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Ricin Suspect Released From Custody; Stocks Plunge, Then Recover After Tweet; Ricin Suspect's Attorney: "Case Not Dismissed"; Source: Killed MIT Officer Shot Four To Five Times; Funeral For Slain MIT Officer
Aired April 23, 2013 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The United States Marshal's Office in Mississippi is saying that. Marshal's Office did not know the circumstances of this release and only that Curtis was no longer in federal custody and that this comes after Curtis' detention and preliminary hearing was canceled.
This testimony had been going on for three days. A press conference involving federal prosecutors and defendant's lawyers was expected for later sometime today. Curtis had originally been charged with threats against President Obama, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, as well as a justice court judge in Lee County, Mississippi, very serious charges.
He could have gotten 15 years, $500,000 in fines. We're still trying to find out what is happening with this case. Certainly don't want to speculate. Kevin Curtis, you'll remember, was a very colorful guy, an Elvis impersonator, arrested for allegedly sending ricin-laced letters. And he's been released from federal custody, hoping to know more in a little while -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, help me out with something, Joe. What are the chances that the federal marshals wouldn't know the conditions of release of a suspect in a case like this, whether there was bond or on their own recognizance, tether or no tether.
JOHNS: Well, again, don't want to speculate, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did know the conditions of release. However, I found in the past, having dealt with federal marshals many times, a lot of times they don't want to be the people releasing the specific information, the where, what, when and why, the terms of releasing an individual. They leave that up to the lawyers and the Justice Department -- Chris.
CUOMO: Good point, Joe. A big part of being a reporter is understanding how to scrutinize non-answers and we'll do that here as we get the information. We'll go forward with it. Appreciate the latest. Thank you very much, Joe.
We're going to take a break. When we come back, the mother of the Boston bombing suspect obviously distraught over what has happened. Up next, you will hear why she believes her sons were framed.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Welcome back here in Boston. I'm Chris Cuomo. We're tracking two breaking news stories for you right now in addition to the developments in the investigations here of what happened at the marathon.
First, we're going to go to Alison Kosik. She is at the New York Stock Exchange. The headline is that the stock market tanks and then recovers on the basis of a tweet.
I know it sounds absurd, Alison, but have we learned anything to think otherwise or is this still about what happened with the AP's Twitter account. Tell us about it.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's really what that tremendous drop was all about, the fake tweet, because AP, Associated Press' Twitter account was hacked. You know, we had a certainly several minutes of dramatic activity here on Wall Street. It is amazing how one fake tweet from a reputable news organization can send the markets into a tizzy.
So this happened about a little over an hour ago and within seconds suddenly the Dow plunged over 130 points, right into the red and there is a lot of confusion here on the floor. You heard some floor traders talking about this tweet that said that there had been two explosions at the White House, that President Obama was hurt.
Right after that tweet, though, another tweet went out from AP saying that they had been hacked and then in a matter of minutes, you saw the market go right back up to where it was.
So it was really a dramatic 180 of the market, of the Dow going all the way, dipping below into the red, and then going all the way back to where it was based on a tweet. It shows you how much headlines, even fake ones, can move market activity here on Wall Street -- Chris.
CUOMO: Three things for you to follow up on for me on this. One, I don't know if I may have missed it here because it comes are a little weird here in Boston, but one, do we know what the tweet was and why it scared them so much? Two, have you ever seen anything like this before? And, three, is this -- where were those curves in all those things that are supposed to be in place to monitor market activity?
KOSIK: OK, I can answer the first two for you right now. So the tweet was from AP saying that there had been two explosions at the White House, that President Obama was hurt. That is what sent the markets falling. Your second question was, sorry?
CUOMO: Have you ever seen anything like this before?
KOSIK: I have. Yes. Because I've certainly seen individual market movers, individual companies plunge on certain headlines that hit. Various companies have had those plunges and we have seen those circuit breakers where if a stock moves 10 percent or more, you'll see that, quote, "circuit breaker" go into effect and stop trading.
I don't know why that didn't happen. At this time, that is something that we are looking into. But this has happened in the past where actual individual shares have fallen dramatically based on news headlines and those circuit breakers certainly do go into effect -- Chris.
CUOMO: I wonder if they're going to have to start putting in different kind of vetting of what they do with social media and how much weight they give it when they can generate this kind of volatility.
KOSIK: You know, this is sort of bringing up the conversation, though. I did talk with at least one trader who said that he thinks that the FCC is going to go ahead and look into how this is happening, how this happened because these trades now are done in a matter of nanoseconds.
And, you know, so maybe it is not about banning computers, this trader tells me, but it is about protection and securing our markets. This gets into the discussion of how in this day and age of computerized trading, how this trading does happen within nanoseconds how the curbs can be put in place -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, thank you so much for the reporting and perspective, always a pleasure. Appreciate it, Alison.
We're going to go now to this other breaking news story that we're covering. Remember the letters sent with a ricin substance into them, it's a toxin, to the president, to other officials, the big investigation.
They said that they had their suspect, well, now, that suspect, Kevin Curtis, has been released. On the phone, we have Christi McCoy, his counsel. Christi, can you hear me?
CHRISTI MCCOY, RICIN SUSPECT'S ATTORNEY (via telephone): I can, Chris.
CUOMO: So please, fill us in. What happened?
MCCOY: Well, I'm kind of limited in what I can tell you right now. I can tell you that Mr. Curtis has been released. He is with his family now. There will be a news conference at 5:00. And we, you know, we'll hopefully be able to give some more details. At this point, because of some security concerns, and things that are going on here, we simply cannot give any more information than that right now.
CUOMO: Christi, let me push you a little bit on it. Was he released on bond or was the case was dropped?
MCCOY: The case has not been dismissed. I can tell you that. As of right now, the case has not been dismissed. Obviously, we feel better about it than we did this time yesterday.
CUOMO: You said security concerns, understandable to look at those concerns from the other side, you know. How confident are you that your client can be out in the general population and not be a risk? MCCOY: He is -- he's not out in the general population. First of all, let me say this, I do not think my client is a risk to anyone. I think that there might be a risk to him, just because of the things that have happened to him in the past few days.
We have maintained from the beginning and my client, myself, his family, our defense team, my co-counsel, investigators, that Kevin Curtis is absolutely 100 percent innocent. I can tell you right now I have absolutely no doubt that he does not pose a risk to anyone.
I don't think -- I understand what you're saying because I know the government was very, very confident that -- at the beginning of this, that they had the right person, but we were just as confident that they did not.
CUOMO: So, just to be clear, you know, lawyer to lawyer, you're saying he's innocent. You're saying he didn't do this. You're not saying they can't make the case. You're saying he's the wrong guy.
MCCOY: I am absolutely 100 percent -- I love that you make that distinction, so many people will talk about someone being proven innocent instead of proven not guilty. I told someone today that we have -- have the rarest of rare. I have a client who is not only not guilty he is truly 100 percent innocent.
I stand by that, absolutely, Chris, that this man has been -- he's been through sheer hell, and I do believe that the government did what they believed was in everyone -- everyone's best interest, and I don't doubt that for a moment, because of where the evidence pointed at that time.
CUOMO: There was speculation that one of the reasons they looked at him was because of what may have been in his past, in a similar regard, is there anything to any suggestion like that?
MCCOY: No. I mean, to my knowledge the only thing that I'm aware of that brought him into the focus is that Kevin has -- he is an activist and he has a passion for the organ, tissue donation industry, and what he sees right something wrongs in that.
And through his activism he has been very active on social media, and in that he has kind of developed a signature way of how he signs his name. And one of it is -- part of it is I am K.C. and I approve this message.
And the letters that were sent to the president, to Senator Wicker and to a local judge contained that very phrase. Now, furthermore, the letters also contained information relating to missing pieces, and that is the name of a book that Mr. Curtis has written that details his involvement and his concerns about that particular industry.
So, of course, initially everybody, you know who looks at that would think, well, K.C., that's Kevin Curtis and that's exactly what happened. Well, from that point forward then, the searches began and when I tell you they began, they began in earnest. There were countless agencies, officers, agents, at Mr. Curtis' home, searching his car, searching his former wife's home and searching his computers. And there is just simply nothing to link him to -- to these -- to this crime.
CUOMO: Christi, you think somebody was trying to frame him because the letter -- the language is menacing, right, because it was an extraction of a quote that was, you know, if you see a wrong you don't do something about it. You're part of that wrong, and the initials are K.C., you think somebody is trying to frame him?
MCCOY: Absolutely I do. And he actually -- that quote is one he has used because it is kind of -- a favorite of whistle-blowers and he kind of felt like he was a whistle-blower back several years ago about some things that happened, and he has used that quote repeatedly on his own social media.
So, you know, I do believe that someone who was familiar and is familiar with Kevin just simply took his personal information and did this to him. It is absolutely horrific that someone would do this, but, yes, I believe that's exactly what happened.
CUOMO: What is so puzzling about this is that the explanation is as simple as the one you're offering, why did prosecutors go so far in the other direction?
MCCOY: What do you mean in the other direction?
CUOMO: Well, I mean, if it is as simple as someone is being set up, he's clearly innocent, which is the highest bar you can have, why are they -- or at least were they so confident that they had the right guy?
MCCOY: You know, that's -- I mean, from everything I've seen it is literally based on that social media. I mean, they just believed that he, which it kind of makes sense to me, is he really -- if he sent poison to the president, is he going to sign his name to it?
For me, I thought, this is just too easy, it is too easy, of course, it is not him, but Kevin does have a documented history of some mental issues. Nothing severe, nothing that many, many Americans and people, I mean, people suffers from every day.
But I think given that, I just think it kind of exploded kind of quickly. I think that -- as I understand it, they identified Kevin on last Wednesday, and had arrested him by late Wednesday afternoon.
So, you know, I don't think there was a lot of surveillance going on as far as, you know, who is this guy, what does he do, that kind of thing. I think, you know, they saw him and -- but, you know, and initially once he was picked up, he had an initial appearance on Thursday.
The government then wanted to have him sent away for a competency exam and we would not agree to that, and without our agreement, the judge, you know, the judge couldn't do it and wouldn't do it. So we just felt like if we kept pushing, that sooner or later, they would see what we see and what we know, which is that this man did not do this. And, I mean, he -- you know, he's been set up.
CUOMO: Well, two things, Christi. If you believe that he may be suffering under an illness, why wouldn't you want him to take a competency exam?
MCCOY: Well, because at that point it was kind of a timing issue, for a couple of things. One, a competency exam in the northern district of Mississippi is -- my client would be sent away to some facility within the Bureau of Prisons, generally, I say six weeks, eight weeks.
I had a guy who was sent last July and he came home in February or came back in February. So that is a huge issue for me because at this point I had a client telling me, adamantly, I did not do this, did not happen.
So, you know, as we sort of investigated it, we just didn't think it would be in his best interest at that point, basically, to be sent away. Now, because he was charged with a criminal complaint as opposed to an indictment, the government would have 30 days to indict him unless that statute or that was told if he were being examined.
He would have gotten on an airplane and gone somewhere to be evaluated, while the government basically tried to gather evidence against him. And because we believe so strongly early on that he did not do this, we did not think it would be in his best interest to, you know, to be shipped off in that way.
CUOMO: Well, this is very -- this is a very serious situation. Because those letters, as tested, unless that information has changed also, had a substance in it that they believed to be ricin, which is a deadly toxin, which means that somebody sent something of that nature and we don't know who it is?
MCCOY: Absolutely. And, you know that was one of the things, Chris, after yesterday's hearing that I was -- well, I found out Sunday night that all of the searches had turned up negative for anything. Not just, you know, ricin, but his computer, just, you know, there was nothing that could link him to anything.
And so I actually questioned the assistant U.S. attorney, are you guys going to move forward. When he said, yes, I said, you know, here's the thing, if you all keep targeting him, without looking elsewhere, to me, it just means that the true perpetrator is less likely to be tried and convicted in the end.
But I do believe that -- I don't think that what has happened in the past week will cut that off. I do believe that at this point it is still possible to, you know, for the government to bring the true perpetrator to justice.
CUOMO: So, Christi, tell me, let's take a step and a half backwards, how did you find out they were releasing him after they were so hot and heavy on this? MCCOY: Well, we were scheduled for a hearing this morning at 9:00. We had, which was actually -- we started the hearing on Friday. We went for several hours. We were continuing until Monday, we went for several hours.
We had to stop yesterday for personal reason for the court. So when we got there, this morning, you know, we basically in meeting with the government, it became obvious that they were ready to make some changes.
And so my client, you know, he was released to his family and charges have not been formally dismissed.
CUOMO: So charges haven't been formally dismissed, but this has become a very hot situation for your client in that he's gone from being somebody who is very much in the focus of the American government for doing something that could have been very dangerous to our officials.
To now you're saying he was never the right guy. So now he is seen as that, that puts him in a little bit of jeopardy, if you're right, and if that's what this all means.
MCCOY: Right. That's -- I mean, that's exactly right. I mean, it is a -- it is a whirlwind, it is a dangerous situation. Again, I will say, again and again, my client is not a danger. He could be in danger, but I think we have got that covered as well. But I --
CUOMO: Let me ask you this, Christi.
MCCOY: I'm sorry, go ahead.
CUOMO: I'm sorry to interrupt you. Communications delay, not disrespect.
MCCOY: No, that's fine.
CUOMO: I'm not hearing you 100 percent of the time the same way. And I'm really enjoying the conversation, but let me ask you this. In terms of the terms of his release, was he just released on his own recognizance or is there bond attached, is there a tether here?
MCCOY: Well, I will tell you this, there is a bond attached, but all of the conditions of the bond are under seal at this point and that's you know --
CUOMO: Because you understand that's -- that's my concern, you know, as a lawyer, is that, well, if he really isn't the guy, they would just release him, they may not dismiss the case at this point. But they wouldn't be holding him either, but there is a little gray area here because if there is bond, well, then, maybe there is more of a feeling there that they have something than he simply is an innocent man.
MCCOY: Right. Well, I mean, I can tell you, I absolutely 100 percent maintain his innocence and I will tell you, I don't know what access you all have to, you know, some of the local media down here.
But I've just noticed on my laptop that there is a report that at 1:39 p.m. this afternoon that the FBI search team moved in with Tupelo and Lee County authorities at the a home in Tupelo and that there are according to this report about ten law enforcement vehicles in the area.
CUOMO: All right, well, we'll check on that, Christi. Thank you for the information. I don't want to -- I don't want to compromise your right to counsel until the information is released later. But I will ask you this. We'll follow up with you on the phone so we can track that down. When more is made public, please, we'll come back to you and I would like to talk to you about this more.
MCCOY: OK. And this is the best -- this is the best phone to get me on because it is my cell phone. So just give me a call.
CUOMO: All right, I got you. Don't say the number, though, because you're on television, but we'll call you back later on, OK.
MCCOY: I'm sorry. OK, my bad.
CUOMO: All right, you owe me one. I protected you on that. All right, so, big intriguing turn in that story. This was the main suspect, now we hear he's been released. It is unclear why. There does seem to be bond attached, if it is a condition released.
We'll get more information. When we do, we'll track down the reporting that his attorney just gave us, and we'll get back to you after the break with that and the latest from the investigation here in Boston.
CUOMO: Welcome back to Boston. I'm Chris Cuomo. This is part of our continuing coverage of what happened here at the Boston marathon last week. Some of the latest information is that the number of people wounded during the bombing here has risen to more than 260 according to the Boston Public Health Commission.
All of them are expected to survive. That's the good news, but four others did lose their lives in the bombing and subsequent search for the bombers. But why did the brothers, the suspects, kill this MIT police officer named Sean Collier?
That has been a mystery that is unsolved now. We are learning more about what happened, but not really why yet. And a source with direct knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that Collier didn't alert dispatch that he was responding to two men fitting their description.
And he didn't have time to activate his emergency alert before being shot. We do know that Collier was shot four to five times in the head and chest as he sat alone in his patrol car. The source also said it took police about 13 minutes to get to the officer after people called 911 about shots fired.
So it is a developing situation, but still unclear what exactly happened there. Now, in another part of this story, in Massachusetts today, family and friends attended a private funeral for Collier.
This is about his family's healing during this, which is separate from the curiosity of how it fits into the investigation. A public memorial is scheduled for Wednesday on the MIT Campus. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife are expected to attend.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Saluting one of their own. Gunned down in the midst of Boston's nightmare, here, the hearse carries the body of 26-year-old Sean Collier, an MIT police officer. As it makes its way to his hometown of Wilmington, Massachusetts, crowds gather as a mark of respect.
ANDREW COLLIER, SEAN COLLIER'S BROTHER: Sean is not in that casket. Sean will continue to live on and his legacy will continue to live on.
BALDWIN: Fellow officers remember Collier as a good man who dreamed of becoming a peace officer.
CHIEF JOHN DIFAVA, MIT POLICE: It wasn't about the pay or the benefits or the retirement. It was about what law enforcement is supposed to be all about and that's to help people.
BALDWIN: In Wilmington, thousands of police officers, friends, neighbors and students from the campus he defended joined in prayer.
DYLAN SOUKUP, MIT: I think Sean, you know, that's what he would want. He would want us all to continue to carry on. It's a strong community.
BALDWIN: His mother, said to be too crushed, was not there. But Collier's stepfather was. He asked for prayers, not only for his son, but for those officers who today protect our communities.
JOE ROGERS, STEPFATHER OF SEAN COLLIER: Every day they go out and try to keep us safe from the people that are determined to do evil in the world. And, you know, we should appreciate all that they do for us.
BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Boston.