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Ex-Girlfriend Files $30M Lawsuit Against Tiger Woods & Trust; Official: No Charges For 6-Year-Old Accused Of Shooting Teacher; NASA Tracks Asteroid That Could Possibly Hit Earth In 2046. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 13:30   ET




KRISTIN FISHER, CNN HOST: This just into CNN's NEWSROOM. Yet another Norfolk Southern train has derailed, this one in eastern Alabama. CNN affiliate, WBMA, reports that the train has 30 cars.

This, as the CEO of the embattled rail company is on Capitol Hill testifying about the cleanup of the toxic train crash in East Palestine, Ohio, just a few weeks ago.

Well, new trouble for golf superstar, Tiger Woods. His ex-girlfriend has filed two lawsuits after what appears to be a very messy end to their six-year relationship.

Erica Herman is seeking at least $30 million. She claims that getting kicked out of Woods' home broke a verbal agreement. She's also suing to get out of a non-disclosure agreement that she signed at the beginning of their relationship.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins me now.

Jean, this is such a wild story. I mean, Herman is alleging she was first tricked into leaving the house on what she thought was a vacation and then was locked out of the house. What more can you tell us?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is according to all of the legal documents. And the legal documents say, you're right, they were in a six-year relationship and that it ended in October.

Shortly after that, she filed her first lawsuit, which was actually against the trust because it's the trust that holds and has -- owns the land, the home that she lived in with Tiger Woods.

She's alleging that, after they broke up, she had a right to stay living there, that there was an oral agreement for her to live there, a tenancy agreement, oral based, however, not in writing, she's alleging.

And that she was made to leave the house. And because of that, she is asking for actual damages in the amount in excess of $30 million. Now, she goes into an example. That she was still living in the house

and she got a call from the trustees, the representatives of the trust.

They told her, "Pack your bags. You have to take a short vacation." She did. She went to the airport.

That's when they said, "You have been locked out of the home. You are no longer welcome in the home. And because of this, we can make arrangements for you.

There were lawyers there. She didn't have her lawyers there.

We don't know the other side to all this because the defense, the - Tiger Woods, is saying this needs to be in arbitration.

But let's show everyone something that she's alleging here. Very, very serious language.

"The defendant, with the trust, elected to engage in prohibited practices, self-help, causing severe emotional damage to the plaintiff. The prohibited practices were done intentionally with premeditation and with malice aforethought."

Language you usually hear in a criminal case.

She also says, Kristin, that after she was out of the home, that they took all of her belongings out of the home. They also misappropriated $40 million in cash that she had there.

Now, Tiger Woods is saying there was no oral agreement. You were invited into the home during the relationship. You were not invited any longer when that relationship ended.

Furthermore, there's a non-disclosure agreement, and all of this should be done with confidentiality.

FISHER: Well, that non-disclosure agreement, she's also trying to get that nullified right now, as well, right?

CASAREZ: It's very interesting. She has just filed a brand-new lawsuit saying this non-disclosure agreement should be void and nullified.

She bases it on, without any explanation, the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 and the federal Speak-Out Act.

This is ironic. Because in the October case, she has to check a box, whether she was alleging any type of sexual abuse. The checkmark said "no." So this is a complete turnaround.

And Tiger Woods' people, according to legal documents, are saying there's a lot of legal maneuvering here and a lot of game playing.

FISHER: One more thing before we go, Jean, $30 million, that's a lot of money. Any idea where Herman got that number from? CASAREZ: Yes. She's saying that that is the rental reimbursement that

she would be due if she has to leave her home. In the filing, she calls it "her home" quite frequently.

And the defense is saying, this is the home that Tiger Woods still lives in with his two children.

FISHER: Wow. That's messy.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

CASAREZ: Thank you.


FISHER: We will be right back.


FISHER: Earlier this hour, President Biden arriving in Philadelphia, where he is expected to lay out his new budget plan. It'll set up a major battle with Republicans on Capitol Hill and likely will be a preview of his re-election campaign.

Biden's proposal cuts the deficit by almost $3 trillion over 10 years. It boosts Medicare, childcare and education, while also raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

But the president's plan is likely dead in the water when it reaches the GOP-controlled House. Republicans have vowed that tax increases of any kind will be blocked.


Prosecutors say a 6-year-old boy, accused of shooting his teacher, will not face criminal charges.

The shooting happened in January at Ridgeneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. The teacher was critically injured and spent more than a week in the hospital. The child is said to have a history of violence.

CNN's Brian Todd is live with more.

Brian, what are prosecutors saying as they explain this decision to not charge this 6-year-old?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristin, the commonwealth's attorney, Howard Gwynn, is saying it would basically be untenable to charge the 6-year-old boy in this case.

Mr. Gwynn had told other news outlets it'd be problematic because the child wouldn't really have the competency to understand what the charge would mean and wouldn't have the ability to assist a lawyer in the case.

Here's what Howard Gwynn told CNN affiliate, WTKR, about this.


HOWARD GWYNN, NEWPORT NEWS COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY (voice-over): After researching this issue thoroughly, we do not believe the law supports charging and convicting a 6-year-old with aggravated assault.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Are you able to say that the prosecutorial efforts are focusing on the parents?

GWYNN: Well, I have to say, the prosecutorial efforts are focused on determining what the facts are, applying those facts to the law, and determining whether we can charge anyone with a crime that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.


TODD: That's likely the next domino to fall in this case, the possible charging of this boy's parents.

We've pressed the commonwealth's attorney on this repeatedly. He has said simply that no decisions have been made on that score, that they've had a huge amount of evidence and interviews and other material to process through their attorney.

The parents told us that they kept the gun at their home secured, that the gun was secured with a safety and kept on the top shelf of the mother's bedroom closet.

The firm representing Abby Zwerner, the teacher who was shot, has told us they have no comment on the decision not to charge the child.

The attorney for the child's parents emailed us, saying the parents are continuing to cooperate with authorities - Kristin?

FISHER: Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Joey, gosh, you know, it's so rare to see children as young as 6 arrested, let alone charged. I mean, 6 years old is just so young.

What do you think about the prosecutor's decision to not press charges against the 6-year-old in this case?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Kristin, you know, I get it. The reality is that I think the prosecutor took into account really the mental state and the mind frame of a child.

If you look in general - and it's really a broader societal question that I think, that society is struggling with.

When you look at law itself, you look for precedent. What precedent is there for doing this? Right? What guidance is there?

You're in territory that, while not foreign, having occurred before, but certainly doesn't happen on a day-to-day basis, thank goodness.

But then you look at the question of, when does a child formulate the mental state? When you charge somebody in law, Kristin, what you do is you look at their mental state.

Could they formulate a mental state with respect to intending to harm someone, with respect to knowingly performing an action that they know can cause bodily harm?

When you assess that, you have to know and understand that, certainly, a child's mind operates differently than does an adult. So can you actually prove that?

Then if you look at states across the country, there's no firm answer to, what should be the age that we arrest children, that we prosecute children, that we put children in jail?

So if you look, final point, at the whole issue concerning adults and children, you see that the system for children is predicated upon rehabilitation. With adults, it's predicated on punishment.

So I get and understand the analysis that the prosecutor put forward in saying, you know what, we are just not going forward in this case.

FISHER: So what do you do when, you know, you have a 6-year-old, who doesn't have the mental capacity or maturely to understand what he's done or perhaps what the charges would be if he had been charged?

But at the same time, this little boy is also said to have a history of violence at this school. Clearly now, he's shot and seriously injured his teacher.

So what do you do?

JACKSON: Yes, it's a great question. I think it is a question that's not only being debated in this jurisdiction - and we saw when they came out with respect to whether we charge - but it's a debate throughout the country. Right?

When you look at the country and different states, and how they treat it, and 25 states not even having a minimum age upon which you can arrest. And so what do you do?

I think what the authorities here decided to do is focus on what I noted before, let's look at the issues of rehabilitation.

Let's look at issues of what we can do to get a person, who is 6, to get to 7, 8, 10, 20, in a way they can make a contribution in a way that they can perform in a way that is societally acceptable, and even perhaps be a contributing member of society.

We know this particular individual, Kristin, had some special needs. And I'm sure they'll focus on that. I'm sure they'll focus on developing him so that he can go on, do better, be better and get better.

But it is a thorny question, not only limited here, but just that we're all really grappling with.


Of what you do and what is appropriate in terms of punishment, what is appropriate in terms of deterrence, and what is appropriate in terms of rehabilitation as it concerns a person who is only of 6 years old.

FISHER: Let's talk about the parents quickly. Because as Brian Todd was reporting, they say the gun was properly stored with a trigger lock.

Based on what the prosecutor just said, do you think that they could be facing charges, the parents?

JACKSON: So, you know, Kristin, anything is possible. I think what certainly society demands is that parents not only take accountability but that they're careful, so instances like this don't occur.

I think an investigation, which is full and fair, will take place. If they are deemed to be involved in any negligence, right, where they were careless, where they even were reckless in terms of leaving the gun in a place - and we know they say it was in the closet and the lock was on, et cetera.

You know, let's see if that bears out. Let's see what, if anything, the parents could have done better.

And let's see if they exposed the teacher, ultimately, to this unnecessary risk by not taking the most precaution they possibly could to avoid this occurring. So we'll see.

It's premature to note whether they'll be charged. But certainly, I think it should investigated.

If they should be accountable, they should be held accountable if the evidence and facts bear that out.

FISHER: Such a tough case with no easy answers.

Joey Jackson, thank you.

JACKSON: Always. Thanks, Kristin.

FISHER: So NASA is now tracking an asteroid that could, I say "could" hit earth in 2046. We're going to talk about that next.



FISHER: Do you celebrate Valentine's Day each year? Well, you might want to circle that day in 2046. Because NASA's Planetary Defense Office is tracking a new asteroid that has a very small chance of hitting earth in 23 years.

Joining me now is Davide Farnocchia. He's a navigation engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Davide, thank you so much for joining us.

I'd love to start by just asking about this newly discovered asteroid. The name of the asteroid is 2023DW.

Based on your experience and expertise, how much of a danger does this pose to planet to earth?

DAVIDE FARNOCCHIA, NAVIGATION ENGINEER, NASA'S JET PROPULSION LABORATORY: No, this object is not particularly concerning. It was discovered on February 26th, at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory, in particular, at the Center for Near Earth Object Studies.

We keep track of those, and whenever there's a new discovery, we map the trajectory for the next several years and check whether there's even a remote possibility for an impact.

In most cases, we find that the impact is not possible. We can rule that out very quickly.

In this case, we cannot do that yet. We need more data to get to that point. But we have a small, very small, 0.2 percent for impactability for 2026.


FARNOCCHIA: I always like to put it in another way. There is a 99.8 percent probability that the object is not going to reach the earth.

FISHER: Well, that's great to hear. But anytime an asteroid is at least on some target with some potential of hitting earth, it makes, you know, earthlings take note.

This asteroid is about 50 meters across, about the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Why was it only discovered in February? Because I know this is a concern that NASA has about asteroids being detected later than they'd like?

FARNOCCHIA: Yes, so this asteroid is only 50 meters. That means that it does need to come close enough to earth for us to pick it up. And we had to wait until last February to have the first good chance of discovering it.

But NASA, we're discovering more than 90 percent of the objects 140 meters or greater because those are the ones that can possible cause damage. This one is fairly small.

And it's a slight benefit of our search of asteroids. And the fact that we can discover an object this small, with a small impact probability in 2046, it's like more than 20 years of lead-time, that's a pretty good sign of what NASA -

FISHER: That's pretty good.

FARNOCCHIA: - can do in discovering objects. Yes, absolutely.

FISHER: Yes. So I just want to reiterate, very, very, very slim chance that this does hit earth.

But let's just say, by some chance it did, what kind of damage would an asteroid of this size do, 50 meters across?

FARNOCCHIA: I think a good analog is the Tunguska impact that happened in 1908. That was an impact over Russia. And that flattened trees over 2,000 square kilometers. So that's the kind of analog.

But again, as you said, the probability is really small. As soon as we get new data, we'll be able to refine the calculations and update the hazard assessment. And chances are, we're going to be able to rule out this possibility -


FISHER: Davide, really quick, one more question for you. NASA's big space craft, the DART spacecraft that hit that asteroid and successfully hit it off course, off its orbit earlier - I guess in November of last year, the first Planetary Defense test mission.


Could that type of technology be used to push an asteroid like this?

FARNOCCHIA: Absolutely. That's the big reason why we feel that flew that mission. We wanted to see and prove that we had the capability of moving an asteroid off course, if case we needed to do that.

And that mission was such a spectacular success. It was such a beautiful bull's-eye.

FISHER: One of my favorite space stories of the year.

Davide Farnocchia, I hope I did not butcher your name too much. Thank you for sharing all of your expertise and talking asteroids with me.

FARNOCCHIA: Thank you for having me.

FISHER: You bet.

All right. That does it for me. I'm Kristin Fisher.

But don't go anywhere. Much more news ahead.