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Severe Storms Kill at Least Six People; Ohio Kidnapping Survivors Recovering; White House in Damage Control; White House in Damage Control; Boston Bomb Suspect Wrote Note in Boat

Aired May 16, 2013 - 09:00   ET


ROGER DEEDS, HOOD COUNTY SHERIFF: Last night I reported that there was, I believe, 16 that were transported straight from the scene up to Fort Worth so that wasn't counted in that group. And that's just what Granbury Medical Center has.

Everything is running smooth, everything is looking good. We've got a press release we're going to put out that came to me from the Granbury Medical Center. Chief of staff Combs put out a paragraph and the CEO has put out a paragraph in this so we'll make sure that everybody that needs it gets it.

But there -- the hospital is running smooth and things are pretty quiet for the most part up there. And we haven't had any reports of any first responders getting injured or anything like that. So things are going good.

We have been able to track a storm track this morning from the storm last night. We're going to be looking at that to try to track the storm from the air today and be able to put out more information about that later in the day. I don't really have next time to say we'll get together and do a press conference. But we've been asked about doing a tour out to the -- to the scene, so we're going to have a bus available.

I don't want all the big trucks. We don't have time for dragging all that stuff up and set it out there because we got crews work in bulldozers, heavy equipment out there, lots of people, lots of manpower. So we just want to get you in, so you can see what you need to see and then get you back out. So bring what you can carry and we'll take you out there.

We'll leave from the HEB parking lot at 10:30 and we'll head out there and let you get some video at that point in time and then we'll bring you back out of there. It will be escorted in, escorted out. So don't have anybody following up behind with the big trucks, we don't got time for that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, can you talk about the damage, the number of homes that have been damaged or destroyed? And what are we going to see back in the neighborhoods?

DEEDS: Well, last night I put out that there's approximately 110 homes out there, and I have not got a total count yet from the -- the main concern is life safety and finding any victims that still need our help. Making sure we tend to those victims and their pets, too. We've had issues with that. We've for the -- Human Society coming out this morning to deal with more of the pets that are loose and running out there. So I don't have an exact count on any of the stuff yet. It's still worrying about life safety.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, do you think that people out there had adequate warning? And if so, what was it?

DEEDS: The information that we received -- I worked very closely with the storm spotters last night when a dispatch center notified me at approximately 6:14 that we had storms coming in, activate the storm spotters. So we worked very closely with them, had -- it was between 12 and 15 storm spotters on the ground. Very good trained people and coordination was good. Radio communication was good.

We were talking directly -- I was talking directly to the National Weather Service. We gave them the information, what we saw, they confirmed it, and they did recommend the warnings, and they put it out, we put it out basically at the same time when they gave us the information that it was confirmed. But we put it out.

We used the code red emergency phone notification system here in the county. We did that work through local media to get information out there as quick as we could. Got the sirens set off. I think there were some video that was put out through some of your organizations that you can see the tornado in the background and hear the sirens going off so we got information out there as fast as we could, as soon as we realized it was getting bad.

So we did it as fast as we could, as fast as the information was coming out. As fast as we knew things weren't looking very good. We got the information out for people to take shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are those sirens have reached those subdivisions?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The seven unaccounted for, do you believe they're still (INAUDIBLE) victims there or do you think they just left and perhaps didn't check in with anybody or?

DEEDS: We had five that checked in that they had left during the commotion, when they heard we were trying to account for everybody, they contacted us. So I have a good feeling that that's going to be the case, I hope. And the first responders initially out there have done a great job. The Texas Task Force, too, got out there and has -- went back through it. So it's been over and over and over again through the area out there, through the subdivision, so I'm pretty confident we haven't left anybody behind, but we're still checking.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have all six people that are deceased been identified?

DEEDS: No, not --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And are they all in the same place or spread out throughout the county?

DEEDS: No, it's all in the same area of Rancho Brazos subdivision or the one that's lost their life.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Those unaccounted for, they're from the same area as well?

DEEDS: Yes, correct. It was all from the same area of Rancho Brazos subdivision.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any particular street that was wiped out?

DEEDS: I don't have -- that whole subdivision was affected. All the streets out there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Talking about the cleanup and the search and rescue, talk a little bit about what that is going to entail.

DEEDS: Well, we'll be able to get back more with you when you -- by the time we have you take the tour out there. Because at this point in time, like I said, life safety is the main thing and then we'll try to move forward, recovery and cleanup and -- so I don't have that information. Taking it one step at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When will people get back into their homes?

ROMANS: All right. You're listening to the Hood County sheriff, Roger Deeds, giving us an update on the tornado damage there in several counties, quite frankly, in Texas. Six dead, seven still unaccounted for, and this is still a rescue effort at this point. They are still trying to get people -- make sure people are safe at this point.

BERMAN: And they're still trying to identify those six people killed, apparently, they happened in one subdivision. The Rancho Brazos subdivision which is in Granbury, Texas.

We will have much more on this throughout the morning. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello, begins right now.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight, Texas twisters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got tornado on the ground right now on my cameras.

COSTELLO: Deadly storms rip through the Lone Star State.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's just nothing left. I'm sorry. There is just nothing left.


COSTELLO: Funnel clouds and a furious sky. This morning, north Texas tries to recover.

Also, a scandal's casualty.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it.

COSTELLO: IRS big wig Steve Miller gone. The White House trying to dig out of the PR pothole it finds itself in.

Plus subway shocker. A 14-month-old little girl plunging off the platform and on to the tracks. Her mother desperate and determined jumping into action to save her daughter.

And Powerball frenzy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's play some Powerball. First number is up.

COSTELLO: The big jackpot, now approaching half a billion dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got my dream house picked out already.

COSTELLO: Ahead, the most chosen and least chosen numbers. Are you ready?

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.

We are learning new details about how those three kidnapping victims in Cleveland are recovering and adjusting to all the new things around them, including technology. Police say the women were held captive for more than nine years, and just think how much the world has changed in all that time.

Here is more now from CNN's Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We've spoken to people who have talked to the victims and their families, and we have learned that they are enjoying their newfound freedom and doing their best to move forward in their lives.

We've learned that Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have talked on the phone since the ordeal and that Gina's sister Myra has given her a makeover on her Facebook page. Myra posted, "Everyone who knows me knows I can do hair so I gave my sister a makeover."

Also according to sources, the -- the women are learning how to use technology and just now discovering what an iPhone is for the first time.

These women were hailed as heroes last night as the first responders who rescued them shared their stories of arriving on the scene and seeing them for the first time. Here's what a couple of them had to say.


OFFICER MICHAEL TRACY, CLEVELAND FIRST RESPONDER: We had seen her posters on the poles here and there, and I think all of us in the Second District on the west side have seen those flyers, we've all gone to houses where there is a tip. It's usually a dead end. You don't -- you don't follow -- we still follow them all up. (INAUDIBLE) serious. So it was just amazing to see her there, standing, just peering through the window.

OFFICER BARBARA JOHNSON, CLEVELAND FIRST RESPONDER: Michelle hugged me first, and, boy, you can't describe the feelings. When someone is clutching you and saying, please don't let me go, it just rips your heart out of your chest.


BROWN: The first responders also talked about the rollercoaster of emotions they felt since rescuing the girls. As one officer put it, she felt ecstatic after the rescue and then she crashed, feeling sadness for what these girls have been through.

Meantime, we are hearing from Ariel Castro's other daughter Emily, who is inside an Indiana prison. We've obtained audio from her when she spoke to a private investigator, talking about how she was also kept in the dark about what her father was up to, this is according to her. Let's take a listen.


EMILY CASTRO, ARIEL CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: The upstairs was blocked off with a big bass speaker, so I figured that since he lived there alone so long, that he didn't have any need for those -- like there were four bedrooms upstairs, he didn't have any need for them, so, you know, I just kind of like -- I was like, can I, you know, sleep upstairs in any old bedroom? And he said no because it's cold up there, it's blocked off, you know, it's dusty, and so I was just like, OK.


BROWN: So what Ariel Castro's daughter Emily said there is in line with what we heard from his two brothers in an interview with our Martin Savidge, saying that Ariel Castro manipulated the family in order to keep his secret.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Cleveland, Ohio.


COSTELLO: More than 100 injured in north Texas and at least six dead after horrific tornadoes touched down.




COSTELLO: Unbelievable pictures. You heard the sirens wail. That funnel cloud descended from the sky. In all, at least 10 tornadoes touched down across the region, leaving behind a wide path of destruction. Just take a look at what happened in this neighborhood. It was daylight, allowing new searches this morning. One sheriff warns the death toll could grow.

First let's go to CNN's Victor Blackwell.

Victor, we hears from officials moments ago. Give us an update.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you what's happening here in addition to what the Sheriff Roger Deeds of Hood County, Texas, said. I want to show you right over here, you know, whenever there is a tragedy, a natural disaster, there will undoubtedly be people who will leave their homes to try to see for themselves what they have seen on television, but the sheriff's office here is not allowing anyone who is not involved with the search or the cleanup or the restoration of power to get past this roadblock.

And right over here, a lot of that work is happening. They're cherry pickers and the workers are trying to get power back to the homes that are standing, those homes that survived the storm. The worst of the action came through at about 8:00 p.m. yesterday. And they're continuing to look for those people who are unaccounted for -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Victor Blackwell, reporting live for us this morning.

The "IMPACT YOUR WORLD" team is following the story and looking for ways to help. We'll update and social media platforms with more information as we find it.

Damage control and high gear at the White House as three major scandals threaten to halt any agenda the Obama administration hopes to advance. An angry president announced the resignation of the acting head of the IRS after an inspector general report says that several workers targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

On Benghazi, the White House released more than 100 pages of e-mails that detailed talking points developed by the CIA, the White House, and the State Department. And after the Justice Department seized some associated press phone records for a national security leak investigation, the White House asked the Senate to reintroduce a federal shield law to protect reporters and their records from government interference.

Dan Lothian is standing by at the White House.

Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, you know, the White House today will try to turn attention to some of the international issues that have been outstanding as the president meets with the Turkish prime minister here at the White House on the agenda, we expect Syria, which is a big issue on the international front, but during their joint news conference, we expect that the president will get some tough questions on some of these domestic issues.

This coming just one day after the president tried to restore confidence in government by coming down hard on the IRS.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): Trying to step out of a political sinkhole, President Obama expressed anger at misconduct within the IRS.

OBAMA: It's inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency.

LOTHIAN: The agency's acting commissioner, Steve Miller, was asked to resign, and President Obama vowed to put in place new safeguards and work with congressional investigators.

OBAMA: I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again.

LOTHIAN: But this scandal threatens to run much deeper. The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation and Attorney General Eric Holder was on the hot seat Wednesday. Pressed for answers by the House Judiciary Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would strongly encourage this administration to get outfront, get all the facts out. Let the chips fall where they may.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Anybody who has broken the law will be held accountable.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The IRS scandal is drawn bipartisan outrage, but some top Republicans already seemed convinced laws were broken.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: My question isn't about who's going to resign, My question is, who's going to jail over this scandal?

LOTHIAN: This is a White House under siege. From the IRS case to the AP phone records probe to Benghazi. All threatened to overshadow the president's second-term agenda. On the defensive the White House released 100 pages of e-mails Wednesday, as first reported by CNN's Jake Tapper. It's part of an effort to prove politics played no role in crafting the so-called talking points that followed the deadly attacks in Libya. But Republicans are seeing on all these scandals, releasing this tough new video using the president's own words. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable.

LOTHIAN: White House spokesman Jay Carney, battered in briefings all week, insisted the president has set a high standard and won't tolerate anything less.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He wants and instructs everyone who works in the government, whether they work for him or are civil servants, to hold themselves to that standard. And when he finds out there have been failures, he acts on it.


LOTHIAN: The president's critics aren't going away any time soon. Just shortly after the president made that IRS announcement yesterday, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC, said that it wasn't enough and that the president owed the American people an apology -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Just looking at what's going on behind you that suddenly happened. That's interesting.

LOTHIAN: That's --

COSTELLO: What is that?

LOTHIAN: That's all in preparation for the arrival of the Turkish prime minister for meetings with the president and the news conference I told you about at the top of the report.

COSTELLO: OK, OK. So, I'll ask you the question about the IRS. The IRS commissioner, he was in essence fired, right?


COSTELLO: I don't think anybody will be satisfied with one firing. It's just tip of the iceberg for the president?

LOTHIAN: Well, you know, a lot of people believe it certainly is. I mean, you know, it was a large symbol. The president said everyone from bottom to top will be held accountable. So, certainly, from a visual aspect, this is a very strong statement that's being made when the acting commissioner is asked to resign.

But, you know, in addition to all of this, he was not around when this activity was taking place, but the big knock against him is that he knew about it back in 2002, but did not tell Congress, congressional investigators. And so, for those reasons, that is why he had to step down, he was asked to resign, and he did.

COSTELLO: Dan Lothian reporting live from the White House this morning.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. COSTELLO: OK. This concerns the investigation into the Boston marathon bombings.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev huddled inside that boat where police apprehended him, wounded and bleeding, police were closing in and apparently he wrote some kind of note on the boat, somewhere in the boat, detailing why he allegedly did this crime.

Here is CNN's national correspondent, Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It turns out he wrote a message literally on the inside of boat while he was lying there bleeding from injuries that his brother and he sustained in the shoot-out with Watertown police hours earlier. Dzhokhar used a pen or some kin of writing instrument according to a U.S. law enforcement official and he scribbled he would not miss his older brother Tamerlan and expected to join him soon.

Now, in this makeshift message according to our source, he indicated a motive for the Boston bombings, that it was payback against the United States for attacks against Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's according to our source. That those killed and injured in Boston were simply in so many words, collateral damage. An attack against one Muslim is an attack against all.

Now, this seems to match messages we have seen in the past from suicide bombers and other attacks, including in the one in London a few years ago.

Now, the source added that what he wrote inside the boat is something that Dzhokhar later told investigators, mainly the same thing, when he was interrogated bedside at the hospital after his capture, explaining why he and his brother carried out terror attacks.


COSTELLO: All right. Susan Candiotti reporting.

We'll have much more information on this apparent note found in this boat, later on on NEWSROOM. So, stick around.

Coming up next in THE NEWSROOM, Jodi Arias may learn her fate. Will she live or die? We'll take you live to Phoenix, next.


COSTELLO: Now to Arizona, where later today, jurors in the Jodi Arias trial will hear arguments about why her life should be spared. That same jury decided she is eligible for the death penalty because of the especially cruel way she killed her ex-boyfriend.

Casey Wian has more for you from Phoenix.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury duly impaneled and sworn in the above entitled action, upon our oath, do find that the aggravating factor, especially cruel, has been proven.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jodi Arias sat solemnly as the jury decided she is eligible for a death sentence, that after a mini-trial known as the aggravated factor phase of a process that will ultimately determine Arias' sentence.

Even before prosecutor Juan Martinez called his first witness, the county medical examiner, family and friends of victim Travis Alexander fought back tears in anticipation of what was to come.

Martinez displayed graphic images of Alexander's body on giant screens enveloping the courtroom. They showed dozens of stab wounds, including one so deep that it punctured a vein going into his heart, that produced a gusher of blood, and several to the head that dented his skull.

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: She made sure that she killed him by stabbing him over and over and over again, and then finishing him off.

WIAN: Then came the most horrific image, a gaping wound to Alexander's throat, sliced open nearly ear to ear. It remained on the screens for what seemed like an eternity, as many in court, Alexander's sisters, Arias herself, and even some jurors, averted their eyes.

Martinez argued that Alexander's murder was especially cruel, a requirement for the death penalty in Arizona.

MARTINEZ: You can imagine the absolute terror as he's sitting there defenseless, water coming down. That is extreme emotional anguish.

Let this sit for two minutes.

WIAN: He also asked the jury to sit in silence for two full minutes, the time he contends it took Alexander to die. Arias' defense team said that was an exaggeration and argued that as Alexander fought for his life adrenaline and rapid blood loss could have reduced his suffering.

KIRK NURMI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And Dr. Horn, who testified just moments ago, told you that the adrenaline does, in fact, prevent the body from experiencing the pain.

WIAN: Jurors rejected that argument and now will decide whether or not there are enough mitigating factors to spare Jodi Arias' life.


WIAN: Today, we are expected to hear victim impact statements from Travis Alexander's siblings, expected to be intensely emotional. We'll hear from the mitigation witnesses expected to testify are a childhood friend of Jodi Arias, also a former boyfriend. The key question, though, Carol, will Jodi Arias herself testify in this phase of the trial? This, after all, is her last chance to show she has some remorse and perhaps apologize to the victim's family -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Wow, Casey Wian reporting live for us.

We want to bring in criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos right now.

Danny, welcome.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Welcome. Thank you very much. Thanks.

COSTELLO: So, will Jodi Arias take the stand? Should she take the stand?

CEVALLOS: She should, because let's review. We had the aggravating circumstances hearing, a foregone conclusion.

And it's not a decision whether the jury just thinks it's cruel. There are statutory things that the prosecution had to prove and they are all here. These are defined.

Cruelty is defined in the statute, and no question that the prosecution was going to meet it.

So, too, is mitigation. Mitigation is statutorily defined. Among the factors are the defendant's history, the kind of stress she was under, and these are things that could be potentially developed by other witnesses, but there is no better witness to develop these mitigating factors than Jodi Arias.

I don't see a downside strategically to her -- to her testifying because she has to establish these mitigating, statutorily defined mitigating circumstances. It's not a question of whether or not the jury likes her or doesn't like her. That would be an unconstitutional test. They have -- she has to show these mitigating circumstances and the jury has to balance it, and say, do the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances.

And there is no question that Jodi Arias has an uphill battle in proving these different mitigating circumstances to potentially save her life.

COSTELLO: I would say that's absolutely correct, because throughout this trial, she smeared Travis Alexander's name, the victim, and now she's telling a local FOX station it was because she didn't get a plea deal.

Listen to Arias.


JODI ARIAS, MURDER DEFENDANT: I was really hoping to get a plea and avoid talking about all of the things that came out, about him. If we had been able to avoid trial, we could have avoided the murkier aspects of his life that he kept hidden.


COSTELLO: She trashed him during the proceedings, Alexander's friends and family can take the stand. It's going to be quite emotional. And you say emotion shouldn't play a part in his decision. But it surely will.

CEVALLOS: It absolutely will. And I think that's OK for the jury to take into account, even though they have to follow the law.

First, you see Jodi Arias in the interview. She is a master manipulator. She's already lining herself up for appeal in her mind, because she wants to show that for some reason, her attorney was in effective. That's the language of ineffective assistance because she's saying an offer wasn't conveyed to her, which isn't appealable ground or that they didn't get her an offer, you can see she's already spinning the wheels, circling the wagons.

Moving on to Travis' family, they will be testifying, you better believe they will. I have never seen a more involved family and friends than Travis Alexander's family and friends. They are absolutely supporting the prosecution 100 percent.

I would expect them -- I would expect plenty of testimony. I think the prosecutor's problem is going to be paring it down and choosing who have to have to testify and who not to have to testify. These are going to be very, very compelling witnesses and it's going to be very difficult for Jodi Arias to reach her standard of mitigating or of mitigation by showing some of the factors that will outweigh the cruelty.

I mean, this family is going to talk about what a terrific guy Travis was, and that will affect the jury.

COSTELLO: Danny Cevallos, criminal defense attorney, thanks so much for joining me this morning.

CEVALLOS: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Another high-profile case, O.J. Simpson back on the stand. Will he get his appeal? We'll take you live to Vegas, after this.