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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Cohabitation Rule Legal in Polygamy Case; Tapes Reveal Jordan Graham Lied to Police; Chilling Tapes of Prescott Hotshots, Beatles Bootlegs to Be Released.

Aired December 16, 2013 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So, welcome back to LEGAL VIEW.

I want to take you to family court. Because what says family court more than that, "Sister Wives." There is a man with multiple wives, they're all living together, and now it is legal in the state of Utah. A federal judge has struck down part of that state's law that bans polygamy. Wait. Wait. It's the part that prohibits cohabitation.

I know, I didn't know they had that part there either, but they did in that state. This is a really big win, especially for the people who were most affected by this case, TV stars. Because what says important more than TV stars? The reality series "Sister Wives," those TV stars. Yes, they're -

Honestly, really? They're all laughing behind me in the Newsroom.

Pamela Brown has this look at the ruling, for better or worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kody Brown, star of the hit reality show "Sister Wives," gained a victory for polygamy, after parts of the long-standing ban on multiple marriages in Utah was ruled unconstitutional late Friday.

KODY BROWN, ACTOR: We're moving to Las Vegas in a few days.

BROWN: In 2011, Brown fled from Utah to Nevada, along with his four wives and 17 children days after their controversial television debut triggered a police investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wouldn't be here all together if we weren't committed. We know the commitment is already there.

BROWN: Brown sued the state two years ago, claiming their privacy rights were being violated by the decade's-old law.

(SHOUTING)

BROWN: Now he has a whopping 21 reasons to celebrate, after a Utah judge threw out the law section prohibiting cohabitation, saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.

But the ruling does not make polygamy legal. It means families have husbands or wives who live together and don't seek more than one marriage license cannot be prosecuted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a huge deal and there is still work to be done.

BROWN: The Darger family, friends of the Browns, and fellow Utah polygamists, shared an overjoyed phone call with Brown minutes after the ruling.

JOE DARGER, POLYGAMIST & UTAH RESIDENT: Kody was like, Joe, we won. I can't believe we won. And I said, really? And he says, we got everything we worked for.

BROWN: But not everyone is jumping for joy over the ruling. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, says, "Polygamy was outlawed in this country, because it was demonstrated again and again to hurt women and children."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: Thanks to Pamela Brown for that report. By the way, no relation to Kody Brown.

Kody Brown, released a statement that reads in part, "We hope that in time all of our fellow neighbors and citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs."

I want to stress again, Pamela Brown is not married to Kody Brown and not related in any way.

I want to bring back in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who, through his giggles and fits, has something important to say about this.

I did not know in Utah, and I'm not sure if it's like this in any other state, there's a cohabitation prohibition for a couple that's already married.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This reflects the history of Utah because they were settled by Mormons and had polygamy for many years but then there was a huge backlash against it so they prohibited more than just multiple marriage licenses. They prohibited cohabitation as husband and wife. That's the part of the law that was at issue in this case. You can still only be legally married to one person in Utah with all of the legal rights that come with marriage.

BANFIELD: One marriage license, one legal wife. Or husband.

TOOBIN: Right. One couple.

BANFIELD: OK.

TOOBIN: But you can live with as many people as you like but that's what this case is about.

BANFIELD: How does this -- I don't understand. Do the lover police come in and find out whether the person -- the adult who is living in your home is a roommate or something more special?

TOOBIN: This was part of the judge's decision.

BANFIELD: Do you like how I worded that?

TOOBIN: Yes. It's a legal term more special.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But trying to get through this, Ashleigh.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Come on, Toobin.

TOOBIN: The judge said we don't want that kind of inquiry made by the police. That once you have police inquiring about the nature of those sorts of relationships --

BANFIELD: Stay out of my bedroom.

TOOBIN: -- that is part of why we have a constitution to protect the privacy of that.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Also, when you overlay the issue of religious freedom -- because the plaintiffs in this case, the people from the reality show, said, correctly, I think, that this is part of their religion, a splinter group of Mormonism. They are not mainstream Mormons. They are a splinter group, and they believe in this multiple marriage, and they want to live together. And as long as they don't share a marriage license, the judge says it's OK?

BANFIELD: And then the whole issue of "celestial wives" is something we have to get into at a different time.

TOOBIN: You're in charge of celestial matters. I'm just in charge of earthly wives.

BANFIELD: I love whoever made our graphic today.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: I feel very special. Look at that. She did it.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: That's really great.

Jeffrey, have a great day. I hope I've made it for fun for you.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. As always.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: See you later.

All right. So we're going to move on to a couple other big stories that we're following here at 37 past the hour.

Just days after a bride shoved her brand new husband off of a cliff, she just sat there and flat out-lied to the police. And we know it now because we have the interrogation tapes to prove it. You have got to hear her outrageous story from her own mouth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN GRAHAM, ACCUSED OF KILLING HUSBAND: I got a message saying that he was going to go for a right with some of his out of town buddies that were visiting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: What led Jordan Graham to finally confess and say what really happened in court? We'll get the "Legal View" on this one next. Don't miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: You know, there is really just nothing like seeing videotape of someone lying, lying through her teeth when we now know she's a murder. We've got new video of a Montana bride in a chilling confession and all of the lies she told police before she finally decided to confess. Jordan Graham, seen here in happier times, instead pleads guilty to second-degree murder for pushing that man, who she had just been married to for eight days, off of a cliff at Glacier National Park.

Stephanie Elam got her hands on the interrogation video and she's kind enough to show us. You have to watch as this woman seemed so comfortable lying to the police when she knows perfectly well she murdered her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRAHAM: So you walked out, made a call or something. He was in the garage and I got a text saying he was going and he left.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the story Jordan Lynn (ph) Graham told the police in early July to cover her crime, a crime to which she has now pleaded guilty, shoving Cody Johnson, her husband of only eight days, off a cliff in glacier national park.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: What is going on as far as where he might have gone or who he might be with?

GORDON: Well, I got a message that he was going to go for a ride with some of his out of town buddies that were visiting.

ELAM: In these newly released tapes, Graham stuck to her story two days after Johnson disappeared but gave police leads.

GORDON: He always told me when his friends came to visit, he would take them to Glacier Park, plains or the Hungry Horse Dam.

ELAM: The next day, in an interview with detectives, she stood by her story but also said she got an e-mail from someone named Tony who said Cody was dead.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Seems kind of sketchy.

GRAHAM: Yeah.

ELAM: The e-mail was traced back to a computer in Graham's parents' house. She sent it to herself.

At one point in the recording, Graham gets comforted by her unwitting mother.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: I just want to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF JORDAN GRAHAM: I know, Sweetie. They are just trying to cover all grounds.

ELAM: It wasn't until the body was recovered that the FBI interviewed Graham on July 16th, getting her confession.

GRAHAM: He went to grab my arm and jacket and I said, no, I'm not going to happen this time. I'm going to defend myself. I kind of let go and I pushed and he went over, and then I took off and went home -- or got my brother and then went home.

ELAM: Perhaps the biggest indicator of Graham's guilt all along, her own words. According to court documents, soon after Johnson's body was found, a park ranger commented to Graham that it was in an odd place, to which Graham replied, quote, "It was a place he wanted to see before he died."

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos; and criminal defense attorney, Heather Hansen.

Let me start with you, Heather. I thought this was a slam dunk for prosecutors. Why did they make this overture?

HEATHER HANSEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Ashleigh, I have no idea. When you look at that, and they took away the obstruction of justice charge. It's clear she obstructed justice, she lied about the e- mails, made up the e-mails, and stopped the police from being able to find the body. I think it's absolutely shocking that the prosecution made this deal.

BANFIELD: Danny, help us understand the business of plea bargaining. I guess we have O.J. We have all sorts of reasons to tell us nothing in this life are a slam dunk. Is that what this is about? They could have felt really good about their case, putting her away for life?

DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Every plea bargain -- yeah, every plea bargain, every settlement is about risk management. Each side has something to lose. In any trial, you get to the verdict and everyone rolls the dice. And it comes down to how much risk can you handle? And for a lot of defendants, the idea of facing a lot of time can be overwhelming so they may approach. Now, the prosecution --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: No. No. I get it on her part. I can't imagine. I would have been begging them for a deal.

CEVALLOS: You're absolutely right. There must have been something in the prosecution's case that perhaps they didn't feel completely certain about.

(CROSSTALK)

CEVALLOS: Or a juror of something like that.

HANSEN: And they have lost the ability to show the blindfold, which I think they though was the big thing, to show that she premeditated it. But the obstruction of charge is the thing I don't understand.

BANFIELD: No kidding. There's always that possibility that you see this one nice juror who is just shaking her/his head or shaking his head all the way through it and maybe that can give you a tummy upset. Who knows? I wasn't in the courtroom. It's federal court. We didn't get a camera in either. Drives me crazy.

Stick around, Danny Cevallos, Heather Hansen, please. I have other things to ask you about in a moment.

The danger of firefighting is now being heard in a new series of audiotapes that have come out of Prescott, Arizona. That's where 17 brave souls lost their lives while fighting a terrible wildfire. And now we're starting to hear from them just moments before they died and the predicament they found themselves in. That's coming to you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Some chilling audio that's just been released captures the final moments of 19 firefighters who died battling a wildfire in Arizona. Back in June, the Granite Mountain Hotshots got stuck surrounded by walls of fire, and at that time, they called into dispatch in some serious distress.

George Howell has more now on those audio recordings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last picture of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a text firefighter Andrew Ashcraft sent his wife before the fire that killed him and 18 other firefighters. And now for the first time, we're hearing the final communications from the hotshots to Granite 33, their support crew just moments before fire swept through and left them with no way to escape. Hotshots.

GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS: Breaking in on Arizona 16. Granite Mountain Hotshots we are in front of the flaming front.

HOWELL: Listen closely to the audio from an unidentified firefighter standing at a safe distance, whose helmet camera caught the crew's last radio transmissions.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: The fire right over here now.

OPERATIONS: Bravo 33, Operation. You copying that on air to ground?

GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS: Air to ground16, Granite Mountain. Air Attack, how do you read?

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: Is Granite Mountain still in there?

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: Well, they're in the safety zone. The black.

HOWELL: But they weren't in a safe zone. The crew descended down a ridge and found themselves cut off by fire. In the audio, you hear what appears to be miscommunication between the Hotshots and dispatch.

OPERATIONS: Operations Bravo 33.

GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS: Air Attack, Granite Mountain 7.

HOWELL: The Hotshot team continues to call for air support, an air tanker to drop fire retardant on their location, but it never comes together. Their only bet now is to deploy their shelters, as this is firefighter demonstrates, protective sleeping bag-like shells made with fire resistant material. Listen now as they make that call.

DIVISION ALPHA: Yeah, I'm here with the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site and we are burning out around ourselves in the brush. And I'll give you a call when we are under the shelters.

HOWELL: In the final few minutes of the audio, the command center informs the Hotshots that an aircraft is on the way, but it ends with command trying unsuccessfully to reach the hotshots on the radio.

BRAVO 33: Granite Mountain 7, Bravo 33 here on the ground.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: And then there was just silence. This was the worst fire fighting tragedy since September 11th.

And our thanks to George Howell for compiling that report for us.

When we come back after the break, something very special for Beatles fans. They're back, in a way, and it's something be you have never heard before.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: You know, even if you're not even a Beatles fan, you can't not like this. Oh. Those are the Beatles performing their first hit in England "Please, Please Me," and this was 50 years ago. For all you Beatles fans out there, tomorrow, I have an even bigger piece of news for you. It's your big day. Universal plans to release, exclusively on iTunes, 59 rare never-before issued Beatles songs, the Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963. It's all in response to the European Union and some copyright law that just got under way. The songs are protected for 70 years after being recorded, are, but only if they've been officially. Otherwise, it's not 70. It's 50. The copyright lasts only 50. So if these bootleg songs aren't released before the end of this year, and we only have a few more days, other record labels could just swoop on in and then release them and make a bundle.

So here with a legal take on all of this, CNN's legal analyst, Danny Cevallos; and criminal defense attorney, Heather Hansen.

It's pretty amazing. It seems so simple. 50 years don't release, you don't get to benefit from it. Is this a U.K. thing?

HANSEN: Copyright law is different in every nation. We recognize different nations' copyright laws. In the European nation, it is more strict than America. We give people more time. 50 years is not a very long time for a copyright. Now they get 20 additional years to use the copyright and make benefit of it.

BANFIELD: It's not very long. I hate to say I'm almost 50, but I'm almost 50.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm years away from 50. This is kind of like forcing their hand, isn't it? Because if they don't do it, choose it or lose it.

CEVALLOS: Absolutely. This has been a long time coming. The U.K. has been criticized for not being nearly protective after artists' rights as the United States, which protects copyrights much, much longer. 50 years, it's very easy for a person, an artist to lose royalties, a producer to lose royalties from a song whose copyright expires during their lifetime. This is more protection, something the U.K. has been criticized for a while. It's about time.

BANFIELD: It will be fun tomorrow to hear some of the bootlegs. Some of them are recordings, some of are jam sessions. It's going to be really interesting to hear.

And you can't not like this stuff, right? Honestly, even if you're not a Beatles fan.

Who is not a Beatles fan, Heather?

HANSEN: I am.

BANFIELD: I know you are.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you, both. Do appreciate it, Heather Hansen, Danny Cevallos. Good to see you. Come back tomorrow so we can jam together.

Thanks for watching, everybody. I'm flat out of time. Great to have you with us. AROUND THE WORLD takes over now. Have a great day.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly air raid in Syria reportedly kills dozens of people, including women and children, just the latest outrage in this nearly three-year civil war.

After months of deadlock, Congress could have a budget approved this week, averting another fiscal crisis. But does the Senate actually have the votes to get the bill through?

And China reaches the moon for the first time in its history. Check out the amazing pictures. Should the U.S. be worried now if China catches up in the space race?

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Michael Holmes is off today.

We begin with this, the parody video he hosted on YouTube, supposed to be funny, get some laughs, right? Got him thrown into jail. We are talking about 29-year-old Shevan Capan (ph) of Minnesota. He spent the last eight months locked up in the United Arab Eremites. Authorities there say this video threatened national security. Well, today, he was --