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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mystery of Flight 370
Aired March 11, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us. We begin tonight with a simple question, a question many people have been asking themselves. How can a modern airliner just vanish? Turns out there are no simple answers. There are however truly stung developments today in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Stunning because normally in the days after a disaster, unless there's no information to go on whatsoever, the possible explanations begin to narrow not broaden. But today they got broader, they got wider. The search area gets smaller and not larger. But now it is.
Clues start pointing in one direction, not several, including as it did today amazingly toward a tiny spot of land hundreds of miles from where the airliner was thought to have vanished even yesterday.
Going to day five since the Boeing 777 vanished, the people searching both for it and for answers have done a 180.
A lot to cover tonight starting with CNN's Rene Marsh.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the last known location of Flight 370 over the South China Sea as civilian aviation radar suggests. But now a dramatic new turn of events. A Malaysian military source tells CNN their radar shows the plane may have still been flying an hour and 10 minutes later.
Instead of being off to the east coast of Malaysia, it apparently turned to the opposite direction and flew to the Malacca Straits west of the peninsula. Its last known location according to the Malaysian Air Force was just over this small island called Pulau Parak. Adding to the mystery, why were the transponders in the cockpit that are used to tract the plane turned off?
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: You have to very a very deliberative process to turn the transponder off. And if someone did that in the cockpit they were doing it to disguise the route of the plane.
MARSH: Malaysian Police are now looking at three areas, hijacking, sabotage, and psychological or personal problems with the passengers or crew.
GOELZ: Was there someone unauthorized in the cockpit ordered the transponder turned off, ordered the plane to fly, you know, a 90- degree turn off course? Second is, did one of the pilots do it themselves?
MARSH: Authorities now say they've identified the two passengers traveling on stolen passports. They're not believed to have any ties to terror. One of the passengers, 18-year-old Pouria Nourmohammadi was trying to get to Germany where his mother lived. The other was 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammed Reza.
Malaysian officials have been asked about in-flight protocol and say cockpit doors are always kept closed during flight. But one woman told an Australian news magazine the copilot of the missing plane allowed her and a friend in the cockpit in 2011. They say they were in the cockpit for takeoff and landing and were invited to spend time with the copilot in Kuala Lumpur.
An airline statement says they are shocked by the allegations and unable to confirm the authenticity of the photos.
As searchers look for the missing plane, aviation authorities are looking at many other possibilities besides a criminal act. Could the pilots have been incapacitated due to loss of oxygen? Could there have been some sort of massive mechanical failure or could the military radar have tracked something else besides this plane?
Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, today's dramatic shift in the investigation, the possibility of a drastic change in course refocuses attention on the possibility of hijacking, as Rene was saying, either by passengers or a crew member as in the Ethiopian Airlines flight just a few weeks ago.
For more on how criminal investigators in the counterterrorism community is pursuing leads, I want to bring in our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.
Jim, so how are U.S. officials reacting to this new information about the transponder and radar contact?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're reacting by saying these are all leads, these are all theories that need to be checked out. And if possible substantiated. In fact you had the director of the CIA, John Brennan, speaking in public today saying that the CIA has not ruled out terrorism. And I had a chance to ask him a question because as he's sitting there speaking I get word for the first time reading my BlackBerry news about this transponder being switched off.
So I asked him that question, he said that's a question that needs to be answered and something that needs to be checked out. He said there were a number of things including the change of direction that we see there on the map and even mentioned those stolen passports which is a lead they followed. And that turned out not to have a terror angle. But they're checking out all of these questions.
COOPER: The only thing I can't understand, Jim, is why on day four it's now that we're hearing from Malaysian military about this radical change in direction. I mean, there have been reports about a change in direction days ago but nothing this extreme going basically the opposite direction. Has the U.S. -- I mean, have U.S. officials known about this radical change in course? And has their assessment of potential involvement of terrorism, has it changed at all?
SCIUTTO: Well, to my knowledge they did not know about this change in course. And there are even questions about this because you have others in the prime minister's office who are saying that this data about going over that island there at the end is not information that they have. And it's remarkable as you say that the military would have known this from the moment the plane disappeared and only to share it today, you know, a tremendous mystery.
But intelligence officials I talked to, their position has not changed. They still say they have nothing to indicate this was terror to this point. They are checking out all leads, and as the director of the CIA John Brennan said, they have not ruled out terror but they haven't seen anything including this new information today that leads them to say terrorism.
Doesn't mean they've ruled it out, doesn't mean they might change their minds at some point. But to this point they don't have a substantial tie.
COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, appreciate the update.
Want to explore all the responsibilities tonight on the search as well as the investigative and intelligence angle. Joining us is Shawn Henry, president of Crowd Strikes Services, former executive assistant director of the FBI where he was responsible for the bureau's Cyber Criminal and International Divisions.
Also David Gallo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He was co-leader of the search for the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 and former NTSB managing director Peter Goelz who you saw a moment ago in Rene Marsh's report.
Peter, let me start with you. What do you make of the news that the transponder was turned off and the plane made a significant turn? What does that tell you? How easy is it, how difficult is it to turn off a transponder? Can it just break?
GOELZ: No, it's not difficult and pilots can do it, although the circumstances of them being able to do it or wanting to do it is simply inexplicable. They wouldn't want to do that. You don't want to fly blind to your air traffic controllers and to other aircraft.
The real problem in this so far, Anderson, is how the investigation is being conducted. This is a military-led investigation. There are protocols and there's a treaty signed that should be governing this investigation that would allow other countries to step in and give assistance that we have a standing to do that. And so far the Malaysians have chosen not to exercise that treaty. It's being run by the military. And we've got real chaos.
COOPER: Do we know why they haven't exercised that treaty? Is it a point of pride?
GOELZ: Well, I mean, they're a signatory to the treaty. This is the International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 13. And if you have an accident, it sets out the protocols. The NTSB would be the American accredited representative there. They have not been involved yet in helping the Malaysians.
COOPER: Wow. And, David, you say that this is turning to really one of the biggest mysteries of all time. Are you encouraged by this new information, the new focus on the straits of Malacca and do you understand why it took this long for the information to come out?
DAVID GALLO, CO-LEADER, SEARCH FOR AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447: Anderson, I -- you know, the one thing we have to go on is solid facts, the real evidence. And that to me up until today was the last known position of that plane. If I had a team on the sidelines waiting to go with a ship mobilized with search gear, this would be really frustrating to say not only is it not here in the spot we thought it is, it's in another ocean out on the other side of this peninsula.
I mean, truly frustrating. But on the other hand, you've got to go with the -- unturned theory, too, that that plane has got to be someplace and they need to check out these leads. But really frustrating and really perplexing.
COOPER: And just because that was the last place -- according to these Malaysian military that it was on the radar, that doesn't necessarily mean that something happened to it in that spot. It could just be at that point, Shawn, flying below radar.
SHAWN HENRY, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI: Yes. That's true.
COOPER: Shawn, go ahead.
HENRY: Yes. That's right, Anderson. I mean, you don't know until you actually find the physical evidence. Building on David's point, you know, there are four competing theories of what's occurred here and we've really got to look at all the facts whether it'd be terrorism, hijacking, pilot error or mechanical failure. At this point without any real physical evidence I think you've got to look at all the people that are involved.
And three of those competing theories there are people that would have been involved in those first three and perhaps even in a mechanical failure there may be people involved. I think from an investigative perspective you've got to look at who the people were, the people that were on the plane, the people that were on the ground, the pilots in those -- in that aircraft. And that's -- you've got to chase those facts fully to try and develop this to full conclusion. COOPER: But, Shawn, in terms of mechanical failure does it make sense that the transponder would be turned off? I mean, is that possible just with mechanical failure the transponder would just stop working?
HENRY: So I'm not an aviation expert but -- from what I've heard from aviation experts if there were some catastrophic failure and all the electricity to that aircraft was shut off, that it could turn off the transponder.
COOPER: Peter, does that -- does that jibe with what you understand as well?
GOELZ: Well, you know, theoretically it could. But remember the 777 has multiple redundancies for this kind of potential failure. And as a last resort it has what's known as a ram jet generator. They can drop this generator. It deploys beneath the aircraft. And the forward speeds generate enough electricity to run their basic avionics and to run their transponder. So it really is very perplexing.
COOPER: So, Peter, yesterday on the program, I talked to a number of former pilots, all who believe something catastrophic and quick must have happened. If what we now have learned today about this change of direction, and the plane flying in the completely opposite direction is true, does that rule out something catastrophic? The fact that the plane was able to, I mean, change direction was able to continue to fly?
GOELZ: Well, it implies that it was under some sort of human control. And that's the issue for the Malaysians to start getting other people involved in the investigation. To start looking, getting other experts to review the radar tapes, to review making inquiries. Whose radar was turned on that night? Were there any war ships in the straits that had their radar turned on? We need to get as much evidence as possible from the radar to help us figure out where this plane is.
COOPER: And, David, you point out that the Straits of Malacca, they're relatively shallow. But if a plane turned and ended up in the open sea to the north even the depth there get much deeper.
GALLO: Yes. In the Gulf of Thailand and the southern parts of the straits it's fairly shallow. In fact it's shallower than the length of the plane. So if the plane was standing on its nose it would be sticking out of the water. But if you get into the Andaman Sea you're in 2 1/2 miles of water and that's a whole different ball game.
But you know, at the end of the day, Anderson, what it's going to come down to with no witnesses, not a lot of evidence, we've got to find that plane and retrieve those black boxes with the hope that the information is on those black boxes.
COOPER: But as you know better than anybody, I mean, that can take years. It took I think two years in the Air France flight that went down between Rio and Paris.
GALLO: Yes. I was hoping against hope that, you know, Air France was in a remote area in very deep water.
COOPER: Right, 13,000 feet.
GALLO: And very rugged under water mountain range. Right. Yes. Right. And in this case it's in a heavily trafficked area, it's not remote, it's very shallow water. So, you know, I was hoping that we'd find that X marks the spot of the haystack and then the pieces of the needle would be fairly easy to find. But, you know, again it's incredibly perplexing.
COOPER: Shawn, if this was a terrorist act, obviously or generally, typically, terrorists do like to claim credit for it or some sort of a video would be released. I mean, it's -- a terrorist act is all about making an impact, a political statement, some sort of public statement. If nobody knows it's a terrorist act it's not much of a statement. What do you make of that?
HENRY: Yes, I think that you still can't rule terrorism out but that is one of the questions that a lot of folks have is why hasn't there been some public statement made. That is typically on the heels of a terrorist organization looking to strike fear in the hearts of citizens. They want to proclaim that they were behind it. So that certainly is a concern here.
But I agree with some of the other folks in the intelligence community that until you've got -- collected all the facts you certainly can't rule that out. There might be another reason for them not coming forward at this point. If this were perhaps -- if it was a terrorist incident, and I'm purely speculating, this was part of a much larger or broader potential act and for whatever reason they wouldn't come forward at this point but at a later time.
COOPER: I see. So you're saying if again it was part of a terrorist act and part of a larger operation that operation may be under way or about to take place and therefore they wouldn't want to tip their hand.
HENRY: That's certainly a possibility. Speculation of course.
COOPER: Right. And again we just simply don't know at this point.
Shawn Henry, appreciate it. David Gallo, Peter Goelz, as well.
You can follow me on Twitter, let's talk about this online. Tweet us using #ac360.
Coming up next, though, we'll continue to follow this investigation. We're going to take you to Kuala Lumpur where complaints about the government's handling there, the Malaysian government's handling of the investigation are growing particularly among the families who are so desperately waiting.
We'll also look at some of aviation's toughest mysteries, how they were solved and why some became the focus of all kinds of extreme theories. We'll be right back.
COOPER: For all today's dramatic developments in the search for Flight 370 there are as yet no solid answers, only questions. And human nature has a tough time with that. Certainly not knowing is certainly hard and difficult. People want to connect the dots even when there are no dots to connect.
That's why as these kind of case proceed along with the false leads and the blind alleys and unsolvable mysteries you also see a lot of wishful thinking and out and out fantasy scenarios.
Well, more on that tonight from Pamela Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the wreckage still missing, speculation isn't. Theories of what happened to Flight 370 are swirling all over the Internet, mostly over social media sites like Twitter.
JONATHAN KAY, JOURNALIST: It's accelerated in recent years because of the Internet and because in this case of the international aspect of the story where you have people piping in with their conspiracy theories literally from all around the world.
BROWN: Late yesterday, a theory rocketed around the Internet about phone calls from family members to people who were on the plane. Relatives said they could tell the phones of the missing were still on by checking a popular Chinese instant messenger service called QQ. Relatives also saying when they dialed some passenger's numbers the phones would actually ring and not go straight to voicemail, indicating they were indeed on.
Were they turned on because passengers were trying to make frantic calls, something else? According to the "Washington Post," the desperate families demanded answers from the airline but were ignored.
KAY: It's now a fairly rare event when a name brand airliner crashes. And so when that does happen people suspect that some sort of horrible foul play was involved.
BROWN: Another theory, a meteor took the plane down. There was a known meteor in the area at the time the plane took off. So could it have hit the plane? Given what we know about the erratic flight path, highly unlikely. And then there's the idea of the miraculous might have happened, that the plane somehow landed near the rocky outcrop of an island called Pulau Perak and the passengers are still alive.
A close look at the island shows how forbidding the place really is. And the approach to the rocky coast would be treacherous. And the steep walls would make the idea of anyone climbing from the wreckage to safely exceedingly difficult.
But look closely at this archival photo. You can see some structures at the summit of the island. Is there anyone inside? Doubtful. But it does give the families and loved ones of the passengers a place to put their hope.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: And Pamela Brown joins us now.
The lack of information and the conflicting stories coming from the Malaysian government, that's obviously driving some of these stories. People come up with their own theories as to what actually happened.
BROWN: Yes, Anderson, that's right. That's certainly sort of fueling the fire. In this case what you're seeing is people sort of honing in on the irregularities, the oddities that you see that they do in any disaster to weave together a larger theory that would help them make sense of it.
And, you know, when you have a dearth of information like you do in this case people want to fill that vacuum with their own theories just like they did in so many other historical tragedies, with 9/11, the JFK assassination and other plane crashes we've seen. It's really a way for some people to create order in the universe and believe that, you know, bad things don't just happen, they happen because bad people make them happen.
And you can bet, Anderson, as the time passes on and we still -- this remains a mystery that people will continue to come up with their own theories as to what happened here.
COOPER: Yes, understandable. Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
Again we simply don't know. It very well may be some sort of act of terror, something involving people. As you might imagine the lack of information is -- in general is causing strain among the families. There are also complaints that Malaysian authorities have been contradictory or less than fully forthcoming with their statements.
Jim Clancy is in Kuala Lumpur. He joins us with the latest from there.
What's it been like on the ground? I mean, I cannot imagine what these last four days have been like for families, for loved ones. Are they getting the answers now that they need or at least they're getting timely information?
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're getting a stream of information, but it doesn't tell them anything. And that only makes them more frustrated. I think that, you know, when we look at the record, I've been here now for five days, and looking at -- across the whole seen we have been given conflicting stories. We are told that the plane disappeared, its transponder stopped sending signals when it was right at the crossing point out in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.
It may have attempted a turn back there. Meantime, the U.S. Navy has been sent to the Straits of Malacca to search. When we asked and we tried to press military officials here exactly where did you track this plane, how far did it go, they would only say there, to that point in the South China Sea. And then a senior air force source telling CNN last night that the military had tracked the plane all the way to that island that you're talking about, Pulau Perak.
And the situation is one where everybody is left confused. Why are they searching the South China Sea if they tracked the plane there? There are perhaps competition between different governmental agencies here. But it has left people very frustrated because they don't feel the resources have been deployed in the right place at the right time. So, you know, there's going to be repercussions from all of this.
The prime minister's office has said it's not true that they didn't track the plane all the way to that island. We're going to have to wait and see. I think there's a lot of skepticism on the ground from the media and everybody else about what is actually going on in this search. I personally and others have pressed them, show us the radar records. Let us see where the plane went. They say for security reasons they're not going to be doing that. They're trying to get more information -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, I mean, that's just infuriating. Obviously governments want to sort of protect their -- you know, capabilities, their radar capabilities. And maybe that's some of their reluctance to share information. But I just don't understand. It doesn't make sense to me why after four days all of a sudden we get this report from this Malaysian military or air force source talking about this complete radical change in direction if they've been searching -- I mean, it sounds like not only are they not disseminating information to the public and to the families and to journalists, but more importantly even to within the Malaysian government or authorities who are searching for this. It doesn't sound like there's that clear chain of information.
CLANCY: There is -- there is competition between some of these government agencies. There's no doubt about that. The Chinese have come here for many reasons, but one of them certainly is to try to get to the heart of it to see the raw data. I think that the U.S. and others are going to be trying to do the same thing. There is a lack of trust and it's only going to get worse unless we get some transparency on this -- Anderson.
COOPER: And as one of our guests said before, the Malaysian government could basically request by declaring it a disaster, could make it not a Malaysian military operation, could declare -- it could get help from other countries, from the United States. They haven't yet really done that.
Jim, appreciate the update from Kuala Lumpur.
You can always find out more on the story at CNN.com.
Ahead just how investigators solved the mystery of TWA Flight 800 after it vanished with no warning over the Atlantic. What can we learn from the search on that investigation?
Plus the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. More testimony today from the pathologist about the autopsy of Reeva Steenkamp. The question is did his testimony put any dents in the athlete's story? We'll have details on that ahead.
COOPER: Well, Flight 370 isn't the first high tech jumbo jet to vanish mid flight. It doesn't happen often which is why it's so shocking, but we have seen this type of mystery before. And sometimes it can be solved.
Randi Kaye tonight takes a look.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Air France Flight 447 was on its way from Brazil to France when it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people on board. That was June 2009. And like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the plane vanished without a distress call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really need to know what happened on that night in the middle of the ocean.
KAYE: Finding out what happened would take time. Five days of intense searching before floating wreckage was found. And another two years before the aircraft's voice recorder and flight data recorder were pulled from the ocean floor.
JEAN-PAUL TROADEC, BEA DIRECTOR (Through Translator): We can only be happy at this stage that two years after this accident we have hope.
KAYE: But why did it crash? It took a year for France's Bureau of Investigation to release its definitive report. The conclusion, pilot error. In an attempt to recover from ice crystals affecting their speed sensors, the pilots pointed the nose upward rather than downward.
Thirteen years before that crash there was TWA Flight 800. Conspiracy theorists believe we still don't know the truth. Was it a bomb, a missile, or mechanical failure that brought the jet down just 12 minute after takeoff from New York's JFK Airport?
It was July 17th, 1996. All 230 people on board the Paris-bound 747 were killed. Four thousand interviews later claims that a U.S. Navy ship had accidentally shot down the airplane. Finally, four years into it, terrorism and a friendly fire missile strike were ruled out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've determined that the probable cause of the TWA Flight 800 accident was an explosion of the center wing tank resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel air mixture in the tank.
KAYE: Another great mystery, U.S. Air Flight 427. It left Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on September 8, 1994, bound for Pittsburgh. Just six miles out while passing through the jet stream of another plane, Flight 427 began to shake. It rolled upside down, spiraling 300 miles per hour toward the ground, 132 passengers and crew were killed.
BILL WALDOCK, PROFESSOR OF SAFETY SCIENCE, EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: It involved two full public hearings and several million dollars' worth of testing trying to duplicate the failure. The findings were never 100 percent conclusive because they couldn't duplicate the failure.
KAYE: More than a decade earlier, Korean Airlines Flight 007 from New York City to Seoul was blown out of the sky, September 1st, 1983. It turns out it was shot down, killing all 269 people on board. The race was on for answers inside the black box beneath the sea.
GEORGE P. SHULTZ, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The world is waiting for the Soviet Union to tell truth.
KAYE: The truth ended up being that the pilots had set their auto pilot but it failed, taking them directly into Soviet air space. Looking at the erratic flight path of Malaysia Flight 370, that scenario seems unlikely, but we may never know for sure. Randi Kaye, CNN.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, it also makes us take a very long time before we do know. Joining me now is aviation expert, John Hansman. He is a professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. Professor, appreciate you being with us. A lot of people have mentioned that Air France flight that went down off the coast of Brazil in 2009. What did aviation experts learn from that disaster, that incident that could be applied to this search?
JOHN HANSMAN, PROFESSOR OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS, MIT: It was a little bit of a different situation because we actually had a record -- there was actually signals that were coming off the airplane from the maintenance system through the satellite. So we knew something had happened. We knew it was a mechanical problem and we knew approximately where to search. Even with that search fairly well- defined it still took four or five days to find the wreckage.
COOPER: Four or five days to find the wreckage and then two years to actually bring up the black box.
HANSMAN: That's right, yes. That was a real deep case. They were originally looking in about the right place, but they didn't find it initially and sort of got off target. So they had to come back with the real deep sonar to be able to see it.
COOPER: As Randi was talking about after the TWA 800 tragedy, there was a lot of discussion about whether it was a bomb or missile that brought down the plane. Turned out to be mechanical catastrophe. You really can't disprove anything until you find that black box, correct?
HANSMAN: That's the best piece of evidence that we can get because it has the trajectory, what was going on with the controls, what was happening inside the cockpit. But we have to build our knowledge with whatever evidence we can get. So the physical evidence will be the strongest, but right now the radar data appears to be the only thing we have.
COOPER: Does it make sense just from a mechanical standpoint that a transponder would be -- would stop working? I mean, does that have to be turned off or is that something that can just malfunction?
HANSMAN: It's hard to see how the transponder would go off and then the airplane would still sort of fly the way it did. So you can have an electrical failure, you can have a problem with the antenna, things like that. There are two transponders on the airplane. So you actually would have to fail both of them. So it looks like it is more likely an intentional thing. And then plus it appears if you can believe the Malaysian radar reports that it was coupled with this change in direction. And I can't find any reasonable mechanical failure that would sort of result in that kind of flight trajectory.
COOPER: So as far as you're concerned, and again we simply don't know, what are the main points you are watching very closely in all this?
HANSMAN: Well again, what I'd really like to know is more data on the radar track. My assumption from what they're saying is that the transponder was turned off so the normal air traffic control radar wasn't working. But military radars that are designed to see targets that are trying to hide, you can see because of the reflection of the radar off of the metal skin. It would be interesting to see what the altitude of the airplane was, was it descending or whatever. And I would be looking at the data right when they lost contact with it. So did they lose contact over that island because it was just too low and it was hard to see target or too far away from the radar or was the airplane coming down at that point?
COOPER: John Hansman, I do appreciate you being on. Thanks very much. We'll continue to consult with you in the days ahead.
Still ahead on the program tonight, the agonizing wait for the families of those on board Flight 370. They are telling us more about their loved ones. We are learning about the people on board and we will tell you about them later on in the program tonight.
Also in the Oscar Pistorius trial, the defense score some points. We'll have that detail ahead.
COOPER: We are going to have more on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight a little later on the program. But in Crime and Punishment segment tonight, a busy day in the "Blade Runner" murder trial. Oscar Pistorius accused in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy back on the witness stand today and his testimony contradicting Pistorius' account of when the couple went to bed hours before the shooting.
And a friend of Pistorius also took the stand testifying for prosecutors, but he came under intense cross examination. Robyn Curnow reports tonight from Pretoria. ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day seven of the murder trial that has captivated South Africa and the world saw a far more composed defendant. But Oscar Pistorius sat mostly calm. It was a stark difference from the previous day when the Olympian broke down, vomiting into a bucket and at times covering his ears as Simon recounted in grisly detail the damage Pistorius had done to Reeva Steenkamp's body with his hollow point bullets.
The pathologist offered a critical contradiction to Pistorius' version of events that fateful Valentine's Day. Simon says evidence shows Steenkamp ate no more than two hours before her death, but Oscar Pistorius says he and his girlfriend had dinner and were in bed a full five hours before that. Under intense cross-examination, Simon stood firm.
KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The pathologist was a very compelling witness for the state. He stuck steadfast to his version of events.
CURNOW: Simon also says the amount of urine in Steenkamp's bladder at the time of her death amounted to roughly a teaspoon. That could challenge Pistorius who said his girlfriend had gotten up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Remember Pistorius says he shot her through the bathroom door, thinking she was an intruder.
In another potential blow to the defense, Simon testified the scream heard by neighbors could have been Steenkamp, saying I think it would be somewhat abnormal if one did not scream when sustaining a wound of this nature. But Pistorius's defense team contends the scream came from the Olympian, not his girlfriend, once he realized his mistake.
Darren Frisco, a Pistorius friend, testifying about a traffic stop, a re-enactment seen here in video played for the court in which Frisco witnessed Pistorius erupt at a police officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then there was an altercation, a verbal altercation between the accused and the metro police officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was it about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer had picked up the accused weapon off the passenger seat, to which the accused had replied, you can't just touch another man's gun.
CURNOW: It was an attempt by the prosecution to paint the Olympic runner as a trigger happy, hot head. But Frisco may have lost credibility after he admitted to monitoring social media coverage of the trial, something the court forbids.
PHELPS: Well, you know, the state came out strong this morning. By the end of the day one has to say the defense were completely buoyant walking out of court. I think they feel they did very well with Mr. Frisco's testimony this afternoon.
CURNOW: Robyn Curnow, CNN at the Pistorius trial in Pretoria, South Africa.
COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic scientist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice here in New York and also with us senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff did the prosecution score points today talking about the contents of her stomach, amount of urine in her bladder?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think they scored points every day. This has been a case that has gone very well for the prosecution. The prosecution has a story that this was a fight that this couple had, and he shot her in the bathroom in a fit of rage. That story fits with virtually every piece of evidence. The idea that he made a mistake and shot what he thought was an intruder, there really is not much evidence to support his view at this point. Now, it's still relatively early in the trial. But I think by and large, Pistorius is in a lot of trouble here.
COOPER: Dr. Kobilinsky, I mean, the contents of her stomach how significant is that whether they got the amount of time wrong of when they ate?
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: It is significant because what the state has to do through the use of forensics is to determine whether his story makes sense or not. The fact of the matter is, you know, when food is eaten it transits through the digestive tract in a certain time course. In about two hours in a human being, you get that food converted to something called chyme, which then transitions down to the duodenum. But the point is a medical examiner can get a good idea, a fairly good idea of the time she ate. It certainly is not consistent with Oscar Pistorius's story.
COOPER: Do you agree with the prosecution witness also saying that it would be strange if Reeva Steenkamp did not scream when being shot?
KOBILINSKY: I would assume that the last shot was to the head, incapacitating her. Certainly she had the capacity to scream if she was hit in the arm or in the hip she certainly could scream and probably would.
TOOBIN: If you have a woman screaming, if the judge who's the fact finder here believes that this scream came from the victim, that's almost the whole case here because that establishes that Pistorius had to know who he was shooting, not some intruder, that he was shooting his girlfriend. And so I think the issue of who screamed even less important when, but if it's a woman screaming I think that's --
COOPER: To argue, to play devil's advocate here, in the heat of a moment in a gun fight you're shooting, your adrenaline is pumping. It's very possible you're not hearing things properly.
TOOBIN: It is possible, but I think it's a very critical piece of evidence. Remember, he claims he walked over on his stumps to -- he had some time to think about this. If she's screaming, I just think his case is --
COOPER: You also don't buy the fact that he wouldn't have checked the bed to see if his girlfriend --
TOOBIN: Absolutely. The basic fact of this case that he doesn't notice that his girlfriend is not there and he's shooting randomly at a stranger in the bathroom is a big problem. There's just one piece of forensic evidence, though, that I think we haven't heard that's going to be extremely important, which is what is the trajectory of the bullets because his claim clearly is he was standing on his stumps when he was shooting. If the trajectory shows he was shooting from an angle where he was wearing his blades, that's bad.
COOPER: That should be relatively easy to determine --
KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. They have the door, they know where the entry of the bullets were. They have a trajectory. They have the position the victim is in. Far more significant than who was yelling.
COOPER: Right. Lawrence Kobilinsky, thanks. Jeff Toobin as well.
We follow just ahead the agonizing wait for answers. Tonight the families of those on board Flight 370 trying to hold onto hope and we are learning more about those on board the flight. We'll introduce you to some of those people on board.
COOPER: Some breaking new to tell you about. CNN projects a winner in a special election to fill the empty seat in Florida's 13th Congressional District. Republican David Jolly beat Democrat Alex Sink in an extremely close race winning by only 2 percentage point. Jolly will finish out the term of his former boss, Congressman Bill Young, a Republican who died in October.
Well, tonight at 10:00 Easter here on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes another in-depth look at medical marijuana. The science, politics and patients caught in the middle "Weed 2 Cannabis Madness" is a follow up to weed that got a lot of people talking last summer. This is an all-new report. Sanjay follows several more families who were trapped in the middle of the medical marijuana debate. Many have moved to Colorado to try to get access for treatment for themselves or their children. Sanjay joins me tonight from Edwards, Colorado.
So Sanjay, I know you've done a 180 on medical marijuana, but you are really now all in. You're actually in a grow room right now. Is all the marijuana surrounding you specifically being used for medicinal use?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are about 23 different strains of marijuana in here. They alter the strains to have higher concentrations of various compounds and they take these strains and they really pair them up with different sorts of ailments. So even though this is something that's still happening in grow rooms like this and dispensaries in a place like Colorado, they're trying to find out which particular strains work for the various ailments. That's a lot of what happens in a room like this.
COOPER: So are they still experimenting with that? I mean, do they know that the pot can be customized for a particular ailment? How does a grower know exactly what formula will work for what medical reason?
GUPTA: Yes, it's really fascinating, Anderson, because you know, we're used to an FDA process where you have the trials to take place and given a medication a certain dosage, all that sort of stuff. That hasn't happened with cannabis. What happens is you have these different strains and they will create these hybrids of various strains of marijuana. And then the people who are the dispensers oftentimes will be talking to the patients who come, in finding out what works for them.
They know for example something that's higher in THC is going to be better for pain because the THC not only acts as an anti- inflammatories, but also can help dissociate the mind from the pain. It helps you ignore the pain better. Whereas a high CBD strain, a different component in marijuana might be better for epilepsy. It quiets electrical activity in the brain.
But you know, the trial and error nature of this, it just feels so nascent, new in terms of what they're trying to do. Something like this hasn't been done before at least not for a long time in this country.
COOPER: It's weird legal status because I mean, it's legal in 20 states, medical marijuana. But using it is still against federal law, which is where it gets very complicated. You met some families I know who are what are called medical refugees. Explain what that means.
GUPTA: The scenario is this. You have a patient that could be a child or adult who comes to Colorado because the medicines they've been prescribed by their doctors are not working. So they come here in the hopes that maybe a cannabis-based medication will help. Many times it does. But if it does work, what are you to do next? If you try and take that medicine out-of-state, you could be arrested for drug trafficking.
Again I thought that was hyperbolic. Is someone going to arrest a person taking cannabis oil out-of-state for a child? The answer is yes. They are getting arrested for drug trafficking. What happens, a lot of families come here and basically have to uproot their lives and just stay in order to get the medicine for themselves or their kids. It's a ridiculous situation. But when you talk about the dichotomy between the federal law and state law, this is the result of it.
COOPER: Sanjay, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
GUPTA: You got it, thank you.
COOPER: Well, tune in at 10:00 Eastern Time tonight for Sanjay's full investigation "Weed 2 Cannabis Madness." We'll be back on at 11:00 Eastern for another edition of 360. We have more on the Malaysia Airlines flight still missing. More information tonight about those on board. We'll be right back with that.
COOPER: We began tonight with the search for answers in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We end with the families of the 239 people on board. They've endured an excruciating wait, a wait that continues tonight as we remember the missing and wish their loved ones strength.
COOPER (voice-over): Four days and still no word on the fate of the missing. The wait is agonizing for the families. Time is passing by, this father says. The priorities should be to search for the lives.
His son is among the missing. The families are visibly frustrated, demanding answers and compensation from Malaysia Airlines. This airline representative says she'll have answers tomorrow. The crowd shouts no, answer us now. They're seeking answers for people like Andrew Nari, the chief steward on the flight. His daughter tweeted his picture with the simple message, daddy, you're all over the news and papers. Come home fast.
She also tweeted this picture of their family and wrote, we're still waiting for you, dad. Two young boys in Australia also wait for their father, Paul Weeks, who was traveling to Mongolia for a new job as an engineer. His wife told Nine News that Paul left behind his watch and wedding ring before the trip in case anything happened to him on the flight.
Catherine and Robert Laudun also from Australia. The married couple were on vacation when the flight disappeared. Another couple on the missing flight, Adrian Watrolo and Ziou Yen, teenagers from France, only 17 and 18 years old. They were believed to have been traveling with Watrolo's mother and sister. This photo on Watrolo's Facebook page shows the pair with the words, "I love you" in French.
With the search going to day five, the grieving families continue to wait. But for some the hope that their loved ones may return safely, that hope is hard to hold onto.
COOPER: Thanks very much for watching the program tonight. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.