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Awaiting Jodi Arias Verdict; Gina DeJesus Returns Home

Aired May 8, 2013 - 15:30   ET

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


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But you described it perfectly, what will happen. And you've been in this courtroom. You know that there is limited seating.

So people like Kathy are here, hoping that they will get an opportunity to see this unfold because they have been inside that courtroom and watching this for so long.

This is one of those cases, Ashleigh, that, for whatever reason, has struck a chord with hundreds of thousands of people around the country, and they have just been absolutely glued to it.

It has become a bit of a soap opera. And we're going to find out what happens in just over an hour, whether this jury of eight men and four women will come back with a guilty or not guilty verdict on the first- degree murder charges, which would, of course, then propel it into the next step, the penalty phase.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And clearly, you know, the judge will be presiding over a courtroom, Ted, and you've seen this over and over.

She will likely admonish that courtroom beforehand to stay calm because as you and I have seen and many of our viewers have witnessed firsthand, a live verdict, anything can happen.

When it's devastating, families can erupt. Violence has often erupted in courtroom in first-degree murder cases and even less. And so there will likely be some sort of admonishment from the judge, fascinating that you point out it is the clerk who reads in this jurisdiction that verdict.

But I will bet my life on this, that verdict will be handed to the judge for her to read before it's read out by that clerk. This is her courtroom, and she runs this show and so she will be apprised of it.

She will likely apprised of it well in advance as well, whether she's actually apprised of the decision itself, unclear. But it's all fascinating, no matter what.

Ted Rowlands outside of the Maricopa County superior courthouse. I also want to bring in two people who have been watching this case since the beginning, both of them attorneys.

One, a prosecutor, former federal prosecutor at that, Sunny Hostin, on the right of your screen, is live in Philadelphia right now, and Danny Cevallos, on the left of your screen, also a defense attorney who's been following this case and has been providing excellent legal analysis.

Sunny, first to you, as a prosecutor, I know you look at this through a different prism. But it's hard not to think that 15 hours, according to some, is actually quite short, a deliberation period, notwithstanding it was over the course over four days.

But this is a death penalty case and there was an enormous amount of evidence.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's right. And certainly you try to read the tea leaves and try to determine, well, what's enough? What isn't enough?

We know with Casey Anthony, they deliberated, you know, one full day, less than 11 hours, and there was an acquittal there. We know there was an acquittal in the O.J. case after two hours.

But I think 15 hours, four days of deliberations, means that this jury certainly looked at these charges.

This is, I think, a case that was pretty strong for the prosecution. There was never a question as to who did it. It's not a "whodunit"- type case. It's really a question of why.

We know that Jodi Arias tried to convince this jury that she was an abused woman and that she feared for her life, and that's why she did this.

But I've got to tell you in looking at this case for so very long, I think that the prosecution did a very good job of not really showing she did it, but that she thought about it. And that's what first- degree murder is. It's about premeditation.

Of course, this jury has a lot of options on their verdict sheet. They can go with first-degree murder, which is really premeditation. They can go to second-degree murder, which is intentional, but it doesn't require that forethought, that premeditation.

And they can also go with manslaughter, which is, you know, that sort of heat of passion.

When you look at all of the options before this jury, I just can't imagine even with my -- taking my prosecutor hat off, that there's an acquittal in this case. It just doesn't seem to fit the amount of evidence that was presented here.

BANFIELD: I said that before. And I now know that I won't say it again because I have been so wrong in so many cases where it seemed like many people describe slam dunk, only to find that these jurors had a completely different perspective, having sat through -- everything is very different inside a courtroom even than it is on live television.

Even wall-to-wall live testimony can be very different inside a courtroom and oftentimes in a death penalty case as well.

I'm sure that both of you will agree when a panel of people, of peers, faces the person, a real person, not a television image of a person, it is extraordinarily burdensome for them to make that decision of life or death.

And that is what the next phase could include if they decide first- degree.

Danny, to you, you're a defense attorney. Oftentimes, those tea leaves that Sunny was just talking about are weighed no matter what. And many say that a quick verdict is oftentimes good for the prosecutors and a lengthy verdict deliberation is better for defense.

But in this case, can you get a feeling one way or the other at 15 hours and 5 minutes.

DANNY CEVALLOS, ATTORNEY: First, a fifteen-hour deliberation is not a long deliberation.

Many people have been saying that this is a lengthy deliberation. Fifteen hours is not at all.

Remember how much evidence this case involved, and jurors taking their obligation seriously will have reviewed a substantial amount of that evidence.

Even though maybe they wanted to walk into that room and say, what do you all think? Let's get out of here. She did it.

And I agree with Sunny on many points. Number one, this is a huge amount of evidence against the defendant, and there needs to be a very clear distinction. Yes, like you said, Ashleigh, with other cases, we've been surprised.

But whether Casey Anthony, even Jerry Sandusky, fundamentally, those were "whodunits." There was a -- the question, the issue was, did this person do what they're accused of doing? That is not the case here.

Make no mistake about it, the entire trial was about the psychology of Jodi Arias. What was in her mind at the moment she killed because we know unequivocally that she did kill.

So all of this evidence has gone towards one thing -- what was her state of mind at the time of the admitted killing? So this is different from all the other cases that we've been talking about because, ultimately, the jury is going to decide whether Jodi Arias is number one, credible, and number two, what was going on in her mind when she committed a killing that nobody disputes?

And that's what this case is ultimately about. So with that being said, probably not a lot of surprises in this one.

BANFIELD: And we -- we're about 54 minutes, by my math here, from the verdict being read live here at the Maricopa County superior courthouse here in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

I can only imagine what some of these jurors are going through. I can tell you this, that some of our producers who are able to see them firsthand as they're able to come and go under the watchful eye of a guard who escorts them when they leave the jury deliberation room and they have left today to pick up some lunch and then come back, some of them appeared very relaxed, according to our producers. Some of them actually were giving a sigh of relief while waiting for the elevator.

One juror who returned with her lunch among the others as she was going back into the deliberation room to await this moment of reading the verdict, she was wiping her eyes.

Look, this can be a moment of the relief of a burden, and this can also be a moment of great sadness because those who are the ultimate arbiters of someone's guilt or innocence know exactly the weight of what that entails.

In this case, it does not get more serious than this. This is a death penalty case. And that is not lost on these jurors.

What you don't see on television, oftentimes, are those jury instructions, wall to wall, where that judge beseeches this jury to understand the weight of what they're doing.

And make no mistake, every juror I have ever interviewed after a case has said that they have never taken anything so seriously in their life. It is extraordinarily stressful, even in cases that are not death penalty related.

As we continue to watch this clock and we await the final decision from this jury on the fate of Jodi Arias, we're going to take a quick break and be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: And we are live in Phoenix, Arizona, at the superior courthouse of Maricopa County where, inside, a jury of eight men and four women has reached a verdict in the case against Jodi Arias, a woman who has been on trial for four months, who has been incarcerated for four-and-a-half years, awaiting this decision by this panel of her peers.

The decision is set to be read in about 45 minutes from now. We're going to carry that decision live.

Right now that jury is getting lunch and having a chance just to sort of settle down before this all transpires in open court.

But after weeks upon weeks, months upon months of very disturbing testimony, graphic, painful, uncomfortable, and emotional testimony on both sides of the bar, now we are seeing they have come to a decision after 15 hours and 5 minutes of deliberations over the course of four days.

They began this process, this odyssey, so to speak, just among themselves on Friday. After about an hour on Friday, they broke for the weekend. They reconvened yesterday. After a full decision -- or they reconvened on Monday, and after a full day of deliberations on Monday, and the ensuing day as well, we are hearing today that we have this final decision from them to be read shortly.

Miss Arias, herself, in case you're wondering where she awaits this verdict, it's behind me. I just spoke with one of the marshals, actually, and I asked about the labyrinth of cells that exist here at the Maricopa superior courthouse and he said she's in one of those cells and often she'll be escorted through the tunnels whether she has to be in court or whether she has to be in the cell.

She awaits this verdict in one of those cells. I asked him if he'd a chance to guard over her, and he said, not himself, but that his colleagues and his friends certainly had. And there has been a lot of guarding over the course of four months.

I want to bring in some colleagues working on this case as long as anyone, and that's Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor who is live for us in Philadelphia;

Danny Cevallos, a defense attorney who has also been analyzing this case for several months as well. He's live in Philadelphia.

And Lisa Bloom, from AVVO.com, who is a former prosecutor herself and a defense attorney and has worked many years doing legal analysis on Court TV, "In Session" and now with us as well on CNN.

Lisa, let me go to you, first of all, and I just want to alert our viewers that it's starting to get very noisy where I am. It is not a surprise that the helicopters are starting to come out in full force because the crowds are really starting to gather.

There are more than 100 people out in front of the courthouse waiting the verdict. They have been watching the trial for months.

But, Lisa Bloom, 15 hours, 5 minutes, and an overwhelming amount of evidence, any surprise to you that we have a verdict today?

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: No, I think this is absolutely right. I think the jury has had enough time to go through all of the evidence, to analyze it carefully and to come to the right decision.

This is not a snap judgment by any means. And it's also not one that they had to weigh over for weeks and weeks and perhaps come to a compromise decision.

So, you know, I'd say 15 hours is about right. We've got eight men, four women on this jury.

A lot of people wonder if a predominantly male jury is going to be softer on a female defendant, especially an attractive young female defendant. I guess we'll have to wait and see if that's the case.

But I think this jury is going to get it right. I have faith in them. BANFIELD: I also want to bring in Danny Cevallos. And, Danny, as a defense attorney, I'm wondering if you're thinking about those lesser includeds at this time and whether there's any possibility given the volume of evidence against her that this jury could end up on a lesser included of second-degree or manslaughter or even that most less of the includeds, and that is not guilty, given what we heard in this courtroom.

CEVALLOS: Yeah, remember, the jury has essentially four options -- first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, or acquittal.

Now, that manslaughter, the defense asked to have that read to the jury, and that was a victory for them. Why? Because the jury could then potentially hang their hat on a manslaughter conviction, which is a much lesser charge, if they find that the killing was committed in a heat of passion.

And I think that term throughout legal jurisprudence has been misinterpreted, maybe confused, and that confusion could inure to the benefit of Jodi Arias.

Because if they believe that, well, if nothing else, it was a heat of passion killing, they could potentially hang their hat on that issue.

However, before anyone gets too nervous, there has been a jubilee of evidence of premeditation in this case, including turning license plates upside down, dyeing hair, missing guns, all of those are elements of a potential premeditation verdict.

And I think that those out there who are concerned about another Casey Anthony can probably relax because of all of the elements of premeditation that have been put out there.

Even if they don't find that premeditation, they could also find second-degree murder and, although manslaughter would be a victory for the defense, it is also a conviction for the killing of Travis Alexander.

BANFIELD: And it is fascinating you bring up the Casey Anthony trial. There were great similarities in the public fascination, in the length of time it took to try Casey Anthony, in those who turned out at the courthouse, and I daresay the helicopters overhead were similar during the Casey Anthony verdict as well.

Here what here's what's very different, and this is a reporter who spent over 80 days on that Casey Anthony case, in that courtroom. There was a very different prosecution case in Casey Anthony's trial. There was a giant gap and it was a gap that jurors told me directly was too big to leap.

I don't know that there is that kind of gap that exists in the case against Jodi Arias. It is very comprehensive, there is extraordinary evidence and we have an accused woman who admits to lying over and over again.

Similar to Casey Anthony, but then again, very, very different in terms of what her story ended up being at trial.

There is another massive story that is also under way in Cleveland, Ohio, right now.

My colleague Brooke Baldwin is standing by at the home of Gina DeJesus, who made her triumphant return.

And, Brooke, I was listening to your live reporting as Gina made her way out of that vehicle and into that house and you said you got goose bumps.

And I'm here to tell you, that thousands of miles away, not only did I, but the people I'm working with here on this set, we all gathered around our monitors watching that moment as well.

I think the entire country is behind that family and the others as we go through this terribly traumatic story.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It was a similar situation for us, looking at this teeny, tiny monitor and watching this young woman, presumably to be Gina DeJesus, and her yellow hoodie, getting out of the car, and finally coming home, not having been seen by her family since -- here she is -- since 2004.

In last few minutes, we have now heard from her parents. We will play this emotional sound from mom and dad after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Breaking news here this afternoon.

We will take you back to Phoenix, Arizona, in a matter of minutes as Ashleigh Banfield is standing by. As we now know, the Jodi Arias verdict will be read in just about 40 minutes from now here.

But again, just to reset, I'm Brooke Baldwin. I'm in Cleveland and I'm standing on Seymour Avenue. And there is a home over my right shoulder which has been the home in focus now that we have seen these three young women and a daughter, a child, a six-year-old, emerging.

We have a closer shot for you because there all of a sudden has been a bit of activity. You see we have the sheriff's department here on scene and also you see some of these people in these protective white suits.

We saw them out here yesterday, but all of a sudden today, we're seeing these white suits. But here's something else interesting I just wanted to point out. In addition to the people in suits, I've seen shovels. I've seen several shovels. And I also know that there are K-9s back here on the scene today and several people here have cameras.

What they will do with the shovels, I don't know yet. There's the dog. But we know yesterday they went through the home. We know that they did not find -- according to the safety director here in the city of Cleveland, they did not find in the home any human remains. They said they reported finding chains and ropes, no human remains, but we will have to wait and see and hear from Cleveland police as far as what could be found perhaps in the back of the home.

There's a massive, grassy lot next to the home. What will happen with the shovels?

That's happening here on Seymour Avenue. A couple miles from me, also here in Cleveland, was a much different scene, a thrilling, jubilant scene that elicited goose bumps from, I know, so many of you, finally seeing one of these three young women, Gina DeJesus, 14 at the time when she went missing back in 2004.

Here she is in the yellow, hooded sweatshirt, being taken, shielded from the crowds in front of the home, the media, the family, the community all rallying around her, and we heard -- we did not hear from Gina, but we heard from her mother and father minutes ago.

Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY DEJESUS, GINA'S MOTHER: The list is so long, so I'm not going to mention names, but I will say, thank you to the FBI for always believing me and being there and the police.

Commander (inaudible), I always aimed to him and always went to him commander even with my granddaughters.

I participated in a lot of activities that all of you know, and I'm going to repeat this. August 6th is a night out against crime. It is going to be held down at the steelyard. Please take your child. Get them fingerprinted. Do everything that you can to protect them, please.

And another thing, if they knock on your doors, the law, they knock on your door, open it. Don't be afraid. Answer their questions. That man that helped Amanda, that the courage that she had in her to do, these three young women are at home.

Don't ignore a plea for help because if you was to come to me and say, I need help, I am here. I am going to help you. Please, do it.

Again, I'm going to start thanking -- I'll probably have to say this in Spanish --- (inaudible) that was there for us from beginning to the end, whenever we needed something we went there.

I want to thank my neighbors. I want to also thank the -- I got to thank my neighbors that watched over me. Even when I went to the store by myself, everyone was peeking and watching and I thank them for that.

I want to thank everybody that believed, even when I said she was alive, and believed, and I want to thank them.

Even the ones that doubted, I still want to thank them the most because they're the ones that made me stronger, the one that made me feel the most that my daughter was out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Applause and cheers and sheer joy there at the home of Gina DeJesus as her mom and dad now finally have their little girl, now 23 years of age, now a young woman, back home with them.

So now we know these three young women, apparently, they said she is in good condition.

So I want to also pass along the fact that, again, we're here on Seymour Avenue. There is a home over my shoulder that's really been the focus of this whole investigation. And you see FBI and sheriff's deputies here on scene because it was Ariel Castro, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, who lived in this home.

And so we now know he and his two brothers, all in their 50s, have been taken into custody but, still, we haven't heard any news on charges. But I can now tell you this that we have learned that there will be a 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Cleveland press news briefing.

So we'll have to wait and see exactly what comes out of that. But, again, that happens at 5:00 Eastern time. We'll monitor that.

Again, we're also juggling this huge, breaking story out of Phoenix, Arizona, in which we now know, Jodi Arias, her fate is sealed at least thus far in this initial phase.

The verdict will be read in just about half an hour from now in this courtroom in Phoenix, Arizona.

And I have CNN legal analyst Paul Callan with me now. And Paul, let me just first begin with, right now, with half an hour to go, tell me, where is the jury and where is Jodi Arias as they await this final half hour?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the jury is probably still back in the jury room and it's a moment of great tension for them because they're -- they know it's a high profile case. They've been putting an awful lot of their lives into this case and they're going to be led into the courtroom.

So they're kind of just pacing around wondering what's the delay? Why aren't we being brought into court?

And as all the players are assembled, this is sort of a very, very nerve-racking time for the lawyers and the jurors and the judge, everybody else, as the cast of characters involved in the trial process is all assembled in the courtroom.

Now, Jodi Arias, on the other hand, of course, is -- yeah, go ahead -- will be -- is in custody in a jail cell.

Yeah?

BALDWIN: Certainly she is in custody. She is awaiting her fate here in half an hour.

And the issue really here, Paul, with this trial is not a matter of if she did it, but why she did it. This isn't a whodunit. This is a "why-did-she-do-it?"

And so remind us, the argument from the prosecutors, at least in order to prove first-degree murder, is they have to prove not only the why, but the fact that she thought about it, that it was premeditated.

CALLAN: Yes. They have to prove premeditated murder and, generally, that means a planned murder. She thought about it. She deliberated on it. And then she executed the plan and killed another human being. The law punishes that with very severe penalties, including the death penalty.

It then drops down to the second charge that they can consider if they don't go with first-degree which, of course, is second-degree murder. That requires no advanced planning. You have to have an intent to kill, but you don't have to have the elaborate advanced planning.

There is also a strange count that she broke into the house or she committed a burglary. She didn't actually break in, but she entered the house without the permission and authority of the owner and then killed him, so if she did that in the course of a burglary, that would be second-degree murder as well.

Then we get to the manslaughter count and that's a heat of passion thing. That's two people suddenly have an argument. One loses her temper and kills the other. The law says that's manslaughter.

Those are the range of charges that were being debated by the jury in this case.

BALDWIN: Paul Callan, I appreciate your legal perspective here. One of our CNN legal analysts, Paul Callan, thank you so much.

Again, just a reminder here in Cleveland, we will be getting that Cleveland police press conference at 5:00 Eastern time, awaiting the news that could be made there in just about an hour from now.

Also this huge, huge story out of Phoenix, Arizona. That verdict will be read in half an hour from now. We have crews all over both stories for now.

For now, thanks so much for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Cleveland.

Let me toss things to my colleague, Jake Tapper, in Washington. "The Lead" starts now.