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tv   Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield  CNN  July 13, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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welcome to "legal view," i'm fredricka whitfield in for ashleigh ban field. we begin with a massive manhunt in mexico for one of the world's most dangerous drug lords,
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joaquin guzman, also known as el chapo breaking out of prison for a second time. here's what we know about his brazen escape from a max miami security prison about 60 miles west of mexico city. the leader of the sinaloa cartel made his way out of this fortified complex through a tunnel that begins in the shower area of his cell. the tunnel runs out of the prison underneath farm land for about a mile to this small cinder block house you're about to see. the tunnel is outfitted with lighting, ventilation and even a modified motorcycle on tracks that was likely used to remove dirt with the excavation. his whereabouts now are anyone's guest. joining me right now is cnn's polo sandoval outside the prison's front gate. what does this manhunt look like? >> fred, there are police everywhere in and out of the facility west of mexico city.
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joaquin "el chapo" guzman, a man short? stature but remains a giant in the criminal underworld. that's why it's so important to track him down. as this truck goes by us, it you to see more or less where that tunnel is believed to be. it's actually under the barbed wire fence you see in the distance, the farm line you just mentioned to the right. authorities say this very powerful man emerged in what was a very simple cinder block home that was under construction saturday into sunday. so what we're seeing is a partial perimeter that's been set up in and around the prison facility here at the same time. we're seeing several checkpoints that have been set up. very similar to what we witnessed in dannemora, new york, for example, cars are being searched. at the same time these federal officers with the mexican government are doing their job knowing there is a very real possibility that guzman slipped out of their reach, may possibly even be in his home state of sinaloa. that would be a problem, too,
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fred, because he has tremendous support in the area. to some individuals there in his home state he's seen as a robin hood, giving resources to that community. plus the mountainous terrain would allow for several places to hide. a very fluid situation we're noticing here about an hour's drive west of mexico city. clearly they don't expect to give up in i time soon again they continue to work to track down this dangerous guy right now. >> so, polo, clearly officials are trying to interview a lot of people. we know that many prison guards have also been questioned. what about at that partially built farmland cinder block house? there was construction there. you just mentioned that. what about people who were part of that construction site. is anyone talking? is anyone saying anything? >> you know, fred, clearly that's going to be a key part of the investigation, what's interesting is that there's construction work that's being
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done over any shoulder. part of the infrastructure being fixed in and around the area. so some of these individual likely carting this soil and dirt in and around the area blended in with the construction crews we've seen all day. you saw a huge dump truck drive right past us a few seconds ago. officials do believe that some of the help that was working to try to get guzman out of prison likely blended in just fine for weeks as they were trying to really tunnel him out of this prison so that will be a top priority to try to speak to investigators. now, specifics haven't been released. we expect federal prosecutors to host a press conference this evening, possibly releasing more information. i can tell you, last thing i should mention here, fred, just adds authorities suspect guzman had help on the outside, they believe he may have had help on the inside. at least 18 guards at the facility are in nearby mexico city speaking to federal prosecutors, fred. >> polo sandoval, thank you so
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much, appreciate that. let's talk more about this. joining me right now to talk about the search for el chapo is joseph lopez live from chicago, an attorney who has represented many cartel members and from mexico city is anna maria salazar, a latin american political analyst and radio host. good to see both of you. >> good morning. >> anna, to you first, you heard polo say a lot of people are being questioned. those inside the prison system. now the question is how far up might have gone in terms of those who may have been complicit or helped facilitate this very sophisticated escape. what's your view? >> how far up? how far outside, inside, up and down. clearly, the information that was required to be able to construct this tunnel is information that is not necessarily in the hands of prison wardens. not the hands of people who operate within the prisons. this is information that
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probably came from either higher ups, from contractors, from former public officials. i mean, this clearly is initial that came from somewhere else. i'm not only talking about the prison plans but also the video layout. because what we're finding out is the hole where he broke out, that part of the bathroom where he broke out, it just happened that the video cameras could not see at that point. so it means there was very, very sophisticated information that was provided to el chapo's operators and it also is telling us that that el chapo is a man who continues to be a powerful figure within his operation. some people thought his presence had been weakened because he was in jail. clearly that's not the case. >> do you believe influential as it pertains to, say, the presidential administration. are you even seeing possibly that kind of complicity goes as high as that? >> well, we don't know.
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but we do know that clearly if it wasn't complicity it was extreme negligence and i'm sure it could be negligence to the point where there's definitely going to be political implications. but we just don't know right now. so what we can say is that in information that was used was clearly information that was not in the hands of the prison warden. >> so joseph, help us understand just how influential. everyone had said that he is a masterful manipulator and also become kind of a robin hood in some communities. what kind of resources are at his fingertip, whether he's inside or out, of the jail? >> this is a guy who built an organization. he's got planes, boats, cars, motorcycles. and most importantly he's got a lot of money. and with a lot of money you can do a lot of things in mexico. i mean, this guy in sinaloa is almost a folk hero in the state of sinaloa. people love him. people hate him. but for the most part, people
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are going to protect him. if he gets into sinaloa and goes up to his mountain top hacienda, there's only going to be one way to get him, and that would be an armed invasion. i think the mexican government is going to have a hard time putting their hands on this man. they're going to have a hard time taking him and capturing him and bringing him to justice in mexico. i don't see it happening. i think in the end there may be a shootout and he may wind up like other cartel leaders in columbia and be shot and killed by the federal police. it's hard to say. but i don't think this time he'll go as peacefully as he went last time. i think he'll be more well armed, more well protected. this man knows how to move a lot of different things. that is guy that's been building tunnels and using all kind of sophisticated logistical means to move all kinds of drugs into the united states. he knows how to move. he knows how to get around. he's got a complete system, an underground system of people that can help him and he's on the run and i don't think they're going to catch him.
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>> joseph lopez, ana maria al czar, thank you. we'll leave it there. today could be the day diplomats tying up loose ends on an iran nuclear deal. could the whole thing still unravel? benny's the oldest dog in the shelter. he needed help all day so i adopted him. when my back pain flared up, we both felt it. i tried tylenol but it was 6 pills a day. with aleve it's just two pills, all day. now i'm back! aleve. all day strong. moms knowafter brushing, mouths often need a helping hand. listerine® total care helps prevent cavities, strengthens teeth and restores tooth enamel. it's an easy way to give listerine® total care to the total family. listerine® total care. one bottle, six benefits. power to your mouth™. and for kids starting at age six, listerine® smart rinse delivers extra cavity protection after brushing.
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we're just six hours away from the deadline to reach a nuclear deal with iran. cnn has learned that one of the final sticking points for a deal on iran's nuclear program is the wording of a united nations security council resolution. diplomats from britain, china, france, russia, the u.s. and germany are back at the table in vienna talk with iranian negotiators.
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nic robertson is at the talks and joins me live. bring us up to date, nic. >> i think everyone expected they would come in today being told there were two or three sticking points but the impression has been created that these could be overcome. the rheal the is where we stand today. right now late this afternoon in vienna, the talks could well easily go on late into the night and the deadline may be blown through and we could be looking at tomorrow before there is an agreement. this issue, iran has said it wants an arms embargo i a u.n. council imposed arms embargo designed to bring iran to the table over the nuclear issue in the first place, it will not sign the broader nuclear agreement until the arms embargo has been lifted. they have support on that from china and from russia. but that's something that secretary kerry has opposed until now. the notion would be that once an
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agreement is formulated and agreed here, it very quickly goes to u.n. security council for a new u.n. resolution. so the iranians would be looking for wording in that resolution that would fulfill their desire to have that arms embargo lifted. that looks at the moment as if it's a step too far. possible military dimensions, which is the language used to refer to over the question over whether has used nuclear technology to develop a weapon. that's also we understand a sticking issue. the iranians say it requires political will on the u.s. side to resolve this. and the iranian foreign minister in the last couple of minutes tweet "if there is a deal, we'll win." but he also said if there isn't a deal then we all lose. this really is going down to the wire, fredricka. >> it sounds like everybody wants a deal to be made and even if it goes past midnight. you mentioned it will extend into the next day. but with that resolution or the wording still being worked out potentially, are we talking about yet more days to come
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before there really is a final look at this so-called deal? >> yeah, it's very hard to see. i mean, on the 30th of june, that was the original deadline here. then it got extended by seven days to july 7 and extended by three days to july 10 and extended by three days again to july 13. so the fact we've blown through deadlines and they keep get extended, if this gets extended i don't think i didn't know would be surprised. but what we heard from the chinese foreign minister, he said no deal is perfect, and perhaps that's a message that not everyone will get what they want but he said if there are further negotiations, they can not and should not be lengthy. the implication there is that there really is the possibility that this could go longer and even get into another step of talks at a later date. fredricka? >> nic robertson, thanks so much in vienna. up next, baltimore's new
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interim police commissioner's first big move, setting up a 24-hour war room to fight the surge in homicides and other violent crimes. you're driving along, having a perfectly nice day, when out of nowhere a pick-up truck slams into your brand new car. one second it wasn't there and the next second... boom! you've had your first accident. now you have to make your first claim. so you talk to your insurance company and... boom! you're blindsided for a second time.
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major cities across the rust stuffing a sharp rise in violence and murder compared with the same period a year ago. chicago remains number one with more than 200 homicides so far this year. but baltimore is not far behind. the city has been wracked with bloodshed since april when the death of freddie gray in police custody erupted in riots and
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looting. the city's killing surge continued this weekend. seven people were shot to death since friday bringing baltimore's homicides to 163 for the year. the unrelenting crime wave is taking a toll on the city. last week, mayor stephanie rawlings-blake abruptly sacked police commissioner anthony bats just three years on the job. his interim replacement kevin davis said he is setting up a round-the-clock war room of federal, state, and local law enforcement to get ahead of these killings. >> we need to just come together in a singular huddle and make sure we start solving these violent crimes. >> former new york city detective and law enforcement analyst harry houck joins us now. what is behind the most recent surge of violent crimes in baltimore? >> predominantly that the bad guys probably feel more
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empowered right now as a result of the police officers holding back on -- you know, actually doing their job, being proactive, let's say, not so much doing their job. and we're seeing that in cities all over the country now, too. same thing here in new york, we're seeing more gun violence now like we are in baltimore. but baltimore is virtually at a state of anarchy now and a police department these do something to reduce this crime. one of the big things they need to do is let their police officers know that they are behind them 100% when they act properly out there. as long as a police officer is acting in good faith and the mayor comes out and the police department tells their officers that, then maybe we can get back to doing this kind of policing that's actually required in this city. >> so in your view, how does the interim police commissioner do that? how does he convey that message that you speak of? >> well, basically, you have to go out and tell your officers that. you know, he should have said something on the diceais like "
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want you to act properly out there." get rid of the rhetoric when a white police officer is involved with a black perpetrator. as long as police officers act in good faith -- let me add, not criminally, but good faith, then police officers will start to come back and react to crime the way they should. >> so what about this so-called war room? this collaboration of federal authorities and local authorities. how do you suppose-the-might help? what is the strategizing that's taking place in baltimore? >> well, basically this is going to be a patch. unless the police department gets the resources required to be able to reduce that crime there, all they're going to be able to do is target certain areas. they'll have a 24-hour war room seven days a week, ago, we had a shooting here, let's flood that area with police officers, let's start harassing the gangs, let's look for gang activity out there, let's do more stop and frisk. but the problem is, our police
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officers are going to say to themselves "listen, if i stop this guy and he resists arrest and he gets seriously injured or even killed, now am i going to have to go through the same thing that we had to go through before?" and that's a big problem. if the department and law enforcement and the courts will start charging people the way they're supposed to for resisting arrest, that's another thing that will also add to being able to reduce the crime out there on the street. >> harry houck, we'll leave it there. thanks so much, good to see you. >> thanks for having me. up next, how did mexico's most notorious drug lord simply walk out of prison yet again? maybe a little insight into his background and connections? we'll give you some idea next. ! try alka-seltzer heartburn reliefchews. they work fast and don't taste chalky. mmm...amazing. i have heartburn. alka-seltzer heartburn reliefchews. enjoy the relief.
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the hunt for mexico's most-wanted man, joaquin "el chapo" guzman, may be a long and difficult search. the first time the kingpin escaped from prison in 2001 it took 13 years to track him down. this year guzman made a daring escape from this maximum security prison 60 miles west of mexico city through a mile-long tunnel now no one knows where he is, sara ganim looks at guzman's notorious career as the leader of one of the world's most-dangerous cartels. >> they call him "el chapo" or shorty for his small 5'6" frame. but his legend is enormous and now the world's most-powerful
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and deadly drug trafficking kingpin has broken out of prison in mexico. again. joaquin guzman is the notorious drug boss who runs the sinaloa cartel, widely believed to be the biggest supplier of heroin and cocaine in the united states. authorities say this time he escaped through a hole until the shower area of the altiplano prison. >> translator: the tunnel leads to a vertical passage about ten meters deep and it had a ladder and stairs. this tunnel has pvc tubing, a ventilation and lighting. >> reporter: his latest escaped aing to el chapo's legend. in mexico he's a towering figure of intrigue, the subject of books, songs and folklore. and he's wanted on both sides of the border. in the u.s. on federal trafficking and organized crime charges. his cartel notorious for tunnelling drugs under the u.s./mexican border. in fact, u.s. officials wanted
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him extradited, fearing exactly what happened -- that he'd pull off another escape. >> chapo guzman escaped captivity, prison, in 2001. he has 12 years left to his sentence but i'm concerned about that happening again in mexico. >> reporter: born into a poor family in the sinaloa state when the drug trade was evolved, g guzman amassed a powerful empire, one he continued running from behind bars after his first arrest in 1993. his reputation grew as he spent 13 years on the run after escaping from prison in 2001, sneaking out in a laundry cart in a plot that allegedly cost him $2.5 million in bribes he was caught and rearrested just last year at this resort in mazatlan in his home state of sinaloa. now a massive manhunt for the cartel leader is under way yet again. sara ganim, cnn, new york.
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>> joining me now to talk about el chapo, the criminal master mind, the cnn contributor and criminologist casey jordan. good to see you, casey. you're a believer the tunnel plan was hatched at the time of el chapo's imprisonment. so this speaks to the serious head start. is it your feeling with so much outside help that he is far away? maybe in some deep remote portion of mexico or maybe even out of country? >> entirely, entirely possible. i don't think we can underestimate the confidence of this man. he's very rich and very capable of bribing anyone. this plan has been in the works since he became reincarcerate add year ago after having been on the lam for 13 or 14 years. it's not like he was going to sit still. from the time he was put in the prison i'm sure the tunnel was starting to be dug by the construction crew outside and his plan was hatched. he didn't just pop out of a hole
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and go "where do i go next"? >> i'm sure within 24 hours he was whisked away completely. this time he may not stick around mexico. he may go overseas, although if he stays in mexico he has the ability to bribe anyone and stay hidden for a very long time. >> is it your feeling to capture him this time, at least for the mexican government, the only way to stop, cease his power is if cornered maybe death as opposed to reincars late? >> yeah, he does not like to be in prison, trust me, he's been participating in this cartel the entire time he's been there. the biggest problem we need to consider is the mexican government is over their heads. we have passed the tipping point. the current president promised he would be a cartel fighter but this isn't just an embarrassment. that's too soft a word. this is a huge tragedy. it really shows the bad guys, the gangsters, cartel leaders,
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they're not phased by law enforcement efforts. they have government people on their payrolls. and the dea draws a parallel between his escape and imagine if osama bin laden had escaped and was on the lam. we should not underestimate the power he has and they need to reach out and get help from the dea or other international law enforcement drug fighting communities if they're going to catch this guy and keep him. >> and you think that might happen this time? the u.s. tried to assist once before and perhaps pride stood in the way and said "we got this." but it would mean mexico having to reach out to the u.s. or when the u.s. extends it help it would have to say yes and would they? >> i would hope that they would stop trying to save face and accept the help that the government -- the u.s. government offer ed to keep him.
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we wanted him. we're not going to get to about the fact that they were right. we want to make sure this man is held and put in the a place where his influence on the outside ceases completely. they they're going to have to clean house from their prison sfrm the top down if they think they can keep this from happening again. >> casey jordan, good to see you. coming up next, encouraging news out of greece. it may make your wallet or portfolio fatter today. ♪ the staff at this beautiful resort . . . will stay with you forever. ♪ especially if you don't leave. ♪ you got it booking right. booking.yeah
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major financial markets are all up today. presumably it's a favorable reaction to a deal to keep greece in the european union.
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and to provide the cash-strapped nation with another bailout. business correspondent alison kosik is at the new york stock exchange. allison, investors apparently like what they see out of europe today. >> oh, yeah. you know what nothing like a bailout of $96 billion to spark a rally. the gains that we see of 182 points higher on the dow those gains show relief greece finally came to an agreement with its creditors. greece's financial meltdown is one of the reasons why we've seen so much volatility in the markets lately. the possibility of greens tumbling out of the eurozone created so much uncertainty about what it would mean. greece is a small economy, about 2% of europe. about.3% of the world economy but, whoo, what drama it caused over the past several months. frederica? >> is there a lot of confidence that this might be a done deal?
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>> anything could happen. this is one of those things where the greek drama could still need approval by the 18 eurozone leaders. anything could happen but you're seeing the confidence here in the market that they think that will this will happen. you know, what's funny is many are joking that alexis tsipras is what they call a gridiot because this proposal that has been agreed on is much worse than the program that the greeks had to go to the polls and vote on and that tsipras encouraged them to vote against. many people are calling alexis tsipras a gridiot today. new words coming out of this, fredricka. >> and here state side, what do we think might happen in terms of the feds raising interest
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rates? that. >> that's a good question. everyone with everything going on with greece and china, most are betting the fed will raise rates later this year. you look at minutes from its meeting in june, these minutes came out last week. they show they're prepared to do this later this year. in fact, in september because you look at the recent economic data out of the u.s., im's improving. it's getting better, wages are rising, albeit slowly. although the meeting was before greek negotiations fell apart and the stock market in china tanked many do believe the domestic economy is holding its own. in the end the fed its making its decision on when to raise rates. it's data dependent and that data is showing there is consistent improvement in the u.s. economy. frederica? >> alison kosik, thanks so much. we are one step closer to a verdict in the colorado theater shooting trial as closing
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arguments begin tomorrow, the jury faced with a tough decision. who to believe. we'll grade the prosecution and the defense's case. ♪ i built my business with passion. but i keep it growing by making every dollar count. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy for my studio. ♪ and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... that's huge for my bottom line. what's in your wallet? the goodness that goes into making a power kale chicken caesar salad is rivaled only, by the goodness felt while eating one. panera. food as it should be. did you know that the tripadvisor you have always trusted for reviews book...! now checks over 200 websites to find the best price?
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deliberations. a guilty verdict for james holmes would mean the start of another long phase of this trial and the same jury would also decide whether he will live or die. holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. ultimately he chose not to testify but the injury still heard plenty. >> from from him. the prosecution presented 22 hours of videotaped interviews with a court-appointed psychiatrist recorded two years after holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 more on july 20, 2012. >> did you know that you would end up killing a lot of people? >> no. the dead can't be prepared or come back to life or be normal again. it's kind of irreversible. >> what about the wounded? >> they're like collateral damage, i guess.
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>> ana cabrera has been following this. she joins me now from denver. >> hey there, fred, today is a day to prepare for the closing arguments tomorrow. we know jurors are not in court but lawyers and the judge are going over the jury's instructions as the jurors are going to take up 165 counts and determine whether holmes is guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. now, tomorrow as you mentioned is the closing arguments and we now know that each side, the defense and prosecution, will get two hours apiece to make their argument to leave that lasting impression on the jurors who will head into deliberations first thing wednesday morning. that's the latest word. they're considering first degree murder, attempted murder as well as an explosives charge and they could program also consider lesser charges, including second degree murder and manslaughter, fred. >> and how is it that the defense went about trying to
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prove that holmes was insane at the time? >> remember, here in colorado it is the prosecution's burden to prove holmes was sane at the time of the shoots but the defense did just wrap up its side of the case last week and they did present two mental health experts whom they had asked to do mental evaluations of holmes and who told the jurors they believed he was insane at the time of the crime. one of those experts was a specialist in schizophrenia and she was last to take the stand for the defense and talked about how holmes was suffering from a delusional system, she said, that really made him believe he had to carry out a mission to kill to increase his own self-worth. she said he was detached from reality. he didn't have control of his actions and was unable to understand morally what was right from wrong. the defense put together a string of videos showing holmes in jail after he has been arrested in which he acted in a very bizarre manner.
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in one video he was standing on a bunk bed, fell backwards a couple of times. in another video he's lying naked in his cell spreading feces on the l wh-- walls. he was taken to the hospital for a psychotic break about four months after the shooting proof, the defense argued, that holmes has a severe mental illness, fred. >> all right, ana cabrera, thank you so much. for the legal view, let's bring if hln legal analyst joey jackson and philip holloway. good to see both of you guys. we should be in the same room, we have to make arrangements the next time. >> it's always nice. >> owy, to you first, since ana was talking about the video that substantiates he was acting strangely in his cell. that doesn't necessarily speak to being insane, does it? . how did his defense try to prove he was insane? >> it's a great question because we have to remember the critical
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issue fredricka is at the time of the offense. so you can point me to videos that show i'm knocking my head against a jail cell, i'm falling backwards, spread feing feces, the defense needs to focus on the critical issue at hand. that is when he killed 12 people, when he injured 70 many of whom will never walk again, how was he there? what they did in doing that was the defense brought in two psychiatrists to suggest to that jury and not only suggest but say outright that he was mentally insane. not only mentally ill as we know that meaning to be but that he was insane. of course, fred rricka that was- i shouldn't say rebuffed because the prosecution put on two experts that said he was the sane however the defense put on two experts that said he absolutely could not distinguish right from wrong.
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they'll rely upon that clearly in their closing arguments tomorrow. >> so phillip it's a battle of the experts isn't it? either he means tally insane, mentally unstable, in the end jurors have to go with believability. how do they do that? they have to listen to the words very carefully of each expert. but they have the actual words of james holmes with them in the jury room. even though he did not testify, fred, he said in state's exhibit 1128 that his mind was broken. he tried to fix it. that shows he knew right from wrong at the time he committed the offense. this state state's exhibit. which is a detailed map will of how he wanted to go about conducting this attack, he mailed it to his treating psychiatrist the same day of the shootings and he admitted that
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he tried to keep this from his psychiatrist. that shows a consciousness of guilt, someone who knows what they've done is wrong. i think at the end of the day the jury will convict him of murder. >> i agree and disagree. phillip points to what he has, you could call it a manifesto or document. but it's important we not cherry-pick certain aspects. in the same document that phillip talks to where he plots out i'm not going to do this at an airport, i'd rather do it at a movie theater, he puts out an estimated time of arrival, it will take three minutes, but there are musings and ramblings and where he's saying why, why, why? what's the meaning of life? >> so if you have clarity on trying to determine what's wrong but at the same time you have those musings, how does it come down to your mental state at the time of the crime? >> it's interesting fredricka, because there it is. it says james "whitey" bulger. i think jurors are going to
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be -- each side is going to persuade them, right? the prosecution he premeditated, he showed up and he had full body armor and a helmet, a neck guard, he had leg protectors, he knew what was going on. he booby trapped the the apartment. but the defense will say he's in a psychosis. how do we know he's not well? because two psychiatrists looked you in the eye and told you so. if you look at that and his family history and own histories you will have no choice, ladies and gentlemen, but to declare he's in sane. that's what the defense will say. as to whether the jurors believe it, that's another story. >> but they had state psychiatrists who said he did know right from wrong at the time. if you take that together, fred, at the end of the day when you combine that with everything the jury has seen along with what's in the document, i think they will conclude he knew right from wrong at the time he committed this terrible senseless act. >> i agree with that.
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i believe he will be found guilty not withstanding the mental health issues. too much planning, preparation, very difficult for the defense to overcome. >> closing arguments tomorrow. joey jackson, phillip holloway, thanks so much. >> have a great day, fredricka. next, breaking news out of the white house. president barack obama commutes the sentences of more than 40 mostly drug offenders. we'll go live to washington next.
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breaking news. the white house says president obama is commuting prison sentences for 46 people. in so doing, the president has now issued nearly 90 come mutations, the vast majority for drug offenders sentenced under outdated sentencing rules. >> over the last few years, people have become aware of the inequities in the criminal justice system. the fact that we spend over $80 billion a year in incarcerating people often times who've only been engaged in non-violent drug offenses. right now, with our overall crime rate and incarceration rate falling, we're at a moment when good people in both parties, republicans and democrats and folks across the country are coming together around ideas to make the system work smarter, make it work
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better. i'm determined to do my part wherever i can that's one of the reasons why i'm commuting the sentences of 46 prisoners convicted many years or in some cases decades ago. these men and women were not hardened criminals but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years. >> let's bring in seen your white house correspondent jim acosta. we heard him say overall crime rate is down, that's one reason. is there any other detail? fredricka, this is a prior to for the president. at his news conference a couple weeks ago, i asked him what do you plan on spending in newfound political capital on? he's had a couple good weeks, he said criminal justice reform is one of those issues. he will be talking about it tomorrow in front of the naacp in philadelphia and later on this week he will be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison in oklahoma. this is this is a big theme for this president this week.
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just to give you details about these offenders, these 46 are all drug offenders, many of them crack cocaine. the white house put out a letter the president wrote to one inmate, to jerry allen bailey who is at a federal correctional facility in jessup, georgia, it says in the letter "i am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around, now it's up to you to make the most of this opportunity." fredricka, this is astounding, can you imagine being an inmate in a federal penitentiary and you get a letter from the president of the united states commuting your sentence? the white house council neil eggelston, in terms of why this is happening, why did they identify these 46? the they are saying because of today's sentencing guidelines that are looser in terms with dealing with drug offenders than they were, these folks who are having their sentences commuted and prisoners being released, they were sentenced with much
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mar harsher terms than people in similar situations would be issued today. so they've gone through these cases with a fine foote coach and are really confident they're going the right thing. this obviously comes with some risk and we'll ask the white house press secretary josh earnest about this this afternoon. but this is a big priority for this president. he's talking about this for some time. fred rica, when i asked him about this, it was surprising to see that criminal justice reform is one of these things he wants to concentrate on. one of the reasons is that there is bipartisan support. rand paul, the republican presidential candidate has talked about this and it's raised eyebrows inside the republican part yy but the president feels like he can find common ground to work on the issues. >> even when you were reading that letter, you can only envision probably the tears flowing for some of those who have been held who really have been in a place thinking there are no second chances.
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here is a big one. jim acosta, thank you so much from the white house. thanks so much for watching, i'm fredricka whitfield for ashleigh banfield. right now wolf starts right now. hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. in washington, 7:00 p.m. in vienna austria, 8:00 p.m. in athens, greece. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us. we start with two big stories developing, one in vienna, one in brussels. in vienna, nuclear negotiations with iran are on the threshold of history if all sides can get past final stumbling blocks. in brussels, greek leaders have a concrete deal for their financial future. they'll get another bailout from europe that comes with heavy conditions. we'll get to that shortly. let's get more


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