Return to Transcripts main page


Carnival Triumph Heads to Mobile, Alabama; Press Conference from LAPD; Giffords and Nugent, Opposing Sides of the Gun Control Debate, Guests at Tonight's State of the Union; Gruesome Details in Arias Case

Aired February 12, 2013 - 11:00   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. We are keeping a close watch on three developing stories for you.

A three-day nightmare dragging on for 4,000 people stuck in the Gulf of Mexico. Forced to sleep on the deck of a hot smelly crippled cruise ship.

Also, just when you think you heard it all, more shocking testimony from Jodi Arias, about the boyfriend that she admits to violently killing. We're going to bring you the latest in that murder trial.

And then her little boy was hostage in an underground bunker. Now Ethan's mom is speaking out about the ordeal with Dr. Phil.

First, though, we start with an end to a vacation from hell. After floating stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for days, more than 4,000 people on a Carnival cruise ship are now on the move once again being towed to shore at about the same speed as a lawn mower. And they won't hit land for days.

Their ship lost power this weekend and passengers have been running short on food and water and working bathrooms, and, of course, patience. There's even one report that sewage was seen running down the ship's walls.

Joining me now, John Zarrella, live in Progreso, Mexico, where that ship was supposed to be towed until the currents started pushing it northward.

John, I would not exactly call this full speed ahead, but at six knots, yikes, when are they expected to reach the shores of Alabama?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that was the problem.

As you mentioned, we're here in Progreso because the ship was supposed to come here, but because of the strong currents, it drifted some 90 miles further north from its original position.

And by the time the tugboats got to it, it made more sense just to bring it back to Mobile, Alabama.

And right now, the timetable, as you mentioned at six-miles-an-hour, five-miles-an-hour, would get it there some time on Thursday. Not sure if it's the afternoon, the morning, the evening, just depends on the weather conditions and how much time those tugboats can make with the cruise ship.

Now, as far as the passengers on the ship, they are saying many of the things that you were reporting, the fact that many of the toilets are not working, that most of them are taking their mattresses outside and sleeping on the deck of the ship.

There's food. They're getting cereal. They're getting some fruit. They're getting hot coffee, but the only hot meals they're getting are up on the top deck up on the lido deck where there is some food available.

Now, they had two other cruise ships that had pulled up alongside yesterday and delivered supplies and some more staff members, Carnival staff members, to help with the guests.

And now, Ashleigh, you know, what Carnival is of course saying is that they do have showers working, people can take cold showers, not hot showers, and of course, that they have restored some of the toilets in the public areas and in some of the state rooms.


BANFIELD: Well, I'm sure that the beginning of the cruise on Thursday was probably lovely, but since Sunday I'm sure these people have just about had it. So, they've got a couple more days to endure.

Hopefully, John Zarrella, it will stay just a hassle and not get more dangerous or, of course, the food supplies, et cetera, and the danger of the sewage issues will be taken care of.

Keep an eye on it for us, if you will, Mr. Zarrella.

We're going to talk legal issues and what recourse some of these passengers actually have against the cruise ship, once, of course, they reach dry land.

I want to take you to California right now, breaking news, the Los Angeles police department's holding an update, an emergency news conference on the manhunt for the person they're searching for who's been looking to take out officers in revenge attacks.

Let's listen.


LIEUTENANT ANDY NEIMAN, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: We will investigate all investigative leads.

In terms of Big Bear and the search in the San Bernardino hills and that mountains, that is ongoing and continues as it has since the day that we discovered it, evidence that Christopher Dorner or his vehicle was in that area. And that will continue until we have exhausted all investigative leads in that area.

At this time, if you have any -- oh, the Manhattan Beach hotel, there's been questions about Manhattan Beach hotel in connection to Christopher Dorner. I will say this that, again, based on information in this investigation, there may be information that Christopher Dorner may or may not have been at a hotel in the Manhattan Beach area.

We are following up on that. And there's very -- not much additional I can give you on that issue right there.


NIEMAN: Yeah, again, I can't comment on investigative strategies or tactics or anybody involved in the investigation at this time.


NEIMAN: I'm sorry? When?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you need to do to actually confirm that it was Dorner (INAUDIBLE).

NEIMAN: Well, again, the investigators are going to look at every aspect. Obviously, they would look at the transactions that occurred at that time at that store, and try to line up and make sure that those transactions were done by Dorner, and that Dorner is actually the one depicted in the video.

We want to make sure that's not somebody that looks like Dorner that was posing as Dorner. I mean, that's always a possibilities that we have to consider.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, are you getting frustrated with all of these resources, all this manpower, this incredible manhunt, this huge reward and you still can't find him?

NEIMAN: It is frustrating, and we're hopeful that something will break loose from the public, and that these investigative leads will result in something very positive in terms of bringing this to a conclusion.


NEIMAN: OK. In terms of the Dorner case, the personnel complaint, that you are referring to, Chief Beck has made it very clear that we are going to reexamine that investigation, and if that means re- interviewing witnesses involved in that original investigation, additional witnesses, the chief is very interested in finding out whether there is substance to the allegations mentioned in the Dorner manifesto.

That is of great concern to him, and again, his intents is to be as transparent with this department in all our investigations as we can. And, if there are issues within the department that exist, he wants to find out about it, and if there were things that were not investigated accurately, that need to be corrected, he wants to correct those. So, that is the purpose of re-examining that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant, is the safety of the city being compromised in any way by stretching the thin blue line even further?

NEIMAN: No. The city is absolutely safe. We have talked several times about a procedure we call "tactical alert" which allows us to reallocate resources from all over the city to where they are most needed.

So, with all the additional resources that are assigned directly to this investigation, the divisions that protect our communities are doing so and will continue to do so at an excellent job.


NEIMAN: I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If police do determine that it was him buying scuba gear, what would be the implication for the investigation? Do you all go underwater now potentially, or what are the implications?

NEIMAN: I don't know. At this time, there's no telling why he was purchasing scuba gear. Again, hopefully we will develop more information on that.



NEIMAN: Well, some are credible, and all of them will be looked at. Obviously with 1,000 clues and tips you have to prioritize, so those that have more credence and more weight will be followed up on immediately, and others will be prioritized and handled as we can get to them.


BANFIELD: From the Los Angeles police department, that's Officer Andy Neiman giving an update which is really not much of an update. And that seems to be the story for Christopher Dornan who now has been on the run for upwards of two weeks -- Dorner, I beg your pardon -- Christopher Dorner who's been on the run for about two weeks now, having posted a manifesto, in which he vows to kill police officers and their family members wherever he can find them.

All of this in retaliation for what he says was a situation in which he was wronged by the LAPD, that he was kicked out of the force after a hearing into a complaint that he lodged about a partner of his with whom he was working.

And now we are being told that the LAPD is reopening that particular issue. And what's fascinating is what this officer just said. They will not only be reexamining witnesses who testified in that hearing, but also potentially interviewing new witnesses to try to reexamine the complaint that Christopher Dorner has with the LAPD.

Here's what's critical and the reason this might be being said publicly. Mr. Dorner has vowed the killings will continue until his issue is dealt with, so perhaps the LAPD at this point is taking it very seriously and considering dealing with that issue in whichever way they see fit to try to just stop the emergency that has plagued their force.

They've called it frustrating, and they're hopeful that something will, quote, "break loose from the public." You heard Officer Neiman say that they've already had over a thousand tips and, yet, still nothing on this fugitive, Christopher Dorner.

I'm going to move on now to a big story overseas, North Korea's new leader thumbing his nose at the world and carrying out his threat to test a nuclear device.

In a direct jab at the Obama administration, North Korea warns, quote, "If the U.S. continues with their hostility, it would be inevitable to continuously conduct a stronger second or third measure."

President Obama quick to react, calling the test, quote, "highly provocative." It's seen as a new challenge to Mr. Obama's efforts to keep the North from becoming a full-blown nuclear power.

China, North's main ally, also criticizing this test, as does Russia, as does South Korea, as does Japan and many others.

President Obama to give the State of the Union address tonight, but we already know what one of his bombshells will be, CNN's Jake Tapper breaking the news.

The president will announce that by this time next year 34,000 American troops will be home from Afghanistan. That's about half of all of the U.S. troops who are currently in Afghanistan right now.

The Senate armed services committee is going to vote today on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. Mr. Hagel has encountered some strong opposition from some members, but his nomination is expected to be approved and sent to the full Senate for a vote. And he is expected to be confirmed in just the coming days.

We only knew his first name, Ethan, and we knew little about his ordeal, just that it was an ordeal.

He was held hostage for six days inside of this bunker in Alabama. Ethan and his mom are speaking out for the first time to Dr. Phil.


DR. PHIL, TALK SHOW HOST, "DR. PHIL": How did you feel, when you heard that he might be crying for his mom?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to be there. I wanted to take his place. (INAUDIBLE)

DR. PHIL: Did he see Mr. Dykes shot and killed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He absolutely did. He said the army came in and shot the bad man.


BANFIELD: Wow. The full interview is going to air on Wednesday on "Dr. Phil."


BANFIELD: Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will be among at least 20 survivors of gun violence in the audience at tonight's State of the Union along with Ted Nugent who's an NRA member and outspoken opponent of gun control.

So, a very unusual collection of people who will be in the audience and speaking of the State of the Union a lot of people are getting geared up for this tonight. Guns will be just one of the main themes of the address tonight.

Just this morning we learned that troops in Afghanistan will also be a big part of the president's speech. CNN's Jake Tapper broke the news that the president's going to announce that half of all U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be back home on American terra firma by this time next year.

And joining me now is Michael Waldman who's got a bit of experience, knows a thing or two about States of the Union.. He's helped craft four State of the Unions for President Clinton.

And you would think this would be your Super Bowl. You get a twofer this year with an inaugural address and a State of the Union speech. But here's my question for you before talking about the excitement of it, the rejigging of it. We just got this massive news overnight about North Korea testing for the third time a nuclear device. Des that mean that the president and his team are furiously rewording something on a Word document somewhere for tonight?

MICHAEL WALDMAN, FMR. DIR. OF SPEECHWRITING FOR PRES. CLINTON: I wouldn't be surprised if they were rewriting or writing a section on that, because it's a challenge to the United States, it's a challenge to the world. And that's the kind of thing not only that is important for a president to say when he has this big audience, but it's something that will unite people from both political parties.

BANFIELD: So can I ask you -- is there any chance that they just don't address it at all?

WALDMAN: It's always possible. It's always possible they might think they would be giving North Korea the air time it craves by doing that. In sort of an international hostage-taking situation, you don't necessarily want to give the bad guy what they're looking for. So I'm sure these are the kinds of things they are thinking about. And it goes to the point that this isn't just a speech where you want to get applause from the audience or get even people at home cheering. BANFIELD: You want to achieve something.

WALDMAN: Yes, you want to achieve something and every word is policy.

BANFIELD: Before this, it seemed like an unusual confluence of circumstances, but there was word that we were going to hear a lot about breaking down the U.S. nuclear stockpile. And then North Korea happened. So does he now have to accommodate for making those plans, and then having this happen on the foreign stage?

WALDMAN: Well, I don't think it's a surprise to the foreign policy and military people that North Korea is a threat and has these nuclear ambitions. I think that President Obama actually, for many years, even going back to the Senate and before, was very focused on this issue of nuclear proliferation. And it's the kind of thing that you can talk about in a speech like this, because it isn't only about legislation and what can get passed in the here and now, but it's also, domestically and in foreign terms, kind of what do you want the country to know and what do you want it to do.

BANFIELD: Let me ask you the difference between doing an inaugural address and the State of the Union. You have worked on both of these addresses before. Have you ever done both and had to differentiate? I want to know about the mechanics of what it is like for someone like you to have to craft two extraordinarily important speeches that are heard on a world stage? And do they have alternating missions?

WALDMAN: They do, a bit, have alternating missions. Obviously, an inaugural address is more formal. It's outdoors. It speaks in some ways to grander themes and longer time horizons. But what people don't realize is actually both the speeches are policy speeches. That was what was so successful, I think, about President Obama's inaugural this time. He sort of surprised us going heavy and hard on policy. It's not all -- even an inaugural address is not just poetry. We used to say don't write to have the words chiseled on the wall of the library.

BANFIELD: See, I always thought you do. I thought that when you have those chances, you want your words chiseled.

WALDMAN: But they wind up sounding like Hallmark cards when you do. Not that there's anything wrong with Hallmark cards.

But a State of the Union, you want the policy details. You want to hear what it is that the president is talking about. So, for example, in the inaugural address, he talked about the sweep of history, and voting, and how it's wrong for people to stand in line while waiting to vote. This time, he has a chance to kind of say, well, what would he do about it.

BANFIELD: All right, Michael Waldman, I have a feeling you're already popping your popcorn getting ready for tonight. Thank you for coming in today. I appreciate it.

And remember, you can also see the president's speech. We like to pride ourselves in doing some of the best coverage out there, folks. It's live right here on CNN tonight. Our coverage is special and begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern with the best team on TV.


BANFIELD: Day after day, it's been one bombshell accusation after another from a young woman named Jodi Arias. She's also a young woman who's facing the death penalty for the killing of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. But before I go further, given the time of day, I'd like to warn you about some details. They're very graphic and they're very sexual and there's a reason for that. That's her defense. It's a lot about the sex.

Arias revealed the biggest shocker yet during her testimony from the stand yesterday of what she calls her ex-boyfriend's deviant urges. Arias claims that Mr. Alexander was sexually attracted to young boys. Again, these are her claims of a dead man. She says he even bought her a pair of little boys' underwear as a Valentine's Day gift.


KIRK NURMI, JODI ARIAS' DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Was there any discussion about why he wanted you to wear the boy's Spider-Man underwear?

JODI ARIAS, DEFENDANT: That was the reason for it, apparently. That's what he told me.

NURMI: The reason being, if I understand you correctly, that he liked pretending that you were a young boy?

ARIAS: I didn't ask him what he was visualizing.


BANFIELD: OK, if you think these are dirty details, this is just a four day slow march towards the real ugly details, the details of how she actually went about stabbing Mr. Alexander 27 times, slitting his throat, and shooting him -- just to make sure he was dead.

Joining me now, the best of the bench, Beth Karas, correspondent for "In Session", our sister network on truTV, as well as Sunny Hostin, our CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, she's got some chops, and Judge Glenda Hatchett, former juvenile court judge and Emmy-nominated TV judge as well.

Beth, I'm going to begin with you. I can't tell you how many times you and I have had this conversation about when a murder suspect, an accused, gets up on a stand and starts to sully the reputation of the dead. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's strategy. What do we know about this one?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION" ON TRUTV: Well, you know, some of these details, Ashleigh, may not be disproven. What we do know about Jodi Arias, though, is that she is a liar. We also know of all of the witnesses to take the stand in this case, she has the biggest motive to tailor facts to her benefit, to make Travis Alexander, the victim, look like the villain, and to make her look like the victim. So with that backdrop, and she will be cross examined probably tomorrow, I don't know that the prosecution can disprove some of these things she is saying, but there are attacks that will be made on this pedophilia story.

BANFIELD: OK, so Sunny Hostin, you were a prosecutor. Let me just pretend for a moment you're about to do the cross-examination.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm chomping at the bit.

BANFIELD: Go. Tell me, what are you going to do? What are you going to say?

HOSTIN: Well, I think you start out where Beth just left off. She's a proven liar. She's given three different accounts of how this happened, and so she really can't be believed. And I think you sort of start there.

You also start with the fact that she's given these detailed, detailed descriptions of things that happened years and years ago. I don't know about you, Ashleigh, but I don't have that kind of memory. Very few people do, other than I think Mary Lou Henner. So I think you attack her on details, no question about that.

And I also think you attack her on self defense. I mean, this was a heinous crime. There was such ferocity and viciousness. I mean, yes, they had sex a bunch of times, but I haven't seen in my view what I've seen in self defense cases.

BANFIELD: Judge Hatchett, you have presided over courtrooms and you have a big job to do. You are not only watching what's going on with actual procedure, but you're looking after 12 people and the alternates to make sure that they're OK. And with some of the details that have been coming out in this case, this has got to be a very difficult job to do, to make sure that that jury is handling this stuff.

GLENDA HATCHETT, EMMY NOMINATED TV JUDGE: I agree. And the judge has been criticized a lot about this. But you know exactly what's happening is that the judge is concerned about it being overturned on appeal. And there's been the question about why let all of this in? Why let all of this in? And there are two sides to that.

But yes, there's a lot to manage in that courtroom. The jury; you're looking for the situation you're going to try to be fair in ruling on any objections that come up. It is a tough situation to manage. It really is.

BANFIELD: Beth Karas, I want to go back to a case you and I covered together, the Casey Anthony case, because whenever we talk about lies, and this case is full of them, I always go back to Casey Anthony. She did not take the stand. She didn't need to, it turned out, in her case. But this woman had to. Why?

KARAS: Well, it's the defense of self defense. And when there are only two people there, one is dead, and she says, "I was justified in slicing and dicing him and shooting him and everything I did to him," she needs to tell the jury why she was justified.

And all of this is coming in about her history, relationship with Travis Alexander and other men, because the defense experts relied on it. And they're expected to testify after this, domestic violence expert and a psychologist.

BANFIELD: Well, I'll bet she wishes she did not have to take the stand because, like I said, this is the slow march towards the really bad details, and then ultimately the prosecutor, you want to talk about slicing and dicing, that's a prosecutor who's coming down the pike.

HATCHETT: And how do you establish this self-defense when you show up with a gun and you shot someone that many times?

BANFIELD: Amen. Oh, we have so much more to talk about. So you are all three going to have to come back, Beth Karas, Sunny Hostin and Judge Glenda Hatchett. Thank you, thank you all.

And, by the way, you can watch the testimony on our sister stations, HLN and "In Session", or you can also go to, and I think it's going to be pretty darn good today.