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tv   Nightline  ABC  November 6, 2021 12:37am-1:06am PDT

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, black and white. as the trial for accused killers begins. >> all three trapped him like a rat between their two pickup trucks. >> starkly different versions of the same event at the center of a fierce racially charged courtroom battle. >> travis has to die. at that point it's his life or ahmaud arbery's life. >> and the mother's pain. watching the video of her son bieguned down. but still hopeful. >> i carry a very broken heart. but tame at the same time, my heart's thankful. ahmed was taken away but he'll
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bring change. the amazon at the point november return. a journey into the heart of the south american rain forest, the lungs of the planet under siege. >> every inch of this place so is crucial to protect. >> from logging to mining, now sandstorms ravaging the landscape. >> this looks like saudi arabia rather than western peru. >> as global leaders pledge to combat climate change, are we out of time? once upon a time there was a reindeer named tiptoe who was scared to fly. fly? ahhh, maybe next year. so her friends gave her the greatest gift of all. it's a flying machine! ♪ ♪ oh no! ♪ ♪ i just have to believe! ...the gift of believing in herself. so you ready to fly to grandma's? okay ♪ ♪ mrs. claus the shopping boss here to help you
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thank you for joining us. the trial of ahmaud arbery's accused killers is tense with thor than the usual clashing prspectives. prosecutors painting the picture of a racially charged murder. the defense countering the accused feared for their lives. their case being heard by a jury with only one black member. >> justice for ahmad looks like having all three individuals charged and sentenced to life in prison. >> reporter: it's been 622 days since wanda cooper jones last saw her son, ahmaud arbery, alive. gunned down in broad daylight while jogging in georgia in what's being called a modern-day lynching. >> all rise. >> reporter: today in the trial
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in the case surrounding the death of the 25-year-old is finally under way. do you feel like you're closer to justice now? >> i do feel like we're getting closer to justice for ahmaud day by day. >> reporter: travis mcmichael, father gregory mcmichael, and neighbor woody randall brian are standing together, charged with nine counts each including murder and aggravated assault. >> mr. arbery is under attack by all three of these men. all three trapped him like a rat between their two pickup trucks. >> reporter: the prosecution arguing the defendants chased down arbery for five minutes after one of them saw him running down the street in what he described at a very fast pace. >> he's assumed the worst and has absolutely no immediate knowledge of any crime whatsoever. all three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions. >> reporter: for 95 minutes, special prosecutor linda dunakovsky laying the groundwork
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of her case, that the men hunted and cornered arbery from their vehicles. >> he gets so close to mr. arbery that mr. arbery actually has a palm print on mr. bryan's car and white t-shirt fibers that are consistent on that car. >> reporter: incriminating video filmed by defendant william rodney bryant taking center stage. arbery's mother, who had never before seen any of the footage, letting out an audible moan and sobbing. but despite the visual evidence, the defense for travis mcmichael, the man who shot and killed ahmaud arbery, arguing the shooting was justified. >> the video that you watched probably five times in the state's opening statement doesn't even begin to tell the story in this case. >> reporter: the defense calling arbery an intruder who was seen, quote, plundering and lurking around. tough there is no evidence he
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ever stole a thing. and claiming the neighborhood was on edge from recent robberies, and that the defendants acted in self-defense. >> he has his gun for protection because this guy has run at him, has acted bizarrely, has not said a word yet that he could tell, and travis has to fire. because at that point it's his life or ahmaud arbery's life. travis mcmichael is acting in self-defense. he did not want to encounter ahmaud arbery physically. he was only trying to stop him for the police. >> reporter: glen county police officer william dungan was the only witness to take the stand before the day ended. >> i did see a black male laying on the ground in the middle of the roadway on the pavement. >> reporter: graphic body cam footage shows arbery's lifeless body on the ground, shot three times, covered in blood. one juror hiding their eyes with
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a notebook. ahmaud arbery's death made national headlines three months after he was killed. only once that graphic cell phone video surfaced online. >> no justice no peace! >> reporter: his name quickly becoming a rallying cry for racial justice. wanda cooper jones first sat down with us three months after her son's death. >> do you remember your last conversation with him? >> as i was leaving, "i'll be back, and i love you." and his last words to me was, "i love you." >> reporter: the protests are a salve for wan did but it's her faith that keeps her strong. how have you been able to carry ufshts the way you have over this period of time? >> at the beginning i prayed often the lord would send someone to help me. everything i prayed for, god has given it to me. and i know i prayed and asked for justice for my son, and i'm sure he'll give me that as well. >> reporter: now more than ever,
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she is focused on her son's legacy. >> the legacy of ahmaud arbery is going to be the word "change." >> i listen to your words, but also i see your eyes. and your eyes speak certainly of pain, a mother's pain, but also pride. >> i'm very proudful, i often say i carry a very broken heart but at the same time my heart's thankful that god gave me the role of ahmaud arbery's mom. >> reporter: change has been hard to come by in this small georgia community, where everyone knows each other. jury selection took more than two weeks, with many disqualified for knowing either the defendant or arbery. ultimately, 12 jurors and 4 alternates were chosen. the court has not identified which are jurors or alternates, but in total, 15 are white, 1 is back, 4 are men, 12 are women. >> the lack of diversity could lead anyone who views this as affecting the verdict one way or
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another. simply because there are not enough people in the jury to help give more insight as to why ahmaud arbery may do x, y, or z. i also want to highlight gender. women for self-defense cases are typically pro-prosecution because they will walk through the details of, why didn't you do this? why didn't you do that? they may not have the race card that works for them but gender may help them in this case. >> reporter: the judge admitting in court that discrimination may have been in play. >> this court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel. quite a few african-american jurors were excused through preemptory strikes exercised by the defense. but that doesn't mean that the court has the authority to receipt. >> reporter: the special prosecutor is the third assigned to this case. defending gregory mcmichael, a former police officer who previously worked as an
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investigator for the d.a.'s office, leading the first two prosecutors assigned to the case to eventually have to recuse themselves. >> it took 74 days and the release of that video from william bryant for any action to occur against the mcmichaels. >> reporter: in september the georgia attorney general indicted the first prosecutor, jackie johnson, on charges of violation of oath of public officer and obstruction and hindering of a law enforcement officer, alleging she showed favor and affection to gregory mcmichael. the a.g. also alleges johnson told officers not to arrest gregory's son travis. she has pled not guilty. system is, it needs some work. some major work. >> what goes through your mind when you sit in court and you see the people who are accused of killing your son? >> i often sit there and i stare at the three individuals that are responsible for ahmaud leaving. i try to get closure looking
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into their eyes. once they see me looking, they look away. >> reporter: for the remainder of this trial, the nation will not look away. >> people across the country, many parts of the world, will be watching this trial. what do you want people to know about your son? >> ahmaud arbery wasn't just a young black male that decided to go for a jog on a sunny sunday afternoon. ahmad was actually my son. ahmaud was a brother, uncle, grandson. ahmaud was loved by many, and ahmaud loved many. up next, a rain forest under siege by fire, sandstorms, and human exploitation. into the depths of the amazon. with type 2 diabetes wg people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible with rybelsus®. with rybelsus®. with rybelsus®. ♪ you are my sunshine ♪ ♪ you are my sunshine ♪ ♪ my only sunshine... ♪ rybelsus® is a pill that lowers rybelsus® is a pill that lowers rybelsus® is a pill that lowers blood sugar in three ways. increases insulin when you need it... increases insulin when you need it...
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♪ as world leaders debate solutions to the climate crisis no ecosystem on earth is more crucial to our planet's survival rain american amazon - right now that forest is under siege on multiple fronts. abc's matt gutman is on the scene of the devastation in peru. it's part of abc's "climate crisis: saving tomorrow." >> reporter: they say the las piedras river remains as god made it. coiling through pristine rain forest. bursting with wildlife and towering trees. we are motoring to the middle of nowhere, which is exactly where conservationist paul rosily wants to take us. >> so why this spot? >> in the whole amazon, there's nowhere as important as the
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western amazon. there's more plant and animal life here than ever existed in the history of the fossil records. every inch of this place is so crucial to protect. >> reporter: paul helped found a 55-thousand acre preserve in the heart of the amazon off the river. it's part of an organization called "jungle keepers," dedicated to protecting the precious rain forest. >> we're trying to help people that were loggers to become protectors of the forest. people that were gold miners. saying you can be a professional to protect this land. this is a beautiful, beautiful plant. it is absolutely stunning the way they shingle up the tree. >> it looks painted. >> reporter: for generations, pristine rain forests like this have helped buffer the rest of the world's ills when it comes to climate change. >> there's a reason they call them the mother of the forest. >> like pandora. >> reporter: nicknamed the lungs of the planet, because for millions of years they absorbed carbon dioxide. >> we're ending the great chainsaw massacre with more than 85% of the world's forests to be protected by the end of this
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decade. >> reporter: as world leaders commit to trying to steer the world away from climate change disaster, alarming news that the amazon is now a net contributor of carbon dioxide and that it is pearl lullsly close to a tipping point beyond which it cannot recover. these kinds of burns are what are causing 10% to 15% of all the co2 in the atmosphere, right? >> that's right, almost one-fifth of human carbon emissions are coming from this. >> reporter: out-of-control fires. to mile-long scars from gold mining. to sandstorms in the amazon. this looks like saudi arabia rather than western peru. all of it contributing to the deforestation that is endangering precious wildlife. >> the amazon is starting to waver. the next decade is going to decide the fate of the amazon. >> reporter: our journey in peru on the western side of the amazon began by car along the trans-amazonian highway it used to take two days for paul to get to his preserve by
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boat, but over the past couple of years, loggers hacked out this road which paul likens to a shortcut through hell. >> people see the green and think, oh, it's beautiful. no. this used to be rain forest. >> reporter: a few miles down that bumpy road, another pasture being born from a fire in the forest. they're burning these on purpose to clear the land after logging it. wow, dude -- >> that's dangerous, man that will burn you. >> it's incredibly hot. there's no replanting this, there's no reforesting this? >> no, 800-year-old trees. complex eection cosistcosystems >> this is going on dozens of times a day across the amazon? >> everywhere. this is why climate change is happen recognize we're allowing this. >> why are theying to it? >> people have no option work work. >> reporter: brazil, jair bolsonaro, allowing the rate of deforestation to soar to a
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12-year high. we finally arrive at the jungle keepers' station. we're standing about 130 up in the canopy of an ironwood tree, one of the keystone species of the entire amazon rain forest. everything you see in front of you right now is protected by the june gle keepers. but that is a drop in the vast ocean of green that is the amazon. the rangers spend their days monitoring the river for poachers and loggers. some of the team are former loggers themselves. >> reporter: along with the loggers are the illegal miners. there are so many thousands of gold mines gouged into the forest that this photo from nasa recently captured what looked like rivers of gold. but that's not gold, it's thousands of pits gouged into
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the river left by mining. everything you see around me is part of what's called la pampa. until a couple of years ago, all of this was pristine amazon rain forest. but hundreds of gold miners were given concessions here, turning this into a vast desert that ip, making the rain forestshocko look more like the sahara. that freak phenomenon increasingly common across this moonsca moonscape. the end result, the fires and mines and pastures have encroached on the habitat of 85% of the endangered species here. some of them wind up at magaluis's doorstep. the former flight attend ant now rarely leaves what she calls the amazon shelter. >> we receive them coming from authorities, police, or people that come in and don't want it anymore and leave it. >> reporter: she has rescued and
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cared for hundreds of animals from howler monkeys to tapirs. >> poachers found her in the forest and brought her to try and sell a at a zoo? >> yeah. >> how much can people make selling an animal like this? >> probably $25. probably. >> for an endangered species? >> yeah. >> reporter: back in the jungle keepers' preserve, as the sun sets, the forest comes alive. and paul, whose life's work has been protecting the rain forest, remains hopeful. >> it's not too late. we're at the point now where we still have a chance to protect all these species, to protect the homes of millions of indigenous people and this massive biological treasure on our planet. that's why we need to focus on it so much right now. >> our thanks to matt. up next, the wisdom of our friend, our colleague, cokie roberts.
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♪ finally tonight, my colleague martha raddatz brings us a new reminder of cokie
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roberts' life and legacy shared by one of the many who loved her. >> reporter: tonight, the words and wisdom of our colleague, our friend, cokie roberts. >> we're following two major stories tonight -- >> reporter: from her husband of 53 years, steve roberts. >> this has been home for a long time. >> reporter: celebrating his wife in his book "cokie: a life well lived." as a kind and generous mother and mentor, and a pioneer in journalism at a time dominated by men. >> that's all for us this sunday. until next week, that's "this week." >> here she was totally unfazed, giving it back to him, playing with the big boys. >> what is your definition of womanizing? >> most women know when it they see it, senator. >> reporter: steve roberts sharing the stories he heard from so many after cokie's death two years ago. when i looked up to cokie, it wasn't just professionally.
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it was because she was doing the things that people said we couldn't do. >> cokie coming out with two kids, six grandkids, a long marriage. yet still managed to have the career she did. so many women saw her as a role model because that's the life they wanted. they didn't want to have to choose. there would be a line outside her door of people seeking advice. and above all, seeking her encouragement. because she was a great cheerleader. everybody can learn something about those private acts of generosity and charity and friendship that she did every day. >> and that's "nightline" for this evening. th


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