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Alabama Standoff Enters Fifth Day; Baseball Star Says He Didn't Dope; Mom Sues After 7-Year-Old Handcuffed; Ethics Committee Investigates Menendez; Housing Market Recovers; Groundhogs Predict Early Spring; Wild Week Of Weather For U.S.; Grand Jury Voted To Indict Ramseys
Aired February 2, 2013 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDY KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Miguel Marquez in for Fredricka. Miguel, off to you.
MARQUEZ: Thank you very much, Randi. Good to see you.
It's 12:00 p.m. on the East, 9:00 a.m. out on the West Coast. I'm Miguel Marquez in for Fredricka Whitfield. If you're just tuning in, thanks for joining us.
We begin in Alabama where we're expecting any moment now a news conference on the tense five-day standoff outside an underground bunker. Holed up inside is a terrified 5-year-old boy and his armed captor.
Let's go straight to the scene with CNN's Victor Blackwell. Victor, what are we expecting to hear from this presser?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have not been given the details of what this announcement will be, but I can tell you this presser is different than the ones we've had yesterday and all the pressers that were canceled on Thursday.
We've been told that we'll hear from Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson and Trooper Kevin Cook from Alabama State Police. We've been told that there will be new information. We know that this line of communication with Jimmy Lee Dykes has been opened overnight.
We know that the temperatures overnight have been below freezing for the first time so, that has been the greatest worry for the safety of this boy. But, again, a news conference is scheduled to start in just about 5 minutes.
If you see me look off to my left just about probably 40, 50 feet from me is where this news conference will happen. Of course, we'll bring you updates as they come in -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: What have you learned, Victor, about how this 5-year-old is holding up right now?
BLACKWELL: Well, I can tell you one of the things that had been reported over the past couple days are that he has been heard crying, and that originated from a comment from the mayor of Midland City, Virgil Skipper.
So I spoke with him this morning about if he, indeed, heard the boy crying himself. So I said, have you been to the bunker? He said no, I haven't been past the barrier. Did you speak with someone who heard the boy crying I asked him? He said no one told me that specifically.
So that was speculation about this boy crying from a bunker for his parents. He says you know he's crying. He's a 6-year-old boy. Well, we know that he's 5, and that again is just an assumption that the boy is crying.
We'll get more information from the authorities when this news conference starts in a few moments -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: Such a crazy way this unfolded with the bus driver, incredibly brave bus driver, keeping this gunman from getting on the bus, letting 20-some kids out the back, this other young man was then taken by him. Do we have any sense of a possible motive here?
BLACKWELL: This all started on Tuesday as we know from authorities when a school bus stopped in front of a road that leads up to the property owned by Jimmy Lee Dykes. Now what we know from someone who lives in this community has been here for decades, is that Dykes is someone who is very serious about his property rights.
He patrols in the night with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Now a good friend of that bus driver, his name is Charles Pollin, the friend, Robert Smith says that the bus route ended at the base of the road that leads up to Jimmy Lee Dykes' property.
And every day, Pollin would make a turn at the base of that road and drive onto that road and that angered Jimmy Lee Dykes. So we do not know specifically the motive, but we know that this man was supposed to be in court on Wednesday for a charge of menacing for shooting at another neighbor, the neighbor says, because he damaged that road.
Again, a man who's very serious about property rights, the question here is, did that turning onto the road every day anger Jimmy Lee Dykes. We're told that Charles Pollin actually took eggs and jelly to Dykes to try to make amends for his anger over driving over the road.
Tuesday afternoon when that bus stopped again, that is when we're told by authorities Dykes went on with a gun, demanded two children, Pollin put himself in front of as many children as he could, saving 21 of them, but that 5-year-old, the kindergarten, was snatched, dragged into a hole and they've been there for five days -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: Victor, if you would stick around there for us for just a few minutes. When that presser starts up, we want to go back to it and --
BLACKWELL: Well, we've got them walking up right behind us, Miguel. We've got Sheriff Wally Olson coming up, Trooper Kevin Cook with the latest on this standoff that again started Tuesday afternoon when we're told that man, Jimmy Lee Dykes, neighbors have identified him as, dragged the boy into that hole, into the bunker. Let's listen for the updates from authorities.
SHERIFF WALLY OLSON, DALE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Good morning. Are we all ready to get started? Excuse me, I'm sorry. Again, I'd like to thank everybody for your continued patience, our volunteers and our community for the continued prayers and support. I want to update you on our current situation.
Overnight, we had an open line of communication with Mr. Dykes. I know last night one of the questions was asked about the child's condition. Mr. Dykes through our communication we've been able to -- he's told us that he has an electric heater and some blankets inside, that he's taking care of him.
We also -- he's also allowed us to provide coloring books, medication, toys. I want to thank him for taking care of our child. That's very important. And this time I'm going to let you ask me a couple questions. But, you know, it needs to be brief and there's very limited on what I can give you, so please --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What medication is the child getting?
OLSON: I can't release it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we know he's actually taking it or --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we know about the actual state of the child?
OLSON: We can only do a couple.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he have television or electricity?
OLSON: We don't have a lot of details of that, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hearing that the bus driver hit an emergency button inside the bus to call police.
OLSON: I don't have any information on that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us any details about your conversation with the suspect?
OLSON: We've been in constant communication with Mr. Dykes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he making any demands?
OLSON: At this time, like I said, I can only answer a few questions and I've got to get back across the street. Our PIO is going to talk to you about further information down the road. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have any questions, you can send them to my e-mail address, kevin.cook@dps --
BLACKWELL: Again, Sheriff Wally Olson of the Dale County Sheriff's Office. They announced that there will be another press conference tonight. The update, again, there's been open line of communication and Mr. Dykes has informed negotiators that there is electricity there. He has electric heaters and blankets and he has allowed negotiators to provide coloring books, toys, and medication.
We have been told early on that this boy needed medication for asthma and possibly Asperger's. No details about communication as it relates to a television or radio. But I can tell you this -- authorities have told us several times that they did not want us to show live the tactics that were happening as they were approaching this property.
Also, they have been very limited in the details that they gave us. Why? Because they do not want to agitate the person in this bunker who neighbors have identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes. Well, the question then is, if he does not have television, if he doesn't have a radio, why would it matter that they would tell us some of those details?
He would only get those through either watching television or listening to the radio or having some type of communication with someone who does. But, again, they skipped over that question really quickly about is there a television or is there a radio there.
Constant communication, that was something we heard from the trooper this morning, that the lines even overnight were open discussing this with Mr. Dykes. And I think it was important that the sheriff made a point to say that he wants to thank Mr. Dykes for allowing the coloring books and the medication and the toys down to this boy.
Again, five days this kindergartner has been in this hole with a man he's never met, who in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday according to authorities rushed onto a bus, shot the driver, and dragged him into that hole -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: Such a terrifying story, Victor. Thank you very much for keeping up with it. We are going to keep up on this story this afternoon and come back to you for updates. Thanks.
Now an update on new allegations of doping against New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod is being accused of taking performance- enhancing drugs from a Florida clinic. But this is not the first time the 37-year-old has admitted in the past to doping but says he's been clean since 2003.
National correspondent Susan Candiotti is live for us in New York -- Susan.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Miguel. A-Rod is again trying to distance himself from this week's controversy involving PEDs and the Miami clinic. Now there's another report alleging Alex Rodriguez got home visits to his Waterfront Miami mansion from a man who ran the clinic.
ESPN quoting unidentified sources says that man, Anthony Bosh, injected A-Rod with performance-enhancing drugs. Once Bosh was reportedly kicked out of A-Rod's home after Bosh allegedly had trouble finding a vein.
Similar drug claims were levelled earlier this week in the "Miami New Times" newspaper, which says it has a diary containing notes from Bosh detailing drugs, including human growth hormone given to several athletes.
Now, CNN's been unable to independently see the documents in question. We have been to the clinic, but it's been shut down. Now, Bosh denies all allegations through a spokesman he tells CNN he did not treat nor is he associated with players, including A-Rod.
An earlier statement to CNN, A-Rod also says none of this is true and through his lawyers calls the documents about him illegitimate. In a new statement issued last night, A-Rod's lawyers add this, "In regards to the new allegations made on ESPN's outside the lines story, we can say that they are not true. Alex is diligently working on his rehabilitation and is looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible."
A-Rod, you'll remember, Miguel, has reportedly said he stopped taking performance enhancing drugs in 1993 and remember, he is recovering from hip surgery. Back to you.
MARQUEZ: Susan, if Major League Baseball's investigation into this clinic goes anywhere, what impact might it have on A-Rod's contract with the Yankees?
CANDIOTTI: Well, you're right to say "if" this investigation goes anywhere. It's a good question. Under a collective bargaining agreement teams cannot discipline players for this kind of thing.
Our CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, tells us A-Rod's main worry would be a suspension from the baseball commissioner and that could affect his contract with the Yankees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Obviously, if he's not showing up to play baseball because of a suspension, they would have certain rights under the contract then to pay him, well, nothing or considerably less money. But it gets complicated because of the multiple agreements in question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: And of course we're a long way off from that. No idea where Major League Baseball's investigation is heading -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you very much for following that.
The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers battle it out tomorrow at the Super Bowl. So what do their quarterbacks need to do to get that coveted ring? We'll ask legendary NFL star, who's already had one, Joe Theismann. He joins us live.
Spring temperatures one day, freezing cold the next, what's behind the wacky weather out there? We'll find out. And a 7-year-old boy is handcuffed by police after being accused of stealing from a classmate. The family is outraged and want the police to pay up.
MARQUEZ: Wow, very cool. One man who knows a lot about what Super Bowl Sunday means is Joe Theismann. The former NFL quarterback led the Washington Redskins to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and won the ring in 1983 in Super Bowl XVII.
And we are so glad to welcome Joe Theismann in the CNN NEWSROOM live from New Orleans. Joe, it's the day before the biggest game of their lives. What's going through the minds of the quarterbacks and their teammates right now?
JOE THEISMANN, FORMER QUARTERBACK, WASHINGTON REDSKINS: I think, you know, Miguel, there's a sense of relief right now that you're one day before the game because for the two weeks before you've had to deal with all the anticipation, all the questions, all the media interviews.
Right now, you finally get a chance to have a little bit of peace of mind and really focus on the task at hand tomorrow night. So I think there's a sense of peace. I know it was for me when I got ready on a Saturday night getting ready to play.
MARQUEZ: When you walk into that stadium, though, what is the sense like? Just utter awe?
THEISMANN: It really is. I mean, that's when the moment starts to hit you and you realize you're participating in a Super Bowl. This is the last game of the year. We're the last teams standing and this is an opportunity that very few people are afforded.
We've had a lot of guys come through this that had never won one. A lot of guys put on uniforms never won one. I know when I walk into the field in Pasadena, I walked up and down the field because I wanted to see it all just in case something bad happened.
MARQUEZ: Wow, Ray Lewis is probably one of those guys who is really going to be watching and enjoying these last moments. What does it mean for him, who could end his career, I guess, go out on top, what if he loses his last outing? What do you think of Mr. Lewis?
THEISMANN: I think in Ray's case he's been the face of the Ravens for so long. He's been such a great player in our league for so long, and a terrific ambassador. Yes, he's had his things happen to him in his career, but as far as football goes, he's been the heart and soul of the Ravens.
For him to be able to go out with a victory he would join I think John Elway and Jerome Bettis as guys that left the game with the ring being their last game. I think it's very important to him. But just the ride over the last three weeks and the improbable nature with which they got here and the way they struggled is so important. And Ray is such a vital part of it.
MARQUEZ: They both have such big running games. What sort of game do you expect tomorrow?
THEISMANN: You know, I think everybody's sort of looking at this game as one where Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick will put the ball in the air. I think the Ravens have to. That's their M.O. They throw it down the field. Ray Rice probably won't run the ball a lot against this defense, but he should be a big part of catching the football.
When it comes to the San Francisco 49ers, with Colin Kaepernick in there in the playoffs, I think their average is 286 yards roughly running the football. So I'd expect the 49ers to run it. I expect the Ravens to try and put it down the field.
And something's going to happen in this game. I promise you. When we do this broadcast worldwide to 146 countries, they're going to be talking about it all around the world saying that was amazing. There's always something that happens in the game.
MARQUEZ: All right, interesting. So let's talk about your team, the Redskins, and RG3. We saw that terrible injury of Robert Griffin III in the playoff loss to Seattle and many people harken that back to your career-ending leg injury in 1985, which is still very, very hard to watch. Was it worth it? Is there's a lot of concern about this. Was it worth it for RG3 to play in that game?
THEISMANN: I think there certainly is a lot of concern because there's been like 29 quarterbacks that have quarterbacked the Washington Redskins since I left. So there's ban lot of turnover in that position. They've really been looking for one guy to become really the face of the franchise.
Robert has done that, terrific young man. Great representative not only of himself, Baylor University, but the Washington Redskins and we want him to be the quarterback for a long, long time.
He's going to learn how to take care of himself a little bit more. From what I understand, the rehab's going very well. It wouldn't surprise me if he comes back better than he was this year.
MARQUEZ: Well, that's nice to hear. After years, the NFL is now paying more attention to injuries, concussion, unlike in your era, really. We've had congressional hearings now. Should this have happened sooner? Is it long overdue? What do you come down on all of this?
THEISMANN: It's hard to say because so much more attention has been given now and safety is a priority both for the league and the players association. But Miguel, here's a little bit of the catch-22. It's a violent contact game. If you legislate contact out of football, you no longer have football.
So it's a very, very thin ice, thin line that you have to look at and say what's a great hit, what's separating the ball from a receiver, and what's a hit that's too hard. In football, defensive backs are taught to separate the wide receivers from the ball. That requires a lot of contact.
We certainly don't want to see guys hurt. We certainly want safety to be a priority. But you have to understand the nature of the game. I think when you're a police officer, you understand what your job is. When you're a fireman, you understand what your job is.
There are hazards and risks that go with it. When you sign that contract and put a uniform on, you may wind up waking up like I do every morning taking a lot more time out to get out of bed to make sure all the sore parts get working in the right way.
MARQUEZ: Joe Theismann, absolute pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for joining us.
THEISMANN: Thank you for having me.
MARQUEZ: And on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII, CNN is live in New Orleans with our take on the biggest sporting event in the country. What it means to the city, how it became such a cultural phenomenon, and more. We welcome Rachel Nicholls as she host, "Kick Off In New Orleans," a CNN Bleacher Report special this afternoon 4 p.m. Eastern.
Should a religious school be allowed to force teachers to prove their faith? A California school says yes, and two teachers who have refused have ended up in court.
MARQUEZ: The family of a 7-year-old boy is suing the NYPD and the city of New York for $250 million claiming police handcuffed the child and held him in custody for ten hours after he was accused of stealing five bucks from a classmate.
Let's bring our legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, is in Cleveland, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney and law professor, is in New York.
Let me lay out the facts in this case first. Police arrested 7-year- old Wilson Reyes in his Bronx school in December. He was charged with robbery, but those charges were later dropped. His mom took a photo of him in the cuffs. You're looking at that right now. She says police treated him like a criminal and now he's traumatized. Listen to her lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK YANKOWITZ, WILSON REYES' ATTORNEY: It's unconscionable. This is such a travesty what occurred here, heartbreaking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Guys, the image over this handcuffed kid is pretty powerful, but let's be real, will this case ever go to court? Avery, weigh in there.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes, it's not going to court. You know what, everybody in this case, Miguel, seems like they're over caffeinated. What's going on right now is you've got a 7-year-old who grabbed five bucks, and technically, by the way, it was a robbery.
But the idea of a $250 million lawsuit, look, I train police departments, I've remitted police officers. Their behavior is way out of line. The law that's being used is an 1871 federal civil rights law.
But the fact is there are a multitude of ways this matter could have been resolved. I think all parties are out of line. There may be some liability but it will never go to trial, it won't happen here.
MARQUEZ: Richard, do you agree with that? This kid was -- he also beat up this kid. Apparently, he looks like an angel, but he's a tough little guy and police said, look, we were detaining him. That's what this was about -- Richard.
HERMAN: Yes, they had the right to do this. This young man, this 7- year-old, punched the boy in the nose and lip, caused it to bleed, got a fat lip, took the $5. The report was made -- apparently, this kid was harassing him also for a period of time and the mother had made complaints.
Anyway, the police came and there is a procedure in New York that if you are between 7 and 17 you can be arrested like this. The police followed that procedure. Is that the right procedure? I don't know. Go to the legislature. Change the laws.
But they followed the procedure. Claiming he was handcuffed for ten hours, the police say it was only four hours. They let his mother see him, got him food. They ended up dropping the charges, but, look, they --
MARQUEZ: They put the cuffs on him.
HERMAN: They put the cuffs on him. They had the right do that. The kid ran away, there would have been a problem and the police would have been blamed for that as well. Look, I think they overreacted.
Two officers maybe could have sat with the kid instead of handcuffing him, $250 million? Let me tell you something, there isn't no way this is coming down anywhere near that if they get paid a dime. They may not get anything on this case.
MARQUEZ: All right, let's move to our second case, the little Oaks Elementary in Thousand Oaks, California, is suing two former teachers who had threatened to sue over a requirement that they provide proof of their faith. The school was bought by the church in 2009. The lawyers say it's a first amendment issue, freedom of religion. Avery, let me start with you.
FRIEDMAN: You know, this is a very complicated case. It may not seem so, but the battle is, does the state of California have the right to tell all schools you don't have the right to require a proof of faith, in other words, religious commitment. And on the other hand, does the school have a first amendment freedom of religion argument? And that's the battle. Ultimately, what's interesting here is the school jumped the gun, Miguel.
What happened is they brought a federal lawsuit against the teachers who never brought the case in federal court in the first place. The federal court will dismiss the case without ever answering this critical question. So we'll really never know the answer because there's no what the courts call justifiable issue.
MARQUEZ: So part of the argument from the teacher's side is the school is a for-profit entity, not a non-profit. How does that play in the case?
HERMAN: It doesn't matter. Well, that's the distinction -- if the school is receiving funds for the state and they are for profit, certain rules apply to them as opposed to if they were a not for profit.
So whether or not the teachers would be compelled to respond to an answer like this or to assert their faith in a questionnaire, which they denied. I think because the school is a profit-based institution the teachers had every right to deny it. It is discrimination and I think the teachers will ultimately win this case.
MARQUEZ: Avery, you disagree?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. I don't think public/private, public funds make any difference. The legislature in Sacramento made no distinction. I think that the teachers have an interesting case because they're tree from those kinds of constraints. I just don't understand why the school jumped the gun and brought a case to federal court. No reason for it yet.
HERMAN: They felt federal law would trump state law and if they got a favorable ruling in the federal court and the teacher won in the state court, federal would trump state like it does in the --
FRIEDMAN: That's the point though, it's not in court. They jumped the gun.
MARQUEZ: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We'll be back in 20 minutes to talk about a surprising new revelation from the Jon Benet Ramsey case. The young beauty queen was found dead in her family's basement more than 16 years ago.
He was a true top dog who had the run of the White House. We have sad news about the Bush's Scottish terrier, Barney.
And homes turned into piles of rubble, violent storms rip through the south during a week of wild weather. We'll tell you what's behind it.
MARQUEZ: Welcome back. I'm Miguel Marquez in for Fredricka Whitfield. If you're just tuning in, thanks for joining us. Now to those allegations of free flights and hiring of prostitutes by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the Senate Ethics Committee is investigating the powerful lawmaker. CNN's Jim Acosta has the details.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Miguel, the Senate Ethics rules are clear when it comes to these free flights Menendez accepted. The senator did not, as required, report them on his financial disclosure form. The question is what, if anything, the Ethics Committee will do about it.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It was another day of a very public senator keeping a very low profile. Outside a dinner Thursday night featuring New Jersey's top political leaders, Bob Menendez offered only a few words in response to the questions flooding his office.
SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: I have comments I've already put through my office. These are nameless, faceless, anonymous allegations you should find out about.
ACOSTA: Just as Menendez is officially becoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a key member of the Senate Ethics Committee is indicating the panel is looking into a raid by federal agents on the offices of Menendez' friend and Florida doctor, Salomon Melgen.
In a statement, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson said, "We are aware of the news reports regarding the FBI raid on Dr. Melgen's office. The Ethics Committee will follow its established procedures in this matter."
One potential violation of ethics rules, the free flights Menendez look on Melgen's private jet to the Dominican Republic in 2010. On his financial disclosure form for that same year, Menendez said no, he did not receive any reportable travel worth more than $335. His own office now says the flights were worth $58,000.
(on camera): Menendez reimbursed Dr. Melgen two years after he accepted those free flights, but according to a government watchdog, that might not necessarily be a violation of Senate Ethics rules.
MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CREW: It's only in the Senate Ethics Committee where you can pay back money and then sort of get off the hook.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Melanie Sloan with the watch dog group, "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington" says the trips amount to gifts that should have been reported promptly.
SLOAN: He should have paid the charter rate for the trips at the time or disclosed them, and he didn't do either of those things.
ACOSTA: Sloan's group turned over its own file on Menendez to the FBI last summer including an e-mail from a man claiming the senator was flying to the Dominican Republic to meet with prostitutes, a story that eventually appeared on the conservative "Daily Caller" web site.
As for Dr. Melgen, he is also a big campaign contributor to Menendez. He donated more than $100,000 to the senator's re-election campaign as well as other connected Democratic committees.
Melgen's company sent another $700,000 to a "Super PAC" that spent more than a half million dollars to get Menendez re-elected. As first pointed out by the "New York Times," Menendez at a subcommittee hearing last year urged government officials to help direct a port security contract to a company tied to Melgen.
The top Republican in the senator's home state suggested it's time for Menendez to address all of the questions head on.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Senator Menendez has been in public life for over two decades. I think he has a complete understanding of what he believes his responsibility is.
ACOSTA: When asked why Menendez failed to report those flights on his financial disclosure form, his staff did not respond. Intentionally falsifying these forms is a federal crime. It says so right on the form -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: Thank you, Jim Acosta.
Now stories trending on the internet, former New York Mayor Ed Koch dead. He was 88 and although he left office about 25 years ago he stayed relevant in politics throughout his life.
President George W. Bush's Scottish terrier, Barney has died. The former first dog was 12 and had been suffering from lymphoma. Condolence messages for the former first family have been pouring in online.
A huge stash, hundreds of never-before-seen color pictures of the Beatles have been discovered. The photographer recently found his negatives for the pictures and published them.
Good news on Wall Street this week, but will the upswing extend into the housing market?
MARQUEZ: If you're looking to buy a house, we've got some good news. The housing market is finally making a comeback. In this week's "Smart is the New Rich," Christine Romans explains why this year could be prime time to buy.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what a recovering housing market looks like, an inspector looking things over before a final sale and open house where 92 different brokers stop by. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at this.
ROMANS: And home prices finally moving higher. In November, up 5.5 percent, the biggest gain in six years. And many experts agree, the recovery is just getting started.
STAN HUMPHRIES, CHIEF ECONOMIS, ZILLOW: In 2013 should be a very good year for the housing market. We expect the spring selling season to be quite robust. We've got historically low mortgage rates with a 30- year fixed being well below 4 percent. We've got housing affordability, which in most markets has been --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some sort of stool or something where you could sit there.
ROMANS: Those low mortgage rates are a boon for first-time home buyers.
DAVID CHU, HOME BUYER: I think it's just the right time to buy right now.
ROMANS: And for refinancers. This guy has refinanced twice in two years.
SHAWN BRECK, REAL ESTATE AGENT: If you can save even $100 to $150 it seems worth it.
ROMANS: And you know it's real when the house flippers are back.
LAURA ABBOTT, REAL ESTATE INVESTOR: I just love taking an old ugly house and bringing life back to it.
ROMANS: As we approach the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake, sure there's a long way to go. But Deutsche Bank calls 2013 the year of the house. Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
MARQUEZ: Extremely warm and cold temperatures, tornadoes, flood, and snow, it's been a wild week of weather. We'll tell you what's causing it.
And a new twist in the murder trial of a woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend more than two dozen times.
MARQUEZ: It has been a wild week of weather in parts of the U.S., but finally a bit of good news from America's favorite ground hog. Punxsutawney Phil says winter is fading fast and spring is near.
Now, I should note that the furry prognosticator, there it is, has an accuracy rate of only 39 percent. Thanks, Phil. While that ground hog says spring is near, parts of the U.S. are still freezing and recovering from a devastating week of weather. I got a chance to see it firsthand. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see circulation in the clouds.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Topping a week of wild weather, a reporter from Atlanta affiliate WUSB caught a twister as it touched down. It left one man dead and utter destruction.
(on camera): This is Main Street in Adairsville, Georgia. This is exactly where that tornado hit. You can see devastation on that side of the street, the trucks completely destroyed here, and on this side was a normal day of work here at the plant where they make parts for tractors, complete devastation, 50 to 100 people working here today, all of them finding across this entire area, trucks, everything, shredded.
(voice-over): The storms packed a punch nearly nationwide. Record breaking 90-degree temps in South Texas and a bone-chilling 40 45 below wind chill in Minot, North Dakota. Fargo saw snow and wind, lots of it. Across the south, the storm turned deadly. In Nashville, one man died when a tree fell on his home.
Over in Memphis, torrential rain and massive flooding, bridges, underpasses, inundated. Missouri saw flash floods and winds so fierce it took 48 train cars off their tracks. Nebraska, the fogs so thick, four people died in a head on collision.
Des Moines, Iowa, saw record snowfall. In Monticello, Arkansas, a horse barn collapsed, all 11 horses though, a-OK. Indiana saw downed trees and fire, lightning suspected.
In Kentucky, it was strong winds flipping tractor-trailers like toys. And across Alabama, high winds damaged a church and the skies opened up with rain and misery.
MARQUEZ: I want to bring in meteorologist Alexandra Steele. Alexandra, why? Why are we seeing this weather?
ALEXANDA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, this is what happened and it's a different scenario than now. We have this very amplified jet. You can see this is what's bringing this arctic air south to Texas. You can see also this incredibly warm air bringing the Gulf of Mexico moisture and this heat all the way as far north as Maine.
So 150-mile-per-hour jet as well. Remember, there was a lot of wind energy with this. Usually the jet stream's about 100 miles per hour so that was strong. Also very strong at the surface, southerly winds, but 100 miles per hour.
So the winds were there. There's the warmth and here's what happened. So Miguel, the warm and the cold, the clashing set off these severe storms and the snow. So record severe weather.
MARQUEZ: And what's ahead, this weekend, the next week? STEELE: All right, big-time changes, finally, we're back to a typical January, February pattern, no severe weather, but some snow, you can see it, Chicago, Cincy, all the way in toward the northeast, even Washington will see some snow showers, maybe about an inch or so. There's where the winter advisories are, and there's the big picture for today. Things pretty quiet other than that snow.
MARQUEZ: Alexandra, thank you very much.
New revelations in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case and they involve the parents of the child beauty queen. Our legal guys will weigh in.
MARQUEZ: It's a surprising twist to the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Our legal guys are back. Avery Friedman in Cleveland, Richard Herman in New York. This week we found out that a grand jury voted in 1999 to indict the 6-year-old beauty queen's parents on charges of child abuse leading to death.
The D.A. didn't file the charges against John and Patsy Ramsey saying he didn't have enough evidence. The new information came from the story in the "Boulder Daily Camera," which also reported that although the grand jurors voted for indictment they were OK with the decision not to prosecute.
Gentlemen, bizarre. Why is this coming out now, Richard?
HERMAN: I don't know why it's coming out now. But how scary is that? That's why, you know, they say a grand jury, you can indict a ham sandwich, I mean, they could have and they did, but leave it to the prosecutor.
I mean, you have to tip your hat to this prosecutor. They made an independent analysis and made a determination because they have an ethical obligation only to bring cases they can win or they can potentially win.
Here there was no evidence linking the parents to the death of this child, and therefore the prosecutor stood tall under a lot of pressure and did not bring the criminal charges.
MARQUEZ: Avery, do you agree? It does sound like since her death so much has come out with DNA evidence and the like that absolved the parents entirely. Yes?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. I hate to agree with this guy. He's 100 percent right on that. I mean, the fact is when the grand jury comes back, in Colorado, the prosecutor is supposed to sign that indictment then go from there.
But all an indictment means by a grand jury is that's where it starts. That's where the prosecutor starts, not where they finish. And the truth is unless a prosecutor in good faith thinks they can prove case beyond a reasonable doubt, it shouldn't go forward. So I think, yes, there was enormous, enormous public pressure. There was a question did Patsy fake the ransom note and the like. But I think the prosecutors made the right decision. Why it came out is somebody did something dishonest. That's a secret transcript, a secret proceeding. Somebody leaked it. That's why it's out right now. Shouldn't be out but it is.
MARQUEZ: Any idea, either of you, how often it is that prosecutors don't follow through on a grand jury indictment?
HERMAN: We don't know those results, but I would venture to say it's probably less than 5 percent, Miguel. That's just my guess.
MARQUEZ: And Avery --
FRIEDMAN: That's probably right.
MARQUEZ: Any idea why this case is so fascinates people, just don't go away?
FRIEDMAN: My goodness, the death of this beautiful child and all sorts of motives being ascribed by media and others. Of course, this was the story that captured America at the time. Certainly, it will never go away. It was a horrendous crime, which still will never -- unlikely ever be solved.
MARQUEZ: All right, our next case has a lot of people are talking about, Jodi Arias in Phoenix. She is on trial for murdering her ex- boyfriend in June 2008. Travis Alexander was found shot and stabbed 27 times and his throat slit from ear to ear.
Arias has pled not guilty saying it was self-defense and that she was a victim of domestic violence. Yesterday, defense lawyers introduced some lewd photos they say Alexander sent to Arias.
Richard, let me start with you. Tell us about the latest move by the defense team.
HERMAN: Miguel, I don't know where they're going with this. This is a self-defense case. So they've acknowledge even in the opening defense attorney says my client did it. Now, in this jurisdiction, jurors have a right to ask questions.
And some of the questions that jurors are asking is where are the alibis for the victim's roommates? Where are they? This jury is obviously not focused in on this case. But Miguel, in order -- and let's face it, look, there was a same-calliber shotgun stolen from her parents that was used for this.
MARQUEZ: That's right.
HERMAN: To the face, 27 times stabbing, the throat cut, a camera, taking pictures with her at the crime scene, then trying to destroy the camera and fleeing the jurisdiction. Listen, this is a self- defense case and in order to prove self-defense Miss Arias is going to have to get on the witness stand -- FRIEDMAN: She won't do it, won't happen.
HERMAN: I'm sure the prosecution is salivating for that. How do you prove self-defense?
MARQUEZ: Avery, do you think she will? I mean, her lawyers are basically trying to prove that Travis Alexander was abusive. He was controlling so she was forced to kill him. Will the jury buy it? Will she take the stand in her own defense?
FRIEDMAN: No. I mean, I've heard commentators say, she has to take the stand, she will take the stand. She will never take the stand. I mean, these different stories about her -- and they've got the police tape on it, I don't know anything about it, secondly there were intruders, third, yes, I did it, so I had to shoot him twice and stab him 27 times.
This is just an awful case. I don't understand about what possible defense there is. Yes, the jury's asking questions that are frankly of the wall, but because they have the right to do it, Miguel, they're doing it.
At the end of the day, and we have more witnesses to go, even the defense witnesses have not been helpful to the defense. I don't understand how self-defense is going to be established. I don't understand how the defense is going to beat this prosecution.
HERMAN: Miguel, there's no chance of her walking out of that courtroom unless she takes the witness stand and gets to a couple of those jurors. She's going to have to testify.
FRIEDMAN: Not going to happen. Not going to happen.
MARQUEZ: I understand who likes the Ravens and who likes the 49ers?
HERMAN: This is Ravens outright. Take the money line.
FRIEDMAN: The 49ers, everybody's banking on the -- it's the Niners.
MARQUEZ: Gentlemen, thank you both very much for clearing up nothing at all. Thank you.
FRIEDMAN: Miguel, you've been doing a wonderful job without Fredricka. I want you to know that. You're doing fantastic, Miguel.
MARQUEZ: Thank you very much.
The legal guys are here every Saturday at this time to give us their take on the most intriguing legal cases of the day.
MARQUEZ: Later this afternoon in the CNN NEWSROOM, was he a victim? We're talking Manti Te'O, the Notre Dame linebacker who he says he was the victim of a girlfriend hoax. But is it a case of he said, he said? And is it possible to stop using cash completely? The answer is yes, and we'll show you how.
Plus, keeping in the Super Bowl spirit, we'll take a look at some of the best football films ever made and a goat named "Moose."
But next, Bill Gates says U.S. immigration policy does not make sense. Find out what America's richest man needs from immigration reform. "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.