Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Authorities Search For Fugitive Father; Police Chase School; California Highway Patrol Suffers Wave of Officer Deaths

Aired March 2, 2006 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with a police chase, not the kind you see on TV here almost every day. This pursuit -- pursuit involves a kid in Kentucky who will die without an organ transplant and the fugitive father who could save him.
What kind of father wouldn't, you might ask? Well, for starters, a criminal in jail facing a 25-year stretch. Now, a judge let him out, gave him one last chance to redeem himself and save his son. Instead, authorities say this guy -- and take a close look at him and his girlfriend, because authorities say both of them took off. That's where we left it last night.

But some of you saw these pictures and saw this couple. And you can bet they weren't on their way to saving a young man's life.

More now from CNN's Susan Candiotti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From an ailing son to his fugitive father.

DESTIN PERKINS, SON: Do the smart thing and turn yourself in.

CANDIOTTI: Destin Perkins, whose career criminal dad ditched him, instead of donating a life-saving kidney, might have some new hope.

DAWN IZGARJAN, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: What did he say they were doing down there?

CANDIOTTI: A tip from a Washington state couple vacationing in Mexico, is convinced they spent time with Byron Perkins and his fugitive girlfriend, Lee Ann Howard. The man and woman used the name Perkins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she is 100 percent as to who it was.

CHUCK GILBERT, DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: OK.

CANDIOTTI: A deputy sheriff in Washington calls investigators leading the manhunt in Kentucky. Tourists called the cops after seeing Destin's story on CNN last night.

IZGARJAN: The couple who called in had left, landed at the Phoenix Airport. CNN, the -- the segment was on CNN. And they just thought, man...

(LAUGHTER)

IZGARJAN: ... this is who we were vacationing with.

CANDIOTTI: According to the tipsters, the man and woman said they were vacationing in a small fishing village near Puerto Vallarta earlier this week. The couples' physical description appears a match.

GILBERT: They described a tattoo that was on the gentleman's chest. It is identified with Byron Perkins as being an identifying mark.

CANDIOTTI: The same caller said the man went by Eric (ph), the woman used insulin. And Perkins' girlfriend is a diabetic.

IZGARJAN: He told them he was in Harley accident, waiting for some money to come in, and money was going to be I guess wired. He really didn't say how he was going to get the money, but he -- he kept going into the town to see if the money was in.

CANDIOTTI: Perkins and his girlfriend talked about getting money in recorded jailhouse phone calls before Perkins was released for a court-ordered kidney donor test, and never came back. The calls were obtained by CNN.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LEE ANN HOWARD, GIRLFRIEND OF BYRON PERKINS: Do you want me to get my mom to write me a $100 check?

BYRON PERKINS, FUGITIVE: If you want to.

HOWARD: Do you think you can get it cashed?

PERKINS: Some way.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Perkins, with a string of convictions for bank robbery, drugs and guns, even left behind a letter promising he would -- quote -- "come through for his son Destin."

ANGELA HAMMOND, MOTHER OF DESTIN PERKINS: You know, he -- he ran. It doesn't say much about his feelings for Destin.

CANDIOTTI: Perkins' deal for temporary freedom that backfired so badly raises troubling questions: Why did authorities, the judge, prosecutors, U.S. marshals, public offender, allow Perkins to leave jail, trusting his word that he would return? And a $10,000 unsecured bond, that means he didn't have to put up any money for it.

Remember, one month later, Perkins faced a minimum 25-year prison sentence on a gun and drug conviction. Those in charge now say, some policies will be reviewed. U.S. Marshals Service policy states, taxpayers won't pay for elective or preventive medical interventions and procedures unless ordered by the court. As CNN reported Wednesday, authorities said Perkins successfully duped him, literally in tears, that he would be true to his word.

Doctors told the court, an ankle bracelet would have interfered with medical tests. Bottom line: Those in charge told CNN a good- faith humanitarian decision was compromised.

RONALD MCCUBBIN, U.S. MARSHAL: It's starting a new -- what will happen tomorrow certainly is not going to be a repeat of what happened yesterday, so to speak. So, and changes obviously are going to have to be made.

CANDIOTTI: For now, the authorities' focus is on finding a fugitive dad, and making him keep his promise to donate what may be the key to saving his son's life.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is just hard to believe that a father would that to their own son.

You heard a bit from Dawn Izgarjan in Susan's report. She joins us now from -- by phone from Louisville with the latest on the search.

Dawn, as we just heard in that report, a couple watching CNN in the airport realized that Perkins was the guy that they had just met, along with his girlfriend, on a Mexican vacation. Is that -- I mean, is that a solid lead? Do you think they're still in Mexico?

IZGARJAN: I do still think they're in Mexico, and it is a solid lead.

I mean, they gave us very specific information, information that -- that, you know, we truly, truly believe that it is Perkins and Howard that they vacationed with. I don't want -- I shouldn't say vacationed with -- that they met when they were down in Boca.

COOPER: And -- and were these two just -- I mean, were they just cavorting around in Mexico?

IZGARJAN: They -- they were. They were just vacationing. They met this couple that called in and gave them this elaborate story of how they were married for 12 years and this was the first vacation they had taken. And -- and they just went on and on.

COOPER: And they also even knew what books these two were reading. And you think the books might have some significance. Why?

IZGARJAN: Well, the -- the books that the caller said that she saw were books on Mexico, different regions in Mexico. And she said that Mr. Perkins seemed to know a -- a lot of information about Mexico.

He had talked about wanting to travel further into Mexico and just see the sights, take this time with his wife, which -- which would be Howard, and just, you know, take the time away from their family, so they could have a vacation themselves.

COOPER: Well, what Mr. Perkins perhaps hasn't read in his research is that CNN is seen all throughout Mexico. So, we're certainly hoping someone who is watching right now in Mexico might take a look at these two and -- and see.

Obviously, we're putting the number on the screen, 1-877-WANTED2.

A lot of people, Dawn, are wondering, you know, how -- how this could have happened in the first place. Why wasn't Perkins, you know, under the watch of the U.S. Marshals Service when he was actually going for or supposed to be going for medical tests?

IZGARJAN: Well, he was -- he was released on bond from us. The -- the judge released him on bond. And, when you're out on bond, you're not under armed guard. You are on your own. And it's up to you to follow the restrictions that the court has placed on you.

The restrictions the judge placed on Mr. Perkins was that he was to meet -- meet with all the -- meet all the doctor's appointments, and then return to custody. And he did that first week. He was out for four days, and he returned to custody. It was the second week that he skipped.

COOPER: And you attended one of Perkins' hearings, where he was asking the judge, begging the judge, basically, to let him go and help his son. What was he like in that hearing?

IZGARJAN: He was -- he was -- he was crying. He was just literally begging the judge. He told the judge: My son is going to die if I don't give him this kidney. He's so sick right now.

And the judge was very concerned, you know, listening to Mr. Perkins' statement. And they worked it out. And he -- he had me convinced. And, you know, I mean, I -- actually, I didn't know for sure if he was going to come back first time. He came back. So, you know, when he was released a second time, I don't think any of us believed that -- that he would have done this.

COOPER: Yes. It -- it is hard to believe, even with his criminal background.

Dawn, appreciate you joining us, and appreciate your efforts to track down these two.

Again, there's the picture on the screen. There is the number, 1-877-WANTED2 -- believed to be in Mexico, Byron Perkins and his charming -- well, he's calling her his wife right now, Lee Ann Howard. They are on the run. And there are a lot of people who would like to find them very quickly. Now to the other kind of chase we talked about at the start of the program -- the next time you visit L.A., forget about the sun, the surf, the energy and diversity of the people out here. Check this out instead.

It is the one thing you will rarely see anywhere but Southern California, a car chase live on local TV. Well, actually, some cable networks seem to air them quite a lot. But, today, it was a stolen police vehicle. Sometimes, it's a motorcycle, a city bus, even a tank. This one ended without injury.

But, over the years, Angelenos have seen shoot-outs and suicides and crashes that send bystanders and cops to the hospital. Because of that, police here and around the country are reevaluating whether to chase at all. They are also training to do it better.

We sent CNN's Rick Sanchez to investigate. He joins us now at a police training track near Seattle -- Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Anderson.

Police officers tell us, look, we wish we wouldn't have to do this, but, unfortunately, all too often, we do. So, we set up schools like this one here by the King County Sheriff's Office, to try and get a handle on this. This is one of the techniques I'm going to show you.

Leon (ph), walk with me, if you could.

This is called a brake box. And what happens here is, it pretty much sets up a scenario where a police officer will be coming down in this direction, when, all of a sudden, he's faced with an obstruction, a car, a pedestrian, something that he has to avoid. He's coming 60 miles an hour.

Those cones that you see right there will be the obstruction. We have an officer who is going to actually do this technique. Watch. The key is to try and go around the obstruction without hitting any of the cones or anything else.

Let's go ahead and bring him. Tiffany (ph), if you would.

Leon, I am going to get out of your way. And you can see the officer coming. This is officer Lawn Shooke (ph). He's doing the drive.

Bring him down.

Now, you're going to see, Anderson, as the officer comes down, he's going to -- he's going to bring it all the way up to 60 miles an hour. Now, he did that with his lakes -- with his brakes actually locked up, which is what makes the maneuver so difficult. Obviously, because of the anti-braking system that we have in our cars, he's able to do it. It's a very difficult maneuver. We are going to come back later and we are going to try and do it again. The only difference is, I'm going to actually try and do it -- key word, try.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: Anderson, back over to you.

COOPER: All right, Rick, thanks very much.

Coming up, a celebrated young man -- he was a hero in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings. You may remember him. He raised a lot of money for the -- the survivors of those shootings. But what did fate have in store? It is a sad, tragic turn of events.

And another story tonight, fat, you have never seen it -- how your internal organs carry it -- and maybe you -- to the grave -- all that and more when 360, live from Los Angeles, continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, here in California, it may be the longest running crime show on television, the near daily installment of the police chase.

In today's episode, officers were scrambling after one of their own vehicles. It turns out a deputy left a police SUV's motor running. And when a woman detainee made it into the driver's seat, she took off. About two hours later, police planted a spike strip. It virtually obliterated the left rear tire of the vehicle, and the chase was all over. It was pretty tame by Southern California's standards.

The good news, no injuries from all of this, no real damage. But, often, the opposite is true.

CNN's Ted Rowlands looks back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable. Look at that. He's out of control, head on into a pickup truck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They play out on a daily basis in California and many times end up on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, there's four vehicles that he just ran into.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROWLANDS: Police chases, which some consider the ultimate in reality television.

JUDY GRAFFE, PURSUIT WATCHER: I have to tune in.

(LAUGHTER)

ROWLANDS: Judy Graffe, along with thousands of other viewers, love to watch people on the freeways and streets of California trying to get away from the police. Judy is such a fanatic that she actually subscribes to a service that alerts her with a phone call when a chase is under way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa. look at that, right between those two calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRAFFE: No one single car chase is like another, I mean, anything from what neighborhoods they go, to the speeds they travel, to who it turns out they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he goes. He's out and he's in the lanes of traffic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Over the years, there have been some memorable California chases. There was the stolen tank in San Diego. There was the hijacked bus in Los Angeles, the driver careening through the streets like a real-life version of the movie "Speed," without the Hollywood ending.

GRAFFE: That one was absolutely fascinating, to imagine somebody hijacking a bus, and thinking they could get away.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's over 120 miles an hour here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Police have chased practically everything on wheels, from motorcycles...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at this, a wheelie right through traffic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: ... to R.V.s. This chase lasted more than four hours, part of it off-road. Everyone seemed relieved when this ended.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nature called.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: 7-Up received some free advertising while police pursued this stolen truck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look out. He's spinning out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: There has even been a case of ambulance-chasing, literally. Sometimes, the suspect runs. Many times, they give up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it's a foot chase, and we will see if the officers -- he runs out of steam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: This person decided to turn things around, putting the car into reverse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very bizarre behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went through the interchange, continuing northbound on the 405.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: And, of course, there was the ultimate celebrity pursuit, O.J., the slow-speed chase seen live around the world.

GRAFFE: Who knew where that was going to go? I mean, it was anybody's guess. And, so, I think that sort of hooked me into car chases.

ROWLANDS: As for the question of why so many chases here, many people think California is unique because there are more freeways and more cars.

But Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton points to the people.

WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: You got a lot of nuts here. That's what makes it so unique that...

(LAUGHTER)

BRATTON: And, quite frankly...

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: That's a pretty simple explanation, just a lot of nuts here.

There is, of course, a very deadly side to all of this. So, police are developing high-tech work-arounds. They include firing tracer darts that would let cops back off, yet still keep tabs on offenders. There's even hope for a remote means of shutting down car engines.

As for present day, it is driver's education for high-speed mode, one of the very few in the country.

CNN's Rick Sanchez tried it out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at the smoke come out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): They have called off the chase in Seattle, Washington. Police here now have a no-pursuit policy.

However, in surrounding King County, the chase is not only on, but being perfected here at Pacific Raceways, a virtual chase training academy, where police are taught to ram, to use spike strips, and to employ the pit maneuver, where a suspect's vehicle is literally spun into submission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay hard on the brakes, real quick steering.

SANCHEZ: Instructors say the most important lesson they teach here is to avoid danger by learning when to call off the chase and how to avoid collisions when they don't. Watch what happens when this officer tries to come the a full stop at 55 miles per hour, while maneuvering around a set of cones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did hit a cone. I...

SANCHEZ (on camera): What happened? What happened? What went wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not quite sure what went wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Apparently, it's all in the hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His hand position was all wrong. He -- he was probably just turning the wheel too far and trying to jerk it back and forth.

SANCHEZ (on camera): As you watch these officers train, you begin to wonder just how hard it would be to learn something like this. Let's give it a try.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing we want to do is think about our seat position and where our arms are in relationship to the steering wheel.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Soon, I'm zooming down the roadway. I'm told to hit the gas and get it to 50 miles an hour, and then slam on the brakes when I'm only 30 feet from those five cones, but I chicken out. I take my foot off the gas.

(on camera): If -- if I told you I wasn't scared, I would be a liar.

(voice-over): Here's why I chickened out. This is what it looks like from my vantage point. We placed a camera on the hood of the car. Look how fast those cones seem to be coming at me. Daunting, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get it up there. Get it up there.

SANCHEZ: Now, I'm told to crank it up to 55 miles an hour. It seems totally illogical. My instruction is to slam on the brakes and then steer the car around the cones. It's a disaster. This is tough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remember, I talked about quick steering?

SANCHEZ: Quick steering. Quick steering, I tell myself. Finally, on my fourth try, I get through the obstacles, but I release the brakes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get on those brakes.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: And then I said, oh, my God, look at me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was so nice, and you released the brakes.

SANCHEZ: What you come to realize is, it's all about trust. This car -- and probably yours, too -- has an anti-lock braking system that allows us to steer while braking, but who gets to practice something like this? At 60 miles an hour, it's even more intimidating.

Those five miles make a mountain of different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get over.

SANCHEZ: I hit a cone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: Close again, but no cigar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, that was a pretty nice job.

SANCHEZ: This is my last try. And I want to get it right, keep my foot pinned to the brake, trust it, keep my hands at 2:00 and 10:00, and steer quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that was...

SANCHEZ: What an incredible adrenalin rush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was -- that was beautiful. That was his best one.

SANCHEZ: It was my seventh try, and I finally nailed it. It's scary. It's heart-pumping. And it's what officers deal with when they choose to pursue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Rick Sanchez is now live in that car with the police lights.

Go ahead, Rick. Give us a demonstration.

SANCHEZ: Can you -- can you hear me, Anderson?

COOPER: I got you, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. Here I come. I am going to give it a shot.

Holy moly. Well, I could have gone (AUDIO GAP) I suppose, but I had it up to 55 miles an hour.

Anderson, it -- it's an interesting feeling when you do this, because it feels like those cones are coming right at you. You know, the only thing I can -- I -- I guess that I could compare it to is if you're jumping off a diving board and, suddenly, you see the water coming at you, or, you know, heaven forbid, if you were to -- when you have those nightmares that you're falling off of a building or something.

That -- that's the feeling that you seem to get when you're coming into this situation. Tiffany (ph)...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

SANCHEZ: This is the woman who instructs all the officers here in King County.

You look at a maneuver like that. What did I do wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, you did a pretty nice job. You dumped a little bit of speed, and I think you broke a little bit early.

SANCHEZ: It's a little harder at night, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. It is a little more difficult to see the cones and to adjust to the depth perception.

SANCHEZ: But this is key to getting officers to know what to do when they're chasing or in a pursuit situation and, suddenly, they're confronted by an obstacle, heaven forbid, a pedestrian.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: And they have to trust the fact that they can lock those brakes and stop, and then be able to continue to maneuver the car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. They have to trust that they can stay hard on the brakes and still maintain their steering and steer around an obstacle.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for being so kind and letting us come out here and follow you guys around today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was fun.

SANCHEZ: We really appreciate it.

So, Anderson, there you go. It's an interesting way of seeing how police officers train to do something that they have told me, look, we wish we didn't have to do this, but, sometimes, it's the only way of keeping people who could possibly endanger others off the roads -- back to you.

COOPER: And -- and that is one of the few schools in the country that teaches that for police officers.

Rick, thanks very much.

COOPER: Here in California...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... it has become one of the deadliest jobs, a -- a cop for the state's highway patrol. They're being killed at a terrifying rate. We are going to find out what new steps are being taken to protect them.

Plus, a national tragedy helped make a hero out of a young man. You may remember his generosity after the Columbine shootings. He helped raise money for the survivors. Well, you won't forget him after tonight, because of what happened to him.

From L.A. and around the world, this is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Like police officers everywhere, members of the California Highway Patrol willingly put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. But they are dying, getting killed, at a frightening pace. And you might be surprised at what it is that is killing them.

Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OFFICER DONNA MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: One-twelve- one-nine-one, ten-eight, and good afternoon.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Never has Donna Martinez felt so intensely the risks of her job with the California Highway Patrol.

MARTINEZ: Do you a driver's license, registration, proof of insurance?

When you go to work every single day, you have got to be able to be ready, no matter what.

LAH: Most CHP officers who die on the job are killed by other drivers during routine traffic stops, which means, every time they pull over a driver, they're putting their lives at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time, you got to make sure that you're looking at traffic on all sides. You think about your own family, of course. You think about other ways that you possibly might change doing something because of whatever incident may have happened.

LAH: The incidents have come too quick, too often lately -- in just five months, six CHP officers killed, one from Officer Martinez's own division, Andrew Stevens, gunned down as he pulled over a car on a rural road; Officer David Romero, his motorcycle struck from behind during a traffic stop in Los Angeles; Erick Manny, killed during a pursuit; Lieutenant Michael Walker, struck by an out-of-control car as he set flares on a highway; Earl Scott, shot and killed during a traffic stop; and Gregory Bailey, who will be laid to rest on Friday.

The Army National Guard vet returned home from Iraq to be killed by a drunk driver.

(BAGPIPES PLAYING)

LAH: An unprecedented wave of deaths, leading to an unprecedented reaction among officers.

COMMISSIONER MIKE BROWN, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: Because I don't want to go to another cop funeral, because I don't want to look into the eyes of a family member, or a member of the CHP family, in sadness, I think we need to take a step back, deep breath, and take a look.

LAH: The patrol's commissioner went beyond lowering flags. He ordered every officer into grieving sessions with the 108 commanders in the state, reviewing safety, and talking about their feelings.

BROWN: And just because you're a tough guy or gal doesn't necessarily mean that you're not, you know, affected by something. Underneath that badge, underneath that uniform, there's a human being, a very special human being that's there to protect all of us.

LAH: It's a badge that's feeling the weight of the black band, marking an officer's death.

MARTINEZ: Watch traffic, but build your speed up here on the shoulder.

We have our feelings, and we are emotional at times. And, if you don't have your mind together, then you are not going to be focused on making sure that you're doing things properly.

LAH: Properly, so that the people who guard the road will drive home in one piece.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Sacramento, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, lives don't always follow a straight line -- just ahead, a young man you might have heard about. He was a model citizen -- his a promising life and the dramatic and surprising turn it took.

And, later, the human body as you have never seen it before. Take a look closer, and you may just see how to save your own life.

You're watching 360 from Los Angeles.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, this story may prompt you to hug your kids just a little bit tighter, but it is also a sad and gentle reminder that hugs and love and support are simply not enough sometimes. When all is said and done, children make their own way through life. And parents, well, parents can't always protect them.

CNN's David Mattingly shows us why.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the predawn December darkness, three men smashed their way into a house in Clear Lake, California, demanding marijuana. A fight breaks out. Shots are fired. Two people are killed. One of them, a young man whose extraordinary acts of charity once made him a celebrity.

SHEILA BURTON, RASHAD'S MOTHER: He was an old soul, definitely an old soul. I mean, he proved to the world that he did something that we adults didn't even think about doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I first saw what happened on the news, I was devastated and decided to do something.

MATTINGLY: In the aftermath of the Columbine school shootings, it was Rashad Williams, a sophomore in a San Francisco high school, who decided to run a 12-K race to raise money for one of the victims. A simple act of youthful hope and compassion that caught the attention of thousands.

BURTON: We never realized in our wildest dreams that it would have blown up to be such a humongous story. It was a small idea, a gesture of humanity that just grew.

MATTINGLY: Rashad finished the race and raised $40,000. His enthusiasm, his big smile, and even bigger heart seemed the perfect response to the anguish of Columbine. And a star was born. His high school years became a blur of award ceremonies and national interviews, often with his mother right by his side.

BURTON: He was a man that loved his mother. He was a young man that I could depend on, that would be there.

MATTINGLY: And it's his strength of character that makes his killing so sad to so many.

But back at the house where he was killed, disturbing questions linger and a far more tragic mystery begins to unfold. It turns out Rashad Williams was not a target of a home invasion that night. Rashad Williams was one of the intruders.

MARTIN PROCACCIO, RASHAD'S FORMER COACH: How do you reconcile this? I can't right now. It still drives me crazy, literally. How does this happen? It's almost like it's surreal right now.

Track was something he loved.

MATTINGLY: Marty Procaccio was Rashad's high school track coach and counselor. He remembers a humble, kindhearted teenager who at times had difficulty with the added burden of celebrity.

PROCACCIO: Sometimes he just had to sit in my office and cry. Sometimes he needed to be alone. So there were some -- some emotions there, too.

MATTINGLY: Still, Rashad never turned down a request from charities or the media. He never wanted to disappoint, not even when his single mom was working three jobs and needed him to take care of his younger siblings. (on camera): By his senior year, the demands on his time were so great that Rashad was quitting the track team and failing classes. The San Francisco teenager that became so good at helping others seemed unable to help himself. And the future once so full of promise and light began to go dark.

(voice over): No one can say why, but the young man who had devoted his teen years to giving fell hard into a life of stealing. After leaving high school without a diploma, Williams committed two bank robberies and passed more than a dozen counterfeit checks. When he was shot and killed by the homeowner, he was weeks away from going to prison.

BURTON: This man shot and killed Rashad.

MATTINGLY: But Rashad's mother, a former deputy sheriff, insists what happened that night is not as it appears.

BURTON: I wasn't there. I can't comment. I don't know what -- what took place. All I know, what took place shouldn't have taken place.

MATTINGLY: Sheila Burton believes the homeowner's actions went beyond self-defense when her son and an accomplice were shot multiple times in the back. Even though the homeowner had a legal permit for the medical use of marijuana, she wants to know why investigators found several large bags of pot at the scene. She is holding off plans to place a permanent marker at her son's grave as she demands answers.

BURTON: I'm not putting a marker there until this is over with, and I pray to the lord that I can put on my son's headstone "Justice has been served."

MATTINGLY: No charges have been filed against the homeowner. Still, authorities say the investigation continues into what happened that night. But no one believes anyone will ever find the reasons behind such a tragic and terrible turn in a once promising and inspiring life.

David Mattingly, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And the story doesn't end there. Up next, a strange legal twist. A man is charged with murdering Rashad Williams, but it's not the homeowner who fired the shot that killed him.

Later, it's being called the miracle of Sago Mine. How a young man at death's door in a coma is now battling his way back. We'll hear from the woman who has been at his side every step of the way.

From Los Angeles and around the world tonight, this is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More now on the sad story of Rashad Williams.

In a strange legal twist, police say that three men broke into a man named Shannon Edmonds' house. They were bent on stealing his marijuana, say police. The three men were Rashad Williams, Christian Foster and Renato Hughes.

Now, Mr. Edmonds shot and killed Williams and Foster. He pulled the trigger. So the question is, why is Renato Hughes, the third man who broke in, or is alleged to have broken in, being charged with their murder?

It's a question for our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who's with us tonight back in New York.

So Jeff, somebody else shot Williams and Foster. So why is this guy Hughes, who allegedly broke in, being tried for the murders?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's an unusual doctrine of law that really was pioneered in California. It's called the Provocative Act Murder Doctrine. And basically, what it says is, if you, a defendant, commit an act, if you do something, and there's a high probability that violence will result, you are responsible for that violence even if you don't pull the trigger.

So here it was Hughes breaks into the house with the two others, the homeowner shoots a gun. He is responsible for that shooting because it's foreseeable that someone would get hurt.

COOPER: Are these cases harder to try than others?

TOOBIN: They are harder to try. I mean, there have been, in fact, even more attenuated attempts to use this.

For example, this has often been used with gangbangers. Let's say a gangbanger, like, starts a big fight in a crowd or shoots a gun at somebody. If someone shoots back, even if that person is acting completely illegally -- here, in the case we're talking about, the man -- the man had the gun legally. But other times people have been convicted. Even if the person who's responding had the gun illegally and was responding illegally, the person who started the fight can still be held liable.

COOPER: Now the D.A. says he hasn't ruled out the death penalty for Hughes even though he's not the one who pulled the trigger. Can he actually get the death penalty? I mean, it can go that far?

TOOBIN: I don't think so. That's one area that the Supreme Court has never really settled. But there have been suggestions in the Supreme Court that no one can get the death penalty unless they actually kill somebody else.

Sometimes you can be convicted of murder if, let's say, two people are robbing a bank and someone else is -- and one person shoots. The other person can be convicted of felony murder. But usually, the courts have said you can't get the death penalty. So you can get life in prison. I mean, you certainly can be convicted and go to jail for the reset of your life. But the death penalty seems to be reserved for people who actually fire the gun, wield the knife, kill someone themselves.

COOPER: All right. Fascinating case.

Thanks very much, Jeff. Appreciate it.

TOOBIN: You're welcome.

COOPER: Coming up, the case of obesity, a killer throughout the United States. We're going to show you a look inside the human body, what fat actually looks like inside your body. You'll no longer wonder why it is such a killer.

Plus, the astonishing story from Australia. A convicted terrorist, a man who was once a ballet dancer. A strange journey with a strange ending when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As if CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta weren't busy enough already reporting, doing research, and surgery, for heaven's sake, he's taken on yet another responsibility. This one has him on a mission to alert the country to a threat not from the outside but from the inside.

Earlier, Sanjay told us about his Fit Nation tour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I've got to tell you, this is one of the most exciting projects I've been involved with since I started at CNN. We're actually stepping off the screen and getting into college campuses directly, believing that college campuses can be a place where change, good change occurs. And there are some best and bright advocates coming out of these college campuses as well.

I wanted to show college students what happens to the human body when you actually eat too much fatty food. Here's what they saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a view inside the human body you have never, ever had available to you before.

GUPTA: As much as we can talk about obesity, to really give you a sense of what it does to the body, we decided to come to the Body World exhibit here in Philadelphia to actually show you. Here's what we found.

Well, this is obviously a thin person and this is an obese person. I think they say this person weighed 580 pounds when alive. This person, about 140 pounds.

What springs to your mind when you see an obese person like this? DR. TIM GARDNER, CHRISTIANA HOSPITAL: Well, you can just see the extra weight they're carrying around. I mean, imagine the heart's the same size. The heart has to do the same amount of work in this person who is three times as heavy as this.

GUPTA: When you think of fat, you know, people getting obese, you think about it right here around your hips. But you can actually see the fat getting into someone's heart as well.

GARDNER: Yes. Yes. And, you know, for those of us who operate on the heart, you know, a person who is really fat and obese has a heart that's covered with fat. But it also infiltrates into the muscle.

GUPTA: A lot of people hear about heart attacks. What exactly happens during a heart attack here?

GARDNER: At the very bottom of the heart, the wall is thinned out. That's a scar that comes from a heart attack. Basically, that's dead. It's scar tissue. And the scar tissue has replaced the muscle.

GUPTA: What is the relationship between obesity and a heart attack?

GARDNER: People that are obese have a tendency for more buildup of fatty material in their arteries that lead to obstructions, that lead to heart attacks.

GUPTA: Another organ, Dr. Gardner, that we should talk about is the liver. What happens with an obese person's liver?

GARDNER: The structure of the liver can get infiltrated with fat.

GUPTA: And what sort of affect does that have on a person's body? I mean, a person's function?

GARDNER: Well, a fatty liver doesn't function as well. And as you know, the liver is a very important function for keeping the toxins out of the blood, dealing with the metabolism of the body and so on.

GUPTA: Why are we so obese in this nation, do you think?

GARDNER: Well, I think two things, diet and lack of physical activity.

GUPTA: We need to eat less and move more.

GARDNER: We need to eat less and move more, especially our kids.

GUPTA: You know, it's a simple message. Why aren't people doing that?

GARDNER: It's a behavioral health challenge, as well as a medical challenge. We've got to encourage people to take care of themselves. We've got to somehow or other put it in terms that they understood.

You know, you can't tell a kid who is 14 years old that he can't have pizza. You want to -- you want to encourage him to understand that, you know, pizza once in a while is fine, especially if he's out playing ball and walking or riding his bike and so on.

GUPTA: All right. Thanks so much for helping us. Appreciate it.

GARDNER: All right. Sure.

COOPER: Sanjay, that is pretty incredible stuff. Are those actually -- I mean, are those real human bodies?

GUPTA: Yes, they are. And, you know, this exhibit has been somewhat controversial because of the fact that these are human bodies, actual ones. But what they do is they actually replace all the body fluids with a polymer and a resin to create this plastination (ph) sort of thing. These bodies almost feel like plastic.

And then they -- they do some of the things you saw there, Anderson. They actually cut the bodies up and you can see the body parts. But actually seeing what fatty food does to the body, I've never seen it any more clearer than that.

COOPER: I know it's a subject you feel strongly about. Why it is so important to you?

GUPTA: You know, Anderson, I think it's interesting. As journalists -- and you may feel this way as well -- I mean, I think we dive into situations where we can actually identify problems. I mean, you did that so well down South. But you can't always offer real solutions.

So I thought it was important to come off the television screen and actually go talk to college students directly and stop talking about the numbers, stop talking about all the different studies, but actually come up with some solutions. And I find college campuses just to be these real places of change. And it was amazing the ideas they had today.

COOPER: Well, let's hope it works. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Over the next eight weeks, Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Fit Nation tour will go to seven different colleges and universities across America.

Erica Hill from "Headline News" joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight.

(BUSINESS REPORT)

COOPER: I want to thank our international viewers for watching.

Ahead tonight on 360, doctors said they couldn't believe Randy McCloy survived as long as he did in the Sago Mine. Tonight they're amazed by his recovery. And you will be, too. His wife gives us an update.

Plus, he seems like an ordinary guy. And that's exactly why al Qaeda wanted him. Hear his chilling story of what it was like inside the terrorist group, the man they now call "Jihad Jack."

And we're in Los Angeles, car chase city. We'll show you some of the wild stuff police here have to deal with and what police are trying to do to get better at stopping it.

All that and more when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And good evening.

The lone survivor of the Sago Mine tragedy surprises his doctors once again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Randy McCloy's wife reveals a breakthrough.

ANNA MCCLOY, RANDY MCCLOY'S WIFE: I got to that point to where I had a lot more hope.

ANNOUNCER: What happened in the last week that gave Anna McCloy her husband back?

Personally recruited by Osama bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seems to float across the floor.

ANNOUNCER: The Australian bin Laden thought he could use to fool his own country.

And 360 takes a hard look at hard lives on the street. Why Los Angeles says other cities are dumping their criminals, drug addicts and mentally ill in L.A.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: And good evening again.

We're coming to you from Los Angeles tonight. But it was exactly two months ago today when we stood at the edge of an awful tragedy near a mine in a small West Virginia town. There, as family members waited outside, rescuers searched for 13 men trapped beneath the earth. Only one of the miners would come out alive after breathing carbon monoxide fumes for more than 40 hours.

Tonight, there is some surprising news about that lone survivor. Randy McCloy's doctors say his recovery is going much faster than they had expected. One even went as far as to call it miraculous.

CNN's Chris Huntington talked by satellite with those doctors and McCloy's wife, who tonight has even more reason to be hopeful.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Anna McCloy says she never doubted her husband would make it out of the Sago Mine alive.

MCCLOY: From the beginning, when Randy was trapped in the mines, in the back of my head I knew that Randy was going to survive this because he has a strong will about him.

HUNTINGTON: Publicly, she's kept up that brave face for two months. But today she revealed it was only last week that Randy showed her he just might recover to be the husband and father his family needs.

MCCLOY: When he started talking and saying my name and recognizing me is when -- that I got to that point to where I had a lot more hope.

HUNTINGTON: Randy is being treated with high doses of a naturally occurring fatty acid to help regenerate the protective coating that was stripped from some of the nerve pathways in his brain by carbon monoxide poisoning.

DR. RUSSELL BIUNDO, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, HEALTHSOUTH MOUNTAINVIEW: If you look at him a month ago and look at him today, you'll see a totally different man. Almost like a resurrection.

HUNTINGTON: A resurrection aided by physical therapy. Two sessions a day to build strength, particularly on his right side, which remains weak.

Perhaps most encouraging is Randy's speech recovery. He can now enunciate clearly.

DR. JULIAN BIALES, CHAIR, NEUROSURGERY, WVU: That's extremely impressive to me. One of the most sensitive parts of brain function that you see lost during injury, particularly with any kind of head injury or brain insult, and to have that come back this early is a great, I think, prognostic or predictive sign that once again we think he's going to do well.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines