Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
One Dead in Virgin's Spaceship Crash; Ax Attack on DC Police Officer; Graham Suspect Faces Judge in 2005 Rape Case; The Election's Ultimate Power Brokers
Aired October 31, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, spaceship crash, another catastrophic failure. This time, it's fatal as a manned test flight goes down in the California -- California desert. I'll ask the former astronaut, Mark Kelly, what went wrong.
New ax attack. A D.C. police officer is the latest target of a man swinging a deadly weapon following an attack on police officers in New York City. Both cities are now stepping up security.
Ebola battle. A nurse back from Africa wins her legal fight to avoid quarantine. Is it a risky decision?
And court appearance. The Hannah Graham suspect facing a judge, but it's for another case in which he's accused of attempted murder.
We have want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news, just days after the catastrophic launch failure of an unmanned commercial rocket, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed during a test flight in the California desert, killing one person, badly injuring another. It's the same vessel that's supposed to take paying customers, including top celebrities, on brief rides into space.
The former astronaut, Mark Kelly, is standing by, along with our correspondents, our analysts, our newsmakers on this and other major stories we're following. Let's begin with CNN's Tom Foreman. He has the very latest -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
The NTSB and FAA are both investigating what happened out here in this catastrophic failure far up in the air. This did not crash into the ground and tear apart. But it's something that went wrong in- flight. And that is a very big deal right now, Wolf.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Ground control lost contact with the experimental spacecraft around 10 a.m. Pacific Time. The $500 million rocket-powered craft could seat six passengers. But during this test flight, only two pilots were on board.
The spaceship is carried into flight beneath an airplane. That launch vehicle returned to the ground safely, but not the spacecraft. What went wrong is anyone's guess.
The ship is 60 feet long and designed to fly 62 miles above the earth. And the wreckage in the Mojave desert attests to the ferocity of the explosion. A crumpled parachute could be seen on the ground. But still, authorities say one pilot was killed and the other seriously injured.
It's a far cry from the ambitious hopes Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson expressed earlier this year.
RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GALACTIC FOUNDER: I have 200 of the best engineers and technicians building them. Now we're beginning the final stages of test flights, in-flight. By the end of this year, we will have actually gone into space.
FOREMAN: Instead, it is another blow to the idea of privatized space travel. It comes only days after a spectacular launch-pad explosion in Virginia, a blast that involved a spacecraft once again manufactured by a private company.
FOREMAN: Huge risks, but 800 people have already put down deposits or paid to ride on this plane -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's go to Mojave, California, right now. A news conference on what happened has just started.
STUART WILL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MOJAVE AIR & SPACE PORT: OK. Be right out. The president of Scaled Composites.
Just briefly, our day began about 2 this morning with the evolution of a SpaceShipTwo/White Knight Two power flight 4 was the name of this particular test.
Takeoff occurred at 9:20 this morning. My team and I were present for the entire evolution, and release of SpaceShipTwo occurred at approximately 10:10 a.m.
At approximately 10:12, we became aware of an in-flight anomaly and implemented our pre-planned response plan. My team was dispatched to the north. The chief will discuss that and the sheriff will discuss his involvement.
I had confirmation of a mishap just a few moments later, approximately 25 miles north of the airport, and we were given a latitude/longitude of a potential site.
At time like these, those of us in the aerospace valley recognize that we engage in our craft freely. I've been in it for 45 years. We recognize that the contribution we make to a nation, the traveling public and the general contribution to an amazing industry that provides transportation to the entire world. But when we have a mishap from the test community, we find the test community is very small. And we are human, and it hurts. And our hearts, thoughts, prayers absolutely with the families of the victims.
We do know that one of the crew members was met by emergency responders, treated on the scene and transported to Antelope Valley Hospital. We also know that we had one fatality.
I want to also acknowledge the artisans, the craftsmen, the engineers, the emergency responders, the technicians, the janitors, everybody in this industry that gives it their all every single day. These parking lots are filled seven days a week. No one is forcing these people to do this.
I can't speculate at this time on the cause. I know George is going to address that. Again, Chief and Donnie, I want to say thanks to the emergency responders. You guys have been with us, and you will be with us every step of the way for years. And to your team personally, we say thanks.
At this time, I turn it over to George -- Chief -- pardon me, Sheriff. Sheriff Donnie Youngblood, Kern (ph) County Sheriff.
Thanks to the involvement of the sheriff's involvement in this, we'll be the lead. We -- I got the call this morning that there had been an anomaly and a mishap. And I flew out, flew around the crash site. It's a large area. The aircraft is in several different pieces. We found one person who had -- obviously was deceased immediately.
The other was transported to A.V. Hospital. I do not have the condition. When he left here, it appeared to be major injuries, but we don't know if -- really what that means yet. But our thoughts and prayers are with the family. And we hope that the survivor will be just fine -- Sir.
MIKE CODY, DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF, KERN COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Hello. Mike Cody, deputy fire chief, Kern County fire department.
Our involvement, it goes for about ten years working with Mojave Air and Space Port. We've attended many briefings to get ready for a potential mishap. It's not why we want to stand here today. We've been here and assisting Mojave Air and Space Port, emergency responders, put together plans, if there's a plan to take on the facility, when we assist Mohave Air and Space Port, off the facility, then our role is rescue.
We had a helicopter on standby, which responded. I believe the sheriff's department had a vehicle on the ground, and the civilian flight test center had a helicopter on the ground prior to our arrival, administering care to the survivor. We arrived on scene, took over patient care, packed (ph) the individual, and transferred care to Mercy Air 14, air helicopter for transport to Antelope Valley Hospital.
And so we continue to support Mojave Air and Space Port in any way possible. Thank you.
Next up, Kevin Mickey. Mickey like Mickey Mouse. Kevin's the president of Scaled Composites -- Kevin.
KEVIN MICKEY, PRESIDENT, SCALED COMPOSITES: Afternoon, everybody. To echo what Steve (ph) said, thanks to all the support we get from the Mojave Air and Space Port and the local authorities.
I'd just like to say that our job continues. Immediately after locating the crash site, we set out with our partners to secure the crash site. That will continue to be the case overnight. We expect that the NTSB will arrive approximately 7:30 tomorrow morning.
We will spend a couple of hours putting together a game plan for moving forward as we continue the investigation, which we expect would take several days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
WILL: We'd like to get the statements and then we'll take some of your questions, if you don't mind, with all due respect.
Ladies and gentlemen, George Whiteside is the chief executive of Virgin Galactic -- George.
GEORGE WHITESIDE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, VIRGIN GALACTIC: Hello, everybody. Our primary thoughts at this moment are with the crew and family. And we're doing everything we can for them now.
I'd like to recognize the work of the first responders who we work with in the Antelope Valley for their efforts on behalf of the team. We're also thinking of the team members that we have at the companies that have been working on this program.
I can say that Richard Branson is on his way. He's flying now to Mojave. And we expect he'll be here by tomorrow morning.
Space is hard, and today was a tough day. We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today. And we're going to get through it.
The future rests in many ways on hard, hard days like this. But we believe we owe it to the folks who were flying these vehicles, as well as the folks who have been working so hard on them to understand this and to move forward, which is -- which is what we'll do. Thank you.
WILL: If you wouldn't mind joining me, supervisors. Sorry, I see you in the room, Supervisor Leece (ph) and Supervisor Shrubner (ph). Nice to see you.
Now, I'd like to take some questions from the press corps. And if you wouldn't mind, we'll give you some time. Stand up, state your name so we'll know who you are, and your affiliation, please. So go ahead. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) From what I understand of
this particular test flight, this SpaceShipTwo, was using formulated fuel and maybe the engine (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
WILL: I've got to turn that over to Kevin. Kevin, care to take that question?
MICKEY: We were flying a rocket motor today that had been thoroughly tested on the ground and had been through a qualification series. Of course, we expected no anomalies with the motor today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this the first time that you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...
MICKEY: A small nuance to the rocket motor design is the fuel of the motor. So this motor configuration had flown a few times in the past. This was our fourth powered flight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were using a different mixture of fuel, correct, for the first time?
MICKEY: This was a new fuel formulation that had been proven and tested on the ground many times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us your best narrative of what happened during this flight during the two minutes after separation before the anomaly, what happened?
WILL: Sir, I'm going to take that one. Because I was standing at the base of the tower. We always convene. We always are near each other. This was a pure test. This was not a public event. So I will tell you from my eyes and my ears, I detected nothing that appeared abnormal.
I was briefed that the plume would look different this time than it had in the past. And it did. But I couldn't detect anything. In fact, there was a pause of about 90 seconds when your colleagues have been calling all morning wanting to know when I knew. And I will tell you that I knew when other things weren't happening. It wasn't because of something did happen. It was a -- what I was not hearing and not seeing. And so it was -- if there was a huge explosion that occurred, I didn't see it. I've already read that in the press. So...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
WILL: No. There's a few seconds before ignition occurs and it is initiated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... was the line of communication from the cockpit during that two-minute period?
WILL: I heard a -- pardon us. I don't know the answer to that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain briefly how the process works (UNINTELLIGIBLE)... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This vehicle, like the SpaceShipOne that we
flew in 2004, is a mated pair. So the spaceship flies under what we describe as a mother ship. It carries the spaceship to roughly 45,000 feet. The spaceship then separates from the larger vehicle, at which point it is a glider in freefall, the rocket is lit and you're on your way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything at all that you tell us about the condition of the surviving pilot or any information about this pilot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only news that I have currently is that he was transported and is doing as well as can be expected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have the pilots' ages, how much experience they had? Can you give us a little bit more background about them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scaled Composites employs a team of test pilots that have gone through significant training for these types of events. So I will confirm that both of these were Scaled Composites test pilots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You talked a little bit about the resolve and this community that's been built here with all the activity of that's happening here. Folks involved with building this, involved in the testing that goes on here, your message to them tonight is obviously that you guys will resolve -- come back from this...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me retreat a little bit. Like I said, I've been in this business a long time. And the industry that has chosen to invest at this phase of our career and the new generation that is joining us, your age, extremely motivated, highly motivated, challenging, inquisitive people. And even though we have a preponderance of this new evidence, this industry is sprinkled around the globe. It is a borderless global border industry that's interested in commercialization and much greater access to space.
My message to them is, stay the course. This business is worthy business. This is not easy. If it were easy, it wouldn't be interesting to me or any of my colleagues standing with us. And to the new people involved with this, get involved. Be inquisitive, challenge. Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. We're doing this for you and for your generation. And it's worthy, good business. And it's a cause far greater than any one of us singularly. I equate it to the Magellan mission.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue to monitor this news conference. But the very sad news, a tragic situation unfolding in the Mojave Desert, Mojave, California. You just heard what they confirmed: one of the crew members is dead, the other suffering major injuries right now, doing about as well as can be expected. We were just told over at the Antelope Valley Hospital.
The spaceship actually took off at around 9:20 a.m. Pacific Time. It was released effectively from the rocket at 10:10. And then at 10:12 a.m., Pacific Time, all of a sudden there was what they call an in-flight anomaly.
And we see the aftermath, the wreckage there on the desert floor.
The astronaut, Mark Kelly, is standing by. Miles O'Brien is standing by. Full analysis of what happened. This is the second space disaster in the United States in three days. Earlier in the week in Virginia. Much more on what's going on right after this.
BLITZER: We've got the breaking news. One person is dead, another in the hospital after a Virgin Galactic spacecraft disintegrated during a test flight. The pieces fell to the ground in California's Mojave Desert. You see the wreckage there on the screen.
Just now officials said the spacecraft was flying with a new fuel formulation.
Joining us, the former astronaut, retired Navy Captain Mark Kelly, along with our CNN aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien.
Mark, what do you make of this, what we just heard at the news conference. We heard the Galactic -- Virgin Galactic say, space is hard, today is a tough day. That's putting it mildly.
MARK KELLY, RETIRED NAVY CAPTAIN/FORMER ASTRONAUT: I was out there about six months ago, and I saw George Whitesides, the CEO of Virgin Galactic. And they've -- you know, they've been executing their plan for a while now and doing their test flights very successfully.
And we talked a little bit, you know, about how challenging this is. Space flight is a difficult thing to do. I mean, to get an aircraft moving at that speed through the atmosphere and then in a very unforgiving environment of space is a challenge. That's why, you know, it's not -- there aren't a lot of companies that take that on as a challenge. So it's a risky business. And accidents do happen.
BLITZER; And this clearly is an accident.
And Miles, this is the second space disaster in three days in the United States. On Wednesday, there was a horrible situation, a rocket exploded, basically, in Virginia. Now this. This is a major setback for the entire space program, I suspect.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It is. It's heartbreaking, really. There's no real connection between the two, except for that one point: Space is hard. It's a reminder that it doesn't take much of a plumbing problem to cause a difficulty on a rocket. So the coincidence of that is stark. But it is a huge blow, and the commercial space industry is on its heels today. BLITZER; Explain, Mark, what they meant when they said the
takeoff was at 9:20 a.m. Pacific Time this morning. The release was at 10:10 a.m. And the in-flight anomaly occurred at 10:12, two minutes later, Pacific Time, 10:12 a.m. Pacific Time. Walk us through what potentially happened.
KELLY: Well, SpaceShipTwo, which is the vehicle that's going to go into space, has this hybrid rocket motor. But for takeoff, it takes off on the runway underneath another -- underneath an aircraft called White Knight Two, which is a bigger airplane. And they both go up to about 50,000 -- 45,000, 50,000 feet or so.
So SpaceShipTwo is underneath White Knight, and so they took off at 9:20. And at 10:10 in the morning, so about 50 minutes later, SpaceShipTwo was released. And after it's released, it will fire that rocket motor. And on -- you know, on a flight that's going to take passengers up to 63 miles or so, after the rocket motor firing, they would point straight up.
In this case, I think the plan was to go up to about 73,000 feet. But within two minutes, they knew something was wrong. And the executive -- I don't think it was George. But the executive at Scaled Composites said it was when they didn't see the next thing that was supposed to happen that they knew, you know, there was an anomaly. You know, it's similar to what happened with Columbia. When they lost communications, they knew -- and then lost tracking, they knew that there was a problem. And it takes some time to figure out what that problem is.
BLITZER: So Miles, one of the crew members is dead. The other one is alive but obviously not in good shape in a hospital. What do they -- they have parachutes? They can eject from this kind of aircraft? Is that what happened?
O'BRIEN: It's not a classic ejection seat like you would see on a military fighter. But if they do have the ability to get out, they have a panel which kind of breaks away. They obviously had parachutes. And one of them was able to at least survive to the ground. Apparently, the other was unable to get out for some reason.
BLITZER: From the ejection...
O'BRIEN: Not wearing full pressure suits, by the way. They had helmets and oxygen, but not full pressure suits.
BLITZER: Is that your analysis, Mark, as well?
KELLY: Well, I'll take Miles' word for it that they weren't wearing pressure suits. And if you're exposed to the environment of 50,000 feet without a pressure suit, you know, you're in a lot of trouble. I mean, just that exposure to that very low pressure, if you're there for very long, I mean, just a short period of time in that environment, you know, the nitrogen in your blood starts to come out of solution. And you essentially get what is the equivalent of the beds from scuba diving, you know, when you come up to the surface. You know, there's a thing called the bends where the nitrogen comes out of solution. That's a hazard just in itself.
But to also climb out and try to get out of a vehicle, assuming you know, there's a catastrophic failure, is a difficult thing to do. And when it's going at that pretty high rate of speed at that altitude, it's a major challenge. I can understand without an ejection seat why one of the crew members was unable to get out.
BLITZER: Mark Kelly, I want you to stand by. Miles O'Brien, please stand by as well. We're going to have much more on this story.
The breaking news, coming up, including, we just heard that Sir Richard Branson of Virgin is on his way, should be there in the Mojave Desert by tomorrow morning. They said, space is hard and today is a tough day. I spoke with Sir Richard Branson about this new program, this project he had, a few years ago. We'll have some of that interview later in THE SITUATION ROOM, as well.
We're also getting news on other important stories we're following, including new details on an attack on a police officer with an ax right here in Washington, D.C.
And the suspect in the Hannah Graham case facing a judge but it's for a different case entirely, including a charge of attempted murder.
Lots of news going on today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It was sudden and shattering and came without warning in the middle of the night. A new ax attack on a police officer. This one right here in the nation's capital of Washington, D.C.
It comes a week after a frightening and bloody hatchet attack on four police officers in New York City and how security is being stepped up for police in both cities.
CNN's Rene Marsh is joining us. She has the latest details -- Rene.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this attacker is still on the loose tonight. And these attacks have prompted an immediate increase in security for officers in New York and now D.C. is on high alert. But the question remains, was this latest ax attack a copycat incident or is there a terror connection?
MARSH (voice-over): A large ax lodged inches from a D.C. police officer's head as he sat in the driver's seat. It was another attack on a uniformed officer. This time it happened overnight in a residential D.C. neighborhood.
CHIEF CATHY LANIER, WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE: He was ambushed. He did not see the person coming. He was ambushed by the ax. He was able to get out of the car and actually chase and tackle the suspect. MARSH: The ax missed the officer but he dislocated his shoulder
in a scuffle with the suspect who is still on the run. It's the second attack on an officer in a matter of days. Just last week in New York City, an ax-wielding man was caught on camera charging towards police officers striking one in the arm, the other in the head before being shot and killed. The bloody weapon left behind. NYPD called it an act of terrorism.
MATT HORACE, FORMER ATF AGENT: Certainly is alarming. It's hard to say at this point whether it's a trend. Obviously there's been two incidents and two incidents is even too many in any situation where we're having people take the liberty to attack police officers.
MARSH: This comes at a time when radical jihadists have threatened attacks against uniformed officers in the West. A man in Canada with jihadist connections shot and killed a guard at Canada's National War Memorial. Before opening fire in parliament just two days after a Canadian soldier was run over and killed by a man police say had been radicalized.
This week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ordered increased security at more than 9500 federal buildings across the U.S.
HORACE: But anytime you have these things happen, it makes it very easy to -- for the environment to produce copycats. Hopefully the one today was a random act and the police will have this person in custody relatively soon.
MARSH: Police in the nation's capital don't have a motive for this morning's ax attack. But at this point, nothing has been ruled out.
MARSH: Now when we talk about high alert as it relates to these police departments, in New York City, officers have been told they must travel in pairs. A buddy system.
Here in D.C., the police chief says she's been sending two to three messages a day to officers reminding them to remain on alert -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. That picture of that ax in that police vehicle window, that is so, so devastating. Let's hope they catch this guy and catch him quickly.
All right, thanks very much, Rene. We'll stay on top of the story.
Up next, the main suspect in the kidnapping of the University of Virginia student Hannah Graham goes before a judge today. We get our first hint his attorneys may be looking at an insanity defense.
We're also following the breaking news out of California where a commercial spaceship crashed during today's test flight. New information coming in. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: The suspect in the kidnapping of the University of Virginia student Hannah Graham went before a judge today. But his arraignment was long distance by video. And it was for another case. The 2005 sex assault in which Jesse Matthew is accused of attempted murder.
Our Brian Todd is joining us now live from the courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia. That's just near Washington, D.C.
So what happened, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this turned out to be a pretty dramatic court appearance for Jesse Matthew. There was a dispute over who would be representing him in this Fairfax case and there was a surprise request for a psychiatric evaluation.
TODD (voice-over): Wearing a black-and-white striped prison jumpsuit, Jesse Matthew faced the charge against him in Fairfax, Virginia.
You, Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr., did feloniously, willfully, deliberately, intentionally and with premeditation attempt to kill R.G.
TODD: Attempted capital murder, abduction, sexual assault. Matthew was arraigned on those charges via video conference from a jail in Charlottesville. He didn't enter a plea. But for the first time we heard from the man accused not only of the brutal 2005 assault in Fairfax but also of the abduction of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.
JESSE MATTHEW, ABDUCTION SUSPECT: Yes, sir, I would prefer Mr. Camblos to be my attorney, if it's possible, because I've built a relationship with dealing with cases down in Charlottesville, sir.
TODD: Matthew appealed for James Camblos, who's handling the UVA case, to be his only lawyer. Camblos appealed to be the only lawyer. The judge rejected both requests appointing a public defender in Fairfax to join Camblos on the defense team. Camblos, visibly upset in court.
JAMES CAMBLOS, JESSE MATTHEW'S ATTORNEY: I'm the one who knows Mr. Matthew.
TODD (on camera): What does that mean for Jesse Matthew's defense if there's that tension from the get-go?
MICHAEL CHICK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think it's always tough to start out with that kind of tension. Sooner rather than later Mr. Camblos will figure out that there's a benefit to having a local practitioner who's good, who's skilled, who -- an extra set of eyes. TODD (voice-over): The surprise in the courtroom, Camblos
requested an evaluation of Matthew. The prosecutor says that's to determine Matthew's sanity at the time of the vicious Fairfax assault.
CHICK: The attorney, after having conversations with his client, has some sort of concerns about his client -- about where his client was whether he knew right from wrong at the time that this offense happened.
TODD: But attorney Michael Chick says it's not definite that Matthew's lawyer will seek an insanity defense. The FBI says the victim in the 2005 incident was raped and beaten within an inch of her life. The prosecutor says the victim will travel from outside the U.S. to testify against Jesse Matthew.
RAY MORROGH, FAIRFAX COUNTY COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: She is relieved, I think -- I don't want to say happy because there's no joy in any of this for any of us. But I think she's satisfied that maybe we'll get some resolution.
TODD: Now when I asked prosecutor Ray Morrogh if the victim was scared to testify, he said, quote, "not to my knowledge."
Experts believe prosecutors in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Hannah Graham was killed, are going to have a much stronger case against Jesse Matthew if prosecutors here in Fairfax and get that crucial conviction first -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Let's get some analysis, joining us, the investigative journalist Coy Barefoot, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director.
Coy, several major developments as we just heard at the court appearance in Fairfax, Virginia. What can you tell us about this psychiatric evaluation that was requested by his attorney?
COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: That evaluation request, Wolf, was certainly one of the big takeaways from this morning. It was -- it was a time of high drama during that entire hearing. And as I was watching it, I was just thinking, holy cow, a very polite battle of wills of who will represent Jesse Matthew.
The psychiatric evaluation coming now. My read on that is that it's sort of setting up a mitigation of guilt. That's not about guilt or innocence. That's about lessening the penalty of an expected guilty verdict coming this early in the process. And, you know, Mr. Camblos being named co-counsel, second chair, those of us who know Jim here in Charlottesville know that he does not play second fiddle very well. So it will be interesting to see if he accepts that arrangement long term.
BLITZER: And Jeffrey, I want to pick up on that point because the judge, as we heard in Brian's report, he asked that a public defender in Fairfax serve as co-counsel. Explain why this might have been done.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is looking like a very complicated situation with two major cases potentially pending around the same time. It would certainly be a rational choice given the stakes involved. Even potentially including the death penalty down the road, that more than one attorney would be involved. It's really not all that unusual for multiple attorneys to be appointed in serious cases. Nor is it unusual to have tension between those attorneys. But ultimately it usually sorts itself out.
BLITZER: And Tom, talk about Matthew's demeanor during this appearance.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think he's, you know, pretty much sitting there taking it in. But I thought what was interesting here was the judge taking command of the courtroom and the situation and basically my takeaway is that it's taken nine years for this young lady to be able to be in a position to testify against her attacker. The judge isn't going to allow the prosecution to take another nine years. He wants this to move on. He doesn't want Camblos to have the excuse that he's overwhelmed in so many different cases.
BLITZER: Coy, tell us what else is going on behind the scenes.
BAREFOOT: Well, Wolf, if you think about it, Mr. Camblos at this point has three options. He can do what the judge is asking, play second fiddle to the Fairfax Public Defender's Office, take that second chair and be quiet and follow the lead of the public defenders. He can wash his hands of the case in Fairfax and focus on the cases here in Charlottesville and Albemarle, where Mr. Matthew is very likely to face more charges.
And a third option could be that he could turn to Jesse Matthew tomorrow and say, L.J., give me a buck. You just retained me as your attorney and I'm going to make the public defender's office go away. If he senses that the defender's office is looking at this case for exposure, publicity and for experience for their team, then I think that's going to rub him the wrong way, given the relationship he's developed with Jesse Matthew. And he would want to stand in the way of that happening.
BLITZER: And Jeffrey, quickly, are we seeing the beginning of an insanity defense?
TOOBIN: That's very unlikely. You know, we talk a lot about the insanity defense. But it is rarely raised. And even more rarely successful. The insanity defense requires that an individual literally not knowing what he's doing. He has to think that he is hitting a watermelon, not a human being. If he knows he's killing a human being, even for irrational, horrible reasons, that's guilt.
That's not insane. And it's a very substantial burden for defendants to climb and they almost never try it and it almost never works.
BLITZER: All right. Jeffrey Toobin, Tom Fuentes, Coy Barefoot, guys, thanks very much.
Still ahead, there's more of the breaking news we're following as investigators are trying to determine why Virgin Atlantic's new commercial spacecraft crashed during a test flight today.
Plus, the Pentagon's plans to send U.S. military advisers to one of the most dangerous places in Iraq, a place overrun by ISIS militants.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The crash of a commercial spacecraft in California's Mohave Desert. We're also watching the final weekend of campaigning ahead of the midterm elections here in the United States. And no matter where you live, you know the power brokers who will decide the winners.
Here's CNN's senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. She's watching this election very closely.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are and we're watching a key demographic, and that is women. As you know, Wolf, Democrats normally have a tremendous lead with women. That is the case. But that's not necessarily the case here. In many races you're seeing that lead diminished. Republicans trailing Democrats with women by just single digits in some races and then exceeding Democrats in their performance with men by double digits.
That's why for Democrats it is so key to turn out female voters. It could really be the key to holding on to the Senate.
KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama making a closing pitch to an all-important voting bloc -- women.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When women succeed, America succeeds and we need leaders who understand that.
KEILAR: In a heated and bitter campaign season, both sides say female voters may be the key to the Senate majority. Democrats hoping to hold on to their traditional edge with women are targeting them with ads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A vote for Tom Cotton is a vote against Arkansas women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A vote for Thom Tillis is a vote against families like mine.
KEILAR: And appealing from the stump.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: We're for respecting women's reproductive freedoms.
KEILAR: But Republicans are pushing back, and polls show they're narrowing Democrats' lead. An unrelenting focus on women's issues earned Colorado's Mark Udall the nickname Mark Uterus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my daughter to have the same choices I do.
KEILAR: His Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, has touted moderate positions on issues like equal pay and he has been inching ahead in the polls.
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Gaining control of the United States Senate.
KEILAR: In Iowa, the female candidate Joni Ernst is a Republican, and she's leading with men in a tight battle against Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley.
BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: I believe the pill ought to be available over the counters.
KEILAR: Republicans are also turning Democrats' attacks against them in ads of their own.
TERRI LYNN LAND (R), MICHIGAN SENATE CANDIDATE: There's a war on women in America, and it's being waged by the Democrats.
KEILAR: In previous cycles, some Republican candidates hurt the brand with inflammatory comments like this.
REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
KEILAR: This year, they've largely avoided those damaging moments.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Women are really open to Republican candidates in a way that perhaps they weren't in 2012.
KEILAR: While Democrats are working to turn out many of the women who pushed Barack Obama to victory in 2012.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is about turnout, it is about getting to the polls right now.
KEILAR: And it's also about the kind of issues that candidates are emphasizing with women, Wolf. It's not just social issues, the hot button social issues, but also combining them in a way with an economic message. For instance, you look at Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a lead over David Perdue to the tune of about 18 percent in the polls. She's emphasizing workplace fairness and it's really resonating with women there.
BLITZER: It's going to be a huge, huge issue. And we're going to see what happens Tuesday. Obviously we'll have extensive coverage throughout the day and well into the evening.
KEILAR: Sure will.
BLITZER: Brianna, thanks very much.
Coming up, back to the breaking news. Another catastrophic failure of a spacecraft. This time it's Virgin spaceship that goes down in the Mohave Desert in California.
And days after an ISIS massacre, hundreds of Sunni Iraqi tribesman. Is the U.S. now preparing to send military advisors into the heart of the ISIS held territory?