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Arias Trial Closing Arguments; Girl Expelled for Science Experiment; Arizona State Fraternities Under Fire; Stocks Setting New Records; California Wildfires Detailed

Aired May 3, 2013 - 11:00   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, and we begin this hour with another big milestone on Wall Street.

Blue chip stocks are red not after a jobs report that came in, shall we say, stronger than expected? Just take a look at the Dow, 15,000- plus, and that would be for the first time ever.

Before the opening bell, the government told us that employers added 165,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate went down. It actually dropped to 7.5 percent and that would be the lowest in more than four years.

People like to hear those numbers. My colleague, Alison Kosik, is watching the jobs and the stocks and everybody's reaction to it, so my guess is that investors are pretty giddy and the people around you are giddy as well.

Give me a bit of a color sense of what's going on.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's -- this trading floor is definitely buzzing here at the New York Stock Exchange, and I'm thinking it's buzzing not because it's Friday, but because you're seeing that 15,000 on the screen for the Dow, as you said, at 15,005.

But let's not only look at the Dow. We always focus on the Dow. It gets all the love. It gets all the headlines.

The S&P 500, it hit 1,600 today at the opening bell and blew right past that. It's trading close to a tie of the day at 1,617. Keep in mind the Dow and the S&P have never ever reached these levels. They're making history today, Ashleigh, because of the positive jobs report.


BANFIELD: And so 15,000 and counting, or 15,000 and let's be a little more careful as we move forward.

KOSIK: I'd say 15,000 and counting.

You have to remember what's also fueling this rally. It's not just a decent government jobs report because, the economic reports that we've been getting lately, they've been OK, but really nothing, many say, to push the Dow, to push the S&P to these kinds of levels that we're seeing.

A lot of the rally that you're seeing in the markets has to do with the Fed. The Federal Reserve is buying up $85 billion every month of mortgage-backed securities and of Treasuries.

And what that's essentially doing is it's lowering interest rates, pushing investors to the best game in town to invest in. That's the stock market because interest rates are so low. So, many believe that this is really a Fed-fueled rally.


BANFIELD: Alison, I am liking your wireless camera because you've literally just taken me on a tour and normally we get the wild action, but as sort of a static frame, so it's nice to be able to sort of get the feel from where you are right now.

Keep us posted, Alison. Thank you.

KOSIK: Will do.

BANFIELD: All right, I want to switch our gears now and take you across the country, the other side, in fact, to California, where the winds are very strong and the land is very dry. The fires, therefore, are moving very fast.

Right now, 4,000 homes are said to be in what's called "extreme danger" from a wildfire that has so far burned thousands of acres just northwest of Los Angeles. At least 15 houses have now been damaged.

Our Stephanie Elam is live in Camarillo, and our Chad Myers is watching the weather patterns from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta because that always has such an effect on where fires are headed.

Stephanie, first to you, you've been there since the dark and as the daylight dawns, boy, could we ever see the mess being left behind.

Give me a feel for the 10 percent that's contained and what's happening with the other 90 percent.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, Ashleigh, I mean, take a look. I want to show you right now because you can actually see it.

Right above me, we've got some flames that we watched overnight as they crested and came over the top of this ridge and came right down the side of the mountain, further down and then jumped over this freeway, which is the Pacific Coast freeway that is right here next to us.

It's a beautiful stretch of highway here. It's pretty rural, but we saw the flames jump over the freeway, but then there's nowhere to go because it's just the Pacific Ocean. But as you take a look at these flames, they continue to make their way down the side of the mountain here. It is very beautiful to see, but it is also treacherous as these 10,000 acres continue to burn and as firefighters try to figure out how to fight and get in there and stop this fire, considering the fact that the winds are still very high.

Yesterday, they couldn't even get their planes in there to drop water or fire-retardant on this particular fire.

But just remember, this is only one of seven fires that have been burning in California in the last couple of days, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: One of seven and, you know, Stephanie, they treat this like a war.

Chad Myers, jump in. The enemy is the Santa Ana winds.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yesterday the winds were blowing 40. Today they're going to blow 20. That's better.

Let me tell you. I'm going to give you two enemies this year. The two enemies are it didn't rain over the winter. This was the fourth driest winter in Southern California history.

Now it's May. That's not fire season. Fire season doesn't happen until July, August or September, so why is it burning now?

It's because the grass, the shrubs, they are as dry as they would have been, or should be, in August and September. There's downtown L.A.

Here's the fire back out here, down near Point Mugu, not close to L.A. On a scale from one-to-10 in importance of what fires will happen this year, this is a two. A lot of wild land is burning.

Now I know we got very close to Camarillo, and here's Camarillo Springs, right there. These R.V.s here in Camarillo Springs, they did burn. Many of these burned as the fires went down the mountain and into the R.V. park.

But let me give you a little topography here. You can see the shadow the mountain's making here. Many of these R.V.s are now no longer here.

The winds were blowing yesterday at 40. They couldn't stop the winds. They couldn't stop the fire. And when you have just mountains and valleys and crests like this, the fire burns up and the fire burns down, and that's what happened yesterday.

The wind's not as bad today. There will be still fire tonight. But tomorrow the weather changes completely. And I don't mean a little bit. We go from 95 to 85 to 73, onshore flow, and even the chance of rain, rain they haven't seen forever, it seems.

BANFIELD: Oh, and it almost rains out there either, which is nice if you're a resident, but awful if you're in the fire conditions. Both of you, great job, and thank you. Keep an eye on it for us, Stephanie Elam and Chad Myers.

I also have a story about people who live near an oil tank fire just east of Baton Rouge. I'm going to switch gears over to that for a moment. Here are the images they're dealing with.

Just east of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, they spent the night outside of their homes. We have not yet heard, though, if there's any major damage or any injuries, but we're keeping a close eye on this.

One of the two tanks, look at that, erupted and it ruptured and just erupted. It burned in the town of Denham Springs for reasons that are still unclear.

Evacuees will be allowed back once that fire is out, but again, tenuous situation there.

A major turn in the bombing investigation in Boston, we are learning that the marathon was not the original target.

And the funeral of the older brother is to be held right here in the United States of America.


BANFIELD: To Boston now and a stunning new development in the marathon bombing case.

The historic marathon was not the suspects' original target. Law enforcement officials say they first had planned a suicide attack on the city's huge Independence Day celebration. Again, suicide attack.

In another development, the mayor's office in Worchester says that the funeral for the suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, will be held in that city and there is no date on the calendar as yet. But Worchester, the mayor saying that that funeral will be there.

Tamerlan's body reportedly transferred in that black van to a funeral home outside of Boston yesterday.

Jason Carroll joins us live now in Cambridge.

Wow, a real development that I think would surprise a lot of people, although perhaps not, given the nature of the allegations against these two brothers.

Why might this target date have changed?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, very interesting question and what we're learning is that, based on what investigators found during an early interview with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, apparently, when they made these bombs at Tamerlan Tsarnaev's apartment in Cambridge, they were making these bombs there and, apparently, they made the bombs so quickly, it was actually ahead of their schedule. And so what they decided to do, Ashleigh, was, instead of the original plan, which was to detonate these bombs on the Fourth of July, they decide to move things up and, instead of doing it on Independence Day, they decided to do it on Patriots' Day, the day of the Boston marathon.

And, apparently, Ashleigh, they made this decision, a last-minute decision, just a day or so before the actual bombing.

BANFIELD: And the notion that it was originally going to be a suicide attack, and again, we saw video that showed clearly it was not intended, at least the bombing where you are, to be a suicide attack.

CARROLL: Right. But still just as deadly, when you think about the crowds of people that attend that type of celebration, all the people that were going to be there, and again, this is just preliminary information that is leaking out from this original interview that investigators did with Tsarnaev.

But whether it was going to be a suicide attack or a bombing, combination of both, at this point, some of those details I'm sure will be coming out within the days or weeks to follow.

BANFIELD: And, Jason, you just touched upon something that's fascinating and that investigators at this point are bandying this idea about that the bombs were built in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's apartment.


BANFIELD: And he shares that apartment, ostensibly, to our knowledge, with his wife, Katie Russell, who's being investigated right now.

Can you just expand on that a little bit more?

CARROLL: Well, yes, small apartment there in Cambridge and Katherine Russell, you know, we've seen her comings and goings, in and out of where she is staying at this point.

And her attorney makes it very clear that she knew nothing about this bombing. She was just as horrified, she says, as everyone else when she learned about it.

He also says that she continues to cooperate with investigators and gave a little bit more detail about that today, Ashleigh.

He basically said that investigators are showing her pictures, things of that nature. She's expected to then give information about those pictures. He did not say what types of pictures investigators are showing Katherine Russell, but he did say that she is investigating with authorities.

He also points out, he says, she had nothing to do with the bombing and, once again, continues to cooperate.

BANFIELD: Showing pictures? I'd be so fascinated as to who those pictures might be of and whether they were gleaned from that laptop. And I'm just looking behind you, Jason, in Copley Square at all the people still coming out, three weeks later, to see everything left behind in the memorial. Amazing.

CARROLL: It's incredible.


CARROLL: They're still here, still coming out, still paying their respects. That part of the story simply has not changed.

BANFIELD: Jason Carroll doing a great job, live in Boston for us. Thank you.

Today, round two of closing arguments in the Jodi Arias case. Yes, that case that's been going on and on.

The prosecution spent hours telling the jury how much she lies, how much she manipulates.

So what can the defense do to turn it around and save their clients?

We're going to take you live to Phoenix, next.


BANFIELD: Closing arguments in the Jodi Arias trial and this is round two because today is the defense's turn. This is critical and they really do have an uphill fight in this case. Four-month long case. To top the prosecutor's fiery show-and-tell yesterday, complete with all those graphic photos of Travis Alexander's bloody body, it is going to be very tough. But can they convince the jurors that Jodi was the hunted and not the hunter.

Our Ted Rowlands has the details.


JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, without a shadow of doubt, she's a liar.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jodi Arias broke down, listening to prosecutor Juan Martinez methodically lay out his closing argument that she is a cold-blooded killer who premeditated the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

MARTINEZ: That she knew, she absolutely knew and had already planned it. She knew. She was going to kill him.

ROWLANDS: Martinez told jurors that in 2008 Arias drove from northern California to Alexander's home in Mesa, Arizona, armed with a knife and a stolen gun she took from her grandparents. She used cans of gasoline to refuel her car and turned off her cell phone to avoid leaving a trail.

MARTINEZ: She knew that she was coming to kill him. ROWLANDS: Family members openly wept as Martinez, using graphic photos from the crime scene, detailed how he says Arias brutally stabbed Alexander almost 30 times and shot him in the head. At one point, Martinez noticed that Arias was also crying.

MARTINEZ: She may cry now. But jury instructions have told you that sympathy is not to be considered in this particular case.

ROWLANDS: Arias, who originally told police she wasn't there, testified that she killed Alexander in self-defense. Martinez told jurors not to believe a word she said on the witness stand.

MARTINEZ: She's acting the part and she's lying. She's making it all up. She has lied to everybody.


BANFIELD: Ted Rowlands joins me live now from Phoenix.

Two-part question out of your report, Ted. And that is what is the defense likely to outline in this critical closing and when might the jury actually start deciding her fate?

ROWLANDS: Well, they'll decide after the defense has their shot this morning and then Juan Martinez gets one more bite at the apple and a rebuttal, a quicker one likely this afternoon. So they should start deciding Jodi Arias' fate at some point today, likely late afternoon. And they can only go until 4:30 local time and then they'll resume on Monday their deliberations.

Now what does the defense do? Well, they have to address the lies. Absolutely. They're going to have to first convince the jury that this version of the story that she is telling, which she's told several versions of, is the real one and the reason she was lying before was because she just didn't know how to handle it and she was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is a very, very tough wall for them to climb. We will see how they do it coming up in the next hour.

BANFIELD: And of course the prosecutor gets that last word in that rebuttal because the prosecution has the burden. They're the ones that have to prove the burden and they get the last word in any case.

Ted Rowlands, you're going to be busy today so we'll keep checking in with you on the developments live for us. Thank you.

Also a reminder to our viewers. You can watch the defense give that closing argument. It should be very powerful and it has to be. It's next hour on HLN. Also on We've got you covered.

And then this is terrific. Anderson Cooper and his team have been working very hard. Tonight they've got a terrific documentary called "Sex, Lies and Audiotape: The Jodi Arias Trial." It is a very comprehensive look. And it's important because a woman's life is on the line. And if the state is going to take a life, then the details matter. That's coming up. Now something completely different. A simple science experiment has landed a Florida teenager in a whole lot of trouble. Her name is Kiera Wilmot. A great kid by all accounts. And a kid who's now been expelled from school. And that's not all. Facing felony charges. All because her science experiment happened on school ground, apparently without the teacher's supervision.

Wilmot's attorney Larry Hardaway is kind enough to join me now from Florida. Before I go any further with this story, Larry Hardaway, tell me exactly what happened with Kiera and why she's in the situation she's in.

LARRY HARDAWAY, LAWYER: Well, thank you for having, Ashleigh. What actually occurred was Kiera was bringing what she thought was her experiment presentation to class to show the teacher what she was planning on doing. It was required that she get classroom approval from the teacher and/or the principal. On her way to getting to the classroom she arrived at school about 7:00 a.m. that morning, she was convinced by her peers that she should try it outside near the lunchroom before she went to class and she did.

And it was basically the combination of a plastic bottle, about eight ounces of liquid. That liquid was toilet bowl cleaner, placed in that cleaner within that bottle aluminum foil. It was topped within a short period of time. The actual top blew off with a loud sound of popping. The principal of that school, Bartow High School, here in Florida, heard it, came over. He then called what we have here in Florida resource officers at the schools. Those are legitimate police officers from agencies, either Bartow or the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

They're there on campus. He investigated. He believed that what she had created and allowed to operate was what we call a destructive device. So he charged her with possession and manufacturing of a destructive device.

Here in Florida that's a third degree felony punishable by five years in prison.

BANFIELD: And Larry?

HARDAWAY: He then -- according to these rules and regulations --

BANFIELD: I just wanted to --

HARDAWAY: -- took it to the Juvenile Assessment Center to be charged with this crime.

BANFIELD: So just for a moment. I need to remind people that as they look at the photograph of Kiera, this all-American looking girl on their screen, we are not talking about a troubled child here. We're talking about an honor student who by all accounts everyone likes, everyone says is not only law-abiding and a rule-following young lady but a real example for other kids.

I'm not sure I understand the disconnect. I get that the fact-pattern is difficult to process if you're following these school code, section 705 of the school's code of conduct, and then of course the police looking at the discharge of a -- of an explosive. But the facts do have description.

Is this something that's all going to go away once the details become well-known? Once this becomes adjudicated? Or it this young lady really finding herself in a life-altering situation?

HARDAWAY: Well, she's actually in a life-altering situation. However, I believe the authorities here in Polk County, Florida, were going to work this out so that the best interest of the community and clearly this 16-year-old child will be forwarded.

As I need to correct certain misinformation that's out there. She has not been formally charged with those felonies by the State Attorney's Office. She was only charged with those by the police for detention purposes.


HARDAWAY: But she's not being convicted of it, I said. She's not been expelled. She's under a 10-day suspension from the school. We are working with the school district right now to sort of resolve that without too much delay. And she's -- we're working as hard as we can to resolve it so some of the information out there is not correct.

But she is at jeopardy if the State Attorney's Office so chooses to be charged with two felony counts. Here in Florida at the age of 13 you can be charged as an adult. So all those things are available. I just don't think the authorities here presently are going to do that and we're going to work this out in the best interest of this child.

BANFIELD: Larry Hardaway, you've got a big job ahead of you and I hope you are up to the task because that young lady I -- you know, I want to see her do well. With her background already, she looks like she was destined for great things. Thank you very much for being with us today.

Just ahead, a fraternity party gets out of control. I'm sure you've heard of that before but how about this? A fight with baseball bats and gunshots. The neighbors say this is not an isolated incident. The one of many. And they have had enough.


BANFIELD: In Tempe, Arizona, police have been answering nearly twice as many calls for rowdy parties and fights since Arizona State University pushed its fraternities off of campus. Five people were arrested after this particular little brawl on your screen. It happened last weekend at an off-campus fraternity party and it involved baseball bats and gun fire. Five students were hurt in this mayhem.

I just want you to hear this chaos in the 911 call that came in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What's going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.


BANFIELD: Can I remind you this is a frat party? ASU's commencements is expected this Sunday so it is not crazy to suggest there could be a lot more parties this weekend. A councilman in Tempe named Joel Navarro is kind enough to join me now on the telephone. He wants to enact some ordinances to govern off-campus fraternities.

Councilman, thank you for being with us. Can you hear me OK?