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Two Girls Due in Steubenville Court; Pope Francis Inaugurates New Reign; Suicide Ends College Massacre Plot; Candidates Face Off in South Carolina; Defense: Arias Suffered from PTSD; 7 Marines Killed in Training Accident

Aired March 19, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We don't like to say and we look at people like Sheryl Sandberg, we say that's a pretty good role model, I would say.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: She's starting the conversation. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it as always.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, speaking out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family and I are hopeful we can put this horrible ordeal behind us.

COSTELLO: The mother of the victim in the Steubenville rape, talking to CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ask every person listening what if this was your daughter, your sister, or your friend?

COSTELLO: Also, breaking overnight. An arrest in the murder of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl.

Plus, politics hits home.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The first actual election you actually got involved in?

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Yes, yes. This is the first one.

COSTELLO: Stephen Colbert's sister running for office in South Carolina. If she wins, she could be up against Mark Sanford. Yes, that Mark Sanford from the Appalachian trail.

And 23 in a row.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LeBron James, gives Miami a two-point lead. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The Heat is definitely on.

LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: This is a hostile environment, and for to us come in here and get a big win on the road today was awesome.

COSTELLO: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello.

We begin in Steubenville, Ohio, where two teenagers are due in court accused of making online threats in that explosive rape case. It's the latest ripple in a scandal that's torn the town apart. The target of the Twitter threat, the victim, the 16-year-old girl who was raped by two high school football players. Two local girls, one 15, the other 16, spent the night in juvenile detention.

The victim's mother is now pleading for calm and compassion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family and I are hopeful that we can put this horrible ordeal behind us. We need and deserve to focus on our daughter's future. We hope that from this, something good can arise.

I feel I have an opportunity to bring an awareness to others, possibly change the mentality of a youth or help a parent to have more of an awareness to where their children are and what they are doing.

The adults need to take responsibility and guide these children. I ask every person listening, what if this was your daughter, your sister, or your friend? We need to stress the importance of helping those in need and to stand up for what is right. We all have that option to choose.

This is the start for a new beginning for my daughter. I ask that you all to continue to pray for her and all victims and please respect our privacy as we help our family to heal. Thank you.


COSTELLO: But the healing still remains out of reach for the victim. Here's what her attorney had to say on CNN's "PIERS MORGAN."


BOB FITZSIMMONS, ATTORNEY FOR 16-YEAR-OLD VICTIM: She has not at this point forgiven anybody for what she's been through, the terrible ordeal and this just adds to everything. People need to wake up and do the right thing at this point and accept what's been decided by the judge at this point and move on and hopefully people can be rehabbed. And this family can be given the opportunity to heal themselves. And that's what the mom asked for in that statement. And that was a big plea that she's asked for everybody.

This young girl has been a hero to a lot of people that she stood up. But it also demonstrates what women have to go through to make these allegations. It's not easy, it's difficult, and we need more people like this young victim to stand up and report these types of bad acts.


COSTELLO: The case has been especially horrifying because images and comments of the sexual assault were plastered all over social media. In fact, prosecutors say those postings first alerted the victim to what really happened while she was passed out drunk.

Now let's go to the Vatican and the inauguration mass of a new Pope. The grand spectacle of today's ceremony is in keeping with the ancient rituals of the church. But this Pope, Pope Francis, who stresses simplicity and humility, also likes to break from tradition. On the way to mass, he cruised through St. Peter's Square in an opened top vehicle. That's instead of the bulletproof Popemobile that has been the standard for more than 30 years.

At one point, Pope Francis even stepped out of his vehicle to kiss the head of a man with a physical disability. It's this down-to-earth and unpredictable style that has rattled his security detail and charmed Catholics around the world and that certainly includes Catholics here in the United States.

A new CNN/ORC International poll shows that 88 percent of American Catholics approve of his selection as Pope. By comparison, only 60 percent approved of Pope Benedict's selection just eight years ago.

For a closer look, let's turn to John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst.

What was the message that the Pope had for congregants today?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Carol, the message, I think, came in his homily, that is the set of reflections in the bible readings that the priest always delivers during mass, in which Pope Francis today said that power and -- and remember, this was in a way about him receiving the symbols of this power, the pallium, that loincloth he wears around his shoulder, and the fisherman's ring, emphasizing his authority.

He said the power has to be about service, particularly service to the poorest, the weakest, the least important in the eyes of the world. And you saw that visually reinforced this morning when Pope Francis made a point of stopping that open air jeep in order to kiss some children and then actually dismount the jeep and go over to a sick man, and embrace him and caress him.

This is about setting a tone, Carol. I mean, basically the last week has been about Pope Francis introducing himself to the world and this was the grand finale. The end of the beginning so to speak. I think most people looking at it would say what a beginning it has been.

COSTELLO: It's been quite touching to watch. John Allen, reporting live from the Vatican this morning. Thank you.

In Florida, a suicide shocked the college campus, but a much greater tragedy may have unfolded if this man had lived. Police say the former student plotted a high-powered attack against the University of Central Florida as it tried to evict him from the dorm room where he lived.

CNN's Ed Lavandera unravels the details for us.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the fire alarm sounded inside this dormitory tower on the University of Central Florida campus, all of the students scrambled to get out, all except James Seevakumaran.

CHIEF RICHARD BEARY, UCF POLICE: They found the subject dead from a single gunshot wound to the head.

LAVANDERA: The 30-year-old former student killed himself. But what investigators say they discovered next were the workings of a sinister and deadly plan to commit mass murder. Four homemade bombs in a backpack, multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

BEARY: It could have been a very bad day for everybody here. All things considered, I think that we were very blessed here at the University of Central Florida.

LAVANDERA: Investigators say they don't know what made Seevakumaran turn his gun on himself instead. Police believe he pulled the fire alarm himself to lure unsuspecting students out into the open of the dorm hallways. He pointed a gun at one of his roommates, but police say that student barricaded himself in a bathroom and called 911. The suspect then killed himself. Students in the dorm were left shaken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It started off as a fire alarm, and nobody said that something else was going on with the bomb and the shooting, so we were left in the dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just never thought this was going to happen. So it's really horrible that someone had to die.

LAVANDERA: Investigators also say they found writings laying out a timeline of what Seevakumaran planned to do. A plan investigator say that was designed to, quote, "Give them hell." We don't know who he planned to target, but investigators say he was acting as a lone wolf.

BEARY: He did not have a lot of friends. One of those people that really, truly flies under the radar, and had some anger issues. He was just truly one of those that are out there and he made up his mind and set a timeline, and put a plan into place.


LAVANDERA: In fact, Carol, the dorm building behind me has been reopened. Students are coming and going once again. So everything is returned to normal there. But officials do say that Seevakumaran should probably not have been living inside this dorm. He was registered as a student through the fall semester of last year, but this spring semester, he was no longer enrolled as a business student here at the University of Central Florida, and university officials say they were in the process of trying to get him out of the dormitory -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Ed Lavandera, reporting live for us this morning. Thanks.

Checking other top stories this morning. A training exercise in Nevada ended with several Marines being air lifted to the hospital. They were hurt during an explosion following a traffic accident. Four medical helicopters were sent to the scene. Happened late last night at an army depot in western Nevada.

Nearly 11 years after the murder of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, there is a new break in the case. The man believed to have facilitated Pearl's kidnapping has now been arrested in Pakistan. Back in 2002 Pearl was kidnapped, tortured, and then killed. The suspected mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was once arrested and confessed to Pearl's murder. He has never charged with the crime, though.

Last-minute preparations now underway for President Obama's trip to Israel. He leaves later tonight. It'll be the president's first visit to Israel since taking office. He visited there once while campaigning back in 2008. Obama will spend several days meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders before wrapping up his trip on Saturday in Jordan.

If you thought the canceling of the White House tours due to forced budget cuts was bad, wait until you hear this. The White House may cancel next month's Easter Egg Roll for the very same reason.

Can you say sacrilege? No more rolling eggs on the White House lawn? The joy of children dashed by the government Grinch? The Easter Bunny, a victim of sequestration? Well, nothing is definite yet, but guests have already been warned. "Politico" got this explanation from a White House official. Quote, "Because we distribute tickets to the Easter Egg Roll far in advance, we alerted all ticket holders that this event is subject to cancelation due to funding uncertainty, including the possibility of a government shutdown. However, we are currently proceeding as planned with the Easter Egg Roll."

Republicans, though, they're doubtful. Newt Gingrich shared his outrage on Twitter. Quote, "Shameless. How else can you describe the threat to cancel White House Easter egg hunt? Maybe pathetic, demagogic. You try to fin the right words."

I'm sure our political buzz people will have ways to describe it. We'll discuss the possible cancellation of the Easter Egg Roll at the bottom hour.

Voters in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District are headed to the polls this morning for today's primary. They'll be choosing their next House representative. And one of those candidates just happens to be Stephen Colbert's sister. Her name is Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Yes, she pronounces her name differently.

In a rare interview, we see the serious side of Stephen Colbert. He sat down with Jake Tapper, host of CNN's "THE LEAD," to talk about his sister.


COLBERT: This is the first one.

TAPPER: I don't think anybody would begrudge you --

COLBERT: I'm trying to help my sister. Exactly.

TAPPER: Trying to help your sister.

COLBERT: Exactly. She's my sister.

TAPPER: Right.

COLBERT: And I'm willing to, you know, break the jewel of my own creation to try to do something for her. Like I'm not worried about what it would do to me or my show to try to help her as myself, not as my character. And to help her as myself. And, you know, if people think that's not the right thing for me to do, I don't care. It's my sister, and I'm willing to help her.


COSTELLO: He's a good brother. All that help might pay off. There is only one other Democrat running in today's primary. But there are 16 Republicans, including former governor, Mark Sanford.

Here's more now from our national political correspondent Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In South Carolina, Mark Sanford needs no introduction, but after the former governor of this state famously tried to cover up an affair by falsely telling the public he was hiking the Appalachian trail --


ACOSTA: -- a reintroduction wouldn't hurt.

SANFORD: We can learn a lot about grace. A god of second chances.

ACOSTA: Now Sanford is asking for voters for a second chance to win his old congressional seat.

(On camera): After what you put the voters of this state through, why should they give you a second chance?

SANFORD: I think that that's one an individually determined thing, you know, that's sort of what a vote is about. So what I would say on the larger notion of forgiveness, some people forgave me the next day, some will never forgive me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in this race because I'm worried.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Sanford still has to win his primary against a field of 15, yes, 15 GOP rivals. Some are fixtures in state politics, another, Teddy Turner, is the son of CNN founder Ted Turner. He's been hit with negative attacks.

TEDDY TURNER (R), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's absolutely amazing about how dirty the game is, how expensive the game is. It just doesn't make sense.

ACOSTA: And if that's not enough to grab the voters' attention --

ELIZABETH COLBERT BUSCH (D), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I thank you for your vote and thank you for the support.

ACOSTA: -- the winner on the Republican side will likely face Elizabeth Colbert-Busch. The Democratic favorite and yes, the sister of late-night funny man Stephen Colbert.

(On camera): And it's Colbert.

BUSCH: Colbert. Right.

ACOSTA: Not Colbert.

BUSCH: That's right.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Although she pronounces the name differently.

(On camera): This is not a joke?

BUSCH: This is not a joke. I don't think anybody would think that this was a joke. This is all too important, all too important with the condition our country is in.

ACOSTA (voice-over): CNN political contributor, John Avlon, who has some roots in South Carolina, has his eye on Sanford. Who seems to be reconnecting with voters.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: There is an affection for a guy who admits he's a sinner and asks for forgiveness, especially down here.

ACOSTA (on camera): Is this a shot of redemption, political redemption?

SANFORD: I think in some level we all hope for redemption.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Sanford says you can learn a lot wandering off trail.

SANFORD: Yes, I may not. I think in some ways you learn the most in the valleys of life rather than the peaks.


ACOSTA: But Mark Sanford is not out of the woods yet because he is not expected to capture 50 percent of the vote in the GOP primary here in South Carolina. Later on this evening, he'll have to compete in a run-off in a couple of weeks and then that general election will come up in May. That is when he is likely to face off with Stephen's Colbert's sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

And, Carol, we'll be following the candidates all day long as they go and cast their own ballots here in the First Congressional District. And we've been told by political insiders here at Charleston that we might see some results pretty early on this evening. But with so many candidates, we're going to wait for the final results to put those out when they finally come in -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I think that's probably a good idea.

Jim Acosta, reporting live from South Carolina. Thanks so much.

And, by the way, the polls for the South Carolina primary, close tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Just ahead on THE NEWSROOM: defending Jodi Arias. She's doing head stands in an interrogation room. And her defense uses -- well, a rather interesting argument to explain amnesia about killing another human being.


COSTELLO: Breaking news to tell you about.

Some devastating news out of western Nevada. We understand that some service members have been killed. Our Barbara Starr is working on this story. When she gets all of the information, we, of course, will pass it along to you.

But we understand that seven service members have died in a military training exercise in western Nevada. Again, Barbara Starr is working on the story.

Turning now to the Jodi Arias trial. How could she stab her boyfriend more than two dozen times and not remember it? That's what the defense is trying to explain.

Ted Rowlands is following the trial in Phoenix.

B.J. Bernstein is a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney.

But, Ted, I want to start with you.

The defense is using post-traumatic stress as their argument.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Carol. They're basically saying it happens all the time. When something traumatic happens, people forget the details.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): Psychologist Richard Samuels is the expert hired by the defense to explain why Jodi Arias can't remember, among other things, stabbing her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, 29 times.

JUDGE: Why is it that you have no memory of stabbing Travis?

JODI ARIAS, MURDER DEFENDANT: I can't really explain why my mind did what it did.

ROWLANDS: Samuels says he can explain. He says Arias suffered from PTSD, an acute memory lost due to stress.

SAMUELS: The foggy memory occurred at a time of the killing.

ROWLANDS: Using a diagram of the brain, Samuels testified that it's common for people to forget parts of traumatic events because adrenaline floods the brain, focusing it solely on survivor.

SAMUELS: It seems to me that she was in a flight or fight mode.

ROWLANDS: Prosecutor Juan Martinez aggressively went after Samuels, at times, sarcastically.

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: You don't have any memory problems, do you?


ROWLANDS: Martinez accused the psychologist of crossing a line with Arias, by trying to treat her instead of just evaluating her.

SAMUELS: She was suicidal.

ROWLANDS: Well, if she was suicidal, it was somebody else's responsibility to take care of it, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Judge, objection. Can we ask the attorney not to yell at the witness?

ROWLANDS: And then, later, he asked Samuels why he used a pencil when write Arias answers to a test he gave her.

SAMUELS: So, are you implying that I cheated on that test?

MARTINEZ: No, sir. I'm asking you some questions. However you want to take them is up to you.


ROWLANDS: And, Carol, when court resumes in a few hours here, this witness will be getting some more direct questions from prosecutor Martinez, and then he's going to be getting them from the jury. Of course, in Arizona, the jurors can ask questions of witnesses and they have been writing away. They have questions for him as well.

COSTELLO: All right. Ted Rowlands, thanks so much.

B.J. Bernstein is here to help us better understand what the defense is trying to do.

The argument over post-traumatic stress syndrome is interesting. But is it effective?

B.J. BERNSTEIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think it's effective. What's happening here is -- I'm scratching my head yesterday, trying to figure out. You know, yes, PTSD is very real. But what caused the PTSD?

If it's the murder that she committed that caused it, how does that defend you from the situation? And even that diagnosis, the tests that he gave her was flawed. The prosecutor did a great job in showing that he testified using her story, the first story, which has now been clearly shown to be a lie. That it was an intruder, not her, who killed her boyfriend.

So, the test is completely flawed and it's not even a test that -- for instance, I use forensic psychiatrists a lot in my practice, and there are other tests, a Tom Test, an MMPI, where they are built so someone can't lie their way through. It shows whether they are trying to cover up and make themselves look better, which I think here in a strange way, that's what Jodi Arias was trying to do.

COSTELLO: I think that the jury must know all they need to know about Jodi Arias. Why is this dragging on so long?

And while we discuss that, we might as well show the bizarre footage of Jodi Arias in an interrogation room doing a head stand. This was not shown in court, but it shows how bizarre she is.

And from all the testimony we've heard on the stand, why is this dragging on? Why can't it just be over?

BERNSTEIN: You and I were chatting about that this morning, because I have tried a lot of cases. I've tried eight to ten-week trials. But not in a situation like this, where each side both the prosecutor and defense attorney go on and on and on instead of getting straight to their point. And I can't figure out if it's the dynamics of the courtroom itself.

The fact that the nation is watching and does it factor into what you are learning.

COSTELLO: So, everybody wants to be on TV, grandstanding?

BERNSTEIN: And the thing you add in, the jurors can ask questions and they don't ask two or three. We know from her, there were over 200 questions from the jury. And so, I'm sitting here thinking, gosh, are they going to do the same thing with this witness or do they want to go home, get in the back, start deliberating.

COSTELLO: No, I think they are all into it. Just so bizarre. B.J. Bernstein, thank you so much. BERNSTEIN: Thanks.

COSTELLO: I want to get back now to that breaking news, as I told you.

A training exercise in Nevada ended with several Marines being killed and more injured.

Barbara Starr, what have you find -- what have you found out?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Carol, very sad news for this day for so many military families. Seven Marines killed out in this remote training site in Nevada. Seven Marines killed. A number of others injured.

The Marines aren't saying how much medevaced to hospitals. Of course, families about to be notified.

The initial reports are indicating that this all happened when an artillery shell, mortar shell, exploded. No more details about how that all happened. But that is the indication the Marines have about how this accident took place.

The Marines there on a training rotation, a training mission apparently from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. So, now, seven military families on this day being notified of the most tragic news -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So any questions, I would ask you, but I know we are in the early stages of this. But you probably -- but a mortar exploded?

STARR: Well, no, a shell is what they believe, a 16-millimeter mortar shell.

And to answer everyone's question, no, it's not supposed to happen. So how this happened will be a matter of investigation, of course. Was there any number of ways -- things they will be looking into? Potential mishandling, technical malfunction, we just don't know yet.

And these are very initial report. This very tragic accident happened just at 10:00 last night on the West Coast -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Barbara Starr, reporting live for us this morning.

Talkback question for you today. Can you believe it's been ten years since the Iraq war began? The question this morning, what did we learn from the Iraq war?, Or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talkback on one of the big stories of the day. The question this morning, what did we learn from the Iraq war?

Time flies, except when it comes to war. War, especially the kind of wars we fight today, seem never ending, but let me take you back to march 19, 2003.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and defend the world from grave danger.


COSTELLO: American military hardware made quick work of Saddam Hussein and his army. Saddam's statue fell less than a month after the first Tomahawk missiles fired. In May of 2003, Mr. Bush infamously declared mission accomplished on board the USS Abraham Lincoln.


BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time. But it's worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave.


COSTELLO: The war wasn't over on that day, and it was only later we learned Saddam Hussein was bluffing. He had no weapons of mass destruction.

It didn't matter, though. We were stuck in Iraq, suffering through IED attacks, Abu Ghraib, post-traumatic stress disorder and more.

According to a new report by Brown University, 190,000 have been killed in Iraq, 70 percent of them civilians, 4,488 of them U.S. service members.

The war cost you, taxpayers, $2.2 trillion. The cost of rebuilding Iraq, $60 billion, although most of that money went to contractors and military police. The rest was lost to fraud.

As far as making America safer, well, Saddam was a cruel dictator and you could argue he was unstable. But Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and no ties to al Qaeda.

So, the talkback question, what did we learn from the Iraq war?, CNN, or tweet me @carolCNN.

Up next to THE NEWSROOM: the fiscal fight in Washington is taking the toll.

And the next casualty could be the Easter bunny. Our political buzz is next.