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Collapsed Bridge "Functionally Obsolete"; Searching For Cause Of Bridge Collapse; Mistrial In Jodi Arias Penalty Phase; Survivors Begin Healing Process; President Tackles National Security

Aired May 24, 2013 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, a bridge in Washington state collapses. Take a look at these pictures, sending cars and people plunging into the icy water.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Deadlocked. Jodi Arias' sentencing declared a mistrial, and now, a new jury takes over.

SAMBOLIN: And child star Amanda Bynes back in front of the camera, this time for a mug shot. That's a wig she's wearing there. Wait until you hear what she did.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. It's great to see you this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And Zoraida Sambolin. It's 6 a.m. in the east. We're going to start this morning with breaking news. A bridge collapses in Washington State sending cars and people plunging 40 feet into the frigid river. There are injuries and no one here was killed. CNN has learned the bridge was classified as functionally obsolete by state transportation officials before it collapsed.

This is the disaster unfolding last night in borough Mt. Vernon, Washington. That's along Interstate 5, but 60 miles north of Seattle. That is where we find Katherine Barrett. She is live for us this morning. Let's start with this functionally obsolete, what does that mean?

KATHERINE BARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, what it means is really only that the bridge is out of date. It apparently does not mean that it was structurally unsound, but that there were perhaps some things, a more modern bridge might have done differently, wider shoulders, perhaps greater clearance overhead.

But this was an old bridge. It was built in 1955. Like many of the state's bridges in real need of repair, if not replacement. But again, functionally obsolete apparently did not mean structurally unsound, but this tangle of steel and concrete is all that's left of a 200-foot section of Interstate 5 that vital artery from the Canadian border all the way through Washington State to Oregon.

We've been hearing off and on at these early morning hours the ghostly blare of a truck horn. The truck still sits in the water amidst those girders there and the water apparently interfering with the truck's electrical system. This all happened last night at about 7:00 p.m. local time.


BARRETT (voice-over): A dramatic scene north of Seattle, two vehicles were crossing the I-5 Bridge when it collapsed, three people in those cars were tossed into the river. Fortunately rescue teams arrived quickly plucking them from the fast moving waters. This man was on the bridge when it folded.

DAN SLIGH, INJURED IN BRIDGE COLLAPSE: There was a big puff of dust and I hit the brakes and we went right off the bridge.

BARRETT: Washington State Patrol says right now their investigation is focused on an 18 wheeler.

CHIEF JOHN BATISTE, WASHINGTON STATE PATROL: For reasons unknown at this point in time, the semi-truck struck the overhead of the bridge causing the collapse.

BARRETT: A team from the National Transportation Safety Board is being sent to the scene to help authorities determine what happened. Authorities say the bridge was inspected twice last year and they say it was in need of repair. This survivor says he is grateful to be alive.

SIGH: I'm surprised to be here and glad.


BARRETT: All three survivors were admitted to local hospitals, but reported to be in stable condition with nonlife threatening injuries and again feeling very thankful and one said blessed to be alive and survive this industrial tragedy here. Back to you.

SAMBOLIN: I know, Katherine, when you look at those pictures, it's shocking. I guess, it was, you know, the folks who responded so quickly to them as well so kudos to them this morning. Katherine Barrett live for us. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: It's 3 minutes after the hour right now. Just when you thought there would be no more twists and turns we have still new developments in the Jodi Arias case. The convicted murderer's life has been spared for now at least that's because a jury deciding her fate could not decide on life or death. A new jury will redo the penalty phase in July. Casey Wian is live in Phoenix. Casey, never ends.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure does. It seems to be dramatic twist after dramatic twist in this case, John. After nearly a five- month trial, jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the death penalty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, I understand you have reached a verdict? WIAN (voice-over): There was confusion and surprise even in the voice of the clerk who announced that the jury in the Jodi Arias was hopelessly deadlocked on the death penalty for the murder of former boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We the jury duly empanelled and sworn in the above and titled action upon our oaths unanimously find having considered all of the facts and circumstances that there is no unanimous agreement.

WIAN: Arias sighed as members of Alexander's family become to sob. Jurors who declined to speak with a throng of reporters covering the trial were emotional and so was Judge Sherry Stephens.

JUDGE SHERRY STEPHENS, MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Ladies and gentlemen on behalf of the participants in this trial, I wish thank you for your extraordinary service to this community. This was not your typical trial --

WIAN: That it wasn't. It lasted nearly five months in which Arias took the stand for 18 days and later made one last plea for her life. Under Arizona law, jurors were allowed to ask more than 200 questions. Throughout there were sexually graphic images and recordings and most difficult to forget, gruesome forecasts of Alexander's body with dozen of stab wounds, a bullet hole, and his neck slashed nearly ear to ear.

Judge Stephens set a new trial date for July 18th only on the question of the death penalty. Prosecutors could be allowed to bring up Arias' recent string of television interviews according to lawyers with knowledge of death penalty prosecutions in Arizona. For example, this statement to a KSAZ reporter minutes after conviction.

JODI ARIAS, CONVICTED OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER: The worst outcome for me is natural life. I would rather die sooner than later. I would rather get life than death.

WIAN: Nearly two weeks later she told the jury a different story.

ARIAS: To me life in prison was the most outcome I could possibly think of. I thought I'd rather die.

WIAN: As Arias gestured to her family, they have struggled with the juror's inability to agree. According to the county sheriff, neither will Jodi Arias.


WIAN: Now there could be a way out of this mess and that could be a negotiated settlement where prosecutors would take the death penalty off the table in exchange for Jodi Arias agreeing to a sentence natural life in prison without the possibility of release and perhaps even giving up her right to an appeal. But no one knows at this point if Jodi Arias would take that kind of a deal -- John.

BERMAN: No one knows what is in her mind. She seems to be seizing every moment of this situation. All right, Casey Wian in Phoenix, thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: It's 7 minutes past the hour, now to the latest on Oklahoma. The first of 24 funerals for storm victims honoring the brief life of 9-year-old Antonia Candelaria who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School. In the middle of all of this, there are signs of hopes, signs that a wounded and dazed community is beginning to pick up the pieces and also to look to the future.

CNN's Pamela Brown is in Moore, Oklahoma with the very latest for us this morning. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Zoraida. Reality really sinking in here in Moore, Oklahoma just a few days off the tornado, survivors are beginning the healing process. They are trying to get back to their daily routines and trying to rebuild.


BROWN (voice-over): Kenyetta Richard considers herself one of the lucky ones. Her house in Moore is still standing barely.

KENYETTA RICHARD, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It was the rain that caused most of the damage. The ceiling is caving in. The kids' clothes are getting wet. The bed are getting wet.

BROWN: Still she's not letting that put a damper on her Memorial Day plans.

RICHARD: It's supposed to be sunny on Monday, and all of our friends are going to come and I'm going to convince my husband to barbecue in the midst of all of the rubbish. That's the plan.

BROWN: Slowly the rebuilding is beginning. Insurance adjustors are making the rounds. The cost of repairs is estimated at more than $2 million with 4,000 claims filed as of Wednesday. Residents are returning to their demolished homes to salvage belongings with volunteers helping them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just found some financial paper work, tax returns, and important documents like that.

BROWN: Neighbors comforted each other. Matt Hill once had a home. What's left of it now fits into this black bag.

MATT HILL, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I bought this Xbox the day before the storm. Walked it home. I was afraid I would lose it.

BROWN: The heavy toll of the tornado is being felt in other ways with funerals already underway including for Antonia Candelaria, one of the seven children killed at Plaza Towers Elementary. Surviving classmates and the teachers who protected them said emotional goodbyes before summer break. Third grader Holly Herbert hugged this stuff lion she named after the five friends she lost.

HOLLY HERBERT, PLAZA TOWERS STUDENT: Sydney, Antonia, Kyle, Nicholas, and Janae. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those were all your friends that died?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bet you're going to hold to that little guy forever?



BROWN: President Obama will be here in Moore on Sunday. He will be touring the damage, meeting with victims and some of those first responders. Also graduation ceremonies will go on as scheduled tomorrow. No doubt about it, it will be a sombre Memorial Day weekend here in Moore, Oklahoma.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Pamela Brown, thank you. I would like to put the picture back up here. We got this from her obituary. She had always had a song in her heart and she loved to sing. I'm going to read a little bit of what it says here.

She had the sweetest and most gentle and loving spirit about her. She was a beautiful young lady on the inside and out. She had her own most special and beautiful way of looking at the world. She could find the positive, good, and joy in everything. She was never afraid to speak up or try anything.

She would randomly say or point things out that would help people see and understand things in a positive light no matter what the situation was. That is 9-year-old Antonia Candelaria and that is how we are going to remember her.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. President Obama promising to wind down the war on terror and scale back controversial drone attacks. This is one of the biggest national security speeches of his administration. The president also said he was to move toward closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But this speech was not without controversy. Here's CNN Dan Lothian.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pressure to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay didn't let up even when President Obama was delivering his highly anticipated speech on national security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are commander in chief. You can close Guantanamo today.

LOTHIAN: Heckler Media Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group, Code Pink, interrupted the president repeatedly. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Once again -- today. I'm about to address it, Ma'am, but you got to let me speak.

LOTHIAN: The president said the issues she raised are worth paying attention to, but made sure to point the finger at Congress for creating hurdles.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I have tried to close Gitmo. I transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress imposed restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring detainees to other countries or imprisoning them here in the United States.

LOTHIAN: The president first pledged to close Gitmo during his 2008 campaign. And again, when took office in 2009.

But it remains open, and the situation is more urgent than ever as detainees continue a hunger strike. To ease the way to closing the facility, President Obama announced he is lifting a band on detainee transfers to Yemen.

OBAMA: I know the politics are hard, but history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who failed to end it.

LOTHIAN: But Republican Senator John McCain, as the president likes to remind Americans, he also supported closing Gitmo, suggested there's a lot more to it than just shutting the door.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The administration never came up with a coherent or cohesive plan to close Guantanamo Bay. That's why it is still open. Other top Republicans labeled the administration's detainee policy a failure.

The heckler whose organization praised her in the tweet for, quote, "speaking the truth to Barack Obama", seems to want the same thing as the president, but has apparently grown tired of waiting.

PROTESTER: I love my country. I love the rule of law.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Dan.

Sixteen minutes past the hour. One of the key figures in the Benghazi talking points flap is President Obama's choice to fill an opening at the State Department. Victoria Nuland has been nominated to become the next assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland was State Department's spokesperson last September and took part of an e-mail chain between various agencies to create the administration's unclassified talking points immediately following the Benghazi attack.

BERMAN: A New Jersey police officer under arrest, accused of setting his captain's house on fire. SAMBOLIN: Crazy.

BERMAN: Thirty-five-year-old Edison police officer, Michael Dotro, faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson. Captain Mark Anderko, his wife, two children, and mother-in- law were all inside their home when this fire broke out Monday morning. They all did get out safely.


BERMAN: Dotro is being held on $5 million bail.

SAMBOLIN: And new developments this morning in the decision by the boy scouts to allow openly gay boys to become scouts. The organization's national council voted Thursday to make the chance.

Gay rights groups praised the move but also said that it did not go far enough. Meanwhile, the conservative groups immediately denounced it. The boy scouts are still upholding a ban on openly gay leaders.

BERMAN: Another Internet problem for former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. This one is not quite as scandalous as the last one. Take a look at Weiner's new Web site as it becomes campaigns to become New York City's next mayor.

When it was first launched on Wednesday, it featured a skyline of Pittsburgh --

SAMBOLIN: That's a big problem.

BERMAN: Yes, Pittsburgh behind the Weiner for mayor logo. He is not running mayor of Pittsburgh, he is running for mayor of New York City, Pittsburgh not really relevant here. Twenty-four hours later, lots of shots of New York there in the background of this Web site. They clearly fixed the mistake. The marketing Web site that handled the firm is apologizing for the error.

SAMBOLIN: I wonder if they're refunding all of the money, right, that they were paid in order to come up with that campaign ad.

BERMAN: The last thing he needs is more Internet problems.

SAMBOLIN: That's true.

And new this morning, actress Amanda Bynes arrested, taken to the police station. On the way out the door she grabbed a blond wig.

BERMAN: Because that's what you do.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, that's what you do when you get arrested.

Bynes is accused of tampering with evidence after allegedly throwing a bong out the window of here 36th floor apartment. That is a felony charge. Officers were called to Bynes' apartment last night by the building manager who claims the actress was smoking an illegal substance in the lobby. Bynes was also charged with criminal position of marijuana and reckless endangerment. Both are misdemeanors.

Do have anything to say?

BERMAN: And the wig.

SAMBOLIN: So, have you ever wanted to sue a start for false advertisement? Well, now, you nay get a chance. We're going to explain that.

BERMAN: And he wants you to know that he's not a jerk, he just can't remember your face. Why Brad Pitt says it was an illness that's making him look bad.


BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning.

Stocks here in the U.S. seem to be completely immune to the turmoil overseas. Stocks in Europe and Asia big selloffs yesterday on concerns about their economies. But Wall Street faring much better and today's stocks seem to be holding steady.

SAMBOLIN: And also this morning, a new court ruling could pave the way for shoppers to sue stores if the sales advertised are not truthful.

Christine Romans has that for us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This makes me crazy. It makes me crazy when it's 2 for 1, and then use realize, wait a minute, this is just the regular prices that they raised one of the regular prices, or they say it's 20 percent off, and they raised the regular price and put -- it drives me crazy.

So a federal appeals course is giving potential class action status to customers complaining that stores are lying when they advertised something is on sale. A California appeals court ruled in favor of a shopper who says he bought luggage from Kohl's that was advertised at 50 percent of their original price, and shirts that went 39 percent off their original price. Hey, that's a good deal.

And they later found out the sale price was actually Kohl's regular price. A lower court had previously dismissed that case because the shopper didn't lose any money. But now, this appeals court, it's moving forward.

California law allows customers to sue over misleading adds if that ad is the reason the person bought the product. The judge says retailers have a, quote, "incentive to lie, because shoppers are susceptible to a bargain." Shoppers just can't pass up a good sale, and retailers know it.

Kohl's tell our affiliate KOVR that, quote, "it does not raise off sale prices on a short-term basis for the purpose of a future sales event. As it common from the retail industry, from time to time, product prices are increased due to production and raw material cost increases."

SAMBOLIN: So if you close the store down the night before to adjust all of that pricing --

ROMANS: Raw materials, price increases, and then you have a sale after. You have to be skeptical. As a shopper, you have to be really skeptical.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. But there could be a class action lawsuit about this. But I love what the judge said about how the incentive to lie because customers -- I mean, it's human nature to want to get a deal. And so, if it looks so good, people jump on it.

SAMBOLIN: This Memorial Day weekend, that's what everybody is doing. They see this all for sale, everything on sale, 50 percent off --

BERMAN: Speaking of Memorial Day weekend, what's the one thing we need to know about our money.

ROMANS: This is the big shopping weekend, and Deal News says it's the best sales since January. So, there are a lot of good sales out there. Weekends sales event, car dealerships, furniture clear-outs, retailers slap sales on any holiday these days, but this is really a good holiday to do some shopping if you're so inclined.

Clothes, cars, furniture, those are the best deals. There are coupons on top of the advertised sales and Deal News says don't buy anything without a coupon on top of a deal. But do not buy gaming consoles and video games, current versions are bound to get cheaper this summer.

BERMAN: Good to know. Thank you.

ROMANS: So, deprive the children for a little bit longer.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I agree.


BERMAN: Twenty-five minutes after the hour.

And coming up, a British soldier savagely slaughtered in the street. And this morning, we will hear from a friend of the accused killer.