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Police Search for Hate Crime Suspect; Coast Guard Works to Rescue Oil Tanker; Diplomats Hold Emergency Meeting about Iran; Saddam Trial Delayed as Defendants Refuse to Show

Aired February 02, 2006 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST: Live from B Control, I'm Kyra Phillips. A hate crime suspect on the loose after a frenzy to solve it. The man allegedly shot three patrons at a gay bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts and swung a hatchet at others, shooting around. Police say they know the man's name. Reporting from the scene now, CNN's Deborah Feyerick.
What do we know about the suspect, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, here's what we know. Police say he's 18-year-old Jacob Robida. He is described as extreme violent tendencies and he's considered armed and dangerous. He has been on the run since about 12 a.m. this morning, just after midnight.

According to police and a bartender who was there, the 18-year- old walked into a gay bar called Puzzle, sat down and asked the bartender, quote, "Is this a gay bar?"

Well, something in his tone or demeanor made the bartender nervous. He asked for I.D. and then proceed to serve Robida two drinks. After a couple of minutes, Robida walked to the back of the bar where there was a pool table. He was there and then all of a sudden took out a hatchet and started attacking two men who were playing pool.

At this point, other patrons in the bar realized what was happening, thought it was a fight, tried to break it up. He turned on them, was actually tackled. And once he lost his hatchet he then took out a gun and begun firing. He hit three people. The bartender says this was a scene of complete bloodshed.


"PHILLIP," PUZZLES BARTENDER: Once I cleared about 10 to 12 people from out of the bar, he then turns and points a gun to my face about two or three feet away from me and pulls the trigger. And he pulled the trigger. It clicked. It didn't fire or anything. But I thought for sure when the gun was in my face he didn't hesitate on anybody and when I heard that click, it was just like putting a TV on mute. Everything was just -- everything was just blank.


FEYERICK: Now, the three victims were airlifted to Boston hospitals immediately after the shooting. All of them are described as being in serious to critical condition. The names of the victims, Robert Perry, Alex Taylor and Luis Rosodo. It appears that Mr. Rosodo lived down the street from Mr. Robida. It is not clear whether the two men actually knew one another.

Police say that at the time of the shooting Mr. Robida was wearing black jeans with patches on it, a black hooded sweatshirt. Neighbors say he was the kind of guy who never went out during the day, only at night, and that he was a man with a lot of hate in his heart.


LAURA DECOSTA, NEIGHBOR: He hates people. He don't like the Jews. He don't like the -- what do they call them, white...

FEYERICK: Supremacists?

DECOSTA: Something like that. You see his room downstairs? Did you see his room downstairs yet?


DECOSTA: Oh, my. You should see it. It's all swastikas.

FEYERICK: So tell me, what, he doesn't like people...

DECOSTA: Oh, no. He hates people. He belongs -- he don't like colored people, he don't like Jewish people and white people -- what do they call that, they got a name for that?

FEYERICK: He's a bigot, he's a racist?

DECOSTA: Yes, right.


FEYERICK: There's an all-out man hunt under way right now. Police believe that Robida is driving a 1999 green Pontiac Grand Am. They're calling this a hate crime because of the comment he made to the bartender asking whether, in fact, it was a gay bar -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now as you've been finding out more about this suspect, did I hear correctly that possibly he may have gone through some type of police academy?

FEYERICK: That's absolutely right. Apparently, there's a program at the police academy for juniors, teens between the ages of 12 and 14. It's one of those programs, not exactly like Scared Straight, but they learn discipline. They're taught about different options. It's intended to build self-esteem. It can be very, very hard on teenagers, because it is such a structured and rigid program. And he did go through that and graduated -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Deb Feyerick, thanks so much.

We want to get straight to Fredricka Whitfield now, working a developing story out of the newsroom -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, ANCHOR: Kyra, out of Nikiski -- let me try that again. Nikiski, Alaska, in the Kenai Peninsula, a fully loaded tanker, fully loaded with crude oil, has broken free from the dock, has drifted, and has also run aground. And last report, we heard that some tug boats were on the way to rescue that ship.

On the line with us from the U.S. Coast guard, Darrell Wilson.

And Mr. Wilson, can you tell us where you are in the rescue efforts of this tanker?

DARRELL WILSON, COAST GUARD: Well, I'm still waiting to get some information fed back to me from the scene. It's a short flight from Anchorage down to the Kenai Peninsula area. But it's about a two-hour drive also. So we have people headed down with equipment, driving. And we had several people that flew down first thing this morning.

I don't have any information from on scene yet. I'm still waiting on that. So we don't have a confirmation of whether or not anything has been spilled.

WHITFIELD: Now, what kind of information is being relayed to you as to how this tanker broke free from the dock?

WILSON: I don't know how it broke free yet. They said it broke free at approximately 5:30 this morning, while it was loading at the facility. It has a mixture of bunker oil and diesel and some other products on board that total up to a little over 100,000 barrels. And we're just waiting to get some on scene information given to us about what the current status is.

WHITFIELD: All right, Daryl Wilson of the U.S. Coast Guard.

And again, Kyra, as we heard from Mr. Wilson there, no idea whether any kind of leak has taken place from this tanker that broke free from the dock. But of course when we get any more information, we'll be able to bring that to you.

PHILLIPS: All right, Fred. Thanks so much.

Now the collision course with Iran. And emergency meeting of diplomats today amid growing concern that Iran wants nuclear weapons. In the words of this man, a critical moment. He's the reigning Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohammed ElBaradei. As head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog group, ElBaradei summoned his forces today, amid a threat from Tehran to proceed full bore (ph) with uranium enrichment.

Matthew Chance has more on the story. He's live in Vienna.

Matthew, what do you think? Is it a foregone conclusion that Iran definitely will be referred to the U.N.? And what can the U.N. do?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the word they're using is "reported," which in diplomacy circles, there's a distinct difference, apparently, from "referral."

But certainly, it looks likely that now, with the -- all five of the permanent members of the Security Council on board with the idea of reporting Iran to the Security Council, many other countries that the U.N. nuclear watchdog here in Vienna, the Austrian capital, the headquarters of that organization, also in agreement with that idea. In order to try and send a clear message to Iran about the concerns of the international community regarding its nuclear program.

Iran, for its part, though, says if any involvement of the Security Council takes place, then it will consider it to be an end of diplomacy. It's threatened to end its voluntary contacts with the IAEA and its nuclear facilities on the ground. It's also threatened to resume full uranium enrichment be activities, which of course the international community are trying to prevent Iran from actually mastering.

So these are very important discussions. They'll be continuing on Friday here in Vienna. And they're discussions, the outcome of which could launch the international community and Iran on that collision course at the U.N. Security Council.

PHILLIPS: Any compromises at all, Matthew, or is this black and white?

CHANCE: Well, again, you know, they're definitely going to be reported to the Security Council. But at the same time, this statement, this resolution that's being debated, gives about a month grace period, a kind of last chance, in the words of Mohammed ElBaradei, for Iran to come in full compliance.

There's a diplomatic initiative on the table which was put forward by Russia, to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian soil, thereby, giving the international community some kind of oversight of the Iranian nuclear program, in that way. But that still has to be negotiated. They've got a month to do it. If they don't do it, if they're in the same position now, as we are now, in a month from now, then it looks like it will be Security Council action.

PHILLIPS: Matthew Chance, live from Vienna, thank you.

What if you hold a death penalty trial and the defendants refuse to show up? Well, if the trial is in Baghdad and the defendants include the former Iraqi dictator, it's pretty much business as usual, maybe even better than business as usual, but far from ideal.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is in the thick of it.

Aneesh, it seems like I ask you the same question over and over again: why can Saddam Hussein and these other defendants do this?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, Kyra, the court says they allowed Saddam Hussein not to show up, that they actually barred him from entering into the courtroom because he was going to embark on one of his diatribes. But as you say, this trial going forward now with eight empty chairs where those defendants were to sit. Today, it was the latest in a standoff between the defendants and the judge. It began on Sunday when the new chief presiding judge issued a new law that no political diatribes would be allowed in the courtroom.

Saddam's half-brother immediately broke that. He was forcibly removed. Saddam and three others then left the courtroom. His entire defense team walked out. The judge told them they were subsequently barred from the proceedings.

So this latest impasse, the only solution we can tell from the defense lawyers is that the new chief judge has to resign. He has made no indication that he plans to do so -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, they've replaced the defense lawyers with court appointed ones. Will that make a difference and can they force Saddam and the others to come back to court?

RAMAN: The court says it can. It has in its authority, the right to physically bring Saddam into the courtroom. The problem that the court faces, though, is that if you bring Saddam in, he's going to embark on one of his speeches. He's going to continue to stall this process. But if you leave him out, you have that image of eight empty chairs that cuts at the legitimacy of this court.

So it's adjourned now until February 13. In the interim, the court will likely try to find some compromise, but honestly, I can't tell you what compromise is out there for them to really find -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Aneesh, has the discussion even come up, possibly, that they would gag -- gag Saddam and these others and also tie their hands behind their back so they couldn't make a scene?

RAMAN: Well, I think there's any number of options on the table. We've seen at previous trials, the Nuremburg trial, for example where some of the defendants were put in sound proof glass cages, essentially, so that they couldn't be heard.

There's also the option -- and we're told Saddam is watching these proceedings on closed circuit television -- to have a video feed of him come into the courtroom and if he starts to go off on a speech they can cut that feed. But for the moment, this is an aggressively intolerant judge when it comes to these diatribes, and he doesn't seem to have any desire to make compromises to the defense -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Aneesh Raman, we'll stay in touch. Thank you very much.

Well, as we watch the drama and disappearing act in the Saddam Hussein trial we wondered, could it happen in the United States? The simple answer is yes.

We called former Justice Department attorney Daniel Sikelli (ph), and he says it's up to the judge whether to ban a disruptive defendant from the courtroom. If a judge did that, he'd warn the jury not to draw negative conclusions. The defendant could then watch the trial on closed circuit television.

The judge could also decide to force a reluctant defendant to show up in the courtroom, bound and gagged, if necessary. But there's a catch to that. This could give the defense team grounds to appeal a guilty verdict.

A lull in U.S. combat deaths is not only broken but shattered. Five U.S. troops were killed in three separate attacks in Iraq yesterday, the first American casualties since Saturday.

Three were killed by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad. A fourth died of wounds that he suffered in a small arms attack. A Marine was killed in combat near the western city of Fallujah.

The toll of American troops killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 is now 2,247.

Reckless and provocative. The angry description by Shiite politicians of a U.S. air strike that killed a young woman in Baghdad. Iraqis say three other people, including a 2-year-old, were wounded. The U.S. military says a helicopter fired rockets into the Shiite district known as Sadr City after being fired on.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, at least 16 people were killed today, dozens wounded in car bomb attacks. The explosions happened within minutes of each other, one near a gas station, the other at a crowded outdoor market.

Another grisly discovery: bodies of 14 men found partially buried in Baghdad. Each corpse was blindfolded, bound and seemingly tortured before being shot in the head. Police believe it happened about a week ago. They also believe it's yet another act of sectarian hatred between Iraq's dominant Shiites and minority Sunnis.

Backyard wrestling means hard core violence. What some kids do for fun has always made some parents cringe, but what these kids do is insane. And that's their word for it. CNN investigates when LIVE FROM returns.


PHILLIPS: The governor's had enough. After more mine workers are killed in West Virginia, Joe Manchin urges -- strongly urges that mine owners shut down top to bottom all those mines for inspection. So far it appears most will. And there's a good chance that mines nationwide will do the same.

CNN's Miles O'Brien looks at what led up to this point.


GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Mine companies, supervisors and the miners themselves are to engage in a thorough review of safety procedures before any work or production is to continue.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And with that, mining in West Virginia may grind to a halt. A safety stand down after two more deadly accidents in the same day. In one, a mine support popped loose underground, killing one miner. Then just about two hours later at a surface mine in the same county, a bulldozer ran into a gas line. That started a fire that killed the driver.

PAM SILCOX, MINER'S WIFE: It just makes you worry, you know, when they go out to work.

O'BRIEN: Miners' families have good reason to worry. Since the beginning of the year, 16 miners have died in West Virginia. On January 2, an explosion at the Sago mine trapped 13 miners. Only one survived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hundred and eight violations on them for safety and they can't shut it down for the safety of our families?

O'BRIEN: Then on January 19, a fire at the Aracoma mine killed two more miners. After that accident, Governor Joe Manchin said this.

MANCHIN: If I have anything to do with it, if I am able, with every breath of my body, to make the changes that need to be made to make sure no family ever goes through what we've been going through.

O'BRIEN: So yesterday, the governor asked for all mines to shut down, pending safety checks. It's a tall order. West Virginia is the nation's second largest coal producer. But after all the loss of life, it may be the only choice.

GLEN HALSTAD, FORMER MINER: If one of your kids ask you that, sure, you're going to say, "No, I'm not going to die, baby." But we don't know that.

DIANE SMITH, BOONE COUNTY RESIDENT: There's been so many accidents since the first of the year, it's just unbelievable, wondering what's going to happen next.

O'BRIEN: Miles O'Brien, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: Mining is even deadlier in China. Today, word of another underground explosion. At least 23 people are dead. The official Chinese news agency reports 53 others had to be rushed to the hospital after inhaling toxic gases. Last year, accidents at Chinese mines killed more than 5,500 people.

It's official. The World Health Organization confirms a 15-year- old Iraqi girl who died last month was, indeed a victim of bird flu. A vast effort is underway now in the northern Kurdistan town of Rania to round up every backyard bird health officials can find. So far, at least half a million chickens, ducks and geese have been culled.

Two new possible bird flu cases are being investigated. The teen's uncle, who died 10 days after his niece, and a 54-year-old woman from the same area, who's hospitalized with bird flu symptoms. A 15-year-old Indonesian boy may be his country's 15th bird flu fatality. Scientists in Hong Kong are investigating it right now. The teen died in the hospital Wednesday after a high fever and breathing problems. He reportedly had been around dead chickens before falling ill.

It shouldn't have happened to a dog, let alone a puppy. Drug smugglers go to the inhumane lengths to sneak heroin into America. We'll show you how, when LIVE FROM continues.


PHILLIPS: This has got to be a new low in the dirty business of drug smuggling: smugglers using puppies as mules. Ten such puppies were rescued in a raid last year. A veterinarian had surgically implanted bags of liquid heroin into their bellies.

A DEA investigation has led to more than 30 arrests. Three of the puppies died after the drugs were removed. But Colombian police have adopted three others and are training one to be a drug sniffing dog.

The kickoff to Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching. And there's already some controversy, but it's not about the game. Allan Chernoff joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange to tell us what's going on -- Allan.



PHILLIPS: We all know boys will be boys, and rough play is part of the game. But backyard wrestling is something else entirely. It's allegedly a sport, but sportsmanship doesn't enter into it. Blood does, though. If not from brute force, than from broken glass and barbed wire and thumb tacks. It's not easy to watch. But what you're about to see is pretty appalling, even repulsive.

CNN's Adaora Udoji reports. You have to see it to believe it.


ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): How did you guys find this place?

(voice-over): Nearly every weekend, 17-year-old Shawn and his friends head into their Brooklyn field of dreams into a violent and bloody world you are not going to believe

SHAWN: You are going to see some crazy stuff today.

UDOJI: Prepare yourself. It is shocking. This is hardcore backyard wrestling. And it is Shawn's dream to go pro. Shawn, who is studying for his GED, started IBW or the Insane Backyard Wrestling federation with more than a dozen of his closest friends.

(on camera): Why do you call it that?

SHAWN: Because we are insane. If you watch any other backyard tapes and something, there is nothing like this out there.

UDOJI (voice-over): They call it entertainment. A combination of showmanship and choreographed moves using weapons, meant to shed blood but only look painful.

There are no rules. No supervision. Just friends bashing each other with keyboards, whacking themselves with fluorescent light tubes and ramming each other into the ground head first. And that is Shawn, stage name Pyro, setting himself on fire just to get the crowd going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's lighting himself on fire!

SHAWN: It makes it more interesting. Especially for, like, our fans. If you did a move or something, they'll be like that's cool, but if you hit somebody with one of these, they'll go crazy, they'll be like oh my god that was sick.

UDOJI: Notice there are no trainers. No adults, not even a band-aid. But they insist no one really gets hurt. The blood is just show for the cameras.

SHAWN: We won't wrestle unless it is on tape.

UDOJI (on camera): Because?

SHAWN: Because then you got hurt for nothing.

UDOJI (voice-over): That video ends up on Web sites like these where teenage boys post thousands of clips showing their most daring moves in an online battle to prove who is toughest. There is an estimated 700 amateur backyard wrestling federations nationwide. And with ten to 15 members in each group, we're talking about more than 7,000 young men.

A quick Google search triggers nearly a million hits to sites with names like Megacarnage, New Blood Wrestling, and slogans that brag, brutality is our business.

You might wonder why Shawn doesn't play football or basketball or soccer. We did too.

SHAWN: I'm really bad at sports. This is the only thing I'm good at.

UDOJI: He says backyard wrestling opened up a new world and new friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's my best friend here. We can beat each other up and still friends.

UDOJI: But where do they get these ideas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thumb tacks. UDOJI: They say they learn the moves watching video games like this one where a wrestler's head is pushed into a deep fryer. And DVDs widely available from World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE in which pro wrestlers use fire and cheese graters for maximum shock value.

(on camera): WWE officials responded in a statement, saying they are adamantly opposed to the concept of backyard wrestling because of the risks of injury to untrained amateurs.

(voice-over): The statement goes on to say, "We urge parents to be proactive in discouraging their children from undertaking this dangerous practice."

Back in Brooklyn, Joe Giordano had no real idea what his son Jordan was up to until he saw it for himself. It was his first time and he watched in horror as Jordan took a beating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll talk about this later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want some water?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of those little ones?


UDOJI (on camera): You're clearly upset.

JOSEPH GIORDANO, FATHER OF BACKYARD WRESTLER: Yes, a little bit. I thought I would handle this a lot better. I thought it was kids wrestling. All I can see is a piece of glass going in his face and his eye, his hand. This isn't what kids should be doing.

UDOJI: And then there is this kind of backyard wrestling, literally in a backyard with well choreographed moves, well developed characters and supervised by parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Show Stealer will never be defeated.

UDOJI (voice-over): This is 18-year-old Jared, stage name Brimstone. And his parents' backyard, the matches are elaborate. He and many of his friends go to professional wrestling school.

They spend hours developing detailed plots of good versus evil. Each line, every move perfected before they enter the ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as I do it, he comes in.

UDOJI: No weapons are allowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A well executed move looks ten times better than some idiot smashing themselves over the head with the trash can.

UDOJI: That's good news to Jared's mother Arlene who, along with other parents, watches in the sidelines.

(on camera): You see yourself as supporting his ambitions as opposed to creating a potential risk for him.

ARLENE WERNER, MOTHER OF BACKYARD WRESTLER: The parents have to be more involved with their kids. You can't go in a ditch and wrestle. There is nobody there. What if they really do get hurt?



UDOJI (voice-over): That risk is now a reality for 16-year-old Daniel Carlson and his parents Renee and Dale. Last summer Daniel was dropped on his head in a backyard wrestling match and broke his neck. Life for the Carlsons changed forever.

CARLSON: Doctor looked at us and said your son is going to be paralyzed. I have to admit, the first thing I thought of was he's 16 years old. This isn't right. He had his whole life ahead of him.

Daniel, can I get you anything else then?

UDOJI: The Carlsons say they thought Daniel was just horsing around, They had no idea he and his friends were staging organized wrestling matches.

CARLSON: They can say they know what they're doing, but they really don't. And you can get seriously hurt and Daniel is proof of that.

UDOJI: But physical injury isn't the only risk according to pediatrician Shari Barkin who studies links between images of violence and aggression. She watched our video of hard core teen wrestling in disbelief.

DR. SHARI BARKIN, PROFESSOR, WAKE FOREST UNIV.: Being violent creates an addictive property. So that once you've done it, just seeing the same thing over and over again is no longer interesting you have to escalate it. And escalate it. And escalate it. So where as the final escalation?

UDOJI: Dr. Barkin says teens who feel invincible through hard core violence may not be learning the coping skills they need to reach their full potential.

Back in Brooklyn, Shawn's match has moved on to thumb tacks, dozens of them, for a favorite big finish. It is hard to believe but he says getting punctured several times in the back is no big deal.

UDOJI (on camera): None of that hurts, Shawn?

SHAWN: No. UDOJI: It looks painful.

SHAWN: That's the whole point.

UDOJI: But it is a very big deal to Jordan's dad, Joe.

GIORDANO: I'm sure the other parents have no idea what is going on here.

UDOJI: Are you going to tell them?

GIORDANO: Every kid that is here that I know I'm going let their parent know.


GIORDANO: If they don't believe me, let them come and take a look for themselves and let them get shocked like I did.

UDOJI (voice-over): Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.