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Jodi Arias' Fate In Jury's Hands; Massive Explosions In Syria; Possibility Of A Broader War In Middle East; Bride And Four Friends Die In Limo Fire; Young Mom Dies In Fall From Bus; Cemeteries Reject Suspect's Body; Update On Fatal Limo Fire; The Jury Deliberates in Jodi Arias Trial; Prepaid Debit Cards and their Hidden Fees
Aired May 6, 2013 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Boston bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, still has not been buried and there may not be a cemetery in Massachusetts willing to give him a final resting place.
Plus, the prosecution called her a cold blooded killer but it's up to the jury to decide Jodi Arias' fate. We're live in Phoenix as we await the verdict which could come at any time.
And the fallout from the massive explosions in Syria. Concern growing right now over the possibility of a broader war in the Middle East.
This is the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Lots of news we're following right now, including this, a bride's big night out before the wedding turns into tragedy on a California bridge. She and her girlfriends were just four minutes away from their bachelorette party when their limo caught fire. The driver and four of the bride's friends managed to escape. The bride and four others didn't make it.
CNN's Dan Simon is covering this story for us. He's in San Mateo, California. I know we're getting really for a news conference. They're going to be releasing more information about how the survivors got out, what happened but tell us what we know right now, Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what we know is that the driver, who is unhurt, has spoken to investigators. He's spoken to some reporters. And what he is saying is that at around 10:00 on this bridge behind me, the San Mateo Hayward Bridge, as they were going to a hotel to drop these women off for the bachelorette party, one of the women in the limousine knocked on the partition and said that there was smoke.
Now, initially, there was some confusion. The driver thought that the group was asking if they could smoke cigarettes. When, in reality, they were complaining about the smoke. So he pulled over and he estimates it was somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute later -- and by that time the flames had already well advanced in the vehicle. There was a lot of activity in the car. Some of the women were trying to go through the partition. Apparently, four of the victims, at least the victims who survived, got through that partition and then exited through a front door of the car. Now, the women who died were found near the partition which would suggest they were trying desperately to get out of that car, but whether it was smoke, whether the flames were so intense, we don't know. But that's one of the things that investigators are looking at. And, of course, trying to determine how, in fact, that fire may have started -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Are they saying anything about how the fire may have started at least so far, Dan?
SIMON: Not yet, Wolf. Other than to say that it looks like it started in the back of the vehicle. Maybe in the trunk area. We don't know if this was some kind of electrical fire, whether there was a fuel leak. Right now, investigators are combing over that car. So, it's a real mystery. They said it could take several days to figure out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, we're expecting a news conference momentarily. Maybe we'll get some more information. Of course, we'll monitor that and see what they have to say. There's the microphones. Once the police arrive there, the California Highway Patrol and others, including some from the fire department, we'll go there, we'll see what they have to say. What a horrible tragedy. Indeed, Dan Simon is watching it for us. We'll get back to you as well, Dan, thanks very much.
Meanwhile, another bachelorette party and another tragic accident. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 26-year-old Jamie Flex fell out of an emergency door of a party bus Saturday night and died after being hit by three vehicles. That happened on a busy interstate. Jamie Flex has a baby daughter who was only five and a half weeks old. She got engaged on Christmas Day. Her aunt says the family can't believe it happened and that they are living a nightmare right now.
I want to get you up to speed right now on the latest developments in the Boston bombing investigation. Cemeteries in Massachusetts refusing to bury the suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. So far, at least three cemeteries have refused to take his remains and the city manager in Cambridge says he won't allow Tsarnaev to be buried there.
One of the friends of Dzhokar Tsarnaev charged in connection with the bombing is due in court next hour. Robel Phillipos wants to be let out on bail. Documents obtained by CNN indicate both sides are, in fact, considering possible conditions for his release. Federal authorities, meanwhile, were back at Tamerlan's Tsarnaev's apartment in Cambridge over the weekend executing a search warrant. A source says earlier searches turned up traces of explosives residue in three places, the kitchen table, the kitchen sink and the bathtub.
It took two weeks for a relative to claim his body. Now, the challenge is finding a place to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The director of the funeral home where Tsarnaev's body was taken is left in limbo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETER STEFAN, FUNERAL DIRECTOR: Well, at this point, any outcome will be better than nothing. We do have to bury the person, regardless of what he did, as I said earlier. This country, we bury the dead. Funeral directors have done this for years. They continue to do it. And there aren't too many options. When there's no problem, it's very easy with the cemetery. But this is a big problem. But somebody has to step in and say, look, we're going to have to do something here. And we have to. I have gone as far as I can go with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joe Johns is on the scene for us in Boston right now. So, John, what's the latest efforts to find a place to bury Tsarnaev?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: You need a flow chart for this one, Wolf. Frankly, the city of Cambridge has said no to the body. They've said maybe the FBI ought to get involved. The FBI has said not my job. The funeral director has said he would go to the governor of Massachusetts and just a few minutes ago, we got a transcript of statements by the governor of Massachusetts, Duval Patrick, when he was asked about this. He said, essentially, this isn't a state or federal issue, it's a family issue. I hope the family will make a decision soon.
He was asked if communities have a right to refuse a body. He said, I don't think it's a right, it's a family issue. And he was asked if he was concerned that the body might become a shrine or a place for people to gather a protest, he said, no. Bottom line, though, he was asked, would you oppose him being buried in Massachusetts? He said, I don't have a comment on that, it's a family issue. So, it just seems to be going around and around.
We have heard there is still talk about taking the body back to Russia but that involves a lot of money. And there are people at this hour trying to raise some of that money -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Joe, stand by for a moment. I'll get back to you. But that news conference out in California has just begun with the commander of the Redwood City, California Highway Patrol. He's talking about that tragic, tragic death, the fire in that limousine for that bride.
MIKE MASKARICH, COMMANDER, REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL (live): -- but it's anticipated that this investigation will take several weeks to complete. But the California Highway Patrol, the Foster City Fire Department, the coroner's office, are all committed to ensuring the utmost thoroughness of this investigation and to be able to offer to the victims and their families some semblance of answers for the tragic events that just occurred. Now, we'd like to introduce Foster City Fire Chief Michael Keefe.
MICHAEL KEEFE, CHIEF, FOSTER CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Good morning. My name's Michael Keefe. I'm the fire chief for Foster City.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE.) KEEFE: Last name is K E E F, like Frank, E. On behalf of the firefighters and our community, we send our thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and loved ones of those who died and those who were injured by this tragic event. Firefighters work hard every day to help those who call us but despite our best efforts, our actions could not change the course of events that led to this tragedy. We are devastated by this incident and we struggle to make sense of how a seemingly great event turned so tragic. We are determined to find answers to what caused this event and our fire investigators are working in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol team and others to find the cause. We send our deepest regrets to those who are suffering the aftermath of this event and our prayers for those who are injured for a quick recovery.
As stated earlier, we're in the midst of an active investigation. And as such, we're not going to comment today on cause or origin. But I will introduce our lead fire investigator deputy -- sorry, Fire Marshal John Mapes.
JOHN MAPES, FIRE MARSHAL, FOSTER CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Hi, I'm John Mapes, Fire Marshal, lead investigator for the Foster City Fire Department. That's M A P E S. And can't release too much information to you right now. There on -- there is an ongoing investigation. There will be help from experts from different departments, CHP and ours, to determine the cause. Right now, I don't have anything for you on the cause. Thank you.
MASKARICH: I would now like to introduce the --
BLITZER: All right. So, clearly, there's a lot of concern. There's an investigation. It's going to be a while before we learn exactly what happened. Tragic, tragic death. The bride, four friends die in the back of that white limousine as it was -- there were only four or five minutes away from their destination. They were going to be meeting up with the groom and family members. All of a sudden, flames, smoke, and then flames destroyed that limousine, that white limousine, on the highway there. And such a tragic, tragic story.
We did hear at the beginning of the news conference from the commander of the Redwood City, California Highway Patrol. The max -- the limousine had a maximum capacity for eight people. There were nine people inside but there's no reason to believe that one additional person inside that huge white limo had anything to do with the cause of this tragic fire and the death of the bridge and her four friends in the back there of that limo.
We'll stay on top of this story and update you if we get more information. But that's the very latest from the authorities, the fire and police authorities, out in California.
There is other news we're watching right now, including the Jodi Arias' fate in the hands of a jury right now. Some of the toughest questions that she faced came from the jurors themselves. So does that help them come to a verdict? Stand by.
And the days of shopping online avoiding a sales tax potentially could be over. Why some members of Congress want you to start paying more.
Plus, the world's first gun made with a 3D printer. Guess what. It actually works. We're going to show it to you this hour right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BLITZER: After four long months, an Arizona jury is finally deciding the fate of Jodi Arias. They got back about an hour or so ago and more than seven hours of closing arguments on Friday. Both the prosecution and the defense said Arias is a liar who killed her ex- boyfriend, Travis Alexander. The jury now has to decide was it murder or self-defense? And the jurors got to -- got to ask their own questions which could make a difference in the verdict. Our Ted Rowlands explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it that you have in memory of stabbing Travis?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the toughest questions for Jodi Arias and the other witnesses were from the jury.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should we believe you now?
ROWLANDS: Jurors who can ask anything they like had more than 200 questions for Arias, putting them in this wire basket for the judge to read.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your understanding of the word skank?
ROWLANDS: James Carano says asking questions helped him and his fellow jurors decide the fate of David Anthony who was sentenced to Arizona's death row last year for killing his wife and two stepchildren.
JAMES CARANO, JUROR, ARIZONA: Our questions were basic, down to earth heartfelt questions. We wanted to be able to separate fact from fiction.
RICARDO ENRIGUEZ, JUROR, CALIFORNIA: I think it would have been useful to be able to ask questions.
ROWLANDS: Ricardo Enriquez has served as a juror in California five times, including the first murder trial of music producer Phil Spector that ended in a hung jury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time I find the jury is unable to arrive at a verdict and declare a mistrial.
ROWLANDS: Enriquez thinks asking questions could have helped.
ENRIQUEZ: The defense experts were asking us to kind of suspend common sense and physics. It would have been helpful to come back and question him on some of the details they were trying to explain to us. ROWLANDS: Besides Arizona, Colorado and Indiana are the only other states where jurors have the right to ask questions. Most states leave it up to judges. Five states, Minnesota, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Texas actually have laws prohibiting jurors from asking questions. Jury consultant Jo-Ellen (ph) Dimitrius (ph) travels between her home outside Phoenix and court rooms across the country. She's been helping clients pick juries for nearly 30 years including the one that acquitted O.J. Simpson on murder charges. She thinks Arizona's example should be followed by every state.
JO-ELLEN DIMITRIUS, JURY CONSULTANT: I do think the jurors are much more engaged in the process because they know they're actually part of the process. They're not just kind of sitting there like bumps on the log waiting till the judge says, okay, now I've read you the jury instructions, you can go back and deliberate.
BLITZER: And Ted Rowlands is joining us. Ted, you know this has caused a lot of media attention, this case. Are the juries affected by all of the media attention?
ROWLANDS: Well, it's hard to imagine a scenario, Wolf where they wouldn't be affected on some level. The defense in fact in this case filed for a mistrial at one point because the prosecutor was getting ambushed by fans of his outside the courthouse, taking photos and getting his autograph. The judge has been very good, every day asking, have you been approached by the media, have you watched the media, have you seen anything of this case, and they have repeatedly said no. So you take their word for it, but given the amount of coverage of this case this case has gotten, especially here in the Phoenix area, it's hard to imagine it hasn't seeped in on some level.
BLITZER: Anything happen so far in the deliberations today?
ROWLANDS: They've been at it about an hour and 15 minutes and so far no questions and -- about five minutes ago, the judge ordered everybody out of the courtroom, all of the media there waiting for any word of a question, or a verdict, or development. But otherwise no, they are hard at work. And they've got a lot of work to do. Four months of testimony to pour over.
BLITZER: This will take I assume some time for this jury to make up its mind. Thank you very much. We'll stay in close touch with you. Let us know if there's a decision.
In Los Angeles, members of Michael Jackson's family returned to court today. Jackson's mother and children are suing his concert promoter AEG Live for billions of dollars. They claim AEG is liable in the pop star's death. They say AEG hired and supervised Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The toxicologist who testified in Murray's trial is expected to be today's first witness.
In Philadelphia, the 72-year-old abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell is awaiting his fate. He's accused of first degree murder for allegedly killing babies born alive during late term abortions. Jurors are now in their fifth day of deliberating after not reaching a verdict Friday.
The judge in the Casey Anthony case is talking to the media for the first time since that trial. On the "Today" show, Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. told how he saw two sides of Casey Anthony, one when the jury was present and another more commanding side when just her -- with just her lawyers. He recounted one morning in particular.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JUDGE BELVIN PERRY JR., NINTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT OF FLORIDA: I will never forget that day, one Saturday morning before we were about to begin our session, the lawyers wanted some time to discuss a possible plea to aggravated manslaughter with Casey. They went back in the holding cell and of course the waiting area for me was by the holding cell. And all of a sudden, you heard shouting coming from the holding cell. Some four-letter words coming from the holding cell. And she was quite upset. So upset that one counselor suggested she was incompetent to proceed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Judge Perry says he was surprised at the verdict. He says Anthony will have to live with this for the rest of her life.
From her fight against a new trial to her new book, CNN's Chris Cuomo asks the question, can Amanda Knox convince you she has never killed anyone? Watch the special Chris Cuomo interview, "AMANDA KNOX, THE UNANSWERED QUESTION," tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. eastern, only here on CNN.
Prepaid debit cards are more popular than ever and celebrities want in on the action including Justin Bieber. But watch out, there are all kinds of fees. Reading the fine print. That's next.
BLITZER: Checking your money, not much movement so far in the Dow Jones today. There you see it. The Dow pretty much even. Up almost four points. But not much. You might remember the Dow passed the 15,000 mark for the first time ever on Friday. But without any major earnings or economic reports due today. Trading at least so far has been quiet.
Some big-time big name celebrities are backing prepaid debit cards. Seems like a great way to avoid problems with credit cards. Christine Romans explains why it might not be a smart money move.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Would you trust Justin Bieber with your money? What about Russell Simmons? Maybe Suze Orman? They're all pushing prepaid debit cards. You load the card with cash and swipe away, but it's going to cost you.
GREG MCBRIDE, SENIOR FINANCIAL ANALYST, BANKRATE.COM: The fees on prepaid debit cards can run the gamut, everything from a monthly service fee to an activation fee, even fees for doing things like calling customer service or having a transaction declined due to insufficient balance. Sometimes even checking your balance at an ATM cab be enough to trigger a fee.
ROMANS: All kinds of fees. All to use your own money. Bank rate looked at 24 of the most widely issued prepaid debit cards. All of them charged fees for different features. The one celebrities like Justin Bieber are hawking --
JUSTIN BIEBER, RECORDING ARTIST: Managing your money is important and there's a great company that can help you do that.
ROMANS: -- are no exception. For the card he endorses, $3.95 every month just to have it, $2.95 to put money on it from another credit or debit card. You can transfer once from your bank account for free every month. $1.50 for an ATM withdrawal. If you don't use the card for 30 days in a row, you pay $3. As for this guy, Bieber gets $3.75 million to put his name on it. Spend Smart issues the Bieber card. It defends its fees, saying it's trying to help parents and teens start a conversation about reasonable spending and Bieber helps get that message out. Greg McBriide from Bankrate.com says celebrity cards usually aren't the best value.
MCBRIDE: Consumers that are looking for lower fee, prepaid debit cards can find them. They're just not going to be those endorsed by celebrities.
ROMANS: Traditional bank fees are rising too. Maybe that's why so many don't seem to mind they're paying so much for prepaid debit cards. The amount of money put on them almost tripled from 2008 to 2012. It's expected to top $168 billion by 2015. That's a lot of money -- nearly the GDP of oil-rich Kuwait, or Romania. It's enough to buy 431 brand new Air Bus A-380 double-decker planes. An industry trade group says parents use prepaid debit cards to teach kids about financial responsibility. But financial advisers, like Ryan Mack say there are better ways to do that.
RYAN MACK, PRESIDENT, OPTIMISM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Prepaid debit cards essentially spending money to use your own money. But they don't fix your credit and it costs, and it's too expensive.
ROMANS: Mack says if you don't have a checking account, look for a credit union in your area. Check out Asmarterchoice.org. Or go to Joinbankon.or to find a local bank that can help you open an account or build up your credit. Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: The Syrian government wants revenge, saying Israeli missiles hit three military facilities over the weekend. Up next, the dangerous escalation in the region and what it could mean for the United States.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington. A soccer referee who was punched in the face by a player has died. The 43-year-old ref, Ricardo Portillo, died Saturday in Utah after several days in a coma. Police say a 17-year-old player punched the ref at a game two weekends ago. Portillo had just given the teen a warning, a yellow card, for breaking the rules. Family and friends held a vigil in Portillo's memory yesterday in Salt Lake City. We spoke to the referee's daughter. Her heart wants to forgive but her mind does not.