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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Model Murder Verdict; Keeping Secrets on the High Seas; Nancy Grace Goes Behind Bars; It's Hard Out There for a Moose

Aired June 5, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hormones. That drew a sharp review from both sides of the aisle. Ohio Republican Congress Mike Turner who co- chairs a caucus on military sexual assault said that kind of thinking helps perpetuate the problem. During the hearing, the commanders of every military branch argued against a proposal to change the way sex assaults are prosecuted. They want commanders remain in charge of cases, not independent sex assaults prosecutors.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Observers say First Lady Michelle Obama handed -- handled a heckler just fine at a fundraising event in Washington Tuesday. During her prepared remarks, a woman started interrupting Mrs. Obama. The first lady shot right back at the protester, telling her this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We have an obligation to stand up for those kids. And I don't care what you believe in, we don't -- wait, wait, wait. One of the things -- one of the things that I don't do well is this. You understand? One of the things --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The protester, a gay rights activist, was quickly escorted out of the room.

BERMAN: Lawyers for an ex-State Department worker accused of leaking national security secrets to a reporter say authorities did not get proper search warrants. Today they might ask a judge to throw them out and the evidence out, too. One warrant suggested that James Rosen from FOX News could be a co-conspirator in a crime. Rosen has not been charged. Some critics claim Attorney General Eric Holder lied before Congress about this case. Republican lawmakers want him to respond to that today.

ROMANS: Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is blaming the rising number of working mothers for America's declining education system. Bryant was participating in an education forum sponsored by the "Washington Post" yesterday when he was asked why the state of our schools has become so mediocre. Listen to his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: You know, I think parents became -- both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place. It's not a bad thing, I'm going to get in trouble and I can just see. I can see the e-mails tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Mississippi's Republican governor went on to say he believes the lack of investment in our schools also contributing to the decline.

BERMAN: A stunning end to the trial of the defendant who was called the female James Bond. Forty-seven-year-old Kelly Soo Park showed no emotion as a jury declared her not guilty in the 2008 murder of an aspiring actress, but the victim's family, they had plenty to say.

CNN's Kyung Lah has the emotional reaction to the verdict.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Find the defendant Kelly Soo Park not guilty.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes after the stunning acquittal freeing Kelly Soo Park --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go to hell, whore.

LAH: -- an outburst by the murder victim's friends and families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Murderer. You did it. You killed her.

LAH: Without speaking to reporters, the distraught family of Julianna Redding left court. Redding came to Hollywood to pursue a modeling and acting career. She appeared in a music video, landed some small acting roles. She was just 21 when she was strangled in her rented condo in 2008.

Then investigators announced a stunning twist to the case. The suspected killer Kelly Soo Park, prosecutors called her, quote, "the female James Bond." She was the muscle, they contended, hired to kill Redding by a physician Dr. Munir Uwaydah. Uwaydah, say police, dated Redding briefly and Redding's father pulled out of a business deal with a wait of five days before her death. Prosecutors say Uwaydah left the country after Park's arrest.

Park was nabbed after a DNA was found at the murder scene. Park's attorneys shortly after the verdict told us that the DNA evidence was inconclusive and the 47-year-old Park wasn't strong enough to strangle a 21-year-old victim with her bare hands.

MARK KASSABIAN, ATTORNEY FOR KELLY SOO PARK: There is nothing to be happy about here. It is perfectly understandable what the -- what the victims' family is going through. This was a dreadful murder. Our client didn't do it.

LAH: The L.A. District Attorney's Office did not speak on camera but said in a statement, "We fought hard and fair in the court of law to obtain justice. Although we disagree with the verdict, we respect our system of justice."

(On camera): Legal analysts say juries have a harder time convicting women in murder cases. Jodi Arias being the high-profile exception. But that is of little comfort to the family of Julianna Redding, the victim in this case.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Here to answer the legal questions that remain, Gloria Allred, victims' rights attorney.

Gloria, thank you for being here this morning. Were you surprised by this verdict?

GLORIA ALLRED, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, one never knows what a jury is going to do, and we find that not only in the Los Angeles area, but we find that across the country. It's a very heavy burden that a prosecutor has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, the prosecutor obviously believed that they had overwhelming DNA evidence, and juries often because of what we call the CSI effect.

ROMANS: Right.

ALLRED: Really will rely on that DNA evidence, but enough doubt was raised by the defense that maybe somehow the DNA evidence could have been transferred, at some other time, and was not because their client murdered the victim.

BERMAN: Clearly some kind of confusion, though, going on with this jury because at one point they say to the judge, before they render the verdict, they said, I believe, your honor, that there are members of the jury that are not following your instructions and are basically saying we don't care what the law says. We are going to decide how we want to decide. That was the jury foreman before the verdict. The judge sent them back to deliberate some more.

What does that tell you about the jury?

ALLRED: Well, it tells me that they had a lot of doubts. Often they have a lot of doubts factually and then they say, well, we can't follow the judge's instructions, which the judge's instructions, of course, are to apply the law. Here is what the law is. Sometimes jurors have trouble understanding exactly what that jury instruction, what the law is as applied to that case.

So they do have a duty to apply the law, but they are the finders of fact and if they don't think that it fits the law or they don't understand the law, then usually doubt is going to be resolved in favor of the defendant.

ROMANS: Park's DNA was found on the neck of the victim. Is this a case where this jury, for whatever reason, just couldn't believe that a woman could strangle -- a women could strangle to death another woman who was, you know, 20 years younger than she was?

ALLRED: It may be that that's exactly what the case is, that sometimes there are gender stereotypes going on. Sometimes those gender stereotypes, in fact, favor a female defendant. Sometimes they hurt a female defendant. We won't know unless and until all of the jurors speak, which, of course, they have no duty to do. They may choose to speak, they may not. But obviously this is very hard on the victim's family.

ROMANS: Yes.

ALLRED: They had high expectations. They could still file a civil lawsuit. And many victims don't know that, there their burden of proof is much less. They only have to prove the case by preponderance of the evidence, or to get punitive damages by clear and convincing evidence. They don't have any duty to do so, they may choose to do so, however.

BERMAN: There was a lot unusual about the verdict, how it went down or the outburst in court which you don't see all the time. Well, you do see sometimes. Then you saw the lawyers go back and make additional arguments about second-degree murder before more deliberations. Is that unusual?

ALLRED: Well, it is unusual for them to go back and perhaps that's because the jury foreman was indicating that the jury was having trouble with the jury instruction, or understanding the law, so the judge gave them that second opportunity. But, again, there is an acquittal. The prosecutor in the United States cannot appeal from an acquittal, as they can in some other countries and so the case is done.

BERMAN: It is what it is. All right. Gloria Allred, thank you so much for joining us.

ALLRED: Thank you.

BERMAN: Really appreciate it.

ALLRED: Thank you, John.

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, our HLN's Nancy Grace goes behind bars to uncover how Jodi Arias is faring in jail. A preview of her report coming up.

BERMAN: And a giant shark, a really, really giant shark.

ROMANS: Wow.

BERMAN: Perhaps the big ever in history, caught and just 15 miles off the coast of southern Florida. We'll have that story just after the break. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Taking a look at some of our top stories this morning.

Colorado movie theater massacre suspect James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The move accepted by a judge means that Holmes will undergo months of psychiatric evaluation. Holmes was arrested moments after the massacre at a theater in Aurora that left 12 people dead and dozen others injured. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

ROMANS: Los Angeles Police Officials reportedly determining the 2009 firing of Officer Christopher Dorner was appropriate and his claims of racism and corruption in the department, unfounded. That's an according to an Associated Press report.

Dorner, a former L.A. cop, died in a shoot-out with police in February after allegedly killing four people including two officers.

BERMAN: All right. We have incredible, terrifying images of what could be the biggest shark ever caught. This Mako was reeled in by a group of sports fishermen just 15 miles off the coast of southern California. Yikes. It's 11 feet long but it's fat. Looks like eight feet in girth, weighs more than 1300 pounds. What has that thing been eating.

One described it as a gigantic swimming nightmare. It took hours and a quarter mile of line to bring it on board. So world record or not, the shark will likely be donated to research. I'm sure the shark would have wanted it that way.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Yes. It's just terrifying. All right. Yes. It's the height of the summer travel season, and some of you might have booked what you hope will be your dream cruise, but will it be? Lately cruise lines have been plagued with headline grabbing problems. Crashes, fire, stalled, deplorable, disgusting conditions. What's really going on in the cruise industry?

Drew Griffith explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) : Deadly crashes? Stalls? Fires?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a drill. Not a joke.

GRIFFIN: What is going on with cruise ships? According to critics of the cruise industry like maritime attorney Jim Walker, we may never know because companies register most of their ships in small countries across the globe. They are, he says, very reluctant to tell the public or the U.S. government much of anything.

JIM WALKER, MARITIME ATTORNEY: So it's a secretive industry. It's an industry that doesn't like to reveal the number of fires or collisions or disabled incidences like that. They like to keep that information secret.

GRIFFIN: Just take a look at three recent fires. 2010, the Carnival Splendor. Registered in Panama, the incident report, done jointly by the Panamanians and the U.S. Coast Guard. It's still not published.

The Carnival Triumph now famous for what became known as the poop cruise, is registered in the Bahamas and while the U.S. Coast Guard and the NTSB are involved in the investigation, the Bahamas Maritime Authority is taking the lead. The same applies to Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, damaged by fire just last week. Walker says don't expect much.

WALKER: There's no legal obligation to comply with any of the recommendations made by the flag state. The overseeing body -- the international overseeing body called the International Maritime Organization, the IMO, can issue only recommendations.

GRIFFIN: U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has lobbied for tougher monitoring of the cruise industry and has essentially gotten little for his efforts.

SEN. JAY ROCKERFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: They are kind of you know world of their own and when you are in a world of your own, you can do what you want and that's exactly what they do.

GRIFFIN: He says because the companies fly those foreign flags, they don't have to abide by strict U.S. regulations, even though they operate out of U.S. ports and carry mainly U.S. passengers.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And not U.S. Labor laws, too. Not --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A key point.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, HLN's Nancy Grace goes behind bars to shed light on Jodi Arias' life in jail. A preview of her report just ahead.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: We're getting some new insight into Jodi Arias' life behind bars as she awaits sentencing on a murder conviction. Nancy Grace spent some time with some hardened criminals.

These women are being held for serious felony offenses including aggravated assaults, robbery, first degree murder, all inside the Arizona jail where Arias is locked up. What Jodi Arias' fellow inmates have to say about her may surprise you.

CNN's Pam Brown has more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Bombshell tonight, we are in a verdict watch.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's no secret what Nancy Grace thinks about convicted murderer Jodi Arias.

GRACE: Arias insists on crying buckets.

BROWN: But Arias' fellow inmates have a different take. They don't see her as a cold-blooded killer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She sings really good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A really pretty voice.

BROWN: Why do you say that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she is, she's you know and I don't know, it could be a facade.

BROWN: You spoke to some of her fellow inmates and even they said they thought she was an amazing woman.

GRACE: They did. Because she lied to them, just like she lied to the jury. She is very charming, I can say that, extremely charming and she can convince people.

We are here in Arizona in the Estrella Jail.

BROWN: Grace was given unprecedented access to Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, where Arias has been held for nearly five years for her special "NANCY GRACE BEHIND BARS".

The no hold barred the former prosecutor spent hours with hardened criminals, like the ones she helped lock up. Grace says Arias' fellow inmates have been tricked by her charm and think they must be a deeper reason for the murder of her on again/off again boyfriend Travis Alexander.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women just does not go to the man you love and just totally do some crazy, outrageous stuff.

GRACE: But he was going to take another woman to Cancun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well that's nothing I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did she have to stab in the back nine times?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody knows the real story though. Nobody does, only God, her and the man that's dead.

GRACE: Talking to them violated a longstanding rule that I have had, and that is to never, ever get to know suspects or defendants.

BROWN: Breaking her rules helped Grace see a more human side to these inmates, many on their second or third stretch behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the same old thing every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day the same thing over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The same thing every day, every day.

BROWN: You know what their life is going to be like. Does it make you have compassion, more compassion for them?

GRACE: I did have compassion for many of these women. When I walked out of those jailhouse doors and left them behind, I felt guilty. I could be with my children. And it hurt me that they could not. Every one of those people that I interviewed had good to them.

BROWN: But what about with Jodi Arias you said you saw good in every single one of those inmates. Did it change your feelings at all towards Jodi Arias?

GRACE: Absolutely not. Even in court, what was she thinking about as you're seeing autopsy photos of him slaughtered. She is thinking about hopping down in a chair and doing an interview. That's where her head is. No, I don't feel any sympathy for her.

BROWN: Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: A lot of insight there. The first part of Nancy's special "NANCY GRACE BEHIND BARS" airs tonight on HLN that's at 8:00 p.m.

STARTING POINT is back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So an inventor and Star Wars fan has come up with the ultimate collector's item -- a real-life light saber. Every boy in America wants one of these things. Drake Anthony, who goes by the name of the DIY laser guy on YouTube posted a video, actually a pretty powerful laser that burns through paper, flash paper, electrical tape. A second video shows it burning through steel wool, wood, and lighting an entire book of matches. Clearly it's probably not a great toy for the young ones. Clearly the force is with this man.

ROMANS: Here's a bunch of budding young Drake Anthonys, or Anthony Drakes. An 8th great science class from Lake Bay, Washington has successfully launched an egg to the edge of space. The egg went up more than 109,000 feet in a high-altitude balloon -- that's more than 20 miles high. These young pioneers in egg aviation also managed to bring the egg safely back to earth. It landed about 217 miles away from the launch site.

BERMAN: Did they eat it afterwards. What happens to an egg? Is it still healthy?

So normally what happens in Grand Lakes, Colorado stays in Grand Lakes, Colorado but this story -- this has had to get out, a moose getting friendly with a moose statue. And apparently in Colorado, there is nothing wrong with that.

Here is Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Northern Colorado can be a lonely place for a moose. Nothing to do but eat, and, whoa, who is that hot number.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well this has only been since last Monday.

MOOS: No surprise that a young moose would be curious about a bronze statue that looks like a moose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strangest thing is it's trying to mate with a statue. They are both male.

MOOS: Bob (inaudible) neighbors placed the statue on their property here in Grand Lakes and then left town. Ever since, an amorous bull moose has been courting the statue and by courting, we mean a full- court press that we can't quite show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's in love. He's nuzzling and he kisses, he licks him, and he walks around and then, you know, he gets on top of him.

MOOS: How many times has Bob seen them moosing around?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Myself personally, four times.

MOOS: Wow, this is no one night stand. Who knew a statue bought for a couple thousand dollars 60 percent off at a going out of business sale would be so irresistible.

The owners of the statue are thinking of anchoring it down. They are worried the real moose will be carried away and knock it over. After all the actual moose is probably twice the statue's weight. But moose aren't the only ones making amorous miscalculations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a deer chasing you.

MOOS: It's not always easy giving a deer the cold shoulder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is awkward.

MOOS: No more awkward than this. No privacy, unrequited love, it's enough to make a moose say "bull". Maybe a little Barry White would help.

Statue or not, can't get enough of your love, babe.

(MUSIC)

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep it up, moosy.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: You want to know the crazy thing here?

ROMANS: There's something crazy.

BERMAN: The statue is pregnant.

ROMANS: Berman. The whole story makes me blush. My grandma watches this show.

That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

Berman: And I'm John Berman. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.