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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Closing Arguments In Arias Murder Trial; A Tough Act To Follow; Kentucky Derby Security Stepped Up; Benghazi Victims Remembered; Neighbor Recants Seeing Leila Fowler's Killer; Rhode Island Legalizes Same Sex Marriage; Reese Witherspoon Apologizes; Talking Tebow

Aired May 3, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- Jodi Arias as a compulsive liar who carefully planned the murder of her ex-boyfriend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely without a shadow of a doubt she's a liar.

ROWLANDS (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.

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: 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 the 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: And of course, the defense will have its chance when court resumes here later this morning in Phoenix. They will argue to this jury that Jodi Arias was a victim of domestic violence and acted in self-defense -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ted Rowlands for us in Phoenix this morning. Thanks, Ted.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The question now is what key points does Jodi Arias' defense team need to make? How much damage control do they need to do? Criminal Defense Attorney Dwane Cates is joining us now from Phoenix, Arizona where the Arias trial as we've been saying is winding down.

Dwayne, you know, let me start with the prosecution first. Prosecutor Juan Martinez, he seemed to be making the case again and again and again, Jodi Arias lied. She lied. She lied to you. How effective do you think he was?

DWANE CATES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Juan Martinez is a very accomplished lawyer. That was a very good closing argument that he did yesterday. I mean, you can't deny the fact that it was actually brilliant. However, the defense gets their chance today.

ROMANS: And what do you think they're going to have to do, the defense today, to change, I guess to change the tone set by what many say was a pretty successful closing argument yesterday?

CATES: Heat of passion, sudden quarrel, heat of passion, sudden quarrel, that's what they've got to show. Heat of passion, sudden quarrel gets them out of first degree murder and gets them second degree murder. It could get them manslaughter and could even possibly get them self-defense.

Now nobody really thinks that Jodi Arias is going to get acquitted in this case, but they're trying to save her life. They're hoping for second degree murder or manslaughter and they would take first degree murder with no death penalty. But that's what's going to get it there, a sudden quarrel.

And you know, and who steals a gun, travels 1,000 miles, shows up and then gets in a hand-to-hand combat with somebody when they have a gun? That would be my argument. Is that this was a sudden -- a sudden fight that they got into. And Jodi killed him in that fight.

ROMANS: But seems as though Juan Martinez has maybe anticipated that that's what they'll try to do because he was trying to lay out look, she drove 1,000 miles. She fills up her gas tank with cans of gas, rather than stop at a gas station. She turned off her cell phone. This is a woman who was planning something, heat of passion, sudden quarrel, why do you try to cover up the trip in the first place?

CATES: Well, you know, there's always two ways to look at something. If I held up a quarter and describes it to you, we would describe different things. I'd be looking at tails. You'd be looks at heads. But we'd be looking at the same thing. There's different ways to interpret the evidence. They're going to give them an alternative way to look at the evidence that they have in this case.

BERMAN: They're going to have to. Starting today, the defense makes its closing arguments. Dwane Cates, attorney for us, thank you, in Phoenix. Appreciate you being with us.

ROMANS: Has this been the longest, salacious trial?

BERMAN: It's a long trail. She was on the stand for 18 days and these closing arguments wrapping up, but it's fascinating. And a lot of people are simply glued to it.

ROMANS: All right, now the Boston marathon terror investigation, major new developments this morning. A law enforcement source tells CNN the fourth of July was the original target date of that attack. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev telling investigators the date was moved up to April, to the iconic Boston marathon because the bombs were ready earlier than they expected.

And we've learned the bombs were allegedly built by the brothers in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's apartment. Also new this morning, Tsarnaev's body has been claimed by his uncle and sisters who plan an independent autopsy.

BERMAN: It will be a mix of the old and the new at this year's Kentucky Derby. Of course, there will be the horses and the big traditional hats, and those refreshing mint juleps. But in the wake of the Boston terror attacks, this year's Kentucky Derby will also feature much, much tighter security.

Our Pamela Brown, who knows a thing or two about the Kentucky Derby, is in Louisville this morning. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. That's right. I'm from Kentucky. Usually all the talk right before the derby is about fashion, which horse is the favorite? This year, on the front page of the "Courier Journal," Louisville's main newspaper, it's all about tightened security measures.

Officials have only had a few weeks to put new security measures into place in the wake of the Boston bombing. They're scrambling to get the word out to people. They want to make sure the only headline that comes out of the run for the roses is who won and who lost.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): It's one of horse racing's biggest events, the first of the Triple Crown races, a place to see and be seen. But this year's Kentucky Derby is happening just weeks after the Boston bombings. Security at Churchill Downs now understandably tightened.

JOHN ASHER, CHURCHILL DOWNS: The marathon bombing occurred and we were on the phone immediately with our law enforcement partners and had meetings the next day. We had to move really quickly if we were going to make any changes, if changes were warranted we had to get the word out pretty quickly.

BROWN: Changes were made. In addition to the ban on backpacks in place since 9/11, the new security restrictions include no camcorders, cans or coolers of any size. And women with purses larger than 12 inches will have to leave them at home for the big races. And the estimated 160,000 people going through the gates can expect to have more thorough bag inspections, and magnetic wand searches.

ASHER: We hope not a single person that gets to the gate is surprised and trying to bring in something not allowed.

BROWN: The 1,200 federal, state and local officers were also be out in force, an increase of about 100 since the bombing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically just areas of command.

BROWN: But Major Kelly Jones says they're relying on alert spectators to report anything suspicious.

MAJOR KELLY JONES, LOUISVILLE METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT: We get used to things sometimes, and so what we've learned is, folks have got to be vigilant. We've got to be vigilant. People have to be the eyes and ears of this community.

BROWN: That message seems to be getting through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know if I see something I'm going to say something, probably more so now than ever before.

BROWN: For others it's still all about the derby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an event that everybody wants to experience, that they look forward to every year, and just to come out and have a good time, the mint juleps. I don't think it's going to be a concern at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: We just walked around Churchill Downs here and we saw several security guards, they are gearing up for the Oaks today. It's the big race before the derby tomorrow so it's a trial run with these new security measures, leading up to tomorrow.

BERMAN: All right, Pamela Brown for us inside Churchill Downs. Great to see you, thanks.

ROMANS: She's been covering the security in Boston and the investigation in Boston now. She's in Kentucky, so she's gone from --

BERMAN: Both sides of it.

ROMANS: One event to the another. All right, Secretary of State John Kerry will be on hand this morning at an event in Washington honoring the four U.S. embassy workers killed last September in Benghazi, Libya. A senior U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took part in the Benghazi attack. Another source says Western Intelligence Services suspect the men they have been sent by the terrorist group to specifically carry out that attack. They haven't yet ruled out other scenarios too -- John.

BERMAN: New developments to tell you about in the search for the killer of 8-year-old Leila Fowler. Investigators in Calaveras County, California, say a neighbor who reported feeling a man run from Fowler's home around the time she was killed has recanted her story. The little girl was found murdered in her home on Saturday. Investigators have reportedly collected fingerprints and other DNA evidence from the crime scene.

ROMANS: Rhode Island now the 10th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Governor Lincoln Chaffee signed a bill giving same-sex couples the right to wed Thursday after the state legislature approved the measure. Rhode Island joins Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington State, and the District of Columbia.

BERMAN: And New York City an important milestone for One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. Yesterday workers raised the final two pieces of the tower's 408 foot spire high above the city. The spire is being held on a temporary platform. It will be installed by iron workers at a later date. When the work is complete One World Trade Center will stand at 1776 feet making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

ROMANS: Can you imagine being an iron worker all the way up there, just you know, bolting that thing in.

BERMAN: So calm, so casual, just another day on the job.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, Reese Witherspoon learns the hard way that you really do need to obey the police during a traffic stop. Her infamous arrest caught on dash cam video and we have all the highlights next.

BERMAN: Then the Jets let go of Tim Tebow this week. So what is next for gang green? Coach Rex Ryan joins us next. There he is.

ROMANS: Look at how slim and trim.

BERMAN: Looking good. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Regrets. Actress Reese Witherspoon regrets -- she's got a few regrets.

BERMAN: That's the least of her problems right now. Of course, she went off on an Atlanta police officer last month after her husband was charged with DUI and getting herself arrested for disorderly conduct. The Oscar winner has now publicly apologized for her actions, but unfortunately for her that comes just as the new video of the arrest has gone viral in all of its dash cam glory. Our Zoraida Sambolin has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, "EARLY START" (voice-over): Hollywood golden girl Reese Witherspoon is accustomed to the spotlight, but since her disorderly conduct arrest last month, she's dodged public appearances. REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS: All I can say is I just panicked.

SAMBOLIN: That is until her very public apology on "Good Morning America" Thursday.

WITHERSPOON: It's one of those nights. We went out to dinner in Atlanta. We had one too many glasses of wine. We thought we were fine to drive and we absolutely were not. And it's just completely unacceptable and we are so sorry and embarrassed. And we know better.

SAMBOLIN: Witherspoon's contrite appearance came just hours before police dash board video, showing her contentious arrest, was posted by the web site TMZ.

WITHERSPOON: I'm a U.S. citizen I'm allowed to stand on American ground and ask any question I want to ask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead.

WITHERSPOON: You better not arrest me. Are you kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope. I told you --

WITHERSPOON: I'm an American citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you to get in that car and stay in there, didn't I?

SAMBOLIN: Witherspoon's husband was shown being arrested for driving under the influence, tries to quiet her without success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reese can you please calm down.

WITHERSPOON: I have to obey your orders?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you do.

WITHERSPOON: I do not.

SAMBOLIN: Seemingly unable to deter the officer from taking her into custody, Witherspoon takes a different line of approach.

WITHERSPOON: I'm now being arrested and handcuffed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WITHERSPOON: Do you know my name, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't need to know it.

WITHERSPOON: You don't need to know my name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not quite yet.

WITHERSPOON: Really, OK? You're about to find out who I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's fine I'm not real worried about you, ma'am.

SAMBOLIN: Perhaps that's what Witherspoon meant by embarrassing, her explanation?

WITHERSPOON: I have no idea what I was saying that night. When I saw him arresting my husband and I literally panicked. And I said all kinds of crazy things.

SAMBOLIN: Adding --

WITHERSPOON: It was so disrespectful to him. And I have police officers in my family. I work with police officers every day. I know better and it's just unacceptable.

SAMBOLIN: When asked about what she learned from the incident, Witherspoon wrapped up her damage control interview with a touch of humor.

WITHERSPOON: When a police officer tells you to stay in the car, you stay in the car. I learned that for sure.

SAMBOLIN: Zoraida Sambolin, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: I don't understand why celebrities get arrested for that? Why don't you just hire a car, maybe if you've had one too many.

BERMAN: You're about to find out who I am. Yikes, it even sounds worse when you hear it for real.

ROMANS: I know. All right, Anthony Bourdain heads to Canada this Sunday where he smokes Cuban cigars in an ice shack and eats a surprising delicacy for the first time. Here's a sneak preview of Anthony Bourdain's "PARTS UNKNOWN."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": We're in a wooden shack, over three feet of ice and 100 feet of water. You are hopeless romantics, gentlemen. Jesus, look at that. It is perched atop an ethereal suspension of inspired potato puree, of course --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is from the Reynaud vineyard.

BOURDAIN: Nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is wonderful.

BOURDAIN: Yes, it is. Really is there a billionaire or anyone on earth who at this precise moment is eating better than us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

BOURDAIN: No. Look at that. Cheese, there must be cheese. In this case a voluptuously etoise, some outdoorsmen might call overripe but not us. This is awesome. What do you have here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few Cubans.

BOURDAIN: Wait a minute. You guys have a much more relaxed attitude towards the importation of Cuban cigars. Chartreuse, of course, and a dessert as rare as it gets, a dinosaur monster long believed extinct. Who does this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one. It's one of those like painful nostalgic things.

BOURDAIN: Layers of almond, and hazel nut meringue, chocolate butter cream. Look at that. That's good. For these guys, this is normal. This is lunch.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Making me hungry.

ROMANS: He has the best job at CNN.

BERMAN: The best job ever. Please watch Anthony Bourdain "PARTS UNKNOWN" Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Meanwhile, ahead on STARTING POINT, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, he lost 100 pounds, incredible. Even better, he kept it off. He's here live to tell us how he did it.

Plus, of course, we are going to get to the drama surrounding Tim Tebow's release. Don't turn around. Don't turn around. Keep coming. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: You can call him coach. You can call him Rex. One thing you cannot call him anymore, fat.

ROMANS: The Jets head coach has lost an amazing 115 pounds and counting in the last year, and he credits his life saving weight loss to lap-band surgery. Coach Ryan is here with us this morning. We are fascinated by the lap-band surgery and we're going to talk about your weight loss. But we're really fascinated about Tim Tebow and the decision to let him go. You have to tell us, give us the back story. What happened there?

REX RYAN, HEAD COACH, NEW YORK JETS: Well, really, it was just an unfortunate thing. It never worked out for Tim certainly, never worked out for us, and as an organization. Ultimately it falls on me. Never got done and that's my responsibility, so at the end of the take when we bring in. Drafted Geno Smith, we wanted to have the quarterback competition, but in all fairness, right now we have five quarterbacks and I think that's enough.

BERMAN: If you had to do it all over again, you wish it never happened. Never traded for Tebow? RYAN: Yes, obviously with the benefit of hindsight, that's true. But I think, you know, I had a wish, the team had a vision for what Tim could bring to us, competition is the other, we thought we could use him in a lot of different ways, never worked out.

BERMAN: Would you pet he could start as an NFL quarterback somewhere?

RYAN: I am not going to say that. I will say this about Tim. He's about as competitive as a guy, and a tremendous young man. And I do wish him nothing but great success.

ROMANS: No bad blood there?

RYAN: No, none whatsoever. Like said, it falls on me for not finding that -- the right solution.

ROMANS: May I ask you about Jason Collins, a big story this week over in the NBA. You know, coming out in "Sports Illustrated" as gay. I wanted to -- an Atlanta Falcons quarterback said this. And I wanted to get your thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASANTE SAMUEL ,FALCON CORNERBACK: Sports and sexuality is not a combination. The world is making a combination for whatever reason. I don't want to teach my kids those things. I teach my kids God, how to live his life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Do you think the NFL is ready for an openly gay player?

RYAN: Well, I'll say this, you know, for the Jets, for myself, I will be open to having any player that is a good teammate and can help us be successful on the field. That's what I would be open for.

BERMAN: Would it make things difficult in the locker room?

RYAN: Again, you know, I don't believe so. I think, you know if a guy is a good teammate and he's, you know -- he can help you, I think that's the most important thing.

BERMAN: Let's talk about you. You look terrific.

RYAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: When did you have the surgery?

RYAN: Well, I had the surgery done a couple of years ago. Last year, when I came here, I lost 100 pounds. I never really wanted to go into the lap-band and tell people the benefits until I reached the 100- pound milestone. The great thing about the lap-band compared to other procedures.

You will lose weight on any of these surgical procedures that you have, whether it's the sleeve, gastric bypass. But with lap-band, the difference is you have more sustainable success. I think what I proved this year, I lost 100 pounds, but I lost 15 more pounds to go with it I actually lost 15 more pounds. It really works. There is no question about it.

RYAN: Blood pressure -- best blood pressure of your life.

RYAN: Since I was like 10 years old.

ROMANS: You feel great?

RYAN: I do. I feel fantastic.

ROMANS: You told last year, you said can have success and money, it doesn't mean anything if you don't have health.

RYAN: Right.

BERMAN: Give us one piece of advice, besides counting on surgeons and the doctors. What is one piece of advice to getting your mind in the right place to do this?

RYAN: I think first off with anybody who has been morbidly obese like I was, you have had your ups and downs, yo-yo things and the diets, you have to be mindful of the fact that you need more help than that, and the lap-band is that way. The surgeon is underrated. You have to get the right surgeon. To me, lap-band.com, you can find a certified surgeon.

People can perform the surgery, but it's the aftercare I think that's critical. And that's what kind of gets you going and kind of what changed your life. Teaches you how to eat right and things, the signs, you recognize the signs, that's enough, slowdown, all that type of stuff. That's what it has. This thing altered the way I live, the way I eat and everything else and I think that the right surgeon is key.

BERMAN: Congratulations to you.

RYAN: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Great to have you. You have a heck of a summer in front of with you five quarterbacks. I hope it works out for you.

RYAN: It will.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, it turns out the Boston marathon was not the original target of the Tsavraev brothers. What the suspects originally had planned and why they changed course.

BERMAN: These wildfires burning out of control in Southern California, hundreds of homes in harm's way. We're going to have a live report from the fire line coming up. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Our STARTING POINT, disturbing new developments in the Boston bombing investigation. The suspects allegedly had another --