tv NBC Nightly News NBC April 6, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
a chance of scattered showers, showers by mount hamilton. plus snow. >> lester holt joins us next. on this monday night, to the jury. the boston bombing case now in their hands after a day of powerful closing arguments. new fallout tonight from a rape story retracted after that scathing report into what went wrong at "rolling stone." a fraternity falsely accused promises legal action. poisoned in paradise. an american family of four on an island vacation. the father and son are now fighting for their lives. tonight, the hidden danger they couldn't see or smell, and the criminal investigation now underway. and bracing for impact. the crippling drought, and what many fear comes next, a wicked fire season. "nightly news" begins right now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc
nightly news." reporting tonight, lester holt. good evening. late this afternoon, with victims of the boston marathon bombing looking on, the emotionally charged case was handed off to the jury. deliberations begin tomorrow morning with accused bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev ultimately fighting for his life. the case against him is powerful. it includes the anguished testimony of survivors and shocking and graphic images from the marathon attack and the violence that followed on that deadly four-day reign of terror. while the defense has focused its case not on who did it but who led the attack. our justice correspondent pete williams was in the courtroom. >> reporter: dzhokhar tsarnaev brought terror to main street prosecutors told the jury intentionally targeting men, women and children in a blood thirsty ever to make a point. when he placed his bomb, they said he
knew a boy was just a few feet away, 8-year-old martin richard just a few feet from the blast. prosecutors showed graphic pictures and video of the carnage that followed. the government lawyer, his voice booming, stood near tsarnaev and said, he thought his values were more important than anyone else. that's what he read, that's what he said, that's what he did. and afterwards he said tsarnaev wanted to take credit, as terrorists do, writing a manifesto in the boat where he hid echoing the words of radical cleric anwar awlaki. part of the violent propaganda he studied before and after the bombing. so committed to jihad, prosecutors said, that after killing people with bombs he was at ease, shopping for milk, later going to the gym and later tweeting, quote, i'm a stress-free kind of guy. defense lawyer judy clark says there's no excuse for what he did and no one's trying to make one. he stands ready, she said, to be held responsible. but it was his older brother tamerlan who dream upped the bomb plot and took the major steps. researching and buying electronic components for remote control detonators.
getting the bbs that were blown into victims by the blast, some still have them. going to a department store to buy pressure cookers like these. and selecting the backpacks that held the bombs. speaking of dzhokhar tsarnaev, she said we don't deny that he fully participated but if not for tamerlan, it would not have happened. his lawyers are hoping to spare him the death penalty in the next phase of the trial, but for now the issue is guilt on 30 counts. lester. >> pete, what was the reaction? what was it like to look across the crowd in that courtroom today? >> well, some of the victims are here because they say they need to be here to help get over what happened. some say they want to see him held accountable. but what they're not seeing is any sign of remorse or sadness or regret or any emotion at all. he has spent this past month talking occasionally to his lawyers but mostly staring straight ahead. lester. >> all right, pete, thank you. turning now to the story that shocked the nation twice. first when "rolling stone" published allegations of a gang rape at the university of virginia. and now again as the
magazine is forced to retract that reporting. for now nobody's losing their jobs, but as gabe gutierrez reports, they could soon find themselves in court. >> reporter: tonight, the fraternity at the center of the now-retracted "rolling stone" article is planning to pursue legal action against the magazine saying it erroneously accused phi kappa psi of crimes its members did not commit. >> this report is very much intended as a piece of journalism about a failure of journalism. >> reporter: today, the prestigious columbia university journalism school discussed its scathing review of the article blaming not just its reporter but the top editors. >> this failure was not the subject or the source's fault as a matter of journalism. it was a product of failed methodology. >> reporter: in a message from its editor "rolling stone" promised to improve its practices and apologized to its readers and to all those who were damaged. but everyone involved will keep their jobs. in the piece published last fall, a woman identified only as jackie claimed to have
been sexually assaulted by seven men at the fraternity house. if this reporter had just contacted you, could all this have been avoided? >> yeah, absolutely. >> reporter: the report found "rolling stone" did not fact check the story with jackie's friends including ryan duffen and alex stock who were mentioned in the article under pseudonyms. >> i was also wondering why there was a quote attributed to me that i had never given. >> reporter: the report also found "rolling stone" failed to give the fraternity a chance to review the allegations in detail and did not try hard enough to find the person accused of orchestrating the assault. >> at this point it's pretty clear that if anything did happen to jackie, it's very different than the article. >> reporter: a conclusion also reached by charlottesville police. >> there's no substantive basis to conclude what is described in that article happened that night. >> reporter: nbc news spoke with the reporter sbrina erdely, when the story was published. >> it's been very difficult for her to
go forward. some are worried this failure could have a chilling effect. >> i do have concerns that survivors may not come forward. >> reporter: still others hope people will see this as one case of bad journalism. >> i think other victims who have stories that they can tell carefully and in a way that reporters can confirm should be assured that the profession will hopefully learn the lesson here and to do well by them. >> reporter: calling a "rolling stone" article irresponsible, uva's president said it did nothing to combat sexual violence and it damaged serious efforts to address the issue. an attorney for jackie has declined to comment, lester. >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. we are monitoring a developing story out of maryland's eastern shore where eight people have been found dead in a home. a man and seven children ages 6 to 16 in what may be an incident of carbon monoxide poisoning. the home is in
princess anne, maryland. authorities say foul play is not suspected. all the victims were related. and we have an update on that deadly explosion and fire in new york city's east village. tonight, investigators say initial evidence reveals signs of physical tampering with the gas line at the site of the blast. and the manhattan district attorney is reviewing evidence. two people died in the explosion. in an interview late today president obama said it would be a, quote, fundamental misjudgment to try and force iran to recognize israel as part of a nuclear deal, as israel is demanding. and differences are emerging over what the u.s. and iran consider part of that deal, even as the obama administration is giving it the hard sell. here's nbc's chris jansing. >> reporter: the latest sign of the intensifying white house campaign for a nuclear deal with iran, the surprise appearance of the energy secretary at the daily briefing. >> this is not built upon trust. this is built upon hard-nosed requirements.
>> reporter: ernest moniz's hair made him an internet sensation, but he's a nuclear physicist who's taking the lead selling the science of the deal now embroiled in politics. the political failed job led by the president who has given two sitdown interviews in three days. >> i've been very clear that iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch, and i think they should understand that we mean it. >> reporter: obama still vows to veto a bill that would give congress control over any deal. and just last week opponents had 66 of the 67 votes they need to override that veto. but details of a deal may be changing some minds. and senator ben cardin, a key player, is ready to give the white house some breathing room. should congress take action, though, before the deadline june 30th? >> well, we want to make sure anything we do is not inconsistent with the president's negotiations. >> reporter: but beyond capitol hill the president's also intensely lobbying world leaders. calling at least nine of them in recent days including saudi arabia, which today
issued a statement expressing hope for attaining a binding and definitive agreement. there are still a lot of questions tonight about what that final agreement will look like. iran disputing some u.s. claims on key issues including whether sanctions would be phased out gradually. and white house officials are continuing to call members of congress tonight. one senior official just told me that any vote is still too close to call. lester. >> all right. senior white house correspondent chris jansing, thank you. tonight, the guessing game has begun. political observers reading the tea leaves amid speculation that hillary clinton is about to make it official, announcing a run for president as soon as this week. it comes amid a flurry of expected announcements from gop candidates kicking the campaign into high gear. our national correspondent peter alexander has details. >> reporter: for hillary clinton the building blocks of a presidential campaign are now taking shape. she's already putting together a virtual shadow team of advisers, most recently adding a former aide to first lady michelle obama.
christina shocky is credited with helping soften mrs. obama's public image. she's the aide behind that undercover shopping trip to target, the first lady's cameo at the oscars, even those unforgettable dance moves with jimmy fallon. after signing a lease for a campaign headquarters in brooklyn, new york, at the start of the month, clinton likely now has until the middle of april under election law to declare her candidacy. close aides tell nbc news she'll initially focus on small intimate events rather than huge rallies. the goal to focus on voters not on herself. not an easy task for a politician who's been in the eye for nearly 25 years and faces no serious democratic challenger. >> when you have been in the public eye for so long, people sort of identify you in one way, but i think our american politics also allow the people want to see all sides of you. >> reporter: one potential opponent, jeb bush, today tried to defuse an embarrassing situation.
on this 2009 florida voter registration form, bush whose wife colombo was born in mexico marked himself down as hispanic, not white. the episode is already being parodied on twitter including the formation of a fake jeb bush account. this morning bush laughed it off tweeting, my mistake. don't think i've fooled anyone. including #honorarylatino. but it's rand paul who is likely to steal the spotlight tomorrow making his presidential bid official in his home state of kentucky. peter alexander, nbc news, washington. on the west coast, a region crippled by drought is facing a new danger tonight. scientists are warning that dry conditions like this in california could spark a fire season even worse than last year's devastation reaching perhaps historic proportions. nbc national correspondent miguel almaguer has more on that. >> reporter: firefighters called it the year of the fire storm.
2013. billions of acres were destroyed as hundreds of homes across the west went up in flames. this year the outlook is even more dire. the forecast calling for bigger, more explosive fires fueled by conditions not seen in decades. >> the drought is affecting rates of fire spread, fuel moistures. it's just incredible and it's just not getting any better. >> reporter: assistant chief brian fennessy worked the san diego hillside when it became a blowtorch last year. we were there as fire devoured these drought-stricken hills. this is the front line. this year the front lines will be everywhere. firefighters say what didn't burn last year is ready to go this year. scientists are also warning of a dangerous new cycle. a recent study finds soot from wildfires is blowing on to the depleted snow pack, absorbing more heat from the sun. remnants from old fires helping to create more intense new ones.
>> the soot leads to earlier snow melt, which leads to earlier drying and a longer drier season, which then leads to more vulnerability to forest fire intensity and timing. >> reporter: with the drought creating fire fuel, crews showed us what worried them most. more homes than ever surrounding pockets of thick brush. >> going right up to that backyard. >> reporter: just out of winter firefighters are preparing for war this summer. the odds are stacked against them. miguel almaguer, nbc news, san diego. there is a slight bit of good news on the weather front noent the west. a big rainmaker moving into california about to dump several inches of much-needed rain on parts of that drought-stricken state and up to two feet of snow to mountains. forecasters caution it will have a minimal effect on the drought. and we're keeping an eye on a multi-day severe weather outbreak expected across the middle of the country on wednesday and thursday.
pushing to the east on friday. it's a big part of the country that will be under the threat of tornadoes. we'll be following that all week. there's a lot more news ahead here on this monday night including a tropical vacation tragedy. the criminal investigation now under way after a family is found violently ill, poisoned in the condo where they were staying on vacation. a hidden danger in the air. and later, a spectacular rite of spring happening right now. people from all over drawn to the call of the wildflowers.
we're back now with a criminal investigation now under way after a family from delaware was found poisoned while on vacation in their condo in the u.s. virgin islands. a toxic chemical in the air that they couldn't see or smell. a father and his sons are now fighting for their lives. nbc's stephanie gosk has our report. >> reporter: spring break for the edmond family was planned at a luxury condo in st. john's overlooking the caribbean. the father, a headmaster at a private middle school in delaware, the mother a dentist and their two teenage sons. six days into vacation, the family became so violently ill all four were air lifted to the u.s. apparently poisoned by a highly toxic pesticide methyl bromide. >> it is so toxic that in 1982 epa put very strict rules in place stating very clearly that you're not to use methyl bromide indoors. >> reporter: as a u.s.
territory, st. john is regulated by the same environmental laws. using methyl bromide indoors is illegal. but the epa says the extermination company terminix used the potentially deadly pesticide to fumigate the condo directly below the esmonds. methyl bromide is extremely toxic and odorless. absorbed through the lungs, it first causes headache nausea and dizziness but can lead to brain damage, paralysis and respiratory failure. the two teenage boys remain in critical condition while their father is stable and improving. and their mother is released and doing well. in a statement, the parent company for the exterminators says in part, first and foremost the family is in our prayers. we're cooperating with authorities in their investigation and conducting our own thorough internal investigation. at the father's school kids have been writing get well cards while an attorney for the family says serious questions remain including how could a pesticide this strong and restricted be used so close to where people live. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york.
an incredible rescue captured on camera in russia. dozens of passengers banding together to help free a 70-year-old woman who got trapped between a train and the platform in moscow. an amazing moment as they all work together to rock the train until she managed to find an opening to free her leg. are andrew jackson's days on the 20 dollar bill numbered? following up on our report of a group petitioning to put a woman in jackson's place, hundreds of thousands of online votes have narrowed the candidates to four. former first lady eleanor roosevelt, abolitionist harriet tubman, rosa parks and the first female chief
of the cherokee nation. final voting is happening now. you'll find a link on our website. if your bracket is busted going into tonight's college basketball championship, maybe follow mitt romney's lead next year. romney is reportedly in the top 99.8 percentile of those who filled out a bracket on espn's website. a big change from when he was running for president in 2012 when he said he wasn't plugged in enough to fill one out. president obama's bracket, by the way, totally busted. more than 35,000 guests gathered today for the annual white house easter egg roll. backed up by the easter bunny, president and first lady welcomed them all to the grounds. mrs. obama busted out some of her dance moves while her husband shot some hoops. beautiful day for it with just a few hiccups like when a bee stirred up the kids while the president was reading to them. when we come back, the hillside's painted blue. one of nature's greatest displays is back.
>> reporter: blue bonnets are the texas state flower, and every spring they cast a spell. lupines so beguiling you just have to take a picture. >> look at mommy. good job. yea! >> reporter: in texas posing with the blue bonnets is a rite of spring. little shiloh and her mom karen morgan are no exceptions. >> she saw the blue bonnets and the first thing she said is, oh my gosh. and she started running through them and rolling around in them. >> they have this magical charisma people love. >> reporter: andrea is director of horticulture at the ladybird johnson wild flower center in austin. lady bird, she says, was a woman ahead of her time who knew if people began to care about the flowers, they'd begin to care about the planet. >> she was very sensitive to the importance that nature plays and wanted to share that with
people. and the joy of the wildflowers and the joy of nature. >> reporter: so lured by the lupines they come. a picture's a must. but there's indian paintbrush, too, and so much more if you stop to look. >> it's magical, you know? just one little minute of spring. >> reporter: though texas is still in a drought, winter rains have brought a bumper crop of wildflowers this year. our gratitude to ladybird, who used to say, where flowers bloom, so does hope. harry smith, nbc news, austin. that will do it for us on this monday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching, and good night.
nbc bay area news starts now. >> right now at 6:00 here it comes. as you can see, rain thunder, even some snow to our bay area mountain tops. the satellite showing the path. we have team coverage on what you can expect and when it's arriving. good evening and thanks for being with us on this month. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. i want to take you outside for a live look. golden gate bridge son your left. the storm headed our way will hit the north bay first. and then on the right side you see fremont where you can see that flag whipping in the wind.
nbc bay area's marianne favro is south bay where a controversial lawmaker has a controversial idea to help remedy the drought. rob, what are we talk about seeing some raindrops? >> we'll begin to see the rain which is north of the north bay slipping southward. ahead of the cold front the winds now starting to accelerate around the bay area. gusts close to 20. as we head closer to midnight notice the direction out of the south. 30 to 40 miles per hour plus. maybe up to 45 miles per hour wind gusts in some of the hilltops. that's the first stage tonight. then as we head towards midnight into tomorrow morning, that's when the rain begins to arrive. some of that rain could be intense at times. a few showers just offshore for the moment. but the real cold front here with embedded thunder still up here in the north coast. as this slides to the south, unlike systems we've seen over the last weeks, this one should bring us a half inch or possibly a little bit more than that in a few spots because if the rain comes through even overnight, you may hear some thunder. and if you get the thundershowers locally, you could see some higher total