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Italy Wants Amanda Knox Retried; Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage; Home Prices on the Rise; Winter Decides to Stick Around; Tiger Back on Top; Teen Sells App to Yahoo! for $30 Million

Aired March 26, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, history in the U.S. Supreme Court. As dozens wait for days to hear nine justices debate same-sex marriage. Will they redefine marriage or punt?

Also, shockwaves in Italy. Amanda Knox's acquittal on murder charges overturned. Her lawyer ready to fight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are surprised because we thought that the case was over. But at the same time, with out five years, she is ready to continue on with the fight.


COSTELLO: Will Knox have to leave the United States to be tried again?

Also, the Tea Party boils over. Boycotting FOX News because it's turned to the left? Say what?

Plus, LeBron James explodes and the Heat win 27. But that's nothing compared to Arnold. Not that Arnold. This Arnold Palmer. And his partner in crime, Tiger Woods.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hand over the trophies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean these?



WOODS: That's not going to happen.


COSTELLO: Take that. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And good morning to you. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We begin this morning with a story rippling across the Atlantic ocean. Italy's Supreme Court says American exchange student Amanda Knox should face a new trial in the murder of her roommate. Knox was not there for today's ruling. She's been living in the United States since her murder conviction was overturned a year and a half ago. Knox's lawyer in Italy says she's unlikely to return but her attorney in the United States says not so fast.


TED SIMON, ATTORNEY FOR AMANDA KNOX: That's not within the legal landscape at this particular time. We have to await the directive of the Supreme Court of Italy and then we have to see what the appellate court does. As I said before, you know, they -- Amanda and her family will scrupulously abide by the rule of law, and they are not required to appear for those proceedings.

So let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's just see what happens. And we fully expect because these charges are totally unfounded, they are totally unjust, and we fully expect that she will be exonerated as she was before.


COSTELLO: Paul Callan is a CNN legal contributor and a former prosecutor who now works in private practice.

Welcome, Paul.


COSTELLO: Can you believe this is happening?

CALLAN: We thought we were finished with this after intense press coverage. And it's back again, because the Italian justice system just goes on endlessly. Like one of those long Italian meals in Rome. They just keep bringing out new courses and it's the same thing with the appellate system. It just goes on and on.

COSTELLO: But there were so many problems with the DNA evidence. The physical evidence. I'm just not seeing on what they have to base a new trial on.

CALLAN: Well, we haven't seen the full decision of the Italian highest court. Their Supreme Court yet. But the way their system works, Carol, is there was a trial in Perugia. She was convicted. Then it went to an appellate court. They looked at the evidence and said, you know something, we're setting this conviction aside. There's not enough to support a conviction.

Now it's gone up to their Supreme Court and their Supreme Court has said we have a problem with the appellate court decision and they sent it back to the appellate court to take a second look. So that's basically where we are at this point.

COSTELLO: So we just heard from Amanda Knox's lawyer. He was sort of parsing things, at least it seems to me. Couldn't it be as simple as Amanda Knox refusing to go back Italy? I mean, is there -- I don't know, are there extradition rules in the United States that would force her to go back or prevent her from going back?

CALLAN: Well, Ted -- you know, Ted Simon who's representing her is very capable international lawyer. He's being very careful because he doesn't want Italian authorities to issue a warrant for her arrest and then have someone come to the United States to try to enforce that warrant.

So we're being very careful about this from a legal standpoint, he's saying. We want to look at the Italian court decision. And I am not saying that she would not return Italy. He's just being careful so the Italians don't overreact and say Amanda Knox is a murder fugitive on the run and U.S. authorities should arrest her and extradite her.

COSTELLO: Wow. Well, I'm sure you'll continue to follow this case for us.

Paul Callan, thank you very much.

CALLAN: Always nice being with you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Nice -- having you here.

OK. Let's head to the U.S. Supreme Court where right now justices are taking their first steps toward possibly redefining the American family. Today and tomorrow, they are hearing arguments on laws that restrict same-sex marriage and the legal rights of those who have such unions.

It is an epic debate and one filled with emotion. For days, supporters of same-sex marriage braved the cold and a snowy, slushy mess, hoping to get into the court to hear those historic arguments.

CNN's Joe Johns is outside the court.

Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. And the sun is out here at the Supreme Court, rallies getting started. A very large crowd getting larger really by the minute. Underscoring the fact that this case is at the center of the American culture wars. Also pointing out just how long many of the supporters of gay rights have waited for this day.

On the legal level, of course, the question is very simple. Whether the government can discriminate. Whether the government can treat same-sex couples and straight couples differently.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a gay man, I think it's very important to be part of history.

JOHNS (voice-over): Expected in the audience as a guest of the court, Jean Podrasky of San Francisco and her partner. Podrasky is a lesbian cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts. In a statement she said, quote, "I feel confident that John is wise enough to see that society is becoming more accepting of the humanity of same-sex couples and the simple truth that we deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and equality under the law."

How much Roberts' personal relationships might affect his decision on same-sex marriage is an open question.

PAUL SMITH, CIVIL LIBERTIES LEGAL EXPERT: I think it has some impact on people to know family members and friends who were out and gay and happy and functioning in society. On the other hand, it's not by any means going to -- be a good predictor.


JOHNS: So the case is not expected to be decided until sometime in late June, Carol. As you know, the country has really seen a sea change in public opinion on the issue of gay marriage. Just a few years ago, most respondents of polls said they were opposed to it. Now most say they are in favor of it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I cannot help but notice the security surrounding you. The security people standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. I hear the rally going on. How many people are they and who is rallying?

JOHNS: Well, it's very hard to tell you, from where I am standing, how many people. But I would say it's probably in the hundreds. We saw quite a group just walk up a few minutes ago carrying signs. What you're hearing right now is a rally supporting gay marriage. But we do know some of the opponents of gay marriage have their own opinions, we haven't seen those two get together, if you will. It's a very peaceful gathering at this point.

COSTELLO: Yes, and I know you can't see it but we have cameras everywhere around there where we're -- yes, one of the cameras on the rally right now. So that's what you're hearing, Joe, just for your information. Thank you very much.

Joe Johns reporting live from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bullets that killed Colorado's prison chief are from the same gun used in a shoot-out in Texas. That news comes on the same day a public memorial service was held for Tom Clements. Investigators still trying to figure out if Evan Ebel, the suspect in Clements' murder, the Colorado prisons chief, acted alone or conspired with other inmates.

Ebel reportedly had a very troubled youth and those who knew him when he was young while he was in a controversial boot camp say he often liked to defy authority.


KURT FREY, ATTENDED BOOT CAMP WITH EVAN EBEL: Yes, he was very proud of his Sicilian heritage and he always talked about wanting to kill so many people that he'd make Hitler jealous. That was one of this better things that he likes to talk about with me in particular. ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S AC 360: He actually brought up Hitler to you?

FREY: Yes, he said he wants to do so many killings that he'll make Hitler jealous.


COSTELLO: Police say Ebel was a white supremacist. Those pictures you saw was Ebel as a teenager while he was in that boot camp for juvenile offenses. Ebel, as an adult, as you know, was killed in a shoot-out in Texas.

Now to a new threat from North Korea. It's putting its military units on combat ready status. The North also says those units have the capability to target South Korea and U.S. forces across the Pacific. This new threat comes as the United States continues military exercises with the South.

And new numbers just released show a solid rise in home prices across much of the country.

Our business correspondent Christine Romans is standing by.

Any early word on the numbers?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I like the way these numbers look, Carol. They look really good. It shows you the best year-over-year increases in home prices since the summer of 2006. Remember, that was the height of the housing boom. And then there was a crash and now you -- you've got prices starting to come back again.

Let me show you what it looks like. Nationwide, 8.1 percent. But as you know, Carol, all real estate is local. So here are the local price increases according to S&P Case-Shiller. Phoenix, year-over- year, Carol, up 23 percent. San Francisco, 17 percent. Las Vegas, 15 percent, Detroit, 13 percent, Atlanta, 13 percent.

When you look across the country, you can see some huge gains for some of the places that really were blown up badly by the housing bubble when it popped. They are starting to come back. Now one thing I'll tell you, much of the action in the housing market, maybe about a quarter of the action in the housing market, investors, hedge funds, foreign buyers with cash.

It's not your everyday middle class Americans who are able to pick up the pieces after the collapse. But there are those people who are benefiting. Very low mortgage rates are helping people who are first- time home buyers. That's something we're seeing across the markets. And for sellers now, many of them who had been underwater, finally, these home price increases are helping them, you know, at least refinance or try to sell their homes.

So there are benefits to these rising home prices. And, again, Carol, this is a-- this is a pretty good looking number. We're going to see another number at 10:00, new home sales. We'll see if that one holds -- holds true as well.

COSTELLO: All right. Christine Romans reporting live from New York this morning.

The calendar tells us it's spring. But someone forgot to tell the snow to go away. It is downright cold across much of the country. Temperatures below average from Minneapolis to Orlando, at least we're all sharing in the misery. Right?

Some areas in the south, they're under freeze warnings and watches. CNN's Martin Savidge has more on the record-breaking snowfall.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gone, but not forgotten. The spring storm that dumped snow from the Colorado Rockies to the Jersey Shore is now a melting memory. But not before crushing snowfall records in parts of the Midwest. In places like St. Louis and Peoria, Illinois. Records for March dating back a century or more were buried beneath a foot to a foot and a half of snow.

Springfield, Illinois, got 17 inches, that's the most ever in a single day. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there was snow on the ground Monday in nearly half of the lower 48 states. Compare that to less than 8 percent a year ago.

And the storm system had wide reaching effects, making roads a mess. Keeping airlines grounded and delivering powerful thunderstorms, high winds, and cold air to the sunny south.

In most areas, the snow only added up to a few inches, but it quickly turned into thick, heavy slush. In Pittsburgh, even the plows had problems.

DAMIAN NUNIMAKER, PLOW TRUCK DRIVER: It is slippery underneath. It's a very heavy snow that actually even though the trucks are heavy, it's pushing the trucks around a lot.

SAVIDGE: Snow blowers, bogged down.

MARK LEFEVER, MOUNT LAKESHORE RESIDENT: Wet, heavy. And so that was surprising. That shocked me. I didn't think it was going to be heavy. I thought it was going to be a lot lighter.

SAVIDGE: Snow remains in the forecast for the next few days, leaving people here and elsewhere, wondering whatever happened to that thing called spring?



COSTELLO: I'm wondering that myself, Martin Savidge, because I'm in hotlanta? It's 35 degrees here. The real feel, it's 24.

(LAUGHTER) It stinks.

SAVIDGE: I saw that. Yes. Ruthless cold.


COSTELLO: So what is it like where you are in Pittsburgh?

SAVIDGE: You know, same thing. Up here, I think temperature is at least 20, 25 degrees below normal. They should be in the 60s even here in Pittsburgh, they're not even going to get close to that today.

Temperatures colder today than it was yesterday. In fact, just before we came to you, it was snowing here again. It is slated to possibly snow today. Forty percent chance tonight, 30 percent chance tomorrow. So it's just not letting go. And many people, as you point out down in Atlanta and elsewhere, are wondering just, you know, when is spring finally going to arrive? It should improve by the weekend, but the truth is there are still some heavy snowfalls that could come yet -- Carol.

COSTELLO: The dogwood festival is soon. Martin Savidge, thank you so much. It will get warm, we just have to be more patient this year.


COSTELLO: It's been a long climb back to the top for Tiger Woods. Two and a half years if you're counting. But Tiger, Tiger is number one again in the world golf rankings after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

As CNN's Zain Asher reports Tiger's comeback on the tour parallels one in his personal life.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does it mean to you to now be back on top?

WOODS: Dam, it feels good.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a long road back for Woods. He fell as low as number 58 in the rankings, but this is his third win of the season. His sixth in the last year.

WOODS: It's been incredible to have all the support and, you know, all the hard work has paid off to get me to this point and it feels good to have won this event.

ASHER: A good win for Tiger, but also a good win for golf.

MARY SCOTT, SPORTS MARKETING EXECUTIVE/MATTER INC.: The world of golf is celebrating really that Tiger is back on top in the number one. He has such an impact on all aspects of golf from viewerships to ratings to sponsorships and really when he's on top, everyone is on top. ASHER: He was on top of the golf world. The game's biggest draw until early one morning in 2009, when he drove his car into a mailbox outside his Florida home. And in what seems like an instant, his whole life and image came tumbling down.

Tales of scandalous affairs filled tabloids. His wife of almost six years filed for divorce and a nagging leg injury, along with tournament losses left him and the golf world reeling. He spent years rebuilding his golf game and reputation.

He's also rebuilt his love life, last week revealing a new love, Olympic champion skier Lindsey Vonn.

REPORTER: Tiger, what relevance do we attach to the fact that you get back to number one in the same week that you announce your new Facebook status?

TIGER WOODS, PRO-GOLFER: You're reading way too much into this.


REPORTER: Lots of people will.

WOODS: Shocker.

ASHER: She tweeted moments after his win, "Number 1" with 13 exclamation marks.

He may be number one for now, but the number like until his mind is five. That's the number of years since he won a major tournament. He'll try to win the drought in April, by winning the green jacket at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.


COSTELLO: Zain Asher is here now.

So, what does this number one ranking mean for Tiger sponsorships? I'm thinking lots and lots of cash?

ASHER: Yes, I'm sure. But it's interesting, you know, Carol, because his previous sponsors, Pepsi, Gillette, AT&T, all left him after those highly publicized marital affairs. 2010 was reportedly one of his first years in terms of earnings. That's relative because he made $61 million.

But Nike, interestingly enough, stood by him amid all of that, simply asking him, you know, sort out your personal life, sort out your love life before returning to the course. Now that he's number one again, we will see whether that pays off in terms of Nike sales -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, we will. Zain Asher, reporting live from New York this morning.

Just ahead, many people are supporting now marriage equality, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. He joins me live, next.


COSTELLO: Twenty minutes after the hour. Time to check the top story.

Another Massachusetts drug come pounding company is pulling injectable drugs off the market. Pallimed Solutions announced the voluntary recall, saying foreign materials were found in vials of a dozen products. The drugs were made this year. The firm is also suspending certain compounding activities.

The world's second commercial cargo spaceship is now heading home. The SpaceX Dragon undocked a few moments ago. It's getting ready to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. The crash is expected to splash down in the Pacific this afternoon around 12:30 Eastern.

Another sinkhole forms in the same Florida town where a man was swallowed alive. This sinkhole between two homes in Seffner, Florida. The families left for a short time. But they are back home.

This is the fifth sinkhole this month. It's about 2.5 miles from the home where Jeff Bush was killed when the sinkhole swallowed his bedroom. Crews demolished his home.

A New Jersey man claims he is the winner of Saturday's $338 million Powerball drawing. Pedro Quezada says he has the winning ticket for the fourth largest jackpot in history. CNN, though, has not been able to confirm he's actually the winner. Lottery officials say they will not confirm the identity until all paperwork is complete. So, everybody is still playing the waiting game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody saying, oh, is it you? Or is it you? Are you sure it wasn't you? It's almost like a cat and mouse game. Everybody -- you know, everybody coming together, smiling, trying to figure out who it was.


COSTELLO: Oh, it ain't me.

After taxes, the winner will take home a lump sum of $151 million. Oh.

A London teenager no longer has to worry about allowance from his parents. He created a news reading app and sold it to Yahoo! for $30 million, $30 million.

Zain Verjee has more.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Oh, to be 17 again and have millions in your pocket as well. Look at how young guy this is. That would make any teen scream yahoo!

Well, Nick D'Aloisio is from London and Yahoo! just bought his app for some like $30 million. It's called Summly. He taught himself to write software when he was just 15, and he sat in his bedroom and he sorted news from all around and to the short, concise summaries.

Now, this is what it looks like. It's got these columns with different news stories. It sorts them into favorite topics like business or entertainment. He's had a million downloads from the app store. Nick is going to be starting work as Yahoo!'s youngest employee in their London office.

But you know what, Carol? He still has to go back to school.


COSTELLO: Just doesn't seem right, does it? Thank you, Zain.

Baltimore Raven's linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, why he supports marriage equality and why he will at the U.S. Supreme Court today.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning: if you fly, should you have to pay what you weigh?

A Norwegian professor is feeling the frenzy over his big idea, a fat tax. Economics professor says it's only fair. Passengers who are obese should pay more to fly than lighter passengers.


BHARAT BHATTA, ECONOMIST: Because I am straight up economics, for me, it's not discriminatory at all.


COSTELLO: As puts it, weight equals money, the heavier the plane, the more fuel it takes to move it and the more it costs. Not that is endorsing the plan, but it is pondering its merits and asks, "Should an 80-pound child with 101 pounds of baggage pay the same amount to fly across the country as a 250-pound person with 150 pounds of luggage?"

Airlines are already grappling with weight. Samoa Air, a private operator, is already charging by the pound. Take look at its Web site. Hmm, here it is, "Samoa Air, introducing the world first, pay what you weigh. We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair by our charging passengers only for what they weigh."

Other airlines are also grappling with weight, although in different ways. Qantas is installing carbon fiber seats to lighten the load and save money on fuel. But some ask: why not take that next step and charge everything, including people by the pound? Talk back question today: if you fly, should you pay what you weigh?,, or you can tweet me @carolCNN.