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Jodi Arias Verdict and Interview Discussed; Updating the Cleveland Kidnapping Case

Aired May 9, 2013 - 15:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm going to bring in Beth Karas, who is our "In Session" -- former lead of our "In Session," now HLN legal correspondent.

This is all breaking at the same moment because you have actually been inside the jail. You have been talking to her guards. Tell me what happened in terms of her arriving here and why all of a sudden everything's changed.

BETH KARAS, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I was inside on level four, where inmates are housed before they go to the courtrooms for their hearings or trials. And I sat in a cell typical of what -- where Jodi Arias has been sitting.

And while I was leaving, after we shot what we needed, I heard one of the deputies say to another one, Have you heard she's arrived?

So -- and I said, Oh, Jodi? And they said, Yes, she's arrived.

So I asked the deputy, Why is she coming so late? I know her trial starts later today, but still she would come in the morning with other inmates.

He said, oh, because of her psych condition. So, she came in a special van. She came in a van.

BANFIELD: So she normally arrives every day on a prison bus with other inmates who are all here for their various offenses.

KARAS: Yeah, she arrived today in a van, all by herself, because of her ...

BANFIELD: Psychiatric condition.

KARAS: Right. And I didn't know she was in a different jail at the time.

BANFIELD: So now that we know she's actually come from the Buckeye jail where she was actually not only under the suicide protocol, but in the psychiatric ward.

You know, listen, you're a former prosecutor. You know how this works. I remember during Casey Anthony they brought up an issue, is she competent to assist her attorneys in her defense? Her defense continues today. If she's in a psychiatric ...


KARAS: ... know about it and aren't happy about it, and she did talk about suicide, and that's the main reason why she's in a psych ward right now.

So, the wild card right now is whether or not in a half an hour when everyone assembles in court, whether her attorneys are going to say, hey, wait a second, she's talking about suicide. She says she'd rather have death.

We're about to go into another phase in this case. She needs to be evaluated. She's not competent to help us.

I mean, that's a possibility that her lawyers will raise, the first thing.

The Alexander family is right behind us. They're just going into court right now, so everyone's starting to assemble

BANFIELD: So some things that could throw a wrench into the process today.

One other question, we have been seeing Jodi Arias walk into court every day wearing a different outfit, but civilian clothing. That is not unusual. That happens in, I daresay, every single jurisdiction.

It's not -- you're not supposed to prejudice the jury against the image of her looking like an inmate. She should get a fair trial. That all changes today.

KARAS; Yes, and I sat in the room where she actually changes into her civilian clothes, and so I asked the deputy, the public information officer for the sheriff's department, whether or not she'll be in stripes today. And he said, yeah, she's convicted.

She's going to be in stripes ...

BANFIELD: Maricopa County stripes.

KARAS: Unless the judge says she can put civilian clothes on. So I hope her lawyers ask the judge because right now they are bringing her up in stripes.

BANFIELD: Right now she'd be in stripes. Technically, her lawyers would have to bring the clothing for her and then the judge in this case would have to rule on it.

KARAS: Yes, they'll have to ask permission to put her in civilian clothes, because right now, according to the sheriff's department, she's going to need stripes.

BANFIELD: There's nothing prejudicial about knowing that she's now a convict because she is a convict. Now it's just about what to do with a convict and where she's going to spend the rest of her days.

I got a whole list of things that I wanted to ask you about, not the least of which, there was another dramatic moment, a bomb threat, that the Maricopa County sheriff's deputies had to deal with.

They swept once with bomb-sniffing dogs in that courtroom, determined it to be all-clear, but they're doing it again.

KARAS: I'm not surprised they're doing it again. They did it once when we were all assembled in there. They came in with this dog and we thought it was related to a juror being dismissed, but it wasn't.

But most of that happened while I was in there shooting the cells and talking to the deputies. So I haven't talked to them about any dogs.

BANFIELD: And for those just joining us who may not have caught the report a little over an hour ago, there were two people who are being detained now because the sheriff's deputies got a tweet or at least they were made aware of a tweet in which this threat was being made.

And it's not the first time, you know, dangerous threats have been made. There have been a number of threats made against witnesses in Jodi's case, expert testimony, people who delivered expert testimony, their lives have been threatened. They've had to have guards and their livelihoods have been actually affected.

KARAS: This is, Ashleigh, a new experience to me and I've been covering trials around the country for almost two decades.

I think social media has changed the whole landscape. It's very easy to sit in the safety of your own home and post these threats.

So, I don't know how seriously law enforcement takes them, but to the person on the receiving end, it's not nice.

BANFIELD: I don't know why in particular this case, not only drew as much attention as it did, but it also seems to draw a lot of right angles and U-turns and we may actually have another U-turn.

Since Beth is the former prosecutor, I'm going to get her to explain this little ditty. This is something that we've just been made aware of, or at least, I've been made aware of this at the level it exists.

It is a petition for review, a motion to dismiss the aggravator in this case. I don't want to get too legal about it, but effectively we have two phases we're about to see. The first one is the aggravator phase. This is sitting on the desks of the supreme court here in Arizona, and it could thwart all of this.

KARAS: If they were to decide before the jury decides on the aggravator whether or not it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then it's out. She could never face the death penalty.

If they were to dismiss it, then she would get a life sentence. But if they don't decide this before the jury renders its decision on whether the aggravator has been proven, then their issue is moot because their standard is higher than the court.

BANFIELD: So there you have it. I'm told by a very close source, and so is Beth on this case -- we actually just spoke with this person -- it's not even on the calendar for the Arizona supreme court.

But you know what? Stranger things have been known to happen.

Brooke, I still can't hear you and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to toss this back to you in Cleveland or just go directly to break, but I'm just going to toss it back.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'll take it. I'll take it. I'll take it.

Ashleigh Banfield, thank you so much, there in Phoenix.

Right now, I want to bring in my producer here with me in Cleveland -- this is Julian Cummings, CNN producer -- because we now have been talking about these photographs that we finally have and we want to share them with you.

These are exclusive photographs, but before we show them to you, just a quick back story.

So we were here today, the Seymour Avenue home where Ariel Castro has been living and we've seen the FBI presence, right, and then the shovels.

JULIAN CUMMINGS, CNN PRODUCER: Yeah, trying to get basically closer all week long, but ...

BALDWIN: We took a walk.

CUMMINGS: Took a walk down the opposite street from where we are, just not knowing what we'd find, hoping we could look a little closer, but there was police everywhere ...


CUMMINGS: ... when we got there.

We also found a resident, Verdi Adams, who was there and he was telling certain people on the street and, through some conversation, he told me, yeah.

He said his home, he described it is maybe 75 yards in, so it's not right on the sidewalk level, but his backyard ....

BALDWIN: Faces Ariel Castro's backyard. In fact, he told us he has a tattoo business. He said, look, I'm not able to work because my home is considered a crime scene. It's just that close.

So with that said, the back story, let's start scrolling through some of the pictures, guys, and we'll try to look at the monitor and walk you through exactly what we're seeing.

So this is, obviously, the daytime photo.

CUMMINGS: This is the back yard. I believe this is one of the later photos.

The way he described it to us is on the Tuesday after the three women were rescued, he -- all the activity going on, the FBI showed up, and at night they started to dig and they were digging all day Tuesday and there was a tarp up, which we can find that photo, but this is afterwards when it was filled in, so the FBI filled in ...

BALDWIN: Here's the tarp.

CUMMINGS: Right, so this is Castro's backyard we're looking at right now. This was never seen before because he told me that for a year -- he's been here since December, so the whole time he was living here, he never saw the backyard until the FBI came in and made it a crime scene.

BALDWIN: So let's keep scrolling because there are some better pictures where you can see the white tarp. Keep going, guys. There's a white tarp and you can see the hole.

CUMMINGS: This is, again, the backyard. All that sort of -- we're not sure what it is, that's all Castro's backyard where the women were (inaudible) there as well.

BALDWIN: Keep scrolling.

CUMMINGS: This is some of the night photos we're looking at now.

BALDWIN: And then he noticed this tiny white cross on Ariel Castro's yard that he had never seen before. So it struck him as odd, so he wanted to take this photograph.

If you keep scrolling, at one point you can see -- here you go.

CUMMINGS: This is it right here. This is a tarp that was up while the FBI was looking.

Look at the bottom of the screen below the tarp area, that's the whole that the FBI dug searching his backyard.

And, again, Castro's home and yard is a crime scene, but so is Verdi Adams who gave us this photo. And the whole area surrounding here, this is the first glimpse we've seen looking in.

BALDWIN: So I know it's tough to see, but we saw these pictures in person. And so just to explain to you, the lighter part under the tarp that the FBI put up so no one could see their work, you could see almost like the boot, the bottom halves of these FBI agents who were covered in this white protective clothing.

And what struck Verdi when we were talking to him is he couldn't believe how the agents could almost even sit in the hole.

CUMMINGS: Right, because it was a very deep hole. BALDWIN: That's how deep. Here you go. This is a closer shot. This -- how big approximately did he say the hole was?

CUMMINGS: He said it was, like, eight feet by eight feet.

BALDWIN: A large hole.

CUMMINGS: He saw people going in and out of it. Again, it was filled back in the next day.

So this was going on all day Tuesday and by Wednesday, he saw more photos.

He's very shaken up. This is -- his home is a crime scene. He can't get relatives back in. He can't run his business out of there, so it's ...

BALDWIN: We couldn't go back there. There was police.

CUMMINGS: Police presence everywhere. We were hoping to get a closer look, and there was police -- they are on every corner around here. This is the first look inside.

BALDWIN: One more picture. This is after the fact, right? This is after they have already covered up the hole.

CUMMINGS: This is when the hole, I believe, was still there, but they are about to fill it in.

And basically, you know, the crime scene's set up in his backyard, but this is like adjoining backyards, essentially.

BALDWIN: I asked Verdi when we were talking to him, I said did you ever see any of these girls, because we've heard reports in this neighborhood that they would be allowed in the backyard.

And he said, no. He said, the only times that he would see Ariel Castro pacing along the fence line.


BALDWIN: And that was it.

CUMMINGS: Didn't really know who he was. Moved here in December. Not like some of the residents we spoke to who have known him for years in the neighborhood. But he didn't really have a good idea who he was.

BALDWIN: OK, Verdi Adams, photos of the Ariel Castro backyard.

Julian Cummings, thank you. Thank you very much.

And as one of the kidnapping victims recovers at home, her grandmother spent all these years wondering if she was alive.

Coming up next, you'll hear her emotional message to Amanda Berry. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERN GENTRY, AMANDA BERRY'S GRANDMOTHER: Amanda, you hang in there, honey. You be strong. I'm praying for you, and I love you.


BALDWIN: OK. I want to show you some pictures. This is from moments ago.

Watch who steps out of this big SUV. Here he is, Prince Harry. He is here in the United States. This is day one of a multi-day visit. He is in our nation's capital.

Specifically, there he is, Senator John McCain, greeting the senator from Arizona as he continues on in.

The two, let me just give you a little bit of background, the two are about to tour this exhibit sponsored by HALO Trust. It's a group that clears land mines and other dangerous war debris.

You remember his mother, Princess Diana, was involved with the group before her death in 1997.

Let me bring in correspondent Max Foster, who has taken the trip from London to Washington to follow along with the prince.

Max, give me the details. Why is Prince Harry here? Where is he headed?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, twofold, really. He's promoting his own charities, which is what this is about, but also promoting British interests.

So, as you say, this is a charity very close to his heart. It was supported by Princess Diana, and he wants to keep her legacy alive and this is one of the examples of him doing that. He's going to look around a few of the projects they've been involved with in this charity. This is one of the events.

Later on, he'll go off to the British embassy and meet high powered political figures here in Washington. That's work on behalf of the government, promoting British interest.

So it's twofold. You'll see that happening every day. Lots of military involvement, as well, Brooke. This is a serving British officer and he cares deeply about wounded officers in particular.

So that will certainly be a theme. I told that's the backbone of his trip. That's what he cares about, and I'm told he's pretty fired up about the whole visit as well, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And, of course, John McCain, a veteran himself, fitting to be speaking with Prince Harry.

So, here's the trip in Washington. We sort of laid that out, but looking down, next up, he's headed on a plane to Colorado. Tell me where he's going.

FOSTER: Yeah, Colorado. That's the Warrior Games, so that's really what he cares most about. It's something that he is very keen on. He's been promoting for some time.

It's effectively the Paralympics for wounded soldiers and servicemen and women, and that is what he wants to promote. There's a British team involved for the very first time.

There will be an interesting event tomorrow, as well, with a military theme, Brooke. He's going to Arlington Cemetery, going to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, laying a wreath there.

Also to JFK's burial site, as well. And he'll be wearing full uniform, very somber occasion.

But there will be time for fun, as well. A big polo match organized for (inaudible) at the very end of the tour, a very glamorous affair. I have to say, young women paying huge amounts of money for tickets to that event.

And this was a pretty extraordinary scene where we see Prince Harry now, that whole area was circled by women, staffers of the Senate, very keen to see him.

BALDWIN: Wait, they're not there for you?

FOSTER: They weren't there for me, unfortunately, but they got cleared out by the police and they looked absolutely gutted.

Yeah, this is the guy that can turn women into princesses, of course, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I know, for the Diamond Jubilee when was visiting the Caribbean you followed along and I'm sure the scene was similar with Prince Harry.

Max Foster, we appreciate you making the trip over to follow Prince Harry as he heads to Colorado and New Jersey to visit the badly affected area by Hurricane Irene.

We know we've heard from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie saying he'll keep his eye on him, as we know what happened last time he was here and that whole Vegas trip.

So, he will have fun, but perhaps not too much fun, Prince Harry.

Max Foster, thank you.

Once again, I'm here in Cleveland. We're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, we'll show you the face of Ariel Castro as he faced the judge this morning, first time here in court, along with his two brothers, who again, not facing any charges. They have been cleared at least so far.

And, also we know FBI back here on the scene at the Seymour Avenue house.

Be right back.


BALDWIN: Back here live in Cleveland, some bright moments are emerging from the dark stories, families reuniting, feeling absolute relief. And they include Amanda Berry's grandmother.

Her name is Fern Gentry. She is giving this message for all of the people, all of them here in Cleveland who never gave up searching for her granddaughter.

And she also has some very special words for Amanda.


GENTRY: Amanda, you hang in there, honey. You be strong. I'm praying for you, and I love you and we all love you down here. So you remember that.

And day by day, you will get better and we're all going to be together pretty soon. But I love you with all my heart.

And, God, I hope you're OK. I just hope you're all right. And that you can make it, day by day, one day at a time.

And I'd like to say thanks. I'd like to say thanks (inaudible). Thank God. If she hadn't gotten out, I don't know. I don't think Amanda and them would have lived very much longer, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

And I'm just glad Amanda was strong enough to come to that door and come on out.


BALDWIN: Strong enough. So many people here calling her a hero.

Amanda's grandmother also said that she hasn't seen her granddaughter or her great-granddaughter as of yet. They will certainly have an incredible reunion when that happens.

Coming up, we'll show you exclusive pictures we have obtained of Ariel Castro's back yard, including FBI agents and some sort of hole they dug up just this week.


BALDWIN: If you are just joining us, we have now obtained these exclusive pictures here. You are looking at the back yard of Ariel Castro.

These are pictures that were shared with me and my producer here from his back yard, which is also considered a crime scene, white tarp, FBI agents. This is the day after these young women were freed, and he describes seeing a hole that was dug by the agents at approximately eight-feet- by-eight-feet.

This is just an idea of what we've been seeing. No one has actually seen these back yard shots until now.

One other picture I want to share with you that was something that really struck this neighbor, a little white cross in the back yard of Ariel Castro.

Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: All right. Breaking news here out of Miami, looking at pictures of the Miami airport, we can now tell you according to a spokesperson at this airport that the Miami airport has been evacuated.

This all pertains to some sort of situation involving a Caribbean air flight. A concourse, specifically, has been evacuated, and this all involves suspicious luggage. That's what we know.

Again, Miami airport pertaining to a Caribbean air flight. Concourse evacuated pertaining to suspicious luggage.

We're making phone calls and we'll come back as soon as we get more information.

Another breaking story we're watching as we are minutes away from this mini-trial in Phoenix, Arizona as the fate continues to be in the balance for Jodi Arias. Will she get life? Will she get death?

CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin joins me in Philadelphia and Drew Findling in Atlanta.

Drew, as we are minutes from the mini-trial, what are your thoughts on what is about to happen?

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, this establishing cruelty is really going to be somewhat of a simplistic strategy for the prosecution.

They're going to bring in the forensic pathologist to show the injuries and talk about the severity of the injuries, which this jury already appreciates.

They'll move quickly through this and reach a unanimous verdict as to the cruelty and then we'll get to the serious stuff, the actual sentencing, mitigation versus aggravating factors such as the impact on the family and the victim.

BALDWIN: OK. Sunny, 15 seconds. Thoughts?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I completely agree. I think what is going to be very interesting is the death penalty phase of this, the mitigation phase.

We'll find out why Jodi Arias' life should be saved. We're going to really be able to get into her head. And I think that is what everybody is looking forward to finding out more about.

BALDWIN: Drew and Sunny, thank you.

Of course, CNN will be there live.

I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Cleveland.

Going to send it to Washington. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts now.