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Infant Shot in Georgia; Press Conference with Georgia Police; Shooting in Philadelphia Restaurant Caught on Camera; The Latest in the Arias Murder Trial
Aired March 22, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Today we are devoting much of this hour to two stories you have probably had a conversation about, at least one time, perhaps, this week, the Jodi Arias murder trial, graphic sex and grisly violence, lies upon lies, and a jury that at this point doesn't seem to know what to believe, given their questions.
We're also looking at the rise of anti-social media. Texts and tweets uncover a sex crime in Ohio, but then people turn on the victim, and it is happening, yet, again.
We begin with top stories and a horrifying story out of Georgia this morning. A woman in Brunswick says that two young boys between the ages of 10- and 15-years-old approached her while she was out walking with her 13-month-old baby.
She says they demanded money. She told them she didn't have any, but then she says they shot her in the leg, and even as she pleaded with them, she says they shot her baby boy in the head, killing him.
Police are now working to identify who these suspects could be. We're awaiting a news conference live from Brunswick.
Let's go and check out where they are at this point. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and City Manager Bill Weeks are grateful for the assistance of our fellow and neighboring law enforcement officials.
Since yesterday, we've been assertive in our efforts to identify, locate and arrest the perpetrators.
Our uncompromising search has led us from door to door throughout the Brunswick/Glynn County geographical area.
With the assistance of the Glynn County school board campus police, we are checking the attendance and absentee list of individuals fitting the description as possible suspects.
We are aware that there is some speculation being circulated throughout the rumor mill. However, let me assure you, as I previously indicated, that we are thoroughly investigating this case, and we will not -- I repeat, will not -- leave any stone unturned. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Sherry West being considered a suspect? (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not at liberty to discuss the intricacies of the investigation, as it could possibly damage it.
I'm sorry, one at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there was a witness that saw what happened. Police have said there are no witnesses.
What can you tell us about that? She said somebody, a neighbor, called 911 and saw these two suspects.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what we are doing, sir, we are investigating it thoroughly. We're checking and rechecking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the call for (inaudible)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say it again.
(END LIVE FEED)
BANFIELD: And as they continue to field questions, obviously, this is a crime that it is just so recent, they have very little to go on at this time.
But you heard the issue that the police officer brought up, and that is that there are rumors out there that perhaps, there's a possibility that this mother may not be telling the truth.
But at this point, that is not at all what the police have said is credible. That they are looking at all different aspects of this potential crime, and then, obviously, these questions about whether there were potential witnesses.
We'll continue to watch that story and let you know if anything does develop.
And we do have some incredible video we also want to show you about another story. A man walking up to a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia and then just opening fire, despite all these people behind the glass door behind him.
The men inside are trying to block the door so the shooter can't actually get in, but the bullets are going through the glass and hitting them. Remarkably, even though they are being hit by the shooter repeatedly, no one is seriously hurt.
The police, however, decided that if they released this video, someone might actually be able to identify the gunman. It is extraordinarily difficult to do so, but perhaps some other clue might help them to find out who did this. John Lennon's widow is using social media to take aim at gun violence. Yoko Ono taking to Twitter and sending out this picture of John Lennon's bloody eyeglasses along with several statements, including this one, which was promptly retweeted by President Obama.
It proclaims, quote, "Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on the 8th of December, 1980."
And you can see the prominent New York City skyline out the window behind those glasses.
What's critical is that she's still in that apartment block on the west side of Central Park, so that is, perhaps, straight out of her apartment. John Lennon's bloody glasses, out on Twitter.
A Frenchman is busted for impersonating a pilot, in the cockpit. Police say he boarded a us airways flight in Philadelphia, wearing what appeared to be an Air France uniform, and then talked his way into the cockpit.
He was found out when he was questioned by the crew. He was arrested and he's now being held on a $1 million bail while a lot more questions need to be answered about how he got as far as he did.
In Arizona, the jurors are asking questions, may have a lot of them for Jodi Arias, and now they've got a lot of questions for the person who's backing her, so the defense psychologist gets grilled with more than 100 different questions alone.
We're going to highlight the top 10 and what they might say about what this jury is thinking as this trial gets closer to an end.
BANFIELD: On June 4, 2008, a young man who probably very few had heard of before named Travis Alexander met his end in a gruesome crime, in his home. In fact, his body was found days later in his shower.
He had been the victim of one of the most grisly attacks you'd ever hear of in a courtroom. He'd been stabbed 27 times, a couple more defensive wounds as well, he'd been shot in the head, and he'd been dragged and cleaned up.
But the mess that was left behind would lead them to a young woman named Jodi Arias, and then her lies would lead her inside a courtroom where she's facing death penalty for this crime.
She says she did it. She had to admit to that after lying twice, because they had so much evidence against her. But she says she did it in self-defense.
Her story is so remarkable, you have to see the scene of the crime in order to get a better sense of whether it's actually plausible, so we want to take you inside the scene of the crime, somewhat. It's a little hard, considering you can't go in there now, but our friends at HLN did the next best thing. Like lawyers often do in a courtroom, they built a mock-up of a space where a crime happened.
HLN actually put some of Jodi Arias' claims to the test, so we could judge this for ourselves. They built this mock-up, so we could actually the question, could this have happened the way that Jodi Arias said it did?
I want you to take a look with Ryan Smith and Vinnie Politan as they lay it all out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINNIE POLITAN, HOST, HLN'S "IN SESSION": As I stand inside this re- creation of the death scene, Ryan, what's most shocking to me, really, is the space, a lot smaller than it seems, I guess, on TV.
RYAN SMITH, ANCHOR, HLN'S "EVENING EXPRESS": Oh, so much smaller. Because the way she even describes it, you thought it was such a big shape because he's jumping out of that shower ...
POLITAN: This is the shower right here.
POLITAN: He's got to get out of the shower and body slam her.
SMITH: And there's only this much space to do it in.
POLITAN: And she's got to get past him to get down this hallway.
SMITH: Right, running all the way down here.
POLITAN: And ultimately, when you get inside the closet here, yes, it's a big master closet, but with two people chasing each other, this is not as big as it seems.
SMITH: Exactly. Normally there would be a wall here, so that's part of it. But then the other part is, imagine, she's about 5'5".
She's jumping up on this. See these shelves? See how they tip.
POLITAN: Flimsy. Flimsy.
SMITH: She's grabbing the gun and still maneuvering to get into the next room to get ahead of him.
POLITAN: While he's chasing her.
And, all of this, again, inside, when you're actually in the scene, so much smaller. Everything would happen so much quicker.
To me, it makes her story less credible.
SMITH: Right. POLITAN: That's just my interpretation, having been inside this recreation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Well, I'll tell you what. They're both lawyers, those two gentleman that you saw. Not just TV hosts, they've been in a courtroom or two and they've tried a case or two as well, as has Jean Casarez.
She's another person we're used to seeing now because she's been basically covering this since day one and she joins us live from Phoenix.
Jean, I wanted to ask you a little bit about that setup. I have covered cases before, in fact, with you, when we worked at Court TV, where prosecutors spend a lot of money and they recreate diners, they recreate bedroom sets, so that jurors can physically get their heads into the space and walk through the crime to see if it's plausible or not, but they did not do that in this case.
Have they done anything even close to what HLN did?
JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRU TV'S "IN SESSION": No, they haven't.
Now, I understand that a new family lives in that home now, that they actually redid the entire bathroom area where this horrendous killing took place, so they could not go back to the home itself.
But they have not built the re-creation. But I think what they're focusing in on is the fact that Jodi doesn't remember so much of this, because it all happened right in the bathroom, and she only remembers the very beginning and then she remembers when she drives out into the desert.
So the actual stabbing of Travis Alexander, when he apparently was already on the ground, she has no memory of, she claims.
BANFIELD: So one of the more surprising details that has come out, but not in court, and it will never come out in front of a jury, is how much money Jodi Arias' defense team has spent thus far in trying to spare her from a guilty verdict and a death penalty. It's upwards of $800,000, as our team has found out.
When that kind of money is spent on a defense, you would think that the prosecutors would match that or best that, because the burden is on the prosecutors to get a conviction.
Do they? Do they have those budgets? What's the stat there when it comes to how much they have in their arsenal?
CASAREZ: You know, Ashleigh, this is one prosecutor that is trying this case all by himself, Juan Martinez. We understand he likes to work alone.
But the prosecution has the luxury of, a lot of things are already on staff for them. They have crime scene investigators on staff that are already paid a salary, so they're just doing their job when they get this case.
But the fact is with Jodi Arias, these are appointed the attorneys, they're appointed by the county, and then the costs are mounting.
And this is a death penalty case. Here in Arizona, there currently are three women on death row. She would be the fourth, if jury determined she is convicted and sentenced to death.
One of those women's case was just overturned. But just think about how rare it is to have a woman on death row in this particular state, and it's going to cost money.
BANFIELD: Well, yeah, women on death row is a rarity. Women being tried is a rarity. Women being convicted is, perhaps, the greatest rarity in all of those scenarios.
Jean Casarez, you'll stay with us throughout this. And I've got a couple other questions for you as we move ahead, thank you.
Specifically, I've got questions about questions, what the jury is asking. They get to ask the experts, too.
Because when an expert stands up for Jodi Arias and says, all that memory loss, I've got an answer for that, the jurors had a lot of questions about those answers, and you're going to hear the tone and what it says about what they're thinking in just a moment.
BANFIELD: There is nothing like being on a jury, trust me. Don't avoid jury duty. Especially if you're in a case like the Jodi Arias murder trial. Because in that case, you actually get to ask questions. You're a part of it. You're a part of the system. And this jury, sitting in her judgment has a lot of questions. They have sent more than 100 for the defense psychologist that she put up on the stand alone. And there may be another round of questions when the court resumes on Monday. And the questions that they've been asking, for this expert, they may be very telling about what they're thinking. They sure don't seem to be buying into his diagnosis of PTSD for Jodi, especially considering that she has lied to the police, she has lied to other authorities, she's lied to friends, she has lied to her doctor. Take a listen as the judge reads out what the jury wants to know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HON. SHERRY STEPHENS, MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE: How can we be certain that your assessment of Miss Arias is not based on the lies that she has admittedly made over the years?
Can you be sure Jodi is not lying to you about the events on June 4, 2008?
Do you feel it is possible for an individual to fool professionals into believing they have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder?
Are you able to definitely tell when someone is lying or telling the truth or is it based on your perceptions?
In the process of killing someone, isn't it possible, even probable, that adrenaline output would increase whether someone was in fight or flight mode or in the act of a premeditated killing?
You have compared Jodi's PTSD multiple times to that of police officers and soldiers. Do you think that is a fair comparison since police officers and soldiers kill as part of their job and duty?
You seem to have several issues with omitting or forgetting to include information. Do you think that it is important to have an accurate and complete report for a trial like this?
Why would she run into the closet and corner herself? Wouldn't someone in fight or flight mode want to get away from the danger?
How do you know that she didn't kill Travis out of jealousy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Okay. If I'm that guy sitting there, I don't want to hear a juror saying, you seem to have several issues forgetting. That's hard stuff and that's not lost on anybody in that courtroom. Here's another thing that you probably don't know unless you've been inside one of these courtrooms. Cameras are trained on a lot of parts of the courtroom and almost never on the jury. They get to remain anonymous. It's critical, at least until after verdicts. And sometimes, they come forward.
In the meantime, this makes them a little less anonymous. Jean Casarez, on the other hand, can go in and with her eyes take a look at those jurors, as they're hearing these questions, and give us a feel. Jean, what do they look like? Do they look like they're sort of incredulous as they hear testimony and then fire these questions back, or do they look very complacent with what they're hearing in the courtroom?
CASAREZ: They were so focused, Ashleigh. We are on to day 37 next Monday of this trial, and to me they are as focused as ever. They were not taking notes while the answers to their questions were being read back. And they do take notes, sometimes a lot of notes, but they were just listening. They were focused, intent. You know what's interesting, I was sitting in the courtroom, and when they left for the lunch break and went out that door, which is sort of close to where I'm sitting, I heard someone laugh. I heard a juror actually laugh. It was a female and it was a big laugh. I don't know what that means, but this jury is invested and, boy, were those questions amazing.
BANFIELD: And there's one other thing that oftentimes the cameras just sort of dump out before you have to go perform warnings every day for jurors, and that is a judge saying to those jurors, very, very seriously, you may not read newspaper articles, listen to radio stories, watch television when it comes to this case. I always am amazed by how serious the admonishment is, but it's got to be very serious in this case. This is a death penalty case.
CASAREZ: No question. And it is continual. She always asks that and she always says, you are not to discuss this case amongst yourself. You know, another focus of the questions was the inadequacy of the forensic psychologist, Ashleigh. He made so many mistakes on his report, he based his criteria on this diagnostic test where she actually lied, saying there were intruders to the home and he didn't retest her after that. Many of the questions were really focused on his competency.
BANFIELD: Jean Casarez, thank you. Hold that thought for one moment. Oftentimes when Jean covers a case, when we cover these cases, especially death penalty cases, the best defense is to dirty up the victim as much as you can. Now, if you are telling the truth, then that's fair. If you're lying, that makes a victim a victim twice. We're going to look at that in this particular case when it comes to Travis Alexander and talk to one of his friends who's been listening to it all.
BANFIELD: In Jodi Arias' defense, and she needed a good one, because she had to admit she killed her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, she says she did it in self-defense. And she pulled out all the stops in laying out what kind of person he was, in her estimation. She called him nothing short of a sexual deviant and a pedophile and even so much as a rapist, in the ways that she described their sex life and his predilections. Is she lying on the stand and just dirtying up a victim who met his end so violently? Or is that young woman truly innocent and fought for her life against a monster?
Dr. Drew Pinsky joins me to talk about the potential pitfalls of picking a defense like that. Dr. Drew, listen, she's fighting for her life. This is the most serious kind of justice that we can mete out upon somebody in a case like this. Do you have any other choice, and isn't this a choice that can end up angering juror ifs they don't believe you.
DR. DREW PINSKY, ANCHOR, HOST OF HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": Yes, Ashleigh, I absolutely agree. I've been talking to defense attorneys throughout this case, and all of them agree that this is something the defense must do, they have no alternative but to do, they've tried to save this woman's life and do it any way they can. But the fact is in the course of laying this out, it's becoming increasingly clear that the young woman you're seeing alongside of me is actually probably the perpetrator of a form of domestic violence herself.
When you hear these tapes laid out, these horrible sexual tapes and all this alleged sexual activity that went on between she and him, the fact is, interpersonal terrorism is something where people are accustomed to hearing about men using physical aggression and violence to control and manipulate somebody. She used sex and sexuality to do the same exact thing. And when he finally realized he'd been sucked into something unhealthy and tried to leave, that's when she became violent. In the course of trying to muddy this up and make him look bad, she's actually -- I think the defense actually made her look more like the perpetrator of domestic violence.
BANFIELD: And as you know well, there are two elements to a death penalty trial. Number one, the jury has to decide if she's just guilty or not guilty. That's the first phase. And if they decide she's guilty, then they are the arbiters of whether she should live and die, and that's a whole other phase. You know, so it's really critical as to whether they can get beyond whether she's got mitigators that make her not worthy of killing.
I want to bring in Julie Christopher, who used to work with -- I beg your pardon, we lost our connection to Julie. She was one of the friends of Travis Alexander who could have given us a feel for what it's like to sit in that courtroom and hear this about her friend. Vinnie Politan also with HLN joins us now. You saw him lay out the crime scene in that mock bedroom/bathroom area. Vinnie, this is one of those questions, and if you're a defense attorney, you need to weigh exactly what Dr. Drew is saying. You've got to get the not guilty, but you really, really have to get the, don't kill her. It's a balancing act, isn't it?
POLITAN: Yes, but what you have to establish, is it a life worth saving, if we get to that point, a conviction of first degree murder. Here's the problem, though, with the way they have attacked this case from the defense. Credibility and remorse, two things that are lacking with Jodi Arias. Credibility in anything that she says and no remorse for what she did. And ultimately, if you are going to be on trial for your life, begging for your life, you want the jury at some point to believe what you're saying and then number two, you want them to believe that you are not a cold-hearted killer. Someone who has remorse for what they did. That's what they have not seen. And it's a product of the defense they're putting on right now, which is self- defense, trash Travis Alexander. He's the bad one, I'm the good one.
BANFIELD: All right. Stand by, if you will, Vinnie Politan. We have a lot more, obviously, to cover in this case, because if this is the case, will the judge's instructions do anything to bring that jury back in, to just getting focused on aggravators versus mitigators, as opposed to I can't stand the lying. Remains to be seen. We've got days left in trial.
As we move forward in this program, there have been some cases that have come to light that have shocked a lot of people, especially with regard to how people have reacted to the cases, to the victims in the cases. Sex assaults, alleged sex crimes, rapes, and people who are outraged that the victim would even speak up. Our special coverage continues in a moment.