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CNN NEWSROOM

Verdict Reached in Jodi Arias Trial

Aired May 8, 2013 - 15:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: What a trial it's been. Your reaction?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is about the right amount of time.

We know that jurors like to go through the evidence piece by piece. All the studies indicate that jurors typically rise to the occasion and take these kinds of cases, first degree murder cases, very, very seriously. In 15 hours, they would have had time to go through all of the evidence.

So, it's not a quick verdict, and it's not something they took a very long time that would indicate a possible compromise. Look, I followed this trial from the beginning. I think this is a first degree murder case. I think the prosecution proved that beyond a reasonable doubt. But I wasn't in the trial. I always respect what juries have to say, and they see a different trial than we see, even if we watch it on TV.

They see, for example, the bloody, horrible crime scene photos over and over again that we don't broadcast. They hear some of the very salacious sexual stuff on the audiotapes that we don't hear because it is not appropriate for TV. And they're in the courtroom. They can really see the demeanor of witnesses in a way that we can't.

But I think that anything less than a first degree murder conviction is probably a compromise verdict. If this is a manslaughter conviction or even second degree murder, it's probably a compromise verdict. And jurors aren't supposed to do that, but it happens all the time.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Lisa Bloom is giving us her analysis. I'm Ashleigh Banfield live in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Maricopa County courthouse, where at this Superior Courthouse they have made a decision. A jury of eight men and four women have made a decision on the guilt or innocence of Jodi Arias, a woman facing the ultimate punishment, if found guilty of the first degree murder of her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

There were days upon days of crying on the stand, testimony on the stand, admission of lies, admission of secondary cover-up lies. There was graphic and gruesome testimony of a grisly murder inside Travis Alexander's condo and also of the cover-up, admittedly the cover-up of why that woman lied twice to investigators.

Her ultimate defense in this case in Phoenix, Arizona, has been battered woman, reacting, self-defense. The evidence on both columns has been fascinating, intriguing, and at times so disturbing, many have left the courtroom. This case is coming to a close. In just an hour-and-a-half, in fact, less than an hour-and-a-half, this jury will finally render its verdict after four months of trial.

And make no mistake, they do not get more serious than this in American jurisprudence. The death penalty is the ultimate punishment. It does not get more serious. It does not get more critical and a jury like this does not have a more serious decision on their hands. So the fact that they delivered 15 hours and five minutes, some may say too long if they believe she's guilty. Some may say too short if they believe the weight of the evidence couldn't possibly be assessed in that much time, others just waiting to hear.

I have talked to so many people on these streets who said we just want it over with, many who said we want her put away, many just saying they can't wait to hear what this jury finally decides. The family of Travis Alexander has been waiting for this verdict as well, many of them in their homes, in communities that are not far from here, but needing enough lead time to be able to make it downtown in Phoenix, able to just get in place to hear this jury render its decision.

The prosecutors in this case are nearby. Their office is just within walking distance. But the defense attorneys are also quite a distance away. Their office is up to half-an-hour away. So, the lead time was crucial. We thought we might get a half-hour lead time. We were given an hour-and-a-half. But there you have it.

We're expecting this verdict to come down at 1:30 Eastern time -- or, rather, 1:30 local time, 4:30 Eastern time. So, I told you about the people on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, just walking by, many of them congregating at the courthouse itself. Many of them have been there for weeks upon weeks. Several have waited through the night just to get a seat in the courthouse and in that courtroom to watch this testimony live.

Our Ted Rowlands has been covering this for weeks upon end. He is outside those front doors of the Maricopa County Superior Court. He's surrounded by the many who have turned out awaiting this verdict as well.

Ted, set the scene for me, if you will, where you are.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're outside the courthouse, as you mentioned, Ashleigh.

And people are starting to gather here and there are people from around the country have come here, including Janice (ph) here, who is from Kentucky, and then got hooked on the trial back in Kentucky. So, she came to Phoenix.

And, boy, here you are on verdict day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROWLANDS: What is it about this trial that captured your imagination? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't know. Why did it capture everybody else's?

ROWLANDS: Well, people would say that...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess because the -- because she's such a liar, for one thing, and just listening to her change her story every day, and the jury part is what got me.

ROWLANDS: The jurors asking questions.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I hadn't never heard of that before. I didn't know it.

ROWLANDS: That is one of the things that was fairly unique about this trial, Ashleigh.

As you know, the jurors had the opportunity to ask questions, more than 200 questions of Jodi Arias during her 18 days on the stand.

You don't believe anything that Jodi Arias said about being a victim here of PTSD and acting in self-defense?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, she's wacko. That's all there is to it. She's just nuts. No, I don't.

ROWLANDS: Why -- why the connection? Why do you think you came down here to the courthouse? Is it because you really were concerned that she wasn't going to be found guilty or what compels you to come down here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just kind of worrying me, really, after taking two days to get a verdict here, and I thought, uh-oh, but they better find her guilty. If not, something -- something's wrong.

ROWLANDS: Well, obviously, Ashleigh, as you know, people have been not only been coming out to the courthouse and in the courtroom, or watching it on television, but on the Internet and specifically on Twitter, this has been going nuts.

And this lady here is the queen tweeter, Kinsey Schofield. She's got 250,000 Twitter followers.

And you have been in this courtroom every single day, keeping people abreast of this. But more importantly, you're getting a lot of feedback. What is it about the case that had people so just enthralled?

KINSEY SCHOFIELD, USES TWITTER: They can relate to this case. A lot of girls can relate to somebody not wanting them back.

So I think that that began the chaos. But it is the sex, it is the religion, it is all of those things that people become engrossed in. It is almost like a soap opera.

ROWLANDS: And Kinsey, Ashleigh, normally tweets about Justin Bieber and other things.

And you're here. It doesn't make sense.

SCHOFIELD: It doesn't come together. I just was enthralled with Travis. Travis had so much potential. He was a guy on the rise, and this woman wanted him, wanted him to be hers and no one else's.

And, again, it is like that Lifetime movie. You get sucked into it and that's really what got me involved.

ROWLANDS: All right. And jurors, as we have been saying, Ashleigh, are on a lunch break here. When they were heading to the elevator, according to Casey Wian, our correspondent up on the fifth floor of the courthouse here, he said that you could tell that they were relieved, relieved that they had come to a decision.

Their work may not be finished. If they come to a first degree murder verdict, then that kicks in the next phase here, aggravation, and then the penalty phase. So while they may not be completely done, they seem to be relieved that they have gotten over this hurdle and we will find out what they decided in just a bit -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And, quite frankly, Ted Rowlands, one of the more difficult decisions may yet to come, be to come. As you just mentioned, if they decide this is a first degree murder, they have a very difficult decision next. And that's life or death.

We're going to get to that in just a moment.

But we're juggling so many big breaking stories today from Washington to Phoenix, all the way to Cleveland, Arizona.

I want to rejoin my colleague Brooke Baldwin who is live in Cleveland, outside of the home of Gina DeJesus, who we have been waiting to return joyfully, hopefully, triumphantly and watching as this family in jubilation joins their child, now a woman, who has been gone for almost a decade.

Brooke, tell us what you know from there.

BALDWIN: Yes, what a past 48, 72 hours here in Cleveland, Ohio. And you're looking at live pictures, aerial pictures.

We have cameras on the ground here. We saw within this past hour the jubilation. I think I said live on air that there are no words. There are no words for this homecoming. It has been 10 years in the making, Gina DeJesus, 14 years at the time when she was last seen.

In fact, let's just listen in. This is presumably her family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out there for a vigil to commemorate and to bring...

SANDRA RUIZ, AUNT OF VICTIM: For being patient.

And we would like to thank everyone, especially the Missing and Exploited Children, John Walsh from "America's Most Wanted," Black on Black, Judy Martin (ph), Lydia Espota (ph), Bill Safos from Channel 19 Action news, also the Guardian Angels, Cleveland police, FBI, that have been here through thick and thin 24/7 hours a day whenever we needed them.

OK? Also, the extended family, friends, community, thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

RUIZ: Thank you, again, for your prayers and support.

There are not enough words to say or express the joy that we feel for the return of our family member Gina, and now Amanda Berry, the daughter and Michelle Knight, who is our family also.

Now we need to, as a whole, to rally together, to look next door, and bring our other family member that is missing, Ashley Summers, OK?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RUIZ: OK?

I want to especially thank Phil, sorry if I'm pronouncing your name wrong, Dorsney (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forsney (ph).

RUIZ: Forsney (ph). The FBI, Cleveland police.

(INAUDIBLE) I know it could be rough, but we couldn't have done it without them. And we have to support them any way we can because they have supported us in bringing those girls back.

(APPLAUSE)

RUIZ: Once more, I want to say thank you, but I'm also going to put my foot down as the mean one of the family. OK?

We're asking for your support to be patient with us. Give us time and privacy to heal, OK? When we're ready, I promise you every single one of you guys that you guys will -- we will talk to you. OK? Last but not least, I'm asking God to watch over all of us, and -- and the last thing the family and -- you know, is asking is that we as a community do not go retaliate against the family or the suspects of this crime.

We are asking that, as they have been doing their job, it not might be today when we want it, it might not be tomorrow, but they will get the job done. We need to let them do their job.

Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BALDWIN: That was Sandra Ruiz, the aunt of Gina DeJesus.

Wanted to hear -- OK. So this is the aunt of Gina DeJesus, who we saw come home. Let's listen -- let's -- let's continue listening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

BALDWIN: So this is another speaker, perhaps a member of the family, saying thank you for everyone, speaking in Spanish.

This is -- much of this community as we have been here in Cleveland the last couple of days predominantly Hispanic community. And this is -- you heard from Sandra Ruiz, the aunt of Gina DeJesus. She went missing just about 10 years ago. She was 14 years at the time.

I was just at the exact street corner that she was last seen at 105th and Lorain Avenue a couple of miles from where we are in Cleveland and she was walking from middle school, was last seen using a pay phone with a girlfriend of hers. They wanted to spend a night. They wanted to have a sleepover party, and the mom said no, and that's the last anyone saw of her.

Poppy Harlow, let me go to you. I know you're there in the crowd, because I think it is important to point out, this is another name, this is a fourth girl's name that people here in Cleveland have been talking about the last couple of days. And we just heard Sandra Ruiz mention her name, Ashley Summers, because she was last seen -- she's been missing since 2007 and wasn't she last seen very, very close to that same street where these other three women were snatched?

Actually, Poppy, let's listen in.

(CROSSTALK)

MATT ZONE, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL: The families, not only the DeJesus family, but the Knight family, the Berry family, there has been a fund that has been established through the Cleveland Foundation.

It is called the Cleveland Courage Fund, because these were three courageous women,the Cleveland Courage Fund. So if anyone wants to make a donation, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the families. If you would like to make a donation now, you can mail it to 1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 1300, Cleveland, Ohio, 44115.

We are going to post this on Facebook. It will be on Cleveland City Council's Web site. I'm joined today with my council colleague Brian Cummins. I'm Matt Zone. We're fortunate to serve this community.

These two individuals, I met on a very horrific day when they lost their daughter. And Felix and Nancy never gave up hope and always knew that their baby was alive. And today, they have her and they're reunited with their son, Ricky (ph).

I would ask...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ZONE: I would ask also for all of you who are either watching or live in this neighborhood to respect this family, respect their privacy. They have been through a lot, not only for the past 72 hours. They have been through a lot for the past 10 years. We as a community owe it to them to respect them in that regard.

Councilman Cummins?

BRIAN CUMMINS, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL: First of all, I want to say that, as Matt Zone -- I don't need to repeat the condolences and the heartfelt issues to the family.

I want to speak a little bit about the fact that we want to thank, first and foremost, Second District Commander Keith Sulzer. He's been...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CUMMINS: Yes.

I think the families know and this -- this community knows how hard this gentleman and how hard the officers that are behind him or a lot of times in front of him work. I also want to thank the Tremont West Development Corporation safety committee. They have been feeding and giving beverages to the sheriff's office officers that are on the crime site scene right now. They have been assisting them.

We have the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton, Brooklyn Community development office and we have got Second District Community Relations. These are all very community-based organizations that are stepping up and helping out with this obviously very complicated and very intense situation.

As I said, as Matt Zone said, Councilman Zone said, the Cleveland Courage Fund, the Facebook page is up and running as we speak. They are simultaneously going to be posting the address. This Cleveland Courage Fund is being managed by the Cleveland Foundation in concert with WKYC and other news affiliates.

We will be making a more formal announcement relative to how that fund is going to be operating. But we are going to be encouraging people to do that.

I would also say that there has been calls for in-kind contributions. We had a dentist call me, a medical call. They want to help the victims. What I would tell you is we already have an e-mail address up and running. It is basically this, clevelandcouragefund@gmail.com. If anyone has any in-kind contributions, assistance that they want to provide the victims, please have them e-mail that account and we can be in direct contact with them relative to in-kind donations.

Lastly, I want to say, we are planning a community meeting with the attorney general, the Ohio attorney general's office with the Cleveland Division of Police and all of our partnership law enforcement agencies. Additionally, with the assistance of the interfaith movement within this...

BALDWIN: Do we -- all right, so these are a couple of different city councilmen here in Cleveland, speaking.

We heard from the aunt of Gina DeJesus. You see members of the police force and you see just over them as well members of the community. I was at Amanda Berry's home, very similar situation earlier today, where you have, of course, members of the media. But you have for every member of the media someone from the neighborhood there who just wants to see maybe just a glimpse of these women who the world hasn't seen for 10 whole years.

Poppy Harlow is there.

And, Poppy, just listening to the aunt, you know, so, so grateful for all of this.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, so grateful for all of this, Brooke.

She has been the one of this family that has come out, that has been talking to the media, has been addressing questions about her family. She's really been like the rock of this family.

You know, the siblings of Gina tell me, our aunt is in charge and our aunt is the one who is speaking for the family. And, remember, she came out yesterday and she said to us, if you don't believe in miracles, you better start believing because this is a miracle.

And what we saw today was just joyous and it brought tears certainly to her eyes and to the eyes of a lot of people here, watching 23-year- old Gina DeJesus walk into her home.

The aunt, as our viewers heard, reiterating her thanks over and over again for all of the law enforcement that did so much to help find Gina over the last nine years. She thanked the FBI, the Cleveland police, the Guardian Angels who have been outside of this home, family and friends, thanking them, but then also, of course, asking for privacy.

They held this press conference. They wanted to address the press. They talked about where you could spend in donations, how you could help, but they're not ready to put Gina or her parents through out there to make public statements right now. They have said they're going that when the time is right, they will address the public and the media when the time is right, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Right.

Again, that was Cleveland Courage Fund, if you would like to help these young women and this whole road ahead of them. Poppy Harlow, thank you very much.

Again, I'm Brooke Baldwin here live in Cleveland. What a day it's been here, as these stories continue to percolate and we see these young women finally reunited with their families.

We're also watching another story, as we have learned that the verdict will be read in the Jodi Arias trial.

I'm going to send it to my colleague Ashleigh Banfield in Phoenix, Arizona, for that.

Hey, Ash.

BANFIELD: Brooke, such an incredibly busy day.

There is just breaking news really from coast to coast and in between as well as we go from Cleveland to D.C. and Capitol Hill, right here to Phoenix. And that courthouse, the jury of eight men and four women, have achieved a verdict. They reached that verdict just recently and they will announce it in exactly one hour and 29 minutes.

So we are awaiting that verdict. And at this point, a decision is a critical one. We are finding out whether they have decided that she is guilty of first degree murder, which would mean they would move on to a death penalty phase, or if she is guilty of a lesser included. Or, if she is not guilty at all, effectively that woman would walk out those doors, be processed where she's being held, and then walk out those doors after four-and-a-half years of awaiting trial behind bars.

We're waiting for that verdict. And also I can report to you some of the jurors who left the jury room to get lunch, some of them looked very relaxed. They were smiling. Others breathed a big sigh of relief, I'm told by our producers who witnessed this, at the elevators as they went down to the cafeteria to get their lunch. One juror on the other hand returning from getting her lunch was seen wiping her eyes.

This is a momentous moment for them. After four months, they have reached a verdict. And we will find out soon. Quick break and we're back with all of this breaking news in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BANFIELD: I'm Ashleigh Banfield reporting live in Phoenix, Arizona, outside of the Superior Court of Maricopa County.

Inside that courtroom, after more than four months of trial testimony, a jury of eight men and four women has reached its verdict in the case against Jodi Arias, a woman facing the most severe penalty that the justice system can offer, the death penalty in the murder, the first degree murder allegation against her, in the death of Travis Alexander.

First, she lied and said she was nowhere near the scene. Then she told a story that intruders had killed him. But then in court, on the first day she took the stand, she changed that story for the third time, saying she indeed killed Travis, but that she did it in self- defense, and after that came 19 days of testimony from the stand, tearful at many times, suggesting she was a battered woman.

It is no secret that most often in a defense like this, a victim is beaten and bloodied in a case like this, a reputation taking a hammering in a case like this. But in this particular case, it is almost unlike any other. Travis Alexander, the victim of this murder, the victim of this killing, if you believe her story, his reputation has suffered terribly in the last four months of testimony.

And now this jury is going to tell us if they believe her or if they believe the prosecutors who say Travis was nothing like she says, Travis instead was viciously killed by a woman who deserves no less than to be killed by the state, herself.

We're about to hear that verdict in fact in just over an hour and four minutes from now. That verdict is going to be read in open court, when that jury is able to first settle down, have some lunch, and take a break. Once the jury reaches a verdict, that is not unusual for them to just want to take some time in between reaching that verdict and actually delivering it in court.

Also, all those who are involved in this case must reconvene in the courthouse behind me. And they don't all have offices nearby and the family members involved on both sides of that bar, they also must make it here from their respective homes or offices or where they're waiting out this verdict as well.

Prosecutors are close by in their offices. Defense attorneys are somewhere up to half-an-hour away, where their offices are, as are the families, quite a distance away. So, understandable there would be a lengthy delay between reaching the verdict and announcing the verdict.

Logistically, oftentimes, not sure about this particular judge and her courtroom, but what will happen is the jury will file into that courtroom. They will give their jury foreman to hand over to a bailiff the actual verdict itself. A bailiff will then walk across the courtroom and deliver that handwritten, oftentimes, verdict to the judge, and the judge will read out the answers on the verdict form that the jury has come to their conclusion on.

I want to go live to Ted Rowlands, who is standing behind me, and just over the last 45 minutes since we got word that a verdict had been reached and it was broadcast that a verdict had been reached, dozens upon dozens of court watchers and onlookers have begun to amass.

I can see them behind you, Ted. Give me a sense of what is happening where you are.

ROWLANDS: Well, as you mentioned, people are getting word that there is a verdict, and they are starting to come here to the courthouse.

A lot of these people were actually camped out. And for the past few days, people have been camped out, waiting for a verdict. There are a lot of cameras and microphones, as you can see, but then there are a lot of people in the public -- from the public who have been monitoring this case, not only from Phoenix, but around the country.

We talked to somebody from Kentucky just a bit ago.

But this is Kathy Brown. She's from Phoenix. And Kathy has been here for most of the trial and been watching it for all of it. And, as you can see, she's very invested in it, with her "Justice for Travis" necklace, the bracelet, a picture of Travis on her button here.

And Kathy Brown has something that a lot of these court watchers would love to have, and that's Juan Martinez's signature. He got into a little bit of trouble with the court because of it. She was out here and he signed her cane.

Kathy, first off, you and your friends were very emotional when you heard that there was a verdict. You don't even know what has happened, but why -- why so emotional?

KATHY BROWN, COURT WATCHER: Of course.

I -- just, we are here every day to support Travis' family 100 percent. And it's emotional because I really feel in my heart that there is going to be first degree murder conviction.

ROWLANDS: How did you get so hooked into this?

BROWN: To be honest with you, I started coming down here to see how the whole thing works. I have a cousin here on death row.

And then it -- I just got caught up with everything, and I just can't imagine what this family is going through and what is going through.

ROWLANDS: You have a cousin on death row who obviously was found guilty of a -- I assume, a heinous murder of some sort, and yet you have sided with, and not the defendant in this case, like your cousin, but with the Alexander family. Why?

BROWN: Yes.

I don't feel that it is OK to take a life, no matter who it is. If it is your friend, your family, it is just not OK.

ROWLANDS: You want to get into this courtroom?

BROWN: I do. It's not that we earned spots, because I can support from outside, but, you know, it has been a lot of time, and we just pray that our verdict is what we are hoping.

ROWLANDS: All right.

And, Ashleigh, courtroom seats will be at a premium. You mentioned the -- what will happen inside that courtroom. The actual verdict will be read by the clerk. Christina McCain (ph) will read the verdict.