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Boston Bombings Hearing Under Way; Dispute Over Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Burial; No Cause Yet for Deadly Limo Fire; Cyanide Suspected In Doctor's Death; Kobe Bryant Auction on Hold

Aired May 6, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago, police revealed a timeline of exactly what happened inside that bridal party limo just before it burst into flames.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

What to do with the body of a terror suspect. Because in Boston, no one wants it.

Verdict watch. Any minute Jodi Arias could learn her fate. We're live when it all goes down.

Plus, Syria vows revenge after Israel strikes.

And good news for many American men. The little blue pill is just a click away.

Good to see you on this Monday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me here.

Three weeks to the day after the Boston Marathon bombings. One of the alleged friends of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Boston. That is happening this hour. He is Robel Phillipos. He's accused of lying to investigators and we've learned he may be close to getting released from police custody. CNN's crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns is at the federal courthouse this afternoon.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this hearing was originally scheduled to serve two purposes, to talk about probable cause in this case, as well as detention for Robel Phillipos, who's charged with false statements after the fact in connection with the Boston bombing case.

Now, based on papers filed in court, we do know that the government and the defense have apparently reached an agreement whereby Phillipos can be released. The conditions call for him to be released to the custody of a third party. He has to wear an electronic ankle bracelet for monitoring and he has to provide $100,000 in secured bonds. So now the question is whether the court will go for that. His probable cause hearing has been rescheduled until May 16th.


BALDWIN: Joe Johns, thank you, in Boston for me.

And as legal wheels turn, a Massachusetts funeral director facing a very difficult question, how to dispose of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's remains. The bombing suspect's body is now at a funeral home just outside of Boston. No cemeteries in the area will take it. And Muslim tradition forbids cremation. The funeral director who has the body says Tsarnaev should be buried here and buried very soon.


PETER STEFAN, FUNERAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think a lot of the people don't understand, and it's an emotional problem, obviously. But after it settles down and people think about it, they do know that we have to bury somebody. That's what this country does.


BALDWIN: I can tell you, I was in Boston for the last three weeks. It's not at all a popular idea even to have the man buried in the whole state. And today a new option emerged. This citizens group in Worcester has opened a bank account to try to raise money, thousands of dollars is what they're going to need, to send his body back to Russia. The group's leader says Tsarnaev doesn't deserve to be buried there.


WILLIAM BREAULT, MAIN SOUTH ALLIANCE FOR PUBLIC SAFETY: Well, why would we want to have this gentleman buried in a cemetery that every year I go to an event there that honors World War II vets, every year, the lieutenant governor's here every year, every other year, and Civil War vets. Why would I want him buried two miles from my house?


BALDWIN: And let me tell you, we'll be talking to him at the top of the next hour about why he wants to raise this money and why he says absolutely no way to having Tamerlan Tsarnaev buried anywhere near Boston.

Also want to bring in now my guest, Professor Abbas Barzegar. He is assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgia State University.

Good to see you, sir.


BALDWIN: Welcome.

Before we get into what I wanted to bring you on, just sort of the processing and the Muslim right, just -- you heard the back and forth in Massachusetts, here, about this body. What do you make of all of this? BARZEGAR: Yes. Well, obviously, like your guest said, it's an emotional issue, it's going to be politically charged. Nobody really wants to go near this body. The Muslim community itself has sort of distanced itself from the process of burial. But as the funeral director said, he needs to be buried. I mean it's ludicrous to think that he can stay in a refrigerator or something like this, you know, indefinitely.

BALDWIN: Yes. As they try to figure out what to do with the body, I just wanted to ask you, for people who aren't familiar with - when we talk about Muslim rites and the burial, once a Muslim dies, typically it should be 24 hours, correct?

BARZEGAR: Yes, actually before sundown if possible.

BALDWIN: So, obviously, that didn't happen in this case.


BALDWIN: His body wasn't claimed at the medical examiner's office for weeks. But now that it's been claimed, we know that the body has been cleansed. Just educate us on what needs to be done to the body.

BARZEGAR: You know, as you mentioned, there's a kind of cleansing process that everybody needs to go through. It's a kind of ritual abolition (ph) and somebody from the community has to do it and that's just the law. It doesn't matter if the person is a criminal, if they're the nastiest person in the world, somebody has to give another Muslim his proper -- his or her proper, you know, funerary rites. And so it's not a judgment about whether this person is accepted into the community, whether they're forgiven or anything like that. It's simply something that somebody has to do. So you wash the body. You, you know, put some perfume on it. You clothe that in a shroud and you bury it into the ground. It's pretty straightforward. And it needs to be done as soon as possible.

BALDWIN: There are people out there who aren't as familiar with the rites and the processes who say, look, easy, simple, cremate the guy.

BARZEGAR: Absolutely not.

BALDWIN: Absolutely not.

BARZEGAR: And, look, again, in Islamic tradition, you're dealing with a tradition that itself is 1,400 years old but goes back to earlier, near eastern religious traditions. They go back thousands of years. And cremation is just simply out of the question in this tradition.

BALDWIN: Out of the question, even making this one exception, given the back and forth and the anger and the symbolism and everything surrounding this story?

BARZEGAR: You know, it's interesting because cremation in the United States, in the U.S. culture is often seen as a kind of honorary distinction. You know, it's a way to honor the dead body. So why would we opt for that option? Why not just simply put the body in the ground, somewhere discreet. It doesn't even need to be disclosed to anybody except the family, of course, and just move on with it.

The idea of raising money to send the body somewhere else seems insane to me, whereas so much money could be raised for good. But the idea that we're spending so much time on saying this person is not part of us and doesn't deserve to be in this ground, while it's understandable from a reactionary point of view, I understand that American, you know, forgiveness (INAUDIBLE) is much bigger than that. I mean if you've seen what this country's been able to overcome, even in the immediate aftermath of this event, you would imagine that we could get over this problem fairly quickly.

BALDWIN: Yes, even the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, saying, you know, recently, look, the family has options. They need to figure this out with the body. We should now really be focusing specifically on the investigation and the survivors.

Professor, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it. Abbas Barzegar.

BARZEGAR: Well, thank you very much for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

And now this. A stunt plane performing at an air show - this is Madrid, Spain, when the unimaginable happened. You see the smoke. You saw the flames. The pilot of that plane is dead. More than a dozen people on the ground were injured. A government spokesman says the pilot was very, very experienced. Investigators are working to try to figure out exactly what caused that plane to go down.

From witness accounts, it took mere seconds for a limousine to turn into a death trap killing half the members of this bridal party, including the bride herself. Five women died inside this 1999 Lincoln Town Car Saturday. Reports indicate that the flames began in the rear section of this limo, as it was crossing the San Mateo Hayward Bridge there in California. But from the pictures of the flames, I want to show you the bride here, newlywed. This is Nerizo Fojas, seen here in a family photo. She and her girlfriends were celebrating the second time she was marrying her new husband at a wedding set to be taking place shortly in the Philippines, a second ceremony. The medical examiner says Fojas and the others killed were found all near that window partition that separates the driver from the passengers in the back of a limo because the women were trying to squeeze through the hole to escape. Five other women and the driver survived. Here is the mother of one survivor.


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

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: CNN's Dan Simon is live in San Mateo, California, where the highway patrol and coroner, I know, just wrapped up that news conference.

And it's sad in every which way here, Dan. Do we know why this happened? Do we know what caused this fire?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I would say at this point, Brooke, it's a real mystery. If there are any operating theories, investigators aren't saying anything. You mentioned that investigators think that it might have started in the trunk area. And if you look at the vehicle, it would suggest that's where the fire broke out. But we really don't know at this point, was it electrical, was there some kind of fuel leak, was there a puncture in the fuel tank, we just don't know. This is what investigators had to say just a short time ago.


CAPT. MIKE MASKARICH, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: The driver was alerted to smoke in the passenger compartment by one of the passengers, and he pulled to a stop in the traffic lane when the vehicle quickly became engulfed in flames. The driver and four passengers were able to exit the vehicle.


SIMON: Brooke, I would say there are really two central questions today, just how exactly did this fire break out and how come not everyone was able to get out of the limousine. And, you know what, adding to this tragedy, the limo was just a mere four minutes away from the hotel where he was going to, you know, where the driver was going to drop off these women at this bachelorette party. Just four minutes away, there behind me on that bridge. It's just - it's just absolutely heartbreaking.

BALDWIN: Dan, what about this limo company, LimoStop. What kind of record does it have?

SIMON: They have an A plus rating from the Better Business Bureau. And this driver apparently has a clean record as well. So, you know, you look at the early facts, and you just don't know.

You know, one thing that I think is interesting is the driver has spoken out about what happened. And initially there was some confusion. And this is important because you want to know how long did it take for him to pull over once he realized there was smoke. Well, one of the passengers apparently knocked on that partition and said "smoke." And initially the driver apparently thought that somebody was wanting to smoke in the car.

And then they knocked again and said "smoke," and that's when he realized that they didn't want to smoke, that they were complaining about the smoke. And he told investigators that it took somewhere between 30 seconds and maybe a minute before he was able to pull over. And the four survivors were apparently sitting towards the front of the limousine and sort of dove over that partition and then got out the front door. And then the ones who died were apparently in the back.

And so I think it's an important, you know, thing to consider how long it took for him to pull over and exactly how those four survivors got out.


BALDWIN: Well, Dan Simon, thank you. We're going to ask him about it because the driver - the driver of that limousine will join me at the top of the next hour. We will - I will make him start at the very beginning, ask him also, you know, about that timeline, how long it took him, and apparently, according to his brother, according to one of the papers I read, he keeps saying, "I could have done more, I could have done more," and we'll ask him if he's at all been in touch with the families. From what I've read, he has. So, stay tuned for that, top of next hour.

The jury in the Jodi Arias case is in its first full day of deliberations. And just a short time ago a clerk actually cleared the media out of this courtroom. We don't know what, if anything, that could possibly mean here. But if convicted of first degree murder, Arias faces a possible death penalty. We'll have a full report on this for you next hour.

Coming up next, new developments in the case of a prominent doctor found dead inside her home. Investigators say this does not look like an accident. Why there is reason to believe she was poisoned.

Plus, as Israel strikes, Syria says this means war. How the United States could handle the escalating crisis in Syria. Stay right here.


BALDWIN: The FBI has joined the investigation into the mysterious death of this Pittsburgh doctor. Authorities say Autumn Klein may have been poisoned. Toxic levels of cyanide were found in her body. The popular chief of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suddenly collapsed last month at home. Three days later, she was dead. And Klein's death is being investigated as a potential homicide or suicide. Joining me now, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin and criminal defense attorney Drew Findling.

Welcome, welcome to both of you.

Sunny, I want to begin with you, because we know that police searched Klein's widower's lab. He, I should mention, also works at the University of Pittsburgh. What does that tell you? Pretty typical?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I'm sorry, Brooke, you're breaking up a bit. I couldn't hear your question. You may have to ask Drew.

BALDWIN: OK. Stand by. Stand by. I will ask Drew. We'll work on your audio.

What do you think, the fact that they searched this, the widower's lab also at the University of Pittsburgh?

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the fact that Cyanide is the fungable (ph) substance that it is, I mean they have to try to find out where this came from. And it's going to be very, very difficult and they really have to -- the big catch phrase is, preserve the integrity of the multiple crime scenes, because they don't know where they are. So they need to look for every source of this substance that they can. Whether it be in the workplace, whether it be at home, whether somebody tried to introduce it to the home, introduce it to the workplace. They're doing everything they can. This isn't a knife. It isn't a gun. This is something that is so difficult to get a hold of, they're looking everywhere they can to see and identify this substance, find it first, and then see from where it came.

BALDWIN: OK. Sunny Hostin, you got me?

HOSTIN: I got you now. Yes. Sorry about that.

BALDWIN: OK. OK. OK. Let me pick up. Drew answered that. So let me throw this to you, because the medical examiner's office is saying that this doctor's death, I'm quoting them, "is highly suspicious." So if you are representing this woman's widower, what is your plan?

HOSTIN: Wow, I mean, I think certainly highly suspicious leaves the door open, does it not, in terms of giving an explanation as to what happened. So I think you continue the investigation and I certainly think ultimately it's going to be sort of a question of expertise. What really happened here.

BALDWIN: OK. And then in terms of evidence, what kind of evidence do investigators need to bring charges, Drew?

FINDLING: Well, they're going to need to find the substance and see if they can link the substance to somebody. Whoever that somebody is. And I think, Brooke, what makes it most interesting is, you know, we always say, oh, now they're going to look at the spouse. Well, her husband has gone, I guess you could say, on the offensive. He's hired a former United States attorney from Pittsburgh. He has brought in one of the world renowned forensic pathologists, Cyril Wecht (ph), to assist. So it's -- you don't see that very often. And it's interesting that he's doing that.

BALDWIN: OK. Let me totally switch gears, Sunny. I'm going to toss this one to you, because I want to talk about Kobe Bryant here and this whole spat he's having with his mom because she is apparently trying to sell, you know, pieces of memorabilia, childhood jerseys, rings, you know, trophies. But Kobe Bryant, he says, no. He's trying to block this auction. Says it's his stuff. Whose stuff is it, Sunny Hostin, if it's at the childhood home?

HOSTIN: And that's a really good question, right, and it's - and it's so terrible that this is happening right near Mother's Day. I've got to tell you, this is not a great place for Kobe Bryant to be. You know, his PR has kind of gone up and down. We know that he's been having -- he's had a lot of difficulty in the press. And now you hear about this. You hear about the fact that he left a lot of his things at his childhood home with his mom. She says she's held on to it for like 15 years and now she wants to get some money for it. She's been advanced about $450,000 from this auction house. And apparently the lot could get over $1 million.

And he's saying, no, no, no. He filed a cease and desist order and said that's my stuff. Maybe it was there, but I always intended to keep it. And I really think the legal issue is, well, is that true? Was it always Kobe Bryant's or did he really intend to leave it to his mother? Because he's got a big home, right? He's got plenty of money. If he really wanted those things, then why not just keep them? Why not take them with him? But I think it's going to be who really owns the stuff.

BALDWIN: He's got some stuff, that's for sure. But, I mean, Drew, isn't it --

FINDLING: Well, I think the real -- the big issue here is whether or not Kobe can afford a Bic pen to write a check to his mom for $1 million plus and get the stuff back from her.


FINDLING: I don't get it. Why hire the lawyers? Why go through the process if it's valued at $1 million. To Kobe, $1 million is like 25 cents to everybody else. So, that would be the way I would legally advise him.

BALDWIN: A spat with mom. Drew and Sunny, thank you very much.

Just ahead, as an American sits behind bars in North Korea, sentenced to 15 years hard labor, the North is responding to accusations that he is now considered a bargaining chip. We have that.

Plus, a girl's night out ends in tragedy after a young mother falls out of a party bus.


BALDWIN: All right, now to some of the hottest stories in a flash. "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

First up, North Korea says an American man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor is, quote/unquote, not being used as a political bargaining chip. The U.S. wants Kenneth Bae released. Bae is accused of spying and committing hostile acts against North Korea. Now, in prior instances, North Korea has released Americans in its custody after a visit by some U.S. dignitary, but North Korea says it will not do that this time.

A girls' night out ends tragically when a young mother was hit and killed after falling out of the emergency door of a bachelorette party bus. This is what we're hearing from Kansas highway patrol, that 26-year-old Jamie Frecks was hit by not just one, not two, but three cars. And, by the way, two of those three left the scene without stopping. She was the mother of a six week old baby girl.


CYNTHIA MATTESON, VICTIM'S AUNT: Always had a smile. She was a great, wonderful girl. She loved everybody. Didn't care who it was. Jamie loved everybody.


BALDWIN: No one else on the bus was injured.

And some of the items you buy online could be one step closer to getting taxed now. The Senate is set to vote Monday -- excuse me, today, which is Monday, on the Marketplace Fairness Act. It would require all big online retailers to collect state sales tax on the goods they sell. Up until now, Internet stores, i.e., only are required to collect sales tax on goods shipped to states where they have a physical presence.

Justin Timberlake announcing his world tour. It kicks off in Montreal on, of all nights, Halloween. The singer's first tour in six years takes him to four continents. Part two of Timberlake's 20/20 experience will be released this September.

Speaking of hot shows, the Boston Strong Tribute Concert, sold out. Folks, tickets went on sale this morning. They were gone within minutes, we're told. The concert scheduled for the end of the month includes the likes of Jimmy Buffett, you have James Taylor, Aerosmith, and New Kids on the Block.

Coming up next, as Israel strikes, the Syrian regime says this means war. So who makes the next move? We'll break it down, next.