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DeJesus Family Friend Visits Home; Bomb Threat at Courthouse; Forced to Deliver a Baby; Girl Wants Education Mom Didn't Have; New Cleveland Hero Emerges

Aired May 9, 2013 - 14:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Back here with the special CNN coverege in Cleveland.

I'm Brooke Baldwin -- want to just remind you, we're watching two 2 huge stories that we are following today. Number 1, this is an incredible statement by a woman whose lurid trial held the nation's attention for the past four months, Jodi Arias accused of the grisly murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Giving this bizarre, some are calling it, explosive interview moments after she was read her guilty verdict yesterday afternoon, and she told this reporter she would rather die than spend her life behind bars.

So now we're watching the clock. We are just about an hour and a half away from this afternoon's hearing, the penalty phase, the death phase, so we'll take you live to Phoenix momentarily. Head down, see her here as he was read the charges yesterday.

And this is the man accused -- switching gears, this is the man accused of kidnapping three young women, raping them, starving them, holding them prisoner in his own Cleveland home here on Seymour Avenue for nearly a decade. And now it is this man, Ariel Castro, who is locked away. And here is his mug shot.

His alleged victims, happy to report, are free. They are revealing the atrocities they suffered during these years and years in captivity. And Gina Dejesus, we saw her, her thumbs up to the cheering crowd said it all as she was running out of this car with someone's arm slung around her.

The thumbs up, she's free after nine years in captivity. She is home after an absolutely horrific ordeal, home after she was kidnapped at the tender age of 14. She was walking home from middle school and all of a sudden, poof, yanked away from her family.

Now a close friend of the Dejesus family is speaking out. Family friend and WOIO weekend anchor, Lydia Esparra, joins me now. Nice to meet you.

LYDIA ESPARRA, WEEKEND ANCHOR, WOIO: Nice to meet you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: It was almost right around this time yesterday, I was live on CNN, you were live on OIO. We were both sharing the happy reunion.

ESPARRA: It was incredible for the family. They've waited nine long years, and, of course, I've been covering the story --

BALDWIN: From the beginning.

ESPARRA: -- from the very beginning. Nancy and her husband, Felix, never gave up hope, never gave up hope. They said my daughter's alive. Even when I doubted her, she said, Lydia, my daughter is alive.

BALDWIN: You were on the air, they said get off the air.

ESPARRA: Yes, once they came through and that was Gina's sister in the orange, Mayra protecting her. They are very protective of her because they haven't had her for nine years. I'm live on the air and then one of her relatives comes over and says Nancy wants you to come to the house.


ESPARRA: I said, OK, I told them on the air, got to go, Nancy's calling. So I go inside the house and I have my moment with Nancy and we're crying with Felix and we're crying, because I haven't spent any time with them, and I'm friends besides being a journalist. It's just such a tough line trying to be a friend and your job.

But first, I'm a human being, so that's the attitude I took. I went and cried with them, because that's what I do, and I cried. Then I was like am I going to be able to see Gina, and the niece says, yes. And Gina wants to see you.


ESPARRA: And I said, really? Yes, mom asked her and she goes Lydia's out there, do you want to see Lydia?

BALDWIN: You never met Gina before -- never got to see Gina before, got to know her through missing posters, talking through family.

ESPARRA: Missing posters, talking to the family, I used to keep her pictures on my desk to remind me that she was missing. I would talk to Nancy. She would tell me stories, she was shy. She'd never get in a car with anybody, a stranger.

BALDWIN: How is she, how was Gina?

ESPARRA: She's doing fabulous. It was unbelievable. My hands were sweating because here's someone I never imagined would come back to us, so when I went inside, I embraced her and she embraced me, reluctantly, because she's, obviously, been locked in a basement for nine years. And we talked and the first thing I said is you look nothing like your composite.

She's a tiny little thing. She's very small, short hair. She had longer hair when she disappeared. Her skin is pale from the lack of vitamin D from being outside. She's kind, so happy. A relative came up to her, talking in Spanish, she looks at her mom, Mom, I don't remember my Spanish anymore. BALDWIN: Really, she can't speak Spanish anymore.

ESPARRA: No. Couple words, I asked her about the house and then I left. The family told me to stay. We're Hispanic open with one another, but I did not want her to feel uncomfortable. I left.

BALDWIN: We all have a gazillion and one questions. I know investigators have a gazillion and one questions for these young women. Did she say specifics about how she was treated?

ESPARRA: I didn't ask her anything.

BALDWIN: Nothing.

ESPARRA: That's where it comes from the fine line between being a friend and journalist. I knew where to go and not to because I knew when I embraced her she hasn't been with people for a long time. Hugs bother you, yes, Gina, I won't hug you goodbye. Today, she accepted my hug warmly. She is watching videos of our story coverage.

I saw you on video, she feels comfortable with me. She knows me. The family says she's amazing. Her mom says she's stronger than the family and you can see it. She's just amazing, such a hero in my eyes.

BALDWIN: What has she shared with the family, if anything?

ESPARRA: They haven't really shared any of that. Some of it is confidential, but they haven't shared a lot, just what we know and what investigators have told us.


ESPARRA: It was horrific. We know she didn't get in the car with a stranger. We know she was walking home with the suspect's daughter.

BALDWIN: Because they were friends, Arlene Castro was her friend. So he duped her allegedly.

ESPARRA: Correct. There are a lot of little intricate details that the family has to deal with, besides the fact they have to deal with her healing, to deal with the fact that a family friend was actually involved. And it's just -- it's incredible the dynamics of this family and how they pooled together from the aunts, to the uncles, and the protection and the circle that they have protecting her.

BALDWIN: Because Ariel Castro was a family friend.

ESPARRA: He was a family -- the suspect, yes, was a family friend.

BALDWIN: What was your just biggest final takeaway? How many minutes were you sitting with her, 10 minutes, 15?

ESPARRA: Today, I was there for awhile.

BALDWIN: For awhile. ESPARRA: Today, I was there for awhile. I was there talking with everybody just like I was in my own home.

BALDWIN: The biggest takeaway for you was what?

ESPARRA: It felt like I was at home. I didn't feel like she was kidnapped for nine years. I was with somebody that I knew. It was so comfortable. For me it's so surreal, because this family's had so much faith and their Christianity has kept them going.

BALDWIN: They never gave up.

ESPARRA: Never gave up and she never gave up they were going to find her. Interesting thing, she had one of her flyers in the basement with her. I should have brought those flyers. I have several flyers I kept over the years. She wanted to see them and I didn't have time. I forgot to show it to her. She wanted to see them.

BALDWIN: She kept a missing --

ESPARRA: I kept a file, but she had some of her flyers in the basement.

BALDWIN: In the basement of this home?

ESPARRA: Right, right.

BALDWIN: So while she was held in this home --

ESPARRA: She knew.

BALDWIN: Who would have --

ESPARRA: She knew.

BALDWIN: He would have brought the flyer.

ESPARRA: The other reporter I was working on, Bill Sapp, who's with Amanda, Amanda Berry, so she knows Bill from watching the reports, so him and I are the ones that have worked this story.

BALDWIN: So, they watched television in this home?

ESPARRA: Correct.

BALDWIN: He allowed them to watch television. Do we know why he allowed them to watch television?

ESPARRA: I don't know. I can only assume at some point it got to be comfortable. The irony out of this whole story is that I saw his picture and I actually knew members of his family, extended family. I actually had seen the suspect on my church grounds at church festivals.

BALDWIN: Wow. ESPARRA: And for me it was very unsettling that I'm covering a story that possibly one of my nieces could have gone missing, and it's upsetting for me. For me, it's upsetting. This is my community, I'm Puerto Rican, Gina's Puerto Rican. The community's upset over this. We're so close, we're tight knit, and it's upsetting that this actually happened.

BALDWIN: You're emotional.

ESPARRA: Yes, that part is just surreal. That's the part I can't let go of and I have to remove myself over what happened to her and not let her see my emotion, because it happened to her, not to me. I covered the story, we know what happened, but it happened to them.

BALDWIN: I'm glad she gave you a big hug.

ESPARRA: It was awesome. It was great.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much for sharing.

ESPARRA: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Hopefully, over time, she will continue to share more. I just appreciate you sharing with us.

ESPARRA: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Lydia Esparra, WOIO weekend anchor.

BALDWIN: To Phoenix we go where jurors in the Jodi Arias trial are about to hear awful, gruesome details about her ex-boyfriend's murder and those details are about to get extremely graphic. Ashleigh Banfield is going to join us live in Phoenix to tell us why. She is live outside that courthouse, that's next.


BALDWIN: Back to Phoenix we go, where just a short time ago, a bomb threat shut down the courtroom where convicted murderer Jodi Arias was to return to court in just about 90-minutes time. Ashleigh Banfield, to you in Phoenix, what happened?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The drama seems to really continue on this, Brooke, and this is serious. Maricopa County Sheriff actually did bring in bomb-sniffing dogs earlier today after learning of a tweet that was sent out. Two people have been detained because of this tweet.

Let me read it to you so you're aware of the wording, it says, "I'll become a hero and also shot by pigs once I unload." This pertaining to a bomb threat so the sheriff's deputies did a sweep of that courtroom. The courthouse was not shut down, but the sweep was completed, no explosive devices were found, but they are also going to go back right before things are opened up in 45 minutes and do a secondary sweep to ensure all is OK. Again, two people detained there. I also want to switch gears to let you know about something we discovered in this case as we move into the sentencing phase, two phases within this sentencing phase, an aggravator phase and penalty phase. We have come to learn there is still a motion that is alive in this case, and it is a motion to dismiss the aggravator based on testimony from back in February of one of the detectives on this case.

A detective who said that he had spoken with the M.E. as to the order in which those injuries were actually inflicted upon the victim in this case, and there is a discrepancy. And because the motion is so important with regard to aggravating circumstances in this case, it's all about cruelty. This could become key.

And if this is a successful motion, that aggravator could effectively go away, and there could not be a basis by which to go forward with the additional part of the penalty phase. So, it's very important. This could be discussed early, could be discussed later, but we're going to have to wait to see where this motion stands in this case -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Ashleigh, we'll check back in with you next hour and sort of walk through, again, how they would need to prove cruelty and how the different parts of this next phase breaks down. Ashleigh Banfield in Phoenix, thank you.

Back here where I am in Cleveland, we now know that one of the women kidnapped gave birth in a plastic pool. Find out what years of zero medical care means for this young child and really these women, as well. Special coverage continues right here in just a moment.


BALDWIN: Welcome back here to Cleveland. I'm Brooke Baldwin with continuing special coverage here as more details from this house of horrors, that house of horrors, emerge. We're learning that one of the women, Michelle Knight, delivered Amanda Berry's daughter in some kind of plastic kiddie pool, and at one point in time, this little baby stopped breathing. No doctor, no medical personnel there.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now. Elizabeth, how does someone with zero experience delivering a baby pull it off?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I know. Really in modern times, right, that sounds like how in the world did she do that. We forget sometimes that women delivered each other's babies for a very long time before doctors and midwives came along, and if it's a pretty easy birth, it's really not such a big problem.

Not something you'd ever want, but not necessarily such a big problem. As for the not breathing, doctors tell me that is actually relatively, you know, common. That actually happens with some frequency, and if you pick up the baby, sometimes that jostles them into breathing.

We heard that what Michelle Knight did, according to the police report, she put her mouth over the baby's mouth and breathed into the baby's mouth, which was so incredibly smart. Doctors are telling me that was such a smart thing to do. In a hospital, we'd put a mask over the baby if we needed to. She did what she could do in that situation. It was the next best thing.

BALDWIN: And all of this under this duress from this monster, apparently, according to police, telling Michelle Knight, if this little baby doesn't live, you won't live either. It's stunning and it's amazing that this young woman is now alive and the 6 year old is apparently A-OK, according to police. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: We will take you back to here our special coverage in just a moment, but after weeks of debate and also outrage, we are finally learning what has happened to the body of the Boston bombing suspect. It comes as lawmakers are grilling investigators on possible red flags that were missed. Back in 90 seconds.


BALDWIN: We're live in Cleveland today for special coverage into the discovery of these three young women right here on Seymour Avenue. In just a couple minutes, Nancy Grace joins me about the suspect in this case. But first as we talk about women and alleged sex slavery, I want to tell you about a CNN film highlighting the difficulties that millions of girls all around the world face. A civil war left an entire generation uneducated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Sara. I love reading. I love writing stories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sara is a natural storyteller, but the young woman with the tinker bell backpack doesn't write fairytales.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government wants it to go to the school, but the parents said only the boys are supposed to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the story of war-torn Sierra Leon where many women were kept from getting an education, woman like her mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She can't read or write. I can read and I can write. That makes a big difference between me and her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sara went to live with her aunt who's a teacher so she can go to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's educated and wants me to be like her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's part of a project called "Girls Making Media." Sara is speaking up because she wants a different ending for herself and other girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I report on this. If you do that through the radio, I think people deep in the village will hear about it. My dream is for me to become a superstar of Sierra Leone.


BALDWIN: A superstar, she says. Sara wants to go to college. She wants to be a lawyer. CNN films "Girl Rising" premiers Sunday, June 16th, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back here in 60 seconds.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You know, one of the more memorable faces to emerge out of this absolutely horrendous story here in Cleveland is this man, Charles Ramsey. By now I know you've heard him tell the story of how he rescued Amanda Berry and her daughter from a decade of captivity, but now someone else says his tale is not entirely true.

His name is Angel Cordero. He says that he was actually the person to respond to Berry's screams. It was he, he says, who kicked down that front screen door, rescuing her. Here is Angel Cordero telling his story to CNN.


ANGEL CORDERO, HELPED RESCUE AMANDA BERRY (through translator): I looked towards the front door of the house and saw the woman screaming asking for help. She couldn't open the door. I looked over, crossed the street, and went to ask if the house was on fire. She said, no, she had been kidnapped for 10 years.

I tried to open the door, but I couldn't. I had to give it a few kicks. If you see, the house has two doors. She opened the inside door, but the glass door, the one on the outside, that's the one that had the chain, so when I tried to open the door, it had the chain so I couldn't open it, I kicked it.

Several kicks underneath and she managed to escape from underneath the door and when she managed to escape from underneath the door, she remembered the little girl. She went back inside the house. She came back out with the girl. If he finds me here, he's going to kill me. He's going to kill you. Went across the street to this lady's house and used the phone. That kidnapping would have continued for years.


BALDWIN: Angel Cordero talking to us here on CNN as to what happened just a matter of days ago on Seymour Avenue.

Meantime, Jodi Arias gets ready to walk into court very, very soon. Nancy Grace joins me live to talk about this case of life and death.

Plus, I'm going to ask about the behavior of this suspect here in the kidnapping in Cleveland. Back in a moment.