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A Decade Of Hell; "Greg, We're Under Attack"

Aired May 9, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Death is the ultimate freedom. A shocking admission from Jodi Arias after the jury convicts her of murder.

An emotional and politically charged testimony about the night the U.S. consulate was attacked in Benghazi.


BERMAN (on-camera): Welcome back to this special edition of EARLY START, everyone. A lot going on this morning. I'm John Berman in New York.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I'm live in Cleveland. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

So, we begin with breaking news and the Cleveland kidnapping investigation, including horrifying details of the abuse that was suffered by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight over the course of a decade, allegedly, at the hands of this man, Ariel Castro, the ex-bus driver who police say held the three women captive in home, faces kidnapping and rape charges.

And a police incident report obtained by CNN details how Castro allegedly abducted the women in early 2000s. What officers found when they first arrived at his home on Monday and how one of the female captives was allegedly starved and beaten by Castro during multiple pregnancies to induce miscarriages.

Pamela Brown is tracking all of these incredibly disturbing developments for us this morning. And, I guess, Pamela, this explains why Michele Knight is still in the hospital recovering.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Zoraida. Disturbing details, indeed. We are learning more about the circumstances surrounding the alleged abductions involving these three women. In an initial police report from Cleveland Police, in this report, it says that around ten years ago, Amanda Berry was walking home from Burger King when Ariel Castro offered her a ride home after he told her that his son also worked at Burger King.

In this report, it also says that he lured both Michele Knight and Gina DeJesus into his car as well. When he brought the women back to his home, he allegedly initially chained them up in his basement inside his home and let them free from those chains and let them roam on the second floor of the home. And, Zoraida, we're also learning more about the pregnancies of these women. In this report, it says that Michele Knight was pregnant at least five times.

And that when Castro found out, he would starve her and hit her in the stomach to abort the baby. And according to the report, Michele was forced to deliver Amanda Berry's baby in a small plastic pool inside the home. Castro allegedly told Michele that if the baby died, that he would kill her. So, certainly, horrifying details here.

SAMBOLIN: No, absolutely. And do we know anything else about the state of their mind?

BROWN: Well, Zoraida, we're starting to learn about that. They're still talking with investigators. But what we do know is that on Monday, when Amanda Berry escaped from the home that the other two women could have escaped. In other words, they weren't bound, but they chose not to.

And in talking to sources who have firsthand knowledge of the investigation, that's an indication that they were fearful to leave the home. We have learned from sources that Castro would pretend to leave the house and test the girls to see if they would attempt to flee. And if they did, that he would punish them, he would discipline them. So, it was clear that they were fearful that they, over the course of ten years, that they may have been brainwashed.

And, you know, you never know after being in captivity for that long, when the door's open, you know, you can be free, how you're going to react in that situation. So, there's a combination of factors that may explain why these two women did not flee along with Amanda Berry on Monday.

SAMBOLIN: No, absolutely. I know we're going to find out more details. Thank you so much Pamela Brown reporting live for us.

And Amanda Berry's cousin, Crystal Milton, is speaking out about what it was like for her family during the ten years Amanda was missing without a trace.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You always keep -- you always want to keep hope. But after so many years goes by, you lose a little bit, but in the back of your mind, you still keep it. I mean, like Jaycee Dugard, I think is her name, I mean, was missing for 18 years, and they found her. And you know, so, when you hear stories like that, that keeps your hope alive.


SAMBOLIN: We'll hear more from Amanda Berry's family coming up a little later this morning that is scheduled on "STARTING POINT." John, back to you in New York.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Zoraida. We have big news in Washington on the CNN security watch. Riveting testimony from the man who was the state department's number two on the ground in Libya on the night the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked. Gregory Hicks told the Congressional Oversight Committee about the phone calls he received from Ambassador Chris Stevens during the September 11th attack in Benghazi.

And now Hicks, a 22-year Foreign Service officer claims he was demoted when he started questioning the state department's version of events that night. Dana Bash has more from Washington.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the first time, a gripping public account of the Benghazi attack on the second in command to the slain ambassador, Chris Stevens.

GREGORY HICKS, FMR. DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION IN LIBYA: I found two missed calls on the phone. I punched the phone number I didn't recognize, and I got the ambassador on the other end. And he said, "Greg, we're under attack."

BASH: For 30 minutes, Greg Hicks told the story of the deadly attack as he lived it from a command center at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.

HICKS: At about 3:00 a.m., I received a call from the prime minister of Libya. I think it's the saddest phone call I've ever had in my life. He told me that Ambassador Stevens had passed away.

BASH: Republicans invited Hicks to bolster GOP accusations that the administration botched the response and misled Americans afterwards, especially U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice's, television appearances calling it , quote, "spontaneous protest."

HICKS: I was stunned. My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed.

BASH: Hicks also argued the U.S. military could have helped squash the attack by scrambling fighter jets to fly overhead. The defense secretary and joint chiefs chairman testified in February that was not possible. Hicks also says four special forces personnel were ready to board a plane from Tripoli to Benghazi but were stopped by their superiors. It fueled GOP outrage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the personnel react to being told to stand down?

HICKS: They were furious. I can only say -- well I will quote Lt. Col. Gibson. He said "it's the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military."

BASH: The Pentagon says special forces were told not to go because they were not equipped for combat and needed in Tripoli to care for the wounded headed their way.

(on-camera) The Republican chairman summed up this nearly six-hour hearing saying it may be over, but the investigation continues as for Democrats one summed up their assessment by saying, "not only was there no smoking gun, there wasn't even a lukewarm slingshot."

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.

BERMAN: Thirty-seven minutes after the hour right now. Other top stories we're following --


BERMAN (voice-over): A new tragedy at a factory in Bangladesh as the death toll from last month's deadly building collapse climbs even higher. At least seven people died in this new late-night fire at a clothing factory. Meantime, the army there is reporting this morning that the number of dead in the collapse two weeks ago has now gone up to 912.

A new development to tell you about in the disappearance of Michigan mother, Jessica Herringa (ph). Police now say her blood was found outside the Exxon Mobil station where she worked. She disappeared on April 26th during her shift there. Investigators say they only found a small amount of blood. They say their family -- her family has been notified.

A desperate search underway this morning for a missing toddler in rural Kansas. Eighteen-month-old Lana Bailey (ph) was last seen with her mother, 21-year-old Kaylie Bailey (ph) at a farm where Kailey's boyfriend lived. The bodies of Kailey Bailey (ph), the boyfriend, and another man were discovered at the farm earlier this week. Right now, police have no suspects and no idea of the girl's location.

We've learned this morning that a teenager who allegedly punched a soccer referee will likely be charged as an adult in that ref's death. Prosecutors (INAUDIBLE) in a charge this man with homicide by assault. Forty-six-year-old Ricardo Portillo died May 4th after suffering serious head injuries in the attack. Just awful.


BERMAN (on-camera): So, the man who came to be known as the Barefoot Bandit (ph) going back to federal prison. Twenty-one -- 22-year-old Cotton Harris-Moore (ph) pleaded guilty yesterday to breaking into an airplane hangar during his infamous 2010 international crime spree. According to the "Associated Press," the admission won't affect his prison sentence.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty last year to theft in connection with the break-in as part of a bigger plea deal. The deal resulted in a seven- year prison sentence.

New this morning, carnival cruise line's troubled "Triumph" is back at sea under its own power. The cruise ship left the terminal in Alabama where it was towed after losing power back in February. More than 3,000 passengers, you will remember, endured that nightmare cruise for days without power or running water as the ship was towed across the Gulf of Mexico.

"Triumph is heading to the Bahamas for more repairs in an the upgrade to its entertainment areas.

So, you know, trapping alligators is, in fact, a dangerous business and even a professional can get hurt. The husband and wife team of Jason and Sarah Clark (ph) were called to remove a 3 1/2-foot alligator from a suburban Atlanta pond. A feisty alligator. Jason cook (ph) -- the alligator who bit him and wouldn't let go. He caught it, I should say. Watch how these pros handle the situation.


VOICE OF JASON CLARK, ALLIGATOR TRAPPER: Go, get your fingers -- ready?

Put his tail between your legs. Here you go.


BERMAN: Ouch! Oh. The Clarks say the alligator was big enough to kill a small dog, although, apparently not his arm. This gator will be evaluated before being released back into the mild.

Forty minutes after the hour this morning. A lot of news to tell you about. Jodi Arias is guilty and now she is on suicide watch. Coming up, find out why prison officials are on high alert this morning.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. In just a few hours, Jodi Arias will be back in court for the penalty phase of her murder trial. She's been placed on suicide watch after a jury found her guilty of first degree murder for killing her ex-boyfriend. Now, literally, minutes after the verdict, Arias told a Phoenix TV station she'd rather be executed than spend the rest of her life in prison.

This was a trial that seemed to go on forever. For months, people by the millions were glued to their screens, hooked by every lurid, cold- blooded detail.


BERMAN (voice-over): Several hundred spectators gathered outside the Phoenix courthouse and millions more watched from home as Jodi Arias learned her fate. Rousing applause from the crowd as the verdict was read.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, duly impanelled and sworn in the above-entitled action upon our oaths do find the defendant as to count one first degree murder guilty.

BERMAN: After four months on trial, Arias was stoic. Travis Alexander's friends and family embrace and wipe away tears. It was a dramatic culmination to the courtroom drama that sparked so much fascination. A real life soap opera that had trial enthusiasts completely hooked.

TRELYNDA KERR, ARIAS TRIAL WATCHER: I'm addicted. I get home and I immediately turn my TV on. I turn my computer on.

BERMAN: The details of their sexual encounters lurid and arguably racy for daytime TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the infamous phone call that involved sex.

BERMAN: Overwhelming volumes of evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jodi Ann Arias killed Travis Alexander.

BERMAN: And of course, the 18 days she spent on the stand, sometimes in tears. Not since Casey Anthony have court watchers been so glued to the TV, transfixed on this salacious trial. Some cable news networks, including CNN's sister network, HLN, dedicated hours of air time every day. Audiences followed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was asked as --

BERMAN: The media circus became part of the legal proceedings when HLN correspondent, Jean Casarez, was called to the stand to clarify her own reporting about prosecutor, Juan Martinez.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You reported that you made observations of a juror seeing Mr. Martinez outside the courtroom, right?


NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: It's a very, very tense time in the courtroom.

BERMAN: The verdict, a dramatic finale for viewers, but for Jodi Arias, it is a stark reality. And a far cry from the conclusion she predicted in an interview on "Inside Edition" back in 2008.



ARIAS: Because I'm innocent. And you can mark my words on that one. No jury will convict me.


BERMAN (on-camera): Well, she's wrong about that. Again, convicted of first degree murder. The penalty phase begins today.

Forty-six minutes after the hour. Secretary of state, John Kerry, taking some ribbing from longtime friend, Sen. John McCain. McCain, a former navy pilot used some salty language when he joked about Kerry's new role heading up the state department.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to be back. The last time I was here was when my friend, John Kerry, was sworn in as secretary of state. He's doing a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) job.


MCCAIN: So, thank you very much.

BERMAN: You can't say that on TV. Kerry and McCain have traded jokes before about the secretary of state role back in December. McCain referred to then Senator Kerry as Mr. Secretary, hinting of things to come. Kerry responded by calling McCain Mr. President.

Forty-seven minutes after the hour.

Remember these cheerleaders fighting to keep bible verses on their banner? There is a new development in their case this morning, and we are just a few hours away from the arraignment for the man suspected of kidnapping and raping three women in Ohio. We are live in Cleveland with a lot of developments this morning. Stay with us.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I am live in Cleveland, Ohio. And we're getting our first look this morning at Ariel Castro. He is the man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them captive in his home for a decade. Castro is now facing three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping, excuse me.

Listen to a reporter from WOIO in Cleveland inside the prison, peppering him with questions that everyone wants answered.


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?


SAMBOLIN: We're also learning a lot more about the abuse and the torture that was endured by Amanda Bary, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight. An initial incident report obtained by CNN revealing Knight was allegedly starved and beaten by Castro during multiple pregnancies in order to induce miscarriages.

And John, I got to tell you, that is probably explaining why Michele Knight is still in the hospital. You know, initially when we talked to her family, to Freddie, her brother, he said that she looked really pale. We've talked to then Gina's family who spent some time with her and what they said was that she's always been a slight girl referring to how short she is. The good news was that they told us that her spirits are really strong.

BERMAN: That is great to hear despite all she's been through. Thanks, Zoraida.

Fifty-two minutes after the hour. Some other news now -- (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): An 18-year-old high school student from Tempe, Arizona is under arrest charged with building bombs at home. Police say a maid working in the suspect's house found a device that appeared to be a bomb. She was right. She took it to a local firehouse where firefighters quickly called in the bomb squad who diffused the improvised explosive. Police say a search of the house turned up bomb-making materials and two more IEDs.

Colorado becomes the first state to pass two laws dictating how legal marijuana will be taxed and sold in stores. The new taxes will fund the process to regulate marijuana in the state. And the second measure dictates that only people who lived in Colorado for at least two years can get a license for a retail store.

Last November, Colorado voters passed ballots measures okaying the personal recreational use of marijuana.

A big win for cheerleaders in Texas. A judge has ruled that the squad at the Koons School (ph) are free to wave banners with bible verses written on them at football games. The judge said the religious team banners are not against the law. The school told the cheerleaders they could not display the banners. They plan to appeal the judge's ruling.

All right. That is, in fact, a real life angry bird. Essentially, a group of wild peacocks causing havoc in the city of Union Gap, Washington. Officials say they're scratching up cars, apparently mistaking their reflections as rivals for the attention of females. No one said they were smart. They've also been darting out into traffic.

Police are having a hard time driving the birds out of town. For now, they've been stalled peacock crossing signs to alert drivers.


BERMAN (on-camera): Still ahead the senator and the prince. Prince Harry beginning a whirlwind U.S. tour today and first stop is Washington. He will get a special guy there, Senator John McCain. We'll have a live report from Capitol Hill coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Prince Harry on the Hill today. The British royal begins his latest U.S. visit with a meeting with Arizona senator, John McCain. Our royal correspondent, Max Foster, normally in the UK is visiting us in the colonies today live in Washington with details of the trip. Good morning, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi. Actually the context here is that his last trip was meant to be a private holiday to the U.S. and it turned into one of the most publicized events in royal history. That was when Prince Harry stripped off in Las Vegas. He admitted at the time that that was -- he let himself down, he let the royal family down.

This trip is going to be about readjusting that balance. It's a big, important trip for him. He's representing his own charities, also the United Kingdom. So, for example today, this afternoon, you'll have Prince Harry with Senator McCain at a land mine exhibition. His mother was famous for her campaigning work with land mines. So, you're going to see him with Senator McCain promoting that.

And then, later on, there's going to be an event at the ambassador's residence representing the United Kingdom and what these young royals can do is bring in A-list guests. And that's about promoting the UK. So, over the next few days, you are going to see him appearing in various places in Colorado, in New York, in New Jersey, promoting his charities and those of the United Kingdom. And it's going to be more prince than soldier, he says, this time.

BERMAN: Well, we welcome you and we welcome the prince to the United States. Max Foster in Washington this morning. Thank you so much.

EARLY START continues right now.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): How did Ariel Castro allegedly lure three young women into his house? We have the disturbing new details as the suspected kidnapper and rapist awaits arraignment. We are live in Cleveland with the very latest there.

And home at last, kidnap victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus reunite with the family that they were taken away from for so many years.

BERMAN (voice-over): AND Jodi Arias guilty but the real shocker is what she said immediately after the verdict. It has prison officials on high alert this morning. Truly stunning. Wait until we tell you about that.


BERMAN (on-camera): Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. Quite a morning here. I'm John Berman in New York.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): It is, indeed. Nice to see you, John. I'm Zoraida Sambolin live in Cleveland, Ohio. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. Let's get started here.

We're following brand new developments this morning of unmanageable abuse suffered by the three women who were kidnapped and held hostage for a decade inside this house behind me on Seymour Avenue. We're going to get to that in a moment.