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Last Words were Captain's; Buoy Detects Pings; Flight 370 Made Rapid Descent Below 5,000 Feet; Stabbing Rampage Student Faces Multiple Charges, To Be Tried As Adult

Aired April 10, 2014 - 12:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You may not want that, revealing photos of Michaela Pereira. Join us at facebook/thishour.

That's all for us today. "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Search teams closing in. A possible new ping from Flight 370 to help pinpoint the wreckage miles below the surface of the ocean, as odd new details emerge about the final flight path and just who was tracking it.

Also this hour, what drove a student to stab and slash his way through a crowded high school hallway with two large kitchen knives? Survival stories. The horror and the hero. All of that ahead.

And, presidential perspective. On one of America's finest moments, a summit celebrating the Civil Rights Act. (INAUDIBLE) already heard from Carter and Clinton and Bush this hour. President Obama steps in. And you have a front row seat to see it live.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Thursday, April the 10th, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

From the depths of the southern Indian Ocean, to the skies over western Malaysia, we are tracking some very new and intriguing developments, revelation of the mystery of Flight 370. I want to start in the ocean because one of the sonobuoys that was essentially the floating microphone that search teams have been tossing out of airplanes by the dozens, one of them supposedly picked up a signal that could be from the missing plane's flight data or cockpit voice recorder.

If so, this would be the fifth encounter with those all-important pings just since Saturday. The others all came from the towed pinger locator that's attached to the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield with a miles long leash.

Back in Malaysia, sources are now telling CNN something different. That after Flight 370 made a hairpin turn to the west, it briefly dropped below 5,000 feet and thus disappeared from military radar. And we're learning something else, too, that Malaysia's air force apparently sent up search planes just hours after the Boeing 777's last contact with air traffic control. Now, those search planes also turned west, headed west. They also looked at the scheduled path of Flight 370, the northward one. It was supposed to be going to Beijing. But again, they went west. None of us knew anything about a trip to the west.

And, finally, for what it's worth, we now know the final recorded words from the missing plane's cockpit, "good night Malaysian 370 were in fact spoken by the captain, Captain Zaharie Shah. Now, sources say there are no signs of stress in his voice. There are no voices that did not belong. Up until now, we had thought it was the co-pilot speaking those words.

CNN's Nic Robertson has dug up much of that brand new information and he is live reporting from Kuala Lumpur.

Nic, it is unusual to be getting this much information, certainly different than what we had been hearing up until now. I'm not sure if it's as significant as it seems. But why are we getting all of this tantalizing new set of details now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, the investigation has been going on, as we all know, for over a month now. And all the time we're digging and digging and we're asking questions and pushing people to tell us the details that they have and slowly we build up credibility with these sources and slowly they begin to trust us more.

Today, we got more information from one source, took it to another source who corroborated and lined up and gave some explanations for some of that information. And together we've been able to put out some of that information.

Now, why now? Again, it's very hard to say why now. The details certainly are interesting, how long have investigators really known all this? Again, that's very hard for us to know. One of the things they've been looking at, one of the questions we've been asking, who was that person in the cockpit that made the final voice communication with air traffic control? Now we know.

The details of it, five pilots from Malaysia Airlines who knew the pilot and co-pilot were asked to listen to the air traffic control to cockpit recordings. And they have determined that on the ground it was the co-pilot who was on the radio, in the air it was the pilot on the radio, which also would mean, incidentally, by normal aircraft flight, that it would have been the co-pilot who would have been expected to be flying the aircraft at that time.

So why are we learning now? We believe, in part, because we're pushing for that information and it's coming to us because we're pushing. Beyond that is only speculation.

BANFIELD: And, Nic, so, there's a grave concern among a lot of people who are hearing about these scrambled flights that went up to look for this airplane and, in fact, went west. None of us was ever told there was any westward direction for three days. The whole world was listening to a story about a plane that simply vanished. And now we're hearing apparently not so much. They knew a lot more than they were letting on.

ROBERTSON: Yes, and if we remember back to those day, the first sources that we had telling us about the left turn were, in fact, military sources. What we know now and what we're being told now is that the military were told about 7:30 in the morning by Malaysia Airlines that Flight 370 was missing. The military says that at about 8:00 a.m. they put up what they're calling search aircraft into both the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea on the west. that original routing to Beijing.

So we didn't know at that time about that left hand turn. But what the military is saying is now, they were aware that there was a left-hand turn but they haven't been able to substantiate the data, didn't know if it related to Flight 370. But out of an abundance of caution, if you will, as a precautionary measure, they put up those search aircrafts. So they're saying they were aware of the turn but couldn't, at that stage, confirm that it was 370.

BANFIELD: CNN's Nic Robertson doing fantastic digging in Malaysia for us. Thank you for that.

I want to talk a little bit more about these pings and the significance and whether they can do the job that we need them to do, get us to that airplane. Michael Kay is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Royal Air Force, and former advisor to the U.K. defense minister, Christine Dennison is an expedition logistics specialist, and from Boston we are joined by Thomas Altshuler, who's the VP of Teledyne Marine Systems, the maker of pingers and pinger detectors.

Thomas, to you first. The significance of this news that a sonobuoy has actually picked something up? They're not telling us yet the exact location. They're not telling us all the details of it. But it had to have peaked your interest.

THOMAS ALTSHULER, TELEDYNE MARINE SYSTEMS: Oh, absolutely. Once they've narrowed the search area - actually, sonobuoys are used for search and rescue in this manner, not normally for a civilian aircraft but for military aircraft. So what they're trying to do now is to put enough in the water that they can start doing what's called triangulation. They can hear signals from multiple sonobuoys. They know where they are, and they can start to close in that box around what they think would be a pinger or a target of interest so that they can put the AUVs down and search.

BANFIELD: So I want to actually run some of these - some video of these incredible sonobuoys. You've been seeing this video for a while. They get tossed out of the aircraft. Dozens and dozens of them have been thrown out into the Indian Ocean. One of the things we haven't seen is this view from the ocean view as this plane passes over. You're going to see the sonobuoy effectively sort of flying beside it. Take a look up into the middle part of your screen. There it is.

I'm going to bring you in on this, Michael Kay, because I find this fascinating. Walk me through what we're seeing.

LT. COL. MICHAEL KAY, ROYAL AIR FORCE (RET.): This is the P-3 Orion. And what it's doing is it's about - it's dropping a Sonobuoy in the water at about 180 knots, three miles a minute. It's about 200 feet. And as you can see what's happening is the sonobuoy is deploying under the water.

BANFIELD: It's breaking up into - it looks like three or four different sort of episodes.

KAY: Absolutely it is. So you've got a little parachute which comes out and sits just below the water. That has an antenna on the top. As you can see at the moment, the parachute's opening. There's an antenna on the top that will talk to the P-3 when it goes into its orbit. Below, you'll see the hydrophone. And that will drop to up to 1,000 meters below the surface and it will listen for those black box pings. And it will do that for around eight hours.

BANFIELD: And that's what's so bizarre, this remarkable technology that we just watched from almost start to finish, it dies and sinks in eight hours. That's it? The life of this machine is eight hours?

KAY: It is. But if you - we've got to remember that the P-3 carries around 84 of these per payload and it will deploy around six of them. And it will deploy them laid in a pattern grid associated with the Ocean Shield. So the P-3 on the Ocean Shield -


KAY: Will be talking very closely about how these sonobuoys are laid out around the search area.

BANFIELD: And there are many of them. I think 84 or something per flight or per day.

KAY: Per load.

BANFIELD: Christine Dennison, I want you to weigh in on this. Can we roll that video again. It's just, right from the start to finish, because it's just so incredible to see it from the ocean view -


BANFIELD: Which is usually where you're planted -


BANFIELD: Is on the ocean surface. Are these the key -- is this the linchpin now that the sonobuoys and what they can do, because as I understand it they don't go that deep?

DENNISON: They don't go that deep. But I think one of the things that we've been seeing is that the military works according to plans and stages. And so I believe that we're beginning to see that there's a lot of data that they haven't shared with us all along. It's beginning to come out. This takes a lot of time. This takes a lot of teams, deployment, there's a whole process to it. This is, I believe, the next phase before we go into putting in an AUV.

BANFIELD: Even though they only - they only go to a thousand feet?

DENNISON: Well, they're also to back up what they've been hearing because you've got a much weaker signal at this point from these black boxes. You have time running out. This is kind of the last effort before you deploy an AUV. And I -- if it were my teams, I would be trying to do this for the next two or three days until we just do not get a signal before you deploy the AUV.

BANFIELD: It's such an incredible view to see this right from the air down into their complete deployment. It's a remarkable view to the work that's being done right now and hopefully this will lead to the answers everybody wants, where are the black boxes, where is the plane?

Christine Dennison, thank you. And also Thomas Altshuler, appreciate your views as well. And Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kay.

Stay with us, everybody. Next on LEGAL VIEW, another big story, that horrific stabbing rampage at a Pennsylvania high school and the teenager now, while he looks small and vulnerable, make no mistake, the authorities are saying he needs to be treated as an adult and he has thus been charged as so. A live report on the last and our legal panel is going to weigh in on whether he will stay in this system as an adult. Believe it or not, it can be reversed.

Also this hour, the big event that brought President Obama and three other living U.S. presidents together in Texas. A summit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Live remarks straight ahead.


BANFIELD: Now to today's other big story, that vicious stabbing attack at a Pennsylvania high school. The FBI now seizing a computer, two in fact, and a cell phone at the suspect's home this morning. All that from the 16-year-old suspect Alex Hribal, seen here in the hospital gown. He's now been charged as an adult. Police say he moved through a crowded hallway, then classroom to classroom swinging two kitchen knives. In the end, 21 people slashed or stabbed, four of them in critical condition. And a short while ago, we heard from one of the victims and his mother.


BRETT HURT, INJURED IN STABBING ATTACK: It was all kind of like a blur. The only thing I remember is messing around with Gracie (ph) and like bumping her out of the way because it's -- usually I just goof off in the morning just a little bit and be playful. The next thing I know, the kid runs (ph) by and hits me in the back and that's when everything just went into straight chaos.

AMANDA HURT, STABBING VICTIM'S MOTHER: To know that my son made it and to know that so far every parent can be blessed to know that their child is still here, to me, that's a godsend. It really is. When my daughter called me at work yesterday freaking out and told me that my son was on the list of victims, I dropped. I don't think any parent in the world would ever want to go through that kind of agony. And for all the students who are in the hospital with their children right now, I send my condolences and I understand your pain.


BANFIELD: Miguel Marquez is in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Miguel, what's the latest?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is they are going through all those computers and cell phones and all the data they extracted from Mr. Hribal's home yesterday. The FBI descended on that home with about 12 agents in total, went around back into the driveway and in the front door.

The family, as far as we know, is cooperating fully. We know that his lawyers expects his family will speak to their son today where he is being held. The lawyer also expects to Mr. Hribal today and hopefully ascertain more about what happened there.

Police still going through this stuff here at the school, the school is shut until Monday, and they are trying to get a better idea of why he did this.

We also know that one of those victims, still very badly injured, went through a surgery overnight. He had another surgery, in part because of the way Mr. Hribal went through the school, holding the knife not like this like you would cut vegetables but rather like this and stabbing it into the belly and soft parts of some of those individuals and that's what happened to that individual.

If that person, God forbid, dies, then he would face further charges.


BANFIELD: Without question. And, of course, all of these just allegations at this time, but the investigation will hopefully lead to some answers, if anything.

Miguel Marquez, reporting live for us in Murrysville, thank you for that.

The suspect's attorney is describing his client as a well liked student with no previous mental health problems. He spoke this morning on "NEW DAY."


PATRICK THOMASSEY, ATTORNEY FOR ALEX HRIBAL: This is a nice young boy. I mean, nobody would expect this. This is not a dysfunctional family. They're like the Brady Bunch. These parents are active with their two sons.

And we're trying to figure out what happened, so we're going to get mental health experts involved with this and try to figure it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: He said Brady Bunch. He also said they had dinner every night as a family, like Ozzie and Harriet.

I want to bring in our legal panel on this, legal analyst Paul Callan and HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson, joining me now.

Joey, I want to start with you. Only four attempted homicide charges, why, with that many victims?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Here's what they're going to do Ashleigh.

What they did was they charged that, and they also charged aggravated assault as to the 20.

BANFIELD: How do they decide the difference?

JACKSON: Because it relates to the exact and specific conduct that occurred here. OK, when you're talking about attempted homicide, which they did charge, and it relates to the four charges that you talk about, then they also charged the 20 aggravated-assault counts.

Now, mind you, Ashleigh, critical in this case is whether or not his attorney, when he petitions that court gets it removed back to juvenile court.

BANFIELD: I'll get to that in a moment.


BANFIELD: But I still don't understand if it's a random attack on as many as you can hit, what makes one an attempted homicide and one an aggravated assault?

JACKSON: Because of the nature of the offense. What happens is they assess it, and as Miguel spoke to, what'll happen is they'll continue to investigation. In the event that people are upgraded in terms of their medical conditions, you can see more charges.

BANFIELD: Lots of room to move.

JACKSON: Absolutely. But right now what they did is they assessed it, and based upon the cuts and slashes to some who are in critical condition and who -- you know, those four people who get those attempted murder charges, that's what that's for.

But the other people who were slashed, the 20 --

BANFIELD: That can change.

JACKSON: That can change.

BANFIELD: And very well could.

JACKSON: It very well could change. BANFIELD: But then on the other side of the coin, Paul, to you, it could change in his favor. His attorney has made no bones about it. He wants him brought right back down to juvenile court. I don't recall covering any cases where I've seen that actually happen.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. And, you know, it's a strange procedure in Pennsylvania. In a lot of states, these kids, juveniles, start out in juvenile court and then it gets transferred to adult court if it's a serious case.

In Pennsylvania, you start out with a serious case like this in adult court, and then you have to petition to go back to juvenile court. I don't think you'll ever see this case sent back to juvenile court, too serious.

BANFIELD: Can I ask you one very short question, and that is this -- I have covered a case where the kid went through the adult trial procedure and was sentenced as a juvenile. Is that possible here, do you think?

CALLAN: Well --

BANFIELD: It's weird.

CALLAN: Well, it --

JACKSON: I don't see it.

CALLAN: It's very, very weird, but you know what you're making me think about? The Skakel case in Connecticut. He was a juvenile when he was convicted -- when he allegedly committed that crime, so it gets confusing.

But, you know, in this case, I think it will stay in adult court. And this thing's going to sort it itself out, and I think we're going to find a history of mental problems, and this ain't the Brady Brunch. This is something very different.

JACKSON: You hear him described as a nice kid. I mean --

BANFIELD: It's hard to hear that.

JACKSON: Hard to believe.

BANFIELD: We've still got a kid who might die. There is still a kid who could not pull out of this, so it is very hard to hear somebody describe him --

CALLAN: You don't start stabbing people at age 16 randomly, so --

BANFIELD: I have got to leave it there, guys. Joey, thank you. Paul, thank you, as always.

And more coming up next, more on that mystery of Flight 370, including why we're just now learning, just now, what are we, Day 34, that the Malaysian air force scrambled aircraft to go search for the flight that was missing, yet we didn't know anything about that for days.

Going to get my panel's thoughts on that.

We're also awaiting a live news conference -- actually, they're remarks, remarks from President Obama at the LBJ Presidential Library, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Lots of presidents in that room, you're going to hear about it, next.


BANFIELD: Hi, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

We are following some major developments in the search for Flight 370. We've learned that at some point, after taking a very strange westward turn, the jet's altitude dropped from a cruising altitude of about 30,000 feet to somewhere below 5,000 feet, possibly as low as 4,000 feet.

Eventually, that plane regained altitude to about 12,000 feet, very strange movements, indeed, especially coming a month after all of this began. The source also telling CNN that the final words that were heard from the plane were spoken by the pilot and not, as we had originally known, as the co-pilot's last words.

As well, the Malaysian air force sent search aircraft out looking for that jet west of Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca and also north along the scheduled path. It was supposed to go to Beijing. They did that the morning of March 8th, just hours after the flight was reported missing. Remember, we never found out about any westward path for three days. They sure were looking there.

It could change the timeline of what officials knew and when. The public not knowing anything about the westward turn until March 11th after the jet had been gone for three days? They didn't call off the northern corridor search, either, until March 25th.

In the meantime, the search crews are now analyzing what could be some brand-new pings from the jet's black boxes, possibly, or maybe from something else. It depends on what the data gives them.

I want to dig now into the clues and what they tell us about this mystery. Joining me, once again, is retired lieutenant colonel in the British military, Michael, and also CNN's safety analyst, David Soucie. Let me correct that. Royal Air Force. Give you credit where credit is due.


BANFIELD: Royal Air Force.

First to you, David Kay. I don't know why I'm so annoyed by this news coming out as late as this has about the westward turn. Three days later, they told us about the westward turn, but they knew about it, hours after. Should I be annoyed or is that the kind of thing that investigators like you keep close to the vest for a good reason? DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: The only reason you would keep it close to the vest is if it was a criminal investigation from the beginning. And they didn't think that it was that I'm aware of, at that time.

If it was a criminal investigation, then they would have kept that information to themselves and been able to send out these search aircraft. But they were search aircraft, so it wasn't a defensive move. It wasn't like they didn't know what aircraft it was coming into their airspace.

If it was an unknown ping that they didn't know was associated with this airplane, they would have sent out defensive aircraft, which Michael could probably speak to better than I could. But at this point, they sent out search aircraft, which I find very curious.

BANFIELD: But curious in what way?

SOUCIE: Well, because of the fact that they didn't release the information, so they're assuming it's a criminal investigation --

BANFIELD: Why wouldn't they have scrambled the jets? Why wouldn't they have gone defense?

SOUCIE: That's my point, exactly. Why wouldn't they have?

BANFIELD: And, by the way, I called you David Kay. That's crazy. You're David Soucie. He's Kay.

KAY: It's a great hybrid.

SOUCIE: We used to be brothers.

KAY: It's a great hybrid.

BANFIELD Let me ask you something about the voice. I don't know why so many people are stuck on who said what and when out of that cockpit.

But for a long time, they told us the last words were something other than what they really were, and now they're telling us the last words were spoken by someone actually different than we were under the understanding of.

It was spoken by the pilot. Does that mean that the co-pilot was at the controls, and should that matter to all of this?

KAY: David and I have spoken about this a number of times, and, actually, we have to look at the relevance of it. I don't think there's any relevance between whether it was the co-pilot or the pilot. What's importance is the consistency of the voice right from the very start when he checked in on ground frequency all the way up until the last sound bite.

If there's a consistency, whether it's a co-pilot or a pilot, then to me, that just strikes something's going on that's normal. If it's someone that's different, Ashleigh, if it's not the pilot or the co- pilot, that's when it would be interesting.

BANFIELD: I bring that up because there has been so much scrutiny on this pilot, people have gone on the air waves effectively calling him a terrorist, for God's sake, you know? And apparently this guy wasn't even at the controls.

KAY: Yeah, and I think it's completely wrong. I think he's been charged with being guilty before any looks at the evidence. We don't even know where the aircraft is at this point. So we've got three phases of the operation, where, what and why? Everyone's looking at the why without even knowing where the where is at the moment.

So again, let's take a couple steps back. Let's concentrate where the aircraft is. Let's get the black boxes. Let's understand what happened to the airplane. And then all the rest of it, the phase three, the why bit, will come out in the wash.

BANFIELD: You know, David, I know you talked to your sources in the investigators' world, and there are many who are deployed on this particular project.

The news today that a sonobuoy actually picked something up, you know, everybody's just scrambling for any shred of news that might help them in this process, but do you see it being a big development?

SOUCIE: I wouldn't say it's a big development. It's a complementary development to the other pings that we've seen.