tv Newsmakers CSPAN November 15, 2009 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
a heinous crime. a group of teens accused of turning a helpless boy into a human torch, setting him on fire over money for a video game, 40 bucks. new on the story, three boys charged as adults with attempted murder as the 15-year-old victim fights for his life. plus an incredible story. teenager, a kid off the streets of memphis abandoned, homeless, yet he overcomes amazing odds. a family takes him in. he goes from homeless to being an nfl star. now his life is a hollywood movie. we'll have the honor of talking to pro offensive tackle michael
oher. an exclusive interview, emotional, inspiring, and will make us all stop and take a good long, hard look at our own life. controversy, opinion, your point of view. this is "prime news." welcome. i'm mike galanos. first this. what a horrifying visual. a 15-year-old boy doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire. michael brewer is in critical condition at a hospital in miami. he has burns over 65% of his body. he can't really talk well. there are bandages that have to be changed daily and the process takes about four hours. five teens were accused of turning him into a human torch, to quote from the judge. now three of them are charged as adults with attempted murder. earlier this week i spoke with a criminal defense attorney elizabeth kelly and, john, let's start with the charges. we've got three teens, three of the five charged as adults facing attempted murder charges. how did the prosecution lay this out that they should be charged as adults? >> well, actually they went through some psychological
counseling, a couple of them, and based on the results of some of that psychological counseling as well as the, you know, interviews with the defendants in the case three of the five were charged late yesterday with attempted murder in the second degree. they appeared in bond court. you can see that there today. the three that appeared in bond court, that's mike, matthew bent, jason mendez, and denver jarvis there on the right. so those three in court today. and the judge saying that given the horrific nature of what they had allegedly done that there would be no bond in the case. now, there is some good news today to report. we had a long, extensive interview with the doctor at the jackson memorial hospital burn center yesterday afternoon. he was saying that, you know, very slowly they have been trying to wean michael off of the ventilator. well, late this afternoon they
-- we got word from the hospital that, in fact, he is off the ventilator. that's good news but couch it by what the doctor also told us, that, in fact, things can turn from good to bad and bad to good very quickly. >> so his survival is not assured, right, john? >> no. it's absolutely not. in fact, you know, the doctor told us that, look. we are hoping that he survives. we are heading in that direction. but at the same time, he said, it would not surprise him if michael brewer did not survive. remember, 2/3 of his skin, and as the doctor put it, 2/3 of the largest organ in the body, the skin, is gone. and he also said that hollywood has never come up with anything as gruesome as this and he hopes they never do. >> we can come in each day or
get a phone call at any time that things are getting a lot worse or getting a tiny bit better. people get sick real fast. they get better slowly. and right now with him we're getting a tiny bit better every day. >> there you have the doctor saying that, in fact, getting a tiny bit better every day, but understand we're not talking about someone who is going to be out of the intensive care unit, you know, in a week or two weeks. months of intensive care followed by, you know, months of therapy. another piece of the good news is that fortunately for him according to the doctor there that his hands appear to be spared for the most part of the burns as does his face. so he will not be -- have facial disfigurement. certainly that is good news. >> okay. a couple good pieces there but it's sobering news, john, when you also find out, hey, things could take a quick turn. let's bring in elizabeth kelly on this, criminal defense attorney. i'm going to read a facebook comment, kind of a question from
michelle writing how can you try a child with a child's brain as an adult? try the parents. they have a huge part to play in this. try hollywood who feeds our children violence like this. it gets to the point. what factors lead into charging a teen as an adult here? >> well, michelle's question or michelle's point is absolutely right. these are kids. they have kid-sized brains. this is a medical fact. this is a fact that the u.s. supreme court has acknowledged and they should be tried as kids. if they are tried as adults and convicted as adults and punished as adults, then you are going to ruin two more lives and two more families. nothing is going to restore mr. brewer but ruining additional lives and additional families will not help the situation. >> what's proper punishment, elizabeth? can the juvenile system dole out enough punishment for the heinous act they're alleged to have done? >> certainly so. that's what our juvenile system was designed to do.
it was designed well over a hundred years ago with the idea that kids are different, that they are capable of being rehabilitated, and the best way to rehabilitate them is to give them hope that one day they will get out of jail or prison and lead productive and law-abiding lives. >> john, basically what we have here is allegedly matthew bent told denver jarvis to pour the alcohol on michael brewer and then jesus mendez lit him on fire. so they're the three main players here. have their families spoken at all, the suspects' families? >> jarvis' family has spoken and, remember, he has a younger brother, also, denver's younger brother who is one of the two juveniles who's not been charged as an adult. and his mother did speak last week saying how deeply, deeply saddened they were by all of this. that's the only family that has actually spoken of those that
are facing these terrible charges. interesting note, michael, that when we talked to the forensic psychologist who conducted the interviews, with the two jarvis brothers, he said that these kids, and they had -- right now, i mean, they are absolutely just devastated. they have no real conception of how deeply -- how much trouble they are in. they just never realized it would get to this point. they're standing in court there and in orange jumpsuits in a daze. >> wow. we have to leave it there, guys. thank you so much. coming up, my exclusive sbrir with michael oher, the ravens offensive tackle and the real inspiration for the new hollywood movie "the blind side." he was homeless, rough childhood, and i had a chance to talk to him about the odds of his life turning out like this. >> it was tough for me. a lot of people don't make it
is offering the country's first college level diploma program. >> we can study its impact on society, on people's lives. where does this music come from? when it's angry, what are people trying to say? >> joining me now dr. james peterson professor at bucknell university and the self-proclaimed hip-hop scholar. who better to talk about this? all right, dr. peterson. is this a legitimate diploma? >> of course it's legitimate. i took a look at it online to see what courses they're offering. there's a couple different tracks. it's absolutely legitimate. it's legitimate in a couple different ways. on the one hand, there are courses of study you can take in terms of learning the production of the music and the creation of the music which is just like creating and producing any other form of music but they also have courses that investigate the industry, the business side and the kind of courses i teach investigate the more literary and poetic side.
there's a wide range of curriculum. >> i know you also researched making this happen at other schools. what were your concerns when you started to broach the idea about a hip-hop diploma? i know you know people are going to think what are you talking about? >> sure. well, the main resistance is related to the perception of hip hop culture in general. what people see in the main stream, a lot of violence and a lot of consumerism on mtv and b.e. templt and sometimes equate that with hip-hop culture when actually that's literally the tip of the iceberg. under the surface there is a tremendous amount of cultural energy, intellectual energy, and educational potential. the biggest thing we have to contend with is the public perception of main stream hip hop, kind of taking it out of contention for academic consideration. >> what kind of student would be interested in this? >> all students are interested in this. when i teach a hip-hop course at bucknell university and i've taught at other universities, these are the first classes to fill up, the most diverse classes. and students are absolutely engaged. that's just purely on the academic level. what's going on in minnesota is a little different, which is they're actually allowing
artists and kids who are interested in becoming artists within hip-hop culture to perfect their craft. so there's multiple ways of getting hip-hop culture into the curriculum. i'm very happy to see programs like this happening around the country. >> okay. so what can someone do with this diploma, this degree, once they have it? what do you do with it? >> sure. can i also say that people often ask what do you do with an english degree? >> fair enough. >> but what you can do with this minnesota program is you can create music. and i know that's sort of a pipe dream to be an artist but there are young people out there committed to that as a dream. the program allows them to learn to use different aspects of technology, how to actually make songs, how to produce songs. you know, the production within hip-hop culture has been democratized. you can make a hip hop song with a computer software program essentially but you still have to learn how to do that. you need to learn the craft. when you come out of this program you'll be able to do some of those things. i applaud it and i think it's a great idea. >> thank you for your insight.
you are the hip-hop scholar. who else are we going to call? james peterson, thank you. >> thank you for having me. >> for more of what matters check out the december issue of "essence" magazine or log on to cnn.com/what matters. all right. coming up a georgia teacher says she was forced to resign over photos and an expletive on her facebook page. pictures showing her holding a glass of beer, a glass of wine on a trip to europe. that's enough to make you resign? the principal says a parent complained. we'll delve into that one. plus, you do not want to miss this incredible story. i had the honor to talk with ravens offensive tackle michael oher, the guy featured in the new sandra bullock movie "the blind side." as a teen kid abandoned, homeless in the streets of memphis, he overcame those amazing odds with the help of a family. this guy goes from homeless to nfl star. now his life is a hollywood movie. my exclusive interview with michael oher coming up. here's a new way to join in on the conversation.
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said she was blind-sided in august when the principal told her a parent complained about a picture from her trip to europe. there's the picture, one of them. she's sipping beer at the top of the guinness brewery in dublin. these are pretty tame photos. not like she's at a wild party scene swinging from a chandelier. she says the pictures are not bad. just having a beer. is that enough to force someone to resign? joining us to talk about it we have ashley payne along with her attorney richard stores. also joining us attorney tonya acker. ashley, what am i missing? is there some photo we're not seeing? they look pretty tame to me. is there some photo i'm not seeing. >> i don't think so. i was never shown the photo in question so i'm not sure which one they're talking about. i can just look back at my own facebook page and know the only ones i posted of myself were of a nature you see there in these pictures on the air. they're just pictures of me having a drink in europe with friends.
>> that's it. >> that's it. >> so the principal approached you? what did he say? >> he told me that a parent had called in and complained about a message that i posted on my facebook account and about some pictures of me with alcohol. he just asked me if i had those things. i said, yes. i've got some pictures from my trip to europe this summer that a co-worker and i went on with other friends. it was completely nonschool related. i told him i had those things up there and he said that with the language and the pictures that was enough to warrant a suspension. he represented that the decision to suspend me had already been made by himself and the superintendent. >> so there was no investigation. there was no chance for you to even state your side of the story? >> no. there was no investigation. i was stopped on the way into the school that morning and
brought into the assistant principal's office. i had no advance notice of what the complaints were and i was railroaded into resigning right there on the spot before i left that office. i wasn't given any time to think about it and come back to them with my decision. >> okay. let me read a portion of their statement. i believe they have a code of ethics. and part of this policy deals with employees using social networking sites like facebook, myspace. here it is. talking about inappropriate personal information such as but not limited to provocative photographs, sexually explicit messages, use of alcohol. i guess that's what they're talking about. it goes on and talks about drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing. must understand if students, parents, or other employees obtain access to such information their case will be investigated by the school. we wonder if there was an investigation. and the district and if warranted will be disciplined up to and including termination for the severity of the offense. was it that severe? we'll take your calls on this one. 1-877-tell-hln.