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Boston Bomber Sentenced To Die; Boston Bomber Could End Up At Supermax Prison. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired May 15, 2015 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, death to the Boston bomber. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visibly unmoved as jurors call for the death penalty on six of 17 counts.

OUTFRONT tonight, a survivor who lost a leg in the bombing.

Plus, Tsarnaev's next stop, quite possibly what's called the Alcatraz of the Rockies. The Supermax Prison a warden called a version of hell. We'll take you inside.

And more breaking news, a stunning revelation from the NTSB. Did something strike that Amtrak train just before it flew off the rails? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett OUTFRONT tonight. The breaking news. Death. A jury sentencing Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by lethal injection. He's the first terrorist sentenced to death in America since 9/11. A first responder says it was the right decision.


MICHAEL WARD, HELPED TREAT BOSTON BOMBING VICTIMS: He wanted to go to hell and he's going to get there early.


BURNETT: Tsarnaev showed no reaction as the death sentence was read. But as he was taken away by U.S. marshals, he smiled, his hands cuffed at his waist, his index fingers extended in a suggestion said to look like a gun slinger's two pistol salute. Tsarnaev and his brother exploded two bombs 12 second apart near the finish line of the Boston marathon two years ago. The bombs were homemade, filled with nails and pellets loaded into their backpacks, they caused horrific injuries. At least 17 of the injured lost limbs. And Tsarnaev killed 29-year-old Crystal Campbell, 23-year-old Lindsey Lieu and 8-year-old Martin Richard. Three days later the brothers assassinated police officer Sean Callier as they tried to flee.

Today, when the saga finally ended, the U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz made her feelings crystal clear.


CARMEN ORTIZ, .S. ATTORNEY: Even in the wake of horror and tragedy, we are not intimidated by acts of terror or radical ideals on the contrary. The trial of this case has showcased an important American ideal. That even the worst of the worst deserve a fair trial and due process of law.


BURNETT: The worst of the worst sentenced to death by a jury of his peers. Deborah Feyerick has been covering this trial from the very beginning. She's OUTFRONT tonight in Boston. And Deb, let me just start though with what just happened. I know where you are, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev leaving that court and you were able to see?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's exactly right. You can just faintly hear the sirens. But a caravan just seconds ago left the courthouse. We do believe that that is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He is returning to prison. He will ultimately find out where exactly he will stay while he awaits for this execution. Of course we're expecting a lot of different appeals. But that was it, he has been coming back and forth to this court. It's really been the only kind of interaction he's had with anybody who is not connected to the prison system, being in that court, seeing the judge, seeing the jurors, seeing the people in the courtroom. But now he's on his way back to prison. He will be brought back for sentencing date, time and all of that a little later on. But he has now left the building, as they say -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Deb, what was the reaction like in the courtroom as that sentence was read, in the courtroom, and also from Tsarnaev himself?

FEYERICK: Yes. It was so interesting because it was about 2:30 in the afternoon. Everyone expected to be going home for the weekend and all of the sudden somebody just rushed into one of the overflow rooms and we realized that the note had come back that the jury had a verdict. When everybody walked into that room, it was very heavy, it was very somber. Nobody was moving because again, this is all about life or death. And as the slip was read by the judge's clerk about the charges and the findings, it took 30 almost minutes for all of that to take place. And then the ultimate finding that some of the capital charges were death. Six of the 17 ultimately with the death penalty. But even when some of the spectators in the court, the victims and their relatives, some dabbed tears. When they walked out of the court they hugged each other. But there wasn't any real talking. Nobody was sort of celebrating, nobody seemed happy. It just seemed like this was about justice and justice had been served.

BURNETT: All right. Deb, thank you very much. Deb reporting live from Boston. As she said, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev just leaving that courtroom literally within the past minute or 90 seconds.

Roseann Sdoia lost her right leg from a bomb planted by the Tsarnaev brothers, she testified at that trial and she joins me now on the phone. And Roseann, I really appreciate it. Our viewers appreciate it. So many around this country are looking for people like you to try to figure out how to feel about this. When you heard the verdict today, what went through your head? [19:05:07] ROSEANN SDOIA, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR (on the phone):

First off, thanks for having me. You know, honestly I was kind of going about my business today and didn't even really think about the verdict. I think maybe because I thought it wouldn't be today or probably more like Monday. But when I finally did hear it, you know, there's no right answer and there's no wrong answer to it. It definitely was a heavy moment for the thought of everything that the survivors have gone through, especially more important by the families of the deceased. And I think, you know, it was kind of a heavy moment. And I'm surprised that it was the death penalty. But that's why we live here in America and you know, the justice system has its way. And he was judged by a jury of his peers.

BURNETT: Roseann, you know, you talk about it was a heavy moment. You say you were surprised. Is this the verdict that you were hoping for? Are you satisfied with it?

SDOIA: You know, honestly, I view the whole thing based on similar to politics and religion where I don't think that it's something to discuss my personal views. I do think that there, again, there's no right answer, no wrong answer and everybody has their own opinion of it. I really, at this point because I'm okay, I'm alive, I really want to support those families of the deceased and however they want to look at it has really been kind of in my view.

BURNETT: Which is incredibly gracious of you. And I know you used the word okay. But, you know, Tsarnaev changed your life. He took a leg from you. You're never going to have that back. When people hear of that, they think you have gone throw incredible pain and suffering, your life will never be the same. Can you ever forgive him?

SDOIA: You know, I don't even think I know exactly what happened to be honest. And I know it's strange to say I wake up with it every single day. But every day I wake up and go oh my God, I don't have a leg. Or I walk out and I see my car in a handicap spot and I go wait a minute, I'm handicapped. And I think partly because I try to live my life as normal as possible even though it's not normal any longer what it was. I'm working on getting back to the normal. And he has changed my life in many ways. You know, taking my leg is an awful thing and it definitely, you know, excuse the expression, but it totally sucks and I hate it every moment. But there's also positive situations that have come out of it. And you know, you can't ask the question, do you wish it would have happened or didn't happen. But the way I look at it is that I'm alive and, you know, I can do what I can to continue being the way I was before.

BURNETT: Roseann, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us on this difficult way. We appreciate it. You know, a lot of people thought Tsarnaev would not get the death penalty in the state of Massachusetts. A state that doesn't have a death penalty. And so many people are against it. But this of course was on the federal level, where these charges even though the case was heard in that state.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT, and Jean, you know the people who are at the center of this now is the jury. Right? They didn't agree on every charge. They agreed on some of them. All they needed to do was agree on one that carried death. How hard was it for them to come to an agreement?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it appears as though it was very difficult, Erin. We're seeing their state of mind. Because this was a 24-page verdict form. And there were many, many questions, specific questions, specific interrogatories and they just went one by one. And let's look at the facts here. There were 17 counts that were capital counts. So, they could find on any of those beyond the reasonable doubt, unanimously the death penalty is warranted. They found six. They found one-third of the 17. And they are the ones that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev personally was responsible for. The use of the weapon of mass destruction, the pressure cooker bomb number two. And they all involved pressure cooker bomb number two. But yet, when you look at the non-statutory aggravating factors, which are those aggravators which make someone eligible for the death penalty, they all found a lack of remorse.

They all found that he murdered the police officer performing his duties. And as far as mitigating factors, there were only three jurors -- and remember, this is not unanimous. This is just more likely than not, they believe that he acted under his brother's influence. Only three jurors. Three are three. But still you see how specific they were, how in-depth they were in all of this throughout the decision and they were a death qualified jury within the commonwealth of Massachusetts. So, they took an oath that they could say the death penalty was warranted if the evidence showed it.

BURNETT: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you very much. What they had to go through. And we're now going to talk a little bit more about how crucial this jury is. It's hard to imagine.

OUTFRONT tonight our criminal defense attorney Paul Callan and a federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin. Okay. Good to have both of you with us. Jeff, let me start with you. This is the first time a federal jury has sentenced a terrorist to death in the post 9/11 era. Actually goes back even further than that. But 9/11 is when the definition of terror changed in this country. And we haven't had anyone sentenced then. Bottom-line, were you surprised by this verdict?

[19:10:12] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not really. Although it was a close call. The community, the polls show that only about 20 percent of the people in Boston wanted to see Tsarnaev executed. So, that's a low, that's a low number. But if you were in that courtroom, the monstrousness of this crime, the horror of what went on was unmistakable. And if you are forced to look at him and say we have a death penalty in this country. If not for this crime, when would you ever have it? And so, I would say maybe a little surprised but not a lot surprised.

BURNETT: It's interesting because in the closing arguments Paul, the defense attorney who is obviously well-known for getting people off the death penalty said, this is only for the worst of the worst. He is not the worst of the worst obviously as Jeff is saying. People who heard this and saw this in the courtroom, they felt this is the worst of the worst. How big of a deal is it, this verdict?

PAUL CALLAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, I think it's a very big deal. And what could be worse than this. It was a meticulously planned assassination of innocent civilians. A scene of such staggering carnage that even hard members of the press started crying in court when some of the videos were shown. And he confessed in blood, you know, on the side of the boat in which he was apprehended. And at the time of trial, what is his defense?

BURNETT: His attorney never tried to say he wasn't guilty.

CALLAN: No, he offers one defense which is my brother is nastier than I am. That's really what the defense was and that's no defense at all.


CALLAN: So, it's not any surprise to me that this jury followed the evidence and it led in only one direction, to the death penalty.

BURNETT: And to the point that Jean was making of the jury, you only had three who actually bought into this argument that the brother was more important. How important is that going to be on appeals? I mean, that's the only argument they had in litigating factors, so.

TOOBIN: I don't think that's an important argument on appeal.


TOOBIN: But they do have one potential argument that may actually win on appeal, I think. And that is the failure to move this trial out of Boston.

BURNETT: Right. Couldn't get a fair hearing in Boston. It was too emotional.

TOOBIN: It wasn't just a crime in Boston. It was a crime that convulsed the whole city. It was a crime at the marathon. The whole city was shut down while they looked for the Tsarnaev brothers. And you know, the Oklahoma City bombing trial, that was moved to Denver. And there's a lot, you know, there are a good deal of similarities between the two. So, you know, look, most appeals fail. I expect this appeal will probably fail too. But that is a -- that really does have a chance of succeeding.

CALLAN: I have to respectfully disagree on this with Jeff.


CALLAN: This verdict was taken in probably the most liberal place in America, Massachusetts, where most people oppose the death penalty. Had it been moved to Houston or Denver or a more conservative place --

BURNETT: It would have only been harder. CALLAN: Yes, the jury would have been out for about two hours

instead of three days. So, I don't think it would have changed the outcome.

BURNETT: So, there's one thing, you know, that made me think this might go the other way, and that was the parents of that eight- year-old boy who was killed Bill and Denise Richard. They wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe saying, "The continued pursuit of punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong relieving the most painful say of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering painful reminder of what the defendant took from them." They were saying do not do death because the appeals process will take too long.

TOOBIN: And Judy Clarke, the defense attorney made the argument that being in the Supermax, which you're going to talk about shortly, is worse than death. I mean think about what a young man he is. He would have had to spend decades in there.


TOOBIN: And you know, that's not a bad argument. But that op-ed piece was not put in front of the jury. And it is true, though, that these appeals will go on for quite a few years.

BURNETT: But Paul, the bottom-line is quickly, you're saying even the appeals process on life in prison would have gone on too. I mean, it wouldn't --

CALLAN: There would still be the same number of appeals and the same number of publicity. And by the way the Supermax, they're suing -- there's a federal suit saying that's cruel and unusual punishment. Who knows if that place will be open in five years? So, you know, I think they gave death because there's certainty to it or more certainty to it.

BURNETT: Well, thanks to both of you. And you are both talking about the Supermax, we are going to take you inside that Supermax. A very special report next OUTFRONT. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's likely corner of hell as he appeals his death sentence, 23 hours a day in a seventh by 12 foot cell. It has been called life after death. As Paul said, some are saying it's cruel and unusual punishment. We have a special report on life inside that prison next.

Plus, a major development in the Amtrak train investigation. The NTSB says someone may have thrown something at the train distracting the engineer. We have that breaking news ahead.

And Tom Brady mano o mano against the NFL Chief Roger Goodell. Does that mean Brady's appeal is toast?


[19:18:28] BURNETT: Breaking news, just moments ago, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was seen leaving the courthouse after a jury unanimously voted to sentence the Boston bomber to death, the 21-year-old could spend the remaining days of his life at Supermax. That is a federal prison in Colorado. It is for as many say, point blank, the worst of the worst. A former warden calling it a quote-unquote, clean version of hell. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh spent time here before his execution. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is serving eight life sentence there right now. And shoe bomber Richard Reid is also spending the rest of his life in Supermax.

Alexandra Field OUTFRONT.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dzhokhar Tsarnaev behind bars. His image infamous. But life here in a prison this closely guarded the world can only imagine.

ROBERT HOOD, FORMER SUPERMAX WARDEN: The Supermax is life after death. It's, in my opinion, far much worse than death.

FIELD: Known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies in Florence, Colorado, this is the only federal Supermax where 420 of the country's most dangerous criminals are locked up with the most notorious terrorists. The 21-year-old Boston marathon bomber could soon be among them.

HOOD: This kid doesn't have the skill sets. He's not one of the gang there. He's not even close to being what the other Supermax type of inmates are. He wouldn't fair in there.

FIELD: Built in 1944 for $60 million it's designed to cut criminals off from the rest of the world and each other.

HOOD: If he is assigned to the Supermax, he is no threat to anyone period. The Supermax is designed to stop those threats. But this person doesn't even have the skill sets to be like the other inmates there. To communicate outside, no one is following him.

FIELD: Cameras aren't allowed in. Human contact hardly exists.

HOOD: When you're looking at people like Ramzi, the 1993 World Trade bomber, Timothy McVeigh was there, Nichols is still there, the shoe bomber, the Unabomber --

FIELD: Many isolated 23 hours a day, seven days a week and a 12 by seven cell behind bars and sliding steel doors, the prison encircled by a dozen gun towers and guards armed with tear gas and .9 millimeter shot guns. Inmates exercise alone in cages while hundreds of cameras monitor every move.

HOOD: If you're the Unabomber, you're going to sit there and read most of the day. If you're a former spy like Robert Hanson, you know, you're going to study. But many of the inmates do not have those coping skills. They don't have the reading ability. They don't have the ability to be litigious. So, there's no outlet. So, that's most likely the inmate who's going to throw feces at you, it's not designed for treatment and corrections. It's not a correctional institution. FIELD: The only window to the outside world is a few inches

wide. The marathon bombers new view could be just a narrow patch of sky.


FIELD: Tsarnaev would be a high profile inmate. It's possible he could be targeted by other prisoners. That's just one reason that experts say he wouldn't be placed in open population. But even in Supermax he could have some communication with immediate family members in the form of closely monitored and very limited phone calls and also occasional noncontact visits -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alexandra, thank you very much.

Joining me now, Attorney Andrew Maloney. He's a former federal prosecutor, he's been inside the Supermax federal prison. And thanks for being with me Andrew. You spent two days inside this prison in fact where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may spend the rest of his life. You were speaking to inmate Zacarias Moussaoui who was sentenced to life for his role in the 9/11 attacks. What was it like going inside that Supermax prison? I mean, physically what did you go through and psychologically?

ANDREW MALONEY, ATTORNEY KREINDLER AND KREINDLER: Well, physically it took about 20 minute because to get from the front door to the place where we had our interview of Mr. Moussaoui. And that's because you go through, I estimate, probably at least 10 to 12 different metal doors. They would close one behind you before the next one would open. You have to be stamped with infrared dye. They put a serial number on your wrist. And you have a show a checkpoint along the way. Psychologically, you felt like you were going underground even though I think most of it is on the side of a hill. It's going down the whole time. And it feels like you're going underground and it feels like you're being entombed. There are no windows. So, you can't see outside. You definitely have an immediate feeling of isolation. Even though I was with a small group of other attorneys, we felt isolated. And you feel like a rat in a cage so to speak.

[19:23:11] BURNETT: A rat in a cage. I mean, the former warden, Robert Hood, you just heard him a little bit there in Alexandra's piece but he described a sentence at this prison as much worse than death. And I wanted to play a little bit more of what he told us.



HOOD: You're designing it so the inmates can't see the sky intentionally. You're putting up wire so helicopters can't land in your open areas. And you're just having an abundance of staff. You're increasing your staffing levels. You're doing everything you can to say these people are dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: I know you've been to a lot of prisons. I mean is this

really, as some described it, a cleaner version hell, the worst of the worst?

MALONEY: It's a good description. The one thing I've noticed and other prisons is, some of them are dirty, they smell but there are people, there are people around you, other inmates. You can see guards. There's interaction. There's a social life, so to speak in those prisons. This prison is immaculately clean. It is very, very clean. But it is very sterile. It's like being in a very sterile environment and you notice right away you don't see very many people. You see very few guards.


MALONEY: They're behind glass windows, they're behind cameras. You don't even see the guards very often, you certainly don't see other prisoners.

BURNETT: And the inmates spend as we've been reporting 23 hours a day in a 7-by-12 concrete cell. When they do get to exercise or recreation, they do so in a cage, an actual which may surprise people. It's not much bigger than the prison cell. You actually had a chance to see those?

MALONEY: Yes. I think somebody referred to them in the vernacular as a dog cage. Sometimes you see a dog at a kennel outside when they get to go outside, there's a cage or a rectangular shape and that's about the only outside activity -- that's the only time the prisoner gets to go outside and they can only walk a few feet in each direction, just like a dog in a cage.

BURNETT: All right. Andrew Maloney, thank you very much. That is what life will be like possibly for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he awaits death.

OUTFRONT next, breaking news, investigators say the Amtrak train may have been struck by an object. The FBI is now looking at the windshield for evidence. It's a possible bombshell claim. And the engineer finally talks to the NTSB. He says he wasn't tired and he wasn't sick. What else did he tell investigators? We'll be right back.


[19:29:26] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight. A major development into the investigation of the deadly Amtrak derailment outside Philadelphia. The NTSB revealing just moments ago that an assistant conductor on Train 188 believes that she heard an engineer on a local commuter train say his train had been shot at her hit by a rock. And then, and here's the crucial part, she heard her engineer Brian Bostian respond.


ROBERT SUMWALT, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: She also believed that she heard her engineer say something about his train being struck by something.


BURNETT: That could be very, very, very significant. Now the NTSB also says it has now questioned the Engineer Brandon Bostian. They describe him as extremely cooperative.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT. Jason, let's just start with this. Right? Everyone has all sorts of theories.


BURNETT: But this is the first we've heard that perhaps something you thrown at or hit this train. How would information about a possible projectile hitting train 188 change the investigation?

CARROLL: Well, you're right. A lot of theories sort of going around.

But, first of all, the first thing to explain is that NTSB still doesn't have a confirmed explanation as to what caused that train to accelerate. But this investigation is now going to change in that the FBI is now being brought in to take a look at that lower left hand portion of the Amtrak windshield. They're going to take a specific look at it. The NTSB speaking just a short while ago, talking about what area, what exactly they'll be looking for.


ROBERT SUMWALT, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: If you're standing in the middle of the locomotive cab, the center line, over here is where the engineer's windshield is. In the lower portion of the left-hand windshield, there is a circular pattern that emanates out just a bit. So, that's the damage to that.


CARROLL: Now, as you know, Bostian doesn't remember very much at all after leaving the Pennsylvania station. He does not remember being hit by anything at all. In fact, NTSB says that his injuries are also not consistent with being hit by an object. So, obviously, this is an investigation that has taken somewhat of a different turn but an investigation that is far from over.

BURNETT: Did investigators -- I know they had a chance to talk to him for an hour and a half, Jason. What did he tell them? Do you have any more information about what he said?

CARROLL: Well, a few things. First of all, he told investigators that he was not fatigued. He was not suffering from any illness at all. Investigators, NTSB investigators said he was very cooperative, agreed actually to be interviewed again.

There is one other point that we should mention and that has to do with Bostian and the other members of the crew. Apparently, Erin, when the train, just as the train left Washington, D.C., the entire crew had a safety briefing going over a number of topics, one of the topics that they reviewed as they left Washington, D.C. was speed safety -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jason Carroll.

As Jason says, it seems like this is a bombshell revelation and yet it doesn't really explain what happened or does it.

Let's bring in Jim Remines, former investigator in charge of the NTSB who investigated rail accidents for 18 years, along with our safety analyst David Soucie, who's investigated transportation disasters for nearly 20 years.

All right. Good to have both of you with us.

Jim, what's your reaction to this account? So, this is coming, the assistant conductor who was on the train said she overheard a conversation on the radio in which Bostian said that train 188 had been hit by something.

JIM REMINES, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR-IN-CHARGE: The glass in those locomotives, all railroad glass is required to meet glazing standards and glazing standards will stop a bullet or a cinder block. Objects being thrown at a train are not unusual on the Northeast corridor, especially going into a heavily populated area. It could be a distraction but it wouldn't be a long term distraction. I'm sure you'll find that the object didn't pierce the glass.

BURNETT: And as you -- to your point, they're also saying that his injuries are not consistent from being hit. So he at least doesn't appear that he was hit by anything.


BURNETT: You know, David, we know that a commuter train running along the same tracks as this train reported being hit by something around the same time. We have a photograph of damage to that particular train. That other engineer stopped his train. He actually brought it to a halt. If train 188 was hit by something, aside from the point that Jim just made, right, which is that it wouldn't have pierced the glass and that it probably happens all the time, what would explain the fact that train 188 accelerated to 106 miles an hour, two times the speed limit after being hit?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: That would be totally speculation, to link the objects.


SOUCIE: Actually the events, other than as Tim mentioned, too, that if it was a distraction at the wrong time, it may have been that he was too distracted to pull that back. But, you know, this is a common event for someone to throw things at trains. The FBI being called in is not common. So, we'll look into what they're doing and why they're looking into what they are. BURNETT: Jim, what's your view of what would explain -- as we

said, other trains around this time, there were a couple of incidents in that 20 minute period where trains were hit, but they brought those trains to a halt. Do you see any link between the train being hit and this train in less than a minute's time increased its speed from 70 miles an hour to 106 miles an hour?

REMINES: If that were to happen I would think he would slow the train rather than speed it up.

[19:35:02] And from what I've seen, he was not aware of his speed until he put the train in emergency at the last second. No, I don't place much credence in that.

BURNETT: So, Jim, what about this? The NTSB now is also saying, all right, we know the engineer had been working for Amtrak for four years as an engineer, four years before that as a conductor, but they're now saying he had only been on this particular route, Washington to New York, for a few a weeks.

Everyone that has been talking, former colleagues said he had great attention to detail, was very precise in terms of doing his job. But do you think only doing this for a few weeks means he wasn't familiar enough with the route, he forgot where he was, something hit him, he was distracted, he sped up instead of slowing down? I mean, does any of that makes sense to you?

REMINES: Well, in engineer's jobs, there's two types of restrictions. One, he's handed the day he leave the station and the other one is a written timetable that gives him the speed limit just like you would with a car. He could have lost his bearings. But it would have been strange if he had been an engineer that long. The qualification process is very detailed. He rides with another engineer. Until he demonstrates proficiency, he's not allowed to run that train by himself.

BURNETT: All right. Jim, David, thanks very much to both of you.

And OUTFRONT next, if the train wreck was not human error, why was the train accelerating so quickly just moments before the crash. That is the mystery tonight.

And after ordering the investigation, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he will be the judge and jury for Tom Brady's appeal. So, does Tom Brady have a shot?


[19:40:37] BURNETT: Breaking news on the deadly Amtrak train crash. The NTSB just revealing that a conductor overheard the engineer at the controls saying that his train had been struck by something minutes before it derailed. The FBI is now on site examining damage to the train's windshield. The NTSB also says that the injuries on the engineer were not consistent with being hit by anything. Also tonight, investigators wrapped up an interview with the

engineer. Brandon Bostian is his name. They say he was cooperative.

But long before his train flew off the tracks at 106 miles an hour, twice the speed limit, Bostian apparently ranted online about the rail industry. He ripped on officials for not using tools to prevent this exact thing from happening.

Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): There is little no doubt Brandon Bostian was in his dream job, engineer on Amtrak's major route. And from his colleagues to his friends, he was an engineer who took his job seriously and the safety of his passengers passionately.

(on camera): Good engineer?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): And it turns out a prolific writing engineer. Brandon Bostian appears to be a blogger posting comments on train safety dating years back and pushing on posts for the nation's railway system to do better.

In response to a fatal crash in Chatsworth, California, in which another engineer was texting, Bostian who wasn't involved writes about the safety technology that would have prevented that crash and ironically his. "At any point over the previous 80 years," he writes, "the railroad could have voluntarily implemented some form of this technology on the line where that fateful wreck took place. But instead it took an act of Congress to get them to do it."

Yet another post, he apparently writes of his frustration. "I wish the railroads would have been more proactive from the get-go. The reality is they have had 100 years of opportunity to implement some sort of system to mitigate human error, but with a few notable exceptions have refused to do so."

BISHOP: I honestly don't know.

GRIFFIN: Xavier Bishop was on Bostian's Amtrak crew. Bishop was a flag man and in hundreds of routes says Brandon's routine of safety checks never wavered.

BISHOP: He was very thorough when he came to work, always had his paperwork. You know, he was always on time for the briefing. Half the time he was there before us. But he was always on point.

GRIFFIN (on camera): As you told me, that includes an hour before the train, checking everything out, especially checking the brakes.

BISHOP: Yes. GRIFFIN: All these things are checked.

BISHOP: Yes. You know, make sure the brakes are on point, make sure everything is good, check the horns. You know, but you're not responsible for the equipment until you get to your destination.


GRIFFIN: Erin, one thing we did learn from the NTSB today, and that is that an inwardly facing camera might have solved this whole mystery of an engineer who can't recall anything about the accident. But in 2010, even after the NTSB recommended engineers have these inward facing cameras looking at the engineer and the cabin, they are still not in place today -- a significant safety feature that would have solved this issue at least by now -- Erin.

BURNETT: Engineers and I know pilots always fight those cameras.

Thank you very much, Drew.

And now a friend of Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian, Stephanie McGee.

Stephanie, look, I appreciate you taking your time to be here with us. You know, we were going through the posts that obviously Brandon was very, very upset and passionate about some of the shortcuts were being taken by the rail industry. Another thing that he posted in one forum read, "Everyone wants to go through inconvenience, but what will you say when the crew that's been on duty for longer for 12 hours accidentally falls asleep, rear ends a loaded hazmat train, killing hundreds or dozens or hundreds of people."

Is fact that he was posting a u of these things surprising to you at all?

STEPHANIE MCGEE, FRIEND OF AMTRAK ENGINEER BRANDON BOSTIAN: Not at all. As long as I've gone Brandon, he's been extremely passionate about trains, transportation, railroad. This was his dream job. So, of course, he's going to go to bat for it. He's going to speak out and say what he think needs to be done.

BURNETT: And you say it was his dream job. Did he talk a lot about his work?

MCGEE: You know, I haven't -- I saw him several years ago and he was -- you would have thought he won the lottery, having gotten hired on with Amtrak.

[19:45:05] When I knew him, he was in high school and college, worked with him then. And he talked about trains all the time. He loved trains. He would bring, you know, souvenirs back from his subway ride from vacations.

BURNETT: That's someone who certainly loves trains. It's interesting when you described it that he felt like he won the lottery when he got his job at Amtrak, because as you know, some people are questioning if he is in any way responsible for this crash.

And when you hear that, how does it make you feel? What's your response to people who are thinking that?

MCGEE: I simply can't fathom that Brandon would do anything intentional or even negligently to cause this. My guess is he is absolutely devastated that this has happened on happened on his watch. It's the last thing in the world he would ever want and he would never do anything to jeopardize his career.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Stephanie, we appreciate you time tonight. Thank you for coming on and talking about your friend Brandon Bostian.

OUTFRONT next, it is Brady versus Goodell. The NFL chief has decided to hear Brady's appeal himself, judge and jury. The players union is saying no way. Back down. So here's the thing. Does come Brady have a chance or is his massive punishment going to stand?

And heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield has 16 years and about 60 pounds on that guy. Yes, that guy. They're going to fight. That's next.


[19:50:27] BURNETT: Tonight, Tom Brady versus Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner is dismissing the request for a neutral arbitrator. He said forget about it. I'll personally handle your appeal.

Brady, of course, is appealing a four-game suspension. Brady's camp says Goodell is biased, he shouldn't be hearing the case, and they're now threatening to take the NFL to court.

CNN's sports anchor Rachel Nichols is OUTFRONT.

Now, Rachel, this is a pretty significant thing, right? They asked for an independent arbitrator. Roger Goodell runs the NFL, he said no way. Now, Ray Rice, domestic violence, he did appoint an independent arbitrator to overhear that one. But he said no way to Tom Brady.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, this is a little surprising, because Goodell is going to take the conflict of interest here, right? He is the appeals officer on a decision his own office made which seems completely ridiculous on the face of it, except as the NFL is very quick to point out, this is what the players association agreed to in the last collective bargaining agreement, which makes you think, well, what were they thinking? But hey, they did and Goodell is basically saying, if the other side is going to handle me that kind of power, I am going to take it.

Now, in the Ray Rice case, in some of these other cases, there were so much public pressure. Hey, Roger Goodell, you made some bad decisions before. Someone else has to take this over. There isn't that same pressure here, and frankly, when they have someone else took it over, the NFL hasn't fared well, or as Tom Brady's lawyers put, other outside people have shown the NFL doesn't have very good judgment.

So, in this case, it seems like Roger Goodell would rather take the conflict of interest hit than to have someone else say, once again, you don't have good judgment, you didn't make a good call.

BURNETT: And no one saying he isn't tough. I mean, when you look at the way this is, four games is a very, very tough suspension relative to what people thought as tough as people thought they could get. And in terms of the Patriots itself, it is a record fine. So, he made a tough suspension.

Does Brady have a chance here on this appeal?

NICHOLS: Well, the line coming out of the NFL office is that Goodell is very eager to hear Tom Brady's side, that he wants to take control over this because it is an integrity of the game issue.

BURNETT: Right, but you could roll your eyes and say they went to interview him and ask for his text --


NICHOLS: Exactly.

BURNETT: They're still eager to hear it.


Look, Roger Goodell was involved with every step of this. He hired the investigator. The investigator gave his report. They took and used that investigation and clearly judged it as valid since they use that in the punishment.

He then oversaw the punishment, yes, as the executive vice president made the punishment, but they even made it clear in that decision he is involved. So, is he suddenly going to turn around and reverse this in some major way unless they bring new evidence, which so far they haven't really presented, they made it an evidentiary issue, saying this technicality isn't right. I don't know if Roger Goodell is going to go to that.

BURNETT: All right. Rachel Nichols, thank you very much.

Well, you know, Roger Goodell might believe that when you refer to yourself as a deflator, you're talking about losing weight. I don't know, he might believe it.

Also, OUTFRONT next, Mitt Romney, actually, talking about bulking up, in a fight of his life. This time taking on heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield. We're going to tell you why. Why is he not wearing sleeves? And he's got (INAUDIBLE).

And remembering blues legend B.B. King.


[19:57:16] BURNETT: Tonight, Mitt Romney is in Utah, lacing up his boxing gloves right now, at least that is what we think he might be doing, or having a lot of carbs for his fight because he is about to get into the ring with the former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.


ANNOUNCER: This is it. Romney verse you Holyfield.


BURNETT: An unlikely match up all for the sake of charity. Our Chris Moody is covering the big fight in Salt Lake City. It's a bigger fight than that fight a couple of weeks ago between those other two guys.

All right. Chris, here's the thing, Mitt Romney, he appeared in a shirt with no sleeves, he is proud of his physique. Did he train for this?

CHRIS MOODY, CNN SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard of the rumble in the jungle, this is the quake on the lake, Mitt Romney versus Evander Holyfield in Salt Lake City. He did train for several months for this, with one of the most famous boxing clubs in the country.

Also, we spoke to Evander Holyfield earlier today and he helps him train a little bit and said Mitt Romney has got a pretty good job and quick feet as well. He also said that he's never fought anyone so old or so small as Mitt Romney. So, he better watch out.

But this is all for charity so it will be a lot of fun, probably no big bruises or black eyes.

BURNETT: You know, I get it's all in good fun. That is harsh to say.

All right. But here's my question, there is a picture of Mitt Romney, Chris, that you shared with his gloves on and he has no shirt on. So, is he going to fight with his shirt off or with all of that chest hair, could he get pulled or something like that? Is he better with the shirt on?

MOODY: Well, if you ask me in October or November 2012 we would see that much Mitt Romney chest hair, I would say probably not. But here we are, it's a different world, Mitt Romney is not president, but he is going to be in the ring with Evander Holyfield. We don't know if he's going to wear a shirt. He did talk about wearing Under Armour, so he could possibly do that.

But anything like this, there can be big surprised.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. I am looking forward to this, as well a lot of people I know. All right. Thanks. B.B. King, the king of blues, and in a sad ending to our show, he

died last night.

Mississippi born, King started out singing in the church choir. King and his guitar legendary guitar Lucille went on to define the blues for more than six decades and honored with 15 Grammys, President Obama remembered King today, saying, there will be one killer blues session in heaven tonight. A lovely way to summarize a man who lives a long and wonderful life. B.B. King was 89 years old.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.