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Will Jodi Arias Get Death Penalty?; Tornadoes Hit the Plains

Aired May 20, 2013 - 15:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Ashleigh Banfield, reporting live in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Maricopa County Courthouse, where we just witnessed a remarkable turn of events in the Jodi Arias sentencing phase.

It turns out Jodi has one more night to compose some kind of plea to her jury. She's now set to address those jurors tomorrow, not today, as we expected.

I do need to give you a recap as to what has happened, because there has been so many twists and turns and yet another very strange one in this death penalty case. About an hour ago, the defense dropped plans to have two of her friends address the court in her support to beg for her mercy.

The defense contends that one of those friends, Patty Womack, is now in fear of retribution. should she appear on behalf of Jodi Arias, a convicted killer, the murderer of Travis Alexander. And upon that basis, they asked this judge for a mistrial, completely. The judge denied that, said, no. And listen to the exchange that happened, though, just one hour ago.


JUDGE SHERRY STEPHENS, MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: This court can only speculate as to why Ms. Womack is not here today. Similarly, this court can only speculate as to the absence of other possible witnesses for purposes of the sentencing phase.

Without more information, this court finds there is no basis to grant a mistrial, so the motion for mistrial is denied.

Mr. Nurmi.


KIRK NURMI, ATTORNEY FOR JODI ARIAS: ... would move to withdraw from the case yet again. Under Strickland v. Washington, we are in a position where we cannot provide effective assistance to counsel at this phase of the proceedings. We cannot present the complete picture that is incumbent upon us.

Rule 6.8 as well, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, imposes that duty upon us as well. We cannot fulfill that duty because we cannot provide the picture. There is no speculation as to why Ms. Womack (INAUDIBLE) be here. She feels threatened. She feels intimidated and doesn't feel like she can be here.

So, that being said, under Strickland, Ms. Willmott and I cannot meet that standard and then move to withdraw.

STEPHENS: Your motion to withdraw is denied.


BANFIELD: I suppose that isn't a surprise that, first, the judge denies a mistrial motion, and then you just heard Ms. -- she denied the motion for the defense team to quit. And, by the way, that would be the second time in just a couple of days that that defense team has asked to get off this case.

No surprise that she said no. We're right down to the wire.

And with me now from Atlanta is criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky. And with me here in Phoenix is former prosecutor Monica Lindstrom.

Monica, I'm going to start with you. You have been here and you have been watching a lot of this. You have been doing a lot of commentary on this case.


BANFIELD: Far be it you or me to suggest that something weird doesn't happen daily in this case, but I sure did not expect this.

LINDSTROM: Right. Oh, when I heard it, I just absolutely could not believe it. I thought, what, what? They're not going to put anybody up there?


LINDSTROM: Are you kidding? So, really just, wow. I mean, it just took me by surprise. I'm shocked.

BANFIELD: And yet again another request to walk, to get away from Jodi Arias, the intransigent -- the client from hell.

LINDSTROM: Yes, clearly, clearly. And I don't blame the defense attorneys for doing this.

I think it is something that they need to do. They need to not only protect themselves, but they need to protect the record. I didn't quite understand everything they were saying, because they are still able to put witnesses up there. It is going to be sealed. The judge allowed them to do that.

So I'm not sure why they're saying that's it, we're not going to do anything. I don't think it makes sense.

BANFIELD: It's remarkable altogether.

Darren Kavinoky, look, the death penalty cases that I have seen come and go in the 32 states that still employ the death penalty in the United States, there is always someone, a teacher from second grade, somebody that they can pull out of the woodwork to give one shred of value to the otherwise condemned.

So why is it, do you think, that this defense team has pulled out everything and said, no one will stand for this woman?

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, if you're a conspiracy theorist, you may say that the defense liked their chances better raising these issues for appeal than they liked the possibility that these witnesses would be able to impact this jury.

And what is such a fascinating issue in this case is that Jodi Arias, herself, spent so much time on the witness stand, 18 days, and normally in a typical case, you think that the jurors might bond with the defendant, that they get to look at that person as a human being, but when we look at the Jodi Arias case, it seems to have had just the opposite effect.

The more those jurors get exposed to Jodi Arias, just like everybody out there in social media, the more they see of her, the more they dislike her. And so the defense, if we're going to look at this and try to read the tea leaves, there was a tactical advantage to not putting on these witnesses, because now instead of allowing Juan Martinez and the prosecution to put other folks on to rebut it, now we're just going to hear Jodi Arias make her statement and then we go directly to arguments.

So there won't be any rebuttal witnesses from the prosecution. And, also, a criminal conviction is the first step towards a successful appeal. They may just be protecting the record, so that they can launch that appeal.

BANFIELD: Well, I do feel for these two attorneys who obviously could be facing an ineffective assistance of counsel claim somewhere down the road, because that's just how Jodi seems to roll.

But, Monica, more to the point of these two witnesses, we understand that one of these witnesses, Patty Womack, I think there was -- they were in each other's wedding parties -- or at least I think Jodi was the bridesmaid in Patty Womack's wedding.

She has feared retribution. She has already made an appeal to this court to stay off-camera and not even have her voice recorded, which the judge granted. But when it comes to the other witness, this is the ex-boyfriend Darryl Brewer, still no explanation as to why he has mysteriously disappeared from this case. And yet we still also don't know the biggest wild card. What will Jodi say?

LINDSTROM: Right. You said it perfectly. We know why Patty Womack isn't up there. And I can't say that I blame her. She would end up testifying for one of the most hated women in America. And that's got to be a lot of pressure, and very scary for just a regular person that is not a professional witness, so to speak.

BANFIELD: Sure. LINDSTROM: And then with Darryl Brewer, he's already testified. He hasn't been on camera yet, but we're not sure why he's not being called at all, if it is the same reason or not.

BANFIELD: It is bizarre. We often find out, I mentioned this earlier in the air, sometimes it takes a little bit of lag time for seals to become unsealed and information to become public.


BANFIELD: We may find out more about why Darryl Brewer is no longer part of this, the sentencing phase, and the mitigation phase anyway.

Monica Lindstrom, thank you.

Darren Kavinoky, thank you to you as well, as we continue to watch the developments from here at this courthouse.

There are also other stories we're following, a moment of silence during Sunday's graduation ceremony at Hofstra University. Students and faculty there were remembering Andrea Rebello, a student who was shot and killed this weekend by a police officer's bullet. It all happened as she was in the grips of a home intruder who was holding a gun on her,in fact, holding a gun to her head.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is in New York.

And, Deb, if you could just take us back and reset how all of this unfolded and how quickly all of this actually happened.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, Ashleigh, what is amazing is that this was a crime of opportunity, but the home intruder, the gunman, a career criminal who got out of prison three months ago after serving nine years for attempted robbery with a firearm.

He was already violated -- he had already violated parole and was wanted on a warrant. Well, Friday, around 2:00 a.m., he walks past the home where Andrea Rebello lived with her twin sister, who you see there. They shared it with two other roommates. And police say the front door was open because one of the roommates was getting ready to move the car.

Well, that's when 30-year-old Dalton Smith, with a ski mask over his head, walked in demanding cash and valuables. Well, when there wasn't enough, one of the roommates said she would go to a nearby ATM, Smith allegedly threatened to kill her friends if she didn't come back quickly.

Well, she left. She called 911. Two officers arrived. One of them entered the home. The other stood just outside the door. The gunman tried to escape out of the back door using Rebello as a shield. When he pointed his gun at the officer, that's when the officer opened fire. Eight shots, seven of them hit the perpetrator. Andrea Rebello was also struck once. She was killed. Jessica Rebello's boyfriend, John Kourtessis, managed to survive. Take a listen.


VICTORIA DEHEL, STUDENT: And I heard the screams and then I looked outside and there's police officers everywhere and it was a girl screaming. It was the most horrifying scream I have ever heard in my entire life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that the perpetrator was about to kill a lady. And so the police officer tried to save her life, after saving my son's life. The police officer saved my son's life, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to the gentleman.


FEYERICK: His son was in the home, sitting on the couch with the others when this all took place. The Nassau County police officer who fired is described as inconsolable. He's now on sick leave.

And, Ashleigh, the question really is why was this man, Dalton Smith, who had a long criminal record, robbery with a gun, he violated parole -- why was he out on the street clearly looking to do something?


BANFIELD: So I think those questions will be looked at, you know, with a microscope, but at same time, we're focusing a lot on this officer and the second responding officer.

But there had to have been other first-responders somewhere along the line. Where are we only looking at two at this point?

FEYERICK: Well, what is interesting is when the initial call came in, it was described as a robbery, not as a hostage situation. And it may not have even been a hostage situation.

But this was happening within a matter of minutes. Clearly, the perpetrator did not anticipate police to be called so quickly. And when they arrived, everything changed. The dynamic was completely different. He took this young woman hostage, bringing her downstairs in a headlock, the gun at her head. And so whether they should have called her backup, whether backup was on its way, all of that is currently under investigation.

But it was not initially treated as a hostage situation, when you would have had a lot more people, you would have had hostage negotiators, a tactical team. It was treated as a robbery, a robbery that clearly went horrendously wrong, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: It's such a sad story all around. Deborah Feyerick reporting live for us in New York, thank you for that.

Coincidence or targeted killing? In 2008, the son and housekeeper of a Creighton University professor were killed in their Omaha home. And that murder has not yet been solved. But just a week ago, another Creighton University professor was killed, Roger Brumback's body found alongside his wife's in their Omaha home, and so far police with no suspects. But today, they moved to reassure this community and the university's faculty as well, telling people there they have now set up a task force that is focused solely on solving both of these double murders.

Police have not yet said how the Brumbacks were killed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get to shelter right now, Ryan Newton (ph), Ryan Newton, now, Ryan. Everybody, down below. Let's go.


BANFIELD: Terrifying moments as a new team leaves the studio live on the air as a tornado approaches their building. We're going to take you to one of the areas hardest-hit after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back here! We got to go soon! If this shifts, we're done!


BANFIELD: It has been a very rough 24 hours for a lot of people living all throughout the Plains States. And it may not be over for them just yet because more than two dozen twisters have been reported in five states, all of that overnight, not all of them confirmed just yet.

But I want you to take a look at a local television crew in Wichita, Kansas, covering the storm from their studio, actually had to take cover.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) .com who are no doubt watching us right now, as this storm bears down on the city of Wichita.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, J.D., in 20 years, I have never said this, but I think it is our time to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Dave, and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I really do. We have been monitoring the conditions here downtown. So, at this point, folks, those -- we here at KSN are moving to our shelters. We are moving to our shelters. J.D. and I will continue to talk with you as long as we can. We're leaving the radar image up.

But it appears that it is time for all of us to get to shelter. Get to shelter right now. Ryan Newton, Ryan Newton, now Ryan. Everybody, down below. Let's go.


BANFIELD: That is just chilling. And, listen, it is so serious, those warnings, you take them seriously, you get down underground if you can, dramatic moment.

Everybody was OK. And they actually were able to keep broadcasting and getting some of that critical information out to people who needed to know when they needed to get shelter.

I want to bring in CNN's George Howell. He's standing by live now in Shawnee, Oklahoma. That's where two people were killed by storms.

And I can see behind you the remnants. It is always just so astounding, the power of these storms. Are you seeing a lot of people able to return, and even look for anything they can salvage, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, that's what today is all about.

Today is the aftermath. You see people coming here and are looking to see what is left over after a scary couple of days honestly with the storm system coming in. I want to show you this, this footprint of the dirt here vs. the grass. That's where this trailer used to be. It got shifted over, kicked over to where it is now.

You can see what's left over, not a lot left over. And as you heard a minute ago, people watching very closely to our affiliates and broadcasters doing the job of telling people to get out of the way, to take shelter. That's what a lot of people did, especially here in this case.

I want to come over here to Josh Howell and Amber McGuire.

Talk to me about, Josh, where you were when this happened?

JOSH HOWELL, RESIDENT OF SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA: I was at work at the casino when this all happened. I didn't think it would be this devastating and this -- this much, where it looks like a war zone.

G. HOWELL: Did you see the tornado?

J. HOWELL: Yes, I watched it from a distance from where I was working and I seen it rip through here like it was nothing. And it was crazy to watch, man, just a big, big violent thing from the sky just coming through, just tearing everybody's houses up, man.


G. HOWELL: Amber, what were you saying? Where were you?

AMBER MCGUIRE, RESIDENT OF SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA:: We were here and then we left to the storm shelter at my aunt's and uncle's.

G. HOWELL: What was that like to get out of the way? MCGUIRE: Scary.

G. HOWELL: Well, we're thankful that you guys are OK, and certainly your baby was saved as well. And...


J. HOWELL: ... baby, yes. That's the most thing I was worrying about. Like I said before, all this is replaceable, you know what I mean?


J. HOWELL: My wife and my baby is not, you know? And if you look around, we're not the only ones that lost something. Everybody here lost something.

MCGUIRE: People lost their lives.

G. HOWELL: Yes. Guys, thank you so much. Mr. Howell, thank you.

A lot of families in this situation right now. The governor just came through about an hour ago to survey the damage. I spoke to her. Here's what she had to say.


G. HOWELL: When you look around here, what do you think?

GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, total devastation. There have been so many homes that have been destroyed in this area. I was visiting with some of the local people here, and they said that people didn't know where their homes was. When they came to the community, everything is all jumbled up and mangled up and they just weren't sure where their house originally was placed.


G. HOWELL: So there is not a lot of time, honestly. There is another storm system coming through this area, not expected to be as strong in this particular area of Shawnee, but you never know.

So people are doing their best to clean up, get out of the way, before the storms come through again tonight, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: George, it is just unbelievable what I'm looking at behind you. It just looks like a house of cards that collapsed and was put through a blender.

There is virtually nowhere to seek shelter in that kind of a residence. There's nowhere they could have been safe other than at a formal location that is considered a safe -- a safe tornado shelter, right?

G. HOWELL: That's what you find around here. And you know what? I was born in the Texas Panhandle in Amarillo. And in that area, and in places like this, you do find those storm shelters.

They're all over the place. So, you can take a storm shelter. Neighbors go to neighbors' storm shelters when they start to see that circulation before they see a tornado coming down, also watching local broadcasters. And many people will go to buildings that have been designated as storm shelters. There are plans in place. Clearly, those plans helped in this community, though we don't -- do know that two people died in this storm, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: It's just virtually impossible to ride out a storm in a structure like that. It is just unbelievable to see it. George Howell, reporting live for us in Shawnee, thank you.

And our hearts go out to the people who have lost so much, including those who have lost their lives.

Coming up next, the incredible behind-the-scenes account of how three women were rescued after spending a decade as prisoners in a Cleveland house of horrors.


ANTHONY ESPADA, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: Within moments, she came charging at me. She jumped onto me. She's, like, you saved us, you saved us. And I'm holding on to her so tight. And then within a few seconds, I see another girl come out of the bedroom.


BANFIELD: You're about to hear the emotional account from the first- responders who rescued Amanda Berry and her two other co-captives coming up after the break.


BANFIELD: For the first time, the Cleveland police officers who rescued three women who were held captive for a decade are breaking their silence. They're speaking out.

And it is hard to imagine what it must have been, what it must have been like for them to be among the first to see Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. Here are the officers describing the scene that they discovered in their own words.


MICHAEL TRACY, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'm always the positive thinker, thinking, it's got to be her, it's got to be her.

BARBARA JOHNSON, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: When I pulled up, I didn't see Amanda. I just saw Officer ESPADA and Officer Tracy running across the street towards the house.

And I got out of my car and I ran right over there, right behind them. And officer Espada kept yelling out, Cleveland police. And it kind of seems like an eternity, but it was so quick at the same time. TRACY: And getting out of the car, I'm like, is that you? I'm looking at her face and I can't believe what I'm seeing right in front of me.

Nervous. Her child she's holding is screaming. So, I thinking, wow, we got her. We got her right here. She's safe. Her child is safe. And then, you know, we don't know what's going on in the house. We don't know if anybody else could be the house is a suspect or something. So, I just asked her. I say, is there anybody else in the house? And she goes, yes, Gina DeJesus and another girl. I was like, what?

ESPADA: And it was like another bombshell just -- just with overwhelming force just hitting me.

I believe I broadcast it that Gina might still be in the house, you know, something is going on in this room. And, you know, I'm looking that way, just waiting to see what's going to happen.

And it was Michelle. She kind of popped out into the doorway, and paused there for a second. Within moments, she came charging at me. She jumped onto me. She's, like, you saved us, you saved us. And I'm holding on to her so tight. And then within a few seconds, I see another girl come out of the bedroom.

I just look at her. I -- you can immediately tell who it is, just thinner. And, again, I just needed confirmation. And I asked her, well, what's your name? She said, my name is Georgina DeJesus.

JOHNSON: You didn't hear anything and then, all of a sudden, it was almost like the pitter-patter of feet heading towards you.

And the next thing I know, someone is in Anthony -- officer Espada's arms. At that point, I thought -- all I remember is, when he put her down, she jumped up into my arms and held onto me and screamed, please don't let me go, please don't let me go. I said, honey, don't worry. I'm not letting you go.

ESPADA: Very overwhelming. I mean, it took everything to hold myself together. I have Michelle in my arms and then you got Gina coming out. And it was, like, one bombshell after another. That's when I broadcasted (INAUDIBLE) 23, we found them, we found them.

JOHNSON: I can't even tell you how -- the emotions that we felt. It was just unbelievable. And everything else was just a blur. I just -- it was just surreal.


BANFIELD: It's a remarkable account of what these first-responders went through.

Coming up next, it is a case sending shockwaves across the United States, the romance of a lesbian couple in high school,high school, ending in an arrest. It is a lesson for every parent. Pay attention to who your child dates, but, more specifically, the ages, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)