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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Inside A House Of Horrors; Police Report Details Torture And Abuse; Arias Talks After Guilty Verdict; Arias Convicted Of First Degree Murder; Prosecutors Seek Homicide Charge; Charged With Sexual Battery; Triumph Sets Sail; Navigating The Fallout; Prince Harry On Capitol Hill
Aired May 9, 2013 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this half hour with breaking news in the Cleveland kidnapping investigation, including just horrifying new details of the abuse that was suffered by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight over a course of a decade allegedly at the hands of this man.
Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver who police say held the three women captive inside his home. He faces arraignment in the next hour on kidnapping and rape charges. We're going to bring that to you live. That is scheduled at 8:30 Eastern.
But for more right now let's go to Pamela Brown. She is tracking all of these new developments for us. Good morning to you, Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Zoraida. That's right, Ariel Castro facing four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. He is expected to appear behind me here before a judge at 8:30 this morning as the country celebrates the freedom of the victims he allegedly held captive. Some unspeakable details of their confinement are now emerging.
BROWN (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 if the baby died he would 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 FEMALE: 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. Why was she able to escape now after more than ten years in captivity?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 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 we 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were told that they left the house and went into the garage in disguise. So those are the two times 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just signed criminal complaints charging Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
BROWN: Again, 8:30 this morning Ariel Castro will make his first appearance before a judge. He faces four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape, and, Zoraida, these are just the charges in a criminal complaint. He could face more charges soon.
SAMBOLIN: What else can we expect in court today? What about those other two brothers?
BROWN: Well, Zoraida, what we can expect today is a judge will read him his rights, Ariel Castro's rights, and then present charges, ask him if he understands the charges, and then ask him to enter into a plea, but he does have the right to waive a plea.
Also as far as his two brothers go, we're learning that they will get credit for the time they served. Again, they were taken into custody, but were not charged in connection with this case. We're learning they will get credit for the time they served and that they may not be released right away. They could be taken to the police department and be released from there -- Zoraida.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Pamela Brown reporting live for us. John, you know, yesterday, when we found out that the other two brothers were not going to be charged, at least with this particular -- in this particular incident, I reached out to Maria Castro Montes who is the cousin of Ariel Castro to see how she was feeling about it. She wrote back she was relieved that it wasn't all three of them and the relief that they feel is for the mother involved here.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of emotions in Cleveland. All right, Zoraida, thank you so much.
The other big story we're following, of course, this morning, 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 this morning after a jury found her guilty of killing her ex-boyfriend and literally minutes after the verdict, Arias told a Phoenix television station she would rather be executed than spend the rest of her life in prison.
In the interview which aired on KSAZ, she was also asked about Prosecutor Juan Martinez and what she would do differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JODI ARIAS, CONVICTED MURDERER: Prior to trial, I respected Juan as a very capable attorney, even though he's done some very shady things in my case, as far as hiding evidence and failing to disclose certain things, hoping it would just go away. But in the end, what does it matter? It didn't help my case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you had to do this all over again, you're in the desert, you've got blood on your hands. How do you handle it?
ARIAS: I would turn around and drive to the Mesa Police Department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, with me now to discuss the arias case is Criminal Defense Attorney Joe Tacopina. Joe, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Let me start with the interview after the verdict because I think it still is one of the most stunning things that many of us have seen. Jodi Arias does an interview, moments after she is found guilty of first degree murder and she says she wants to be sentenced to death. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARIAS: I said years ago that I would rather get death than life and that still is true today. I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I would rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, a number of questions about this. First of all, her attorneys, should they have let her do that interview?
JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Her attorneys had no control over this woman after this verdict. Clearly, they didn't have much control over her when she was on the witness stand. This is nothing to do with the attorneys. This is a woman who is a control of her own actions, her own destiny, and clearly her own fate.
BERMAN: All right, how does this affect what the jury may now decide on sentencing?
TACOPINA: You know, I don't think it's going to have must have on an effect. I mean, the only thing I can see happening here is some jurors would be less inclined to impose a death penalty, could sit back and say, listen, if she doesn't care, sure, it makes my job easier. But, you know, clearly there is something going on in this woman's head.
She's a sociopathic, but I think, if anything, what this shouts out loud and clear is the only appropriate defense in this case, not the three defenses she proffered, I have no idea what happened, I wasn't there, or some robbers came in, I was there, and ultimately the self- defense defense, the only defense that would have been appropriate in this case is a mental defect defense.
Not legal insanity defense but mental defect defense. Clearly, she doesn't play with a full deck. That is the one thing that bodes in her favor when it comes to the penalty phase here because it's one thing to sentence someone to death. It's very different than rendering conviction for murder. The sentence someone to die is a very different thing.
I think jurors are going to weigh whether she's completely there or not. I mean, she's never going to see the streets again and she shouldn't. But to sentence someone to death is different. I think if there's a mental defect here and some jurors believe she's nuts in some regard, I think they will hesitate.
BERMAN: That's where we go back to those 18 days. The 18 days she was on the stand. It was, you know, shocking testimony all over the place in so many ways. No matter what she said, the fact of the matter is those jurors were staring at this woman for 18 days, crazy or not, as you say. Does that make it harder for them to sentence her to death?
TACOPINA: Again, that cuts both ways. In some ways, yes, you get to know the person, personalization of a human being. You're seeing a person. They're not a defendant anymore. On the other hand, they found that for 18 days she sat up there and looked at them in the face and lied to them. That's an aggravating circumstance.
Remember, in this case what they have to prove, the prosecution here, is that the death was caused in a cruel manner, either physical pain or mental anguish. It really doesn't get more cruel or more savage than what happened here. I'm obviously not a proponent of the death penalty, but if you're going to impose it in this country she happens to meet all the factors.
BERMAN: You're her defense attorney now.
TACOPINA: No, I am not.
BERMAN: If you were. What do you do? You sound like that would be a tough job to have. What they can possibly do?
TACOPINA: I mean, someone asked me yesterday, what was the turning point in the trial, I said the turning point in the trial was opening statements. The facts in this case were beyond change. What do you do here? If I were her defense attorney at this phase, what she wants and put her aside, now at the point where you have to relate to this jury. You have someone here who is obviously not right and we don't kill the people in this country who have mental illnesses. And she clearly, murder as she is, she has a mental illness.
BERMAN: You try to sell that to the jury somehow during this phase?
TACOPINA: More than selling it. Actually the facts probably bode in her favor when it comes to realizing she's someone who is unhealthy mentally.
BERMAN: Joe Tacopina, great to have you here. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
We're learning more this morning that the teenager who allegedly punched a soccer referee in the head will likely be charge as an adult in that referee's death. Prosecutors in Utah intend to charge the teen with homicide by assault. The 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo died this past weekend after suffering serious head injuries in that attack.
The lieutenant colonel who was in charge of the Air Force Sex Assault Prevention Program is due in court today to face accusations that he groped a woman in a parking lot. The 41-year-old Jeffrey Krusinski will be arraigned today in Arlington, Virginia on a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery. That crime carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and up to a fine of $2,500.
Carnival Cruiseline's troubled "Triumph" back at Sea under its own power this morning. The cruiseship left the terminal in Alabama where it was towed after losing power back in February. More than 3,000 passengers endured a nightmare cruise for days without power or running water. You will remember that ship being tow aid cross the Gulf of Mexico to Alabama. Triumph heading to the Bahamas for more repairs and upgrade to entertainment areas.
Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it is going to be a long road for the Cleveland women who just escaped captivity. What will it be like for them as they try to re-enter society? We're going to be live in Cleveland after the break. You're watching a special edition of STARTING POINT.
SAMBOLIN: Two of the three women rescued from certain hell in Ohio are now home, but their ordeal is far from over. How do Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight reintegrate into society given these horrific experiences they've had.
Here to help us understand the psychological effects and how investigators will rely on the victims to help build their case, we have Dr. Lolly McDavid. She is the medical director and child advocacy and protection at UH Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital in Cleveland and Roger Canaff is a former special victims assistant district attorney and former assistant to attorney general of New York. Thank you both for being with us this morning. I appreciate it.
Dr. McDavid, I would like to begin with you. So my first question is what are the challenges that these women are going to face as they try to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society? We're hearing a lot initially about how they are doing that. We understand that Gina, when she arrived home said stop paying so much attention to me. I'm OK. She was joking with her family. What does that say to you?
DR. LOLLY MCDAVID, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UH RAINBOW BABIES AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, I don't think we have any idea what these women are going through. I mean, we've never had a situation like this. We've had people who have been held captive over periods of time, but not under these kinds of circumstances, at least not that we've known of.
I think it's probably closer to people who have been military prisoners, but even those people -- I mean, if you think of someone who was captured in a military prison, they may have had relationships with other people. They had other things that they could draw on.
These women started out as teenagers, so they couldn't replay books in their head. They couldn't, you know, reread plays that they saw. I mean, a lot of times people cope with things using what they can draw on from the past. They were teenagers. They didn't have a lot in their past.
SAMBOLIN: And what about the little girl who was rescued? She was just 6 years old, was the daughter of Amanda Berry. She was born in captivity. Are there some psychological effects on her that would be different?
MCDAVID: Well, we don't know, again, we don't know what her situation was like. I mean, all I know is what I hear on the news. And a lot of the things that we're hearing are second -- second and third hand information.
SAMBOLIN: Let me add something then. I'm going to give you a little bit of perspective here then because I asked about that little girl. The family of DeJesus was at the hospital and they actually met the little girl. They said that she's, you know, very precocious, that she's very lively, that she was telling a lot of jokes, that that is the little girl. That she is a normal -- in their opinion, a normal 6-year-old girl.
MCDAVID: Well, I don't know that I would rely on their evaluation. I think that this child is going to need a professional evaluation and a lot of -- a lot, a lot of therapy. Remember, we were told, and I'm saying we've been told a lot of things. And some of it is not verifiable or has not yet been verified, that she, quote, "stopped breathing at birth."
Well, you know, what kind of resuscitation did she have, what kind of damage may have been done there? She didn't have prenatal care. The mom didn't take prenatal vitamins. We don't know anything around how this birth happened. So there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
You know, we see children who are, quote, "precocious," who are born to drug-addicted mothers. That doesn't necessarily mean to me that she's a normal child. Now, it doesn't also mean that she's not a normal child.
SAMBOLIN: All right, yes, we still have a long way to go there. Mr. Kenneth, you've interviewed many victims in these types of cases. Essentially what you are asking them to do is to relive all of this abuse that they've gone through. How do you get them to open up and tell you about what they went through so that you can turn around and help them?
ROGER CANAFF, FORMER SPECIAL VICTIMS ADA: That's a great question. I think what's going to be key in this case, as Dr. McDavid says, this is unique. We really have not seen a situation where individuals have been in captivity for so long. Usually what happens is the prosecutor or an individual who is working with victims in order to elicit information, usually what's done is what we call a forensic interview, which is an interview that is compassionate and defensible.
It's compassionate in the sense that the questions being asked are nonjudgmental and are non-confrontational and it's defensible in the sense that we're not asking leading questions. We're being very careful about the information we're getting. And we can -- rely on that information in courts of law. Judges and juries can rely on it.
The difficulty here though is going to be that it's difficult to -- it may be difficult to develop rapport with some of these victims simply because their experience has been so traumatic, normally what we do is we get to know the individual, we'll talk about a non-traumatic thing. Whether it's an adult or a child, we'll ask them about last Christmas or we'll ask them about a family holiday they remember.
In this case, all three of these women have been in captivity for so long and, of course, the child involved really doesn't know any more than captivity. So it's going to be a little bit more difficult, I think, they're going to have to be assessed, any individual are going to have to be very patient.
They should absolutely rely on victim advocates, victim witness specialists and mental health professionals and really go slowly and take their time. It's absolutely doable, just won't be easy.
SAMBOLIN: It certainly seems that's what they are doing, that they are taking their time and surrounding these girls with a lot of love.
CANAFF: Which is great.
SAMBOLIN: The families super protective of them. Dr. McDavid, I want to ask you -- yes, essential, right?
CANAFF: Absolutely. The family support. And also talk --
SAMBOLIN: I want to ask -- CANAFF: Also time. It's important to allow these women to reacquaint, get back with their families. We can't just sit them down and say, all right, give me the facts, we absolutely have to give them time to reintegrate, relax, a couple of sleep cycles and then get into it.
SAMBOLIN: And, Dr. McDavid, I wanted to talk to you about the families of all of the victims, because earlier, we talked to the grandmother of Amanda, she was -- she had a hard time getting through the entire interview, being able to express her feelings. She is so overcome with emotion, as are all of the families here, so what -- what is in store for them, and how can they better adjust to themselves?
MCDAVID: Well, I think for these families, even though they held vigils, I think they are truly surprised these girls, these now women, still alive. And I think after many years of probably reconciling yourself to the fact that you will never see them again, they are now seeing them again. Not only are they seeing them again, they are very different than the people they saw 9, 10, 12 years ago in the case of one of them.
So you have these expectations, they are frozen in time. You are thinking about the 14-year-old that you knew 10 years ago or nine years ago and now you are seeing a woman and she is a woman and she has been through many, many horrific days and nights. And everyone wants to just think that love conquers all. They need a lot of work and the families also have to be open to therapy, everyone is going to need therapy.
SAMBOLIN: Dr. Lolly McDavid and Roger Canaff, thank you so much for joining us this morning and sharing your perspective. We really appreciate it.
CANAFF: Thank you.
SAMBOLIN: So John, we're going to back to New York. A long road to recovery here for everyone.
BERMAN: A long road ahead and a lot of work to do for all of them. All right, Zoraida, thanks so much. Ahead on STARTING POINT, a royal visit to the U.S. So can we expect Prince Harry to behave himself this time around? We'll have a live report, next.
BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. So Britain's Prince Harry heading to Capitol Hill today. The royal begins his latest U.S. visit with a meeting with Arizona Senator John McCain. Our Max Foster traveling from the U.K. to Washington today with details of this trip, fully clothed I imagine this time.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. John, this is the setting for Prince Harry's first appearance here in the U.S. It's a landmine exhibition and that was, of course, very close to Princess Diana's heart. We see with Harry is him picking up on her legacy. How he's keeping her legacy alive.
And one of his charities, he'll be promoting that and you will see him promoting his charities and representing British interested. And, for example, a reception at the U.K. ambassador's residence, promoting British trade, a big draw, big U.S. figures coming along so that's a big asset for the British government.
I'm told this morning that he feels fired up about arriving here today. So he's pretty excited. His tours are always pretty exciting. He is going to be playing baseball in New York, for example, so a great picture moment there. Visiting an area affected by Hurricane Sandy as well.
Lots to come over the next few days, but I can tell you, John, he won't be stripping off. He was embarrassed about what he did last year in Vegas. What happened in Vegas stays in Vegas.
BERMAN: Yes, you know, I don't know if most Americans think that's good news or bad news, Max. We appreciate the report, nonetheless. Max Foster for us this morning in our nation's capital. Thank you so much, Max. Appreciate it.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, the sentencing phase begins in the Jodi Arias trial today. What we can expect when she is back in court. We'll tell you just ahead.
And we have some new gruesome details in the kidnapping of those three Cleveland women. In 3 minutes, the man charged in the crime goes before a judge. We'll bring it to you live. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to STARTING POINT. I'm John Berman.
SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin, happy to have you with us, I'm live in Cleveland. Our STARTING POINT, Ariel Castro, the man suspected of kidnapping and raping three women for 10 years in Cleveland goes before a judge today. We'll bring you Ariel Castro's arraignment live in 30 minutes from now.
Then we are learning the shocking details about what life was allegedly like in what they were calling the house of horrors. How Castro was able to lure and hold these women for ten years. The disturbing report in a moment.
Plus, why comments Jodi Arias made after her guilty verdict have prison officials on alert now. The latest on that case in just a few moments.
It is Thursday, May 9th. A special edition of STARTING POINT live in Cleveland begins right now.
We begin with breaking news this morning. A police incident report obtained by CNN describing what went on inside this house of horrors on Seymour Avenue, right behind me, for the last ten years. It describes unimaginable suffering endured by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight including the women's accounts of how they were lured and abducted 10 years ago. What officers encountered when they first arrived at Ariel Castro's home --