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Holmes' Cellphone Pictures in Court; Leaderless in Venezuela; President Obama's Treasury Secretary Pick; Weapons Promoter Found Dead; Cuomo Push for Gun Crackdown; Background Check for Ammo Buyers

Aired January 9, 2013 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Photographs from the cell phone of alleged movie theatre gunman James Holmes were shown in this courtroom in Colorado today. And some of them were surveillance photos of the theatre, the theatre here itself dated weeks before the shooting in Aurora.

Others were self-portraits showing him dressed in paramilitary gear. These are dated the night before the shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 58 more. The hearing is to decide if Holmes will go on to trial it just ended here.

Casey Wian spent the last three days in court for us, watching all this evidence, seeing some of these family members, some of the victims' family members. Casey, first, just tell me about these photos, sort of eerie.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, they really were strong evidence that what the prosecution has been trying to show all along, that this was a carefully planned attack, there were 12 photos displayed in court today, all from James Holmes' iPhone.

The first photos were from June 29th, several weeks before the shooting. They were of the interior of that movie theatre. One of them zeroed it on the hinge of the door and, of course, prosecutors have alleged he propped the door open to get his -- go out and get his weapons after the movie started.

The other two photos of the movie theatre were from outside, at around midnight, a couple of weeks before the shooting, midnight, of course, is about the time when the shooting occurred. Clearly, the most disturbing photos were the eight photos that were shown that were taken inside Holmes apartment, presumably by Holmes himself.

They showed self-portraits with his bright orange hair and very chillingly in four of the shots, he had black contact lenses in his eyes. It made him look just very disturbed and very menacing. Also, there were photos of explosives, explosives that prosecutors allege he used to booby trap his apartment.

There were photos of him dressed in the paramilitary ballistic tactical clothing he had on. Photos of him smiling, grinning very sinisterly at the camera. Also a photo of him making sort of a funny bizarre face with his tongue sticking out.

The last photo they showed was taken just hours before the shooting, it was of his bed, with all of his weapons, an assault rifle, a shotgun, two handguns, all of his ballistic tactical gear, his helmet, gas mask, all of that, in his apartment, just hours before the shooting -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Casey, as you run through all of these details, I just can't help, but think about the survivors who were there, the victims' family members. Have you had a chance to talk to them about all of this they have all been hearing?

WIAN: Well, my colleague, Jim Spellman did speak with the father of one of the shooting victims after today's hearing. And what they talked about. Jim had a much better vantage point of James Holmes in the court today than I did.

And he saw Holmes smirking during one of the photos of the self- portraits that were shown in court. Most of the time throughout these three-day hearings, he has shown absolutely no reaction, been very emotionless.

But when my colleague, Jim Spellman talked to that father, he said it was very disturbing seeing him smirk when these photos were being displayed in court. Also, want to point out, Brooke, that the defense decided not to call any witnesses in this hearing.

Despite the fact that they had argued before the hearing began for the right to call a couple of witnesses who could speak to James Holmes' state of mind, they decided not to do that, the judge wrapped things up, said he's going to rule on whether he stands trial on Friday -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Casey Wian for us in Centennial, Colorado. Casey, we appreciate it.

Now should Hugo Chavez still be considered the president of Venezuela? That's the question so many people today are asking after reports that Chavez will miss his own inauguration. We'll take you live to Caracas next.


BALDWIN: They have got a hot mess down in Venezuela as to who is in charge of the government. Socialist Hugo Chavez stricken with cancer still is being treated in Cuba. But the thing is, he's supposed to be taking an oath of office his second term for president tomorrow.

Opposition leaders have said Chavez should be replaced at least temporarily. But just a short time ago, Venezuela's Supreme Court stepped in. Paula Newton is with me now from Caracas. Paula, what did the court say?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The court said, essentially, we agree with the government and we agree with Chavez supporters. And that means Chavez's handpicked successor, the vice president, can stand in for him seemingly if he wants to for the entire six-year term.

This position that the constitutional court has taken on this, that the Supreme Court has taken on this unprecedented really anywhere, they don't have a handle on what he has. They don't have a handle on if he can recover.

And they have not even pronounced a date to say this is when he has to be sworn in by, this is when we have to know what his medical condition is. So basically many people here and when I say many, I mean, people who used to run the judiciary here before Hugo Chavez drafted this constitution and put it in place in 1999, are saying that this is a politicized decision and they're saying it is dangerous.

Saying at this point in time is what should happen is the president should be in charge of the country, and elections should be called. I should say, Brooke, that right now there is a lot of anxiety. Not many people on the street know what this will mean.

They are saying so far it doesn't look like it will lead to conflict in the streets. But it is so very confusing for anyone living here.

BALDWIN: So as there is anxiety in Venezuela, we have Chavez in Cuba. Have we -- have you heard anything from him? Has he spoken, reacted to the high court's decision in his favor?

NEWTON: More than a month and no one has heard or seen Hugo Chavez. I think that's what really rattled everyone yesterday. When they said Hugo Chavez would not be at his swearing in, if he had a crawl to it, he would have. He would have come in a wheelchair. He would have come attached to an IV.

If he couldn't be here, it means he's gravely ill. I think that's the other thing that has many people rattled here. He's been a larger than life leader in this country. Love him or hate him, he has been the leader and it has been very unsettling for many people.

This economy is limping along right now. And there is no sign that they're going to be on better financial footing in the weeks and months to come with this kind of a political situation.

BALDWIN: Paula Newton for us in Caracas. Paula, thank you.

President Obama announces his pick to replace Tim Geithner at the Treasury Department. How Jack Lew's influence will impact your wallet. Ali Velshi has some thoughts. We'll chat next.


BALDWIN: Another move coming soon in President Obama's cabinet shuffle. A source tells CNN that the president plans to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. The nomination is expected to be announced this week.

CNN's Ali Velshi is here, all over this. Ali Velshi, good to see you, sir. Is Jack Lew a good pick to replace Geithner, who, by the way, is leaving at the end of the month? ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it depends how you look at this. From the president's perspective, it seems like he's surrounding himself with people in his second term who are familiar to him, who have been close to him, who he can be comfortable with.

Jack Lew fits that bill. He's also fairly familiar with the budgeting process. He was the director of the Office Of Management and Budget twice. You'll remember Peter Orzag held that position most recently when he left. Jack Lew was put into the position until he was the chief of staff.

So he knows the budgeting process and it does seem, Brooke, that at least for the next six months or so between the debt ceiling debate, the sequestration debate and the new budget that hopefully we bring in, that is going to preoccupy Washington.

He doesn't really have a lot of experience on the regulation side of things, which may cause some people on Wall Street to be concerned. But we're not really in a political environment, Brooke, where the -- neither the White House nor most people are concerned with whether or not Wall Street likes the pick.

But he is -- he's a guy who had experience. I mean, he was involved in the 1997 balanced budget deal. He's been involved in Social Security legislation. So all the topics that are hot right now, Jack Lew does have experience with.

BALDWIN: You mentioned sequestration, of course. We have a couple of fiscal cliffs over the next two months. Do we have any idea what kind of negotiator he'll be and he'll drive a tough bargain with the speaker of the House, John Boehner.

VELSHI: Well, as the chief of staff of the White House, that's got to be a key issue, right? You got to be able to be tough, you got to be able to negotiate. If you were grading the White House and its negotiating abilities in the last few months, you may not give them a very high grade.

But what you get in Jack Lew is a guy who is highly, specifically familiar with the budgeting process. I wouldn't normally say this that that's the most important thing a treasury secretary needs to do, regulation is another big area.

But right now we're in a budget problem. So I don't know whether Jack Lew is the right pick for the next four years, but certainly if you're picking a treasury secretary for the next six or eight months, this is a guy who knows the details, the complexity of budgeting.

I will remind you, Brooke, we haven't had a budget in this country since April of 2009. I mean, the basic thing that government is supposed to do is have a budget. We don't have that. We have these so-called continuing resolutions. We'll just extend last year's budget.

Keep everything the same way, which is why we can't get a handle on a lot of our issues. So there is a real -- this may be a signal from Obama to Congress that I'm serious about this. We're serious about putting our best minds forward on getting a budget and getting our deficit under control.

I don't know if that's exactly what the signal is, but for the moment, Jack Lew certainly looks like the most likely pick and at this point we now know he's going to be appointed by President Obama.

BALDWIN: Not since 2009? Ali Velshi, thanks for the reminder. Appreciate it. See you in a little bit.

A high profile gun and heavy weapons enthusiast has been found dead. Right now, it is being investigated as a homicide. Much more on that developing story next.


BALDWIN: Want to show you some clips from one of the top ten channels on YouTube. One of the people behind this channel was just found dead with a bullet to the back of his head. Take a look with me.

This is the YouTube channel. It is called "FPSRUSSIA." Listen to this, though, 3.4 million subscribers. This is celebration of weapons, big, big ones. Take a look and take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, I'm going to make this video showing the MMP 22 from Smith & Wesson with the --


BALDWIN: This is "FPSRUSSIA." This is Keith Ratliff, described as the site's gun guy. Keith Ratliff found dead last Thursday at a home in Carnesville, Georgia. His death ruled a homicide. With me now, Mike Morris of the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" here so, welcome.


BALDWIN: Read your piece in the "AJC." So this happened -- they found him last Thursday, last seen alive Wednesday night.

MORRIS: About 23 hours earlier.

BALDWIN: Tell me about the murder scene, what do you know?

MORRIS: All we know really that it was in his gun manufacturing business that he had up in Franklin County, about 80 miles northeast of Atlanta. And there were numerous weapons found in close proximity to his body and his family is wondering why didn't he use one of those to defend himself.

BALDWIN: One gunshot wound.

MORRIS: One gunshot wound to his head. And after the autopsy by the GBI, they determined it was a homicide and not a suicide. BALDWIN: Do investigators believe his work possibly with this YouTube channel, this FPSRUSSIA is connected to his death?

MORRIS: They will not say. I tried to pin them down today on a motive or if they had any suspects and they're just not saying.

BALDWIN: They're not saying the last person he talked to --

MORRIS: They won't tell me the last person he talked to, who found him dead, won't say.

BALDWIN: This guy was obviously as we see these videos and I clicked on some, you've been watching some, very well trained in the use of firearms. What does that suggest about -- would it suggest anything about the assailant here?

MORRIS: Right now, I don't think anybody knows.

BALDWIN: Had you ever heard of this guy before this?

MORRIS: I hadn't before this, but apparently a lot of people have because the YouTube channel -- one of the YouTube channels they run has had over half a billion views on the videos they put up.

BALDWIN: And, again, biggest takeaway from Georgia Bureau of Investigation is --

MORRIS: Is that they do not have -- they won't say whether they have any suspects, any persons of interest, they won't say if they're ruling anyone out.

BALDWIN: OK. Mike Morris, AJC, we'll be reading to see if they talk more and what they're saying as this was a huge, huge gun guy, killed with one gunshot wound to the head. Appreciate it, thank you.

Just in here to CNN, we have got word of a crane collapse. Look at this with me, crane collapse in New York. This is a quick look. We're going to talk with someone who heard the whole thing next.


BALDWIN: Just about the top of the hour here. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me. Beating the president to the punch, New York's governor is getting ready to propose sweeping gun control laws here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo using the state of the state address here to push live pictures here by the way of the governor speaking at this hour, to push for some supporters anticipating some of the toughest gun restrictions in the country.

So we're watching for those details here. We obviously have been reading, there are a lot of points here anticipated as to what he may call for. This is some of what we have learned from the "Wall Street Journal." That he will want to require gun owners to relicense every five years. He'll want to broaden the definition of what weapons fall under the state's present ban. And increase penalties for crimes committed with illegal weapons, just some of what we're watching for.

As for the governor of the state that just endured a massacre at one of its elementary schools, governor of Connecticut here, saying he is against more guns on school campuses.


GOVERNOR DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: And when it comes to preventing future acts of violence in our schools, let me say this, more guns are not the answer. Let me be clear, freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom. That is not who we are in Connecticut and it is not who we will allow ourselves to become.


BALDWIN: It has been just about a month since the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and the president's task force in reaction to those killings is in high gear. The latest development we have today will now be talking to Wal-Mart at the first -- the nation's largest seller of guns and ammo declined a White House meeting because of some sort of scheduling conflict.

But today, Wal-Mart's vice president of communications said this, quote, "We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate," end quote.

No one, though, is under estimating the pressure of the White House feeling to do something. Remember when he announced the task force? President set a deadline for this month for some concrete proposals and today task force leader Vice President Joe Biden pointed out that he has not forgotten when his work is due.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Been doing this a long time. I can't think of all the tragic events we endured, I don't think anything has touched the heart of the American people so profoundly as seeing those -- learning of those young children not only being shot, but riddled with bullets.

We are not going to get caught up in the notion, unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing. It is critically important we act.