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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Jodi Arias' Final Day On The Stand

Aired March 15, 2013 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): yet another cruise cut short this morning for the second time in two days. More problems plague one of Carnival's ships.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A rare and dramatic change of heart. Staunchly conservative senator, Rob Portman, changing his hard-line stance on gay marriage and revealing a deep family secret in a CNN TV exclusive.

CHO: Stopped cold. Cops pull a risky move to put an end to a wild high-speed car chase.

ROMANS: Oh, wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START for a Friday morning. Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho.

ROMANS (on-camera): I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, March 15th. The Ides of March are upon us. A political drama in 44 B.C., of course.

CHO: You know what that is in my household?

ROMANS: What is it?

CHO: It's known as five days after my birthday.

ROMANS: Oh, happy birthday.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: A little happier than what happened in 44 B.C. Anyway, new this morning, a whole lot of things going on today, get you caught up to speed at the end of the week. A lot of new problems for Carnival cruise lines. The cruise liner "Legend" limping home now. That's right. The "Legend" to Tampa with propulsion problems forcing it to skip a scheduled stop in the Caymans.

Just two days ago, power problems crippled the Carnival "Dream" at a port in St. Maarten, and passengers are being flown directly home there. All this follows last month's debacle on the carnival "Triumph" when an engine room fire left 4,200 people stranded and filled (ph) for days in Gulf of Mexico. Cristina Puig following developments for us live in Miami. Good morning, Cristina.

CRISTINA PUIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. As you said, the "Legend" is slowly making its way back to Tampa. But in the meantime, the "Dream" is stuck in St. Maarten. Those passengers, about 4,300 of them, have been waiting to be transported back to Florida since Wednesday night when their engine systems forced them to stay in port without any or interrupted and periodic interruptions of elevators and toilet services.

So, there's a lot going on and just the last week, as a matter of fact, on Wednesday was the "Dream," Saturday it was the "Elation," then last night was the "Legend," and then, last month, was the "Triumph." So, what is going on? Carnival, we've asked them about these problems, and they have issued the following statement.

Just yesterday, they said that they are having comprehensive maintenance programs in place immediately after carnival "Triumph" arrived safely in Mobile. We assembled an expert team from across the company as well as outside experts in the areas of fire, marine, technical, and electrical systems, to complete a fleet wide assessment. And those numbers of ships are 23 in total -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Christina Puig in Miami, thank you.

CHO: A CNN TV exclusive, the gay marriage movement has a new supporter this morning, and it's something of a shocker. Republican senator, Rob Portman, staunch conservative, announcing a stunning reversal in an exclusive TV interview with our own Dana Bash. Portman now supporting gay marriage after learning two years ago his son, Will, is gay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What was your reaction when he told you?

SEN. ROB PORTMAN, (R) OHIO: Love. Support. You know, 110 percent.

BASH: Surprised?

PORTMAN: Surprised. Yes.

BASH: You had no idea.

PORTMAN: No idea. Yes. And, you know, again that launched a process of rethinking the issue. I've -- you know, I've come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and the stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: At 7:00 a.m. eastern on "Starting Point," more of Dana Bash's exclusive interview with Senator Portman, including what he told Mitt Romney about his gay son when he was on a short list to be his VP running mate last year. ROMANS: Embattled New Jersey congressman, Robert Menendez, is reportedly the subject of a grand jury investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): According to "The Washington Post," the FBI has interviewed several people in a probe of the Democrats role in advocating for the business interest of a wealthy friend in Florida who's also a major political donor. Last year, Menendez wrote a check for $58,000 to reimburse the friend for trips to the Dominican Republic.

CHO (voice-over): President Obama says Iran is more than a year away from developing a nuclear weapon, but that does not mean he's going to let it happen. In an interview with Israeli television, the president downplayed differences with Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, over Iran's nuclear program and stressed his desire to prevent a possible arms race in the region.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're going to be doing is to continue to engage internationally with Iran, understanding that we've set up the toughest sanctions ever, it's having a significant effect. If we can resolve it diplomatically, that's a more lasting solution, but if not, I continue to keep all options on the table.

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CHO: Next week, the president meets with Netanyahu during a three-day visit to Israel, his first since becoming president.

ROMANS: Meantime, Iran taking another slice at American intelligence efforts. The Pentagon says an Iranian fighter jet targeted an unarmed U.S. predator drone over the Persian Gulf this week. A defense department spokesman says the drone was doing routine surveillance over international waters when this Iranian F-4 approached. The drone was escorted by two U.S. military aircraft. The Iranian jet backed off after a verbal warning.

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CHO (on-camera): Things are getting a little personal as the Senate Judiciary Committee debated a proposed ban on assault weapons. California senator, Dianne Feinstein, took exception to Texas Republican, Ted Cruz, instructing her on the finer points of the constitution. Watch.

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SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: It seems to me that all of us should begin as our foundational document with the constitution. And the Second Amendment in the bill of rights provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: I'm not a sixth grader. Senator, I've been on this committee for 20 years. I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in. I saw people shot. I've looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Oh, goodness. So later, Feinstein talked about this fiery exchange on The "Situation Room" with our Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEINSTEIN: Well, I just felt patronized. I felt he was somewhat arrogant about it. And, you know, when you've come from where I've come from and what you've seen and when you found a dead body and you put your finger in bullet holes, you really realize the impact of weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: And there you have it. The committee later approved Feinstein's assault weapons ban, though, it is not expected to get the votes needed to pass the full Senate.

Accused murderer, Jodi Arias, with her last chance to convince the jury that she is not a killer. See how she did. Coming up.

ROMANS: Plus the hair-raising rescue of a hiker after a near-death ordeal in a canyon.

CHO: And be sure to tune in to CNN this Monday for the launch of Jake Tapper's new show called "The Lead" 4:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Forty-one minutes after the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Jodi Arias accused of killing ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, shooting him, stabbing him dozens of times, and slitting his throat in the shower. She just wrapped up her 18th day on the stand. Arias claims it was self-defense. Prosecution, of course, says it was premeditated. If she is found guilty, the 32-year-old could get the death penalty.

Her testimony ended in a standoff with the prosecutor. CNN's Randi Kaye has more from Phoenix. But a warning now, some of the images are graphic.

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RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On her final day on the stand, Jodi Arias was schooled in mathematics. Do the math, the prosecutor attempted to show, her story doesn't add up.

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: At some point in your life, you go with watches (ph), right? You know about time, ma'am. You know that movement takes time, don't you?

KAYE: Martinez says Arias simply would not have had enough time, given the evidence, to first go searching for the knife she used to stab Travis Alexander nearly 30 times and slit his throat. He says she must have had the knife with her in the bathroom when she was taking these digital pictures of a naked alexander in the shower.

MARTINEZ: It would have taken time to actually look for it, wouldn't it?

JODI ARIAS, ACCUSED OF KILLING EX-BOYFRIEND: I guess, under that theory.

MARTINEZ: Sure, under that theory. It would take time, right?

ARIAS: Yes, I guess.

KAYE: To prove his theory of premeditation, the prosecutor showed these two photographs, taken just 62 seconds apart, according to their timestamps. Arias says this accidental photo of the ceiling was taken after she dropped Alexander's camera when he was still alive. That's when she says he lunged at her.

MARTINEZ: In the 62 seconds between that photograph and exhibit 162, you are body slammed, you get away, you get the gun, you shoot him, and then, after you're able to get away, you go get the knife, and he ends up at the end of the hallway all in 62 seconds. That's what you're telling us?

ARIAS: No, that's not what I'm saying.

KAYE: Regardless of what Arias is saying, the photo timestamps say something else. In this second photo taken just over a minute later, Arias' foot is seen next to Alexander's bleeding body in the bathroom. By now, he's been stabbed and shot. With just 62 seconds between the photos have been enough time to support Arias' scenario that a chase and a struggle occurred?

ARIAS: I don't know.

KAYE: More than a month into her trial on her 18th day on the stand, Jodi arias offered a brand-new scenario for how the knife came into play. Listen to this.

MARTINEZ: You needed to go get that knife at that point, correct?

ARIAS: No. It's possible Travis grabbed the knife first.

MARTINEZ: You never told us that he had any knife there, did you?

ARIAS: No, I wasn't asked.

MARTINEZ: Jury members also had questions for Arias about the knife. Seems they, too, were trying to make sense of her changing stories.

JUDGE SHERRY STEPHENS, SUPERIOR COURT, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZ.: You said you remember putting the knife in the dishwasher after killing Travis. But you also say you don't remember anything after dropping the knife on the bathroom tile. Which is correct?

ARIAS: I have a vague memory of putting a knife in the dishwasher. I'm just not sure if that's the memory from June 4th.

KAYES (on-camera): And there were more questions about the gun Arias used to kill Alexander. Was it in a holster or not when she said she grabbed it out of Alexander's closet? Just last week, she told the jury she believed the gun had been in a holster. Now, suddenly, she's not so sure.

And this is key, because the state believes she brought a gun with her to kill Alexander and never really grabbed the gun from Alexander's closet.

(voice-over) Arias seemed to get tripped up again on this question about whether or not the gun was loaded.

MARTINEZ: Didn't you tell the jury when you were talking about the attack and response to one of their questions that you believed the gun was unloaded. Do you remember saying that? Yes or no?

ARIAS: I don't --

MARTINEZ: That's all I'm asking. Yes or no? Do you remember saying that?

ARIAS: I don't know.

KAYES: After that, the prosecutor let her have it.

MARTINEZ: What were you going to do with the gun, throw it at him?

KAYES: For once, even Jodi Arias seemed too flustered to respond.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: And later this morning on "Starting Point," criminal defense attorney, Jose Baez, will offer his expert analysis on the Jodi Arias trial. He successfully defended Casey Anthony during her murder trial back in 2011. And he, of course, has been following this case very closely. Don't miss it. It's at 7:30 eastern time.

ROMANS: He'll have great insight into this. I can't wait to see that.

All right. Dramatic video of the rescue of a hiker who fell into a gorge in Arizona. The man was hiking with a friend this week when he fell off the canyon wall and plunged about 70 feet. Crews reached him and stayed with him through the night. He was airlifted out of the canyon and is being treated for several broken bones.

CHO: Well, it is literally life in the fast lane for this woman. Who, like Danica Patrick, is blazing new trails in the world of NASCAR? We will have her story coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: News crews follow a police pursuit to the bitter end.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: State troopers in Fayette County, Georgia, follow three suspects in a carjacking for half an hour. The chase ended when police forced the car off the road as it tried to get on a ramp to Interstate 20 in Southwest Atlanta. All three suspects were captured. The scene was certainly a dramatic half an hour.

CHO (voice-over): Danica Patrick isn't the only woman looking for success in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series. Christmas Abbott has joined Michael Waltrip racing where she's training as a pit crew member. She'll be working as a tire changer during pit stops, the first woman to do so in NASCAR's top series.

One mistake, of course, can make the difference between winning and losing for her team. Abbott says her competitive nature has drawn her to NASCAR.

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CHRISTMAS ABBOTT, NASCAR PIT CREW MEMBER: It's kind of, you know, the adrenaline of running alongside of a car and then having the car zip by you, 50 to 60 miles an hour behind you, and it literally two feet --

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CHO: That is incredible how quickly they do that. Now, wow, woh! She is small in stature, just over five feet tall and 115 pounds. Not sure what's wrong with that. But physical conditioning not an issue for the 31-year-old Abbott. She's worked as a cross fit trainer and can dead lift 255 pounds.

ROMANS: Just like Alina who's just about her size. 250 is what you do.

CHO: Exactly. 245.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (on-camera): All right. Some rain and snow expected around the northeast and the mid-Atlantic. It's a visual image I just cannot get rid of.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE) for your Friday morning commute. Alexandra Steele live in the CNN Weather Center --

CHO (on-camera): Who's going to save us?

ROMANS: -- with the latest. I can only bench press like the bar. Forty pounds.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: With a name like Christmas, you have to do something cool.

ROMANS: True. This is true.

STEELE: All right. Happy Friday to you guys. All right. A clipper moving through, kind of negligible, maybe north of 94, north of Minneapolis, two to four inches, but it's got a mix of rain, sleet, snow with it. So, we're going to watch a drop south. Clipper means not a lot of moisture and very quickly moving, and that's what we'll see.

Through this afternoon and into tonight, it drops south and drops east. It becomes a player for Washington predominantly just rain Saturday, and then the whole thing moves out for Sunday, but some colder temperatures replace it. So, kind of north of the Mason Dixon Line. Arctic cold air in place. So, won't feel like spring coming.

New York City only in the 30s Saturday, 40s for the weekend, Washington cold, St. Louis, as well. But, look at the record heat, 95 in Phoenix yesterday, low 90s today. They kind of peaked already. Temperatures in Phoenix should only be in the 70s. Salt Lake City, 60 today. You peaked, as well, but still well above average.

Big picture, the warmth is still on in the southeast. It spreads entirely through the southern tier of the country. Not the 90s, but still, temperatures well above average here in the southeast. You can see snow to the north, and again, big picture pretty quiet weekend. But the northern tier of the country, guys, will be a little bit below average while the southern tier certainly will have a little taste of spring this coming weekend.

CHO: All right. Alexandra, thank you so much.

STEELE: Sure. Have a good weekend.

CHO: Still ahead -- you, too. Still ahead, what women want? Turns out it's something near and dear to the duchess of Cambridge, and we're not talking about the duke. EARLY START back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Four minutes before the top of the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START, taking a look at the top CNN Trends online this morning. According to the "New York Daily News," there is just something the duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, has that American women really want. We're talking about her nose.

There's been a surge in women asking plastic surgeons for the Kate Middleton. One New York doctor says he has 20 women scheduled to get the royal treatment over the next month. $7,000 a pop. Experts say her nose has a feminine look with a cute upturn at the end. (CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: You know what I mean?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: All right. President Obama travels to Israel next week for the first time as president. In an interview with Israeli television ahead of his trip, the president appears to be channeling Joe Biden and talking about what he'd really like to do there.

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OBAMA: Sometimes, I have this fantasy that I can put on a disguise and wear a fake mustache and I could wander through Tel Aviv and go to a bar and, you know, have a conversation, or go down to, you know, a university and meet with some students in a setting where it wasn't as formal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Check out -- that would be quite --

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Is that the president with a mustache and a cigar?

To check out other top trends, head to CNN.com/Trends.

CHO: More trouble for Carnival cruise line equals more toilet humor for the late night comics. That's right.

ROMANS: Plus, they're not quite done with the pope yet, either, too.

CHO: I'm afraid.

ROMANS: Our late night laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": It happened yet again, another Carnival cruise ship broke down with no power and overflowing toilets. Yes, this ship is called the Carnival "Dream." That's the name of this one. The last one was the "Triumph." You know, Carnival needs to come up with some more realistic names for these ships like the misery or the defeat.

How about the oh, my god, what's that smell? How about that? That's a good name for this ship. Oh!

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAn": The new pope, Pope Frank is letting --

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a man of the people. A very -- and you know what happened immediately after the boys got together and nominated him, elected him as pope?

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Here's how humble this guy is, he went back to the hotel by himself, waved off the limo, went back to the hotel, got his luggage, brought the luggage downstairs, checked himself out of the hotel. The new pope checked himself out of the hotel.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Oh, yes there was the fight about the mini bar charge, but other than that --

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: EARLY START continues right now.

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CHO (voice-over): Trouble at sea. Yet another Carnival cruise liner with problems this morning, the second in just two days.

ROMANS: Senate center (ph). Staunch conservative senator, Rob Portman, calling out -- coming out now for gay marriage. A deeply personal revelation. We're going to have a CNN TV exclusive.

CHO: Rampage in a pickup. Just take a look at this. A truck driver on a dangerous wrecking spree in a parking lot. We'll tell you what happened.

ROMANS: And happening right now in Vatican City, this is a live look as Pope Francis gets ready to meet with the full College of Cardinals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO (on-camera): Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alina Cho. Zoraida has the day off. John is going to be co- hosting "Starting Point" a little later on this morning.

ROMANS (on-camera): And I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, march 15th, the ides of March. I hope you have a great day. 6:00 a.m. in the east.

CHO: As Christine just mentioned, happening right now, Pope Francis is about to begin an audience with the College of Cardinals. We are told that the cardinals will be able to individually greet the pope. What an amazing picture there. We're talking about the full college.

That includes the cardinals who did not take part in the conclave, some of the older ones, 80 years old and the like. The pope also may speak. We will bring that to you live if it happens.