Return to Transcripts main page


More Rain Targeting Flood-Ravaged Texas; Did Climate Change Contribute to Floods?; Holdout Juror in Etan Patz Trial Speaks Out; Live Anthrax Shipped to Nine States & South Korea. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 28, 2015 - 06:30   ET



[06:32:22] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The rivers keep rising in Texas and areas already damaged by raging flood waters face the threat of more rain.

Let's get right to meteorologist Chad Myers for what they're looking at -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Couple things going on. You know, the ground is saturated. There's no place for it to soak in. And there's not that much ground in the first place.

Talk to the people in Austin, Texas about how their basement is. They don't have one. At least not very many because they're right on bedrock. They're right on limestone. When you get rain it just runs right off.

Oklahoma City, same story. I lived in Edmond, no basement there. I'd love to have one, tornado alley, but you don't get it because you're right on bedrock and more rain coming for today. There's showers in Oklahoma City right now.

More rain across Dallas today. And I'm concerned that a small little frontal system right through, little outflow boundary as we call it, could set up over Dallas and make more rainfall and more flooding just like Benbrook had last night. Flooding about 10:00 last night rain showers just wouldn't stop raining, wouldn't move. The storm stayed in the same exact spot. And it could do the same thing today.

Wichita Falls all the way down to I would say almost Del Rio Texas you're going to see rain showers. Back to the west you're going to see heavier rain and that's why we have the flash flood warnings and also the potential for severe weather. There may be a couple of tornadoes like there were yesterday. There's Wichita falls, very heavy rainfall.

Everything's saturated. It's not going anywhere. It's just going to run off. It's going to be another couple of days before this finally stops.

CAMEROTA: All right. Chad, thanks so much for all of that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for that key insight about how shallow the ground bed is there because of the lime rock.

CAMEROTA: I never knew that.

CUOMO: Helpful to understand the situation.

All right. So, the Defense Department is in damage control this morning after a military lab in Utah accidentally shipped live anthrax samples to nine states and a military base in South Korea. Reportedly via FedEx. Twenty-six people are now getting treated for possible exposure. Officials do not know if any other live samples are out there, but they say there's no risk to the public at this time. No word yet on how this happened.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI's struggling to keep track of all the ISIS sympathizers here in the United States. And they are asking for help from law enforcement agencies across the country. The request comes after agents lost track of a suspect who tried to attack a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas.

Meanwhile, an FBI bulletin warns the U.S. military, law enforcement and government offices are at increased risk of an attack by ISIS.

CAMEROTA: Nebraska overriding its governor's veto to become the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty. The narrow win for death penalty opponents followed more than two hours of emotional speeches at the state capitol. Governor Pete Ricketts immediately blasted the vote saying the state, quote, "lost a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families."

[06:35:04] CUOMO: On the good news side, it's been 40 years since the Golden State Warriors tasted the NBA finals. But how sweet that taste was? The Warriors closed out the Houston rockets in five games winning 104-90 last night, took the Western Conference Title.

Up next though, bum, bum, bum, the king, LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Game one, one week from tonight, in Oakland. He's big and strong and fast.

But what do you think happens? So let's get into it.

PEREIRA: So interesting I was reflecting on the fact I spent all that time in California. And I don't ever remember a time when --

CUOMO: They were good.

PEREIRA: -- they were good. Both the Clippers and Warriors. It was always about the Lakers, right? And to see this happening now is like really incredible.

CUOMO: Back in the day, they had Hardaway, Richmond and Mullin, remember that?


CUOMO: That means nothing.

So, who do you think wins based on the uniforms? Does the burgundy and gold bother you?

CAMEROTA: No, I like the burgundy and gold. My high school colors. I'm going with them. Who -- which team is that?

CUOMO: LeBron James' team.

CAMEROTA: I got to go with that.

PEREIRA: I got to go for the West. Even though I think that Cavaliers will take it.

CUOMO: Steph Curry hard not to root for. He's like my size. Dominant MVP.

PEREIRA: Well, I don't know about the size thing. But anyway, back to our top story here -- rivers still rising to record levels in Texas. Cities and towns are submerged. A whole lot more rain is on the way.

So, is this global warming? We're going to put that to a scientist to talk about it.



[06:40:44] SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: At a time of tragedy, I think it's wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster. And so there's plenty of time to talk about other issues. I think the focus now is on caring for those who have lost their lives and lost their homes.


PEREIRA: Senator Ted Cruz there dodging questions about the possible connection between climate change and the deadly flooding in Texas and Oklahoma. This morning, communities are trying to pick up the pieces. Some now questioning what role climate change may have played in that disaster.

Joining us to weigh in is Columbia University climate scientist Radley Horton.

Always a pleasure to have you with us, Radley.

I'm curious your reaction to what Senator Cruz said there. Is this politicizing what's happening in Texas and Oklahoma?

RADLEY HORTON, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, clearly, we need to start by focusing on the suffering of people.

PEREIRA: Of course. Nobody argues that.

HORTON: Absolutely.

But it is an urgent issue climate change. As we look around the country, around the world, we are seeing an increase in heavy rain events associated with increasing greenhouse gases. We don't have much time.

This is an urgent issue. We need to reduce our emissions of fossil fuels. And as we plan for where people are going to live along our coast, energy and infrastructure, decisions we make right now matter. They have implications on future decades as the sea levels are rising as we're getting more heavy rain events.

PEREIRA: So there's no direct evidence linking the -- you know, the fact that climate is changing to what is happening there. But you say there is a big connection as you were just pointing out.

HORTON: That's right. I like the way you started with that, because any individual event you can't say climate change.

PEREIRA: There's direct line, right.

HORTON: Naturally variability.

But when we start to put the pieces together as more and more Americans are doing, when we look at trends over the last 50 years for the entire U.S. and for the globe, we have seen more of these very heavy rain events. In the Northeast, for example, we've seen about a 70 percent increase in the amount of rainfall in these heavy rain events.

Every part of the U.S. has seen an increase in these events. It also matches what we expect from theory. We know greenhouse gases are going to warm the atmosphere. We've understood that since the 19th century. That warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. It tends to fall out in these kinds of heavy rain events that we're observing.

PEREIRA: But we're also seeing extreme of everything. We're seeing extreme drought. In fact, this area that's flooding here in Texas, only a few years ago was declared a state of emergency, I think 2011, because there was a major drought there. We're seeing that in California. We're seeing these extreme events.

We also know more and more meteorologists and respected ones including Bill Nye, in fact I think we have his tweet, are saying there is a link.

Why is there such debate still even though more in the science community are saying there is a link?

HORTON: Well, I think again a lot of us are inclined to focus on what we're observing in our local spot. And it's counterintuitive to people that you can have drought risk increase and heavy rain risk increase as well. But it's true. And more Americans I think are connecting these dots.

As we're seeing changes, we're seeing the jet stream for example seemingly getting a little more wavier, getting stuck into some of these patterns. We can't say for sure that this is entirely due to climate change, some of it could be variability, but it's looking more and more as we think about that persistence, right? It's not that we get that very heavy rain event, it's seemingly locking into these weather patterns.

We had so many consecutive cold days in the Northeast. We've had such a long stretch of not just drought but extremely high temperatures in much of the West. Intuitively, it seems we're getting locked into some of these patterns.

Research is still emerging on whether these patterns are getting more persistent. Seems like it when we've had a month long stretch of heavy rain. But we are for sure seeing heavier rain events getting stronger, heat waves getting more intense when they happen.

PEREIRA: Is Houston particularly more vulnerable? We've seen highways turned into rivers. Is it particularly because the way it's situated or the way that city is even built? Is it particularly vulnerable?

HORTON: I think Houston does have more unique vulnerabilities. More generally, you know, we're moving our populations and infrastructure towards the coast, but if we talk specifically about Houston there has been a lot of development. We've removed what used to be some catchment areas that could hold moisture, now we have pavement where that water tends to run off.

So, we do have that risk of that heavy rain. We're also seeing as we get more sea level rise we could see combined effect of surge of ocean water with heavy rain events. The water just has to sit there.

[06:45:02] PEREIRA: Super quick. We were just in Albany talking about this. Are leaders getting it? Are they making -- are they paying attention?

HORTON: We're absolutely seeing emerging leadership on climate change issues. We can see that in many places. There are till politicians who haven't taken it on, the business community, the military more and more saying to protect public safety and the economy we need to think about climate change and make it more difficult for politicians to not put that in their long-term plan.

PEREIRA: Radley Horton, always great to have you here on NEW DAY. Thanks so much for being here.

HORTON: Thank you. Great seeing you.

PEREIRA: Busy day, so we let you go. Thanks so much. Thanks for joining us.

And, of course you can get in on the conversation, you can get onto Twitter, use the #NewDayCNN or post comments on Facebook -- Chris.

CUOMO: So the Etan Patz jury deliberated for more than 100 hours. You remember this case it kind of set off the nation's fears about child abduction. Eleven people wound up saying Pedro Hernandez is guilty, one did not. And he would not relent. Why he has been the focus of much controversy. You will hear from him himself in an exclusive, coming up.


[06:50:04] CUOMO: All right. So as you probably know, a jury deadlocked in the Etan Patz murder trial. The suspect, Pedro Hernandez, confessed to killing the 6-year-old some 36 years ago. And he did it many times.

So the question is what happened? Well, in this trial there was a single hold out juror. He said he simply could not vote to convict. Speaking out on television for the first time that juror, Adam Sirois, joins us now.

Adam, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: So this has been unusual because usually when a jury deadlocks they say we couldn't decide, we fought, we tried. And it's left at that. Not this time. This time it wound up being you against them.

Why do you think that was?

SIROIS: I mean, essentially it boils down to the evidence. The evidence was just not there in this case. And unfortunately, my fellow jurors felt the story presented by the prosecution was a story that made the most sense. And in my opinion you don't go with the story that makes the most sense, you go with the evidence.

So, it was -- it was very difficult, but it was the decision I felt very comfortable with.

CUOMO: Why were you in such a different place than the rest of them? I know it was 10-2 or while you say. There was you and another man who was holding out. So it's not just you. But it wound u being just you.

Why wouldn't you go where they went?

SIROIS: Again, it' based on reasonable doubt. And my understanding of reasonable doubt, which is a high threshold for voting guilty in our country, I just feel that the other jurors had a much lower threshold for getting to that point of being willing to vote guilty in this case.

CUOMO: They say Pedro Hernandez admitted it, he admitted it several times, he still admits it now. Why isn't that good enough?

SIROIS: We were told by the judge you cannot convict, you cannot vote guilty on someone based only on their words they use against themselves. So, a confession is not evidence of guilt. You have to prove first that the crime was committed and second that the crime was committed by the person being charged with that crime.

CUOMO: You need to corroborate the confession.


CUOMO: It hurts you when you say you did something else you can show it was a compelled confession, a false confession or coerced confession, but it certainly counts.

SIROIS: Right.

CUOMO: But seems like you were very willing to discount it. Why were you so willing to discount a man saying I did it, I told my wife, I told friends, I told people, I told a church group. Why wasn't it enough for you?

SIROIS: There are lots of reasons why. I probably don't have time to tell all of them, but essentially most of the testimony, most of the eyewitness testimony against Mr. Hernandez was based on things people said from 35 years ago. And people heard 35 years ago.

In the courtroom -- in the jury room we couldn't remember what was said ten minutes ago in court sometimes which is why we asked for read back. So, it made me nervous to judge a man based on words from 35 years ago that someone might have heard at a church group meeting. That was one thing. The other thing was the fact that the police had him in custody for seven hours questioning with no video recording being done. Which I felt was an issue, was something to think about.

CUOMO: Now, this is something that raised eyebrows about your disposition is you were reported to say that, and you can verify it or shoot it downright now, that, hey, these are the police we're talking about. That made people think you were just anti-cop. Is that true? Are you anti-police? Are you suspicious of police?

SIROIS: No, not at all. I have huge respect for the NYPD, for the prosecutors' office and in general I think they do a great job.

I think it was unfortunate they didn't videotape the first seven hours of this interview, which would have really helped. Everyone in that jury room wished it would have happened because it would have helped us to see how the interview was conducted with Mr. Hernandez.

I'm not alleging anything was wrong. I think the police used a lot of tactics that were very, very good to illicit this confession. But when someone has a mental health condition like Mr. Hernandez, low intelligence, can a person like that succumb to a confession more easily? I think so.

CUOMO: But he said the same thing before and to other people.

SIROIS: Allegedly.

CUOMO: How did you square with that?

SIROIS: Allegedly.

CUOMO: You think that each of these different groups were making it up?

SIROIS: Well, one is his ex-wife who obviously had a very bad relationship with him. And the other were three older gentlemen from Puerto Rico who were in a church group who say they heard something 35 years ago but none of their stories were the same. And they changed over time.

CUOMO: Now, you grew up with this. Etan Patz is a name that, you know, I may not have pronounced correctly every time, it was a tricky name, but it was a very easy story to understand. It was 1979, growing up in the city, you were in Jersey, this was the story that changed everything. People were so hungry for satisfaction.

And now, you have this guy who says he did it and 11 of your colleagues say, no, this is it beyond a reasonable doubt has to be him.


CUOMO: What was it like for you to hold out?

SIROIS: You know, people have said, you know, that it was must have been hard or something like that.

[06:55:05] But to be honest I felt very confident in my position. And I was really hoping that I wouldn't be here alone today, that I would be here with at least nine or ten other people.

There are a few people that were never going to vote not guilty. I could see that from the beginning. But there was a lot of wavering in that room for a while. It even got 6-6 at one point. But, yes, I wish I wasn't alone right now but that's how the system works.

CUOMO: Any doubts who did it? Somebody did this. Somebody made this kid disappear.


CUOMO: Who did it if not Pedro Hernandez?

SIROIS: I'm not going to pretend I know the answer, but there were other suspects presented in the trial. Jose Ramos is a very good candidate for that --

CUOMO: And the prosecutor's saying in so many different ways we don't think it's Ramos, we think it's this guy, we know it's this guy. If you trust them, what was it that if you had to point out just one thing where you couldn't get past it, what was that thing?

SIROIS: About?

CUOMO: Why you wouldn't believe what the prosecutors were saying? Why you wouldn't believe after a hundred hours what your 11 colleagues were saying. What made you hold out?

SIROIS: I mean, honestly the weakness of the evidence. There was no corroboration of the confessions. The confessions are difficult. I grant that. I mean, they're difficult for me. But there was no clear evidence that corroborated his confessions.

CUOMO: The thumbnail means motive and opportunity.

SIROIS: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: He worked right there. He had the ability to do this. He had access to that basement. He had the opportunity because the kid came by all the time, right?

SIROIS: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: And motive, he's a disturbed guy who had a problem with kids, by his own admission.

SIROIS: Problem with kids I don't agree with. And he was only 18 at the time. His mental health issues, you know, emerged after that.

CUOMO: That's what they say. That's what they suggested on his side.

SIROIS: Right.

CUOMO: But that wasn't enough for you.


CUOMO: And you're good with it today?

SIROIS: I'm fine, yes.

CUOMO: What would you say to his parents? They've been big advocates for this.

SIROIS: Of course. My heart goes out to the Patz family. It's a horrible thing and I'm so sorry for the loss of Etan, but that doesn't mean you convict the wrong person in the case.

CUOMO: Clear conscience, you move on with your life.

SIROIS: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You wrote on a very thoughtful piece about why you feel the way you do. People can read that.

Adam, thank you very much for explaining it to us.

SIROIS: Thank you.

CUOMO: There have been a lot of questions. A lot of people will be watching., log on, check out his whole version.

This is one big story for you today. There's a lot of news. Let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the deadliest pathogens that exist.

CUOMO: Live anthrax were shipped via commercial carrier to nine state and military base in South Korea?

CAMEROTA: How could this happen?

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Individuals that are sympathetic and radicalizing.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Could the girls have been stopped?

UNIDENTFIED MALE: A new warning about the growing threat posed by ISIS sympathizers.

PEREIRA: Nuclear talks with Iran have resumed in Vienna.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The risk of a nuclear Iran is so great.

CRUZ: This Iran deal I believe is an historic mistake.


UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Still searching for those nine missing.

UNIDENTFIED MALE: We're very vulnerable right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota and Michaela Pereira.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to your NEW DAY.

How did the U.S. military accidentally allow live anthrax to be shipped around the world by FedEx? The dangerous substance reportedly shipped to nine states and a military base in South Korea.

CUOMO: Twenty-six people including four in the U.S. are now getting emergency treatment for possible exposure. And we still don't know why this happened and if it can be prevented from happening again.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is live for us this morning.

I know we're trying to figure out on their end, at least the defense department, how much exposure, are there any samples? But how far along are they, Barbara, in understanding why this happened in the first place?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, Chris, right now there are still more questions than answers at Osan Air Base in South Korea, at nine states across the country.

The Pentagon trying to figure out what happened. It is a mistake. It is a crisis they've now only acknowledged after knowing about it for several days.


STARR (voice-over): This morning, fear up to 22 Air Force personnel may have been exposed to anthrax at an air base in South Korea. An investigation now under way as officials at Osan Air Base say an Army lab in Utah inadvertently shipped live anthrax samples to them and facilities in nine states over the past few days.

Twenty-two people now being monitored in South Korea join four workers in the U.S. who have received preventive post exposure treatment. A lab in Maryland was the first to report receiving the live bacteria last Friday after handling the samples.

The question now, how could this have happened?

COL. RONALD FIZER, U.S. ARMY DUGWAY PROVING GROUND: It's a great question. That's exactly why we brought in the Center for Disease Control, and their investigators.

STARR: The Centers for Disease Control now investigating as officials revealed the samples were shipped under less rigorous condition.