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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Bombings Rock Hotels in Amman, Jordan; Andrea Yates Receives New Trial; Indiana Tornado 911 Calls Released

Aired November 9, 2005 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. We appreciate your being with us tonight.
We are continuing with CNN's coverage of tonight's developing story, the bloody events in Amman, Jordan.

Quickly bringing you up to speed, at least 67 people are dead in three separate bombings in big-name hotels in Amman, Jordan. It was a highly coordinated attack, the kind everyone in every city all over the world fears.

The explosions happened just about five hours ago, ripping through the Days Inn Hotel, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and the largest explosion targeted the Radisson Hotel, where a wedding celebration was under way.

Here's what two eyewitnesses saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANWAR DABASS, EYEWITNESS: We saw three people in the street that were lying in the street. They weren't dead. They were moving at the time that we got there.

We were one of the first people there and there was some body parts in the street. And, obviously, it looked like the guy exploded. He exploded by the three guys that were in the street. And there were two cars parked there.

KRISTEN GILLESPIE, JOURNALIST: Dozens of ambulances were rushing to the scene, removing bodies that had been moved from inside the lobby to outside the lobby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And, in our control room, we are monitoring the situation, watching and listening, as the new information and new pictures keep streaming in.

National security correspondent David Ensor is keeping track of just who just might be responsible for these coordinated attacks. But I want to begin tonight on the ground tonight in Amman.

CNN's Hala Gorani rushed to the scene just minutes after the explosion. She joins us live now from Amman.

Hala, please, Describe what you saw when you got there.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we got there about half- an-hour, Paula, after the initial explosion was reported.

And the hotel itself, the Radisson, the site of the largest of the three explosions, apparently -- or at least the one that caused most injuries and deaths -- was cordoned off. Police were keeping us away from the entrance of the hotel, saying, this is for your own safety. And when we asked them why, they said, well, we're not sure that more bombs won't go off.

But we could tell straight away, from the number of ambulances, from the type of security personnel that was gathered in and around the hotel, from the police presence, from the military presence, that this was something big. And, of course, when we started seeing those first pictures from inside the hotels, the Radisson, the Grand Hyatt, and the Days Inn, we understood just what type of carnage took place in the Jordanian capital today -- Paula.

ZAHN: Hala, what do we know about how these three attacks happened, how they were carried out?

GORANI: We know what officials are telling us.

We know, for sure, that the explosions took place almost simultaneously. This is the modus operandi of al Qaeda-linked groups. We know they happened between 10:00 to 9:00 p.m. and some time right after 9:00 p.m. local time. We also know, according to officials here, that suicide bombers carried out these attacks, that, perhaps, one individual per hotel had explosives strapped to his body and walked in.

It wouldn't have been too difficult to go unnoticed, Paula, because, in many of these hotels, there aren't even metal detectors or the type of tight-knit security that you might expect for a country like Jordan that has -- seen as a likely target for terrorists for the last few years.

ZAHN: An important point to make.

Hala Gorani, thanks so much. I would like to check back with you in a little bit.

But joining me right now is an American woman who witnessed the explosion at the Hyatt. She was there with her fiance, who was seriously injured. Her name is Ronda Jaaqoub.

And she's with me now from a hospital in Amman.

First off, how is your fiance doing?

RONDA JAAQOUB, HUSBAND INJURED IN AMMAN EXPLOSION: He is good. He's done from -- he was in surgery. He had a knee injury.

ZAHN: Describe to us what you saw in the immediate aftermath of the explosion at the Hyatt. JAAQOUB: Well, actually, we were sitting in the lobby. And we were about to leave, but we were waiting for the check-in.

Suddenly -- we were just talking, and everything just exploded. And we had fire and smoke all over. And we were by the kitchen, so we went outside, like, through the kitchen. And then they took us. People carried us from the hotel outside.

(CROSSTALK)

JAAQOUB: And we were just -- just in total shock, because, here in Jordan, it's -- it's a safe place, considerable, like to Middle East and stuff. So, this wasn't -- unlikely at all.

ZAHN: And there wasn't anything in the lobby that -- that seemed to tip anybody off that something terrible was about to happen, no warning at all?

JAAQOUB: No, no. We are just sitting. We are just sitting, talking.

And (INAUDIBLE) all of a sudden, something just exploded. And smoke was all over. And we saw the bodies and blood all over. It just...

ZAHN: How much panic was there?

JAAQOUB: It was total shock, actually. It wasn't panic, as much as it was shock. We were just -- we -- I couldn't do anything. It was just total shock.

And, when I went downstairs, I was like, please, someone help us, because, like, as soon as we got there, ambulances were there. But we had, like, dead bodies and people with serious injuries. So, a taxi took me to the -- to the nearest hospital. And, like, it was emergency all over.

ZAHN: Well, I know you have been through an awful lot today.

Ronda Jaaqoub, thank you for joining us. And best of luck to your fiance.

The 67 deaths that have been confirmed so far from tonight's hotel bombings in Amman mean this already ranks in the top 10 Jihad attacks by al Qaeda and affiliates in just the last seven years alone. Who is behind tonight's bombings? We're already hearing a familiar name, Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He's the head of al Qaeda in Iraq. And he's one of the world's most wanted terrorists.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor is working his sources. He joins me now from Washington.

We have already heard a Jordanian official say tonight, this has the earmarks of an al Qaeda attack. Is there any evidence of that yet?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, there is.

And, while U.S. officials stress that these are early days yet and this is primarily a Jordanian investigation, they are pointing the finger, as you mentioned, at Zarqawi. After all, he is Jordanian. And they see, both the from the method, the suicide bombing attacks, done very much in the style that Zarqawi's gang has been using next door in Iraq, and, secondly, the history.

This is a man, who as I mentioned, is from Jordan. He has already been held responsible for the killing of an American diplomat in Jordan, for an attack a few months ago in the Port of Aqaba against an American warship that killed two people, and for an attempt to attack a Jordanian intelligence building, which failed in April of 2004.

So, he has been going after targets in Jordan over the last few years -- Paula.

ZAHN: What do we know about the sophistication of these attacks? They happened almost simultaneously.

ENSOR: Well, again, the -- the -- the pattern shows similarity to some of the other al Qaeda attacks, the simultaneity, the suicide- bombing-attack nature of it. That's -- that's part of the reason that they are suspecting Zarqawi.

There's also his stated intent. He said, in April of 2004, that what's coming are more vicious and bitter attacks, God willing.

He was talking about what his intentions were towards Jordan. And, finally, there's the fact that this attack has an extraordinary brutality to it. Going after a wedding party, that's something hardly any terrorist group around the world does, but Zarqawi's group have been doing it in Iraq repeatedly. The -- the number two guy in -- in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wrote a letter to him, which U.S. intelligence say they captured, in which he warned Zarqawi, if you keep on attacking innocent Iraqis, you will alienate -- you will -- we will lose the hearts and minds of Muslims.

But whoever did these attacks in Jordan apparently wasn't concerned about that. And that's been kind of the way Zarqawi has operated in Iraq. So, that's, finally, the -- the -- the last reason why so many intelligence officials are suspecting that he may well be behind these attacks -- Paula.

ZAHN: David Ensor, thank you so much for that update.

We have located another eyewitness to talk with tonight. Rana Husseini is a reporter for "The Jordan Times." She actually got inside the Radisson and was able to walk to the hall where the bombing happened. That was the bombing of the wedding party that David Ensor just referred to.

She joins me now on the phone from Amman. And she is going to share with us what she saw -- Rana.

RANA HUSSEINI, "THE JORDAN TIMES": Yes, good morning.

Actually, I managed to arrive at the scene maybe 20 minutes after the explosion. And I walked inside the hotel. Of course, the lobby was destroyed. You know, the hotel is surrounded with the glass doors. It was all broken, shattered. You know, there was a piano that was filled with dust. The roof ceiling had fell on it.

As I walked toward, you know, the hall, there was bloodstains everywhere, and glass, broken glass. And, you know, the wedding -- the wedding hall was totally destroyed. And I can see, like, it -- like it seemed like the explosion was at the center of the -- of the wedding hall. And there were tables and chairs turned around, turned over. There was blood on the -- on the chairs.

It was a -- it was really a horrific scene.

ZAHN: Well, we're just looking at some of those pictures that -- that show some of what you saw when you first got to the scene.

Rana, I know you also had the opportunity to speak with a couple of employees at the hotel. Did they notice anything suspicious before this attack?

HUSSEINI: No, not at all.

I -- I spoke to -- there were four employees standing outside. That was before I walked into the hall. You know, I saw four men who looked, you know, as if they came out of a -- you know, a battle or something. And I -- the minute I spoke to them, I realized they were like employees who were inside the hall at the time of the explosion.

They told me that everything seemed normal. It was just, you know, a wedding. People were enjoying their time. And one of them told me that the minute that -- you know, we have this tradition here in Jordan and elsewhere, where the bride and the groom, they come down from the room and walk towards the hall. And there's, like, a small musician group. They play music and dance.

So, they were approaching the hall. He said, you know, the -- the bride and groom were, you know, in the process of entering the room, when, all of a sudden, there was an explosion and, like, a -- it was like a flash. And I saw that -- he told me, I saw the walls and ceiling fall. And then he -- you know, he described a very gruesome scene of bodies, you know, torn apart.

He told me heads were everywhere. He said there was a lot of deaf people -- dead people. And then he -- he told me that his friend -- he kept saying: My friend Youseff (ph) is dead. My friend Youseff is dead.

He was -- you know, he was in a -- in a state of shock. He was panicked. It is like, I can't -- his status was -- you know, his mental status was very, you know, tough.

And I said, how do you know he died? He said: I saw him. His head had a big cut. And I'm sure he is dead. ZAHN: Rana Husseini, we know it's not easy to relive some of what you saw, but thank you for sharing your stories with us tonight.

The president tonight calling what Rana just described as cowardly and barbaric -- Condoleezza Rice calling it wanton acts of murder.

We are going to keep watching developments in the Amman bombings. And we will bring you live updates as new information comes in.

But we're also following a number of other major stories tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): In the eye of the storm -- listen to these dramatic 911 tapes.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our house just fell down!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing. There are no houses. There's nothing around us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't understand. Our houses are upside down.

Tonight, listen to the incredible stories of survival.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ZAHN: Tonight, listen to the incredible stories of survival.

Fast and fatal -- amazing video captures the danger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That deer came through our windshield like a missile.

ZAHN: Thousands of accidents every day, hundreds of death caused by deer -- what you should know to protect your family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we move on now to a dramatic development in a story right here in the U.S., where, tonight, Andrea Yates is facing a new trial for drowning her five young children in a bathtub in her own home. It's a case that shocked and appalled all of us back in 2001 and still raises many troubling questions about mental illness and about women's mental health.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): This happy, smiling moment is chilling, because we know what would happen less than three years later. On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates called her husband, Rusty, at work and said, you had better come home. She also called the police -- her clothes still wet when she answered the door. She led the officers to the bedroom, where four wet bodies were covered by a sheet, John, age 5, Paul, age 3, 2-year-old Luke and 6-month-old Mary, the body of 7- year-old Noah still floating in the bathtub. She said she did it because she was possessed by Satan.

The children -- quote -- "weren't developing correctly," she told investigators, going on to say -- quote -- "I realize I have not been a good mother to them." So, as her own punishment, she said, she drowned them one by one.

When the case came to trial in 2002, her attorneys asked the jury to find Yates not guilty by reason of insanity. Yates had a well- documented history of postpartum depression. And her attorneys argued that she suffered from postpartum psychosis. Jurors didn't buy it. They convicted her of capital murder, but did not recommend the death penalty.

During the trial, a prosecution expert, Park Dietz, testified that Yates might have gotten the idea of drowning her children from an episode on the television program "Law & Order." No such episode existed.

It's on that point that Andrea Yates' conviction was overturned last January, a decision upheld today. Rusty Yates supported his wife all through the trial, but has since divorced her. We last talked about a year ago. I asked him to explain why he thinks Andrea should get a new trial.

RUSTY YATES, EX-HUSBAND OF ANDREA YATES: Well, my -- my feelings are that -- and -- on this are that the state, in every respect, has proceeded wrongly, you know, right from the beginning. You know, they could have brought an expert in, who -- who -- who would have assessed her as being psychotic.

ZAHN (on camera): When she talks about the kids, does she ever show any remorse for what she did?

YATES: Oh, of course. She's so heartbroken, feels of tremendous guilt of herself, you know, now, just for her actions. And, you know, she -- she loved them dearly. And she misses them, misses them all.

ZAHN: Has she been able to help you better understand what led to her killing these five children, maybe some of the warning signs that might have been missed along the way?

YATES: I don't know if it's so much warning signs. What -- you know, we're talking about earlier about psychosis, an important thing to understand in that, in the way I look at it is, is very much like bits of a dream overlaid on your reality.

So, to say someone is functional, most of their reality could be the same. And then some things change within that reality. So, they may hear a voice that really isn't there. Otherwise, the room's the same.

ZAHN: And what do you think she envisions for herself down the road? Does she expect to get a new trial? Does she expect someday to be free?

YATES: She's hopeful of that, yes. She -- she -- she is hopeful of that.

ZAHN: Does she ever talk about...

YATES: And she...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... what she wants to do if she is ever freed?

YATES: I think she said, eat a pizza and go swimming.

(LAUGHTER)

YATES: That's what she said.

ZAHN (voice-over): For now, Andrea Yates is still in a prison psychiatric ward and is still receiving treatment. Her attorney is not asking that she be released, but is hoping for a plea bargain, instead of a new trial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And one more thing to add: Today, Rusty Yates told reporters that his ex-wife is doing well and has been fairly stable for the past year. Both and -- he and Andrea's lead attorney say they are worried that subjecting her to a new trial, with all of the gruesome evidence and testimony, will do more harm than good. However, prosecutors say they are confident a new jury will come to the same conclusion again, that it was murder.

Still to come, the frightening, unforgettable 911 calls from the night of the Indiana tornadoes, plus, the prayer that kept one couple together just minutes after that killer storm blew their world apart.

Right now, though, at 20 minutes past the hour, it's time for Erica Hill at Headline News to update this hour's other top stories -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Paula, a major sweep by Marines has come to an end in Iraq. Operation Steel Curtain was aimed at insurgents near the Syrian border. But local residents also claim, four families were killed in air attacks aimed at insurgents.

The Senate Intelligence Committee says an investigation into who leaked information about secret CIA prisons is on hold for now. Yesterday, one Republican senator speculated a fellow Republican may have been responsible.

"The New York Times" has reported Judith Miller is retiring. Miller, you may recall, spent 85 days in jail before she agreed to testify to a grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA agent's identity.

Meantime, former FEMA Chief Michael Brown is no longer on the federal payroll. Brown resigned two months ago, after a sluggish response to the Katrina disaster, but he had been kept on as an adviser.

And Joe DiMaggio's 1936 Yankees uniform, up for sale -- it's expected to bring $600,000 at a December 10 auction in New York.

Maybe for your favorite Yankee fan for the holidays -- Paula.

ZAHN: And there are many of them out there, in spite of this year's World Series.

Coming up, some frantic cries for help.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh! Oh, there's a tornado! My house just fell down! Please help! I'm at 2620 (ph) (INAUDIBLE) Please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you have got to quite screaming. I can't understand your address.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ma'am, you don't understand. Our houses are upside down.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ZAHN: The 911 calls from the night of the Indiana tornadoes have just been made public. They are absolutely chilling.

But we have also found an amazing story of survival and faith in the heart of this disaster.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Pictures say it all, don't they?

I would love for you now to listen very closely to our next report. We are getting a chilling look tonight at what it was like on the ground this week after a tornado ripped through a small community near Evansville, Indiana. Eighteen people were killed there.

Here's Ed Lavandera with the 911 tapes just moments after the tornado struck.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, there's been a tornado out here. There's people yelling help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every trailer around me is gone.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seconds after the tornado struck, the frantic calls for help began.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh! Oh, there's a tornado! My house just fell down! Please help! I'm at 2620 (ph) (INAUDIBLE) Please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you better quit screaming. I can't understand your address.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ma'am, you don't understand. Our houses are upside down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I do understand, ma'am. And we do have the fire department on the way. They should be arriving there shortly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do I need to get out and look for survivors? These people had small children, ma'am.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: It didn't take long for these mobile home park residents to realize they were deal with a major disaster.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have got people trapped in these trailers out here.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, we have got everybody coming as quickly as they can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear people screaming everywhere, screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where you're bleeding from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my leg, I think. All I know is, everything is coming through my bedroom window, glass... (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, sir. We have got everybody on the way.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

LAVANDERA (on camera): In the first hour after the tornado struck, rescue crews say they pulled 40 people out of the rubble here alive. The twister cut a path right through these homes. And the survivors say they still can't explain why they were spared and 18 of their neighbors died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We found a baseball card. We found Denzel's (ph) gun here.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sifting through the pieces is now a desperate search for memories of loved ones. Denzel Sprinkel (ph) came back to what was left his home and found what he was looking for, a picture of his 67-year-old mother killed by the tornado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy. I have -- I have got my family back. I hope and pray that she just never knew anything had hit her.

LAVANDERA: Sue Day (ph) was so severely injured that her family looked for her at the morgue. She's in a hospital on a ventilator, fighting for her life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're out here picking through the rubble. And, you know, we don't even know if she is -- she might make it or not.

LAVANDERA: Day's (ph) family found this unfinished quilt she was making. They hope she will pull through and put the final touches on it.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Evansville, Indiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And, as you just saw, today, some of those residents of that trailer park finally got to visit the scene of the disaster to pick up what they could from the wreckage, even if it was just a simple picture.

And, even now, we are hearing some amazing survival stories from the tornado.

Dan Simon has one of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETTY NEESE, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It was just a big boom, and my whole world started falling and crumbling.

JERRY NEESE, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I'm out there on my hands and knees. It's pouring down rain.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Betty and Jerry Neese have slept in the same bed for 59 years. It took a tornado to get them apart. Here they are in the hospital, separated, yet still close.

B. NEESE: I just got banged around when I was falling. I just got bruises and bangs all over me.

SIMON: The bruises on Betty's face only tell part of the story. And she doesn't mind telling it.

B. NEESE: And then I was surround by all this debris, heavy debris. And I thought, uh-oh. I'm trapped.

SIMON: Trapped beneath a trailer underneath a heap of rubble. Jerry, meanwhile, says the winds threw him into a neighbor's yard.

J. NEESE: And it was colder than Billy-be-darned. And I was screaming at the top of my lungs for her. And I don't get no answer.

SIMON: No answer, because Betty remained trapped. This is the part she insisted we include.

B. NEESE: This is true now. The holy spirit and I had this big conversation. And when I got through talking to him, and then I could move all that debris away, and I did.

SIMON: A firefighter spotted her on her belly, carrying her to safety. Jerry finds humor in her appearance.

(LAUGHTER)

J. NEESE: You take -- you take a look at her, and I laugh every time I look at her. She's just -- she doesn't even look like the same person.

SIMON: This is how the two look in better times. The couple has nine children, 20 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren, many of them at their bedside. The Neeses are expected to make a full recovery. Betty had this quote from her own father.

B. NEESE: And daddy said, "If you wake up in the morning and you are breathing and you are not in pain, and you have food on the table, then you should be happy."

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Evansville, Indiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And her daddy was one wise man, wasn't he? And there's this, the Neeses tell us they hope to rebuild on the same lot. And, thankfully, they'll be able to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary at the end of this month.

Coming up next, it's happened to a lot of us who drive out on country roads. It's probably happened to you as well. How do you prepare for this?

So if you are out there in rural America, and even in some busy suburbs, you know that deer can be very deadly. Coming up, what can all of us do to avoid it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: In a moment, we're going to show you some graphic video, so be forewarned. First, though, I want you to take a look at this. It's a little bit fuzzy, but a security camera in a supermarket in Germantown, Maryland caught this just last week. If you look closely, you'll see a deer smashing through the store window and running inside. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But scenes like that would be nothing more than a curiosity if it weren't for the fact that deer are more than a nuisance, they are downright dangerous.

In fact, I've got some really staggering numbers for you. In a typical year, more people die from collisions with deer than in bus crashes, train crashes and airline crashes combined. And if you have never been hit, you are about to see what it's like.

This is frightening, amazing video. Here's consumer correspondent Greg Hunter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG HUNTER, CNN CONSUMER CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Running into a deer in a suburban convenience store outside Boston, as this news report shows...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lost doe, affectionately dubbed Bambi, browsed the aisles a few times, bumping over some gum and cereal displays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTER: ... can be pretty funny.

Getting up close and personal this way is no joke. On highways like this across America, the number of dangerous accidents involving cars and deer has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1.5 million deer-vehicle crashes happened in 2003. Disturbing scenes like this...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!

HUNTER: ... happen more than 4,000 times a day.

This collision was caught on camera by DriveCam Video Systems. It shows how easily even an alert driver can be caught by surprise. On American roads, crashes between motorists and deer have become more deadly. According to the Insurance Institute, collisions with animals, mostly deer, killed 201 Americans, a 27 percent increase over the year before, and injured more than 13,000. It's estimated, deer crashes cost more than $1 billion in damage.

HILL: In the middle of Topeka, Kansas, the capital of Kansas, the middle of a big city, nobody thought a -- thought a deer would ever be in the road.

HUNTER (on camera): Greg and Kathy Hill, along with their four kids, were on their way home from a soccer tournament in Topeka, Kansas, on Mother's Day 2002. They were traveling in the near lane, 65, 70 miles an hour, when an SUV in the far lane hit a deer, catapulted it over that wall and into their windshield.

HILL: That deer came through our windshield like a missile.

HUNTER (voice-over): Kathy was knocked out and so severely injured, she lost all memory of what happened. But her children filled her in.

HILL: It went straight down the middle of the van and ended up in the very back seat, in between my two -- my two youngest children. And they were covered with glass. They were covered with blood. They were covered with guts of the deer.

HUNTER: Her husband, Greg, was killed by the impact. Another driver who witnessed the crash later told Kathy about her husband's final moments.

HILL: She said, when she approached the driver's side of the van, that he was trying to turn his head backwards to make sure the kids were safe. And then he died.

The accident was May 12, 2002, when it was Mother's Day. So my husband's last Mother's Day gift to me was my children.

HUNTER: This time of year is one of the most dangerous for collisions. November is mating season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they are in season, pretty much the males have sex on the brain so they are running any female that's in heat, they'll breed with as many females as they can.

HUNTER: They're chasing them. And if it's over the road, they don't care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right, over the road, four-lane, two- lane. Really makes no difference.

HUNTER: Wildlife expert Ted Bassett has a contract with North Carolina's Wake County to pick up and dispose of dead animals found by the roadside.

(on camera): You work in one county.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One county only.

HUNTER: How many do you pick up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty a day.

HUNTER: Thirty deer carcasses a day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty deer a day.

HUNTER: All hit by cars?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five days a week all hit by cars.

HUNTER: That's dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very dangerous.

HUNTER (voice-over): Bassett also blames the increase of these crashes on the hunting season.

(on camera): What do hunters do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hunters get in the woods and actually force the deer out on to the streets just by being in the woods. And the deer run out in the highways then.

HUNTER: The third factor is suburban sprawl where the new roads, shops and development cut back on the natural living space for the deer, sometimes with very confusing results.

Recently in Indiana, this deer got lost in a shopping mall. In Iowa, this deer entered a restaurant but couldn't figure out how to leave.

And amazingly league, at this metro station in Washington, D.C., a deer walked right down the escalator and straight out on to the platform.

(on camera): If you are talking on your cell phone, does your chance of hitting a deer go up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really does. You have to be so careful.

HUNTER (voice-over): Sergeant Scott Keyser of the Maryland Highway Patrol says don't be distracted and pay close attention to the road, especially this time of year.

(on camera): What makes deer so dangerous?

SGT. SCOTT KEYSER, MARYLAND STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: They are so unpredictable. They can spring out at a moment's notice. You may see them. You may not see them. You just have no idea. You have to be ready for anything.

HUNTER (voice-over): Often it's better to actually hit the animal than trying to avoid it with a panic swerve. A highly dangerous maneuver as seen in this police road test. But it's a common response, say transportation experts with often deadly consequences. As in this crash that killed three people in Utah last year.

Authorities say the driver swerved to miss the deer, causing a rollover.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Most importantly, stay in your lane. Unfortunately if that means that you have to strike the animal, you're less likely to hurt yourself or anybody else by doing that.

HUNTER: There's no consensus on how to deal with the problem of deer crashes. Some have suggested fencing, reflectors, sterilization. Special hunting seasons to cull the herds. Warning signs. Reintroducing natural predators. Animal underpasses. Many of these solutions can cost millions of dollars. Is it worth the money? Just ask Kathy Hill.

KATHY HILL, DEER COLLISION SURVIVOR: If somebody wants to ask us if it's worth it, they need to come talk to my children to ask what's missing in their life, what kind of man my husband was. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

HUNTER: Greg Hunter, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Terribly sad in a story that's repeated over and over again, unfortunately. One more thing. Some tips to avoid these potentially deadly accidents. No. 1, be careful especially at dusk and dawn. That's when most deer collisions happen. No. 2, as Greg just explained, don't panic or swerve.

State police tell us that if you see a deer at the last second, just hold on, apply the brakes and don't swerve unless you are absolutely sure you can stay in control and not cross lanes of traffic. No. 3, slow down. This is the time of year when deer are out and if you slow down you increase your reaction time and decrease damage and, of course, you slow down at dusk, dawn and especially this time of year.

Coming up in Florida right now, an accused sexual predator is on trial for his life. Coming up, witnesses who have no doubts at all.

MIKE EVANOFF, CAR WASH OWNER: I just came in and saw her walking and him walking and it just right away, when I saw it, it just drew chills and shivers right in my body.

ZAHN: Not only are there witnesses. There are pictures of a man with an 11-year-old girl, the last time she was seen alive. Is he the defendant?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: At this moment, the defense may well be reeling in the trial of a Florida man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing an 11-year-old girl.

Carlie Brucia's abduction was recorded by a security camera. Four witnesses testified yesterday that the man in the tape is the accused, Joseph Smith. And it was a dramatic day in court today. The suspect's brother took the stand and said Joseph Smith told him the gruesome details of the crime.

Here's John Zarrella.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sitting in this Florida courtroom, Joseph Smith looked more like a businessman than a man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl. He sat impassive, as a few feet away on the witness stand, his brother John testified against him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he say anything about how it ended?

JOHN SMITH, BROTHER OF DEFENDANT: I asked. He wasn't sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean? What did you ask? And try to speak up again, remember?

SMITH: I asked if she was dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did he say?

SMITH: He said, I don't know. She could be.

ZARRELLA: John Smith testified that during a jailhouse conversation, after his brother's arrest and later on the phone, Joseph Smith told him what he had done to Carlie Brucia and that the body was hidden close to a nearby church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there an open field at the church?

SMITH: Yes.

ZARRELLA: Carlie's kidnapping, captured on video by a car wash security camera, is a pivotal piece of evidence. The video, grainy and only 10 seconds long, is chilling. Carlie is half a mile from her home. A man in a mechanics uniform walks up to her outside the car wash. They walk off together. Carlie is never seen alive again.

Witnesses on the stand have identified Joseph Smith, defendant, as the same man captured on the tape. Smith was an auto mechanic.

EDWARD DINYES, WITNESS: I seen Joe with the uniform from the backside, from the front side. The way his hair was cut. The way that he walked, his gait was just like Joe walking through the shop.

I mean, he's got a different type of walk to him. And then when I watched him reach out for the, you know, reach for the girl, I knew it was him. ZARRELLA: On Sunday, February 1st, 2004, Carlie vanishes. Never making it home from a sleep over at a friend's home. The next day, after he hears from police about a missing girl in the area, car wash owner Mike Evanoff checks the recording from his surveillance cameras.

EVANOFF: I just came in and saw her walking and him walking and it just right away, right when I saw it, it just drew chills and shivers in my body.

ZARRELLA: The manhunt begins. And a mother in agony pleads for her daughter's life.

SUSAN SCHURPEN, CARLIE'S MOTHER: Please help me bring my baby home. Carlie Brucia is a beautiful, intelligent girl, and she has got to come home.

ZARRELLA: A stunned community pours out its heart. Banners are placed at the family home. Children send letters. Two days after Carlie disappears, Joseph Smith is arrested for a probation violation.

He is picked up after people who recognized him from the video call police. Five days after her disappearance, Carlie's body is found on the grounds of the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota.

SHERIFF BILL BALKWILL, SARASOTA COUNTY: The body of a beautiful 11-year-old girl, Carlie Brucia has been found. Joseph Smith is under arrest for the abduction and murder of Carlie.

ZARRELLA: The defense insists the man on the video is not Joseph Smith. Prosecutors say there is plenty of other evidence, including fibers, hair and DNA linking him to Carlie. What no one can say is why the 11-year-old walked off, seemingly without a struggle, with the man on the grainy video.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: A question that may never be answered. If he is convicted, Joseph Smith could get the death penalty.

Still ahead tonight, our continuing coverage of the terror bombings in Jordan, where three western hotels were attacked tonight, killing at least 67 people.

Stay with us for the very latest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was the groom who was getting married in Radisson SAS Amman. We were on the way to enter the hall where the ceremony was going to happen. There was a blast inside the hall and there was a lot of people who died. Myself, I lost almost 10 people of my family. My father, my father-in-law.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were sitting in the lobby, me and my fiance, in the lobby. We were just sitting in the lobby by the kitchen. It was far away. I thought they were doing something like in the wedding or something and then suddenly everything exploded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: A witness to one of the three very brutal attacks against western hotels in Jordan today, bombings that have left, we believe, as many as 60 people dead. The very latest from Jordan straight ahead. But first, time for a headline news business break with Erica Hill -- Erica.

(BUSINESS BREAK)

ZAHN: One other thing -- the other night when Kyra Phillips was filling in, she inadvertently misquoted supermodel Tyra Banks on the subject of losing weight. It might have left the idea that Tyra Banks thought it was easy. Well, she doesn't. And we're sorry if anyone got that impression.

When we come back, we're going to go back to the developing story happening right now in Jordan, still reeling tonight from three deadly terror bombings at western hotels. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Before we say good night, let's go straight back to Amman, Jordan, for another update on the deadly bombings at three western hotels. CNN's Hala Gorani has been covering the story all night. She joins me once again. Hala, what's the very latest on the investigation?

GORANI: The death toll at 67 confirmed, though some hospital officials are saying it could still rise because of the severe nature of the injuries sustained by some in those three very deadly and bloody suicide bomb attacks at the Radisson, the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn, all western targets that suicide bombers apparently slipped into in some cases a wedding ceremony, the lobbies of the hotel and detonated themselves according to officials. We managed to speak to some of the eyewitnesses and this man who was at the site of one of the explosions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a Jordanian, I regret to see this in Jordan. And we know that this is not a normal situation, and we know that, and we know and we are sure that our government is going to face this thing and they are going to trace them down and they're going to bring them to justice. We know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The sentiment perhaps of many Jordanians tonight as they digest this vicious wave of violence that has hit their capital city. With so many people dead, the question is, who is responsible for this with many pointing fingers already at al Qaeda-based groups and many just as this man we just heard, wanting revenge for those innocent civilians, many of whom were Jordanian apparently killed tonight -- Paula.

ZAHN: And Hala, you already have, as you said, Jordanian officials saying this has the earmarks of an al Qaeda attack. Is it clearer tonight on just how these attacks were orchestrated?

GORANI: What officials are saying is they believe the three attacks were perpetrated by suicide bombers, not car bombs at this stage. That's not what officials are indicating. If there were suicide bombers, and given the way hotels and their security apparatus is configurated in this city, it is quite possible that somebody who strapped himself with explosives could slip into a hotel lobby or inside a hotel party. So ...

ZAHN: Hala Gorani, thanks so much for that update. We've got to leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. LARRY KING starts right now.

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