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Laura Coates Live
U.S. Launches Strikes On 85 Targets In Iraq And Syria; Jennifer Crumbley Trial: How Will The Court Of Public Opinion See It?; Carl Weathers Dies At 76. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired February 02, 2024 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let this be a lesson to us all. It's never too late to say you're sorry. Thank you for watching "NEWSNIGHT." LAURA COATES LIVE starts right now. Hey, Laura.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Abby, ha, ha, ha has got to be a meme somewhere in the universe.
I don't know what it is and when I'm going to use it, but mark my words, I'll be using it.
PHILLIP: Yeah, I'll be I waiting.
I'll be waiting. Have a great show.
COATES: Thanks, Abby. Have a great weekend. Our breaking news tonight, U.S. airstrikes on targets in Iraq and also Syria, and President Biden says it's not over yet. Tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.
President Joe Biden retaliating tonight, five days after three Army reservists were killed in an attack on a base in Jordan. Major airstrikes on 85 targets across Iraq and Syria. And this is just the beginning of what will likely be a series of U.S. strikes on Iran- backed militias carrying out attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East.
The president warning the military response -- quote -- "will continue at times and places of our choosing" -- end quote -- and trying, of course, to walk a very fine line from deterring further attacks on U.S. troops while avoiding a full-scale blowup with Iran, in a region already in turmoil over the Israel-Hamas war.
And all of this comes on the day the president performed one of the most solemn duties of the commander-in-chief, attending to the dignified return of the three American soldiers killed in the attack in Jordan on Sunday. Tonight, we're covering all aspects of this breaking news. Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon. Ben Wedeman is in Amman, Jordan. Cedric Leighton is here with me right now. Let's begin with you, CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Lieberman. What do we know about these strikes in Iraq and Syria tonight?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, a series of strikes that are effectively an order of magnitude larger than what we've seen the U.S. do in the region over the past couple of months. Simultaneous strikes in Iraq and Syria, seven different locations, four of those in Syria, three of those in Iraq, 85 different targets with more than 125 precision-guided weapons used across this target set.
And it's not just facilities or weapon storage. It's much more than that. It's command and control, operations centers, intelligence centers, weapons storage sites. The administration very much trying to send a message here to Iran's proxies and militant groups in the region.
But as you pointed out, threading a needle here, trying not to start a war with Iran, so no direct strikes in Iran itself. But clearly, the administration going after Iran's proxies in the region and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. So, carrying out this series of strikes here.
Even the platforms used send a message. Heavier B1 bombers, this is much more powerful than the normal fighter jets, F-15s, F-16s. They're used to carry out these sorts of strikes.
And the message, as you point out from President Joe Biden, this isn't ending right here. This essentially echoed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who said this is the start of our response. So, very much a message sent to Iran's proxies in the region that there could be more coming and it could remain powerful, Laura.
COATES: Oren Liebermann, thank you so much. I want to go right now to CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman who is in Amman, Jordan. Ben, I mean, the Middle East, to say the least, is already on edge, and this conflict could spin out of control. How dangerous is this moment right now for the region?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, it's as dangerous as it has ever been in terms of a possible direct military confrontation between Iran and the United States.
Now, as Oren mentioned, the United States has stressed it will not be striking targets in Iran but, certainly, the situation is such that there's a very real possibility that mistakes could be made, that there could be miscalculations, and it has many in the region very worried.
Now, the Iraqi government has come out and condemned the U.S. strikes, saying that they're unacceptable and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
It's rather ironic, however, that at the same time, Iraq is hosting U.S. forces in Iraq, some of whom have come under multiple attack by Iranian-backed militias in that country.
But nonetheless, it puts many of the governments, the authoritarian regimes that are allied with the United States, in a very difficult position because on the one side, there's no love lost between them and Iran.
On the other, there is continuing outrage among the publics in this part of the world over the fact that the United States is a direct and formidable military and diplomatic backer of Gaza.
And certainly, none of this would be going on if the Gaza war weren't going on, and the feeling is that the best way to reduce tensions in the Middle East isn't necessarily by conducting days of heavy strikes but rather for the United States to finally come around to putting pressure on Israel to stop the war in Gaza now. Laura?
COATES: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for your reporting. Please stay safe. I want to bring in CNN military analyst, retired Colonel Cedric Leighton. I'm so glad that you're here to help us unpack all of what we're hearing. First of all, the fact that it's not happening in Iran directly, why is that and why is that important?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, it's really important, Laura, because we don't want to go to war with Iran. That's a very critical element of this.
Now, what's interesting about the way we did this, we've been telegraphing all along that we did not want to go to war with Iran. The administration has been very clear about this, as Ben mentioned in his reporting and Oren did as well.
The other part of it, though, is the weapon system that we used to go after the Iran proxy targets in both Iraq and in Syria is the B1 bomber. The B1 bomber is an intercontinental aircraft. It can go anywhere in the world as long as it's being refueled. It has a range of 7,000 miles and it can make the Middle East without getting refueled from the United States, and it is the same kind of weapon system that we would potentially use to go after Iran.
So, as Iran was watching what we were doing, they had to think, okay, is the United States bluffing? Are they moving our forces into this area or are they going to stop short? We stopped short this time, but it was a warning to the Iranians, and I think they saw it.
COATES: Talking about that timeline, I mean, this has happened now five days after three U.S. soldiers were killed. We understand something about the weather has had an impact on the decision to strike now and why. Does that timeline match up with what would be strategically prudent?
LEIGHTON: You know, it does actually. Now, the weather did have an effect apparently on the mission planning.
COATES: Why is that, though? LEIGHTON: Well, the weather is important from a targeting standpoint. In many respects, you want to have clear weather before you bring in weapon systems of this type.
Now, they do have certain all-weather capabilities. So, if you really needed to, you could use these weapons to go after the Iranians or any proxies of that in any kind of weather, almost any kind of weather, but it's better to do it when it's clear, it's better to do it when you have the ability to get in and out without having to worry about weather systems that could impact the aircraft or the mission itself.
COATES: And the timing of it, does it mean -- it has been five days since the tragedy of three soldiers killed. Does it lessen the effectiveness of the attack and the plan and the deterrent aspect?
LEIGHTON: It potentially could have lessened the effect a little bit because it wasn't immediate, but the key thing about this is there's a lot of planning that goes into these types of missions. They do have targets on the shelf. They know that they're going after certain things, but they also know that they have to refine those targets once the president gives direction to strike certain areas. That's basically what they did. They did a lot of planning for this mission in the U.S. Air Force, and that's what we saw today with these kinds of -- this kind of mission that occurred.
COATES: Well, the commander-in-chief, President Biden, had this statement, and it was a little bit chilling in terms of the ambiguity. Also, it's clearly a message being sent. He said that we will respond, we will continue at times and places of our choosing. When you hear that from your perspective and expertise, what is he saying and how is that really received by the people he's targeting?
LEIGHTON: So, he's leaving his options open when it comes to military planning, to military efforts in and around Iran. As far as how the Iranians receive it or their proxies receive it, they know that this is not over, at least the potential exists for further attacks, and that is basically what has been planned.
There are other attacks that are very much a potential. Those could happen over the next few days, over the next few weeks, and it could be a lot longer than that. But one thing that they --
COATES: Including maybe cyberattacks.
LEIGHTON: Absolutely. So, cyberattacks are very interesting because the Iranians have a cybernetwork. They're actually very good at mounting cyberattacks themselves. They destroyed a large portion of the Saudi Aramco, the large oil company in Saudi Arabia, of their IT infrastructure a few years ago using a cyberattack. They have been both perpetrators of cyberattacks and victims of cyberattacks.
COATES: Wow, this could be quite sustained for some time, or as the president says, at times and places of our choosing.
What will that mean? Thank you for helping to impact all this. Colonel Cedric Leighton, as always, thank you so much.
So, how did we get here? And what should President Biden's next move be? Plus, should a mother be held responsible for her son's crimes? That's a huge question. It's at the center of the Jennifer Crumbley trial. And tonight, we've assembled our own court of public opinion. They'll listen to the arguments and weigh in on how they might decide this case. Hear it for yourself and see if you agree, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, can President Biden retaliate against Iranian-backed militias who have carried out attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East? And this is the big part, without it turning into a wider conflict.
Joining me now, former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration, Joel Rubin. He's also running for Maryland's 6th congressional district. So glad to have you back tonight. Every time we talk, there is a major conflict happening.
And my questions are always to you about how does this not turn into a bigger and wider conflict. I mean, diplomacy is the delicate dance, and we talked about it a lot. So, when you look at this, is the message received in a way that still keeps America safe?
JOEL RUBIN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER OBAMA: Well, you know, Laura, look, this message has to be received in Tehran. The president has been consistently stating publicly that there is no interest in having a war for the United States, between the United States and Iran, but Tehran pulls the strings of these proxy groups.
And so, I think what these strikes are doing is sending a very careful and calibrated message, targeting those who committed the acts, the sin, essentially, against our troops by killing American troops unjustifiably. If this message is not received, then what we're going to see potentially is continued attacks.
I think that the Iranians, they have to take a breath, they have to look at what is happening in the region. They are exploiting right now, from my perspective, the fight between Israel and Hamas. And they're exploiting it and they're protesting and they're prodding, be it in the Persian Gulf with the Houthis or now in Iraq and in Jordan as we've seen. This has to be a message that they get clearly, and I hope they do get it.
COATES: It doesn't stop here in terms of the strategy, right, for the military in the United States. One is thinking strategically a couple steps ahead.
COATES: What is Biden's next move or what should it be?
RUBIN: Well, what he needs to be doing is something that George W. Bush did not do. There's a lot of discussion about, is this a slippery slope to a war with Iran?
You know, I served in the State Department during the Bush administration when we invaded Iraq. There's one crucial component that was missing then that I believe the president is engaged in now, which is diplomacy.
Back then, George W. Bush engaged in diplomacy in the service of war. Today, President Biden, he's sending out the secretary of state this coming week to the region to try to make sure that it's not in the service of war, but it's in the service of peace and security.
So, opening up channels with our allies who speak to Tehran and potentially maybe even finding a route to talk to Tehran directly to calm this situation down, that's crucial. I think that's where the president is trying to lead this, and that's who he's publicly messaging all the time.
COATES: You look at this and think about us getting to this particular point. There has been a lot of considerations. Will this be the ultimate deterrence?
RUBIN: You know, the ultimate deterrence, there's no magic bullet to resolving all the problems in the Middle East. That's the hard part of this region. It has been this way for decades. But what one has to do is ensure that they are applied and engaged consistently.
I've said this to you in the past, and I truly believe this. Iran would like the United States to depart the Middle East. Well, this is a demonstration and a reminder that we're not going anywhere.
There needs to be an engagement strategy. The United States is engaging with our allies and this is going to be part of that. Hopefully, the messages received in Tehran and that our diplomacy will complement that.
COATES: Joel Rubin, as always, thank you so much.
RUBIN: Thanks, Laura.
COATES: Ahead, closing arguments in the Jennifer Crumbley trial that could have huge implications on the questions of who is responsible for mass shootings. And we have something very special tonight. The court of public opinion is here to weigh in.
COATES: A historic trial is taking place in America. And we are going to cover it here in a way that no one else is, taking you inside of our own virtual courtroom where our court of public opinion will hear prosecution and defense arguments in the very real-life case of Jennifer Crumbley.
She is the mother of the teenager who shot four classmates to death in 2021 in the worst school shooting in Michigan's history. Now, her son will spend the rest of his life in prison. And now, a jury will decide whether she is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I am asking that you find Jennifer Crumbley not guilty, not just for Jennifer Crumbley, but for every mother who's out there doing the best they can, who could easily be in her shoes.
UNKNOWN: She wants you to believe that she's somebody she's not. And you know what she's not? She is not somebody that used ordinary care to prevent what was foreseeable, reasonably foreseeable that could have happened, injury or death, and it did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Tonight, we're going to tap into what the American public thinks of this very case. We have Elliot Williams arguing for the prosecution and Joey Jackson will be the defense counsel here. And then our own jurors on the court of public opinion, they will weigh in on what they've heard and seen here tonight.
Now, of course, this is not a court of law. Our jurors will not be rendering a verdict, but they will tell us what they think of the arguments and evidence that they've heard right here tonight. That'll give us some insight into what could very well happen when the jury of her peers judges Jennifer Crumbley in Michigan.
I'm going to break this down into three separate questions. The first is, if Jennifer Crumbley missed the red flags and warning signs about her son. And we'll begin where the prosecution has the burden of proof. Prosecution, make your case to the jury.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you, Your Honor, Ms. Coates. Now, here's the thing. When we pick apart a case, it's important to not get bogged down in the weeds and just think about what does the law say.
And this is involuntary manslaughter. You have to prove, and the prosecution seeks to prove that this person was negligent, which basically means asleep at the wheel in a basic duty where she had to carry out as a parent.
Now, look at some of the things she missed along the way. There was a litany of diary entries written by her son indicating that his parents weren't paying attention to him, his parents and his mother who's the defendant here.
Number one, he writes one that says, I want help, but my parents won't listen, so I can't get any help. He's literally crying for help, for mental health assistance here. Number two, I get zero help from my parents for my mental health problems. Number three, my parents don't listen. Again, after again, after again, he's writing in his diary.
Now, my friend, Joey Jackson, will probably say, well, they weren't on notice. They didn't read his diary. They weren't going through his diary. They actually were on notice.
There's at least one instance where he starts talking about one of the structures on their property being haunted, that he thought he was hearing voices, and she brushed it off like it was a joke. She brushed off serious questions that were coming from her son about voices he was hearing as a joke, that it was a haunted house.
Finally, the last thing we should talk about here, she's brought to school the morning of the shooting, a few hours before it happens, and has shown a drawing that he made, showing blood on the ground, and I'm going to shoot everybody up or whatever he'd said. And again, just brushed it off. She was aware of all of these things happening.
And so, no one piece of evidence, and defense attorneys love to pick apart each one individual -- no. View them all together, look at the totality, and look that this as an individual who missed the warning signs.
COATES: Well, we've heard from the prosecution on those red flags being missed, but the defense, what's your reaction to those claims?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Mental health is a thing in this country, we know that. But the problem with mental health is that it's not readily seen. If someone breaks a leg, you can see it, they're on crutches. If someone has a spinal injury, they may be in a wheelchair. You could identify, you could connect with it.
But people who have mental health issues going on could disguise it. The prosecution mentions these journal entries. No evidence which would suggest that the parents ever saw those journal entries. So, should they be held accountable as to that?
The reality is that someone, as I grew up, who made me laugh every day, his name was Robin Williams, 10 years ago, this August, he took his life. Who would ever think that a person who's so funny, so connected to us all, would do that to himself?
So, now, we turn to this case. And when we look and we evaluate this case, what do we see? We see the fact that we had a family that seemed to be normal. I show you the Facebook postings of the family where they just saw a child with his parents having fun. As we look at that and as you absorb that, that's a family that is apparently normal. Seemingly, everything was okay, but it wasn't.
And then we get to the issue of the parents being on notice. Notice of what? Of a child who may have written things in a journal but didn't tell them, didn't convey the issues he was having with them.
And not only that, but look at what the school had to say with respect to he was having a rough time. Yes, you're going to hear that momentarily, that his life would have been in shambles or some such thing. He was sleeping in class. Do you think the school could have told the mother so that she would have known? They did not. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over)0: Were you ever made aware that there was some issue on November 10th where your son was having a rough time?
JENNIFER CRUMBLEY, MOTHER OF ETHAN CRUMBLEY WHO KILLED FOUR PEOPLE: No.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did anyone from the school ever let you know?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did you ever see anything like this prior to us getting materials in this case?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): If you heard your son was having a rough time, what would you do to follow up?
CRUMBLEY: I would talk to my son, find out what's going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, I want to get the perspective of the jury. They've heard both the prosecution and the defense, and even from Jennifer Crumbly herself. I question what you guys make of that. Was anything that you heard here tonight particularly persuasive? I'll begin with you, juror one.
ELLE MEYERS, JUROR, LAURA COATES'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: Yeah, I mean, I think at the end of the day, there's no excuse for not noticing all of these things going wrong with your son. You know, I heard the defense attorney saying that they're trying to defend not just this woman but all mothers everywhere who are doing their best. Maybe she was doing her best, but her best was clearly not good enough.
If your best still leads to your son committing the deadliest mass shooting in Michigan history, then I think, at minimum, there is culpability there.
COATES: Do the red flags for the rest of you present a good thing for the prosecution or the defense?
BEN DUNFORD, JUROR, LAURA COATES'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: I think you've presented a good thing for the prosecution. I mean, you're demonstrating that she should have been aware.
COATES: But how about what she's saying?
And they mentioned this fact, that they didn't present to her in terms of the school emails and correspondence. Were the diary entries enough for her to be aware of it?
DUNFORD: Yes. Not only the diary entries, but also the phone call. The haunted house, that's not something that you hear and say, you know what, let's go to a gun range.
COATES: What do you think, jury number three?
J.K. PHENIX, JUROR, LAURA COATES'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: Yeah, I would actually have to disagree.
PHENIX: I think in the life of a parent or the life of a person trying to support a family, I think it's necessarily challenging to say that they will know all of their children's fears are, you know, realities, even if it's in a journal. I do think that it's alarming to see that the school didn't necessarily alert the parent of this.
And I think to say that it's clean gut, it's her fault, I think that if you were to ask any American parent today, specifically raising teenagers, I think it's a challenge to say that they should be involved or they should be accountable for every one of their children's actions, with an understanding that this is a very serious, you know, consequence here, four people are dead and several others are hurt.
I don't think, though, that the mother is or that the prosecution has really presented such a valuable case here where she is totally guilty.
COATES: Juror number two, you're nodding along. What are you thinking?
TAYLOR REDD, JUROR, LAURA COATES'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: I think that juror number three makes a good point trying to understand the unique pressure that parents face, but I'm not going to pretend like I know what it means to be a parent and to face that pressure.
At the same time, I don't understand how Miss Crumbley could be confronted with those drawings by her son and not immediately feel shock and fear and immediately want to go to her child and make sure that he's okay and do everything in her power to ensure that he is not a threat to other human beings. That -- I just can't -- I can't square that.
And even though I can't empathize with Ms. Crumbley fully, I do think that that was a serious red flag that in that moment, regardless of what happened before, should have made her change how she was behaving and how she was responding to her child.
COATES: Do you agree? MEYERS: Yes, definitely. I think that, you know, the defense mentioned that, why would these parents necessarily know what is going on in their son's diary entries? And I think that that is a valid point. I don't think that good parents should read their children's diary entries. They deserve to have that degree of privacy.
But you're going to tell me that the counselor called the mom the day of the shooting and said, hey, your son is drawing these really disturbing images in class, and the mom just completely brushes it off, like, sure. If the mother had some sort of crystal ball and knew that was going to lead to this horrible incident, I'm sure she would have taken greater action.
But the fact that she didn't at minimum pull her son from school just for the day even to just say, hey, let's just spend some time, you and I together, and have a chat about what's going on, I mean, again, I'm also not a parent, and so I don't pretend to understand the challenges of being a parent, especially a full-time working parent, as I know this mom was, but I think it's inexcusable to see that kind of sign of distress from your child and just completely brush it off.
PHENIX: Now, I actually agree with all those points, but I think you mentioned a really critical detail here, that if the mother would have known at that point that her son had done that, then she would have intervened.
Well, the truth is, and from what the prosecution has set up here, is that, you know, the journals that had been found before, right, it has been, from my understanding, a culminating thing.
I don't think the mother actually knew at that very point that her son would do something like that or so heinous that day.
COATES: Well, let's talk about what she did know. It brings us to our next question, frankly, that I want to go to the prosecution and defense on because it's about what she did know. She did know that he, in fact, did have a gun because they had purchased it for him as a gift. But she says that it was her husband's responsibility to actually ensure that it was safe. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are guns your thing?
CRUMBLEY: Not really. No.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Okay. But do you have awareness about guns within your home?
CRUMBLEY: I do.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Okay. Who is responsible for storing the gun?
CRUMBLEY: My husband is.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Okay. Explain why you say he's responsible for that role.
CRUMBLEY: Um, I just didn't feel comfortable being in charge of that. It was more his thing, so I let him handle that. I didn't feel comfortable putting the lock thing on it. Um, I just -- I just rather -- just not let him do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Let's go right to the prosecution. Prosecution, how would you use that evidence?
WILLIAMS: Remember, this is about negligence, how sloppy or careless was this individual. Okay, this isn't about whether it's okay to have firearms in your house or whatever else. It's what did you do to secure them and what did you do to make them available to your child.
Number one, if you had a shed in the back of your house and had machetes or yellowcake uranium or C4 plastic explosives in there, you don't get to make the argument that, well, my husband takes care of the lawnmower. The mere fact that they're in your house and not locked up with a code on the safe that was 0-0-0, they didn't even make attempt to try to secure these guns.
It's like the movie "Spaceballs" where the guy has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 as the code on his luggage. Everybody makes fun of him. It's just nonsense and a staggering degree of negligence that she ought to be held accountable for.
COATES: Defense --
JACKSON: The reality is that gun ownership is a thing in this country and we know it should be responsible. There's no question about it. We also know that they had a target in the home and we would acknowledge and admit that as we see.
Let's take a look at the actual target that they had in the home. The reality is that the purpose of having the weapon is it was a hobby of the family. The Second Amendment protects that.
But if you look at what happened with the school, the school apparently was concerned because of this drawing and in light of the fact they call the mom. The mom goes to the school, and the school says that they don't have reasonable suspicion to check the bag.
You can call the mother and the father to come to the school because you're concerned about a drawing with a gun, but the school doesn't look into the bag and instead hands it back. What are we dealing with when we have that level of negligence upon the school with respect to their responsibility?
So, at the end of the day, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to look at the gun in totality. If the school would have done its job, we wouldn't be here. COATES: I want to turn back to the jury on this important point. They've raised two really compelling arguments. One about whose responsibility, so to speak, it was and who purchased, and also what the school should have known in that particular day. What stood out to you?
MEYERS: Well, honestly, as a former educator, this was the component of this story or of this case that I found most compelling because, of course, it was the part that I related to the most. And to be honest, I think that I am very sympathetic towards the people who worked at the school.
Yes, it does seem like there were some things that maybe they could have done more, but we know that the counselor had that meeting with the mom because of the drawing that her son did.
And if the mom decided to completely brush it off, when I used to have meetings with my students and their parents, and if I had a disagreement with the parents about what kind of course of action the students should take, I always defer to the parents' judgment, because no matter how much I cared about their student or how well I thought I knew them, I would never go so far as to assume that I knew a student or cared about them more than their parent did.
And so, the fact that the school deferred to the parents' judgment, I think that most of the time, that is what you should do, and I don't think that's their fault.
DUNFORD: I just don't understand how the mom sees the drawing and doesn't immediately look for the gun. Right? To me, that just boggles my mind. You know he has some sort of homicidal tendencies, thoughts, a desire to use it with the blood. I don't know how you don't try to find that gun immediately.
COATES: Does that change for you in terms of the deference of the parents and what the drawing said, knowing that she knew that he did have a gun, maybe not on him, but in his general home?
PHENIX: Yeah, no, I don't think it necessarily changes. I do think I take it into consideration when, you know, thinking about how it will all turn out for the mother. I think the blame, though, for me, on this particular part, and this is very important detail, I think the blame is, would have to be on the school in terms of their lack of ability, you know, to really express to the parents.
I will say, you know, when you think about the sheer, and I take it to my last point, amount of responsibilities that a parent may have, you know, many people have different things around their home and something that their families always cherish. You know, who's to say that these guns weren't out before in days previous, you know, many nights and days, right?
I think the mother going on about her day, I think to say that she absolutely knew that this gun was gone, you know, I don't think that it really rises up in a good argument to me. She could have been focused on many other things, right? She just probably didn't know that he had it, right?
COATES: In fact, that was part of the argument, juror number two, that was made throughout, that she was distracted by other things throughout her life as opposed to focusing. But also, this idea of the school not checking the backpack when they called them in, and keep in mind, this is a community where hunting is a very avid and frequently used sport, does that change anything for you?
REDD: I think that both things can be true. I think that the school can bear responsibility for ensuring that their students are not going to pose a threat to other members of the community. And I think that Ms. Crumbley can also bear responsibility for ensuring that her child does not pose a threat to others in the community.
But I think it's a threshold question. And I think ultimately that Ms. Crumbley bears the ultimate responsibility as the adult in the household who purchased the gun for her son, who knew about the existence of the gun and where it was kept, and who did know that her son was struggling. I think that on balance, Ms. Crumbley is the one who should have informed the school that her son was carrying this firearm.
COATES: You know, it's interesting because we also are talking about another adult in that household, and that is the husband who will stand on trial next. I wonder what the consequences will be there. Thank you to Joey Jackson and Elliot Williams, who are our prosecution and defense. I want to talk more with our jury.
What did they come to the case thinking? Were their minds changed by the presentation as it was given? We'll be right back.
COATES: We're back with our court of public opinion. The jury just heard the arguments from both the prosecution and the defense in the very real-life case of Jennifer Crumbley, who was on trial for involuntary manslaughter after her teenage son shot and killed four classmates in the worst school shooting in Michigan's history. They deliberate and give us some of their views of the arguments. But I want to dig in that much deeper with this court of public opinion.
Now, you have heard a great deal. We've heard from the prosecution and the defense. I wonder what you make of her presentation and her demeanor on the stand when she was speaking. I want to play for you a moment when she actually spoke about having him kill her and her husband instead. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUMBLEY: I've asked myself if I would do anything differently, and I wouldn't have.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): If you could change what happened, would you?
CRUMBLEY: Oh, absolutely. I wish he would have killed us instead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, she has gone back to figure out if hindsight was 2020, and her conclusion was she couldn't have done anything different but wanted her own death. What was going through your mind?
DUNFORD: I have no sympathy for her. I have sympathy for the parents of the child -- children who were killed. I have sympathy for the first responders who had to see that horrific sight. I have zero sympathy for her.
I mean, how can she say she wouldn't do anything better? I've got some great ideas for her --
-- like let's not give our son a firearm and take him target shooting when you know he has mental health issues. I mean, this is the second -- at least I can think of two school shootings where the parents have taken the shooter to a gun range, have encouraged this little boy. I think Sandy Hook was the exact same thing.
But as a parent, I find, you know, the safety of my children to be number one. How can she not look for the gun, not to harp on that? But I was thoroughly unimpressed and actually very disappointed with the answer.
PHENIX: But isolating this event from others, I think it's important to consider that when you think of the culture or the contextualization of a community, it's very important to note that this was a hunting community, that guns were omnipresent, that, you know, of course, absent of mental health issues, this was a very kind of real thing.
And my reaction to seeing the mother kind of mention those words, I do have a certain level of empathy, but I still would like to see her be held accountable. I think it's important to remember, though, that again, there isn't much here that she could have done to save, you know, or to change the situation.
MEYERS: Except pull her kid out of school when he was drawing bloody pictures.
DUNFORD: Also, you don't use a handgun to hunt.
PHENIX: But considering the circumstances of what she was in, she mentioned that she was going -- she was -- I mean, if we take for what she said for face value, that she was going through other, that, you know, a number of different things that people go through, our parents may go through on a daily basis, you know, you don't necessarily think that you could show up differently.
So, again, I think she should be held accountable, but I also think that we have to isolate this event from others and note that this was the culture of that community, and that she probably thought that this was a stint, a rank and file day, and you can't separate that from the fact of this situation.
COATES: During number two, I want to ask you, because you mentioned that this was a threshold issue and you raised the point about what the school could or could not have done as well. I want you guys to hear what one of the school administrators had to say about the failure to search the backpack. I wonder if it will change your views at all. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): At any point, did anybody request to search the backpack?
UNKNOWN: They did not.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): And did you search the backpack yourself?
UNKNOWN: I did not. It wasn't necessary or rise to the occasion that I do that because I didn't have any reasonable suspicion to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: What's the impact of having them not do something to search that backpack with those drawings?
REDD: I --
PHENIX: Well --
REDD: Go ahead.
PHENIX: I was going to say, well, it's up to the mom. She's there in the meeting. She knows her son has a handgun. There's your suspicion, she should have told the school.
COATES: Do you agree?
REDD: I do. I agree. I think that -- and I agree with what juror number four said earlier, that I can't wrap my head around how knowing what she knows now, she wouldn't have done anything differently. And I think that can be true while also acknowledging what juror number three raised, that there was a prominent gun culture in this community.
At the same time, I think that even advocates of gun ownership can agree with that there are common sense measures that responsible gun owners should put in place if they're going to have guns in the household. And it does not seem that the Crumbleys had those measures in place. And I don't understand how, looking back on what happened, that Ms. Crumbley wouldn't think to implement those common sense, very basic safety measures.
COATES: I'll ask you a final question, each of you, and it's yes or no. Did the impression you had about Jennifer Crumbley before hearing the presentation of evidence change with hearing more information, or does the impression you had initially, is it the one you have now? Yes or no?
MEYERS: Yes, it changed.
REDD: Yes, it changed.
PHENIX: Yes, it changed.
DUNFORD: No, it didn't.
COATES: Fascinating. We will see what the jury in the actual court of law has to say about this. A special thanks to our jurors in this court of public opinion.
If you would like to be a jury in the next court of public opinion, get in touch with us at the address on your screen, firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be right back. Fascinating. Don't go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: How about a statement?
CARL WEATHERS, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: Get away from me!
UNKNOWN: How about a statement?
WEATHERS: Stallion! You got a dull skull, Stallion. You're lucky, so lucky. What you did was a miracle. You're the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I want you to know that, Stallion.
SYLVESTER STALLONE, ACTOR: Do I look lucky?
WEATHERS: Look, nobody goes a distance with me. Get up out of that chair, Chump, and let's finish this fight right now!
UNKNOWN: Hollow Jump! (Ph)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: The legendary Carl Weathers has died. He followed his successful NFL career with iconic movie roles in Hollywood, playing heavyweight champ Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" films, going against Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Predator," and starring in the Star Wars spinoff series, "The Mandalorian," among so many other roles.
I had the actual honor and privilege of having Carl on my SiriusXM show just a few years ago in 2020 while discussing the book "Pen Pal: Prison Letters from a Free Spirit on Slow Death Row." Here's a little part of our conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEATHERS (voice-over): When we look at these little children and we see photographs of them smiling or we see them interacting with their friends before they've been taught bad habits, before they've been had their spirits broken, before they've been able to witness people hurting people, before they've been hurt themselves, what we see are these beautiful free spirits who can become almost anything."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: And became Carl Weathers. He did. Carl Weathers's manager says that he died peacefully at home last night. This magnificent soul was 76.
Thank you all for watching. Our live coverage continues.