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CNN NEWSROOM

O.J. Simpson to Take Stand; Defense Says Arial Castro is Not Monster.

Aired May 15, 2013 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You have to put the client's best interest first. So really here is going to be the inner determination by the court who had this client's best interest, Mr. Grasso or Mr. Galanter. But it happens very often especially when you have these large egos at play and cameras watching.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I know you know about cameras watching. I don't have to remind anyone, you were Casey Anthony's tomorrow. There is massive fascination on O.J. Simpson, maybe not why he is serving or why he may get a few trial, for what he might say. He never took the stand in his criminal case. He didn't take the stand in his second criminal case, the one that brings us to today.

Does it matter, Jose Baez, what he says today before a judge or is this really what the public wants to hear?

JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, one, it really doesn't matter what he says. I don't think that this is going to be a successful appeal. And that's because this is really your run of the mill, I had a bad lawyer appeal. However, if there is some type of support to what his testimony is, then I think he's got a shot. But right now, it doesn't appear that and right now, the most important one was, was that plea offer conveyed? Unless there is something in writing, it's Yale Galanter's word against O.J.'s, the issue of him not testifying, there was a colloquy by the judge. The conflict of interest is kind of weak as well. Because, you know, can I advice anyone to commit a crime. That doesn't mean they should go out and do it or that's justification for them to do it. So, a lot of these are weak, are weak claims. However, I think the strongest one certainly is the plea conveyance and, you know, is it what the public wants to hear? No, it's not what the public wants to hear. He's not going to talk about the murders.

BANFIELD: Right. Right. Which is really what is so fascinating to so many of us. Jose, if you could stand by for a moment. Like you say, you are right. Evidence is everything. You got one guy's word against another. One is a convicted felon. That's a tough one to surmount. We are focusing on a very, very difficult subject. The pain and suffering of this man, Travis Alexander. Literally moments after these photos were taken, he suffered a brutal and grizzly death and today you are going to hear why it is so important that the jury knows just how brutal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting live in Phoenix where the Jodi Arias trial is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time for the aggravation phase, it's part one of the sentencing phase. It's a two- parter. This is when prosecutors have to prove that Travis Alexander's murder was especially cruel and worthy of the death penalty for Jodi. Remember that Travis was stabbed nearly 30 times. He was also shot in the head. Today we expect the prosecution to recall to the stand the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Travis corpse. He will testify about the pane he likely endured during that attack. On day three of the trial, which, by the way, was months ago if January. Dr. Kevin Horn, that medical examiner, took the stand and testified one of the stab wound went right through Travis' heart and cut a major vein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. KEVIN HORN, MEDICAL EXAMINER: With this wound to the heart, he should have been able to get his hands up and defend himself.

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: If he was in a seated position when this wound was inflicted would he have the ability to get up and walk somewhere or move quickly somewhere as a matter of fact?

HORN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: So I want to bring back defense attorney, Jose Baez, live in Florida and bring in our HLN legal correspondent and former prosecutor, Beth Karas, live in Phoenix.

Beth, let me begin with you, if I can. Remind us how important it is to have this medical testimony from the M.E. about the sequence of the wounds that Travis suffered.

BETH KARAS, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT & FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, it's not so much the sequence of the wound at this point, Ashleigh. Although the states that theory the stab to the heart was first and all the slices and punctures were in the middle and the gunshot was last t. Order isn't critical as the length of time to kill him. The physical and mental anguish is a part of the definition of "especially cruel." And because these photos were deleted, we know the last photo alive and a photo about a minute-and-a-half later taken of him dead with his throat already slashed. So it took a while to kill him. A minute-and-a-half sound like not that long, he stood at the pier roar in the bathroom spitting blood, he was smearing blood, drink blood. He had already been stabbed several times. Did he know when he looked in that mirror that he was going to die, how much did he suffer before he was unconscious.

BANFIELD: But here was a debate, that is, is it possible he was actually shot in the head first and thus maybe didn't suffer? It seems implausible that that kind of a fight could go on, but it was raised?

KARAS: Yes, the defense wants the jury to believe he was shot first. Even if he was shot in the head first, he wasn't rendered unconscious or there wouldn't have been that matter is or smear and drips of blood all over the bathroom if he was unconscious from the shot, which is what the defense wants them to believe. Hello, he was all over that bathroom. He was standing at that sink. There was a lot going on, but the blood evidence tells a tale. It seems to show he was trying to get away from her. He was almost out the door, if he had gotten out the door, she would have been arrested much sooner tan six weeks after his body was found.

BANFIELD: Jose Baez, if you could weigh in here on how a jury actually operates. You can get technical. Can you get scientific? You can get an M.E. to testify for six days if you want to. Ultimately, these are lay people that look at horrifying pictures of a murder scene that clearly was many feet long and a lot of movement. In their hearts, don't they feel this was a horrible way to day?

BAEZ: Yes, especially since they haven't been exposed to these types of photographs before. They're not in the business of death, so to speak. So they're going to be going on their emotions and the prosecutor is going to be playing on their emotions, hitting home on each and every point based on every injury that was incurred. So that's what the prosecutor -- this is the prosecutor's moment. I think the experience and the style that Mr. Martinez has, that's exactly what he's going to do. He's going to go right for their hearts, pull on those strings and hit home that Travis suffered. However, on the defense's side the defense should have been preparing this at jury selection, educating the jurors that all first-degree murder cases are not death penalty cases and that the death penalty is something that should be a threshold that is very high and that should be, that theme should be continued throughout the trial and especially now.

BANFIELD: And in the end, I don't care how hard your heart can be, we are all human being, not one of us likes to see a scene like that. Even the hardened among the investigators, too.

Jose, if you would stay with us, I'd appreciate it.

We are watching and waiting for O.J. Simpson to take the stand.

Beth Karas, thank you as well.

I want to take your attention to Cleveland where that terrible story the House of horrors, the details are emerging.

And now, Ariel Castro's lawyers are saying their client is the human and not the monster that's been depicted in the press. Imagine it.

Plus, what the man accused of holding those three women hostage for decades is saying about his little 6-year-old girl with one of the victims.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As long as twins, Evan and Eric Edwards, can remember. They had allergies. The official diagnosis when they were 3.

ERIC EDWARDS, HAS ALLERGIES: We were allergic to all seafood, including shellfish and fish, all peanuts and most antibiotics.

GUPTA: Plus, seasonal allergies as well.

EVAN EDWARDS, HAS ALLERGIES: We didn't have pets growing up. We were allergic to dogs and cats.

GUPTA: To top it off, for them, school was a huge challenge.

ERIC EDWARDS: We were those guys who had to be placed at a special table at lunch to try to insure that there was no potential for contamination.

EVAN EDWARDS: We were those weird kids in the cafeteria table.

GUPTA: With the near constant threat of a severe life-threatening allergic reaction the twins had to have epi-pens at all time. It's a pen-like device that injects a dose of epinephrine. But they thought the pens were too bulky and often didn't carry them. So when they left high school, they decided to invent a smaller, more portable device.

ERIC EDWARDS: This was about us trying to take our experience and then develop another option for these million are at risk.

GUPTA: They tailored their college classes around the new invention. After college, they started their company, Intelliject. Last year, the FDA approved the injector about the size of a credit cashed. It's the first to talk you through an injection.

COMPUTER VOICE: Place black end against inner thigh.

GUPTA: Now, as parents themselves with children of severe allergies, their message is simple.

ERIC EDWARDS: Don't give up hope. Know that more treatments are coming available. More research, the awareness is growing.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: He is accused of holding three women captive in his home for a decade and yet his lawyers are insisting Ariel Castro is not a monster. They tell our affiliate, WKYC, in an interview, that if he's indicted on kidnapping and the rape charges that he's facing, he's going to plead not guilty.

CNN's Pam Brown is live for us in Cleveland. And, Pam, before we get to that, those incredible revelations in that interview with those attorneys, you do have some new information that you've been getting from investigators or at least connections to the investigation of the way these women were treated during that decade of confinement by Ariel Castro allegedly at his hands. Tell me what you're learning.

PAM BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ashleigh. According to a couple of my sources, we're learning that Castro's behavior toward the women evolved over time and that there were varying degrees of treatment toward the women. That Amanda Berry, who had his child, was treated slightly better than the other two, Gina Dejesus and Michele Knight. It seemed Castro slightly favored Amanda Berry. Again, it's important to note here that they were all treated poorly, according to sources. And that any notion of a hierarchy is really a jump here, that they were all treated poorly but it appeared Amanda Berry was treated slightly better and that Michele Knight was treated the worst out of the three. According to a family friend we spoke with, we were told that Michele Knight was treated as Castro's main punching bag, that he would use just about everything to abuse her as well as hand weights. We're hearing that from a family friend and that during her time in captivity she suffered vision loss and muscle and joint damage. But of course when you look at what these women allegedly endured, it's really no surprise there. This source also says that all three women were underweight when they escaped captivity -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: It's so difficult to hear these details. We've seen the video of their rescue. There's no question, Pam, that those three young women were in that home and were gone for a decade. We saw the police take them out and yet we hear these attorneys saying he's not a monster and he's not guilty. It just doesn't seem to equate.

BROWN: A lot of people are asking a lot of that, Ashleigh, how they're going to mount their defense here. Because you're right. We're hearing from his attorneys, they spoke to our affiliate, WKYC, and they're saying Castro will plead not guilty to kidnapping and rape charges if a grand jury indicts him on those charges. And they're saying that essentially there's been an unfair portrayal of Castro in the media, that the media has wrongly depicted him and that essentially he hasn't admitted to anything to them. We have been reporting of course that Castro has confessed to authorities about some of his actions over the past decade, not only us but also our affiliates. But his attorneys are saying he hasn't admitted anything to them.

Let's listen to what they told WKYC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG WEINSTRAUS, ATTORNEY FOR ARIEL CASTRO: I think that the initial portrayal by the media has been one of a "monster" and that's not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours.

JAYE SCHLACHET, ATTORNEY FOR ARIEL CASTRO: He is a human being. And what's offensive is that the media, and I don't mean towards you, but the media and the community wants to demonize this man before they know the whole story. And I think it's unfair and just not equitable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Ashleigh, his attorneys also talked about his relationship with his 6-year-old daughter. They say Castro is extremely committed to the well-being and positive future of his daughter.

BANFIELD: Pamela Brown, that's all fine for the attorneys to do valiant work in their defense and they should do that, but at the same time it's important to remember that his own brothers and his daughters have disowned him and have said that he is dead to them. These are his own family members who have cut their ties.

We are back live in Phoenix in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Coming up in just a few moments, we're going to return you live to Las Vegas where in just moments from now we're expecting O.J. Simpson to break years of silence and take the witness stand claiming that his former attorney botched his trial and that he should get a new one and possibly get out of jail.

Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hello everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting live in Phoenix, Arizona. An hour from now, the jury that convicted Jodi Arias is set to reconvene on another question, just how cruel was her --