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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Murderers Sue to Marry; Intercepted Webcam Pics; Identity Theft
Aired February 27, 2014 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: "He is alert and conversing with his doctors."
So this is -- I apologize, this is actually a tweet from the MedStar Hospital, but they also included the Justice Department in that tweet, as well.
But this is from the hospital actually doing the tweet, the MedStar Washington hospital that sent that out, answers a few questions we had going in because all we had known is he suffered these conditions and was rushed off to the hospital for further evaluation.
So, there you go, good to know the hospital's saying he's resting comfortably, he is alert and he is in good condition and conversing with his doctors.
Good luck to you, Mr. Attorney General. We are standing behind you in your quest for good health.
So these people are separated by 50 miles and razor wire and steel bars, probably for life, but they are suing the state of Nebraska prison system because they want to get married. They say it's their right.
Do you think that two inmates, one for first-degree murder, the other for second-degree murder, have the right to get married and we should pay in some way to facilitate this?
That conversation's next.
BANFIELD: Wherever you are in your house right now, or wherever you're watching, get a chair. Sit down because this is a good one.
Isn't this romantic? A Nebraska couple in love wanting to call each other husband and wife. Awww. They can't. They can't. They can't take engagement photos.
Instead they have to deal with mug shots because they are murders. Niccole Wetherell, the lovely bride on the left, the want-to-be bride, is serving life in prison for first-degree murder. She's tougher than her husband, or want-to-husband, it turns out. This fiancee of here, Paul Gillpatrick, is just doing 55-to-90 for second- degree murder.
But the two of them, serving time in separate facilities, are suing the state of Nebraska's prison system because they have not been allowed to tie the knot. I know. I told you to get a chair.
Dave Roberts from our affiliate KETV explains why and gets a chance to talk to the killer want-to-bride.
DAVE ROBERTS, KETV: Why do two killers want to marry each other?
NICCOLE WETHERELL, CONVICTED OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER: There's problems in our situation because we're both incarcerated.
But if you've been in love then you know what it means to have somebody to call your own or your husband or wife.
ROBERTS: Fifty miles separate the so-called couple not to mention bars, glass and razor wires.
Nebraska requires inmates to be in the same room to get married. The Department of Corrections says that's a security risk and can't happen.
WETHERELL: Prisoners lose the right to privacy. They lose the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. They lose so many rights.
There's just the few core rights that the courts have repeatedly said you never lose those.
ROB ERTS: Nebraska ACLU took up the case, suing the state for Wetherell and Gillpatrick, even though the murderers didn't give their victims a chance for love.
The ACLU says the Eighth Amendment gives prisoners the right to pursue marriage.
AMY MILLER, ACLU NEBRASKA DIRECTOR: Even someone who's done something especially heinous, such as taking someone else life, we still treat them humanely when they're behind bars.
That's a promise we made when we created the Constitution of this country.
ROBERTS: The mother of Scott Catenacci, the man Wetherell stabbed to death in 1998 near downtown Bellevue, isn't so sympathetic.
She told s us, I live with my son's death every day and don't think anyone that lives in prison with a life sentence deserves this right.
When we asked Wetherell to respond, she had nothing to say to her victim's family.
WETHERELL: I don't know. I couldn't even begin to try to even think of something to say.
BANFIELD: Wow, that's a look.
Thank you to Dave Roberts from our affiliate KETV for that report.
Want to get the LEGAL VIEW, a little bit of the outreach on this one, bring back CNN legal analyst and defense attorney Danny Cevallos, HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson and Lisa bloom, an analyst for Avvo.com and the author of the brand-new book "Suspicion Nation."
Look who's holding it up for you.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: And mine's autographed.
BANFIELD: Yes, it is.
JACKSON: Thank you, Lisa.
BANFIELD: All right, guys. I'm going to open this one up, but not before I inject a little comedy into this, because apparently the want-to-be bride-to-be has been quoted as saying, "Marriage is an important thing to me. I grew up in a family where, you know, through thick and thin you stay married."
You might not stay alive, but you stay married. So she's got family values going.
JACKSON: It's interesting that she chose that value to speak of, right? Not the value of life, but the value of love and the fact that she has, you know, this right to marry.
But interestingly enough, though, she does have a fundamental right under the Constitution, and we were talking about this, and Lisa was expecting this earlier, there's a right to marry.
And, believe it or not, in Loving versus Virginia, did you know less than 50 years ago it was illegal and subject to punishment to marry interracially?
In fact, it was that case where the Supreme Court overturned it and said, No, that's nonsense. Under the 14th Amendment equal protection and under the due process law you can marry --
BANFIELD: You are not getting me off the ledge with this. You are not helping.
JACKSON: We said Danny will address the reasonable regulation balance, so I will exit stage left.
BANFIELD: Counselor, try again. DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: OK, so there are some constitutional rights that inmates have and others that they do not.
The Supreme Court -- well, historically, courts have said inmates do not have a right to marry for a number of reasons.
But the Supreme Court eventually held that, in fact, it is a fundamental right. Inmates do have the right to marry, but it may be subjected to reasonable regulation.
For example, a prison can order an inmate to apply for the right to marry. I don't know what the basis is for denying that application.
BANFIELD: Well, they can't proxy marry in Nebraska and apparently --
CEVALLOS: I will say --
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: So, here's the solution.
CEVALLOS: -- that the right to procreation is not within one of those rights. It's very interesting. You may have the fundamental right to marry but not to procreate, so that's an interesting --
JACKSON: The solution --
BLOOM: So here's the solution. Let me be a pragmatist. How about Nebraska changes its law that people have to be in the same room to get married, so it can satisfy its constitutional obligation to let them exercise their rights.
They can marry, but they don't have to be in the same room, and now the logistical issue goes away.
I think the problem a lot of people have is holding two competing concepts in our minds at the same time.
These people are despicable, horrible people because they're murders, and yet they have some fundamental constitutional rights, the right not to be treated inhumanely, for example, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punish, and, yes, the right to marry.
And those cases, Ashleigh, are the basis of a long line of right-to- marry cases, are now the basis for all of the gay marriage cases everybody sees now that have to be extended to gay people, which a lot of people don't like.
BANFIELD: I appreciate everything that the three of you have said. I appreciate all of that.
JACKSON: I hear a "but" coming.
BANFIELD: You have -- big, however, and I've got to hold back on the expletives.
CEVALLOS: A mushroom cloud of "however."
BANFIELD: I'm telling you, serious.
So, Eighth Amendment, cruel and unusual punishment, please, it's cruel and unusual punishment to withhold a certificate from you?
You are not going to sleep with that man, ever. You are not going to get a conjugal visit, ever.
You are going to get a piece of paper, and this withholding a marriage license from you --
JACKSON: You know what --
BLOOM: No, nobody's saying that.
BANFIELD: It's the Eighth Amendment.
BLOOM: Really it's a 14th Amendment issue.
BANFIELD: They're citing Eighth Amendment.
BLOOM: Well, their lawyers are not so good then.
JACKSON: This might make you feel better, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Go. Yes, you better.
JACKSON: Now, if they don't have this right, it's not unabridged.
So, what can happen is based upon security regulations and other protocol of the facility, if it's subject to -- in other words, it poses a danger to other inmates, it poses a danger to the transport of them from one place to another, then they don't have to get married.
So, the fact that they have this constitutional right does not mean that they all of a sudden can and will do it without restrictions, without regulations whatsoever.
BLOOM: And I bet prison officials would like it because it's going to improve their behavior behind bars to have a bond --
BANFIELD: Do you think so?
CEVALLOS: Conjugal visits have been used as a carrot --
BANFIELD: They're not going to get conjugal visits.
CEVALLOS: Right, but that theory -- that whole line of benefits has been used by a carrot with wardens, mostly with people who getting out soon. I will concede that.
JACKSON: Danny, we are not convincing Judge Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: I don't like bending over backwards for murders.
JACKSON: No, you're right.
BANFIELD: I'm sorry. I don't want to risk that community's safety in a transfer. We know escapees do so during transfer. That's proven.
BLOOM: That's very rare.
BANFIELD: And I don't think we need to spend a lot of money litigating this for these people either.
You lost your liberty. Deal with it. So did your victims, for a lot longer and a lot more painfully.
JACKSON: That's your ruling. Case dismissed.
CEVALLOS: Bang, bang, gavel.
BANFIELD: And I will mitigate all that by saying I'm not a lawyer. That's why I hire these guys.
Joey Jackson, Danny Cevallos, Lisa Bloom, thank you so much. Hold on for me if you will.
Britain's secret intelligence agency, kind of their NSA, apparently got some help from our NSA. Now it's being accused of intercepting a whole bunch of private and personal Web-cam images.
Think of the ones when you're having a chat on, I don't know, Valentine's Day. They're getting screen grabs and they're storing them.
And they're not storing them real securely, either. You're going to find out how this happened and what they're doing about it, next.
BANFIELD: I have an update for you on the attorney general. Just a few moments ago at the White House, they held the daily press briefing where Jay Carney stands at the front, tells us everything that's happening and he addressed the situation with the attorney general being hospitalized for shortness of breath and feeling faint. This after the hospital said that he's alert and speaking to doctors. Here's what Jay Carney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has been made aware and I think the Department of Justice has put out a statement that as a precaution when he felt faint earlier today he was taken to Washington MedStar Hospital Center to undergo further evaluation. And he is resting comfortably and in good condition. He is alert and conversing with his doctors. The president was notified and, of course, wishes him a speedy recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: We wish him a speedy recovery as well. We'll continue to monitor that story.
And here's something else we've been monitoring. Something pretty disconcerting, your Yahoo sex chat may have been for his or her eyes only, but somebody else might have been watching and might have actually grabbed a screen grab of compromising images of you. And all of this in the name of intelligence gathering.
I'm not talking about the NSA here, folks. This is based on a report by "The Guardian" newspaper claiming that the GCHQ, that's Britain's version of the NSA, collected millions of webcam images of Yahoo users with help from the NSA. And a large quantity of those images apparently were sexually explicit. To add insult to injury, they were not stored particularly securely. Atika Shubert is live in London now with more on this.
How many people are we talking about here who may -- innocent people. Let's remind everybody, these are just innocent unsuspecting Yahoo account holders. How many people may have actually been compromised here?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know the exact number, but we can safely say in the millions. In one six-month period, 1.8 million users had their web chats recorded. And it wasn't the full conversation.
Basically what this program did is it took a snapshot, one snapshot, every five minutes. And it took all of those photos and stored them in a massive database. It appears to have been something called Operation Optic Nerve. And it was something of an experiment to try and match facial recognition technology.
But there were no specific users that were targeted. This was all bulk data collection by the GCHQ with the help of the NSA. And what it means is that millions of users may very well have had their very private web chats recorded, including, according to these NSA documents that were leaked by Edward Snowden, up to 11 percent of those web chat images were of nudity.
In fact, one of the biggest problems they had in going through all these images was trying to weed out all of these nude, pornographic pictures. This was one of the problems with the data collection that they were having.
(INAUDIBLE) they did with all of these images, we don't know at this point. We do know the program went from 2008 to at least 2012. We did ask Yahoo for a response. They put out a statement to us saying that they were not aware of this activity and if true, quote, "represents a whole new level of violation of our users privacy that is completely unacceptable." And they call upon governments around the world to put in stronger reform of the surveillance to make sure this kind of privacy intrusion doesn't happen again.
BANFIELD: Boy, I'll say. It's embarrassing for them. It's real embarrassing for people who might have their, you know, sexy pictures sitting there in a vault somewhere where all of those employees can take a peek at will. Atika Shubert, thank you for that.
It is the top threat that's right now facing consumers today, identity theft. And a disturbing set of new numbers has just cropped up to show us just how widespread the problem is. And we've got a live report on it from Washington, next.
BANFIELD: No one is safe. Identity theft is the number one problem facing consumers right now. The crime tops the Federal Trade Commission's 2014 report on consumer fraud. It's been 14 years going now at the top spot. The FTC received almost 300,000 reports of identity theft last year. It's serious. CNN's Rene Marsh just got her hands on the FTC's new report.
What's in it?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, I'll tell you, the report was just released and, again, identity theft and other fraud, like debt collection, impostor scams and bank and lender fraud, that costs consumers $1.6 billion last year. Florida led the nation with the most identity theft and fraud complaints per capita. North Dakota saw the least.
Now, the age group with the most fraud complaints, people between the age of 50 and 59. However, identity theft really hit people in their 20s the most. One expert with idtheftsecurity.com says that's likely because people in their 20s, they're establishing their lives with various loans, school loans, car loans, they're giving out a lot of their personal information much more often. They're also more savvy and more likely to report fraud.
Now, the FTC received over 2 million total complaints, much more than five years ago, much more than 10 years ago. The higher numbers, in part, due to better reporting. There are a couple of ways you can protect yourself. Besides the usual credit monitoring, you could freeze your credit. That essentially locks your credit report so that creditors cannot access it. No new lines of credit can be established unless you thaw it. And that usually takes about two hours or less to thaw your credit report.
Back to you, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Yes, 14 years in a row, you think that this could be getting better, not worse.
BANFIELD: That's really distressing. Rene Marsh, thank you. Good to see you. Rene Marsh live in Washington for us.
Up next, wait until you hear what some college kids were up to inside an igloo. I'm not kidding, an igloo. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: He's had almost as many arrests as he's had birthdays. Police in Calderon, Wisconsin, say that 27-year-old Usef Kendall (ph) has 26 arrests for driving without a license. And here's the latest way he got busted. This week a woman snapped a picture of her banged up minivan and the alleged hit and run driver is none other than Usef Kendall. So maybe we're going for 27 arrests, maybe 28 soon.
You know, I don't make it a secret that I grew up in Canada. I'm an American citizen now. But let me tell you, meeting Americans as I was growing up Canadian, I always got asked, do you live in an igloo? We don't. We build them, but we don't sleep in them.
But apparently some college kids in Utah like to hang out in igloos and smoke weed in them, because four University of Utah students were busted lighting up in an igloo on campus grounds near a wooded area. Here are the pictures, but not the infraction actually in progress. In addition to facing possession charges, they could also be expelled from their school. Advice to the kids, go to university in Colorado. Good snow there and the weed is everywhere.
Wolf Blitzer starts now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, U.S. concern is growing over military exercises underway near the Ukrainian border. Is Russia getting ready to move forces in?