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Inmarsat, Malaysia Release Satellite Data; SCOTUS Rules No Rigid IQ Baseline for Executions; Murder Mystery on CNN; FTC Makes Recommendations to Congress

Aired May 27, 2014 - 12:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's been a long time coming. Now that it's here, still leaves a big question. What does it prove?

Eight-one days and eleven-and-a-half weeks in total after Malaysia Airline Flight 370 disappeared, the Malaysian government today released so-called "raw" satellite data from the six hours after the plane was last pinpointed on radar.

I'm talking about 47 pages of numbers and codes and terms like "burst frequency offset." That is certainly not something you're going to lose yourself reading on the beach.

This comes from Inmarsat, the British firm whose communications satellite exchanged seven so-called handshakes with Flight 370. The last handshake initiated by the plane gives rise to the dominant theory that the 777 went down in the southern Indian Ocean, right off Australia's west Coast. But it is not cut and dry. There are complicated inferences involved.

Oh, and then there's also the fact that the planes and the ships and the underwater devices have been spending weeks and weeks in search of the slightest fragment of Flight 370 in the area that was suggested by this data, and yet, not a shred has been found, nothing.

Still, a top Inmarsat scientist is telling our Richard Quest that the numbers and the conclusions hold up.


MARK DICKINSON, VICE PRESIDENT OF SATELLITE OPERATIONS, INMARSAT: No one's come up yet with a reason why it shouldn't work for his particular flight when it works for the others.

And it's very important that this isn't just an Inmarsat activity; there's other people doing an investigation, experts who are helping the investigation team who got the same data, made their own models up and did the same thing and see if they get the same results. And speaking for the team, we get roughly the same answers.


BANFIELD: So, separately, Australia also put out a report last night that does try to connect some of the dots. Let's remember, the raw data from Malaysia was just the data, not the how-you-got and solved your problem.

But for his part, the Inmarsat CEO said he'd be, quote, "perfectly happy," end quote, to show the world not only his fact and figures but the full analysis his teams applied. So I guess the final answer there is, stay tuned. We'll see if we get that, as well. The families certainly want it.

In other big news that we're following today, the Supreme Court ruled on several cases, a big one today concerning the death penalty and who can be sentenced to die. And can they be sentenced to die if the IQ is really low? You might think this issue's settled, and today, we learned not quite.

The LEGAL VIEW on that, just ahead.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

Should your IQ determine whether you live or die? That was the question before the Supreme Court, and let me add, you've got to be a criminal to start with.

The justices decided today to reject a Florida law that allows executions for criminals with IQs above 70, saying that rigid thresholds use to measure IQs, they don't take into account that magical margin of error in imperfect tests that we actually conduct when it comes to measuring mental abilities. It is fascinating because it's been about a dozen years since we figured this was settled stuff. Not so.

Joining me to talk about this morning's five-four ruling is CNN correspondent Jean Casarez, a lawyer herself. And joining us also on the phone from Washington is senior analyst for CNN, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jean, I just want to start with you to lay out the facts on what they decided and why I felt I like I'd heard this before and I wasn't sure why it was before SCOTUS again.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 2002 was the Atkins decision, which made it unconstitutional to execute someone who at the time was mentally retarded. Now it's intellectually disabled.

Florida said, I see in the opinion it says intellectual disabled is about an IQ of 70. They took that and formed a statute in Florida that said if you are above 70, with your IQ, you can be executed, eligible for the death penalty. Below 70, another story.

Well, now we have Freddie Lee Hall, IQ, 71, but he had several IQ tests. Seventy-one to 80 were the IQ tests they were considering, but the sentencing judge said in Florida, I look at this and you say he's intellectually disabled, not able to communicate, not able to talk.

But I see that he was able to beat, kidnap, rape and murder someone, rob a convenience store, steal a car, I think you are having professional overkill here. And so the judge thought they were playing with the system and determined that he wasn't intellectually disabled.

BANFIELD: Let me give voice to that someone he killed, before he went off and killed a law enforcement officer. It was Karol Hurst. She was 21-years-old. She was seven-months pregnant at the time. As Jean said, she was raped. She was murdered. Her body was dragged into the woods by this man, who ultimately measured around 71.

Jeffrey Toobin, are you there?


BANFIELD: So my question for you is this, are we getting better at finding out how bad we are at actually measuring our mental capacities? And is this the issue before the court today, that perhaps we're not as good as we need to be, and that we need wiggle room, meaning we need a gray area on either side of 70? Is that what I'm reading?

TOOBIN (via telephone): Yes, that's exactly what the court held, but I think, in a broader sense, the court is struggling with why we have a death penalty, because it's about deterrent, it's about punishment, but the court is uncertain about whether you can deter someone who doesn't understand what's going on.

The crisis, the problem that the court keeps coming back to is all murder at some level is an act of insanity, but we only have the death penalty for people who understand what a terrible thing they've done.

And if you have a very low IQ you probably don't even understand what you did. And the court is saying today we're not going to make a flat rule of 70, we're going to let the psychiatrists be a little more -- have more wiggle room, as you said.

BANFIELD: It's so ironic. You would think if you're talking deterrents, you would let those above 70 go free, because they can be deterred, if you can teach them. That's just my stint on it.

But let me just finish by saying that this is not the only state that has that kind of sort of rigidity in its definition of 70 as your testing level. It's Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Virginia. Ten seconds --

CASAREZ: Nine other states have a statute saying 70 is the cutoff, and that's according --

BANFIELD: And have that rigidity in how they measure --

CASAREZ: Yes. Yes, so they've got to be looking at their statutes now because the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken.

BANFIELD: Spoke on Florida and everyone has to listen.

Jean, thank you. As always, you're always right on top of it. And, Jeffrey Toobin, your wisdom, as always, I always love to catch you anywhere you are. Thank you for that. Still ahead, they were madly in love, and they moved to Costa Rica to live alone together. And to do so, they built this. Take a close look at your screen. This is an eight-story mansion filled top to bottom with Italian marble. Essentially they set up a small kingdom for themselves.

But did their kingdom drive one of them to murder? Somewhere in that 80,000-square-foot paradise, a look at love and death in said paradise, next.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW, everyone. Love and death in paradise. That's actually the title of a new documentary that's going to air tonight at 9:00 p.m. Right here on CNN. It tells the story of an American couple living out what they had hoped would be their retirement dream in Costa Rica. That dream quickly turned into a nightmare. The husband was shot dead in his bed. And his grieving wife was accused of doing it. CNN's Randi Kaye uncovers the bizarre details of this murder mystery, have a look.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ann Bender remembers all too well the joy before the madness of January 8th, 2010. Here, inside her home, she took me up the elevator leading to her bedroom, the place where her husband died.

Hard for you to come in here?


KAYE: Though she still finds it hard to be in this room, Ann was willing to take me step by step through the final hours she and John spent here. Ann says they followed their nightly routine. John turned out the lights and they got into bed. Ann says she began to dose off.

BENDER: I was lying on my belly. Face down. My head facing towards him. And I opened my eyes, because I heard him talking.

KAYE: So what was he saying?

BENDER: He refer to my suicide attempts where I had been in bed next to him and he said something to the effect of knowing how it feels to wake up with your spouse dead.

KAYE: Though it was dark, Ann says she could see that John had a gun pointed at his head. Ann says she took action almost instinctively.

BENDER: I reared up on my knees, lunged towards him. And in the process of putting my hands around his, we fell towards each other. And he had the gun loaded and cocked. I lunged, we fell towards each other and the gun went off.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: Randi Kaye joins me now. First of all, the elephant in the room, that is -- that home is off the charts. Is there a big part of money in this? Let's just say this, is there a lot of evidence against this woman?

KAYE: According to the prosecutors, there certainly is. Starting with the gunshot that John Bender died from. The gunshot was a single gunshot right here, to the back right side of his head. Most people if they're going to commit suicide don't choose that spot.

BANFIELD: They certainly don't arc their -- uncomfortably arc their arm back.

KAYE: As she says, as you saw in that piece, she was trying to wrestle the gun away from him. So she says that is very possible. Also, the position of his body. He was laying in the fetal position, sort of curled up. So the prosecutors say he was asleep. He also had ear plugs in. She said they were talking, so were they really talking? And then the last really big point is the fact that he didn't have any gun powder on his hands at all. There was no gun powder residue from the gun. So the prosecutors say that they think because they were both mentally ill that maybe she had some psychotic break, and this is how it ended.

BANFIELD: Talk to me about the mental illness component of this.

KAYE: John Bender, there was a lot of paranoia which developed for various reasons, which you will see much more of in the documentary. They had full armed security on the property all the time. He was showing signs of depression. She told me that there were many times, on a regular basis, where he would ask her to gather all the pills in the house and they would have what she called suicide rehearsals. Which a lot of people find very hard to believe. It sounds like, I'm sure you would think, you're sort of building a case in your defense. But they would gather all the pills and he would talk to her about how he was going to do it, what he was going to take, how this was going to work and what he should do in order to commit suicide. So that's what she says was some evidence of his heavy depression.

BANFIELD: When I watched those images of the two of you walking through what was a crime scene, ultimately, 80,000 square foot place. But she doesn't live there. She could, if she wanted to, continue living in that mansion.

KAYE: Right. She doesn't live there now. She'd like to be able to maintain it. Right now, she's still struggling to hold on to it. But she's living in San Jose, many hours away. She needs to be close to the hospital and get some care. She's ill with lime disease, exactly. She is struggling with that. There, she had a three-toed sloth that was living with them, they had a wild hawk, they had monkeys. She would like to be able to save the refuge and keep it.

BANFIELD: If she's ultimately acquitted of this. But right now, she's not going anywhere. Her passport is surrendered, she is going to face this trial, second time around. It's an amazing story. Randi, thank you. What a great, bizarre assignment to go on. KAYE: Very bizarre.

BANFIELD: Reminder, my friend and colleague has been very busy and she's going to be presenting "Love in Paradise". It's airing tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Do not miss this. We're right back after this.


BANFIELD: Whether we like this or not, there's something out there called a data broker. A data broker collects and sells all kinds of personal information about you and me. And just about every American. Our income, where we shop, where we vacation, some of our habits and practices. Some personal stuff too. You know that can lead to an overload of spam e-mail. Drives you crazy. It can lead to other stuff too you might not know about.

Is there anything you can do about it? In rides the Federal Trade Commission, it turns out. Because the FTC today is going to make several recommendations to Congress, including, and get ready, the creation of a centralized website for you, to let you go in and access your own pile of data. And then here's the key, opt out, if you want. Go underground. Disappear. I love it.

Joining me to talk about the FTC recommendations is CNN money technology correspondent Lori Segall and CNN technology analyst Brett Lars. Yay, is all I can say. Such great news. There's a big old caveat, oh, it's a recommendation to Congress.

LORI SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: You know, look, there's something we want to own our data, so we can opt out. The big word here is the opt out. So many of us are so -- we try to be proactive. We have no idea what people are collecting. What they're recommending, and I should say, they are recommending -- is giving consumers the ability to go to this website, it is almost like a portal, it will take you to the different data broker sites. And you can say, hey, this is what they're collecting about me and this is what I want to opt out of. They also want retailers to be more transparent and with the sensitive information that oftentimes you don't know you're sharing like health information , they want it to be clear.

BANFIELD: During the commercial break, you made a great analogy. You said something about like, hey you go to a bike store and you buy yourself a bike and you're thrilled that they are going to send you deals about bikes, but then they might also send your biking information to an insurance agent who deems you high risk. And that is where this stuff, Brett, we don't know this kind of stuff is happening.

BRETT LARS, TECHNOLOGY ANALYST: The easy parallel for this is your credit report. You can go online and get your entire credit history. You can see any mistakes on it, you can fix things that are wrong with it. But most importantly, you're an informed consumer with your credit report. With the data mining and the stuff they're getting and learning about us, through everything we do, we really don't know everything that they have. Health care is a very serious issue. You're right, your health insurance company may be able to find out where you're going online. Your car insurance company may find out that you're actually going further than the mileage you claim every year.

BANFIELD: Or you buy a lot of beer.

LARS: You know, with the cards you swipe when you go to the store, there was cases in there where people were saying, I don't want the store to know how much liquor I'm buying.

BANFIELD: Here's how I see it. The FTC, and thank you FTC, you're lovely and adorable, will do this recommendation and pass it to Congress who will bicker like mad, because there will be a lobby that comes forward. This is a multibillion dollar industry. This data mining. I'm not going to single anybody out but major organizations that handle data will come in and say, this is our free speech. This is our right to commerce. How can you treat us any differently than, say, Bloomingdale's, when they send us freebies online?

LARS: It's a valid counter argument. But I think this is the time then when consumers need to stand up and say no, I don't want this stuff, I don't want you to know where I shop online, I don't want you to know my dream vacation. I do want some privacy in the age of Internet. I'm happy for the discounts but I do still want my privacy.

BANFIELD: And can I just say, I want the unsubscribe button to really work. I am so tired of unsubscribing, only to have 30 more vendors e- mailing me the next day. Like, hello, I'm alive. Okay, Lori, Brett, thank you both, appreciate it. That's all the time I have. I'm done ranting. But good luck, FTC. Call me when it works. Thanks everybody, stick around, my pal Wolf starts right now.