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CNN NEWSROOM

Children Back in the United States, Kidnappers Charged; Press Conference with Family of Kidnapped Boys

Aired April 11, 2013 - 11:00   ET

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


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Thank you, Carol.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And I want to take you directly to Tampa, Florida, where the couple whose grandchildren were snatched up and whisked off to Cuba are about to speak live to reporters.

Earlier today, those boys, Chase and Cole Hakken's alleged kidnappers, their own parents named Josh and Sharyn Hakken, appeared in court.

It was via video teleconference from the county jail, a jail that they're not going to be leaving for at least a few more days, and possibly a lot longer than that as well.

I'm joined now by CNN's Victor Blackwell who has been on this story all weeklong, as well from Philadelphia, defense attorney and legal commentator, Danny Cevallos.

Victor, let me begin with you. I understand that we may actually see the children along with their grandparents at this live news conference that's scheduled to happen at any moment.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, at any moment right now.

And we've been told by the sheriff's office here in Hillsborough County that the children will not speak. We've been asked not to ask them questions.

Only the grandfather, Robert Hauser, will be taking questions. Patricia Hauser, his wife, won't even speak. She, of course, as we know, police tell us, was bound last Wednesday as Joshua Hakken broke into the home, as he is alleged, and took those two children, and we know that they ended up in Cuba

What happened between, we're still trying to figure that out, and that will likely come out in court where those two parents were today, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: So, this first appearance, we're looking at some of the video as those parents were brought back, and brought in to custody for the first time.

This first appearance, what exactly happened? What was laid out? BLACKWELL: First thing you notice is they're in red jumpsuits, and everyone behind them, they're in orange. We know that those red jumpsuits are because they're segregated from the general population.

The charges were not read today. Neither Joshua Hakken nor his wife, Sharyn, spoke. This was just about assigning a public defender. They both have the same public defender, a Chuck Trana, and also the special prosecutor here, and moving forward.

There is a pre-trial detention hearing scheduled for Monday in which they will be actually transported to the courthouse to determine if they'll be allowed to bond out, but considering the charges, unlikely.

Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: My next question exactly, and that sounds like a legitimate answers, given the fact that they have a history buying a boat and allegedly absconding with children, the flight risk issue would sound like it would be quite an issue.

Actually, let me bring in Danny on that. You and I were just talking within the last 48 hours that we didn't think this would even happen, that we would see them perhaps in a U.S. jail, but what do you think the odds that those parents will get bail?

DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, you said it already. The first thing they have to demonstrate -- bail is not supposed to be a oppressive. It's not supposed to be a punishment. It's designed to insure that people come to their trial.

And some of the factors involved are, are they a risk of flight, or do they pose a danger to the community?

Well, it would be a hard argument to a judge to say, hey, these people who may have held someone up with a shotgun allegedly and taken kids from them, and then absconded, not to another state, to another country which we have no extradition treaty.

It's going to be hard to argue, number one, that the safety of the community is ensured, or, number two, that these two are not a risk of flight.

However, one thing that concerns me at this stage is the appointment of the public defender to both. We may see two very different defenses in the case of a joint kidnapping like this, where one party may say, hey, I was just as much a victim as the kids. I was scared for my life.

We may see that. So I would be interested to see what would happen with the public defender if he can -- he or she can continue to represent both defendants.

BANFIELD: Yeah. And, Danny, just the notion that we're waiting to hear from these grandparents, Bob and Patricia Hauser, these are the alleged victims in this case because they have custody of those boys, and the allegation is that the grandmother was tied up in order to facilitate this alleged kidnapping before this trip to Cuba.

In that respect, they are still parents of Sharyn Hauser. Do we know if they will be able to work with prosecutors and have a say in how justice actually is carried out?

CEVALLOS: We don't know. But the primary -- their primary role is, as we know, where parents -- parental rights are terminated, those parents -- the original parents they don't have any superior rights. They have no rights anymore.

I know it sounds very hard for people to believe, but if you have your parental rights terminated, the grandmother, whoever the new custodian is, has superior rights.

So she will be a critical complainant, or a complaining witness, to the prosecutor and will absolutely -- maybe whether or not it's her desire to testify against her daughter or not, whether or not it's her desire to so, she may be compelled to do so by the government or by the prosecution in this case because she is the chief complainant.

She's a critical witness not only because she was tied up at gunpoint, but number two, because the children that were taken were under her primary care.

: it's such a tricky area when you fwet into family law. Victims have say. They do work in conjunction with prosecutors.

BANFIELD: Yeah, it's such a tricky area when you get into family, et cetera. Families do have say. Victims do have say. They do work in conjunction with prosecutors.

Victor, to that end, do we have any idea at this point what these grandparents are going to say, how they feel about their granddaughter and her husband in this case?

BLACKWELL: When they spoke on Tuesday night, when the Hakken's were arrested and the boys were on their way back, they read a statement that wasn't very long, and they thanked all the law enforcement officials, even the authorities in Cuba and the people around the country who've been praying for them.

They have not spoken specifically about how they feel about their daughter and their son-in-law. They were just happy that the boys were back home.

BANFIELD: And let me just ask you, Victor. I'm want sure anybody knows the answers to this question right now.

As we look at the charges that are being laid out against both Sharyn and Josh, Sharyn is facing kidnapping, interference with child custody, and child neglect at this point.

Josh has additional charges of false imprisonment, battery, and grand theft auto.

But do we know about any kind of charges relating to the flight, leaving the country with those kids?

BLACKWELL: There was a federal charge of flight to avoid prosecution.

Now we've asked questions and are still waiting to get the answers if that was in reference to the charges in this case that had been filed against Joshua Hakken or if they were related to a case in Louisiana in which Joshua is charged with going to a foster home where his children were held in July of 2012 with a gun, trying to take them back. We're still getting the answer to that.

But so far, this is the list of charges. And we're actually working to get some filings that have happened in just the last hour and a half or so because of this proceeding this morning.

BANFIELD: Victor, let me just interrupt for a moment as we continue to watch for the parents of Sharyn Hakken to take the microphone and address us outside of their home in Tampa.

I want to switch gears as well to Irving, Texas. We've got some breaking news. I have very little information on this, but let me tell you what I do know.

That traffic incident that you are seeing there, courtesy of our affiliate WFAA, is actually an overturned bus. There are reports that we've been getting there may be some people trapped in that bus, and it's hard to make it out.

You really have to sort of look in the midst of all of those emergency response vehicles that have -- that come -- that have come to the scene.

It's on President George Bush Turnpike, I'm told, in Irving. And if you know the Dallas area well, Irving, Texas, is just slightly north of the downtown area of Dallas. It's also where the Cowboys used to play.

It is an extraordinarily busy -- the freeway system all around north of Dallas and going into the Irving area is an extraordinarily busy freeway area. It also takes you out to DFW airport, too.

So there is frequently a lot of traffic in that area, but here we have -- and, again, I can't tell you anything else I know about this turnpike wreck, but we do know that there may be some people trapped in that bus.

Let me just ask quickly if we know if there is a tourist bus or if it was a transit bus. Do we have that information?

We don't. We don't have that yet. But we're going to continue scouring our sources as well from the Dallas area.

And I want to take you back to Tampa where the Hakken's grandparents are now coming out of their home, Bob and Patricia Hauser taking to the microphone to address us after being reunited with their grandchildren.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

PATRICIA HAUSER, GRANDMOTHER: Good morning, everybody. We welcome you and thank you for all coming.

I apologize, but I've had a bad cold also this week, and I have not much of a voice today, so I will try to shout as loud as I can.

We, again, would like to thank the Hillsborough County sheriff's office and all the law enforcement and government agencies that worked so tirelessly around the clock to bring our grandsons home.

We really don't appreciate all that they do until we need them, and all the sacrifices they and their families make for us.

They took such good care of us that we feel we just made a bunch of new friends, and I want to thank them all right here. They're all right behind us. Thank you. Couldn't have made it through without their support.

We also, again, would like to thank the State Department and the Cuban government for working so quickly to bring our grandsons home. They called us from Cuba and let us talk to the boys before the plane even left.

And, believe me, many tears were shed in that room from us and this group you see here, then we just became elated and could not wait for that plane to land in Tampa.

The many prayers and expressions of care and concern from our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, and complete strangers are what got us through this, and we thank you all.

We would also like to thank all the people who diligently looked for sightings and calling in tips.

And, of course, we thank you, the media, for getting out the information, for keeping the story out there.

I personally appreciate your patience with me. I know you are all concerned about me and wanted to hear from me, but I could only concentrate on finding my grandsons. As you can see, I am doing fine.

As you know, they were able to rescue the boys' family dog, also. Natty is a 15-year-old rat terrier. We had her checked out yesterday. Excuse me. She was suffering from dehydration and ear problems along with ailments related to old age.

We wanted to bring her out and let you see her, but she's on medication, resting comfortably, and we do hope she'll be fine. We didn't want to have her hear all of this and see all of this.

At this time we choose not to answer questions about the ongoing investigation, nor to dabble in any speculation. We will not be doing any more press conferences, interviews or making any public appearances.

We appreciate all your concern and good wishes, but we would like the phone calls, messages and knocks on the door to come to an end.

We are trying very hard to shield the boys from media coverage and we want them to get back to their normal everyday schedules and just be carefree little boys again.

They were evaluated yesterday and have been well cared for on their journey, only experiencing several bug bites.

We thought you would like to meet them and see for yourselves. They will not be answering any questions, nor making any comments, but you can take photos if you want, provided they cooperate.

They have been told that everyone heard about their sailboat trip to Cuba, another country, as they called it, and their airplane ride back to America, and that everyone wants to take their picture.

We ask that there be no mention of any events of the past week. Thank you so much for your cooperation.

We will now take a few questions and then we'll bring out the boys. Thank you.

You're welcome.

FEMALE REPORTER: Can you tell us a little bit about what the boys have told you about the trip?

HAUSER: We have not asked the boys anything about the journey. They have been briefed.

And we are just letting them tell us as things come out if they feel like talking. We are just treating it as they went on a vacation.

MALE REPORTER: What's the first thing you said to them when you actually -- did you give them a big hug? Did you tell them I love you? What did you do?

HAUSER: All of that. All -- there was big group hugs. Everybody had big group hugs and kisses, and they were so happy to see us, too.

MALE REPORTER: The moment that you realized that you would be seeing them again, what was that like for both of you? What were you saying? What were you doing?

HAUSER: We were just smiling from ear to ear and hugging each other and just couldn't wait for that plane to come. Then we came and saw all you guys.

FEMALE REPORTER: (Inaudible) What are their personalities like?

HAUSER: Oh, you'll see for yourself. Cole, the older one, is very bubbly, talkative, will talk to anybody, loves to sing.

And the other little guy's a little more laid back because he is a little younger, but he is also very talkative, and they're just like little boys. They're very active, love to play, love to play with their cousins.

MALE REPORTER: How do you move forward?

PATRICIA HAUSER: We just move -- we just go forward. That's all you can do. We're just going to go back to our normal lives and do everyday things that we always did and just treat it like another adventure, just as we did on the trip to Louisiana.

MALE REPORTER: What's the plan going forward now? You have custody of the boys, correct?

PATRICIA HAUSER: We have custody of the boys. Anything forward will be done --

MALE REPORTER: You haven't decided on adoption or anything beyond --

PATRICIA HAUSER: We really have -- it just happened, and we really need to get to the State of Louisiana. We don't know what's coming forward. Any more?

FEMALE REPORTER: What's, moving forward, as the boys get older and -- have you thought about how you will talk to them about this experience and where their parents are as they get older?

PATRICIA HAUSER: We haven't got that far yet, but I'm sure that we will have plenty of professional help.

MALE REPORTER: Ms. Hauser, is there a picture of the dog that you can maybe share with the media later on?

BOB HAUSER: We'll work on that.

PATRICIA HAUSER: We'll work on that. We can maybe get a picture taken.

MALE REPORTER: How do you feel about having two little boys in the house again? And perhaps (INAUDIBLE).

BOB HAUSER: You know, these are just two wonderful boys. We saw them very frequently before all of this started. You know, we're very close to them. We've always been very close to them. And while initially it was a little bit of change of lifestyle for us, having the boys here is just amazing. I come home from work at the end of a bad day, and the two of them will come running up hugging and kissing me. "Bubba's home. Bubba's home." I mean, it's just wonderful. We wouldn't trade it for anything. We love these two kids. .

MALE REPORTER: And forgive me, I'm not going to ask you your age (INAUDIBLE) but are you prepared to have that joy and the responsibility for them after (INAUDIBLE)?

BOB HAUSER: Well, I think that's -- as my wife said, you know, we still are putting a plan together for what we're going to do moving forward, and working with the State of Louisiana and the State of Florida as to the procedures and the process. I never realized it was so complicated.

MALE REPORTER: You guys are getting a real education right now, right?

BOB HAUSER: I'll tell you, I have repeated a number of times that you never expect something like this to happen to you, but I'll tell you, going through it, you just take one step at a time. Our focus has been on getting those boys. Now our focus is making sure that we go forward and they can lead a normal life.

In the meantime, we've met a lot of new friends. I've never -- I guess it's a good thing -- had really any dealings with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. I'll tell you, they're amazing. Just amazing. I think living in this county, we're blessed to have, you know, such a great sheriff's department and all the other people we've met from all the agencies has just been phenomenal.

MALE REPORTER: What did they tell you to try to keep your fears and your panic down while you were waiting to learn the fate of your grandkids?

BOB HAUSER: You know, I think they were just there for us. That's the important thing. They were just there for us. They were -- every time, they were very courteous, very understanding, knew what the situation was. I mean, when you're in the middle of a nightmare, it's kind of hard to do a whole lot, but they were right there with us the whole way.

All the prayers and support that we received from people, from neighbors and friends and family and co-workers and people we don't even know, that was a comfort also. You know, we found that very comforting, and we knew we would get through it.

MALE REPORTER: You guys are one set of grandparents. Have you spoken to Joshua's father at all? What are his thoughts on all of this?

BOB HAUSER: We have spoken to the other grandparents. I don't know -- you would have to talk to them.

MALE REPORTER: OK.

FEMALE REPORTER: You mentioned that you're not asking them a lot of questions, but when they talk about their vacation, is there anything they are fondly remembering? Anything that they particularly talked about?

PATRICIA HAUSER: No. Not yet.

MALE REPORTER: Did they say what the plane ride back was like? I know they were sleepy, as part of the statement said.

PATRICIA HAUSER: Yes, they slept most of the way.

BOB HAUSER: Yes, they haven't said anything.

MALE REPORTER: Were they glad to see their parents? BOB HAUSER: We haven't discussed it.

FEMALE REPORTER: Pat and Bob, how would you describe your grandchildren? What are they like to you? What are they like in your eyes?

BOB HAUSER: They are a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. They're both very, very smart kids. It's amazing how smart they are. You know, they have their toys; they love their toys. The youngest one loves his little trucks and plays with them all the time. You know, the older one is into more, you know, 4-year-old games and playing and, you know, they're just typical for your 4-year-old boys.

PATRICIA HAUSER: We'll go get the boys now so you guys can get some photos.

MALE REPORTER: They are going to go get the kids and bring them back. Please be respectful of your photographers beside you. They're going to bring the kids up here. Of course, they're going to be running around, so don't get crowded up in here on them and that way you guys will all have an equal shot on it. So they'll be out here in just a few minutes.

BANFIELD: OK, so a couple of things just to highlight for you as we wait for Bob and Patricia Hauser to bring out those two little boys, Chase, aged 2, and Cole, aged 4. She highlighted these men and the people that are with them and essentially said, right off the bat, I think I've just made a whole bunch of new friends. The law enforcement agencies, the sheriff's department, and all those people who worked tirelessly to bring those children back and bring back their parents, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, who are now facing a litany of charges.

A couple of rules that we were told as media outlets before this news conference was agreed to: No questions for the kids. That was just clear and obvious.

And as they bring the little guys out, let's just bring in -- let's just listen to some of the -- you're not going to hear questions, but let's just hear some of the natural sounds as those boys as they come out.

PATRICIA HAUSER: This is Cole. Can you say hi?

COLE HAKKEN: Hi.

CHASE HAKKEN: Hi.

MALE REPORTER: Thanks for coming out to see us.

PATRICIA HAUSER: Thank you.

What do you think of all the cameras? Pretty cool?

CHASE HAKKEN: Yes.

MALE REPORTER: Hey Patricia, you said your grandson likes to sing. What does he like to sing? Is there a next American idol right there?

PATRICIA HAUSER: Oh, could be. (INAUDIBLE) Bubba's teaching him all these old songs. "Puff the Magic Dragon" and stuff like that.

(LAUGHTER)

PATRICIA HAUSER: Oh look, he's going to pose now.

(LAUGHTER)

PATRICIA HAUSER: You want silly pictures? You silly, huh?

MALE REPORTER: Just lay it down.

BOB HAUSER: Lay it down? It's going to be a mess.

MALE REPORTER: What do you guys think of all these cameras and big microphones? Pretty crazy, right?

PATRICIA HAUSER: Yes, they got little cameras. They love to take pictures.

FEMALE REPORTER: Is that mater you have there? What truck is that? Is that mater?

PATRICIA HAUSER: You have mater.

FEMALE REPORTER: All right. What's that guy? Does he have a name?

CHASE HAKKEN: Just a car.

FEMALE REPORTER: Just a car. All right. Mater and just a car.

PATRICIA HAUSER: OK. Can you say bye to everybody and say thank you for taking our picture.

CHASE HAKKEN: Thank you.

COLE HAKKEN: Bye.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Bye, guys. Good job.

PATRICIA HAUSER: Thank you so much.

BOB HAUSER: Thank you all very much.

PATRICIA HAUSER: Really appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless you all.

(END LIVE FEED)

BANFIELD: All right. As we watch the Hausers heading back into their home with little Chase and Cole, Chase, age 2, Cole, aged 4. They do not get cuter than that, folks. My lord. And they look healthy. That's what's critical there.

Very kind of the Hausers to give the media a look at those boys because one of the critical issues here was that perhaps these boys would be mistreated. They lost the parental rights, their parents. That was an issue, and it was such an issue that we were told that when that plane was sent down to pick up those boys in Cuba, there was a medic on board. Those boys were checked out by a medic before they even landed on U.S. soil, and you heard their grandmother, Patricia Hauser, say, you know, everything seemed to be pretty good but for a couple of bug bites, which if you are on a trip to Cuba on board a boat, you might get a couple of bug bites.

Here they are just moments ago being brought out hand in hand with their grandparents, Bob and Patricia Hauser. They are so young, it is hard to know what these children can possibly know about the ordeal that they have been through. They probably just know they were on a vacation to Cuba at this point, if they even knew about Cuba. But right now, simultaneously, their parents are wearing bright orange jumpsuits and are being processed at the Hillsborough County sheriff's department, at the jail there, having made a first appearance in court and facing a litany of charges that could see them put away for the rest of their lives.

Again, all before the trip to Cuba, they had had their parental rights stripped. Whether they ever had a chance at that point to regain those rights remain to be seen. But after this international incident, in which, thank God these kids are OK, that is going to be a tall order if they ever do, you know, clear any kind of very lengthy sentence.

I want to go to Victor Blackwell, who's standing by outside of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department with some other news. Victor.

BLACKWELL: Well, we just got an update during that news conference on the Hauser's front lawn in which we got it to see these two young boys. The pretrial detention hearing that was scheduled for Monday has now been moved up. It is tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. And of course this is the proceedings in which they will determine if the Hakkens will be allowed to leave the jail here in Hillsborough County before their trial or not. But, again, as our legal expert has said, and as many people will probably expect, it's unlikely considering the charges in this case.

And one other thing, we mentioned the federal charge that have been filed of a flight to avoid prosecution. That has been dropped in an effort to streamline the case. So they're deferring to the state charges and kidnapping charges, two for each Joshua and Sharyn Hakken. They could spend the rest of their lives in prison just on those two charges alone, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Wow, those are -- and it doesn't get more serious than this. Just ask O.J. Simpson. This was the exact scenario that O.J. Simpson faced in Nevada, and he was put away for I think upwards of 26 years. I might have plus or minus four years there. But Danny Cevallos, if I can bring you in on that -- the possibility that even more charges can be added to the extraordinary roster they're already facing. That is real, isn't it?

CEVALLOS: Oh, sure, it is. I mean, a prosecutor can amend charges and just based on what we've heard so far, you don't even need to know the Florida code that well to know there have to be some other potential charges that these two are facing.

But again, like I said, look for in the next few weeks for one of the parties, mother or father, to claim that they were at the -- they were at the mercy, a hostage themselves, and that will be -- that likely will be one defense.

But as far as charges, I mean, we haven't seen the beginning of them. And certainly at this stage the prosecutor is not bound with any charges this they levy against them now. They can always amend later on as long as they do so pretty well before trial.

BANFIELD: All right. Danny Cevallos, thank you for that. And Victor Blackwell is continuing to follow this story as well. And now, as he's reported, we're going to have a hearing tomorrow. That's what you call quick justice. Yes, because that wasn't expected for quite some time, so we'll possibly hear more about additional charges, other charges, amendment of charges, or possibly the bail issue, which is going to be pretty critical here.

Good to see those kids, though, looking healthy and happy with their grandparents this morning.

I want to take you back to Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, just north of Dallas, where an overturned bus -- you know, reports of people being trapped in an overturned bus on those freeways. Apparently we're being told that this was a private bus that was en route to some of the casinos north of Dallas, north of Texas, in Oklahoma. And this is the area that's not far from the old Texas Stadium where the Cowboys used to play, but traffic in both directions has been shut down for all of these agencies who are responding to handle it.

You can see what a disaster that looks like. Initially, reports had come in that several people were trapped on this bus. A local CBS report had come out that there were 34 people on the bus when it crashed and that one in particular was pinned and had to be rescued and was seriously injured. Another remarkable fact that was emerging from this breaking story was that 15 of the people, according to CBS, who were on board that bus were actually transported to hospital via air ambulance. There are a number of hospitals even within a five to ten minute freeway drive of the scene that you're looking at right now, but you can imagine the severity of those injuries if they had to airlift that many of the people on board that bus to a hospital.

A lot of emergency responders, everything from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Irving police, the Texas DPS, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, known in that area as DART, responding to this incident. We'll keep you posted on that as well. We got a lot of breaking news. We're going to scour our resources and get you updated with even more just after this break.

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