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Arias: "Death is the Ultimate Freedom"; Boston Bomb Suspect's Body Entombed; Ariel Castro's Bail Set at $8 Million; House Speaker Holds Presser

Aired May 9, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. More special coverage out of Ohio, but first, we have to talk about the Jodi Arias trial.

The jury will soon now have to decide if Arias will live or die after it convicted her of first-degree murder. We're also hearing directly from Jodi Arias. And she's making it crystal clear, she wants to die. Here's CNN's 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 OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER: There was no premeditation on my part. I can see how things look that way, but I didn't expect the premeditation. I could 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 ROGERS, FRIEND OF TRAVIS ALEXANDER: They're happy. You know? We'd 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 are you so emotional?

KATHY BROWN, SPECTATOR: You know justice was served and that's all we needed.

ROWLANDS (voice over): The guilty verdict means Jodi Arias is eligible for the death penalty and Arias says she hopes that's 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 just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.


ROWLANDS: And because of what she says, specifically about wanting to be put to death, she is now on suicide watch from the Maricopa County sheriff's department here in Phoenix. Carol she'll be back in court along with this jury as the penalty phase kicks off this afternoon.

COSTELLO: All right, Ted Rowlands is reporting live from Phoenix. We want to talk more now about what's going to happen in court later today.

Joining us via Skype from Los Angeles is legal analyst Lisa Bloom. Welcome, Lisa.

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, how are you doing?

COSTELLO: I'm good. Thank you so much for being with me. Jodi Arias has mentioned suicide before. Now she's saying she wants the death penalty. So what's a defense attorney to do?

BLOOM: Well, this is a really fascinating issue and 137 people have volunteered for the death penalty in the United States in the last generation and gotten it. People can be put to death because they volunteer for it, but we still have to go through the system.

So the jury still has to sentence her to death. That hasn't happened yet and the prosecution has to meet its burden of proof and showing that this was an especially depraved, heinous or cruel crime in order to do that. Jodi can instruct her attorneys not to oppose the death penalty and let the process run its course. The court would have to find her competent to do that.

And in one case in Arizona, the last one I could find which was in 2007 where a death penalty inmate volunteered for the death penalty, he spent seven years proving his competency to make that decision before the Arizona courts said ok, we think you're competent, and they did, indeed, put him to death.

COSTELLO: So -- so it's possible Jodi Arias could -- could take the stand in this next phase of the court proceedings, right? And she could say from the stand I want the death penalty, right? Would her lawyers let her do that? BLOOM: Yes, again, if she is competent to do that, she's entitled to do that. It's a very strange intersection of the law Carol, because it's illegal for people to commit suicide. And as you point out, she's on suicide watch in prison. We don't let people commit suicide in prison. The one place in America where we do let people commit suicide is if they are convicted of murder, if they are sentenced to death, if they are found competent we can -- those people can be put to death. We call it sometimes suicide by court.

COSTELLO: So in your gut and I know that this has been one of the most bizarre trial proceedings ever in the history of the United States, the jury did convict her of first-degree murder, which means premeditation. Do you think they'll vote for the death penalty as well?

BLOOM: You know, that's a very hard call. I don't think it's open- and-shut at all for death. You know they're going to have to weigh the aggravating factors, the mitigating factors. The mitigating factors would be her age. She's relatively young. She doesn't have any criminal history, as far as I know. You know we're going to -- she may have some history of mental disturbance.

If her attorneys decide to fight the death penalty, that's the kind of evidence I would expect to hear. If she persuades the court that she's competent and she instructs her attorneys not to fight, then she can simply take the stand and tell the jury I want the death penalty. So that's the big decision that she and her attorneys are probably grappling with behind closed doors today.

It's one thing Carol to say that to a news camera. It's another thing to face a jury and say I want to be put to death.

COSTELLO: Lisa Bloom, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BLOOM: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Much more from Cleveland coming your way next in the NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: All right before we take you back to Cleveland, I have to tell you about this bit of breaking news. The remains of the suspected Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his body has now been entombed. Police in Worcester, Massachusetts, said someone stepped forward to take the body after several cemeteries refused to bury him.

Let's head live to Boston and check in with Paula Newton. Do we know who took the body?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is exactly the point, Carol. We don't and they are refusing to disclose any information about where those remains have gone and who decided that they would be able to entomb Tsarnaev's remains. I want you to listen now to a statement from Worcester police. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. KERRY HAZELHURST, WORCESTER POLICE: As a result of our public appeal for help, a courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased. His body is no longer in the city of Worcester and is now entombed.


NEWTON: You know this definitely ends the drama as far as the city of Worcester is concerned and it had cost a lot of havoc there in the community. The problem now, Carol, is you wonder if this is really going to be the end of this whole saga. And speaking with victims' families in the last week, I can tell you they have very mixed feelings about everything that was going on.

At the same time, you know we heard from Worcester Police Chief yesterday saying look this is a problem, this man is dead, we need to bury him. His quote, "We are not barbarians." And it seems that Worcester in some measure is very relieved that finally this situation has been resolved -- Carol.


COSTELLO: Well I did find it striking that the police personnel described the person who took the body as courageous and compassionate. And I completely understand why police might not want to release that courageous and compassionate person's name.

NEWTON: Absolutely. And I think in terms of pointing out and this has been pointed out to us by authorities. Controversial killers, murders, many people have been buried. The most recent probably Adam Lanza, the man responsible for those Newtown shootings. No one knows where he is buried. He was buried quietly by his family and so no one knows where he is buried. It is the wish of Worcester police and the family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev that no one ever knows where he is actually entombed -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Paula Newton reporting live from Boston this morning. We'll head back to Cleveland after a break.


COSTELLO: Let's get back to Cleveland now and the latest developments. Just a short time ago, an Ohio judge set bail for Ariel Castro at $8 million. Castro has been formally charged with kidnapping and rape. And we're getting a look at Castro inside the jail system, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you covering your face? What do you have to say to those women? How could you do that? What kind of monster does this?


COSTELLO: Wow. CNN has also studied the police report, a police report that states Amanda Berry's daughter Jocelyn was born in a plastic tub and delivered by fellow captive Michelle Knight. Knight told police Castro threatened to kill her if that baby died. Knight also said Castro got her pregnant at least five times and he starved and punched her until she miscarried.

We also have new footage of Ariel Castro this morning. Of course, he's the man accused of these terrible crimes. In 2008, Castro was pulled over by Cleveland police. Watch what happens. Actually, Martin Savidge has our story. Here it is.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a little after 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12th, 2008 on the west side of Cleveland. The traffic officer Jim Simoni (ph) is on patrol when he spots a motorcyclist whiz past. It's Ariel Castro. What catches the officer's eye and probably was too quick for you is the license plate on the back of the bike is turned sideways. Simoni says that is an old trick when riders have something to hide. So the officer follows Castro into the gas station and confronts him.

JIM SIMONI, POLICE OFFICER: Let me see your driver's license.


SIMONI: Let's see your driver's license.

CASTRO: What's wrong?

SAVIDGE: Castro, it turns out, doesn't have a motorcycle driver's license and that is a serious offense. It could lead to his arrest. And it may be why Castro seems nervous.

This, by the way, is the last known interaction that Castro has with law enforcement before he was arrested last Monday, a little less than five years later. And notice how polite Castro is when the officer comes back with the other news, that the plates on the bike don't belong to that bike.

SIMONI: These plates don't belong to this bike, do they? What year Yamaha is this?

CASTRO: This is a 2000.

SIMONI: Where's the Harley that the plates on?

CASTRO: Oh, the Harley. Yes, that's -- I sold it and I traded in for this.

SIMONI: Ariel, you keep getting deeper and deeper and deeper.

CASTRO: I know, but I just got off of work, I'm a school bus driver. SIMONI: Castro makes his plea, seeking sympathy, saying that he's a school bus driver. In the end, the officer gives Castro two tickets -- one for not having a motorcycle operator's license and another for the incorrect license plates.

The officer could have arrested him, but he lets him go, and it appears his politeness and the fact that he is a school bus driver has bought him some slack. The officer drives off.

20 minutes later, we see Castro again, pushing his motorbike for the mile it will take him to get to the house back on Seymour.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Cleveland.


COSTELLO: And now Castro is in the county jail in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland there. He's being held on $8 million bond and charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: All right. Let's head to Capitol Hill for just a minute to take a look at a press conference. As you can see, it has not started yet. We're expecting the Republican House Speaker John Boehner to hold his weekly presser at any moment. Our Dana Bash, our chief congressional correspondent is getting into place. We expect him to either talk about Benghazi, perhaps, or maybe the economy.

When John Boehner begins speaking, we'll take you back to Capitol Hill live.

Right now, though, we want to get you up to date about the latest from Cleveland. The grandmother of kidnapping survivor Amanda Berry is speaking out this morning. She says it's a miracle she was able to speak to her granddaughter on the phone. Amanda Berry, as you know, vanished in 2003. She gave birth to a daughter in captivity. Her grandma, Fern Gentry, spoke to CNN, Zoraida Sambolin.


FERN GENTRY, AMANDA BERRY'S GRANDMOTHER: Oh, my lord. She's alive. And I talked to her after all that time, which I never thought I ever would. But I didn't give up hope. And I'm glad she's ok.


COSTELLO: All right, we're going to head back to Capitol Hill and House Speaker John Boehner. Let's listen.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: We learned that on September 12th, the day after the attacks, and four days before Susan Rice's TV appearances, a senior state department official e-mailed her superiors to relay that the Libyan ambassador -- she had told the Libyan ambassador that the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists.

The State Department would not allow our committees to keep copies of this e-mail when it was reviewed. And I would call on the President to order the State Department to release this e-mail so that the American people can see it.

We also know that the White House continues to claim it only made stylistic changes to the talking points used by Susan Rice ignoring the fact that senior White House officials directed the changes being made to those talking points. Our committee's interim report quotes specific e-mails where the White House and State Department insisted on removing all references to the terrorist attack to protect the State Department from criticism for providing inadequate security.

While a few of our members were able to review these e-mails, they were not allowed to keep them or to share them with others. I would call on the President to release these unclassified interagency e- mails so that the American people can see them. The last I remember the President said, and I'll quote, "would be happy to cooperate with the Congress in any way the Congress wants."

Well, this is his chance to show his cooperation so that we can get to the truth of what happened in Benghazi. Four Americans lost their lives in this terrorist attack. Congress is going to continue to investigate this issue using all the resources at our disposal.

Yesterday, the leader announced that the House will vote next week on repealing the President's health care law. The law should be repealed because it's increasing the cost of health care. It's reducing access to quality health care, and frankly, it's making it much more difficult for small employers to hire workers.

This morning, Senator McConnell and I informed the White House that we will not submit any names or recommendation for individuals to serve on the individual payment advisory board, I IPAD, as we call it around here. This is a board with 15 unelected, unaccountable individuals who have the authority to deny seniors access to care.

The American people don't want the federal government making decisions that doctors and patients should be making. We should repeal the entire law that created this board, and enact a step by step common sense approach to health care that starts with lowering costs.

And lastly, today the President is on another jobs tour, or as the media described it this morning, his latest pivot back to jobs. The Obama administration promised that if its stimulus plan was enacted, the unemployment rate today would be approximately 5 percent. But the unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent.

What the President doesn't seem to understand is that it's his policies that are undermining economic growth and job creation. I run a small business. It's no surprise to me that the economy is struggling. We've had four years of slow, anemic economic growth and job growth. And frankly, it's unacceptable. America desperately needs robust economic growth and job creation. All right, we're going to jump out of this news conference by the Republican House Speaker John Boehner. He issued a rather scathing attack against Democrats, and particularly President Obama and the Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on the issue of Benghazi.

As you know, Susan Rice initially told the nation the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was inspired by a YouTube video. In hearings yesterday, several State Department employees testified before Congress, and said they knew from the get-go that this was not -- this attack was not inspired by a YouTube video. This was, indeed, a terror attack and that Susan Rice was apparently not telling the truth to the nation.

Boehner is now urging the President to release classified e-mails so that Republicans and the nation can continue to get to the bottom of this.

And then he moved on to Obamacare and said that the law should be repealed because it's causing small employers concern and causing them not to hire people as they should be.

We're trying to get Dana Bash on the phone. If we do, we'll go to her. We're going to take a break. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me today. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.