Return to Transcripts main page
LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Dunn Prosecutor Responds; Violence in Kiev; Husband of Confessed Serial Killer Miranda Barbour Calls CNN; Is Water in WV Safe?
Aired February 20, 2014 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Florida's top prosecutor, the latest lightning rod in the Michael Dunn murder trial. Could her actions (INAUDIBLE) allow Dunn to walk free? She is firing back at critics in an exclusive interview.
Also this hour, Kiev's Independence Square, a killing field. Protesters reporting at least 100 dead, another 500 wounded in today's clashes with government forces. The violence reigniting just hours after Ukraine's president declares a truce.
And, a phone call to CNN from the newlywed husband of a self-professed satanic serial killer. He's charged with murder too and he says that he is still in love with his wife. Wait until you hear what else he has to say.
Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, in today for Ashleigh. It is Thursday, February 20th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
We're going to start with the heat that is on the prosecutor in the Michael Dunn murder trial. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey playing defense, responding to critics who say she is incompetent and the people of Florida should get rid of her. Well, one of those critics was on our show yesterday. He is Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. He said because Corey was inept, that Michael Dunn could walk free.
Alan, I want you to hear what Angela Corey told Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview and then we will talk and get your take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": What was your reaction to the Dunn verdict?
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: Our reaction is, we are grateful for the four guilty verdicts and we are happy to go back into court and retry count one after we sit down with our victim's family, with Jordan Davis' family, and make sure they can withstand another trial.
And the purpose of retrying count one is to mark sure that if anything little thing got said or done in the four count case where we did have final verdicts of guilt, that if that case were to get reversed for a jury instruction or for something a witness said or something we did, then we would have that extra count on which to rely to make sure Michael Dunn never gets out of jail.
CUOMO: And that's why you want to retry it as quick as possible. I understand that.
Do you understand how they were able, the jury, to arrive at a conclusion that is sophisticated, which is to punish him because of a second volley of shots where he missed, but not to punish him for the shot where he killed somebody?
COREY: Well, Chris, the way I understand it from listening to one of our jurors, is that three people did not believe they could come to a guilty verdict on any charge. Nine people did. And so that's very encouraging to us as prosecutors.
But, yes, you're right, it's a very sophisticated verdict that focused on the physical evidence as we presented it. So to the people who are acting like this is the end of the world on this case, I invite you to watch the sentencing that's coming up to see just how accountable this jury has held Michael Dunn so far.
CUOMO: So to be clear, your intention is to retry?
COREY: Yes, our intention is to retry count one for all the reasons I've stated earlier, because Jordan Davis deserves justice, because the state of Florida deserves justice, and because we always like to have that backup case where a person gets consecutive time in case something happens on the other charges.
CUOMO: Do you think there's something to the idea that by charging premeditated, you made it too high a bar for the jury and it wound up coloring their perception of the case and they couldn't get the premeditation part, so they wound up becoming locked up on that, instead of just sticking with second degree manslaughter?
COREY: Well, they didn't have a problem with the same premeditated instruction on attempted murder on the other three counts. So, Chris, I don't see how the premeditation instruction could have hindered this jury in any way. This is our system. This jury got a lot of time to deliberate. And we believe they did the best they could considering Florida's affirmative defense of justifiable use of deadly force. We will not find fault with what this jury did, no matter how many people encourage us to and no matter how many people shift the fault to us. We know we did a good job. We know what we're up against. We're going to go back in and do it just as well the next time.
CUOMO: A lot of criticism about all of this stuff we've heard of coming out of prison about Michael Dunn. The letters he wrote, the phone calls that seem to show such obvious character assumptions that he held. You say, we didn't put those in trial because we couldn't put those in trial. Explain.
COREY: OK. We did put two of Michael Dunn's jail letters in trail that the judge ruled were pertinent to the trial. Another simple jury instruction to refer people to who don't understand this, the jury is told that sympathy bias and prejudice are not legally reasonable doubts. When people are rendering opinions on which the public is relying, they should be based on the laws of the state of Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right, you heard what Angela Corey just had to say about Dunn. She said he was not overcharged. I know Alan Dershowitz is ready to chime in on that. He's a professor at Harvard Law School, also the author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law." And in the book he talks about several murder and attempted murder cases in which self- defense was raised often successfully.
So, Mr. Dershowitz, you heard what Angela Corey says, she says about the law of justifiable use of deadly force, that she did a good job and people who are criticizing the verdict are uninformed or either ill-informed. What do you say to that?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, first of all, she acknowledged that she may lose the entire case. That the entire conviction may be reversed. Even on the attempted murder charges she said, quote, there might be any little thing that would risk in that being reversed, like the jury instruction. I think there is some chance that that will be reversed because the jury instruction and the charge of attempted murder may not fit the crime.
But most important, she tries to blame this on the law. But prosecutors every day in Florida win convictions in cases like this where there is a self-defense defense. What other prosecutors don't do and what she does is she always overcharges. And when she overcharges and requires the jury to come down with a verdict of first degree murder with premeditation, she does two things.
Number one, she gets a 12 person jury instead of a six person jury. The odds are much higher you'll get a hung jury if you have to get 12 people to agree than if you get six people to agree. So that is clearly in her corner and she ought to be asked about that, why did she demanded a 12 person jury by charging for first degree murder when that didn't fit. She probably wouldn't have gotten a hung jury had she gone for six.
Second, she's wrong when she says she doesn't lose credibility when she overcharges for first degree murder. Jurors say, hey, we don't trust the prosecutor. This wasn't a first degree murder case, this was a second degree murder case.
LEMON: She said, listen, if you want to see accountability, then you need to watch this retrial and see how we're going to do it. But I want to be very clear, because there were a lot of people who were surprised by what you said yesterday that Michael Dunn could possibly walk -
DERSHOWITZ: That's right.
LEMON: Because of prosecutor ineptitude if she fumbles a retrial, if she fumbles on the appeal for attempted murder. DERSHOWITZ: I think that's absolutely right. For attempted murder, you need a higher level of intent than you do for actual murder. If you shoot into a car and you just generally are trying to be reckless and you end up killing somebody, that's murder. But if you end up not killing somebody, that may not be attempted murder unless you had the specific intent to kill. She should have charged with - for assault with a deadly weapon. But instead she charged attempted murder. That's going to be a hard verdict to sustain on appeal.
She may succeed. She herself said she may fail. That's why she's going back and retrying the first degree murder case because she wants a safety net in case she loses the appeal. So she herself acknowledged that Dunn may walk in this case. And if he does, it will be her fault and her fault alone. Not the fault of the law, because other good prosecutors win these cases.
LEMON: Alan Dershowitz, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Now let's talk about the young man at the center of this. The one who lost his life, Jordan Davis. His parents sat down with Chris Cuomo on "New Day" this morning to set the record straight about their son and his three friends in that SUV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You do not need to be in a position to defend your son. That is patently wrong. However, when I heard that verdict and the assumptions that must be made, whether it's two or three jurors, that, well, maybe Michael Dunn did think there was a gun and maybe it did -- they did get rid of it. That makes assumptions about the kids in the car. What do you want people to know about the kids who were in that car, specifically your son and the chance that he has a weapon and that they then got rid of it?
RON DAVIS, JORDAN DAVIS' FATHER: The first thing is that if either of those kids had a weapon or they had trouble with the law, if they had been arrested, it would have all come out in court because, believe me, the defense attorney was just digging for something on those children, you know, to victimize them -- the children again.
And those were good kids. He found out through digging, he had a private investigator, these were good kids. These kids were not gangsters, they were not thugs, as they say. And so during the trial they kept trying to turn it around to, well, prove you're not a thug or prove that you're not a gangster. Well, why should we have to do that? You know, it's up to you to prove the character of the person that shot my son. They never went to his character.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Lucia McBath and Ron Davis, our thanks to them.
Snipers targeting protesters. The opposition says it is happening in Kiev as a truce has crumbled and the violence is exploding. Now a Russian mediator is on his way to Ukraine. We're going to take you there live, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Live pictures now of the Ukraine. It is dinner time and this is what you're looking at, the pressure on leaders of the Ukraine to come to terms with antigovernment protesters has never been greater and neither has the need. At least 100 people are reported dead in a fiery collapse of a truce in Kiev's Independence Square. Foreign ministers from the European Union are in town for talks with both sides and now Russia, while telling the west to butt out, is sending its own envoy to broker peace talks. Ukraine's government is blaming the bloodshed on protester whom it also accuses of holding police officers hostage.
We want to get to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh there. Nick has been following all the developments. So, what do we know, if anything, about this hostage claim, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, all we know is the interior ministry have released a statement saying 67 police officers are being held hostage by the protesters and saying that they reserve the right to use force and firearms to free them.
Now, I should point out that we have, during the day, been seeing appearing on Ukrainian television a number of policeman, people who say they're policeman, who have actually defected to the government - sorry, to the protester's side here.
So, it's not entirely clear which protesters the interior ministry is referring, but the message behind the statement is clear. They, as they have been saying for a while, maintain they are dealing with criminal elements here who are capable of mass hostage-taking.
So it obviously is a terrifying census to read. We just don't know quite how that plays out in reality at this particular point.
But make no mistake, right now, we're hearing a hardening of the government's line, the interior ministry very firm in how they're giving firearms right now to police to protect themselves and their families to prevent them from being taken hostage.
And, more importantly, the defense ministry, the army, basically, putting out a statement, not saying it's breaking its weeks-long policy of not being involved and getting involved, but laying out the fact that it reserves the right to use weapons, particularly to prevent the breakup of this country into civil war. So a hint that they may be coming off the bench at this point.
Back to you.
LEMON: All right, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Nick, thank you for your reporting.
You know, his wife has confessed to being a Satanist serial killer, claiming dozens of lives. Elytte Barbour is in jail himself on charges that he helped her lure a man with a Craigslist ad and then stabbed him to death. Barbour called a CNN reporter to talk about his wife's new claims. The details are coming up.
LEMON: A strange thing happened yesterday. CNN received a phone call there the jailed husband of self-professed killer. Elytte Barbour said this, that he still loves his Miranda Barbour, despite her claims that she killed more than 21 people.
CNN's Susan Candiotti was on the other end of that call, and she joins us right now. So, what happened, Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have to say I was surprised when the phone rang, but after all, this was, on the other end of the line, a man who accused of murder himself. And I was trying to get a conversation started. He was calling me to see about arranging a meeting in person. I asked questions. He said he was very limited about what he could say because his lawyer had advised him about lying low right now.
But I did ask, of course, about his wife and her claims that she was evolved in killing at least 22 other people. And he told me, in his words, everyone wants to know about her credibility, but with everything she said so far, she pretty much nailed herself to a cross. He said, I do still love her.
Of course, I wanted to ask more about that, and he said I really can't comment right now other than to say the FBI is expected to come and visit me in the next couple of weeks, and I'll speaking with them. But again, I came back and said, What has she told you about these other alleged killings? Did she participate? Where? How many?
And he said, Let me put it this way. I've been more cooperative with every police force I've had contact with so far.
Now, Don, I can tell you this, that when you and I last spoke about this, I think over the weekend, a law enforcement source had told me by the time this reporter's story came out in the newspaper on Sunday, investigators had already been in touch with family and friends and even Elytte Barbour himself.
And they had all told him about these same allegations, but her interview with the newspaper was the first time they were hearing it from her. Now the question is, will police be able to talk with her directly about it themselves?
LEMON: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you.
And to corroborate all of this information that they're claiming, HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson is here. He's a criminal -- wait a minute. Let me get that right. He's a trial and criminal defense attorney.
Heather Hansen, joining me, and you're an attorney as well. Is this couple trying to whip the media into a frenzy, Joey? JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: It's really difficult to corroborate anything to this point she's saying. They could be laying the ground for the insanity defense.
If you think about it, and I know it's tough -- Heather and I talked about the likelihood of that prevailing under the rule I'm sure she'll explain. If you look at it, she gets caught here and able to avoid detection since she's 13-years-old. Something doesn't smell right age about that.
LEMON: You took my next question, because I asked you about the media and you went to insanity. That was her question. What do you think? Do you think it could be they're trying to get an insanity defense?
HEATHER HANSEN, TRIAL AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think she's trying, but I think she didn't consult with her attorney before doing all this, and she's doing it all wrong. In Pennsylvania, the law is you have to not know the difference between right and wrong.
For this murder, the one that we know she's confessed to, she's already said that they did it to see what it felt like to murder somebody. That's no proof of not knowing the difference between right and wrong.
LEMON: Could her statement hurt her husband's case?
HANSEN: I think not because he's confessed, as well. It would be different if he was trying to deny some involvement in it and she said, yes, helped. But they have sold each other out, up and down, in this case.
LEMON: I don't -- I really don't understand what's going on here, unless it's just attention.
HANSEN: I think it's a plea for attention. And I think, especially for a woman, it's very rare for a woman to be a serial killer. And it's gotten a lot of attention. It's really a shame for the families of missing people in those states -
JACKSON: Who get their hopes up.
HANSEN: -- who now may wonder what happened. Did she kill them? Was she part of a Satan ritual that she's claiming? It's unfortunate.
LEMON: Yeah, and then it's going to be tough to try to prove any of that. Her father is basically saying that she's making it up. He doesn't believe it.
JACKON: She's facing the death penalty in Pennsylvania even though they don't apply it. Since 1978, only three people got the death penalty.
HANSEN: And they were volunteers.
JACKSON: One murder is enough. And she'll be held accountable for this for sure. LEMON: Joey, Heather, thank you.
HANSEN: Thank you.
LEMON: Appreciate that.
JACKSON: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Weeks after a dangerous chemical leak, people are being told that the water is OK to use. But people are reporting rashes, headaches and other symptoms after bathing in the water in West Virginia. So, is the water safe? We're going to check that out.
And angry Bruno Mars fans inspire a lawmaker to introduce the Bruno Mars Act. The Bruno Mars Act, what is that? We're going to tell you what the legal measure could do for music fans, coming up in this half hour.
LEMON: Is the water in West Virginia safe? Officials say it's OK for drinking and bathing after that chemical spill near Charleston.
But senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reports a lot of people say they're still getting sick.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Officially this water is supposed to be just fine, but look what this woman says happened to her when she washed her face.
And when this boy bathed.
And when this man's wife takes a shower --
JOE MERCHANT, WEST VIRGINIA RESIDENT: Within a couple of minutes, I'll have a headache.
COHEN: From the steam?
MERCHANT: From the steam.
COHEN: They're not alone. After a chemical spill last month, officials instituted a water ban for about a week then lifted it, saying the chemical was at very low levels.
But new data from West Virginia shows when people start drinking and bathing again, visits to emergency rooms and doctors offices shot up, people saying the water had made them sick with rashes, headaches, vomiting.
Even at the county health department, they've posted these signs, "Don't drink the water." This is the county health department. Should you be saying the water's OK to drink? All the official agencies say it's OK to drink. DR. RAHUL GUPTA, KANAWHA-CHARLESTON AND PUTNAM COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: The official agencies are saying it's OK to drink. They're not saying it's safe to drink. And I think it's very important for us to make that distinction here, that we've got to make sure that the water is safe. And that's really the word here. People are looking for that word.
COHEN: Indeed, the word "safe" is right nowhere in the official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC just said, based on animal studies, they calculated levels of the chemical a person could likely ingest without resulting in adverse health effects. And that's not good enough for Dr. Rahul Gupta. He's the head of the board of health, and he's avoiding tap water.
You want to hear that word, "safe?"
GUPTA: Absolutely we do.
COHEN: This week, the governor of West Virginia asked the CDC to do more testing. CDC has not continued monitoring health problems there.
With no studies on this chemical's effect on humans, some residents and businesses aren't taking any chances. In a recent survey, only four percent of people in the area said they're drinking tap water, water that officially is fine to drink.