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LIVE FROM...

Jackson's Lawyer Opens Case; Texas Shooting Rampage Caught on Tape

Aired March 1, 2005 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: "Now in the News," accused BTK killer Dennis Rader appeared in court briefly by video phone today to hear the charges against him. The judge read to him ten counts of first- degree murder. This is Rader's first court appearance since he was arrested on Friday. Bail has been set at $10 million.
The Supreme Court strikes down the death penalty for juvi killers. The justices said the capital punishment for those who committed the crimes when they were younger than 18 is unconstitutionally cruel. The decision was 5-4. It could affect about 70 people currently on Death Row.

Britain hosts a world conference about a new Palestinian state. Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas promised to reform the security forces, also discuss practical steps for improving the Palestinian government and economy. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Israel to follow through with its promises, as well.

Another sign of improvement for the pope. A Vatican official says that John Paul II spoke to him this morning in Italian and German. The pontiff is in a Rome hospital getting breathing and voice therapy just after throat surgery last week.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation case will be hearing from the first witness soon. The trial in Santa Maria, California, in a short break at the moment, which gives us a chance to check in with our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who is in the courtroom.

Yesterday, Jeff, you just gave us a hint about what I heard you talking about later, which was a disastrous opening statement by the prosecution and a really compelling one by the defense. Is the momentum the same today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I thought so, Miles. Tom Mesereau, the defense attorney for Michael Jackson, continued and completed his opening statement this morning and talked about the repeated occasions in which the accuser and his family denied that Michael Jackson had done anything inappropriate with them. Over and over again, they denied, including with the government, with the Department of Children's Services in Los Angeles, on videotape, which I'm sure the jurors will be hearing, right up until the time they changed their story 180 degrees and this case moved forward. It's going to be difficult, it seems to me, for the prosecutors to explain away all of these statements, but that's what -- the task the prosecution has set for itself.

O'BRIEN: So so far Mesereau is having quite a bit of success playing out essentially a grifter defense?

TOOBIN: That is exactly what the defense is. And today, we just came from -- the first witness, Martin Bashir, has been testifying, although he only answered about two questions. He answers -- he basically just authenticated his documentary. And I have to tell you, Miles, I just spent one of the strangest hours I've spent in the courtroom. We're sitting there in front of the jury watching the Martin Bashir documentary, complete with music and laughter and the jurors are laughing at some of it. And people are tapping their feet to Billie Jean. It is a very strange way to have a criminal trial.

O'BRIEN: Wow! Brings new meaning to the term surreal, doesn't it? Give us a sense of what that is like in that courtroom, that mood there. That, obviously, is bizarre.

TOOBIN: It is bizarre. And obviously, it had been worked out in advance, so both sides knew it was coming. But, I mean, here you have Michael Jackson talking about his childhood and, you know, being beaten by his father, and his mother and brother, I believe it's Randy, sitting there sort of nodding their heads about how terrible it was with their father. You have Michael -- you know, his back is to us. So we can't see Michael's reaction, but, you know, the jurors, you know, some of the stuff in the Bashir documentary is really very funny -- when Martin Bashir, who was in the courtroom, tries to dance with Michael, it's funny, and the jurors are laughing.

But I have to tell you, I'm not sure if this helps the prosecutors that much, at least so far. Obviously, what they're building to is the point in the documentary where Michael says he sleeps with children and tries to explain that. But a lot of this documentary is really somewhat sympathetic to him, about a lonely man who has, you know, is insulated by this tremendous wealth, but, you know, here you have Michael Jackson's life being played out in a courtroom with a jury evaluating it. It's very surreal.

O'BRIEN: All right. Jeffrey Toobin, the analysis is excellent. I look forward to seeing some of your printed work in "The New Yorker," as well, on this one. I'm sure it's going to be rather interesting.

TOOBIN: It's strange.

O'BRIEN: Good material there, as they say. Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst.

TOOBIN: Thank you, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's hear what the public is saying about the Jackson trial. Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport is in Princeton, New Jersey, crunching the latest poll numbers for us. Frank, race has been an underlying issue in this case. Is there a difference in the way African Americans and whites are viewing it?

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP: Indeed there is. Overall, about three quarters of Americans -- of course, they're not privy to what's going on in the courthouse, but over the weekend, they said they thought the charges were probably true. There is a race difference. I'll compare this in a moment to O.J. Simpson about ten years ago. With 75 percent of whites say the charges against Michael Jackson are probably true. Notice for African-Americans, it's still a majority, but it's way down to 51 percent.

That's about a 24-point spread there, Kyra. Back for O.J. Simpson, there were 40-point spreads between the percent of whites who thought he was probably guilty of murder and African-Americans. So although the race difference is there in this case, not nearly as pronounced as ten years ago.

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's turn to Iraq. The single deadliest attack happened since Saddam Hussein fell from power happened yesterday in Hilla. Is the violence making Americans more pessimistic about the long-term future of the U.S. presence there?

GALLUP: Well, Kyra, we look at the data, poll after poll, and the country is still divided. Now, in the short term, the numbers go up and they go down a little. This is a question -- we've showed it to you before here on CNN. We started asking this about Korea, actually, many, many years ago. Now we're asking it about the Iraq situation. Was it a mistake to be involved?

You can see at one point, the percent who said yes was 52 percent, then it was down. Now it's at 47 percent in our last poll. Slightly more say it was not a mistake. So a little more optimism there. But Kyra, there's no way around it, the public is still split on Iraq and pessimistic about the long-term need for troops there in Iraq. Here's the question. You see it in front of you. Look at the bottom two rows there. We've got two-thirds of Americans who think it may be necessary to have U.S. troops there three or more -- three years or longer than that -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: The world still watching Rome as Pope John Paul II recovers from his tracheotomy. He's rejected the possibility of retiring. How do American Catholics see the situation?

NEWPORT: They're split on that issue. We have a slight majority, I think, who would prefer that the pope, as you see here, stay in office. 43 percent of American Catholics say he should resign for health reasons. Apparently he will not do that. It was the 12th century or 13th century, I think, when the last pope resigned before for passing away.

PHILLIPS: Gallup editor-in-chief, Frank Newport. Pulse on America there. Thanks, Frank.

NEWPORT: You bet.

PHILLIPS: Miles. O'BRIEN: So who will be the future movers and shakers in Washington? CNN's Carlos Watson has some ideas. He's a mover and a shaker himself. Look at that million-dollar smile he has. He'll be joining us in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A county courthouse in Tyler, Texas opened again, but bullet holes attest to Thursday's deadly shooting spree caught on video outside its doors. Police say gunman David Arroyo killed his ex-wife and a bystander and wounded four people before fleeing the scene. Police gave chase, gunned him down. Gary Reaves of our affiliate WFAA with the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a shootout at the courthouse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we're on the way.

GARY REAVES, WFAA REPORTER (voice-over): Look in the upper left corner. The commotion is the first shooting. Maribel Estrada and her son, David Arroyo, Jr., fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Automatic weapon. He is at the back door shooting at these people.

REAVES: Moments later, two deputies charge out. On the right, Sherman Tollison (ph), working as a court bailiff, shoots as the calls flood into 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my gosh. They're still shooting.

REAVES: Arroyo Sr. turns his gun on Tollison as he is hit. The window breaks and the screen goes white.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our bailiff's been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's been shot. They're going to need an ambulance.

REAVES: As the targets dive for cover, more cops and deputies come into the picture, firing towards the area where Arroyo shot civilian Mark Wilson, killed trying to help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's killing somebody right now.

REAVES: District attorney Matt Bingham knows most of the officers involved.

MATT BINGHAM, SMITH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The actions of these officers is what prevented this defendant from -- this killer from getting into the back of the courthouse. REAVES: The courthouse reopened to the public, although the east door remains boarded up, bullet holes in the glass and the marble wall. Just to the left of the door, Mary Dodgen is back on her job as jury coordinator, but coming back wasn't easy.

MARY DODGEN, JURY COORDINATOR: I hope it will get better. I know I had trouble sleeping, and I've had some dreams that I remember. I know they say we all dream, but some of these dreams have been more like nightmares.

REAVES: On the wall, a sign of thanks to those wounded and killed protecting the innocent. Arroyo Sr. did have an unlawful weapons charge on his record, but it was just a misdemeanor. So it was legal for him to buy that AK-47.

TOM CROWLEY, ATF: He was not a convicted felon, so he could purchase that weapon.

REAVES (on camera): And what about the body armor?

CROWLEY: That is legal to possess. If he was a convicted felon, again, there is a law saying that you cannot possess body armor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Thanks to reporter Gary Reeves of WFAA. Police shot and killed David Arroyo after a chase that lasted several miles. More LIVE FROM after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Webster's defines a leader as one who has influence or power, especially of a political nature. Several U.S. presidents were former college professors, and a new crop of potential power brokers is emerging from the university sect now. Who are these new faces to watch? Our political analyst, Carlos Watson, in Mountain View, California, is good at spotting diamonds in the rough. Hi, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra Phillips, we do it well together.

PHILLIPS: Yes, we do, don't we? Although you get all the credit for Barack Obama, I got to tell you. I just supported you. So you were telling us, OK, since we were so good at nailing Barack Obama and talking about him and now let's see where he is. You have moved into another genre, I guess you could say, right? The people that we're about to talk to, you see as big movers in politics out of academics.

WATSON: Out of academics. By the way, it's worth remembering that Barack himself was one of these. He was a professor, law professor, at the University of Chicago.

But we've got five people today, Kyra, beginning with a woman by the name of Caroline Hoxby, who is a professor at Harvard, economics professor. But although she's an economics professor, she's actually having her biggest impact on education. So she's helping lots of states, from Florida to Texas, decide how do we help our kids learn? Do we do it through smaller class sizes? Do we increase teacher pay? Does bilingual education make a difference? Should we do charter schools? She's a name you're going to hear a lot. Could be end up being a secretary of education, maybe even a secretary of the treasury. She's going to be a big deal.

PHILLIPS: Well, I know the White House is already listening to her, too. Let's talk about Noah Feldman. I can't believe that Noah isn't even 35 yet.

WATSON: Not even 35. Law professor at NYU, helped write the Iraqi interim constitution. And lots of people, from Republicans like Senator Dick Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to Democrats, have called on him for advice. He's a guy you'll hear a lot of, and a lot of people think of him as the next Condi Rice, if you will. An academic who ultimately goes into foreign policy in a major way.

PHILLIPS: Wow. Viet Dinh, the next Al Gonzales, you say.

WATSON: You bet. Already a big name in legal circles, former Supreme Court clerk himself, former assistant attorney general, helped draft the Patriot Act. In conservative circles, people absolutely love him. Rising star. Professor at Georgetown. And he's someone who, like Al Gonzales, could have lots of big jobs. Could be a White House counsel, a solicitor general, maybe even get talked about one day for a Supreme Court spot.

PHILLIPS: An incredible success story for a Vietnamese immigrant, yes?

WATSON: Yes. Just arrived in the U.S. at age 10, 1978, found his way to Harvard and other universities and has just done exceptionally well.

PHILLIPS: All right. Dr. Phil meets Lou Dobbs. That's how you describe Elizabeth Warren.

WATSON: Elizabeth Warren, you just -- I got a chance to spend a little time talking to her. And you just love talking to her. She married at 19, pregnant at 22, never thought she was going to go to law school, much less become a law professor. And now everyone from Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer on the left, to John Corn (ph) and John Kyl, two U.S. senators on the right, listen to her when she talks about the middle-class economic squeeze. And guess who really loves her, besides our own Lou Dobbs, maybe, because she talks about the economic squeeze? Dr. Phil. She's Dr. Phil's favorite. So I call her Lou Dobbs meets Dr. Phil, and she's someone we'll hear a lot from.

PHILLIPS: It's good to be on Dr. Phil's side, so I hear. All right. I know there's one more. You just e-mailed it to me actually a few minutes ago. Fernando Guerra, the go-to guy for California politics.

WATSON: You bet you. Professor at Loyola Marymount, political science professor, grew up in East L.A., first in his family to go to college, decided to go to graduate school to get a Ph.D. instead of law school. But now state legislators on either side of the aisle, when they're thinking about state and local issues, they're listening often to Fernando Guerra. You're going to hear a lot from him. A very interesting mix of policy advice and political advice. Call him Mr. Inside. There's a little bit of Karl Rove in him.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll be watching all five. Carlos Watson, thank you so much.

WATSON: Kyra Phillips, good to see you.

PHILLIPS: All right, it's a pleasure. We're going to take a quick break. More LIVE FROM right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A serious health issue takes the cnn.com desk's spotlight today. The American Cancer Society estimates that one in seven women will get breast cancer sometime during their lifetime. But the number of survivor stories is growing, thanks in part to better detection methods. Here's Veronica De La Cruz.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM: According to the American Cancer Society, 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year, making it one of the top killers of women in the United States. Many high-profile people have battled the disease. Among the many faces, a first lady who spoke of her battle at a time when talk of the disease was taboo, an athlete in good shape with no family history, an actor who chose unconventional treatments, and most recently, a singer who brought her battle with breast cancer to the forefront at the Grammy Awards. In her first appearance since diagnosis, Melissa Etheridge stood as a symbol of empowerment for the millions who have suffered from the disease.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE, MUSICIAN: Chemotherapy's horrible and I know there's some people out there right now, laying in bed on chemotherapy and I'm just hear to tell ya, yeah, it sucks, but you know what? You'll get better and the hair grows back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DE LA CRUZ: But breast cancer is not just a woman's disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 1,700 men will be diagnosed this year. While men are far less likely to get the disease, the fact that they do shows the reach of breast cancer. Experts stress the importance of early detection and say you should visit your doctor if you notice any abnormalities such as lumps, swelling, skin irritation or dimpling. For stories of survival and breast cancer resources, you can log on to cnn.com and click on the dot-com desk box.

I'm Veronica De La Cruz.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Ford Motor under some fire. Kathleen Hays joining us live from the New York Stock Exchange with a little bit on that and more.

Hello, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN HAYS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Miles. Ford's car loan unit is being taken to court in a class-action lawsuit alleging its lending practices allowed dealers to discriminate against minorities. The case accuses Ford dealers of discriminating against minorities by tacking on larger markups that raised the overall interest rate on their loans -- larger than the rates they would charge to non-whites, that is -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) minorities. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say research show minorities are often the targets of those higher markups. Ford Motor Credit is not the first lender to be accused of such discrimination. The financing units at GM, Honda and Nissan already settled similar suits out of court -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. The story with the big airlines these days is doing the same job for less, and now another airline.

HAYS: Oh, it sure is, yes, indeed. And one that's actually been at the head of the pack doing a little bit better, Continental says this deal though is key to its survival. If approved, it will help the airline save $500 million a year and avoid a potential cash crunch that could have led it to a bankruptcy filing. The unions represent its pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and dispatchers. In return for this concession, employees will receive stock options and other benefits. Investors reacting very positively to the news, shares of Continental up 8 percent today.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Kathleen Hays. See you a little bit later.

Kyra and I are not quite done yet. As a matter of fact, the best 30 minutes of our day lies ahead.

PHILLIPS: The best 30 minutes of your life are straight ahead.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's not get too over the top.

PHILLIPS: All right.

O'BRIEN: Serious business ahead. Wichita Police believe they have the BTK killer. We'll hear from the district attorney who will prosecute Dennis Rader.

PHILLIPS: We're also going to take a look at other serial cases, some solved, some still open, what's being done to nab these killers? LIVE FROM returns right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: "Now in the News," bail is set at $10 million for Dennis Rader, the suspect in the BTK killings in Kansas. New video of Rader in jail came in just hours ago. He's charged with 10 counts of first degree murder between 1975 and '91.

An FBI agent says the Virginia man charged with plotting to kill President Bush has admitted his guilt several times. The agent spoke in federal court moments ago at a detention hearing. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is a U.S. citizen who spent almost two years in a Saudi prison but was never put on trial. He is accused of plotting with al Qaeda against the U.S.

The FDA says it wants the power to tell drug companies what to say on warning label changes for prescription drugs. An agency official complained to Congress about having to negotiate the wordings with drug manufacturers. She specifically noted talks of more than a year in connection with the arthritis drug Vioxx, recently taken off the market.

New Englanders are digging out from their second major snowstorm in a week. Snow is still coming down in Maine at this hour where state government workers were told to stay home for the day. Traveling is especially tough by air with dozens of flights canceled in New York and Boston. In the words of one state trooper in Massachusetts, "it's horrible out there."

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