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Accused Ohio Abductor Just Arraigned; Amanda Berry's Breaking Point; Finally Free; Jury to Decide If Arias Lives or Dies
Aired May 9, 2013 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, home at last. Cleveland reuniting and rejoicing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so happy to have Amanda and her daughter home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even the ones that doubted, I still want to thank them the most.
COSTELLO: A homecoming and heartache.
BARBARA KNIGHT, MICHELE KNIGHT'S MOTHER: I'm thrilled and all I want to do is hug her and say, I love you.
COSTELLO: This morning, a first look at the suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you covering your face? What do you have to say to those women?
COSTELLO: And Ariel Castro faces the judge. And we get a disturbing picture of what happened on Seymour St.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Unimaginable, sickening new details in a police incident report obtained by CNN.
COSTELLO: A baby's birth, the arrest, and the tense moments when police entered the home.
DEPUTY CHIEF ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND POLICE: We are told that they left the house and went into the garage in disguise.
COSTELLO: A special edition of NEWSROOM live from Cleveland, starts now.
And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. We begin in a Cleveland courtroom. Ariel Castro, the man accused of imprisoning three women in chains, in chains himself at his arraignment. Police call him a big bully. But Castro did not act tough in front of a judge. He kept his face down. And he conferred with the woman in court.
Ariel Castor entered no plea. Didn't have to. This was just an initial appearance. Castro charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. Bond set at two million bucks for each case, total, $8 million. I want to take you now back inside that courtroom to show you what happened just a half hour ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ariel Castro. Charged with kidnapping and rape on one charge. Kidnapping and rape on the second. Kidnapping and rape on the third. And kidnapping on the fourth.
KATHLEEN DEMETZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: With respect to Mr. Castro, he is waiving examination on each case. With respect to bond on Mr. Castro, Mr. Castro is 52 years old. He has lived in the area for 39 years. He is on unemployment compensation. And to the best of my knowledge, he has no convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors.
BRIAN MURPHY, PROSECUTOR: Good morning, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Mr. Murphy.
MURPHY: Brian Murphy, prosecuting attorney, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office for the record.
The charges against Mr. Castro are based on premeditated, deliberate and depraved decisions to snatch three young ladies from Cleveland's West Side Streets, to be used in whatever self-gratifying, self- serving way he saw fit. Two of the victims incurred this horrifying ordeal for more than a decade, a third for close to a decade, and the ordeal resulted eventually in the little girl believed to have been born to one of the women while in captivity.
Also while in captivity there were (INAUDIBLE) repeated beatings, they were bound and restrained, and sexually assaulted, basically never free to leave this residence. Just as suddenly, unexpectedly, and quite frankly, inexplicably as they disappeared they reemerged, thankfully and miraculously (INAUDIBLE) at the home of Mr. Castro. That's a home served as Mr. Castro's residence but a prison to these three women and eventually a child.
Today, the situation has turned, Your Honor. Castro stands before you a captive. In captivity, a prisoner, the women are free to resume their lives that were interrupted. And also with the promise and the hope that justice will be served. To ensure that justice will be served. To protect the victims and the community that Mr. Castro manipulated and deceived, the state is asking a bond be set at $5 million cash or surety in this matter. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
MURPHY: Also (INAUDIBLE) that he have no contact with the victims or their families, whether he's out on bail or not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.
In these four cases, bond will be set at $2 million on each case.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: All right. Our Brian Todd was in the courtroom for that hearing, and Brian is in Cleveland right now, outside of the courtroom.
Brian, it struck me, Castro kept his head down the entire time. Tell me more about this man's demeanor.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That really was striking, Carol. He kept his head down the entire time. He looked despondent, he didn't make eye contact with anybody, he -- to our witnessing, it didn't -- he didn't make eye contact even with his temporary defense attorney who was there with him. He was led in in handcuffs, but he was not -- he did not have leg shackles on.
But again, looking very despondent, never spoke. The highlight here is that he never entered a plea. This was considered an arraignment hearing, but as the defense attorney explained to us, the formal arraignment actually will come within about 30 days where he will enter some kind of a plea.
As you saw the judge set bond with four cases at $2 million at each case. Meaning a total bond of $8 million. And again the defense attorney told us after the hearing, she said that in a sense is a no- bond arrangement. Because he doesn't have the money to post any of this. He will be held in probably the county jail now. The Cuyahoga County jail.
He's been in the city jail, where his defense attorney actually told us he's been on suicide watch and she expects him to be on suicide watch when he's in the Cuyahoga County jail, Carol. So that's where this goes from here. To the grand jury, Cuyahoga County, no plea entered today by Ariel Castro. He did not speak. Bond set at $8 million, $2 million each for four cases.
COSTELLO: Yes. Right now he's being represented by a public defender. Her name is Kathleen DeMetz. I don't know if she'll continue to handle this case. But right now she, as we understand -- she met with him for about 30 minutes prior to this court appearance?
TODD: That's right. She did meet with him and went over some things with him. But she will not comment on what he said or what his demeanor was. She did tell us, though, afterward, that he's been on suicide watch and that would be obviously consistent with the demeanor that we saw in court. He looked incredibly despondent, you know, almost borderline nonfunctional. He was just looking down the entire time.
The prosecutor, Brian Murphy, you know, after the defense attorney Kathleen DeMetz started to talk about his current situation, that he's unemployed, that he lives on compensation, that he's been here 39 years, no prior convictions, the prosecutor went into this litany of allegations against him, saying that he acted in a, quote, "self- serving, self-gratifying way." That two women endured a horrifying ordeal for more than a decade. Of course, one of the women was kidnapped nine years ago, so that's where he parsed that out. But he said that the women endured frequent beatings, were bound, were sexually assaulted and then they went into the actual procedural material about the bond, and things like that. So Kathleen Dements, she did indicate to us that she will not be his defense attorney in the next stage, the next stage where it goes to the Cuyahoga County grand jury. She indicated he would get a different attorney, she did not say who that would be.
COSTELLO: OK. So Castro's brothers were also in court today. Do we know the charges filed against them? Tell us about that.
TODD: We do. And those were pretty much dispossessed of quickly, Carol. There were two -- each of them had a count. These were misdemeanor counts. Excuse me. Each of them had a count of carrying an open container in public. One of them had a count of drug abuse now with -- with these charges. One of them pleaded no contest and I believe he was fined $100. I didn't quite hear the judge quite clearly on that but that was disposed of that way, and I believe that was the open container charge. Onil Castro then got before the judge and his attorney asked for a motion to dismiss the charges against him.
One of which was a 12-year-old charge, and I believe he was facing the drug charge and the open container, and the judge did grant dismissal. Both those cases were dismissed fairly quickly. The brothers were then led out of the courtroom, then Ariel Castro stepped up and faced his charges, where they summarized them and then, of course, the procedural events.
COSTELLO: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much. And join us in the next hour of NEWSROOM with more.
Of course this morning's court hearings, just the first in a long line of court appearances for Castro and his attorney.
Paul Callan is CNN's legal analyst.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: You know I had this picture in my mind of the victims, of his alleged victims at home watching this proceeding on television. And I'm wondering what goes through their minds when they see him in handcuffs with his head down like that?
CALLAN: Well, you know, you have to think that after 10 years of captivity, really held in slavery in the basement of that building in chains, which are the allegations in the case, they must have a great feeling of relief that all of it is finally over. And you know, we're going to find out psychologically how they were affected by this through the years and, you know, when you're held captive that long, the psychological impact is tremendous.
We've seen it with prisoners of war and Stockholm syndrome and a bunch of other things that psychiatrist seen. We don't know what these women suffer from but you can be sure it's going to be something very serious.
COSTELLO: You know, I was reading my Facebook page this morning and people are wondering, how can you be accused of stealing someone's youth, raping them repeatedly. Forcibly impregnating them, forcibly aborting their babies and not face the death penalty? I mean, I know that he won't.
CALLAN: It's a great question, Carol, and I think one of the reasons that the entire country is focused on this case and much of the world, by the way, I think is focused on this case is because of that very thought. I mean this is the functional equivalent of a murder case. This person has been charged with crimes that involve stealing the lives, the very lives of these three women, and, of course, we know a baby was born in captivity.
It's -- the fact pattern is so horrific that you wonder why the death penalty wouldn't apply. But in America, the death penalty only applies in murder cases and even in murder cases, as you know, very, very difficult to -- to get an imposition of the death penalty.
CALLAN: So you're not going to see that in this case.
COSTELLO: OK, so how does the defense proceed from here? What happens next?
CALLAN: Well, there are two things that are going to be going on. And the first is that a grand jury investigation is going to now be opened and formal charges, more formal charges will be lodged later on, more detailed charges, I think, we're going to see as the investigation continues. There will be another arraignment procedure in Ohio, where he will be produced in front of a judge. He'll get a different lawyer. It'll be probably a different legal aid lawyer unless he finds a way to retain a private attorney.
And I think we're going to see more charges, probably more detailed charges, remember, there are 10 years of crimes here, including rape, involuntary servitude, slavery, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, just a whole panoply of charges that can be added here.
Another thing that hasn't really been mentioned that I think people should consider. The federal government could move here and take this prosecution over in all probability. Federal kidnapping charges could be lodged. Now you do have to show that there was some involvement in multistate or interstate transportation or commerce. But if he used the phone or used a computer to help in this captivity situation, there is probably a federal crime of kidnapping here as well.
COSTELLO: All right. We'll see what happens and we'll talk to you a little bit later, Paul Callan, CNN's legal analyst, thanks so much.
We're also getting a glimpse behind those padlocked doors and boarded- up windows of that terrible house, that house of horrors. CNN has obtained police reports of what the women told police in their first moments of freedom in years. What they describe of their captivity, well, frankly, it's sickening.
CNN's Pamela Brown has more for you.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The initial incident report obtained by CNN spells out a number of the horrid details. Amanda Berry's baby was born in a plastic pool, delivered by Michele Knight. The report also says that when the baby was born, she stopped breathing and Castro told Knight that if the baby died, he'd kill her. Amanda Berry told police the baby's father is the suspect, Ariel Castro.
Michele Knight says she was pregnant at least five times by the suspect. Each time, forced to abort the baby by starvation and by Castro repeatedly punching her in the stomach. The women told police that none of them were ever treated by a doctor while in captivity. When police entered the home Monday, no one was found in the basement. But as an officer neared the top of the stairs and yelled Cleveland Police, the report says Michele Knight threw herself into his arms. Then DeJesus rushed out of the bedroom and also threw herself into the cop's arms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found them. We found them.
BROWN: A law enforcement source tells CNN that Amanda Berry had hit her breaking point, that she was desperate to get out of the house on Seymour Avenue. But why was she able to escape now after more than 10 years in captivity?
TOMBA: 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.
BROWN: That same source says that the other two women, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight could also have run, but chose not to, even though they were not bound and that decision reflected the women's state of mind. The source went on to say the women relied on each other for survival and did interact, though they were mostly kept in separate rooms. They only left the house twice.
TOMBA: We were told that they left the house and went into the garage in disguise so they -- those are the two times that were -- that were mentioned or that they can recall.
BROWN: The homeowner, 52-year-old Ariel Castro was charged with kidnapping and raping the three young women. He's also charged with kidnapping Berry's 6-year-old daughter who was born in captivity.
VICTOR PEREZ, PROSECUTOR: I just signed criminal complaints charging Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
BROWN: And, Carol, we have learned according to that incident report that Castro was arrested on Monday at a nearby McDonald's. COSTELLO: Pamela Brown reporting live from Cleveland.
And we do know for the first time in a decade, those kidnapping victims in Cleveland are home. Maybe they watched these court proceedings on television, surrounded by family and friends.
Zoraida Sambolin joins us now from Cleveland. And she has the story of I guess a number of emotional homecomings.
SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. Total happiness in Cleveland yesterday. And I have to tell you, Carol, right now, as we are hearing the horrific details and we really know that these girls are going to have to be surrounded by love and a lot of support, it was really nice to see this homecoming, because that is exactly what they are going to have.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): After more than a decade in activity, home at last. An entire neighborhood seemingly turned out to show support for Gina DeJesus reunited with her family after nine long years. She was held captive in the same boarded up house as Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight.
Shielded by a family member and rushed inside, Gina gave a thumbs up to the crowd. She was finally free.
Her father overjoyed, was greeted with high fives and lots of hugs. Her mother said she never gave up hope.
NANCY RUIZ, GINA DEJESUS' MOTHER: 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 here.
SAMBOLIN: Blocks away neighbors, family and friends welcomed another kidnapping victim, Amanda Berry. She emerged from this van with her 6-year-old daughter born in captivity. Amanda's sister spoke to a swarm of reporters, still emotional and struggling to adjust.
BETH SERRANO, AMANDA BERRY'S SISTER: I just want to say we're so happy to have Amanda and her daughter home. At this time, our family would request privacy so my sister, niece and I have time to recover.
SAMBOLIN: The third victim, Michelle Knight, remains hospitalized but said to be in good condition. Her family has said that she looks pale but they're hopeful that she will be released soon.
B. KNIGHT: I'm hoping that my daughter lets me see her. I would love to see her.
SAMBOLIN: As these three women begin to reclaim their lives, another prominent kidnapping victim Shawn Hornbeck who vanished in Missouri in 2002 and was found alive more than four years later offered some advice to these brave women. SHAWN HORNBECK, KIDNAP VICTIM: Your family's your strongest thing. That would be my advice to know that they're always there for you.
SAMBOLIN: And, Carol, I have to tell you, yesterday, we went over to the DeJesus household. We spent a lot of time there talking to family members.
And the sister, Mayra, who actually was enveloping Gina in her arms as she was rushing her into the house, she said that Gina is doing very well. The first thing she asked for was a Burger King chicken sandwich, hold the mayo, and that she is teasing her older sister, you know, telling her not so drink the sugary drinks, and she has to take care of her health, and she doesn't understand what all the commotion is, all of the attention surrounding her. She just wants to get back to life as normal.
So, it was really nice to hear that. We know there is a long healing process ahead for the young girls. But at the end of the day, being home and being surrounded by all of that love is precisely what they need. A really good beginning.
And I like that she ordered that sandwich, hold the mayo. You know, some measure of control, right, over her own life?
COSTELLO: That's awesome.
SAMBOLIN: Yes, absolutely. Something that she can finally do. It is awesome.
COSTELLO: It's a little thing, but I'm sure it means a lot to her.
Zoraida, thanks so much.
COSTELLO: Now, we want to share a story that begs a haunting question of what if?
This is video from a police dash cam of Ariel Castro's whizzing by in a motorcycle, and what would become his last known brush of the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLICE OFFICER: Let me see your driver's license. Let's see your driver's license, please.
ARIEL CASTRO, SUSPECT: What's wrong?
POLICE OFFICER: First off, your plate is improperly displayed. They have to be displayed left to right, not upside down or sideways.
Then the other question is, why are you riding it then? You don't have a helmet on, you don't have a license to operate it? You subject yourself to being arrested. Is that what you want?
CASTRO: No, sir, I don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The policeman says turning the plate sideways is an old trick when a rider has something to hide. It turns out the plates didn't match and Castro didn't even have a license to operate a motorcycle.
But because Castro was polite and he was a school bus driver, the officer did not arrest him. He just gave him a ticket. As I said, that was five years ago, and one mile from Castro's home, where those three women were allegedly being held captive at that very moment.
Fast forward to now. The officer said in hindsight, he's actually glad he didn't arrest Castro. He says if Castro had been jailed, those women and an infant child might have been locked away and abandoned without food or water.
Just ahead on THE NEWSROOM, more of our special Ohio coverage.
Also up next, convicted murderer Jodi Arias says she's hoping for the ultimate freedom -- that would be death, she says. We'll take you to Phoenix, next.
COSTELLO: Ahead on THE NEWSROOM: more special coverage out of Ohio. But now, we want to talk about the Jodi Arias trial. The jury will soon decide if she will live or die after convicting her of first degree. We're also hearing from Jodi Arias herself, and she's made it clear, she wants to die.
Here is CNN Ted Rowlands.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do find the defendant as to count one first degree murder, guilty.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jodi Arias had very little reaction in the courtroom to the guilty verdict. But minutes later, she did an interview with Phoenix television station KSAZ. Arias says she understands why the jury didn't believe her because of the lies she originally told investigators. But she maintains that she didn't plan the murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.
JODI ARIAS, CONVICTED MURDERER: There was no premeditation on my part. I can see how things look that way. But I didn't expect the premeditation. I can see maybe the felony murder because of how the law is written, but I didn't -- the whole time I was fairly confident I wouldn't get premeditation because there was no premeditation.
ROWLANDS: She also said she hopes the family of Travis Alexander will be able to find peace. In the courtroom, when the verdict was read, Alexander's sisters broke down with emotion.
CHRIS HUGHES, FRIEND OF TRAVIS ALEXANDER: They're happy. We would rather have Travis back but we can't have Travis back. So with that said, this is a good day.
ROWLANDS: Outside the courthouse, hundreds of spectators cheered the guilty verdict. Some people were even overcome with emotion.
(on camera): Why so emotional?
KATHY BROWN, SPECTATOR: You know, justice is served. And that's all we needed.
ROWLANDS: The guilty verdict means Jodi Arias is eligible for the death penalty and Arias says she hopes that's what exactly what her sentence will be.
ARIAS: The worst outcome for me would be natural life. I would much rather die sooner than later.
Longevity runs in my family. I'm pretty healthy. I don't smoke. And I would probably live a long time. So that's not something I'm looking forward to.
I said years ago that I'd rather get death than life. And that still is true today.
I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I'd rather have my freedom, just as soon as I can get it.
COSTELLO: Ted Rowlands joins us from outside the courtroom in Phoenix. He's with CNN's Ashleigh Banfield.
Welcome to you both.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you.
Ted, I want to start with you. What will happen in court today?
ROWLANDS: Well, we're starting the penalty phase, Carol, and it's going to start with the question to the jurors, was this cruel? Was this cruel enough under Arizona law to make Jodi Arias eligible for the death penalty?
We expect a fairly short hearing on that, three or four hours today. It may extend into Friday. But it's relatively short, with one witness. If the jury says yes to that answer, then we get into the mitigation phase and that's when this jury will have to decide whether Jodi Arias lives or dies.
COSTELLO: So, Ashleigh, Arias says she wants to die. So, what does her defense team do?
BANFIELD: Well, it appears her defense team doesn't have a whole lot of control over this young woman. She seems to have quite a constitution on her.
Look, Carol, most of us have never heard of what happened last night. The fact that this woman went out of a courtroom in which a jury decided that she was guilty of a first degree murder and in the holding cell ion that building conducted a television interview before sentencing phase gets under way is just -- is just off the charts frankly.
And we are told that defense attorneys are unable to do much about it. All the while, I'm sitting here with a motion for discovery for, you know, what is still to come in this case, this one for the victim's impact information.
So her lawyers are working hard to save her life still and she's going on off a local television station, saying, yes, just kill me now, easier than lifetime behind bars. It's just unconscionable.
COSTELLO: Well, this case has been quite bizarre the entire way through.
But let's talk about the local interview from the jail cell. She said the jury may not have believed her because she lied. So, let's listen to more of what she said in the cell.
ARIAS: No jury is going to convict me.
REPORTER: Why not?
ARIAS: Because I'm innocent, and you can mark my words on that one. No jury will convict me.
KIRK NURMI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Did you kill Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008?
ARIAS: Yes, I did.
ARIAS: The simple answer is he attacked me. And I defended myself.
I'll always tell the truth.
JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: Well, so you will always tell the truth. So you told the truth to Detective Flores back then, right?
ARIAS: I mean here under oath.
MARTINEZ: You said, "I will always tell the truth", right?
ARIAS: I said I will always tell the truth. MARTINEZ: Right. Did you tell the truth? Isn't it true you didn't tell the truth to Detective Flores?
ARIAS: That's true.
COSTELLO: So, Ted, will her lies be a factor in the sentencing phase, too?
ROWLANDS: Well, I think so, because her lies definitely were a huge factor in the guilt phase. They did not believe her, and they came back guilty with premeditation, and then in this interview that she did yesterday, she said, oh, you know, I can't believe that they came back that way, there was no premeditation.
So, if Juan Martinez plays this interview again, I think absolutely her lies will --
BANFIELD: That's a huge part of mitigation, Carol. Honestly, when you are trying -- exactly. Admitting your wrongdoing and beseeching a jury to forgive you and literally coming to terms with what happened and respect to their decision.
So, for her to say what she did --
ROWLANDS: You got it wrong.
BANFIELD: You got it wrong. There was no premeditation, she's -- I hate to say it in this colloquial term -- she's kind of asking for it.
COSTELLO: Oh. It went through my mind when she said she wanted to die, didn't quite believe her, because she lied in the past and maybe that's some -- I don't know, some weird strategy she had.
BANFIELD: Good point, Carol. There are a lot of people exactly like you who say I am not so sure I believe Jodi Arias. You wouldn't be alone in that. I don't know --
ROWLANDS: She apparently set that interview up. She set it up with the reporter and said, listen, if I'm found guilty on first degree murder, I want to do the interview right away. And her lawyers said, you know, try to stop her.
BANFIELD: What is interesting from a legal perspective when it comes to this tape that now exists, in a lot of secondary phases, you don't expect to see new evidence, you expect to see a re-argument or at least the mitigators, and the aggregators being brought in.
But in this particular sentencing phase, there can be new evidence brought in, and guess what, Carol Costello, we have a whole new whack of evidence in a 45-minute interview that Juan Martinez has every reason to bring into the case now.
COSTELLO: All right. We await it all. Thank you so much. Ashleigh Banfield and Ted Rowlands, reporting live from Phoenix.
Still ahead in THE NEWSROOM more special coverage from Ohio. Coming up next, the first congressional hearing into the Boston bombings -- lawmakers are asking, were there any warning signs we missed?