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Pittsburgh Neurologists' Mysterious Death; Witherspoon Video Gone Viral; Jodi Arias' Trial Over

Aired May 4, 2013 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back to the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here's a look at the top stories we are following.

Pittsburgh police and FBI are trying to find answers to the mysterious death of a prominent neurologist. The doctor was poisoned with cyanide. Hear what authorities are saying about possible clues in the case.

And actress Reese Witherspoon is apologizing for what unfolds in her arrest video that has gone viral now. But is her brand damaged? We'll talk to an expert.

And history is on the line in today's Kentucky derby. An African-American, a woman, and a man who came out of retirement to race at the age of 50 are all among the jockeys in a crowded field on a very wet track.

All right. Let's begin with the big race known as the most exciting two minutes in sports. This year, it will also be one of the safest races ever with extra security added because of the Boston bombings. Nothing can overshadow the Run for the Roses. Here now is Joe Carter in Louisville, Kentucky.


JOE CARTER, HLN SPORTS: As the rain continues to fall here in Louisville, Kentucky, the big story going has got to be the condition of the track. We have had rain since about 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. It continues to fall as we go closer to race time making the track very wet, very sloppy and obviously making the conditions very difficult for both the jockey and for the horse. We do have 19 horses running in today's race. The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.

And some interesting story lines have to be the ones that are potentially history-making story lines. The first being the only female jockey in the race. Rosie Napravnik, she's riding the horse, Mylute. Back in 2011, she finished ninth in this race and since then Rosie has gone on to win several races collecting over $12 million in purses. Odds makers looking at her as a potential favorite for today's race.

Another great story line comes in the horse Goldencents. Goldencents' jockey Kevin Krigger. Kevin Krigger, the only African- American jockey running in today's race. We haven't seen an African- American jockey win this Kentucky derby since 1902. Some fun names for you got to be Frak Daddy, Charming Kitten, take your pick.

But with rain conditions like we have here today, the field is wide open for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Joe Carter, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.


WHITFIELD: New evidence in the Boston bombing investigation has been recovered from one suspect's home. A source says investigators have found explosive residue in the small apartment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The one that he shared with his wife and young child in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The man who owns the funeral home where Tsarnaev's body is being held has released details on the suspect's death. He says the death certificate shows Tsarnaev died of gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to the head and torso.

Meantime finding a burial site for Tsarnaev is proving to be difficult. So far no cemetery has stepped forward to offer a grave site. The funeral homeowner who has the body of Tsarnaev says if no burial ground is found he'll ask the government to find a grave.

Overseas now. In Afghanistan, five U.S. troops are dead after a roadside bomb exploded. The blast happened in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for that attack.

All right. Now to Pittsburgh where the FBI has joined an investigation into the death of an accomplished neurologist. Dr. Autumn Klein was poisoned with cyanide. The district attorney's office says police are investigating the death as a possible homicide or suicide. Nick Valencia has more.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mystery began last month when Dr. Autumn Klein, the popular chief of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suddenly collapsed at home. Three days later, Klein was dead. Toxic levels of cyanide found in her body. Her family, friends and neighbors, shocked.

BLITHE RUNSDORF, NEIGHBOR: We were stunned. I mean she was young. She was vibrant. She has a young daughter. We were just stunned.

VALENCIA: Authorities are concerned this was no accident. The medical examiner's office calling the death of the 41-year-old doctor "highly suspicious." Klein was widely respected by peers and patients alike. Now the FBI and police are conducting a criminal investigation into her death. Authorities say the hospital where Klein worked did have supplies of cyanide and she or someone she worked with could have had access to it. Investigators executed a search warrant at the lab where Klein's husband, Robert Ferrante works, also at the University of Pittsburgh. Her husband had called 911 after she collapsed. Neither Robert Ferrante nor his attorney returned CNN's calls for comments.

(on camera): The medical examiner is testing the levels of cyanide in Klein's system but it is expected to be another few weeks before an official can determine the cause of death.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: And firefighters battling a huge wildfire in California are getting a break today. The fire captain in Ventura County tells CNN winds are dying down and the area may even get rain tomorrow. Strong winds whipped up the flames earlier this week. Many families living nearby evacuated. At least 15 homes have been damaged, but none have been destroyed.

President Barack Obama is heading back home this hour from Central America. He made a stop in Mexico and attended a summit in economic forum in Costa Rica. The president promised leaders there that the U.S. would continue to help boost the region's security and economy.

And in Syria, CNN was the first to report that Israeli aircraft have bombed a shipment of missiles there. Israel says the weapons were bound for the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. The Israeli strike comes as the Obama administration is considering military options against Syria. But the president says he doesn't foresee American boots on the ground there.

Closing arguments in the Jodi Arias trial are over. And the jury is expected to begin deliberations next week. So who are the people deciding Jodi Arias' fate? Our Casey Wian finds out.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The Jodi Arias case is now in the hands of a jury consisting of eight men and four women, all of the jurors are white, nearly all of them but one are middle aged in their 40s, 50s or 60s. During this 57-day trial three different jurors were dismissed. One for a DUI, one for misconduct and one because of AN illness. Now it's something kind of unusual in this case has been under Arizona law, jurors are allowed to ask questions of witnesses and, boy, did they in this case.

Jurors submitting more than 200 questions to the judge to be asked of witnesses in the Arias' case. Presiding over all of this we mentioned the judge, Sherry Stevens is the judge. She is a former prosecutor here in Arizona, spent 21 years as a prosecutor. The last 12 years she's been a judge. Her two previous assignments were in family court and juvenile court.

Now of course she's presiding over criminal cases. She has very, very high ratings by the state judicial performance review. Nearly 100 percent. Last year she was re-elected by more than 73 percent of the vote. Now thanks to the Arias' case, fans of the case, watchers of this case, there is a Facebook fan page in honor of Judge Stevens. Fred?


WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Casey. "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." is coming up at the bottom of the hour. Sanjay, what are you covering?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I'm going to look at the anatomy of violence today. What really goes on in the brain of someone like the accused Boston bombers? It's controversial stuff, I tell you, but biology does seem to play a bigger role than scientists thought, even very recently. I will explain that.

Also Alicia Keys, beyond the music. Why she's now fighting for people with HIV. All that coming up at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Sanjay.

All right. Summer vacation is close. You can almost taste it. There are tons of kids begging parents for a trip to Disney World. Well, moms and dads, it might be more affordable than you think if you're a little bit flexible. We have expert advice.


WHITFIELD: All right. So in Satellite Beach, Florida, police say a man needed cash to pay for a Disney cruise. So he allegedly robbed a local credit union. His girlfriend who sat in the car with her kids while it happened apparently had no idea. So the man told police it was a split second decision and a bad one at that. Police had a description of him and his car and arrested him minutes later.

Well, speaking of Disney, going to the famed theme park is a rite of passage. That ultimate family vacation can, of course, set you back a few bucks depending on where you stay, when you go and how far you have to fly to get there. A Disney trip can cost more than $1,000 per person per week. "Travel & Leisure" features director Nilou Motamed talks about how to do Disney without breaking the budget.

NILOU MOTAMED, FEATURES DIRECTOR, "TRAVEL & LEISURE": If you're looking for great deals the first thing to do is go on the Disneyworld website itself. You can get free park passes, discounted tickets or even affordable meal options. Another place to go is where they have a lot of coupon codes which I highly recommend.

WHITFIELD: When is the best time to go to Disney?

MOTAMED: I would say, the rule of thumb should be to avoid summer vacation. That's when all the crowds will be there. You're going to be overwhelmed with the long lines. So I think definitely go end of August, even September, a great time to go. January also, a low season and a wonderful time because after all it's not so much the crowd that are annoying, it's the fact that you can't go on the ride that your kids have been dying to go on.

Another thing in that same vein is fast passes. A lot of the rides offer fast passed but they are often finished with them by the time it's around 11:00. So definitely early bird catches the worm. You can get on a shorter line if you have a fast pass.

WHITFIELD: Is there ever anything free at Disney?

MOTAMED: There are in fact lots of things that are free at Disney. You can go the monorail ride that's over Epcot. You can take the ferry to the gates of the Magic Kingdom. There are lots of free opportunities. Wherever you look, it is just a matter of knowing where to look. And travel with your family we did a whole package on how to get the best of Disney and you can find that information there.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic. Nilou Motamed, thanks so much. Let's go to Disney!

MOTAMED: Thank you much, Fredricka.


WHITFIELD: Sign me up! For more information on planning your trip to Disneyworld, go to

All right. Lindsay Lohan, guess what? She's back in rehab. We'll tell you how long she has to stay and Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon's arrest video. Well, as you might have guessed it's gone viral. But will her image be in need of a sort of rehab, a do-over? I'll talk to a crisis management expert next.


YOSER ABRAMOWITZ: This will be the 40 meg watt solar field.

GUPTA: They told him he could never do it.

ABRAMOWITZ: It was a disruptive idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, someone's got to bring solar energy to this place. I was like, please, not you.

ABRAMOWITZ: It will be a field with the best security in the whole world because we have two armies guarding it.

GUPTA: Yoser Abramowitz and Israel's first solar field on "The Next List."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever he can envision he can then figure out how to make it happen.

ABRAMOWITZ: It's so moving. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he can see it, he can do it. It's incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a bulldog. He just put his teeth in something. And doesn't give it up.



WHITFIELD: Actress Lindsay Lohan entered rehab again. A judge ordered her to undergo 90 days of treatment after she violated probation in a reckless driving case back in 2012. Lohan checked in early Friday but no one is saying where. The treatment program is an alternative to jail.

All right. Now to that arrest video that's gone viral and caused a whole lot of embarrassment for actress Reese Witherspoon. The video shows Witherspoon interfering with a Georgia state patrol officer who had pulled her husband over for alleged drunk driving. Our Nichelle Turner has more.


NICHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (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. That is, until her very public apology on "Good Morning, America" Thursday.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, don't get out.

TURNER: Police dashboard camera video chronicles the stop from start to finish.

WITHERSPOON: I don't understand.

TURNER: And everything in between.

From her husband Jim Toth's very public field sobriety test to Witherspoon's now infamous line?

WITHERSPOON: Do you know my name? You're about to find out who I am.

TURNER: Witherspoon's contrite GMA appearance came hours just before police dashboard video showing her contentious arrest was released.

WITHERSPOON: I am a U.S. citizen. I am allowed to stand on American ground and ask any question I want to ask. You better not arrest me. Are you kidding me? I am an American citizen.

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

TURNER: Her husband shown her being arrested tries to quiet her without success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reese, can you please calm down?

WITHERSPOON: I have to obey your orders?


TURNER: Seemingly unable to deter the officer from taking her into custody Witherspoon tries a different line of approach.

WITHERSPOON: I'm now being arrested and handcuffed?


WITHERSPOON: Do you know my name, sir?


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not quite yet. I don't need to know it.

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

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

TURNER: Perhaps that's what Witherspoon meant by embarrassing. Her explanation.

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

TURNER: Adding -

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

TURNER: When asked about what she learned from the incident, Reese 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.

TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: Oh boy. OK. Well, it's never ending. Witherspoon did plea no contest to obstruction of justice and paid $213 fine but of course, it lives on thanks to that videotape. Her husband, James Toth, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and got a year of probation.

So let's talk some more about all this.

Eric Dezenhall is a crisis management expert. Eric, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. This is a nightmare, isn't? Well, you know, you give me an idea. How well did she handle trying to clean up the big boo-boo?

DEZENHALL: She couldn't have done better. Look, there is bad news and good news. The bad news is 500 years from now this video will be out there. The good news is nobody is really going to care. Basically because - you're dealing, I think people differentiate between sins. We are not talking about Phil Specter here. We are talking about a very decent person who was drunk, which is - which falls short of murder. She's clearly mortified. Her husband is clearly mortified. She did exactly the right thing. I have no doubt she'll get out of this quite well.

WHITFIELD: Yes. She's kind of the - I don't know - the American darling, the girl next door image. But then when you see, I guess, the veil lifted, the real Reese Witherspoon and how she handles, you know, potential conflict by saying, do you know who I am, and you know, I'm an American. I should be able to say and do as I please, then it kind of offers a whole, I guess, another picture. Doesn't it?

DEZENHALL: This is not just the real Reese Witherspoon. It's the real drunk Reese Witherspoon. And I really think that when people fundamentally like you, and we see this in the damage control all the time. If people basically like you, they are going to give you a break whereas if they differentiate between aberrant behavior and chronically bad behavior. This is not somebody who falls into that category. I think she's going to be cut a break. The other thing is I think people look at things like this and they say, have I ever - can I imagine myself being in a bad situation where I'm being stuffed into a police car? What would I do? I don't know even though many of us wouldn't handle it precisely the way she did, it's not one of those situations where we are all at our best if we ever had to confront that.

WHITFIELD: You know, but I wonder, Eric, you know, maybe if she were slurring or something if she really was convincingly drunk, I mean, seemingly drunk, you know, to the rest of - you know, us, who are looking at the tape. Then maybe people would be a little bit more forgiving, I guess. But she doesn't sound like she's drunk. She sounds very coherent. She sounds very deliberate about her words. I don't even know if that matters or not. But you know, she did try to offer advice like in that GMA interview by saying, "Hey, if the cop says stay in the car, stay in the car."

DEZENHALL: Well, I think what was very telling is if you look at the video, her husband's reaction which was mortification.

WHITFIELD: He was mortified.

DEZENHALL: Yes and I think that is really when people look at these situation, they don't look at whether it is an orchestrated apology. They look for whether or not they believe the person was mortified. And my gut is they really do in this particular case. I mean is this a strike against her? Yes. Does the video live on? Yes. But in the spectrum of damage control situations I put this on the real low end in terms of being able to recover, which I think she will.

WHITFIELD: And I wonder. As soon as she's able to laugh about it with everybody else by appearing on something like "SNL" and spoofing herself and you know, that's when people I think in general are very forgiving, too.

DEZENHALL: And you know something, she's good at it. A lot of what we look at in these situations, are you dealing with a personality who is good at self-deprecation. I think she is. I mean, look at "Legally Blond" that's what it was all about.

WHITFIELD: All right Eric Dezenhall, thanks so much. Great advice. I know a lot of folks are hoping they never find themselves in that situation.

DEZENHALL: The camera is always rolling.

WHITFIELD: That's right. You're always on. Thanks so much, Eric.

DEZENHALL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Raging wildfires have people on the run in southern California. Hear why the weather today is proving crucial to firefighters.


WHITFIELD: All right. Imagine this.

You're walking out to your car, you look to the window and you come face to face with a bear. That's exactly what a man found sitting behind the wheel of his pickup truck in California. Instead of running, Evan Neilsen grabbed his cell phone and started recording. He knew nobody would believe it if he tried to just tell them. Police actually ended up coming and they are the ones who let the bear out. The bear simply ran off into the woods.

Well, tomorrow I'm going to find out what this entire experience was like for Evan Neilsen. He'll be joining me in the "CNN Newsroom" at 2:30 Eastern Time. You don't want to miss that. I know his insurance company has never seen damage like that before. All right. That's going to do it for me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "CNN Newsroom" continues at the top of the hour with Don Lemon.

But first, do bad brains lead to bad behavior? Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores the anatomy of violence on "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." which starts right now.