindergarten behind me.

The search-and-rescue component of this operation is now over, but you may be able to see occasionally in the background some spotlights and stuff, because out other side of the kindergarten, where the main helicopter actually hit, they are still combing through the wreckage. We know that they do have the black box. The hope is that they will be able to get some answers from this. But the sense on the ground, I would say, is that this is just an overwhelmingly tragic event, and frankly an event Ukraine just didn't need right now in the wake of all the suffering that people here have gone through for nearly a year.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. I'm just going to say this is a tragedy on top of a daily tragedy since February 24th of last year for that country. Clarissa Ward, thank you.

Well, there is understandably an outpouring of support and condolences from leaders around the world in the wake of this tragedy.

BERMAN: We are hearing from the first lady of Ukraine who writes, quote, horrible day for Ukraine. In helicopter crash we lost the interior minister and his colleagues, but the biggest tragedy is the death of children. They have faith that as adults are able to protect them. My thoughts are with the victims' families. Wish the injured a speedy recovery.

This comes just hours before the Ukrainian president, Volodymry Zelenskyy, is set to address world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

I want to bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian. Clare, Zelenskyy, often -- whenever he speaks to anybody, calls for more support, what do you expect today?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN : You know, John, I think he is going to pick up where his wife, the first lady, left off in her critical speech to leaders gathered in Davos, where she essentially said, you are not using your influence enough to really sort of address the situation in Ukraine, to stop this war from spilling over.

This comes in a moment where we have seen in some ways the western alliance around Ukraine reinforced based on the attack in Dnipro, which is, of course, one of the deadliest for civilians in months, that we've seen promises of weapons, like Patriots coming forward, the U.K. crossing that Rubicon and being the first to pledge those battle tanks, that squadron of Challenger II tanks, all the support and outpouring that we have seen for Ukraine today.

But there is a debate now about whether this strategy is actually, Blinken put it, evolving the support to the situation on the battlefield is really enough, or should the world be getting out in front of a situation that clearly is growing worse by the day and giving Ukraine more of what it needs. The U.K.'s Challenger II tanks, for example, 14 of those and squadron. But we're talking about an 800- mile frontline. So, there's a lot of debate about whether that will really make much difference.

There are, of course, the real considerations for countries providing these weapons, what is the red line for Russia, when will they see this as an escalation and what kind of revenge could they seek for that. So, those are the considerations at the moment. But we do expect, as you say, to hear more from President Zelenskyy along the lines of his wife, that continued pitch for more support and more weapons.


GOLODRYGA: Yes. Just for perspective. I mean, the United Kingdom is offering about 14 tanks, and the Ukrainian war general says they need about 300.

But, Clare, we also know the U.S. is expected to announce once again one of its largest military aid packages just in the next few days. Tell us what we can expect to hear from the United States specifically on this ongoing request for more tanks.

SEBASTIAN: So, it's unclear at this point. As I said, the momentum seems to be towards providing Ukraine with more of what it needs. Globally, we know that, for example, there was a conversation between President Biden and Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, on Tuesday. There's a lot of pressure on Germany as well to provide Leopard II tanks, or at least allow for the re-export by other countries of those tanks.

And, of course, this is all building this week to that Friday meeting in Ramstein, in Germany, the U.S.-led contact group on Ukraine, where we expect to hear more pledges of support. But, of course, as you say, two U.S. officials are telling CNN that they expect to hear from the U.S. one of the biggest aid packages, military aid packages for Ukraine yet. We just don't know yet whether that will include battle tanks. The U.S. has already pledge infantry fighting vehicles, but whether they'll go that one step further is not yet clear. As I said, the consideration is always what will be the reaction from Moscow. They have said that, according to the British, on the British tanks, that they will burn on the battlefield. BERMAN: All right. Clare Sebastian, thank you so much for your reporting.

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