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Time Running Out For Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Who Claims Innocence; How Flu Shots Have Now Turned Partisan; Dad Dies Holding Daughter In Plane Crash, Widow Speaks Out. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 07:30   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Chansley's attorneys are asking for time served, Brianna. He should be sentenced today around 10:00 a.m.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we'll be watching. Whitney Wild, thank you.

Could an innocent man be put to death tomorrow in Oklahoma? Time running out for the governor to spare him despite serious doubts about his guilt.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And new evidence that Republicans would welcome a Republican alternative to Trump in the 2024 race.


KEILAR: Time is running out for an Oklahoma man who is set to be executed tomorrow for a 1999 murder. But Julius Jones, who was 19 at the time that Paul Howell was killed, has maintained his innocence for more than two decades.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gets the final say on Jones' fate and he has yet to make a decision on whether he will approve or deny the recommendation from the pardon and parole board to not executive Jones.


Joining me now is journalist and host of "Run Tell This" -- a podcast. Mara Schiavocampo is with us now.

You have extensively been covering this. I know you're in touch with the family. And I wonder, Mara -- tell us why this case has gotten so much attention, all the way from Kim Kardashian to even the European Union's ambassador to the U.S., who are urging the governor to stay this execution.

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO, JOURNALIST WHO JUST SPOKE WITH JULIUS JONES, HOST, "RUN TELL THIS" PODCAST: Yes. It's gotten a tremendous amount of public attention. And it's also, as you noted, gotten attention from the parole board that has taken the unusual step of voting not once, but twice, on two separate occasions to commute this sentence from a death sentence to life in prison.

So, why have they taken these extreme steps? What led them to this?

Well, there have long been questions about Julius' guilt. He has always maintained his innocence. He has always maintained that he had an alibi -- an alibi that his family has corroborated.

One of his co-defendants in this case, who accepted a plea deal to testify against him, reportedly later confessed to being the actual shooter. And that man is now walking free after serving a 15-year sentence.

So, there have just been a lot of questions about Julius' guilt in this case. So many, in fact, that even the victim's girlfriend has testified on Julius' behalf in front of the parole board because she said that the victim in this case would not want an innocent man to be executed for his death.

KEILAR: There's questions as well, and you can tell us about this perhaps, about his defense and whether it was even close to sufficient.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes, and that's one of the big issues with this case, is did he get an adequate legal defense.

So, at the time that he was being prosecuted, he was being prosecuted by the -- one of the deadliest district attorneys in U.S. history, meaning one of the people who sent more men to death row than anyone else in U.S. history.

And in the face of that district attorney, he was presented with a defense attorney that did not cross-examine witnesses. That did not really present a defense. In fact, really, most of what they said was the defense rests. That was pretty much the entirety of his defense on a capital murder charge.

And so, that's one of the big reasons that so many have now spoken out saying that even if there are questions, that the sentence should be commuted from death to life because you cannot undo an execution.

KEILAR: So, tell us -- because I know that you have been in frequent contact with the family -- what they're saying to you.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes. So, I spoke to Julius last night and even though we are just one day out from this scheduled execution, he still has a tremendous amount of faith that the governor is going to step in and stop this.

He is aware of the media attention. He has been in touch with some of his prominent supporters. He said he spoke on the phone with Kim Kardashian.

And he continues to be adamant about his innocence, and that is where he got very emotional. He began crying on the phone with me and he said that he wants people to know that he is not a murderer. He also has a tremendous amount of empathy, he said, for the victim's

family. He believes they deserve justice and he says he wants justice for them. But he says he is not the man who is responsible for taking their loved one.

KEILAR: Kim Kardashian has brought pressure in other cases successfully. We know this. And you're seeing this pressure from so many other places as well.

How is the governor weighing this decision?

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes. So, it's interesting because we are running down to the last minute now.

So, reportedly, he is said to be praying on it and to be seeking spiritual guidance on this.

But what we do know is that he has met with the victim's family. He has met with attorneys on both sides. He has met with some religious leaders.

But he has refused now to meet with Julius' family in person. They went to his office. They showed up and a representative from his office came out and told them that he would not be meeting with them. So, whatever counsel he's seeking and whatever he's weighing and making this decision, he has refused to meet with the family at this time.

KEILAR: Well, we'll be watching this carefully. He is scheduled -- Julius Jones -- to be executed tomorrow. So, this is coming up very quickly here.

Mara, thank you for that.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Still ahead, how a woman who spreads election lies could end up overseeing elections in Michigan.

BERMAN: And the partisan divide over vaccines, and I'm not just talking about the COVID vaccine anymore. This mania is spreading.



BERMAN: Huge, potentially dangerous, side effects from the anti-vax movement around the country. We see it every day with the COVID vaccine. But now, it is clearly seeping into other measures that keep us healthy.

Joining me now is CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten. We are seeing it in really troubling ways with the flu shot.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, we are, John. And, you know, this was something I think a lot of us were going to be looking at -- whether or not you have that partisan divide you saw with the COVID vaccine would seep into other vaccinations.

And you can see it here -- have gotten or will very likely get the flu vaccine. Look at this -- 68 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of Republicans. That is a 24-point gap.

And to give you an idea of just how unusual that is, just look at some recent flu seasons before the COVID pandemic. And you can see the gaps in 2019-20 was just four points. The gap in the 2015-2016 season was just two points.

And what you see here is Democrats are now more likely to get the vaccination at 68 percent. Look at that -- higher than 58, higher than 55. And Republicans less likely at 44 percent from 54 and 53.

BERMAN: It's spreading. It's getting worse. And it's having an effect on people -- particularly, vulnerable people, right?


So, the CDC is essentially tracing this and they've traced it over the last few cycles in terms of the flu and we're talking about children and we're talking about pregnant women.


And you can see this flu season, 2021 to 2022 through this point -- look at that -- 34 percent of children have, in fact, gotten a flu vaccine. Compare that to two years ago. It was 41 percent.

Look at pregnant women -- now, 41 percent. Compare that to two seasons ago, it's 58 percent.

So, both among children and pregnant women that the CDC has been tracking through this point in the cycle, fewer people are getting the flu vaccine.

BERMAN: I'm very curious to see if this has an impact long-term on things like measles and those normal childhood vaccines.

ENTEN: Yes, we'll see. We don't know yet.

BERMAN: Don't know yet but we'll watch that.

There is a correlation with people who are reluctant or hesitant, or are COVID vaccine deniers.

ENTEN: Yes. So, again -- here, look at this -- have gotten or will very likely get the flu vaccine. If they got the COVID-19 vaccine, the vast majority have gotten it -- 64 percent. I should point out some other data actually suggests it's even higher than that.

But look -- if they have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine -- look at that -- just 17 percent. And I should point out, again, this is actually higher than some of the other data which suggests even a larger spread. But here, you can see it very, very well. If you've gotten the COVID-

19 vaccine you're very likely to get the flu vaccine. If you haven't, you're not very likely at all.

BERMAN: We also have new, sort of, updated data on the deadly partisan divide when it comes to the COVID vaccine.

ENTEN: Yes, we do. So, again, look -- we know fully vaccinated adults by the 2020 presidential result. And the average state that Biden won, 75 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. And the average state that Trump won, it was just 62 percent.

Now, we could jump a little forward here and essentially give you an idea how much has this actually mattered.

And, essentially, if we look here -- look at this. COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. Since February one, in the states that Biden won, it's 78. In the states that Trump won, 122. Look at that. The Biden states, far fewer deaths.

Now, compare that to before February one, which is essentially before the vaccine was really into the population. Look at that. In fact, it was the Biden states that were more likely to see COVID deaths than the Trump states. So, it's a sign that the vaccines are really working.

BERMAN: And you just see it. In the unvaccinated states more people are dying.

ENTEN: I know. I don't know if we can be clearer than this.

So, the 25 most vaccinated states since February one -- look at that. Eighty deaths per 100,000. Look at that -- in the 25 least vaccinated states, 119.

Before February one, there was no gap. There was no gap between the 25 most vaccinated states and 25 least vaccinated states, which you might expect, right, because the vaccine wasn't fully into the population yet.

But since that point, a clear spread with the most vaccinated states clearly seeing fewer deaths than the least -- seeing fewer deaths than the least vaccinated states. It's a clear sign that the vaccines are working. We see this throughout every single way we look at this data that if you get the vaccine, you're less likely to die. And that is, of course, ultimately the goal of these vaccines.

BERMAN: I imagine even among this number right there, as far as the unvaccinated people who are dying.

ENTEN: Yes, that is correct. Obviously, when you're looking at it -- the aggregate level -- it's mostly the unvaccinated who are dying than the ones who are vaccinated.

But even here, no matter what way you look at it, it's clear.

BERMAN: This number should tell people everything.


BERMAN: It should tell people everything.

ENTEN: You know, look, I study politics for a living. I study stats for a living. There's a lot of things that make sense.

Not getting the vaccine doesn't make any sense. It can save lives. You see it here. You see it in any way you look at the data.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

BERMAN: We're going to take a look at how close the U.S. came to a coup in the last days of the Trump presidency.

KEILAR: First, her daughter is the sole survivor of a plane crash, thanks to her husband who protected their daughter in his final moments. She's going to share her story, next.



KEILAR: A tragic event that exemplifies a father's love and sacrifice for his daughter up until the very end. Eleven-year-old Laney Perdue is the sole survivor of a commuter plane that crashed near Beaver Island, Michigan on Saturday that killed her father, Mike, and three others. The young girl's mother says she believes that Laney was saved by her father's last hug.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, still.

And joining us now is Christie Perdue, who is outside of the hospital where her daughter Laney is recovering.

Christie, we are so sorry that you and your family are mourning the loss of your husband. Can you tell us how Laney is doing?

CHRISTIE PERDUE, HUSBAND DIED IN PLANE CRASH WHILE PROTECTING HIS DAUGHTER, 11, WHO SURVIVED: Laney is doing amazing. She is walking and talking. She is cracking jokes.

When she came in, she was -- they didn't know her name so they gave her the name Orchid, and it means you can bloom anywhere. And she really is blooming in the hospital.

So, we are so proud of her. She's keeping us all going. And she smiles and we all just get strength from Laney.

KEILAR: It is amazing to hear that she's doing well, that she's in good spirits, and she's talking to you. What has she been able to tell you about what happened? PERDUE: Her memory is coming and going, which we anticipate. But she is -- her last memory -- one of the last things she remembers is just being hugged really tight by dad. And Mike, if you knew him, gave the best big bear hugs. And so, we just know that he just -- we anticipate he probably saw something was going wrong and just hugged her and squeezed her as tight as he possibly could.

And a lot of her injuries are mostly on her left side, and we think maybe she was like snuggled in on dad on the other side. So, in my heart of hearts, I know that he truly did save her and he protected her.

KEILAR: And I imagine that gives you a lot of comfort even as you're mourning his loss. He's been taken from you but he saved your blessing.


PERDUE: He did. It was such a day. It was a miracle and a tragedy all in one day. And so, it's hard to balance all those emotions.

But he would have -- I know that he would have jumped in front of a bus for her. So, it -- I'm not surprised at all -- one bit. If you knew Mike, that this is what he did.

And he was just such a beautiful human and loved his community and he loved Beaver Island. And just -- I'm not surprised at all that he did that. He sacrificed and he was -- he was her hero.

KEILAR: What are authorities telling you, Christie, about what happened at this point?

PERDUE: Truthfully, we haven't talked much with the authorities at this point. But the airline has been in business for 76 years and I have flown on that airline since I was three days old. So, we just -- we know this was just a tragic, tragic accident at this point and we don't know details. But such a loving and important business for the island and we know that we'll have answers someday. But we also know that it was just a tragedy.

KEILAR: So -- and your husband never expressed any worries about flying? This was just something he regularly did?

PERDUE: Oh my gosh, never. He -- we would jump on planes left and right to get to the island. It was his favorite place in the world so he never hesitated one bit.

In fact, he would take -- I have all -- I was going through all my pictures and I have all these pictures of Mike as he's on the airplane because he was, like, so excited to get to the island that he'd start taking pictures. He was a big picture guy. He started taking pictures on the airplane and on the way over. So, never once -- we never once.

And as you look back on memories, we actually considered sending Laney for her first flight over that day by herself, actually, and to go see a family friend and stay for the weekend. And Mike just said I think I'm going to go with her. I think I'll -- I'm going to go a day early. I want to go with her.

And so, you know, how life works. But he was with her and that was really important. So --

KEILAR: And thank God he was with her. And, you know, he sounds amazing. We know he's a good hugger.

PERDUE: He is so great.

KEILAR: We know he's a good dad.

PERDUE: He's a great hugger.

KEILAR: Can you -- can you tell us a little about --

PERDUE: He was a great dad. He was a great dad.

KEILAR: -- Mike -- how you want him to be remembered?

PERDUE: Oh. You know -- well, first of all, I have to say he loved baseball. So, if anyone knows Mike, you know he loved baseball. But he loved his family and his faith, and he was just a really great human.

And he loved to have conversations with people and talk about Beaver Island and his kiddos. And he just -- he loved -- he loved so deeply and he showed people that love. And he was just an amazing human being and we'll spend the rest of our life just honoring his memory.

And I have two little boys -- two twin year-olds, Bo and Henrick -- they're two. And they're going to know him and they're going to love him.

And they're going to get bear hugs from our entire community because we're all grieving. We're all grieving Mike. It's not -- it's two communities, actually -- Gaylord and Beaver Island. We're all grieving.

So, we'll just take it one day at a time. But his memory and his love, and his strength will get us through. I just know it will.

KEILAR: Yes, and I know you're going to keep his memory alive, certainly when it comes to your children over the years here. What are -- what are you going to tell them that you miss most about him?

PERDUE: Oh, what do I -- well he -- so, he is a calming presence. He was always such a calming presence, and I might not be the most calming presence. And so, it was a good balance. He could -- he could help us all just relax.

And in any situation, he would crack a Mike joke or he would just kind of bring us all back to -- back to earth.

So, it's -- he -- there's so many things that will be missed. But when I look back on our last text, the last thing I said to him was "headed home." And I feel like he's home now. It's a different home than what I thought but he -- it was headed home. So, I know he's with our God and I know that he's safe. And I know

he's protecting us and I know his hand is on our shoulder as we walk through this crazy journey.

KEILAR: Well, Christie, we are so sorry. I'm sure you've heard from so many people who are so inspired by what your husband did. And I hope that gives you --


KEILAR: I hope that gives you some comfort as you enjoy Laney and she, hopefully, has a very speedy recovery here. So, thank you -- thank you so much --

PERDUE: Oh, thank you.

KEILAR: -- for sharing your story about Mike with us.

PERDUE: Thank you for -- thank you for including us and for helping us to share this amazing story. And I just want to thank everybody who has donated and who --