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THE SITUATION ROOM
Arias Guilty of First-Degree Murder; Ariel Castro Charged With Kidnap, Rape
Aired May 8, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What about outbursts? You say reaction but was it an outburst or --
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, nothing more than a natural reaction you might expect from someone who was really emotional. I can imagine that the judge before this, the family members were brought in, the supporters were brought in before the media was, before spectators were brought in. I imagine that they were given some sort of an admonition. We didn't hear it, but it's common in these cases to get some sort of an admonition about outbursts.
There weren't any that were outrageous or anything that would upset any judge I can imagine.
ROWLANDS: Did the judge warn the courtroom not to -- to control themselves?
WIAN: No, no warning at all. There was a big delay that was supposed to start at 1:30 local time. We didn't actually get in the courtroom until about 1:38, 1:40, some times around that.
Then -- then when the verdict was read, it went -- it all happened very, very quickly. The prosecutor, Juan Martinez, was -- came in. The defense attorney, Kirk Nurmi, came in. Then they brought in Jodi Arias. The jury came in.
And then right away, they handed that verdict to the clerk and it was read. It happened real quick.
ROWLANDS: Any reaction from Juan Martinez?
Did he make eye contact with the family?
Anything that you noticed?
WIAN: Honestly, I could not see him from where I was standing, Ted. But, clearly, he is someone that supporters of the prosecution have been very happy with his performance. He's been one of the stars of this trial, if you will.
ROWLANDS: We just saw -- we just saw one of Travis Alexander's friends leave the courtroom here, or courthouse. And that's why you heard, Ashleigh, the applause there -- Ashleigh.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ted, we are over a block away from you. We can hear the eruptions of emotions, the screams.
Jeffrey Toobin and I getting breaking news on our BlackBerries about some of the breakdowns of the jury vote.
If you're just joining us, I want to reset for you what we're covering here in Phoenix, Arizona, outside of the Maricopa County Superior Courthouse.
A jury of eight men and four women has just reached its verdict and delivered that verdict in the courtroom -- guilty. Jodi Arias is guilty of first degree murder in the killing of Travis Alexander. A brutal, to be sure, a brutal and painful death that that man suffered over four years ago.
Jodi Arias could have been found not guilty. She also could have been found guilty of lesser includeds. That did not happen.
And now this story will move to another phase, a phase in which the jury needs to decide if their life is worth saving or if her life needs to be taken in the death penalty phase.
I also want to just break down for you, inside the courtroom, what the jury decided and how it voted.
There were two theories -- Jeffrey Toobin, on which they could have arrived at a guilty verdict in a first degree murder. One was a premeditated murder and the other was a felony murder. I think our viewers understand what a premeditated murder is. But a felony murder means that the killing, or the death of Travis Alexander, resulted in the commission of a felony. And these prosecutors said the underlying felony would have been a break and enter.
I can report to you that as the jurors made their decision, five of them voted that it was premeditated only. Seven voted that it was premeditated and felony. And zero actually voted for the alternative, just a felony murder.
Does that speak to you in any way?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the reason why this case is now a death penalty case is that 12 jurors found it premeditated.
TOOBIN: The -- if I were the defense team, I would take a tiny bit of hope from the fact that there was not unanimity on both theories, because that is -- they have to -- they have be unanimous when it comes to the death penalty.
The focus is really very different now, now that we move to the penalty phase. Jodi Arias is looking for just one juror. That's all it takes. One juror can make this into a life in prison case and not a death penalty case. The jury does not have to be unanimous if it's -- if it's not going to be the death penalty. It has to be unanimous for the death penalty. But 11-1 for the death penalty is life in prison.
And that's where things get very difficult to predict because you never know what was going to move one juror to make it a...
BANFIELD: But critical...
TOOBIN: -- non-death penalty case.
BANFIELD: -- critical to remind our viewers that every one of these jurors that was empanelled during voir dire process was asked if they are, I mean, essentially death qualified...
BANFIELD: -- if they could, in fact, render a death verdict. And they had to answer truthfully on the stand under oath that they could, in fact, do so if that was required of them.
TOOBIN: That -- that's true, but that doesn't mean they will. I mean that's the...
BANFIELD: Very different when you face her.
TOOBIN: -- see, that's what's really -- it's very -- and, you know, one of the things, one of the theories behind the defense putting Jodi Arias on the witness stand for so long -- was it 17 days, 18 days?
I mean it was just -- I've never seen anyone testify in a criminal case for that long -- is to make the jury look at her and think, OK, she's guilty, but are we really going to execute this woman?
Are we going to look her in the eye and say she has to die at the hands of the state?
That's the only issue left in this case. And we'll start to know the answer tomorrow.
BANFIELD: All right. A little bit more technical information, I think, is critical, as well, as we move into the next phase. Our producers are letting us know that the decisions have been made in terms of timing as to how we move forward. The aggravation phase in this case, which will ultimately lead us toward life in prison or death -- and there are some things in between there -- begins at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow, Eastern time. It could be two days. It could take two days to go through this process. That surprises me.
TOOBIN: I know (INAUDIBLE) be longer than that.
BANFIELD: So would I.
BANFIELD: I would have thought it would be longer, but it could be two days at this point. The jury then will deliberate to see if the aggravators are met. This is an unusual process in this jurisdiction. In many other cases that Jeffrey and I have covered we essentially go from a guilt/innocence phase to an aggravators versus mitigators phase all in one big tub.
BANFIELD: But this -- they need -- this jury needs to deliberate first in the aggravation phase on whether there is an aggravated (INAUDIBLE) on cruelty, whether Travis Alexander suffered cruelty in the manner in which he was killed.
Then they will go on to a further phase and a decision on whether aggravators outweigh the mitigators. And this is a science -- and, Jeff, listen, this is a science I have never understood. I always imagined it was a formula, a checklist, and whether one checklist outweighs the other. And it is not a checklist. It is a gut sensation after hearing all aggravators and mitigators.
TOOBIN: Well, it is and it isn't. I mean that's the thing that the Supreme Court, frankly, has struggled with for all of these years.
You know, in 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States said no more death penalty in the United States. In 1976, they let the death penalty back in, but they set up this structure that has now become somewhat familiar to many folks, which is aggravating factors versus mitigating factors.
And Wolf Blitzer is going to take it from here.
BANFIELD: Well, before you say to Wolf, it remains to be seen. Jodi Arias could take the stand again to plead for her life, as well. And that's critical here.
Wolf Blitzer continuing our coverage from Washington, DC -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, we're going to have a lot more, guys, on the guilty verdict -- a guilty verdict for Jodi Arias.
But let's go to Cleveland right now. A news conference about to begin. The Cleveland Police Department, the city prosecutor's office, they're addressing reporters right now.
Let's listen in.
MARTIN FLASK, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY, CLEVELAND: The Cleveland Federal Bureau of Investigation, our partners from Washington, have completed the search of the Seymour Avenue crime scene and collected those evidentiary items they believe are necessary to successfully proceed through the criminal proceedings. We will not today, however, discuss the results of the search or the evidence that was seized at the crime scene.
I'm joined this afternoon by City of Cleveland prosecutor, Victor Perez; special agent in charge of the Cleveland office of the FBI, Steve Anthony; chief of police Michael McGrath; and deputy chief of police, Ed Tomba.
Prosecutor Perez will provide a synopsis of his review that was presented to him for consideration and his decision. Following the decision and the comments by Prosecutor Perez, deputy chief of police, Ed Tomba, will respond to those questions for which he can, at this point, answer.
The course is -- I know you've heard this before, but I'd like to share it one last time, at least for today, that this is an ongoing investigation and there is evidence that cannot be disclosed at this time. But I know our law enforcement officials will do the best they can to provide accurate information to the extent possible.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce the City of Cleveland prosecutor, Victor Perez.
VICTOR PEREZ, CHIEF ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR: Thank you, Director Flask.
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Victor Perez and I am the chief assistant prosecutor for the City of Cleveland.
First and foremost, I believe I speak for everyone in our city that we are happy that Michelle, Gina and Amanda are safe and healthy.
Second, I would like to thank the citizens that came to Amanda's immediate assistance when she was trying to escape that led to the eventual discovery of Michelle and Gina.
I would also like to commend the members of the Cleveland Division of Police the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, for their dedicated work in conducting the investigation in this case.
Regarding this case, I just signed criminal complaints charging Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. The signed criminal complaints are first degree felonies. The defendant will be arraigned tomorrow morning in Cleveland Municipal Court and his case will be transferred over to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office will then proceed with the prosecution of these criminal cases. This case will proceed to the Cuyahoga County grand jury, at which time I expect will result in indictments on these charges and may result in additional counts.
As it relates to Pedro and Onil Castro, no charges will be filed against these two individuals at this time. There is no evidence that these two individuals had any involvement in the commission of the crimes committed against Michelle, Gina, Amanda and the minor child.
However, both of them do have outstanding Cleveland Municipal Court warrants for misdemeanor cases. These misdemeanor cases for Pedro and Onil will both be heard tomorrow morning in Cleveland Municipal Court.
Finally, as the chief prosecutor for the City of Cleveland, born and raised in Puerto Rico, I want to -- I want everyone to know that the acts of the defendant in this criminal case are not a reflection of the rest of the Puerto Rican community here or in Puerto Rico. I also want to remind everyone that this is now a pending criminal matter and that we will not be able to provide any more comments at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
FLASK: The four kidnap victims are Gina, Amanda, Michelle and the young child. And the victims of the rape are Gina, Amanda and Michelle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also, make sure that you state your name and what media outlet you're working for.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brian Todd from CNN.
Could you tell us anything about a source that we're finding out about just now of a second residence on Seymour Avenue where apparently officials went in with protective suits, masks, dogs?
This is about two doors down from the Castro home.
Could you tell us what's going on there, please?
FLASK: Yes, that is a continuation of the search that we conducted at the home on Seymour Avenue during the course of our investigation over the last couple of days. Information was obtained that provided us enough probable cause to seek another search warrant to go into that house and -- with an attempt to secure evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us anymore about what's going on in that house?
Are any suspects there (INAUDIBLE)?
FLASK: No. No suspects are there. And what's going on is that is the FBI's evidence recovery team and that is their crime scene unit. And they do put the protective suits on and they go in there with gloves and they search and photograph very meticulously all the contents of that home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the connection to the -- to the Castro home?
Could you tell us? FLASK: Well, I can't tell you the exact connection, but I can tell you that during the course of our investigation, information that was obtained led us to that address.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question.
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. Sir. My name is Ainsley Earhardt. I work for Fox News Channel out of New York City.
A lot of our viewers want to know, did these girls, over the course of that 10 year period, 11 year period, ever try to escape?
Were there drugs involved?
Were these -- was Ariel Castro drugging these girls to prevent them from escaping?
And what -- what allowed them, what window of opportunity allowed them to escape this time?
FLASK: Well, number one, we're not positive about any type of drugs, if they were drugged. That's yet to be determined.
Number two, the only opportunity, after interviewing those young ladies, to escape was the other day when Amanda escaped. So they were in that home. I don't believe -- they don't believe that they've been outside of the home for the last 10 years, respectively, so...
EARHARDT: Were they kept together in one room?
FLASK: They -- they were not in one room, but they did know each other and they did know each other was there.
EARHARDT: And one more question.
What's her relationship -- the child's relationship with the father?
What will that be?
FLASK: That is Amanda's daughter. And as far as the relationship, that hasn't been determined. There's going to be a paternity test taken. There was a search warrant executed on the suspect to obtain his DNA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) with Channel 19.
I wanted to know if Mr. Castro, Ariel Castro, was cooperating with investigators?
Is he speaking to you?
And do you suspect there are any other victims beyond these three women and the little girl?
FLASK: Yes, he was. He was read his -- provided his Miranda rights, which he waived. And he did speak with us and provided us, the division of police, FBI and the prosecutor's office, with a detailed statement. And as of right now, we don't see or we don't anticipate any other victims at his -- than where he's the suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Can I ask about the reward money? Do we know if anybody will be receiving any reward money, particularly, Mr. Ramsey?
TOMBA: You know, we don't, but we are actually discussing that. So, that's going to be up to the entities that put up that reward money and what their protocol is, but Mr. Ramsey does deserve something. A lot of credit and he is the true key to this case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Berries (ph) with the Channel 3 in Cleveland here. Would it be safe to say that the bulk of your case is based upon the statements of the women? How much of your case is based upon what they told you?
TOMBA: That's the major part of the case is what they told us and what the other interviews with the suspect told us and what the young ladies told us, without a doubt. I mean, they were the ones that were there. They were the main players in it. And, what they told law enforcement was key and it's going to be a key part in the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were they able to get into the ten-year narrative here? I mean, the history? So much has transpired. How much detail did you get?
TOMBA: You know, as far as the history of it, I mean, it was -- it was a lengthy interview and I don't want to really get into that, but victims of rape, victims of trauma, particularly young victims, they've been known to disclose 10, 15, 20, 30 years later. So as of right now, they did provide us with enough information and enough factual basis that we would seek charges against Ariel Castro.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Alana Samuels (ph) with "The Los Angeles Times." Is there any evidence that Mr. Castro or any of these girls could be in any way connected with Ashley Summers or is there any new information that's come to light about her?
TOMBA: There is no new information that's come to light about her. Ashley Summers is an active, open investigation. And I can assure you that her disappearance was part of our questioning of the three subjects that we brought in. But that's still an open and active investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is there any sign that Mr. Castro was interviewed by the Cleveland police or the FBI prior to this date for any reason? TOMBA: No. Yesterday was the first time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lisa Rantala (ph), WSYX out of Columbus. Wanted to ask, one, about the physical restraints that he allegedly used inside this home to keep the girls there, what verbal threats he may have made, and also, are there pregnancies, possibly miscarriages that the other girls may have had?
TOMBA: You know, all of that is, you know, evidentiary at this time as far as that hinges quite a bit on the prosecution. I really don't want to get into exactly an answer to those three questions. That's just something that is going to have to be brought out in court. I can't bring that out in a public --
TOMBA: OK. I know the chief mentioned something earlier about that today, but as far as exactly what that was, we cannot bring it out into the public forum at this time. It's not appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Pagonakis (ph) News Channel 5, Cleveland. Was a suicide note from Ariel Castro found in his home?
TOMBA: That is another part of evidence that we recovered that I cannot comment on, on the basis of that. There was over 200 items taken from the home on Seymour Avenue. All those items will be processed. They were all taken into custody of the FBI's evidence response team. They've yet to be processed. Exactly what they are, I don't know.
There is a crime scene log, but that is part of the open investigation. But I can tell you there was over 200 items taken out of that home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any questions, Ed, about the citizenship of the Castro brothers? Are they U.S. citizens?
TOMBA: I don't know. I couldn't tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a lot of questions earlier regarding extra 911 calls that may have come up and not been responded to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll try and answer that question the best I can. Immediately after the recovery of the three victims and her daughter from the home on Seymour Avenue, we began a search of our records to determine whether or not there were any other calls for service to that house on Seymour.
Our review indicated there were no other calls except one call for service in 2000 and we were able to identify the Cleveland police were at the home once in 2004 for an incident that involved Mr. Castro as part of his employment as a school bus driver here in the city of Cleveland.
As a result of the evidence that's been obtained, thus far, the statements from the suspect and the victims there is no evidence to indicate that any of them were ever outside in the yard in chains without clothing or any other manner. In fact, I think the evidence we've obtained, thus far, indicates that in the last decade, they've only known themselves to be outside the home on two separate occasions and that was only briefly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Josh Haskel (ph) with Abc News. Deputy chief, can you tell us about Onil and Pedro's relationship with their brother, Ariel? Did they know that there were three women living in the house against their will, any idea about what was going on inside that house?
TOMBA: As far as a relationship, you know, I couldn't tell you. We focused on their knowledge or lack of knowledge. But absolutely not. There is nothing that leads us to believe that they were involved or they had any knowledge of this. And that comes from statements of our victims and their statements and their brother's statements.
So, as far as what their relationship was, Ariel kept everybody at a distance. And, Joe, they are from Puerto Rico, so to answer that question about their citizenship.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jennifer Lundgren Channel 3 News. Can you clarify then why Pedro and Onil Castro were taken into custody in relation to this case?
TOMBA: They were with their brother and it was an investigative stop. And as you know, early on, you can only imagine the chaos and the relief that we had finding these three girls, so we had enough probable cause to bring them into custody. They were brought into custody as many suspects are. We continued our investigation.
We found no facts to link them to the crime. And we do -- what we usually do is we consult with the prosecutor for charges or for them to be released. So, that's the reason.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us when their arraignment will be for their outstanding warrants and when they'll be able to go home?
TOMBA: They should be in court tomorrow and it's up to the judge if he credits them with time served or whatever -- but it's up to the judge, but they'll be in court tomorrow morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
TOMBA: Hi, Bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Bill Shield with Channel 8. I don't know if this is for you or maybe the head of the FBI. I don't know if it's a joint task force or not, but we had a story yesterday where a gentleman who was, I believe, initially a suspect in Gina Dejesus' disappearance and a private investigator indicated to us that this gentleman said he had pointed authorities in the direction of Ariel Castro back in like 2004.
Yet, I don't know who the appropriate person to respond is, but is that true and what was done with that if it is true?
TOMBA: You want to address it, Steve?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just very quickly, we have obviously heard that same statement, and with due diligence we have scrubbed our entire investigative file and have no reason to believe that he made the comments that he's purporting to the media. So, just so I have it right, there was a conversation with him but you have no reason to believe that he made the statements to you that he made to us, is that correct?
It's part of this long-term joint task force investigation. He was interviewed at some point. And that's -- that must be what he's referring to when he said that he told us that. Again, we have no information to believe based upon our investigative file that that's, indeed, correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thank you very much.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela Brown with CNN. It was mentioned earlier that the only opportunity to escape for the victims was on Monday when Amanda escaped. Can you let us know what the circumstances were that gave her the opening on Monday?
TOMBA: Well, she explained some things in her statement that are privileged that I can't disclose, but for whatever reason, like I said the other day, something must have clicked and she saw an opportunity and she took that opportunity and I said it the other day and I'll say it today that, you know, she is the true hero.
She's the one that started this, but as far as what the circumstances were inside that home, and the control that he may have had over those girls, we don't know that yet. I think that's going to be -- take us a long time to figure that out.
BROWN: But this was the first time they attempted to escape, that's correct?
BROWN: Quickly, can you let us know how the alleged abductions happened years ago? Can you provide any details?
TOMBA: No. No, I can't at this time. I'm sorry. That's part -- that was part of our investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Donna Leinwand Leger (ph) from "USA Today." Can you give us a general description of the conditions under which these women were living? And well, I'll save my second question.
TOMBA: OK. If you want a general description it was -- the house was in disarray, but without going into any, you know, with any specifics, I did not go into the home. That was an active crime scene. I did not enter the home so that is, you know, we have a protocol about who enters that home. But just from what the guys were saying that it was in quite a bit of disarray.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell me what you mean by disarray? I mean --
TOMBA: I guess, everybody's definition of that would be different so, you know, that's just an integral part of our criminal investigation that I really don't want to go any further into exactly what they found or what was in that home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And then, looking back over the years as you investigated the women's disappearance, are there any areas that you see that you think to yourself, gosh, that was a missed opportunity, for example, some of these domestic violence incidents where his partner or wife or whatever she was asked for protection?
TOMBA: You know, I have, you know, been part of this for quite a long time and, no. The investigators and, you know, the agents and everybody that worked on it and we've asked ourselves that question numerous times over the last ten years. Are we missing anything? Is there something, is there a sign? Is there an assignment or is there something that we missed?
And I'm just very, very confident in the ability of those investigators and those law enforcement officers that they checked every single lead and if there was one bit of evidence, one shred of a tip no matter how minute it was, they followed it up very, very aggressively. So, I'd have to say, no.
In hindsight, we may find out that maybe we did, but that's going to be in hindsight and after this criminal case is completed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, can you tell us about the young child who was rescued along with Amanda Berry? Was she born in that house? Is she Ariel Castro's biological child? Were there other pregnancies among those women?
TOMBA: OK. The answer to that is no, I definitely can't tell you about her. She's, you know, a minor and I can't discuss her, you know, her status at all. Because it's a criminal investigation, and out of respect for the three young girls that were in that house. I think that information will come out eventually, but it's not going to come out here today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were any of the other three impregnated?
TOMBA: That's not going to come out here today. That's part of our investigation. We're not going to discuss that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Layla Atasi (ph) with "The Plain Dealer." You mentioned that the women left the house twice in ten years. What were the circumstances of those instances? And also, did the women know Castro through his daughters before their abduction?
TOMBA: Well, I'll answer the second one. There's nothing that leads us to believe that they knew -- that there was knowledge between the two or a friendship or that they knew each other. And that was as far as them leaving the house twice, when you get a chance to see where the house is situated and the garage is situated, we were told that they left the house and went into the garage in disguise so those are the two times that were mentioned or that they can recall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, they never left the property.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And there's no connection between Castro and the girls pre-abduction is what you're saying, that there's no evidence if that's true.
TOMBA: No. We don't see that right now. You know, if that comes out later, but no. Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: this concludes the media briefing. We'd like to thank everyone for coming out and everyone have a nice day.
BLITZER: All right. So, there you have the latest information from the Cleveland prosecutors and the Cleveland Police Department. That was Ed Tomba, the deputy chief of police -- of the Cleveland Police Department saying that Ariel Castro, he's the younger brother. He is now being charged with four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. They don't anticipate other victims in this case right now, but they do believe that the victims include the three women, Michele Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus as well as the young child, the six-year-old child who were held in that home.
The two other brothers are not being charged at this time according to the police department and the prosecutors in Cleveland. Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, no charges at this time. They are being held on other misdemeanor allegations that were filed earlier but they -- the police chief and the deputy police chief says they don't believe that these two other brothers knew about what Ariel Castro was allegedly doing, had no involvement with these three women in the home.
There will be a hearing tomorrow. We'll see what happens to Pedro Castro and Onil Castro. And we're also showing some pictures of what's going on over at the house there in Cleveland.
Let's bring in - Sunny Hostin, one of our CNN legal analysts to give us a little analysis of what we just heard. Pretty surprising development. Only Ariel Castro being charged with these felony charges, four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. Two other brothers not being charged at this time.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Certainly that was surprising. I think many of us wanted to know what really was going on in that home and who knew what was going on. I suppose now that this attorney is saying, the city attorney is saying they are not involved. It means perhaps these women, Wolf, were kept somewhere where no one else could see them. We know that evidence has been taken out of that home, evidence of padlocks and ropes and chains. And so they may have been detained in an area that the brothers may not have seen or had access to.
But I will say this. We're talking about four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. First-degree felonies. He is certainly looking at a maximum term of life in prison. And so these are very, very serious charges, and this is just the beginning of this investigation.
So the bottom line is even though he is going to be arraigned tomorrow, a grand jury then will be convened, and it is likely other charges will be set, additional charges perhaps will come down from the grand jury. We are hearing some evidence of perhaps a sexually violent predator, and that would be an additional charge. So I just want to remind our viewers that this is really the very beginning, even though we know four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. There could be additional charges coming down in this case.
BLITZER: Yes. The deputy police chief made that point that this could be only the beginning, that there could be more charges down the road.
Jeff Toobin, you were listening carefully when we heard these charges being enunciated and explained. They said that the Pedro Castro and Onil Castro are not being charged at this time. That is based on statements from Ariel Castro that were made as well as the victims, the three women in this case.
So it looks like the two other brothers, at least if you believe what the deputy police chief had to say, had no knowledge of what Ariel Castro was allegedly doing.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's true, and that's where things stands today. We do have to recognize what an early stage of the criminal investigation this is, how much more there is to know.
I am certainly interested in something that wasn't really addressed at that press conference, which is the competence of the Cleveland Police Department, and why these girls were not found for ten years when they were right there for all this time. I mean it was all well and good to hear the Cleveland police department say we did fine. We did a wonderful job. I think this case may well call for an outside investigation into whether that is in fact the case and could these girls have been discovered much, much earlier in this nightmarish kidnapping?
BLITZER: Yes, were there signs the police failed to follow up on, which is I'm sure going to be investigated down the road. Right now, Brooke Baldwin is on the scene for us in Cleveland. Brooke, tell our viewers where you are and what's going on.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so Wolf, we're standing here on Seymour Avenue. You heard Brian Todd as part of that police briefing asking specifically about -- you see the sheriff's cars behind me and also the FBI has been here for the better part of this afternoon. Brian Todd asked the folks in that news briefing, tell us about the search that's been under way. I've been here for a couple hours.
What we've seen, Wolf, in addition to this home that is clearly the focus of the whole investigation in which the three girls and that one daughter sprung free two days ago, now we've learned that this unit, that the FBI recovery team, these individuals in white suits, protective gear, we've seen shovels, we've seen cameras, they are -- they've been going in and out of this home, the home closest to me here on Seymour Avenue so two doors down from Ariel Castro's home.
And then so you heard what was interesting, the question is, well, why did they go in this home and they answered it sort of in a roundabout way saying that there has been information obtained, sort of nebulous, but information obtained potentially from talking to, the interrogating of Ariel Castro. And from this information, they were able to get probable cause. Probable cause, then comes a search warrant, and they've looked with dogs and have taken photos from inside the house.
Also you heard them say they had gotten some 200 items out of the Seymour Avenue address where Ariel Castro lived and where those three young women were kept prisoner. So now they have to process all of those pieces of evidence.
And one other item, Wolf, that jumped out at me. They were asked about the three women. Keep in mind these three women, they were total strangers ten years ago. I walked back through where each of them were abducted today, and they all were taken along this same avenue. It was a couple miles from where I am. And they mentioned that they were kept in separate rooms of the house. But of course, over the course of time, they did come to know. They were aware of one another's existence and again they, through this news briefing, explained they had only been outside two times in 10 years according to police, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. They were just taken to the garage in the back there on those two occasions, according to what the police just said.
Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst also joining us, a criminal defense attorney -- former prosecutor. You did hear them say that the suspect Ariel Castro, Paul, had been read his Miranda rights. I didn't hear whether or not he has an attorney, a court-appointed attorney. Did you hear anything along the lines of whether he has a lawyer already?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I did not hear any mention of a lawyer at this point. It may very well be that he doesn't and it won't be until his first court appearance that an attorney would stand up on the case. That tends to be the way these things usually play out. When the defendant arrives in court, they appoint the lawyer and that's the first appearance of the attorney.
BLITZER: So whatever he said, as long as they read him his Miranda rights and told him he has a right to remain silent, and he has a right to an attorney, whatever he said, that can be used as evidence potentially against him?
CALLAN: Oh, absolutely. And what people have to understand is that simply because you're advised of your right to counsel, that doesn't mean you're going to exercise it. As a matter of fact, more often than not, defendants in criminal cases hear those Miranda warnings, and then they just keep talking to the police. So that doesn't necessarily mean an attorney is in the case yet.
BLITZER: For two days now, we've been led to believe at least the suspicion was that all three of these brothers were involved, Paul. Now we're told two of them were not involved. What do you make of that?
CALLAN: I find it very, very strange, Wolf. Bear in mind a couple of things. First of all a lot of people are going to be very shocked by this. But in criminal law, it's generally not an offense to do nothing in the face of seeing a crime committed. You don't have to, for instance, intervene to protect somebody from being robbed on the street. You can't be charged if you do nothing. If you don't call the police or report it or intervene.
So the other two brothers, I suppose there is a scenario here where they had no active involvement, but maybe they were just aware that it was going on.
My feeling, though, is that the police -- it's premature I think for them to make this statement because even if they've interviewed all of the girls and they say the brothers had nothing to do with it, Ariel was the only one we ever saw, they would have no way of knowing whether the brothers aided and abetted in the captivity. Maybe they went out and bought food to enable. Maybe they bought the ropes. Maybe they assisted in some way in keeping the girls prisoners. So, I really think it's premature to say that there won't be other charges coming down as the case proceeds.
BLITZER: And the police chief, deputy police chief was specific in saying no charges would be filed and he used the words at this time as far as Onil and Pedro Castro are concerned.
I want everyone to stand by for a moment. Gina DeJesus, one of the three women, was welcomed back home today with her family by a huge, cheering crowd. And her parents spoke to reporters just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY DEJESUS, GINA DEJESUS' MOTHER: I want everybody to know that the three of them are doing great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God.
DEJESUS: Yes. I do thank the Lord a lot. Because those were miracles.
FELIX DEJESUS, GINA DEJESUS' FATHER: My name is Felix DeJesus. I am Gina's father. I am the one that kept this family together. I'm the one that had the heart and soul to fight to see this day because I knew my daughter was out there alive.
FELIX DEJESUS: I knew she needed me, and I never gave up. Never gave up searching for her. But I have one, one God high and mighty to give me the strength to fight to see this day.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERING)
FELIX DEJESUS: And also the reporters, the media --
NANCY DEJESUS: Yes. We have to thank them.
FELIX DEJESUS: -- From everywhere, this is global. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. So that way everybody knows that we have a problem in the United States and everywhere across this great nation. We have a big problem, and it's going to take all of us to fix this problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Parents of Gina DeJesus very, very happy their daughter is now home. She is 23 years old. She has been missing since the age of 14 back in 2004. She was kidnapped. The other two women, Amanda Berry, is now home. Michele knight, we don't exactly know where she is. But all three of the women according to the mother of Gina DeJesus are fine right now. The word fine being relatively speaking.
We're going to continue to watch the reaction in Cleveland to the news that Ariel Castro, one of the three brothers who has been picked up, will be charged with four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. The other two brothers Pedro Castro, Onil Castro, no charges will be filed at this time against these two other brothers. We'll see what happens down the road.
The other big story we're following is the guilty verdict for Jodi Arias. She was convicted, first-degree murder for killing Travis Alexander back in 2008. This was a unanimous decision by the jury. Casey Wian one of our reporters was inside the courtroom. He's joining us right now.
Casey, tell our viewers how that went down. What was the mood when they got the guilty verdict, first-degree murder?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood in anticipation of that verdict was very, very tense as you can imagine, Wolf. Not a sound in that courtroom. But once the verdict was announced, members of Travis Alexander's family and his supporters gasped and some of them started sobbing. Many of them had been praying before -- I don't want to say many -- a couple had been praying before the verdict. They just had an outpouring of what was relief, tears, thanking God, so happy that it was over. Clearly, a big sense of relief on that side.
Jodi Arias's side was further away from me. I couldn't see much of their reaction. There wasn't much at all. And viewers on television probably got a better view of her face than I did, and you can see her reaction coming up.
BLITZER: You know, Casey, as we watch this, I want to bring Jeffrey Toobin in for a moment. This next phase, Jeffrey, they're going to determine basically whether she is going to get the death penalty or life in prison. Those are basically the only two options right now, is that right?
TOOBIN: There is a possibility that if she doesn't get the death penalty she could get 25 years. As I understand the Arizona law, the judge would have an option of giving her life in prison, life without parole, or 25 years if she doesn't get the death penalty. But obviously, the key task in front of the jury now is to deal with the question of whether she should be executed.
BLITZER: Ashleigh, is there, as well, Ashleigh, this has been a dramatic moment. What, three-and-a-half months this trial has been going on? Now it's going to be several more days before we know what the penalty will be.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And a very unusual set of circumstances in this jurisdiction. In fact, Jeffrey and I were just discussing it. We hadn't seen this before. That in this second phase, it's a two-prong approach to assessing whether aggravators are met in this case, and the judge laid out very early on in the case that the particular aggravator of interest was the cruelty Travis Alexander suffered in this murder.
If they agree cruelty was in fact an aggravator that existed in this murder, then they will move on to the penalty phase. And that's where the aggravators and mitigators would be presented in possibly many days. I can't tell you how many days it would take. There's been a mitigation specialist Jeffrey and I were just talking about that's been working with Jodi Arias for months and months and visiting her in jail. She's been in jail for four-and-a-half years, so plenty of time to assess just what quality she is as a person and how much -- and I hate to say it, it really comes down to the qualities of Jodi as a person. Whether she is worth saving, or the essential evils of this woman and whether she is worth putting to death. So two more phases.
TOOBIN: And, Wolf, just to make clear, Jodi Arias, herself, has the option of testifying in both of these proceedings. This first proceeding which is about cruelty and then in the broader penalty phase Jodi Arias, who is a very familiar person to this jury, she testified for almost three weeks. She has the option of going back on the witness stand and essentially to plea for her life.
BLITZER: Arizona jury, we just saw a little while ago, convicted Jodi Arias of first-degree murder and now we're going to find out what her fate will be. Twenty-five years, life, or the death sentence. We'll have much more on this story coming up. We're also going to go back to Cleveland. You heard the police in Cleveland say that Ariel Castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping, kidnapping Michele Knight, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and the young child, the young child of Amanda Berry, and three counts of rape, of raping Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
We're going to go back to Cleveland momentarily, see -- get some more reaction and what is next in this awful, awful situation.
Our continuing coverage of both of these stories and more right after this.
BLITZER: We're watching two developing stories right now, what's going on in Cleveland. Much more on that in a few moments. Right now Jodi Arias convicted first-degree murder.
Let's go to Phoenix. Ted Rowlands is on the scene.
I guess the reaction is coming in quickly. She's convicted. This jury in Phoenix convicts her -- convicts of first-degree murder of Travis Alexander.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we're outside the courthouse, when the verdict was read, there were cheers. Hundreds of people came down to the courthouse when they found out that the jury had reached a verdict. One of the people that is very invested in this is Chris Hughes. He is a family friend of the Alexanders'. He's known Travis Alexander for pretty much his whole life. And he also has a unique perspective of knowing Jodi Arias.
First, your reaction to the verdict.
CHRIS HUGHES, TRAVIS ALEXANDER'S FRIEND: It was a good day. We got justice for Travis today.
ROWLANDS: The family, you've talked to them since this verdict happened. This is not over. There's now the death phase. How are they coping with this and what was their reaction?
HUGHES: Well, today was the major hurdle. Yes, today was the major hurdle. What everybody is unified on is they wanted premeditated murder in the first degree and that's what we've got today. So they're happy. Happy as they can be given the circumstances.
ROWLANDS: Do you know -- and then do you -- does the -- does the Alexander family want the death penalty?
HUGHES: It's my understanding that they do. I -- you know, can't speak for them. But yes, that's my understanding.
ROWLANDS: You have the unique perspective because you knew Travis, but you also knew Jodi Arias. And she was in your home many times. Is it difficult for you to see somebody who used to be a friend in the defendant's chair maybe facing the death penalty? HUGHES: Yes. Well, it's -- what's really difficult is knowing what she did to my friend. You know? I mean, we've had to deal with that for the last five years. So, you know, seeing there -- her there today, I mean, you know, I'm just glad that we got the right verdict today. But, you know, the difficult thing for me is just knowing what she did to Travis in the last few moments of his life.
ROWLANDS: Will you testify? Would you be willing to testify in the penalty phase?
HUGHES: I'd be happy to. I've not been asked to. But absolutely, yes.
ROWLANDS: What would you say to this jury?
HUGHES: I'm not sure. I've not thought about it.
ROWLANDS: What did Travis mean to not only you, but to the people that he had interacted with throughout his life?
HUGHES: Well, Travis Alexander was among, if not the best friend that I've ever had outside of my own family. You know, Travis taught me how to be a friend, he taught me how to serve. He -- you know, he taught me to be -- you know, to be genuinely good. I mean, Travis was a great, great, great guy, he really was. He was a great guy that got sucked into a bad relationship with a bad person.
ROWLANDS: His character was attacked, to say the least, by this defense team, basically calling him a pedophile at one point. How difficult was it, for not only you, but for the family to hear those things?
HUGHES: Well, of course, you're outraged. But, you know, you've got to just take a step back, put the emotions aside for a moment and realized what they're doing. I mean, Jodi Arias was fighting for her life. And we know that she lies. And so that's what you do when you don't have a defense. Right? You've got to come up with lots of really thick sticky smoke screen to distract the jury.
But there was not one person who testified for the defense. Not one person that testified them -- for them that could come forward and say oh, Travis hurt me in any way. Not a man, not a woman, not a child. They've had five years to find one. But instead they had, you know, crystal ball reading alleged experts to get up there and do that instead.
ROWLANDS: You obviously are invested in this, you were very interested in this, but thousands of people from around the world have been captivated by this trial. Were you surprised by the amount of attention it's gotten? And why do you think it is that people were so attracted to this?
HUGHES: I'm not sure, you know. I am surprised. You know, I mean, there's helicopters up in the sky right now and there's cameras everywhere. This is outrageous. But -- so yes, I'm surprised, but I don't -- you know, what do you say? I don't know. ROWLANDS: Do you know why? Can you put your finger on it?
HUGHES: I don't. I mean, no, I can't. I've wondered that.
ROWLANDS: All right. Chris Hughes, thank you very much.
ROWLANDS: And there's, Wolf, a long way to go for this jury. They'll begin the mitigation phase tomorrow morning at 10:00 local here in Phoenix. First they have to decide whether or not the state of Arizona can seek the death penalty under the law. And then they will have to decide whether Jodi Arias will live or die -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And that will be based on whether or not the jury believes that she committed this first-degree murder in what is described as an especially cruel way, much more on that coming up. We'll take another quick break.
Once again, Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder.
We're also watching the charges that have just been filed against Ariel Castro for kidnapping four -- four people, raping three women. Much more, both stories right after this.
BLITZER: In Cleveland, we just heard the chief assistant prosecutor for the city of Cleveland, Victor Perez, announce that Ariel Castro, the -- one of the three brothers arrested, will be charged with four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. The two other brothers, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, will not be facing charges right now. At least as of this time.
Our own Brian Todd was there when Victor Perez made the announcement, surprising a lot of us the two other brothers not being charged with anything because apparently he says that the -- that Ariel Castro says he was acting alone and the three women who were held for a decade say they believe he was acting alone as well. Right, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The prosecutor is saying that basically no evidence against the other brothers, that they just happened to be -- I believe they alluded to the fact that they happened to be with him at the time he was arrested, so they picked them up for questioning, took them in, but no evidence that they were involved in any of these alleged crimes.
A couple of other things, Wolf, that were revealed at this news conference. Astonishing details, one in particular, that they said that these three young women left the house on only two occasions over the course of a decade. Twice over the course of a decade. And they said that they went into the garage in disguise on those two occasions, and never left the property.
Astonishing detail on that. They said they didn't have any avenue to escape. Any chance to escape, except for that moment on Monday when Amanda Berry had that window of opportunity to escape. And they say she took it. But only two times did they ever exit the house, according to police officials at this news conference. And they went into the garage in disguise, Wolf.
Just incredible detail. And just some insight into just -- you know, their predicament over the course of a decade in that house.
BLITZER: And they said the -- they said that Ariel Castro has been making statements. He was read his Miranda rights and he is talking. He will be formally charged tomorrow.
Brian, don't go too far away.
You see Ariel Castro, four counts of kidnapping, kidnapping Michele Knight, kidnapping Amanda Berry, kidnapping Gina DeJesus, and kidnapping the 6-year-old child of Amanda Berry. Also three counts of rape, raping these three women over the course of 10 years.
We're going to have much more on this story in Cleveland. Also the other breaking news we're following as well.
And happening now, two breaking news stories we're following. A guilty verdict in the closely-watched Jodi Arias murder trial. So what's next?
Plus, charges in the Cleveland kidnappings, but only for one of the three Castro brothers. You're going to find out what happens next.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The State of Arizona versus Jodi Ann Arias, verdict, count one. We, the jury, dully impaneled and sworn in the above-entitled action upon our oaths, do find the defendant as to count one first-degree murder, guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)