HLN host Nancy Grace has been credited with making the Casey Anthony case a national story. She has been outspoken in her belief that Anthony is guilty of murdering her daughter, despite a jury's verdict. She's also a former prosecutor with strong opinions about what went on in the Florida courtroom in the past few weeks. She spoke with CNN.com about how she would have tried the case, the "CSI effect" on juries and why she doesn't "give a fig" about what Anthony's defense team thinks about her.
Grace: As I’ve always said since 1984, when I started trying cases, you win or lose your case - it’s all over at the end of voir dire (jury selection). I’ve always believed that. It’s true. I think this jury hamstrung the state. The state absolutely put up a good case and I get real fed up when I hear this is a circumstantial case. Most cases are circumstantial because rarely do people commit felony crimes in the open. Murder, armed robbery, you do it in private, in secret, so very rarely is there an eyewitness or direct evidence to a crime.
CNN: Watching a case like this, do you miss the courtroom and prosecuting cases?
Grace: I always miss the courtroom. I miss the courtroom all the time because the courtroom gave me immediate gratification. I knew I’d done something worthwhile when I put someone behind bars or represented crime victims, I knew I had a done a good thing by speaking for people who couldn’t speak for themselves. I don’t get that immediate gratification from being on TV.
CNN: As a former prosecutor, if you could retry this case, how would you do it differently?
Grace: I think they did such a very good job it’s hard to attack anything they did. I think maybe I would’ve taken a different tack in jury selection but that’s really it. There were some obvious problem jurors: You had one on there with an arrest for DUI; another with an arrest for drug paraphernalia; one whose sister and her boyfriend beat up their father; one juror who said she could not judge. Why the heck would you not want someone off the jury who cannot judge? The jury is the sole judge of facts, evidence and the law. Who the heck wants someone who can’t judge? They tried to get rid of them but were not successful. I think the jury was snakebitten from the get-go.
CNN: What do you think is the most important piece of evidence that the jury never saw or heard?
Grace: I don’t believe they saw all of the audiotapes or heard all the videotapes (of Casey Anthony’s jailhouse phone calls). I think the so-called bodyguard or bail bondsman had a lot to offer, his discussions with tot mom when she was referring to Caylee in the past tense before her body had been found, her being very flip about Caylee, being more concerned about a hot guy flirting with her on Facebook. Evidence of that nature.
CNN canceled "In the Arena," the prime-time CNN talk show hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, as part of a phased evening lineup shuffle, the network said Wednesday.
Starting August 8, CNN’s flagship news program "Anderson Cooper 360°" will move to Spitzer's 8 p.m. ET slot and will re-air at its current 10 p.m. position.
The shuffle’s second phase begins in the fall with the debut of a general news program with former CNBC anchor Erin Burnett. Her show, announced last month, will begin at 7 p.m. ET, moving “John King USA” to 6 p.m. and the two-hour “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” to 4 p.m.
Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN/U.S., said CNN is talking with Spitzer about an alternative role.
“We thank him and the entire 'In the Arena' team for creating a program that moved many political and economic issues into the national spotlight,” Jautz said.
Click to watch video
Spitzer, in a statement released Wednesday, said his show "engaged serious people in conversations about national and global issues in a way that was informative and challenging."
"I believe that we provided diverse and valuable perspectives during the show's tenure. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CNN," Spitzer said.
“Piers Morgan Tonight” will continue to be shown at 9 p.m. and midnight ET. Burnett’s new show will re-air at 11 p.m. ET.
“The new lineup showcases anchors who are experienced reporters in covering stories that span the globe,” Jautz said. “We created a nightly schedule that brings together the best of CNN’s journalism on a wide range of topics from politics and the economy to global and world events, as well the best newsmaker and celebrity interviews. This line-up ensures viewers access to the best of what CNN has to offer whenever they tune in at night.”
CNN fall schedule (All times Eastern):
- 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.: “American Morning”
- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: “CNN Newsroom”
- 4 p.m.: “Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer”
- 6 p.m.: “John King, USA”
- 7 p.m.: Erin Burnett
- 8 p.m.: “Anderson Cooper 360°”
- 9 p.m.: “Piers Morgan Tonight”
- 10 p.m.: “AC 360” (re-air)
- 11 p.m.: Erin Burnett (re-air)
- Midnight: “Piers Morgan Tonight” (re-air)
Comment of the day:
“Great, so now everyone on my friends' list will know how I really look and my Photoshop secret will be out.” - Freedom444
Friends coming to you live
Facebook on Wednesday announced a video-calling feature for its 750 million users that will be provided by Skype, the well-known Internet video chat program. The move comes shortly after Google launched a competing social network that also features a video chatting program.
The news had many CNN.com readers wondering if the new feature will affect how people portray themselves — and interact — on Facebook.
Davethecanuk said, “For all those women who try to take a picture of themselves from above, in weak light, with their head tilted, hiding that double chin just got a little tougher. Thanks, Zuck!”
Thoughtbox said, “Does that mean I have to wear clothes when surfing Facebook now?”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning Wednesday for Kermadec Island, Tonga and New Zealand after a tsunami was detected following a major earthquake nearby.
The warning was issued after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 shook the Kermadec Islands at 7:03 a.m. Thursday (3:03 p.m. ET Wednesday), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was centered 160 kilometers (99 miles) east of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands, and 914 kilometers (568 miles) south of Tuku'alofa, Tonga, the survey said.
"Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated," the center said. "This tsunami may have been destructive along coastlines of the region near the earthquake epicenter."
[Updated at 3:06 p.m.] Another interesting observation from CNN's Shawna Shepherd: Obama answers at least twice as many questions at twitter @townhall than he usually answers at news conferences in same time frame.
So, does that make this a successful forum to look towards in the future? Surely the pundits will bounce that around later.
[Updated at 3:03 p.m.] Welfare spending question gets a reaction from the audience.The person asking the question basically said that people won't try hard if everything is handed to them.
"Some welfare programs in the past were not well-defined, and did encourage dependency," Obama acknowledged.
However, Obama said the focus in social programs should be to give folks the tools to get in the work force and "let them know that we are there to support you and encourage you as long as you're showing responsibility."
[Updated at 2:59 p.m.] Next up: Military spending. Obama proudly touts troop withdrawal plans.
He notes that while changes have to be made you can't just hack at the defense budget without making sure you're still being safe and being committed to veterans returning home. Another problem? Outdated equipment. But as Commander-in-Chief there's a fine line to walk between trying to cut some money but making sure we have the tools we need to protect ourselves, he says.
[Updated at 2:55 p.m.] CNN's Becky Brittain (@beckybcnn) notes: POTUS takes a break from economy and energy and answers question re: #NASA.
Obama discusses how private sectors will take the lead on the commercial aspect and the government on some groundbreaking innovations.
CNNMoney.com's @AnnCensky enjoys part of the response: "Obama: Let’s ultimately get to Mars – a good pit stop is an asteroid! @townhall #askobama"
[Updated at 2:51 p.m.] Now we're getting to more real-time questions.
One question is about tax cuts and bringing them back to Bush standards. It's a question Obama is likely used to hearing these days and will continue to hear when he has to hit the campaign trail again.
Obama says the tax cut issue isn't one that needs to be radical, but instead a balanced approached. It's one he says he's already put out there. Now he just had to get everyone on board.
CNNMoney.com's @AnnCensky notes : Obama wants to make bush tax cuts permanent for low and moderate income folks – 98% of Americans, he says. @townhall #askobama
Reputed Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to all counts against him, including his alleged role in 19 murders.
A Pablo Picasso drawing worth more than $200,000 was taken from a San Francisco art gallery on Tuesday in a brazen midday theft, according to local media reports.
The pencil drawing, titled "Tête de Femme" (Head of a Woman), was hanging just inside the Weinstein Gallery on Geary Street in San Francisco. A well-dressed man wearing dark glasses entered the gallery, grabbed the 10 5/8-by-8 1/4-inch drawing and fled the gallery into a waiting taxicab, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Police are asking for the public's help in recovering the art.
"We're hoping someone in the public might recognize this piece, if they see someone walking around with it or trying to sell it," police spokesman Albie Esparza told the Chronicle.
The piece will be hard to sell, art historian Sharon Flescher, of the International Foundation for Art Research, told the Chronicle.
"The legitimate collectors won't touch it," the paper quotes Flescher as saying.
Maryland State Police have closed Interstate 295 in Anne Arundel County in both directions after receiving multiple reports of a man armed with a rifle or shotgun along the highway.
Police say the suspect is a white male between 50 and 60 years old and wearing a black-and-red flannel shirt and blue jeans.
The suspect may have been using a hammer to break into a parked vehicle near the intersection of I-295 and Route 195, police said.
Casey Anthony's acquittal on first-degree murder charges may be one of the most surprising trial outcomes in at least a decade. The Florida mom may have escaped with only misdemeanor convictions, but her acquittal is drawing comparisons to another high-profile murder trial: O.J. Simpson's.
Attorneys for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French financier who has pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse and attempted rape charges, are scheduled to meet with prosecutors Wednesday, a source with knowledge of the case told CNN.
The meeting comes days after prosecutors disclosed to Strauss-Kahn's defense team that investigators had uncovered several credibility issues concerning the woman who accused him of attacking her as she tried to clean his Manhattan hotel suite in May.
The charges prompted Strauss-Kahn to resign from his post as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
Questions about the case surfaced last week when Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance indicated the woman, 32, had been less than truthful with authorities about some aspects of her life and her whereabouts immediately after the alleged attack.
Rebels inched toward Tripoli Wednesday, capturing a town southwest of the capital from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, a rebel fighter told CNN.
The rebels ran over Al-Qawalish, a town of about 4,000 people just 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Tripoli, a stronghold for Gadhafi since the start of the uprising in February.
Hassan Al-Jiwali, a rebel fighter from the Nafusa Mountains, said 50 of Gadhafi's men were killed and 15 were captured. CNN could not independently verify the offensive.
Fierce fighting erupted in the western mountains in recent weeks as more than four months of battles have failed to yield a decisive victory for either side.
The first United Nations joint mission to access the devastated mountain region found that many people are in dire need of food. A World Food Programme statement said markets are not functioning due to limited fuel and cash, and basic services such as electricity and water are also lacking in some areas.
The rebels said they were moving north, closer to the capital on the Mediterranean Sea. They intended to march next to the city of Garyan, which sits on the main highway to Tripoli.
U.S. Navy sailors from the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea rescued 26 crew members of a Liberian-flagged tanker after an attack by pirates off Yemen on Wednesday, according to Navy and media reports.
A rocket-propelled grenade struck the 144,000-ton crude carrier Brilliante Virtuoso in an early-morning pirate attack, setting fire to crew quarters on the vessel, according to a report from Reuters Africa.
"It is understood that the pirates fired RPG into the accommodation area, which started a fire," ship manager Central Mare Inc. said in a statement quoted by Reuters Africa. "As a result the pirates abandoned their efforts to take control of the ship and left the scene, and the master ordered evacuation of all crew members."
The Philippine Sea responded to a distress call from the Brilliante Virtuoso and found the crew of 26 Filipinos in a lifeboat. The U.S. ship did not see any sign of pirates, according to the Combined Maritime Forces, a 25-nation coalition under which the Philippine Sea was operating.
Two tug boats dispatched from Aden were escorting the tanker with its load of a million barrels of fuel oil to safe port, Reuters Africa reported.
The International Olympic Committee chose Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The other two bid cities were Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France.
Pyeongchang narrowly failed in its bids for 2010 and 2014, losing by three votes to Vancouver, Canada, for last year's event and by four votes to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 event.
South Korea has never hosted the Winter Games, though the capital city of Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Games.
A U.S. Army general Wednesday approved a possible death penalty in the future military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the American Muslim accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, the Fort Hood commander, formally announced that the charges against Hasan will be tried as capital offenses in a general court-martial. His decision means that if a panel of military officers finds Hasan guilty, they can consider the death penalty as a possible sentence.
Campbell's decision moves the case forward and also eliminates the possibility that Hasan, a psychiatrist, could enter a guilty plea and prevent a costly and lengthy trial.
A court-martial could be months away.
"After a referral of a case to trial by court-martial, a military judge will receive the case and at some future date, set a schedule," said a statement from Fort Hood Wednesday. "The first likely matter for a military judge to schedule in this court-martial is the arraignment of Hasan. No military judge has been named to this case at this time."
A capital court-martial is highly unusual. The last military execution in the United States took place in 1961.
Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in November, 2009. Witnesses at a preliminary hearing identified him as the man who calmly walked through a medical building on the country's largest military base, shooting and frequently reloading his handgun as he shouted "Allah Akbar," which means "God is great" in Arabic.
Casey Anthony was served papers in jail Tuesday night for her deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, an assistant to Gonzalez's attorney John Morgan said Wednesday.
When her daughter Caylee was missing, Casey Anthony said the 2-year-old was with a nanny by that name. Eventually confronted by her family, Casey Anthony maintained that Gonzalez had kidnapped Caylee.
Authorities never found the nanny. They found a woman named Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez, who denied ever meeting the Anthonys and later filed the defamation lawsuit.
An eruption of Hekla, one of Iceland's most famous volcanoes, may be imminent, scientists in the island nation say.
Pall Einarsson, a geophysics professor at the University of Iceland, told Iceland Review that sensors around the volcano have shown unusual movements in the past few days.
While those sensors are new and the data they provide cannot be seen as conclusive proof that an eruption is coming, Einarsson told Agence-France Presse that "the volcano is ready to erupt."
"The mountain has been slowly expanding in the last few years because of magma buildup," AFP quotes Einarsson as saying.
Japanese nuclear safety officials say 45% of children in the prefecture where three nuclear reactors melted down had thyroid exposure to radiation, Kyodo news agency reported.
None of the 1,080 children surveyed was exposed to more than 0.2 microsievert per hour, the threshold for pursuing further examinations, and most were far less, officials told Kyodo, as reported in Japan Times.
That amount is not considered a health risk, officials said.
Meanwhile, soil at four locations in the city of Fukushima was contaminated with radioactive cesium at levels 1.5 to 4.5 times the legal limit, Kyodo reported. The city is well outside 12.5-mile evacuation zone around the stricken plant.
A sample of soil from a street ditch found radiation far in excess of the amount that required permanent resettlement in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the agency reported.
Japan's government plans to require safety assessments, or "stress tests," on all the country's nuclear power plants, industry minister Banri Kaieda said Wednesday, according to Kyodo. All the plants have been shut down since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Congress resumes its debate on the debt ceiling as President Obama talks to the nation through Twitter. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on these developing stories.
Today's programming highlights...
8:15 am ET - NASA aeronautical research briefing - NASA takes a brief respite from the shuttle countdown to discuss its ongoing aeronautical research.
Three things you need to know today.
Festival of San Fermin: The bulls begin running through the streets on Thursday, but a full week of partying begins at midday today in Pamplona, Spain, as the Festival of San Fermin begins.
iReport: Share your photos of Pamplona
The festival officially begins with the igniting of the Txupinazo rocket in the town's Plaza Ayuntamiento as Pamplona's mayor and town council open the celebrations.
Thousands of bottle champagne will be sprayed and consumed as the party goes into full swing.
For an idea of how the famous running of the bulls will go beginning Thursday, check out this great infographic from Spain's EITB.
Royals to visit destroyed town: Prince William and his wife, Catherine, will visit a fire-stricken town in central Alberta on Wednesday, the seventh day of their Canadian tour.
Slave Lake was devastated by a May wildfire that destroyed homes and other structures.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will meet emergency services personnel from the fire brigade, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the medical response team in the town before visiting with families affected by the disaster.
Clemens' trial: Jury selection begins Wednesday in the perjury trial of baseball legend Roger Clemens.
Clemens is fighting a six-count federal indictment for allegedly misleading members of Congress over use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The former all-star pitcher testified under oath in 2008 that he never used illegal performance-enhancing substances during his 23-year career.
Clemens has never tested positive for drug use, but his name was among 86 that appeared in a report by former Sen. George Mitchell. The 400-page report listed players who are said to have used drugs to improve their performance on the field.
Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann answers eight questions about the Clemens trial.
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