Return to Transcripts main page


Jodi Arias, the Sympathy Card; Former Jackson Body Guard Speaks; Cleaning Up New Orleans Jail; Cop Accused of Robbing Drug Dealers.

Aired April 4, 2013 - 11:30   ET


JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, IN SESSION: But they do usually finally come forward. But then they're behind the scenes. Because they're not the deliberating jury. Jurors come in all forms or fashion but this one, every day I watch them, and I think they are the real deal.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Do they ever? I think you and I remember, I they will you'll remember it too, were covering the first round of the Phil Specter case and a producer made it onto the jury. We all said what? You've got to be kidding. It was a mistrial, but it surprised a lot of us. We go in for jury duty and they say yes, you need to leave.

Ted Rowlands and Jean Casarez, thank you for your insight and your patience in all the coverage you've been doing.

Speaking of this case, you've been hearing a lot of domestic abuse testimony. But just how powerful is it when these are words from Jodi herself? And we know that she's a liar. You're going to hear in a moment.


BANFIELD: We're seeing a pretty emotional Jodi Arias all throughout her capital murder trial, or at least her first degree murder trial. She seemed to be crying in court yet again yesterday. There she is at defense table, keeping it together but not really. The defense's domestic violence expert was up on the stand. And for whatever reason seemed to strike a cord when she was testifying about Jodi's relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.


JENNIFER WILLMOTT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So as of this particular, in late January of 2008, given everything you know about the abuse that's occurred before and now the kicking on this time, how would you characterize their relationship at this point in time given your expertise in the area?

UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: I would call it a domestically abusive relationship.


BANFIELD: Domestically abusive relationship. Take a look again. It's subtle, but is it not subtle enough for the jury to take close note and pay attention. It seems like there may be something there. If so, what does that do for her? Or against her? Emotional displays in court, plus the testimony of being abused. Is it a sympathy card that could ultimately help to set her free?

I want to bring in "In Session" correspondent, Jean Casarez, who is watching every step of this as well, and also Ryan Smith, HLN's "Evening Express" anchor, and as well anchor of HLN "After Dark."

Hello, to both of you.

This is a big question I have for you. I want to you watch another piece of tape before you come up with that answer or at least it may affect your answer. This is the domestic abuse expert on the stand. And it's all about how Jodi in court is reacting. Take a look.


WILLMOTT: If you're doing things that you don't want to do, even if you act like you like doing them, which I've seen people do a lot or even if you like some of it, because usually people do like their sexual intimacy. It -- and you keep doing it, and you're not doing it because you want to do it, you're doing it because you feel like that's what keeps the relationship together, you stop liking who you are, because that is not what you want.


BANFIELD: So first question, Jean, would be to you. We could see her crying because the camera position is nice and close. Can the jury see her crying? And do we know if they reacted in any way whatsoever to it?

CASAREZ: It's a big courtroom and Jodi is a ways away from the jury. But I worked hard to see if jurors were looking at her. Bass the angle is almost the same as where the defense attorney is. I brief jurors were looking at her. I felt like their eyes were positioned on Jodi at some points. Does it help? Now normally we see defendants that don't crack an emotion. I mean, they are so stoic and could care less. As you hear this emotionally riveting testimony she's cried, and she's mainly cried whether the pictures are shown. It could help her in the penalty phase if not the guilt phase.

BANFIELD: We're not there yet. There's a critical step in that phase. That would be guilty. You don't go to a penalty phase unless you're guilty.

Ryan, with that in mind, how critical is it for Jodi Arias -- and I'm only talking about letter case, not defendants in general -- for Jodi Arias to mitigate what happened on the stand, when people suggest that she seemed very cold and likeable. Does this help all of a sudden, crying at defense table?

RYAN SMITH, ANCHOR, EVENING EXPRESS & AFTER DARK: I think the defense hopes it helps. But she's got a problem, and you mentioned that 18 days on the stand. Yes, she does cry when Travis' picture is up there. But a lot of times she's crying when they're talking about her. So she is trying to build a connection with that jury. You saw whether see was on the stand she was turning addressing them. She wants them to feel like they know her, they connect with her. But the problem is always the same thing, do they believe her? Because a lot of what this witness is talking about is about what Jodi wrote or told her. So if they don't believe her, and the witness is up there talking about oh, this could be abuse over and over again. If they don't believe her it's all empty. The tears, everything else is empty. And even in the death phase, even if you feel like you know her, you may still have that feeling of you know what, I don't trust her. I don't believe her. You may see the same thing happening in the death phase.

BANFIELD: Maybe a lot more tears at that time, as well, because that's when you really have to get through to jurors that this is a life worth saving. We're not there yet. We have a long way to go at this point.

Thank you to both of you. I want to remind our viewers that you can tune in and watch the Jodi Arias trial. It's live on HLN.

In the meantime, Michael Jackson may be dead, but another case lives. Who employed the doctor who's in jail for killing him? And there may be someone who knows a lot about his day to day life. His personal body guard who spent a lot of time with him is coming up next.


BANFIELD: Michael Jackson was one of the most scrutinized superstars ever to grace a stage. He was under the microscope for most of his life. And he remains so nearly four years after his death. In California court, his mom and kids are going after the people who promoted his final concert tour alleging that they are ultimately responsible for his death. You can get to know a guy pretty well if you're with him 24/7. And one of Jackson's body guards, Mike Garcia, was just that, always around the king of pop.

Mike, thanks for be being with us.

The key to this trial is just who employed Dr. Conrad Murray. Was it in fact Michael Jackson who was his boss? Or was it AEG, the company behind the concert? As an employee of Mr. Jackson's and as someone who was around him all the time, was he capable of employing any one, hiring, firing?

MIKE GARCIA, FORMER MICHAEL JACKSON BODY GUARD: It's good to see you again Ms. Banfield.

From what I've seen in the way he dealt with us, he never handled any of his business directly. So on the side of if he was directly employed by Mr. Jackson, Mr. Jackson employed him directly, and I don't see that happening.

BANFIELD: How was it for you? You worked with him. You were there with him, his kids, in his house, outside his house. You saw their day to day. But at the same time you had your issues, just functioning as a paid employee.

GARCIA: Right, we didn't get paid for several months. He wasn't in charge of his own business. To say that Mr. Jackson employed him it directly, I don't think that was the case.

BANFIELD: So that would speak very well to AEG's case, because they say they weren't the guys who had hired Conrad Murray, or doesn't speak to his case, sorry. One of the things that AEG does say is that Michael Jackson was so affected by all of the civil trials he went through in the it pedophile allegations three was a wreck, that he was drug addled and an insomniac who needed treatment and he was responsible for his own death because of going through all that. What were his nights like?

GARCIA: Well, definitely, you know, there was a situation that was going on. But I think that the fact that, you know, when you're in the care of a doctor and the doctor's taking care of you, and at the end of the day, who's paying the doctor, which I, from what I've learned is that it was AEG. Once the doctor signed the contract of being that doctor, he's in full responsibility.

BANFIELD: So what about the nights though? Is what AEG says true about just the notion that this was an insomniac? Did you see him up in the night wandering, those kinds of things?

GARCIA: We have his times when he would be up at night, but you've got to understand it can be kind of boring being in the House all the time or being inside the hotel. So I think being up at any hour of the day is irrelevant. It's not necessarily something important to look at. I mean, he did live in kind of a closed world, so him being up at 4:00 in the morning or singing or practicing, you know, that's not uncommon.

BANFIELD: What about his life with his kids? What kind of dad was he? Did you see --


GARCIA: Fantastic.

BANFIELD: Was he the same? Did he do things the way most parents do?

GARCIA: He did above and beyond. He was very huge on their education. Always quizzed them. If we went to go see Imax videos and things like that he would quiz the kids. I remember being in Virginia. We had our food catered to us. He didn't want the breakfast catered to the house because he wanted to make the children breakfast every single morning. You're talking about a guy who's very hands on with three children.

BANFIELD: You liked him, right, as your boss?

GARCIA: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BANFIELD: And must be watching their case very closely, Mike. GARCIA: Yes. You know, having the conversations of him passing, it's incredible to see how, what this guy was doing for the world and how he felt for his fans and things leak that. It's very, it's a shame, you know, it's a shame that somebody like that is not with us anymore. He, and he treated us with the utmost respect. For us that was very pleasant to see because we weren't getting paid and things like that. So I was very hands on. He would make the calls for us to get paid. So with him treating us and asking about our families and very personable with us, we appreciated that.

BANFIELD: I hope we talk again. They're in jury selection now. Nice to see you again.

GARCIA: Thanks, Ms. Banfield.

BANFIELD: We encourage you to watch the "Michael Jackson, Final Days" documentary. Coming Friday night at 10:00 eastern on CNN.

Back right after this.


BANFIELD: Jails, let's face it, are necessary evils. You got to have them. Somebody's got to pay for them. And they're really not supposed to be evil at all. They're not supposed to be comfy. But the lockups in New Orleans just have to be seen to be believed. And the feds say they have to be cleaned up.

CNN's Sara Ganim has more.


SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: An inmate with a gun in a cell packed with prisoners, another appears to be shooting up heroin. All caught on video on a cell phone smuggled into the jail. Inmates free to roam, even leave.

This incredible footage was shown in a federal courtroom in a lawsuit over how to pay to fix horrifying prison conditions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No gloves on. No net on. Nobody going to feed us.


GANIM: The footage is several years old and was recorded at the now- closed House of Detention in Orleans Parish. The Southern Poverty Law Center says this facility was not alone. Many others just as bad in Orleans Parish are still open. They, along with several former inmates sued the sheriff last April. He's in charge of running the jail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city is all about a dollar, man. It is so exempt down here, man.


GANIM: As shocking as it is to watch this video, reading the details in the lawsuit is just as disturbing. Mental health patients denied care. Inmates beaten by staff. And raped by other prisoners. Guards instigating fights.

This father lost his 32-year-old son to suicide in the prison two years ago.

JAMES HITZMAN, FORMER INMATE'S FATHER: Hearing some of the testimony and looking at some of the video of the jail itself, I cannot imagine the conditions any human being could live in those conditions.

GANIM: Southern Poverty Law Center and the sheriff's office reached a settlement in December. It was agreed that change would be made, but change costs money, money the city says it doesn't have. That's why the case is still in court.

The city's mayor says taxpayers are already investing more than $200 million to build new facilities.

In a statement to CNN the mayor said, quote, "I cannot in good conscience cut vital services or raise taxes to put even more money into an office where waste, fraud, and abuse run rampant." Instead, he wants the federal government to step in and take control from the sheriff.

PAM HITZMAN, FORMER INMATE'S MOTHER: He's been aware of these conditions since 2008. And the conditions have gotten worse.

GANIM (on camera): All of this takes us back to a disaster the New Orleans area just can't seem to fully recover from, Hurricane Katrina. In a statement, the sheriff says these with temporary facilities he was forced to use after the storm flooded parish prisons. Eight of those temporary jails still house inmates today.

Sara Ganim, CNN.


BANFIELD: And coming up later today, "Out Front" with Erin Burnett is going to dig deeper. Her program starts 7:00 p.m. eastern time right here on CNN.

OK, so this guy is sworn to serve and protect, not to steal. Up next, a police officer accused of robbing drug dealers. Can I just say this is not a modern day Robin Hood story? It's next.


BANFIELD: A 17-year veteran of New York's finest is due in federal court this afternoon, not to testify against a suspect. Instead, it is because he himself is a suspect using this gun and his badge and apparently other tools of his trade. Jose Tajada headed up a gang that robbed drug dealers of more than $1 million worth of cocaine. That's about 250 kilos. It all happened over the past decade allegedly.

My lawyers join me now on this, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor, Sunny Hostin; and criminal defense attorney and law professor and "In Session" contributor and super nice guy, Joey Jackson, with me.

Guys, I'm only smiling about this because this is really disgustingly bad. I'm only smiling because I can't believe it. But at the same time he's robbing bad guys.

Is anybody going to really care about this, Sunny?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's the thing. His victims are drug dealers, right? So certainly no love loss there. But he used his badge to do it. I mean, allegedly this is what the government is alleging he provided this very violent drug crew with NYPD equipment. We don't know exactly what the equipment is, but I suspect it's probably, you know, false search warrants, false arrest warrants, perhaps uniforms, perhaps jackets. And they impersonated police officers in pulling this off. That is tarnishing the shield. I mean, they are supposed to serve and protect, not use that shield to rob drug dealers. So he was indicted. The indictment was revealed and unsealed late last night. And he will be arraigned today at 2:00 p.m. So this is a serious case.

Unfortunately, Ashleigh, get this, the third officer charged in this case. So he wasn't even acting alone, which is remarkable to me.

BANFIELD: Well, Joey Jackson, when you have to investigate one of your own, do you back off and do a little bit of the work? Or do you go at it because this is supposed to be a club and you're making us all look bad? Do they work extra hard?

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think there's some extra hard work going on here. I think the internal affairs bureau gets it and they're on top of it. And certainly the vast majority of police are law-abiding and this would never happen. In this case it's a question of integrity, it's a question of trust. So you don't want anyone out there abusing what they have, and that's public service to protect us all. And I know they all do. But every now and then you get an occasional bad apple like this.

And, boy, what a story. It really should never happen. It did happen. It needs to end.

BANFIELD: It's an understatement, hey?

Sunny, you don't have any special laws that are designed especially for crooked cops, but do prosecutors -- sort of the same question again, do prosecutors treat it specially nonetheless?

HOSTIN: There's no question about it. Again, prosecutors are part of the law enforcement community. And we need our communities to trust the team not just the prosecutor. I did reach out to the U.S. attorney's office in the eastern district of New York.

BANFIELD: You have a couple sources there.

HOSTIN: I have a few sources there.


And they are taking this seriously. They have provided a press release. And the U.S. attorney of the eastern district certainly thanked everyone for cooperating including the DEA, including the police department, so everyone is involved to take down in a sense their own.

BANFIELD: Well, you would know.


BANFIELD: Sunny Hostin, Joey Jackson, I'm fresh out of time. Thanks to both of you for your insight.

Hey, everybody thank you for being with us. AROUND THE WORLD starts now.