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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Aftermath of the California Spree Shooter's Rampage; Flight 370 Data to Be Released as Search Pauses for Two Months; Oscar Pistorius Mental Evaluation Begins Today; Explosive Side Effect of Pot Sales
Aired May 26, 2014 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Pamela Brown in for Ashleigh Banfield.
Today, students and neighbors, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara City College, are trying to cope with it all, multiple crime scenes with three people shot and three others stabbed to death before the troubled killer, Elliott Rodger, took his own life.
The president of the United States has been getting briefings, and the White House spokesman issued a statement saying the president and first lady's thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends who lost a loved one.
Alison Kosik is right outside the Santa Barbara sheriff's office. Are we getting a better idea of how others perceived Elliot Rodger?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are, because, you know, up until now we've really only had that manifesto to get an idea of what was going through Elliot Rodger's mind, and now we're hearing from one of his neighbors.
Rodger lived at an apartment building at Isla Vista and this neighbor is saying what Rodger wound up doing was closing himself off to others.
In this interview, you're only going to see the back of him. He didn't want to be identified
He did speak with my colleague, and in this interview you can see how, despite Rodger saying in his manifesto saying that he was rejected by girls, this neighbor says that he made many attempts to invite Rodgers to parties and that when he finally got him to go to one of these parties, all Rodger did was sit and stare at everybody, this neighbor saying that Rodger was like a ghost.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, NEIGHBOR OF ELLIOT RODGER: He didn't talk. He just -- he didn't talk. I mean, when I talked with him for like the three hours, I pretty much -- I would have to say, like, I would talk for five minutes to try to, like, get some sort of reaction, and then he would say, I don't know, one sentence.
And then I'd have to talk to him for another five minutes and then one sentence would come out. I had absolutely no idea. I didn't even know what college he went to.
Like, I talked to him for that long, and I'm like what do you want to do, like, what's your major, what do you want to do with your life? Never came out. He didn't say a single thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: This neighbor, Pamela, also said that the night that the three men were stabbed inside Elliot Rodger's apartment, that he didn't hear anything.
But he also did say that one of his friends who parked his car near Rodger's parking spot did see Rodger that night inside his car, parked, on his laptop, right before he was headed out.
BROWN: I've been there in Santa Barbara. I know over the weekend there was a vigil. What else is happening with the community?
KOSIK: Well, tomorrow is being declared a day of mourning, so classes at University of California, Santa Barbara, they're going to be closed tomorrow, and that memorial service will be held.
Later today, there's also going to be a march in Isla Vista. What it's going to do, it's going to start at the sorority house where two girls were shot and killed. It's going to go ahead and stop at every place where each of the six victims were killed, to honor those whose lives were lost.
BROWN: Alison Kosik, thank you for your reporting there at the Santa Barbara sheriff's office. We appreciate it.
Up next, Malaysia is finally releasing that satellite data used to pinpoint the search area for Flight 370.
So why have the families had to wait 80 days, and will it give them any of the answers they want?
We'll be right back.
BROWN: The underwater search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is about to go on hold for at least two months, but not before the world learns why the search is focused off Western Australia in the first place.
The head of Australia's transport safety bureau says the Bluefin drone will wrap up its final mission on Wednesday, and then Australia will seek bids from private contractors for gear like this, able to scan much larger areas and transmit data in real time, making those deals, deciding who will pay and getting more assets in place will likely take until august at the soonest.
Tomorrow, however, Malaysia is set to release the satellite data that provided the only real evidence of flight 370's whereabouts once it fell off the Malaysia military radar.
Joining me is former aviation accident investigator David Soucie. David, we've been talking a lot about this data. What will it consist of?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it's going to be interesting to see, because it's been reviewed over the last few days and kind of dissected again by the Malaysian government and by the AAIB.
It will be interesting to see what they put out. It's intended to put out the raw data, every single piece of information that has to do with Inmarsat.
It's going to be a little confusing, again, though, even to the trained observer, because it's only going to include Inmarsat, and there's a bunch of systems here, the system on the airplane that Honeywell makes, and it's going to have data.
I'm worried that when it comes out, even these experts are not going to be able to come up with anything different than the results Malaysia had in the first place.
BROWN: Officials had this data for quite some time. Why do you think it's taken so long for Malaysia to release it?
SOUCIE: That's a real good question. I've been asking that myself.
Some of the answers, they're kind of an interesting situation. They're in a no-win position. If they release all the data, people will interpret it in a thousand different ways. If they just sent the raw data out with no explanation.
They're telling us they're spending time now coming up with explanations and reasons and, I think, basically justifications for why they had the confidence that they did to continue the search in the area to the south.
So I'm hoping that that is a good explanation, because if it isn't, we're going to be right back where we started.
BROWN: Hard to imagine. Of course, this is something that the families have been calling for, the Malaysian government to release.
I want to turn now to the underwater search that's been going on. One of the big questions that I still haven't really heard a good answer to is why weren't bigger and more capable assets brought in long ago, or more Bluefins? Is it a money question?
SOUCIE: I don't think it's money. I think it was a matter of their confidence that they had that they would find the airplane.
They had the Bluefin. They were promised the Bluefin would be capable to search in these areas. They didn't know if the Bluefin was going to be able to go that deep.
I think what happened here is they had overconfidence in the fact the ping data and the Inmarsat data had put them right in the perfect location, and that they'd be able to go right out there and find the airplane with the Bluefin-21, which of course has proven not to be the case, so now they've got to regroup and get that equipment out which takes, as you said, months.
BROWN: Yes, so discouraging. Here we are, David, around 80 days since the plane went missing. Do you think it's ever going to be found?
SOUCIE: I do think it's going to be found. Last week, I met with the Malaysian -- or excuse me, with the International Civil Aviation Organization president, and he emphasized the need it really needs to be found, because without that, the confidence in air travel could be in trouble.
People will need to know what happened to that airplane to really feel safe. He doesn't think it will stop. I think we need to keep looking until we find it.
BROWN: Yes, there are a lot of Boeing 777s out there flying today, and also just for the family's sake, it shouldn't stop.
David Soucie, thank you very much. We'll talk more tomorrow when that data is expected to be released.
Coming up right here on LEGAL VIEW, a critical part of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' defense begins today. How his mental state could be key to the outcome of the murder trial.
Be right back.
BROWN: A few stories making headlines at this hour. In western Colorado, the search is on for three people missing after a huge mudslide there. An area of land four miles long, two miles wide and 250 feet deep gave way after a day of heavy rain. Roadblocks are up to keep people away from what police call a very unstable area.
And armed gunmen kept most people in Donetsk and other parts of Ukraine from voting in the presidential election there. They shut down three out of four polling places. Billionaire Petro Poroshenko is claiming victory and says Russia needs to help bring peace to the country, but today there is fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatists at the airport in Donetsk.
And a critical part of the Oscar Pistorius trial begins today, but not in the courtroom. The Olympian, known as the Blade Runner is accused of murdering his girlfriend in a Valentine's Day shooting last year. Right now, he's in a high security psychiatric hospital. Here is Robyn Curnow in South Africa.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, Oscar Pistorius has now begun that 30-day period of observation where he'll be evaluated, analyzed by an expert panel of psychiatrists and psychologists at a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now, controversially, he's being treated as an outpatient. This is very unusual.
But the judge had ruled that she didn't want Oscar Pistorius or his team to think he was being punished twice. That's why he's not being forced to be an inpatient at the facility during this month long process. At stake, the question, is he criminally responsible for his actions the night he shot and killed his girlfriend. Can he tell right from wrong and act in accordance with that. A report has to be given to the judge in more than 30 days. And this is very important. This whole process. On what his mental state was at the time of the shooting. Because not only could it have some impact on the actual verdict, but even if he's convicted, it could have an impact on sentencing.
Back to you, Pamela.
BROWN: All right, Robyn Curnow, thank you so much. And as Robyn just said the results of this evaluation could have a significant impact on the eventual verdict or sentencing.
So now let's bring in our CNN legal analyst Paul Callan. Paul, great to see you again. You're joining us from New York. I want you, just for a second her Paul, to play defense attorney for us. How much is at stake for Oscar Pistorius here?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, everything is at stake. Really. Because from the standpoint of the defense, the judge is going to be heavily influenced by this. I mean, I was amazed by it. In an American courtroom, you would have to plead insanity in advance trial in order to offer some kind of a variation of the insanity defense. Now, here, it's been dropped in the middle of the trial. I will tell you that, frequently, there are situations when you would be found incapable of standing trial. Incapacitated to stand trial. But, and a judge will send you off to be evaluated. But here, the judge is saying he's been acting so strangely, he's got to be evaluated. I think it could have a big impact on her because ultimately if she goes with a lower offense, culpable homicide, she could give him probation for the murder. And she may say, based on the doctor reports, he is so distraught that he couldn't have planned this murder, it must be an emotional reaction to the situation. So interesting development.
BROWN: And as you pointed out, Paul, was sort of dropped in the middle of it, Pistorius saying he suffered from generalized anxiety disorder and has since childhood. Do you think that could render him mentally incapacitated during the shooting?
CALLAN: I will tell you something, here is the interesting thing about it, I've been watching a lot of it very, very closely. I mean, this guy has been crying for half the trial. I mean, he gets on the witness stand, and they even put a pail next to the witness stand because he was vomiting and retching. He wasn't making up the vomiting and retching. I was a little skeptical, being the skeptic that I am, that he was making this up. That's what led the judge to say, you know something, this activity is so bizarre, he's got to be evaluated.
So I think in the end, this could be something that could help the defense tremendously, Because, you know, the prosecutor was saying, hey, he's making this up, he's acting, this is not real. If the psychiatrists come back and say he has a mental defect and problem that could have caused this, you know, the judge might find in his favor. Here's the danger, he could also be admitted for psychiatric treatment inpatient permanently if they find he's a danger to himself or society. It's always dangerous when you go the insanity defense.
BROWN: Right and you know, Paul, one finding out of all this could be diminished responsibility at the time that he killed Steenkamp. How do you think that - how could that finding play into this trial? What do you think about that?
CALLAN: Well, to me, that's the most probable outcome of this trial. You know, the evidence that was offered by the prosecutor to prove that he premeditated this murder, a lot of it was very, very strong. But what you can't deny in the end is he fired into a closed bathroom door, killing his girlfriend. Now, who would do that? Somebody who did not act reasonably I think under the circumstances, and I think that's the diminished capacity, finding -- it will be a finding culpable homicide if the judge believes that. She could give him probation. And she certainly seems to be leaning over backwards for him. I've never heard of a judge in a murder case say, we're not going to punish you twice by making you have an inpatient psychiatric examination, we'll let you commute from your house. That's pretty lenient attitude from a judge in a murder case.
BROWN: Yes, that's an interesting point. Paul Callan, thank you so much. Great to see you.
CALLAN: OK, thank you, Pam.
BROWN: Coming up right here on LEGAL VIEW, Mary Jane, marijuana, pot, whatever you call it, the drug is generating a buzz across the nation. But since it went legal in Colorado there has been an explosive side effect. We're going to tell you what that is up next.
BROWN: Marijuana, reefer, pot, whatever you call it, it's creating a conversation across the nation. Today, it can be used recreationally in Washington and Colorado, plus, medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states from coast to coast, and in Colorado, it is legal to buy and sell hash oil products. Hash oil has extremely high THC content, it's cheap and easy to make. But as Ana Cabrera reports, in our continuing series, Pot Boom, the result is a very volatile situation, literally exploding across the country.
WAYNE WINKLER, BURN VICTIM: I am lit of fire. My hands, my face, my whole body. The worst pain in my entire life.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was going through your mind?
WINKLER: Oh, my god, what could I do? what did I do?
CABRERA: Wayne Winkler is lucky to be alive. An explosion in his kitchen burned his hands down to the bone.
WINKLER: It was just hell, all in one second, an immediate instant.
CABRERA: Winkler was making hash oil, also known as wax, shatter and dabs.
UNIDENITIFED MALE: They say a dab will do you.
CABRERA: A product flying off the shelves of Colorado marijuana dispensaries. Many consider it the most pure form of THC.
Put that into perspective for me.
JASON COLEMAN, MARIJUANA BUD TENDER: THC content possibly equal to the amount of what you might get in one joint or two. Or a few.
CABRERA: It's made using butane to extract THC from the cannabis plant. When the butane evaporates you're left with an oily or waxy substance. There are dozens of videos on Youtube that show not only how easy it is to make, but also how risky and dangerous it is. Hash oil explosions and fires are become a concern around the country, from Washington, to Hawaii, to New York and California. They are happening in homes, apartments, even hotel rooms. In southern California, authorities are cracking down. There, the product is outlawed.
GARY HILL, DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY: We've identified 40 separate butane hash oil extraction labs of which 20 have resulted in fires and explosions.
CAMY BOTLE, BURN TRAUMA NURSE: Just seeing this pattern and these trends, we can't ignore it.
CABRERA: The burn trauma ICU at the University of Colorado Hospital has treated at least ten victims of hash oil explosions since January. That's ten times the number treated in all of 2012 and on track to far surpass last year's numbers.
GORDON LINDBERG, BURN TRAUMA CU HOSPITAL ICU DIRECTOR: We had one woman, she came in with a 90 percent burn, so she was with us for two months.
CABRERA: It's now been more than a year since Winkler left the hospital. He considers himself healed. But the scars on his hands are constant reminders of the day he almost died.
WINKLER: Why I am doing this interview, is if I can stop someone else from being burned, and burned alive. Maybe stop them from doing it, that's what I'm doing this for. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BROWN: And thank you to Ana Cabrera. Thank you to all our veterans