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CNN Saturday Morning News

Hundreds Hurt in Connecticut Train Collision; Omaha Murders; Jodi Arias To Address Jury

Aired May 18, 2013 - 09:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. 9:00 here on the East Coast, 6:00 a.m. out west. Good to have you with us this morning.

HARLOW: We start this hour with the commuter train collision in Connecticut. Two trains heading in opposite directions slammed into each other after one of them jumped the tracks, as many as 70 people were taken to area hospitals, around two dozen people are still in the hospital this morning at this hour, a federal investigation is on.

The go team expected to get to the scene any moment. Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti joins me now by phone.

Susan, thank you for being with us. What can you tell us?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hi, Poppy. Here is the scene now, we're waiting for a press conference to begin pretty soon with Connecticut's governor, and members of the National Transportation Safety Board. You can see one of the trains that was involved in the crash on a bridge viaduct that I'm looking at as well.

This happened on a train from New Haven to New York City, went off the tracks during the height of rush hour about 6:00 Friday night when a train going in the opposite direction struck the train heading from New Haven to New York City. So they slammed together, it's unclear how fast they were going, about 250 passengers all totaled between the two trains and as you can imagine the impact was terrifying.

HARLOW: Absolutely, and this is the height of rush hour Friday, 6:00 hour. Do we have any indications, Susan, on the extent of the injuries of those injured right now?

CANDIOTTI: At last count we understand that 46 of the 70 people treated at area hospitals had been released. However, five remain in critical condition so the main thing is to of course take care of them but also to figure out what they're going to do about this major line of course between New York and Boston, all service has been suspended until two very important things happen, number one, they got to try to figure out what caused this accident, and then make of course needed repairs to the tracks which are totally out of service, badly damaged, so it's unclear how long it will take before that service can resume. Poppy. HARLOW: Yes, absolutely, Susan. I know Deborah Hersman, the head of the NTSB who we had on earlier said that it's very important for them to talk to the conductors, all the staff, all the people working on the train and also the people that were riding, passengers.

Obviously they live all over because they were commuting. Have you had a chance to talk to anyone on the ground that either witnessed this or was on the train? What's the word from them?

CANDIOTTI: People on board the train are talking about all of a sudden feeling an impact, no warning, as you can imagine, feeling the crash, feeling the impact, all the power going out, hearing on the intercom for people calling all doctors to go to the front of the train.

Cars destroyed and in some instances, luggage flying everywhere and of course panic as you can understand but you're right, the National Transportation Safety Board has to look at the condition of the tracks, have to discuss it with the engineers, the crew aboard the train, talk about the human factors involved here to see whether this was a mechanical failure or some other kind of failure so a lot of areas to cover and it will take time.

HARLOW: Absolutely, and the head of the NTSB telling us earlier today that they are at this point treating this like an accident but still doing a full investigation. Susan Candiotti, thank you.

BLACKWELL: $600 million. That's how much today's Powerball jackpot is. It's the biggest prize in the game's history and the second largest lotto jackpot ever in the U.S.. So it's no surprise that people are lining up and standing in line for a very long time to buy those tickets.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're coming in $20, $10, I'm going to be the winner!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you coming to work next week if you win this?



BLACKWELL: Yes, good luck, though, because the odds of winning, one in 175 million. Now get this, if no one pulls it off, if no one guesses all five numbers and the Powerball next Wednesday the jackpot jumps to $950 million. Hmm.

Heading overseas according to South Korea's news agency, (INAUDIBLE) North Korea launched three short-range guided missiles today. South Korea's ministry of defense ministry says if all three ended up in the sea off the Korean peninsula east coast. The ministry also said the country has beefed up monitoring on North Korea. It maintains a high level of readiness to act.

HARLOW: Starting today, same-sex couples in France can marry and adapt children. That is after France's President Francois Hollande signed a controversial bill into law. Conservative opponents filed a last ditch challenge to that legally but the country's top court ruled the bill constitutional and France is now the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage.

Back here at home in Arkansas, a U.S. district judge has granted a motion on behalf of the ACLU that temporarily blocks the enforcement of a state law that limits abortion at the 12th week. That's from a court official who could not be named per department policy. The Arkansas abortion law was passed back in March, it was scheduled to take effect in August.

BLACKWELL: Refinery troubles in the Midwest are driving gas prices to record highs. In Minnesota, prices hit an all-time high of $4.15 a gallon for regular unleaded, higher than California and listen, it's not just Minnesota. Midwestern states saw a price spike of 40 cents a gallon this week alone. Industry analysts say it's because of outages and maintenance at refineries in four states.

Members of Generation X, remember that phrase, they seem to be the big losers when it comes to the recent recession. New study found that Gen Xers will retire worse off than generations that came before them. So you're asking, am I in Generation X? If you're 38 to 47, anywhere in there, that's you, and here is the sad number that between 2007 and 2010, Gen Xers saw their net worth almost cut in half from $75,000 to just a little more than $41,000.


Well, police in Omaha are trying to figure out who killed a popular Creighton University professor and his wife, someone beloved by the entire community. Now new information suggests the answer could be wrapped up in another double murder in the same place six years ago that's still unsolved.


BLACKWELL: A beloved medical school professor and his wife were found dead, murdered in their home. The killing of Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary, has rocked Omaha, Nebraska, and Creighton University, where Brumback taught. Now a new link to a six-year-old cold case may help investigators solve not one but two double murders.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Omaha. Stephanie, what do we know about the latest crime?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we can tell you, Victor, is that this one crime that we're looking at happened on Tuesday where Dr. Brumback and his wife, Mary, were found dead in their home. Well, the reason why they're looking into this that there may be a connection to this cold case was because back in March of 2008 another faculty member in the pathology department at Creighton University, Dr. William Hunter, his 11-year-old son and also the family housekeeper were found murdered in their house. That's a case that's never been involved and because it involves the pathology department from this one university that is why police say they are just looking into it but they're staying very closed lipped about what the circumstances of the Brumback murders have been so far simply because they're trying to make sure they can make progress in this investigation. Victor.

BLACKWELL: They're saying if they are linking this to any specific suspect or just because of the location and the pairs of these double cold case murders.

ELAM: Well, keep in mind that the Pathology Department is said to be just 12 people, just 12 people and so to have this many murders connected to this one department is why they're looking for any connection but they do not at least they have not told us any suspects that they may have in this case at this time, and when you look at it, today should be a very happy day for the Creighton University community because today is graduation day, people are flooding in for these happy moments but obviously there's so much sadness because of this one event. In fact we talked to some people we heard from some people related to the campus and this is what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He definitely embodies what it means to be a physician, somebody that's dedicated to not only the patient in front of them but to the science behind it and to educating upcoming physicians.

LAURA NEECE-BALTARD, FRIEND OF THE BRUMBACKS: Why would anyone want to harm them?


ELAM: Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that just a month ago Dr. Brumback announced that he was going to retire in a month and that he and his wife were going to move to West Virginia so all of this very sad. Police also saying that they've stepped up security on the university campus. Victor?

BLACKWELL: Never made it. Certainly he will be remembered at the graduation today. Stephanie Elam in Omaha for us, thanks.

HARLOW: And another crime news, convicted murder Jodi Arias returns to court on Monday. She is expected to address the jury. This is the jury that is deciding whether she lives or dies. The jury found on Wednesday that Arias was exceptionally cruel when she murdered her ex- boyfriend, Travis Alexander. That makes her eligible for the death penalty. Alexandra's brother and sister addressed the court, the emotion was high.


STEVEN ALEXANDER, TRAVIS ALEXANDER'S BROTHER: I cannot sleep alone in the dark anymore. I've had dreams of my brother all curled up in the shower, thrown in there, left to rot for days.

SAMANTHA ALEXANDER, TRAVIS ALEXANDER'S SISTER: I'm so glad he talked to me into taking this picture. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.


HARLOW: Powerful statements, the family still certainly grieving. Well, HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell has been covering the trial throughout and she has a rare look inside the jail where Arias is awaiting her fate. Jane?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN'S "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": Well, Poppy, I am outside the Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, and this is where behind the barbed wires somewhere Jodi Arias sits in closed custody.

Now I was able to take a tour of the facility with the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Jodi has been here for quite a long period of time. This crime occurred in 2008, and she was awaiting trial for years, when she was in the general population, she had managed to make friends, have supporters. She was socializing. She was making a life for herself in a matter of speaking.

Well now all that has changed. She is in closed custody, which means she is kept in her tiny cell for 23 hours a day. Only allowed out for one hour a day, and she is checked on by authorities every 15 minutes to make sure she's not doing anything untoward to herself, especially.

Now, what's so fascinating is that I was able to peek inside Jodi Arias' actual jail cell. They roped it up with yellow tape and roped it off for the purposes of allowing us to look in but we can still see and it's a bunk bed situation so there would be room for somebody else but she can't, she's essentially in solitary. So she sleeps on the bottom bunk and she's turned the top bunk into some kind of desk where she's got a lot of documents and some other food stuffs.

I noticed that on the ground there was a magazine that said "The Optimist." Well I don't know if she's optimistic about her chances at this phase of her trial. They're getting into the mitigation phase. We heard from her attorney that Jodi Arias is going to take the stand and try to plead for her life and she's got to be wondering what on earth can I say, given the horrific nature of the killing, in which I've admitted I've carried out. What can I say to convince this jury to spare my life? Food for thought. Back to you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Absolutely. Jane Velez-Mitchell, thank you. You can see Jane's show each weeknight on our sister station, HLN.

BLACKWELL: A judge in Las Vegas is deciding if O.J. Simpson will get a new trial. At a hearing that turned combative at times, Simpson's current attorneys argued that his former lawyers were so incompetent he blew Simpson's defense in his 2008 trial and Simpson is serving up to 33 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping. The challenge to his former lawyer and once close friend is just the latest strange chapter in O.J.'s tumultuous story.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Poppy, O.J. Simpson has captivated America for better or for worse for about four decades now. That's why this past Wednesday afternoon and evening when we had breaking news all around on the White House e-mails, on Benghazi, the president's statement on the IRS, and a crucial moment in the Jodi Arias trial, we still found time to tell viewers about O.J. Simpson's court appearance.


TODD (voice-over): We were riveted to the screen this week, seeing him in court, talking about how he grabbed his memorabilia back from dealers in Las Vegas. The first time we'd heard him speak publicly in years.

O.J. SIMPSON: And that's what I told everybody about that if they don't give it to me I'm going to get the police in there.

TODD: Why would we take such an interest in a puffy, shackled 65-year- old O.J. Simpson? Michael O'Keefe of "The New York Daily News" says it's the O.J. Simpson story that pulls us in.

MICHAEL O'KEEFFE, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": We're drawn to O.J. because he's been in the public eye for going on 40 years now and we've really seen a spectacular rise and a spectacular fall in his life.

TODD: America first took widespread notice of Simpson when he sprang into the NFL in 1969, the Heisman trophy winner out of USC with an electric smile and catchy name who would later be nicknamed juice. Playing on Bad Buffalo Bills teams didn't diminish the attraction. Simpson became the first running back to gain 2,000 yards in a season. Several all pros year followed. Then he became David Beckham before Beckham, a transcendence sports and marketing icon. The Hertz ads from the '70s live on, on YouTube.


SIMPSON: (INAUDIBLE) from Hertz, the superstar in rent-a-car.

O'KEEFFE: We want to be like O.J., we did the O.J. run through the crowded airport like he did in those Hertz commercials.

TODD: He crossed seamlessly into Hollywood with roles in movies like "The Towering Inferno" and later "The Naked Gun" trilogy.


TODD: On screens big and small as an actor, pitchman, network football analyst O.J. Simpson observers say had a charm, that smile, that guy next door vibe that made whites and African-Americans equally comfortable with him, but in June, 1994, a much more ominous and bizarre chant of "Go, O.J., go," pockets of small crowds in L.A. cheered him as he led police on the notorious white bronco chase.

Simpson's trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and Ron Goldman marked the first time America had been transfixed on TV for a court case. Eventually he was acquitted but just as compellingly as he'd brought Americans of all races together in admiring him in the '70s and '80s his trial cast the deepest and most disturbing divides.

It pitted black against white, and people who are rich against poor. No one didn't have an opinion about whether or not O.J. was guilty or you either thought he was guilty or you thought he was the victim of racist police and incompetent prosecution.


TODD: O'Keefe says it was one of the cultural moments when America was shaken out of his habit of fawning over celebrities. After the Simpson murder trial we were never shocked again when we found out that our idols, people like Michael Jackson and Lance Armstrong weren't quite what we thought. Victor and Poppy.

HARLOW: Fascinating.

Up next she is serving up second chances to young offenders, meet this week's CNN hero that's straight ahead.


BLACKWELL: Thanks for staying with us.

Consider this, more than 40 percent of young people released from California's juvenile justice system end up back in jail within a year. This week's CNN hero saw that revolving door firsthand as a corrections officer. Well today Teresa Goines is giving young offenders and at-risk youth in San Francisco a menu of options to build a better future.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to get into trouble, I was selling drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was domestic violence in my home. I didn't see a future for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once I had a record, I felt I wasn't going to be able to get a job. I'll just go back to going what I used to do.

TERESA GOINES, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: You guys know better than anybody you're the ones that have to change.

I worked as a juvenile corrections officer, often young people would get out ready to start a new life, we put them in the exact same environment and they would come back to jail.

Witnessing that over and over I could not do something about it.

I'm Teresa Goines, I started the old school cafe, it gives them the skills and the opportunity to change their lives.

Everybody needs to pay attention.

Our program provides four months of hands on training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where you say excuse my reach.

GOINES: Our motto is jump in and learn. If they complete that successfully they get a chance to apply for an employee position.

We're excited to have you on the team and really proud of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do the hiring, you do the firing. We do reviews. You know what it means to have sense of urgency. You're a team player.

GOINES: I want them to keep rising up in leadership and management. The theme in restaurants the '20s, '40s, Harlem renaissance. I see my role as being support staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I used to make is taco and grilled cheese and now I'm cooking everything on the menu.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of opportunity. I know this will help me stay out of trouble.

GOINES: The core of it is giving them hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be my own boss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be an entrepreneur.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be successful.

GOINES: Once the light goes on they're on their way to fly.


HARLOW: Florida facing a slow motion invasion that terrifies farmers. The state is coping with an infestation of giant African land snails that can grow to the size of a rat, will eat almost anything in their path and can lay 1,200 eggs a year. No thanks.


HARLOW: Well, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: This is where I get off the ride. Poppy will be back with you at the top of the hour. Thanks for watching this morning.

"YOUR MONEY" starts now.