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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Anticipation Of Arias Verdict; Arias Guilty Of First Degree Murder
Aired May 8, 2013 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a report that juror number five was actually brought into the courtroom. I thought that was highly unusual. Typically the panel will be led in en masse. The entire panel of her peers will be led in and they take the jurors' seats but there is a report that juror number five was brought into the courtroom.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALSYT: I've never heard of that in any trial ever, but there could be a first time. There could be a reason. If a juror has -- if the juror has an injury, she doesn't want to climb over other jurors, but I certainly never heard of one juror being treated different.
BANFIELD: The other odd scenario was a dismissed juror was able to take her place in the gallery during the trial and watch the rest of the proceedings having been booted off the panel.
TOOBIN: That actually is not as unusual as all that. I mean, just to go back to the O.J. Simpson case, people will remember there were jurors who were excused who wrote books about the case while it was pending. I mean, that is how crazy that situation was. They became participants in the whole media coverage of the O.J. Simpson case. So it doesn't surprise me entirely that a juror who is thrown off this case would want to keep a hand in it.
BANFIELD: True to Jeffrey Toobin's extraordinarily astute analysis, we are now one minute past the deadline. Listen, it's always a guide rather than a hard-and-fast rule. Some judges are iron clad and they rule their courtrooms with an iron fist, but there are a lot of things that have to be taken into consideration.
And I think in this particular case, Jeffrey, correct me if I'm wrong, it is an extraordinary case. There are extraordinary measures that may have to be put into place. There may be extra marshals on hand for any potential outbursts. There is the admonishment I can almost assuredly say to our viewers will happen from this judge prior to the verdict being read.
But walk me through the logistics. What is going to happen when that great seal widens out and the shot becomes the entire courtroom shot?
TOOBIN: Well, presumably by the time the picture -- we get to see the picture, everyone will be in place, and the judge will ask both the defense and the prosecution, is there any reason I shouldn't take a verdict now? Is there some legal issue that's arisen? Is there something that's happened? Presumably they will say no. Then the jury will be brought in and, you know, that is really one of the great moments in any lawyer's life, in any defendant - in anyone's life who has been in a courtroom.
BANFIELD: Their faces.
TOOBIN: Their faces and also just the profundity of the moment. When I was trying cases -- certainly they were not death penalty cases -- but when you see 12 people standing in judgment of another human being, and there are no exit polls, no opinion polls, no one knows what they're going to do. And in that moment when you look in the jurors' faces and try to see what they're doing, it is just a very moving thing from the smallest case to a death penalty case.
BANFIELD: And I'm just curious. Maybe Mark Geragos can join this discussion for a moment. Jodi Arias, Mark, as I reported is in a holding cell. At what point she -- I'm only going to assume at this point she is in the courtroom because we are so close to the time that the verdict is to be read. What have her two attorneys been saying to her in advance of this as Jeffrey said very profound moment?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I will tell -- I will echo what Jeff just said. I've been in that situation what seems like 50 or 60 times. You never -- you never get over it. It is the most gut wrenching kind of hopeless feeling in the world. No matter how you think the case went into the jury, you just never know what the jury is going to do.
And what you prepare the client for is, look. Always, it's a worst case scenario. You have to tell them no matter what happens, you have to understand if this is a first degree, if we go to penalty phase, you cannot react in any way or act out. You've got to just sit there and try to be as stoic as possible, even though a lot of times people say she didn't or he didn't show emotion. You do not want to do something that's going to be held against you or is going to be pointed to later on.
So, you try to prepare them. You try to prepare them for the worst, and as the old expression goes, hope for the best. But there is nothing -- law school doesn't prepare you for this. I've done over 300 trials. That doesn't prepare you. This is one of those times when this is exactly what drives lawyers to drink.
BANFIELD: And, Mark Geragos, that is you on defense table with your clients and on the other side of the bar are the prosecutors. And effectively, I hate to say, their clients or at least the people they're representing. It is all of us that it is really for a great deal of it those families of the victims in these cases. I just reported to you that those family members of Travis Alexander were brought into this courtroom earlier and they have taken their seats.
Marcia Clark is the famous prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case and joins me live on the telephone. Marcia, I'm really glad to have the opportunity to ask you what these moments are like for prosecutors because the prosecutor in this case, Juan Martinez, has been meeting with the family members in a witness room adjacent to the courtroom. Can you walk me through the machinations of what you've done in the past with these family members?
MARCIA CLARK, O.J. SIMPSON CASE PROSECUTOR (on the phone): Yes. You want to prepare them for every possibility. You don't - it's like what Mark said. The one thing you never do is assume that you know what the verdict is. Unless you assume it's adverse to you. But you prepare the families for all the possibilities.
And theoretically, I'm sure he has, you've spoken to them before quite a few times about what comes next. If there is an acquittal, of course, that is the end of the line. If there is a conviction for a lesser offense, then there is no penalty phase. If there is a conviction for first degree, then there will be an aggravation phase or a penalty phase, as you call it.
You prepare them for all of that. You tell them you're with them, you're standing by them, you're supporting them. And then that you fought your hardest and you've done all you could do. At this point, it is out of your hands. It's in the hands of the jury and we have to just hope they'll do the right thing.
And I think on both sides of counsel table there is this complete helplessness because the jury, no one controls the jury. Not a judge, not a lawyer. They do what they want to do. Until they read that verdict, you do not know what they're going to do.
BANFIELD: Marcia, I want to remind our viewers that as they listen to you, they're looking on their screen at the throngs, the hundreds who have turned out at the courthouse, at the plaza just outside of the Maricopa County Superior Courthouse here in Phoenix, downtown, Phoenix, Arizona. On the bottom side of your screen we just saw a flash for a moment, the -- that very short and very narrow view of the seal that is on the wall, the great seal of the state of Arizona. And actually you zero in, you can't zoom in but if you were to look up close it actually says "the great seal of the state of Arizona." I've often wondered why it is not the great state of Arizona, but every state has the same seal, the great seal.
And the cameras are asked to fixate on the great seal while there is preparation in the courtroom. Oftentimes these are pool camera situations. It's one camera that provides all of the broadcasters with their signal. And that pool camera operator is asked to focus in on the seal until we're underway, and then you can widen out to the larger view of the courtroom proceedings. And it is a very strict process and it is -- there are very few infractions shall we say when it comes to how we cover these cases. So you will see the great seal up close and personal like that until the proceedings get under way.
I can also tell you that just a few moments ago - in fact, about six minutes ago, the reporters who are in the hallway outside of the courtroom said that the locks are still -- the doors were still locked and they weren't allowed access into the courtroom, which means that it is more than likely we are going to have a much later verdict than we'd expected. We're now seven minutes beyond what we thought we would have.
But, you know, off to the right of that view of the courthouse is Ted Rowlands amongst the many people who have turned out. The fascination across the country. For those right here in Phoenix who have access to this courtroom - this courthouse has been nothing short of remarkable. Ted, you are there amongst many of them, media and public alike. Give me a bit of a feel.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is emotional because of course the 1:30 time local here has come and gone. People are waiting and waiting, and a lot of these people have been watching this case for so long.
And Patty and Bridget are two of them. You've basically dedicated a lot of your life to watching this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROWLANDS: What is it about this case? What are you doing here? Why have you been so fixated?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just want to find out what it's going to end. It's been going on for weeks and months and everything. We just want a final. This is just taking forever. We just want to see what the end is going to be.
ROWLANDS: What is it about the case that attracted you and kept you going? Sometimes, you know, you'll get into a TV show or something. Is this like a soap opera?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. A soap opera watching it from beginning to end. Just the lies she's told. Very manipulative. It's like you believe what she is saying, but you know it is not the truth. She's just trying to save herself.
ROWLANDS: Ashleigh, this has happened before with Casey Anthony, with Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson. There are certain cases that seem to really resonate with the public, and this is absolutely one of them. If you look out in the crowd here and you see so many people here waiting for this verdict. These are all people that for whatever reason were doing something else today, found out there was a verdict, and headed down to the courthouse here in Phoenix to find out what happened because they are so invested in this and they want to see how it ends.
BANFIELD: I always hate to bring up a comparison and yet it is inescapable, Ted Rowlands, of Casey Anthony. You just mentioned it as well. When I was outside the courthouse in the Casey Anthony case, there was a resounding sentiment among those people who turned out, they felt that Casey Anthony was guilty. They were wrong according to the jury. The jury acquitted her of these most serious charges in her case.
But in this particular case, I am getting the sense from those who are here many feel the same way. They feel Jodi Arias is guilty as well. Let me know if you're coming across others who believe this woman should be acquitted.
ROWLANDS: Yes. We haven't. Not out here, not today. Over the course of the past few weeks covering this, every now and then you'll have somebody come up and say that, you know, they sided with Jodi's story or believed Jodi. But 99 percent of the people here and 90-plus percent of the people watching and glued to this absolutely think Jodi Arias is guilty and was lying just like the Casey Anthony trial. There's no doubt about it. In fact, five minutes ago there was a chant, "Justice for Travis, justice for Travis."
So you're absolutely correct. The same scenario as happened with Casey Anthony is happening here in phoenix with Jodi Arias.
BANFIELD: I'm just going to give you a personal anecdote to add to that. A waitress that I encountered yesterday, Ted, asked us when she thought the verdict would come down or when we thought the verdict would come down and said that the Alexander family had been in her restaurant and she recognized them right away and that she, herself, broke into tears. And had to just go up and tell that family how she felt about this case. It is a very personal case for a lot of people who live in the Phoenix area, and it seems to have become a very personal case for many people right across the country as well.
Mark Geragos, if you're standing by live, I know you've spent a great deal of time doing analysis on these very high profile and sometimes very bizarre cases that play out. But at the same time, are you ever surprised at the level of fascination when it comes to these death penalty cases? Do you think that it is truly, as Jeff Toobin pointed out, that this is the most serious punishment we can mete out as society? Or do you think it is more about the details when they become as salacious as they have in this case?
GERAGOS: Well, obviously, Jeff is right. It is the most serious case by definition that you can have.
But I disagree with a lot of the analysis. I do not think that this case legally shares any of the similarities with Casey Anthony except that you've got pretty or attractive white women, and that's what attracts the media to the case.
I think Casey Anthony's case was a case where there may have been that kind of hatred or that idea that she was despicable, but the problem with that case was it was a "who did it." They didn't know why. They didn't know where. They didn't have any evidence. I mean, it really was a complete collapse of evidence.
This case is not that case. This case is a "why done it," if anything, and it is a matter of degree. This is -- you know, you can play this tape back, but I will be the most shocked human on the planet if it comes back with an acquittal. This is not a case where the jury is going to say, okay. You testified and therefore, we're going to acquit you. This case is going to be fought on whether it's a first, second, or a manslaughter in my opinion. I don't think this bears any resemblance to Casey Anthony other than the fact that they were both attractive, white women, and that's why there is so much media attention paid to it.
BANFIELD: Well, Counselor, you're better at this than I, but I'm only going to disagree with you here, and it's because I spent 80 days in that courtroom. And I'm only going to add the fact that there was remarkable liars in both of these cases. Casey did not take the stand --
GERAGOS: Right. But -- I'll agree with you on that. They both are liars. But understand the quality of the evidence. You saw both cases. The quality of the prosecution's case in Casey Anthony compared to the quality of the prosecution's case here in Arizona is night and day. I don't even think there is any comparison. You know that. You've seen it. You were there.
BANFIELD: That's a good point. An excellent point.
Actually, just before we were able to get you up and live, I made the point -- and Jeff Toobin, I'm not sure if you agree or not, I had a chance and it is an extremely fortuitous when you get a chance to speak with jurors after a case. Prosecutors and defense attorneys scramble for that opportunity. I had a chance to speak with some of the jurors in Casey Anthony, and they made a very good point. They were very astute and they were very bright and they said there was a massive leap that they were asked to make over missing evidence.
And it seemed very fair to me that when you have something as important as the death penalty, you are less likely to make a massive leap than just something that seems somewhat reasonable. Being reasonable is very subjective.
TOOBIN: Yes. There is, you know, there is not much -- there is not much mystery about what happened here. We know the cause of death. We know who killed Travis. We know in general why.
The only real issue in this case, what was in her head at the time? Was she defending herself or was she simply acting out of rage at a lover who had spurned her? I mean, so there is not much mystery in this case about what happened. The only issue is why.
But I think we need to go to Ted Rowlands who has information about what is going on in the courtroom.
ROWLANDS: Yes. Right now, we're being told that Travis Alexander's side is completely packed with three rows full of family and friends and there is a lot of nervous energy in the court. That is the quote that we're getting from "In Session" in the courtroom right now.
She says there are five rows full of media and Jodi and her attorneys are not yet in the courtroom. The gallery is occupied mainly by family and friends of the Alexanders taking up the extra seats. It looks like there will be no members of the public or just one or two, folks who have been waiting all day likely will not get in.
Bottom line is a lot of nervous energy. I wouldn't expect anything else in the courtroom as we await the verdict of this jury of eight men and four women.
BANFIELD: And I should remind our viewers, Ted, as you say that, we are, you know, 15 minutes past the time in which we were told by the court that they would be reading this verdict. Again, we said this before, Jeff, it is not unusual for this to happen.
TOOBIN: Right. One reason why, I think it is worth saying why it is not unusual for a slight delay at this point in the process. This is such an important point in any trial that if there is a mistake here, if something happens that is unexpected, an outburst from someone in the audience, from a participant, prosecutor, defense lawyer, defendant, or even a juror, you could have a mistrial in this case.
TOOBIN: You could have all the months of work go out the window because of something that happens right now. So the judge always has to go very slowly and meticulously and make sure everything is set for the delivery of the verdict because if something unscheduled happens here and, you know, it looks like we're going inside.
BANFIELD: We want to go inside the courtroom. I thought this might have been my issue with audio but it's not. We have plenty of problems in the field, problems inside the courtroom as well getting audio feedback up. We're working to rectify that. Our feed pool is working to rectify that as well.
And just as soon as we have it we will certainly be delivering that. The very first pictures of Jodi Arias and her family members as well in the background, the gallery is now full. It is unlikely anybody else will get a seat in the courtroom. The judge is on the bench. Little is happening at this point. There we go. We have the audio. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please be seated. The record will show the presence of the jury, the defendant, and all counsel. Ladies and gentlemen, I understand you have reached a verdict. The verdict form has been handed to the bailiff. Please come forward. The clerk will record and read the verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state of Arizona versus Jodi Ann Arias verdict count one. We the jury dual empanelled and sworn in the above entitled action upon our oaths do find the defendant as to count one first-degree murder guilty. Five jurors find premeditated, zero find felony murder. Seven find both premeditated and felony. Signed foreperson. Is this your true verdict? So say you one and all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the clerk is now going to ask each of you a question. Please answer yes or no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number one is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number two, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number three, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number four, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number six, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number seven, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number nine, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number 12, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number 13, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number 14, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number 16, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number 18, is this your true verdict?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, ladies and gentlemen, the next phase of the trial will begin tomorrow at 1:00. Please be here at 12:45. Between now and then the admonition continues to apply. Do not speak about this case. Do not view any media about this case. Are there any questions? You are excused.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please stand for the jury. Counsel, please approach.
BANFIELD: Jodi Arias, somewhat stoically just dissolves and digests what she has just heard, her defense attorney beside her Jennifer Wilmot, and family members hugging. Family members of Travis Alexander hugging in this courtroom after the verdict they were waiting to hear, smiling and hugging. Tears of joy for this family, who have waited four and a half years for justice in this case.
Jodi Arias looks on toward the judge, deciding with her attorneys now the next step in how she will digest the next steps that she is facing. We also saw her mother not in the picture now but we saw her mother earlier in these pictures not crying, but looking on very stoically.
She certainly has not seemed to have broken down upon hearing the news that her daughter has been convicted of first-degree murder, and now will undergo a second series of deliberations and essentially trials over whether her life is worthy of being spared.
I want Jeffrey Toobin to join me on this because what we are about to hear as they reconvene for the penalty phase of this trial may be some of the most painful testimony of all.
TOOBIN: Right. Well, just, it's worth just pausing to observe the verdict for a moment. Given 27 stab wounds, given a severed throat, given a gunshot wound, I don't think it's a terribly big surprise that this verdict came in the way it did. This was a horrible crime. Jodi Arias' defense was peculiar to say the least.
Full of acknowledged lies by her, and now the question becomes a very different one, though. Will the state of Arizona have a fourth woman on death row at the end of this proceeding? That's very different, and I think the odds now I think shift somewhat more in her favor because it is a very different thing to find, to sentence someone to die than it is to convict.
BANFIELD: And when you say somewhat in her favor I'm going to challenge you on this. You are a lawyer. I am not an attorney. You will hear and I am assuming this, but I'm fairly confident, you will hear over and over again the testimony of how that man died and how he suffered and how cruel it was, the suffering, and what they will consider almost torture and that will be critical as aggravators against her won't it?
TOOBIN: It certainly will. I don't pretend to know how the jury will come out, but it is true that in recent years the death penalty is in decline in the United States. It is one of the untold stories in American law enforcement, in the American judicial system. Fewer people are being sentenced to death. Fewer people are being executed in every state in the union including Texas and Ted Rowlands, we heard him across the street.
TOOBIN: Let's hear from Ted.
BANFIELD: Ted, tell us what it's like.
ROWLANDS: Well, outside here when word came out that it was guilty of first degree there was a huge eruption. People cheering. Cathy Brown, you're crying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am. I am so thankful. I knew the Lord would do the right thing.
ROWLANDS: You are one of the people who have been here for weeks and weeks following the case from the beginning and obviously you're emotionally invested. You told me earlier you're not a crier.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did say that, didn't I? I guess I lied.
ROWLANDS: Why so emotional?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, justice was served and that's all we need, you know. We are so happy that this family can actually maybe find some peace soon.
ROWLANDS: What about the death penalty? This jury is about to embark on a very difficult decision. Are you in favor of the death penalty for this individual, for Jodi Arias?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, like I talked to you before, I don't believe anybody should take life, but what she did was not just taking a life. It was taking several lives.
ROWLANDS: Therefore you think she does deserve the death penalty?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I mean, what she did was horrific. I believe she does.
ROWLANDS: You have also been in the courtroom the entire time, every day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the very beginning, yes. All the days I could get in.
ROWLANDS: you live and work in phoenix and you come down here and spend so much time in this courtroom. Explain to people what it was specifically about this case that attracted you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I watched every case since the O.J. trial. I'm just a case junkie I guess as far as watching them on TV and when this case started airing on TV here in phoenix I thought, you know, I might as well go down and start watching it. And I came down here and from that I got to know some of the friends and family members of Travis and then it became very close to my heart and not just a court case.
ROWLANDS: One of the things about this case is the social media aspect. I see you are on Twitter right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROWLANDS: This has really sparked interest across the country, people tweeting about it, et cetera. What do you say? Why is it that so many people were hooked into this and are following this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think, you know, what started people was just kind of the horrificness of it all. It was a violent crime, the geography. It was so close by. Where Travis lived was probably only 20 minutes from where we are now. People were so drawn partly in Phoenix because of how close it was but around the world probably just because of the sort of graphic nature of the crime.
And I think Jodi herself became sort of a household name just because of how much of a liar she really was. It was something new all the time. Then when she took the stand and we were in there for the first couple days of her cross, and the first couple days of her cross she was just nasty. She was obnoxious with the prosecutor and really stand-offish and incredibly sarcastic and I think people were kind of hooked on hating her a lot of the time.
ROWLANDS: I think it is safe to say a lot of people ended up hating this person. Is it a bit barbaric for hundreds of people outside a courthouse to be cheering another person's demise?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess it sort of depends on your view on her. Many have seen, especially through social media, she has a Twitter page her friend runs for her and there are lot of supporters and I'm sure they'd be horrified by what they see here but for people who really know what I consider to be the truth I think it is more of a celebratory day than anything else.
ROWLANDS: Here is Casey Wian, a correspondent from Cnn who was in the courtroom when this verdict was read. First off, reactions.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was really tense right before the verdict was read. There was not a sound in the courtroom. I was sitting directly behind the supporters of Travis Alexander and his family. When that verdict was read there was loud sighs, gasps, many members of his family including his sister and friends began sobbing.
I could hear them saying I am so happy. Thank God. I saw one friend of his praying before the verdict was read when the jury handed the bailiff the verdict form. One of his friends, hands clasped, obviously praying, very happy with this case.
On the other side, I could see Jodi Arias's reaction almost no reaction from where I was sitting. Not much reaction from her family that I could see, but on Travis Alexander's side understandably a lot of emotion and a lot of relief.
ROWLANDS: What about jurors, any emotion there?
WIAN: They were stone faced, stoic, had no reaction at all. They sure have a lot of work to do. They still have to decide on aggravating factors in this case. That will begin tomorrow at 1:00 local time. They still have to decide eventually on whether she is going to die or serve the rest of her life in prison.
ROWLANDS: What about outbursts? You say reaction but was it an outburst or --
WIAN: Well, nothing more than a natural reaction you might expect from someone who was really emotional. I imagine the judge before this, family members were brought in and supporters were brought in before the media was, before spectators were brought in.