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Deadly Floods Along Florida's Gulf Coast; Malaysia Releases Prelim Flight 370 Report; Legal Fight over Clippers; Knox Conviction

Aired May 1, 2014 - 12:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: There are images coming out of Pensacola, Florida today, that would simply make your jaw drop. There are people in boats on streets. You may have seen that before. There are cars abandoned and submerged in water. You might have seen that before, too.

But, honestly, in its entirety, the video, the pictures look like a scene from the aftermath of a hurricane. This was not a hurricane, people. This was just a big rainstorm. Big doesn't cover it, 15.5 inches of rain in just 24 hours, an all-time record.

And this is just a sample of what the damage can be with that much rain that fast. I'd like to put that in perspective for you, because if inches of rain aren't that big a deal, Seattle would receive 15.5 inches of rain in seven to eight months. Pensacola got it in one day. You can imagine.

Two trillion gallons falling in a single day in the eastern United States, that is equivalent to about 80 million swimming pools falling from the sky.

It was so bad the Escambia County jail was heavily damaged by the flooding, and there was a gas explosion there late last night, killing two inmates and injuring about 150 other inmates and jail workers. Three inmates right now are unaccounted for.

We don't know if the flood damage is somehow to blame for that explosion, but it very well could be.

Our CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is live in Pensacola, Florida. You've been at the forefront of this reporting. You were with the governor yesterday. This was before we even knew the tip of the iceberg of this damage.

Get me up to speed on what you've seen since waters have started to recede.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm standing on Piedmont Road in the Cordoba Park Subdivision. The only problem is that, well, Piedmont Road isn't here anymore. It's down there somewhere.

This is not beach. This is under the roadway. Here's a car that floated from down here, ended down there. Truck, I don't think that's going to buff out. This is where the road should be. This is the level of the surface.

Now they're working on this. They're getting to it. And, you know, it's going to take a little while to recover.

The mayor is here with me, Ashton Hayward. Good morning.


MYERS: How is your city?

HAYWARD: We're faring well right now. We've got all hands on deck. Our crews are out, our engineering department and sanitation department, cleaning up our roads, but assessing the damage with the utility companies so we can get our game plan in place.

And obviously right now we're going to get these utilities turned off. We're going to get heavy equipment out here the beginning of the week to get some of this debris out here, lay a base so people can get out of their homes.

MYERS: Now the rest of your city, including the jail, any updates on what's going on out there?

HAYWARD: We understand there were two fatalities at the jail right now, and obviously over a hundred inmates were taken to local hospitals to be treated. It's a very unfortunate incident, but we're checking all those details out as we speak.

MYERS: There's going to be a lot of sinkholes in your city for maybe months or years to come. A lot of this undercarriage -- you know, got washed away. You're going to be driving up and all the sudden your car is going to go down.

How are you going to deal with that for day after day or month after month?

HAYWARD: We're just going to just be -- you know, have our first responders out there, obviously, which are a big part of our community and our law enforcement.

But most importantly the sand that you see right now is indigenous to Florida and to Pensacola, so most importantly, how we build roads today using what they call Bahama rock is incredibly important. So we're going to get that base out here so people have a temporary road fix.

But we will be ready for those calls. We have a great department, our engineering department, so we look forward to taking care of our people because public safety is the number one thing.

MYERS: Mr. Mayor, thank you. I know you had a short night along with all the rest of us. Thank you very much. Thanks for being here.

It's going to be a long recovery, but I tell you what. What I was amazed at when I walked into this neighborhood this morning, the power is back on and the water is back on. Yesterday, there were gas leaks everywhere, and power was out everywhere, and the water was squirting out of all of these water mains that were broken. The crews were here overnight, and they got it fixed, and this neighborhood is recovering, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I just need you to repeat one thing, as your cameraman maybe could widen out a little bit. You are not on a beach. You are on the foundation of what was a normal city street in front of that house. I don't see any asphalt anywhere.

MYERS: Exactly.

BANFIELD: I don't see any -- it's just unbelievable.

MYERS: Here. Over here. Here's a piece of it right here. This is a piece of the asphalt that was on the road. Now I don't know even know where this came from, because there's asphalt all the way down, broken up, over here the concrete.

BANFIELD: The whole street, Chad? The whole thing all the way down?

MYERS: It's gone. Oh, yeah. Literally, because they are -- people have such a great outlook on this, the joke was, I wonder if my taxes will go up because I have beach front property.

BANFIELD: Oh. We're losing your mike, Chad. I don't know if you can hear me, we've lost your mike.

Rats. So sorry. I think I get the picture because the picture is just remarkable.

There you go, folks. Flooding did that. Not a hurricane, not a tornado, flooding did that incredible damage that Chad has been so terrific in highlighting for us.

Chad Myers, thank you so much for that.

Coming up, new information released today about the final moments of communication from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

You're used to your captain over the loud speaker sounding fairly monotone. Other captains hear other things in those voices. So what about the recording that was released? Any telltale signs? Anything?

A pilot's going to join us in a moment to let you know.


BANFIELD: Colonel Michael Kay is back with me on the mystery Flight 370.

The R.T., the radio transmissions, of the conversations between air traffic control and the pilots have been released.

I want you to listen along with me, and when you've heard it, I want to see if anything stands out in your mind about their tones of voice. Have a listen.


PLANE: Delivery MAS 370, good morning.

TOWER: MAS 370 standby and Malaysia Six is cleared to Frankfurt via AGOSA Alpha departure, 6,000 feet, two one zero six (inaudible).

MAS 370, request level.

PLANE: MAS 370, we are ready. Request flight level three five zero to Beijing.

TOWER: MAS is cleared to Beijing via PIBOS A departure 6,000 feet, squawk two one five seven.

PLANE: Beijing PIBOS A, 6,000 feet, squawk two on five seven, MAS 370, thank you.

TOWER: MAS 370, welcome over to ground.

PLANE: Good day.


BANFIELD: "Good day." "Good day?" Anything?

MICHAEL KAY, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: There's a consistency in the voice. It's standard radio transmission, R.T., terminology. There is nothing, absolutely nothing untoward, as far as I can see, with that --

BANFIELD: And that's what other pilots are saying as well, right?

KAY: Yeah, absolutely.

BANFIELD: One other quick thing from the report --

KAY: Sure.

BANFIELD: Real-time tracking, we heard that recommendation with Air France. Will we see it?

KAY: We kind of are seeing it with what's called the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, the ADSB.

However, it works through the transponder, Ashleigh, and the transponder at the moment is the single point of failure. That's the bit that needs to be solved or addressed in this recommendation.

BANFIELD: So much more still to come. Colonel Kay, thank you for that. Do appreciate it.

It certainly didn't take long, a group of NBA owners meeting today, and we all know what the topic is, that guy.

The potential legal battle that could be shaping up and new names rumored interested in buying the L.A. Clippers, going to talk about all of that, next.


BANFIELD: The NBA isn't wasting any time trying to force Donald Sterling into selling his beloved L.A. Clippers. Ten team owners are going to hold a committee meeting today to discuss Sterling's future with the league and it's still unclear whether Sterling will be fighting his lifetime ban or the loss of his franchise, if that is actually in the cards.

Meanwhile, potential buyers are already lining up. Oprah Winfrey's spokesperson says that she is in talks with media mogul David Geffen and Oracle founder Larry Ellison to put together a joint bid for that team. Oscar de la Hoya also saying he likes the deal.

Joining me to talk about the potential legal battle that's brewing between Sterling and the NBA, CNN legal analyst and defense attorney Danny Cevallos, and HLN legal analyst and defense attorney Joey Jackson.

All right, Danny, I want to start with you. There are specific rules and regulations in this private club known as the NBA. They do have a charter and a constitution by which all of this can happen. But is there something that Commissioner Silver can do preemptively to make it very difficult for this owner to keep his team or pass it down to his family?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we know that he can fine him. We know that. And we know that he fined him the exact amount that he need to fine him -

BANFIELD: Sure. He's done that.

CEVALLOS: Right, he's already done that and he's already banned him for life, but can he force him to sell the team?

BANFIELD: Can he wrest control of the team and hold it from him so that he has no controls (INAUDIBLE) sells it?


CEVALLOS: It's a fascinating - yes, it's fascinating topic right now because look for Donald Sterling to argue that there was collusion. That Silver got together with the other owners to force a team at below market value. Now we're starting to talk antitrust issues. And no matter what, you can say that Sterling agreed to be part of the NBA and agreed to its bylaws, but you can't circumvent federal antitrust law or state antitrust law.


JACKSON: He's out. He's out.

BANFIELD: Look at you.

JACKSON: Plain and simple, he's out. BANFIELD: I knew it.

JACKSON: Listen, it boils down to something very simple, Ashleigh, in my view. It's about being a fiduciary. Now, we can talk about this, as Danny and I have, about it being a case of first impression, about their -- nothing specifically addressing a person who's racist, who gives statements, you know, that may be counter to what we believe as a society, as human beings should behave. It's outrageous what he did.

Now, if you're a fiduciary and you act in a way that so impairs the value of your franchise, or so impairs the value of the NBA and its detrimental to your franchise and to the NBA, I would argue that article 13 would be applicable. We can argue all day about -

CEVALLOS: But, see here's -

BANFIELD: Do you know what, I've been so aghast at the notion that Mr. Sterling has not said boo for days and days. Amen (ph). And now I think I know maybe why. And you can tell me if I'm off base here. But if he does nothing, if he takes no part in any of these proceedings that are ostensibly going on right now as we speak in their secret fancy club, then he's actually in a better place to come back later and say, y'all did this without me and I can sue you. Because if he does get involved, all of a sudden it could be - it could be assumed he was part of the process.

CEVALLOS: Listen -


CEVALLOS: Here's the thing. Yes, here's the thing. I mean the provisions that allow the team to be sold have to do with financial problems the team is having. This is a case of first impression. We haven't -- the NBA hasn't tried to outer anybody before based on their racial opinion. So this is going to be -- this is a case that no one's ever -- there's no precedent.


CEVALLOS: So, we can - see, this is -

JACKSON: It's true, there maybe not - there may not be any precedent. Now, let me tell you why this is going to settle and get resolved, OK. Three big reasons. Number one, the issue is this, he is banned from the NBA, Ashleigh, Danny, for life, right? He is not welcome. He is in exile. So in the event that he moves forward and sues, it's pyrrhic victory. He will not be able to be there.


JACKSON: Issue number two. In the event that he owns the franchise, no one will play for him, no one will work for him, sponsors will not support him. So, guess what, it's economically not viable.


JACKSON: And the final issue, number three, is he's 81 years old and, guess what, Danny and I can speak to this, litigation takes forever.

BANFIELD: A long time.

JACKSON: And so the reality is, years will go by and who knows if he wins or loses. I say he loses big-time. It wouldn't be worth the fight. And so if I'm sitting and advising him, I'm saying leave and leave now.

BANFIELD: Triple word score on pyrrhic victory. And both of you have made incredible first impressions with your outfits? That's all I have to say about that.

JACKSON: My tie was crooked.

BANFIELD: Joey Jackson, Danny Cevallos, adore you. Thank you so much.

JACKSON: Thank you.

Coming up next, big, big news coming up on Amanda Knox. Yes, she's back in the news. We have someone who knows the case better than most. The judge who cleared her in 2011. "New Day's" Chris Cuomo joins us to talk about that and his exclusive interview with Amanda herself.


BANFIELD: In Florence, Italy, this week, the appeals court that reconvicted Amanda Knox in the grisly murder of her roommate back in 2007 did some explaining, shall we say. The judges cited DNA evidence, among other things, as proof that both she and her then boyfriend were not only present when Meredith Kercher was killed, but that they both stabbed her.

Knox was re-sentenced to 28 years in prison but she had long since returned to the United States after her first convictions was tossed out back in 2011. And tonight she's going to talk about all of this with my CNN colleague, Chris Cuomo, who's going to join me live in just one moment to discuss his list of questions.

But, first, Chris looks back at the case that is still not completely closed.


AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTED, ACQUITTED, CONVICTED AGAIN: I'm not responsible for what happened. I didn't do it. I wasn't there. I don't know anything more about it.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY" (voice-over): Amanda Knox has long maintained her innocence in the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Now, as she fights back against new theories and allegations, she's getting support from a veteran of the Italian justice system. Claudio Hellmann, the Italian judge who tossed out Knox's conviction in 2011.

He's now lashing out at his colleagues who overturned that acquittal. In a hefty 337 page report, an appeals court in Florence justified reinstating Knox's murder conviction, not only placing her at the crime scene, but also claiming it was Amanda herself who delivered the fatal knife wound to Kercher's neck. The motive? A fight about rent money the night of the crime. But Judge Hellmann is dismissing the report as, quote, "the result of fantasy."

In a scathing statement obtained exclusively by CNN, Hellmann slams the court's lack of physical evidence to support their reasoning against Knox and then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. He tells CNN, "the Florence appeal court has written a script for a movie or a thriller book, while it should have only considered facts and evidence. There is no evidence to condemn Knox and Sollecito."

It's the latest battle in a seven year legal saga for the 26-year-old. And it's showing no signs of ending any time soon. Judge Hellmann is now retired and fears Knox will fall victim to politics, telling CNN, "I think that the high court will be obliged to confirm the Florence ruling if they don't want to openly contradict their colleagues."

KNOX: I'm afraid to go back there. I don't' want to go back into prison.


BANFIELD: I'd be afraid to go back there too.

Chris Cuomo joins me live now.

You don't expect her tonight to say, you know what, I've decided I'm going to go face the music?

CUOMO: I don't think anything that has happened will change her disposition that she had at the end of the piece. I don't see (INAUDIBLE) would send her back.

BANFIELD: Why am I hearing all of this business about an argument the night before about money, where I really never heard that highlighted before.

CUOMO: Yes. I think what's surprising here is that in this current decision, this judge has looked at the same evidence and come up with different conclusions. In Amanda Knox's book, in the earlier trials or appeals or whatever you want to call them, money came up.

The relationship between the two of them came up. But both other courts found there was no proof of any theft or alleged theft and that the relationship was what it was. You know, it was not meaningful. This judge looked at it very differently. He believes Amanda Knox stole money from Meredith Kercher.


CUOMO: He because it because the man who admitted to the killing, eventually wound up being convicted, he didn't admit it but he was convicted, says that Meredith Kercher accused her of stealing it. He's relying largely on the statement of a convicted killer.

BANFIELD: On that guy, a convicted killer, yes, which is not usually a standard that we like in courtrooms in America.

The other thing that's sort of perplexing is that these judges seem to be fighting amongst themselves very publicly and using sort of heightened (ph) language to suggest the other's work is substandard.

CUOMO: Unusual here, more unusual there. The work being substandard, I think this judge, Netsini (ph), is saying about the judge who acquitted, Hellmann, he does seem to be saying that, that you got it wrong. You looked at it wrong. You looked at it improperly. Hellmann has retired, so he is a little bit more free to say what he wants. And that's why we sought him out.

BANFIELD: Quick question. Every time I look at the picture of her, she's just such a beautiful woman and you can't escape that. She even herself said so much of this is because of my looks. What's her life like right now? Do we know anything about what her American life since return has been like?

CUOMO: I think the word for Amanda Knox that is used for good and bad connotation is frozen. It came up with how she behaved during the time, that emotionally she didn't seem where she should be. And it has to be that way now because her life can't move forward. She is never truly free until this is over.

BANFIELD: I am going nowhere at 10:00 tonight. Chris Cuomo gets the exclusive, yet again. Great job, my friend. 10:00 Easter Time, right there, "Amanda Knox with Chris Cuomo. Not only that, tomorrow on "New Day," excerpts as well. I'm sure you'll have some additional material on "New Day."

Good work.

CUOMO: Thank you.

BANFIELD: As always. Standard protocol here.

Hey, we've got to go. Thank you for watching. Our other colleague, Wolf Blitzer, takes the helm now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we're learning new information on the time line of Flight 370's disappearance.