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City Cemeteries Shun Older Suspect; Bride, 4 Friends Die in Limo Fire; Waiting for Jodi Arias Trial Verdict; Dow to Open Near 15,000; Dow to Open Near 15,000; Soccer Ref Dies After Teen's Punch; U.N. Syrian Rebels May Have Used Sarin

Aired May 6, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, anywhere but Cambridge.

PETER STEFAN, FUNERAL DIRECTOR FOR TSARNAEV FAMILY: Whatever it is, wherever he is, in this country, we bury people. I don't care who it is.

COSTELLO: Burying suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be buried here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really care where he's buried. To me he's dead already.

COSTELLO: So where should he be buried?

Also, a bachelorette celebration turns into tragedy.

OFFICER AMELIA JACK, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: We got calls of smoke coming from the limousine.

COSTELLO: New information this morning on that deadly limo fire. Five including the bride-to-be unable to escape. Police asking, what really happened?

Plus verdict watch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Jodi Arias makes it to death row, it will be years before she's executed.

COSTELLO: We're live at the court. Will we know Jodi Arias' fate this week?

JUDGE SHERRY STEPHENS, MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Why is it that you have no memory of stabbing Travis? After all the lies you have told, why should we believe you now?

COSTELLO: And box office iron. "Iron Man 3" blasts the box office. $175 million strong.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. We begin this morning in Boston where new developments push the bombing story back to the forefront. Later today, 19-year-old Robel Phillipos is due in court. He's one of the three friends accused in helping Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Investigators say he lied to them.

Also today One Fund Boston will unveil how it plans to distribute $28 million in donations to bombing victims and their families. The man overseeing the payoff tells CNN the money will probably fall short of compensating them for losses or long-term care.


KENNETH FEINBERG, ADMINISTRATOR, THE ONE FUND BOSTON: First of all, never underestimate the charitable impulse of the American people. It's a great deal of money. It will be distributed wisely. But enough? Absolutely not.


COSTELLO: In the meantime, the area's raw emotions cast the accused mastermind of the attack in limbo. More than two weeks after Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a police shoot-out, the city of Cambridge says he cannot be buried there.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Boston with that.

Good morning, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. So far not one cemetery is offering a burial plot for the remains of suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. And now there is talk of calling the governor and even the federal government to somehow step in to help. All of this as thousands continue to mourn the victims of that bombing at this memorial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send him back to Russia.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): For days protesters outside a Wooster funeral home making it clear suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev is as hated as much dead as he would be alive. One sign reads, "Bury the garbage, but not in America." His remains in limbo at a funeral home, much to the chagrin of its director.

STEFAN: The thing is we have to bury this guy. Whatever it is, whoever he is, in this country, we bury people. I don't care who it is.

CANDIOTTI: So far not a single cemetery will take Tsarnaev's remains. His uncle from Maryland who in the days after the bombing called his two nephews losers spent Sunday at a funeral home to cleanse and shroud the body as required by Islamic faith.

RUSLAN TSARNI, UNCLE OF TAMERLAN TSARNAEV: I'm left alone to deal with this matter. And I also stress that Tamerlan Tsarnaev has no other place to be buried.

CANDIOTTI: President Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is buried in the Dallas area. Homegrown Oklahoma City terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh's ashes were scattered after his execution, where remains a mystery. As for Tsarnaev's widow, according to her in-law, she's steering clear of burial plans. Her attorney says she's still cooperating with the FBI.

On Sunday, FBI investigators wearing protective suits spent hours back at Tsarnaev's home where a law enforcement source says bomb residue had earlier been found on a kitchen sink, table and bathtub. Surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar told the FBI the bombs were built in that top-floor apartment.

And a few hours from now one of the younger brother's three jailed friends, American student Robel Phillipos, will ask a federal judge to set him free on bail pending trial. He's accused of lying to investigators about going to Dzhokhar's dorm room. Two other students from Kazakhstan are accused of ditching evidence.


CANDIOTTI: And in court papers Phillipos will argue the court that he is not a flight risk and he is no threat to public safety here. Also he states in these papers that the charge has ruined what he calls his once bright future. If found guilty, he faces up to eight years in prison -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Susan Candiotti reporting live from Boston this morning.

As Susan mentioned in her piece, President Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is buried in the Dallas area. And Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was cremated after his execution. His ashes secretly scattered. The same inglorious fate was reserved for Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history. After dying in Florida's electric chair, his remains were cremated and his ashes reportedly spread over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State.

Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 boys and men before he himself was murdered by a fellow inmate. His family also chose cremation. His divorced parents each taking half the ashes. And then there is John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot and killed President Lincoln. Public outrage then forced his body to be shuttled around for months and today he is buried in Baltimore's Green Mount Cemetery, and to this day that grave remains unmarked.

I want to know what you think about this. What should be done with Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body? or tweet me @carolCNN.

A joyous occasion for a bride and her friends turned into a night of horror. The group was on its way to the bridal shower when flames engulfed their limousine as it crossed a bridge over San Francisco Bay. The driver and four members of the bachelorette party got out alive, but the bride, a 31-year-old woman, and four of her friends died in that burning car. CNN's Dan Simons is covering the story for us in San Mateo, California.

Good morning.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know, two of the questions this morning, how exactly did this fire start? Is that limo was traveling that bridge behind me? And why weren't all the victims able to escape the limousine? And adding to this tragedy, the limo was just a few minutes away from the hotel where they were going to have a bachelorette party.


SIMON (voice-over): It was supposed to be a night of celebration. A bachelorette party near San Francisco for a woman getting married next month in the Philippines. But as they crossed the San Mateo Hayward Bridge in a stretched limo Saturday night, they noticed smoke.

JACK: We got calls of smoke coming from the limousine. The limousine pulled over and then all of a sudden it became engulfed in flames.

SIMON: There were 10 people in the limo including the driver. He and four women in the party escaped. Five others including the bride-to- be did not. They died in the flames. So badly burned it's reported that dental records will be needed to make positive I.D.s.

JACK: The driver was able to get out. Some Good Samaritans did stop and assist and try and pull people from the fire.

SIMON: The mother of one of those who survived, distraught, but relieved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We did not sleep, both of us. I'm crying and crying. No. Thank God that she survived.

SIMON: All the women were in their 30s or 40s. Most if not all were nurses.

GRACE KANU, CO-WORKER: All of us work Friday night. So hard that on Sunday morning we heard that both of them died. It's so unbelievable.

SIMON: The limousine was operated by a company called Limo Stop. In a statement the company said it was deeply saddened by the deaths and that Limo Stop will do everything possible to investigate and assist authorities in determining the cause of this fire in order to help bring forth answers and provide closure to the victims and their families.


SIMON: Investigators, of course, are going to be looking at that limousine for clues. Was this an electrical fire? Was there some sort of gas leak? It could take days to find out.

And, Carol, just some information in terms of the survivors. They were apparently in the front of the limousine towards the driver. They were able to get out through the partition that separates the passengers from the driver and then get through a front door. The victims, those who died, were apparently in the back of the car and the flames just spread too quickly and they couldn't get out -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I just -- it -- I mean, it says something about the fire that the women in the back of the limousine could not get out. I mean, that's how quickly it started. And did the back of the limo exploded? I mean, what would cause this? What kind of thing would cause this?

SIMON: You know, that's an excellent question. We believe that the fire -- at least investigators are saying that the fire started perhaps in the trunk of the vehicle, but what sparked it, we just don't know. We should also point out that the driver who was not hurt is speaking out and some interesting information here. Originally he thought that the women were asking if they could smoke in the limousine when instead they were complaining about the smoke.

He then estimates it took about anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to pull over. So during that period of time, the flames kept getting hotter. The fire started to spread. And before you know it, the back of the car was engulfed. And as we said, four of them were able to get out, but the five who were in the rear of the vehicle it just got to them too quickly -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Dan Simon reporting live for us this morning.

The "San Jose Mercury News" by the way has some background on the limo company. Quote -- this is what the paper says. "According to records from the California Public Utilities Commission which regulates limousine companies, Limo Stop is licensed and insured. It was not immediately clear if the company had been cited for previous safety problems."

Of course we'll continue to follow this story.

An unbelievably wild moment for Justin Bieber at his concert in Dubai. Apparently it was just too much for an excited Belieber who actually rushed the stage and tackled Bieber from behind. Security had to wrestle that fan to the ground. Bieber got right back up, though. He was not hurt. And he went on with his performance. Bieber later tweeted, "Dubai, nothing stops the show."

Less than three hours from now, a jury will resume deliberations in the Jodi Arias murder trial. She's accused of killing her ex- boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008. Twelve people now have to decide if she killed in self-defense or planned the entire thing.


RYAN SMITH, ANCHOR, HLN'S EVENING EXPRESS: Imagine what that's like for a jury to sit there in that jury room especially if you were one of those jurors that felt it was kind of close on premeditation, but you went along with it because you said, OK, everybody else is doing it. JEAN CASAREZ, IN SESSION: They will not only determine if someone is convicted of first-degree murder, but they will determine if someone is sentenced to death.

MONICA LINDSTROM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If Jodi is sentenced to death, and she's on her death row, her time outside of her cell will be extremely limited. She can go outside for exercise three times a week, two hours each time, and she can have a shower three times a week.


COSTELLO: CNN's Casey Wian is on verdict watch. He's in Phoenix, Arizona.

Good morning, Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Of course Jodi Arias is on trial for murder and that has been the focus for nearly four months. But a lot of people here in Phoenix want to make sure that the victim in this case, Travis Alexander, is not forgotten. Last night here, they held a candlelight vigil in memory of the man who prosecutors say was brutally murdered by Jodi Arias nearly five years ago.

Now prosecutors say that she planned the killing, she tried to cover her tracks. And they displayed throughout the trial and in the closing arguments on Friday very brutal pictures of Travis Alexander's body with dozens of stab wounds, with a bullet hole through his temple and with a gaping slash across his throat that nearly decapitated him.

Defense attorneys say Jodi Arias did this killing in self-defense and they say it was not premeditated.

Here is what one legal expert had to say about the defense's strategy.


DWANE CATES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Heat of passion, sudden quarrel. Heat of passion, sudden quarrel. That's what they've got to show because heat of passion, sudden quarrel gets them out of first- degree murder and it gets them second-degree murder, it could get them manslaughter, it could even possibly get them self-defense.

Now nobody really thinks that Jodi Arias is going to get acquitted in this case. So 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.


WIAN: Now one of the most bizarre moments in a very bizarre case happened on Friday during the defense's closing argument. Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi telling jurors that nine days out of 10, he doesn't like Jodi Arias. He urged jurors to put those feelings if they have them aside and he said if she's guilty of anything, she's guilty of manslaughter. Obviously trying to spare her life at this point.

Her fate in the hands right now of a jury consisting of eight men and four women. Most of them in their 40s, 50s and 60s -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Casey Wian reporting live this morning.

After record highs on Friday, investors are wondering how much higher the markets can go.

CNN business anchor, Christine Romans, do you know?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: I've been asking this question for a year. I'm telling you. And every time I worry that they can't go any higher, they keep going higher.

Look, the stock market is a reflection, Carol, as you know, about the health of companies and their corporate profits. Corporate profits are at record highs. So are stocks. Worker pay is flat. So keep that in mind. But if you have a 401(k) or an IRA, you are feeling the corporate enthusiasm. Take a look at where stocks have been over -- just this year, Dow is up 11 percent, 14 percent. NASDAQ is up 12 percent. S&P 500 up 13 percent.

And, you know, I asked Matt McCall from Penn Financial Group. I asked Matt McCall, I said, look, is now the time to get in at highs? Should you use that old Wall Street saying close your eyes and buy the highs?

This is what he said.


MATT MCCALL, PRESIDENT, PENN FINANCIAL GROUP: A lot of individual investors, Christine, are still on the sidelines. They have been waiting to get in. What are you waiting for? We're hitting all time highs.

ROMANS: But they're afraid they have already seen a bull market that's more than four years old. They don't want to get in and be the sucker at the end.

MCCALL: They were afraid at the bottom, they were afraid at the top. They're never going to get in. You have to get in there if you want to own stock.


ROMANS: So he's been telling me that for a year. You got to get in now if you want to own stocks.

So, Sam Stebel over at S&P Capital IQ, this is what he says. He's a market guru. He stocks are still inexpensive here, Carol. He says this bull market has been 140 percent, 140 percent, rise for the S&P 500. But he says when you look at valuations, something we call the price-to-earnings ratio, we look at valuations, valuations are still below average for stocks.

So, there are some people who think it could still keep going higher. But I want to make the point again, worker pay is flat, corporate profits are at records. There you go.

COSTELLO: All right. Got it. Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Americans are looking for some good old fashioned escapism turn to a super hero this weekend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mandarin must be stopped.


COSTELLO: Yes, he must. But there was no stopping Iron Man. His debut weekend in the United States and Canada raked in more than 175 million bucks.

Here is a look at the top five all-time.

This time last year, Marvel's "Avengers" are in the top spot with more than $207 million in its opening weekend. At number three, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." That was my favorite, too. "The Dark Knight Rises" stands at number four. And rounding up the top five, the original "Dark Knight' from five years ago.

So, there you have it for your trivial pursuit gains.

Just ahead in THE NEWSROOM, a community is in shock after a recreational soccer league referee dies after being punched in the face. And a soccer player stands accused.


COSTELLO: Twenty minutes the hour. Time to check our top stories this morning.

A flood threat hangs over much of the Southeast. Many areas, including Atlanta, have seen record rainfall with totals of five inches or more since Friday. Today, the heaviest rainfall stretches all the way up to the southern Appalachians.

Also this morning, a Florida teenager shrugging off a shark bite that sent him to surgery. The 16-year-old was catching waves off Melbourne Beach when the shark attacked his foot as it dangled from his board.


MICHAEL ADLER, SHARK BITE VICTIM: I kicked off the wave and I was off my board. When you went to go back on the board, the shark bit me right in the foot and I immediately tried to yank it out. It was pretty crazy how I didn't even feel it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: The teenager now recovering from an operation that repaired his damaged tendons. Doctors say he will make a full recovery.

Later today, we could inch ever closer to a sales tax on your Internet purchases. The law is expected to pass the Senate today. But it faces a tougher time in the Republican-controlled House. Critics say it would break their vow of no new taxes. Supporters say it would create $12 billion a year in much need revenue.

A Utah community is in mourning after a recreational soccer league referee died after being punched in the face by a teenager. That 17- year-old soccer player initially charged with aggravated assault will likely now face more serious charges.

Here is more from CNN's Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a vigil Sunday evening in Salt Lake City, members of the community came together to remember a dedicated family man.

JOHANA PORTILLO, RICARDO PORTILLO'S DAUGHTER: He took a part of me with him. He took my daddy away from me.

ELAM: Police say soccer referee, Ricardo Portillo, probably never saw the blow coming, the blow that would ultimately end his life.

MARIO VASQUEZ, SOCCER LEAGUE PRESIDENT: I'm in shock, because besides a ref, he's a friend of mine.

ELAM: It happened during an April 27th match for a recreational soccer league just outside Salt Lake City, after Portillo called a foul on a 17-year-old goalie.

VASQUEZ: The goalie pushed one of the forwards from the back.

ELAM: The goalie retaliated by punching the 46-year-old referee in the head.

PORTILLO: When he was writing down his notes, he just came out of nowhere and punched him.

ELAM: Portillo was taken to the hospital with what was believed to be a minor injury, but doctors found that he had suffered serious internal head injuries, police said, and lapsed into a coma. After a week in that condition, he died Saturday night.

Johana Portillo, the referee's eldest daughter, had spoken with CNN's Jake Tapper the day before he died. She told him her father had lived for his three daughters and for soccer.

PORTILLO: His passion was, you know, being there the whole weekend, just refereeing. He loved soccer. And it was just really bad. We never thought that this was going to happen. He loved what he did and it was his passion. ELAM: The family knew the chance of recovery was slim.

PORTILLO: The doctor says only a miracle will bring my daddy back.

ELAM (on-camera): The teen who's not being identified because of his age was arrested two days after the soccer field incident on preliminary charges of aggravated assault, charges that will likely be upgraded now that Portillo has died.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


COSTELLO: And still ahead in THE NEWSROOM: remember those reports of the Syrian government used sarin gas on its own people? Well, according to one United Nations official, it wasn't the Syrian government, but rebel forces who might have been behind those deadly poison gas attacks. We'll explain.


COSTELLO: The Syrian government vowing revenge on Israel for this.


COSTELLO: A series of massive air strikes that rocked the war-torn nation's capital Damascus this weekend. The Syrians say the Israelis are targeting a military research facility.

Sara Sidner is live in Haifa, Israel.

Good morning, Sara.

So -- first of all, is Israel confirming they're behind these air strikes?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have not said anything publicly or officially, not confirming or denying the accusation that Israeli warplanes struck inside of Syria and hit that research facility. But the Syrian government has been saying that and been very angry over it. Also, Lebanon mentioning that there were a lot of Israeli planes that were in the air that had violated Lebanese air space over that time, over Saturday night into Sunday, and the Lebanese very angry about that.

But what we can tell you is that time and again, the Israeli government has said that they will not allow very dangerous conventional weapons or dangerous, obviously, chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, to move into the hands of Hezbollah, a group that both Israel and the United States considers a terrorist organization which is on the other side of the Lebanese border.

We are here in Haifa, because this area in 2006, was an area was war was coming to the doorstep, rockets being fired here and the great concern Israel has is not necessarily that Syria is going to have a full scale war with Israel because it's so weakened from this two- year-plus war that it's had inside its own country, but worried that there could be some sort of reaction from Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. And that is why there are two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries put in place in this part of the border -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So I'm hoping you can clear up confusion. There are reports coming from one United Nation official that it wasn't the government allegedly using this nerve agent, it was actually the Syrian rebel forces. What are you hearing?

SIDNER: Well, look, this is the first time we've heard a U.N. agency, an investigator, talk about the possibility that it was actually the rebels, according to this investigator, that was using this sarin gas.

Now, we did hear earlier this month from Israel and the brigadier general saying that they saw evidence that the regime was indeed the one that had used the sarin gas. And they said, in particular, they had used the gas against the rebels, against its own people in small quantities.

The U.S. has been less definite on exactly who was using it, but saying they did believe small quantities of sarin gas had been used and sort of pointed towards the regime. This could be --changed things very much.