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Jodi Arias Answers Jurors' Questions; Fighting Words

Aired March 6, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone. We're following even more dangerous winter weather tonight. Massive new snowfall, deadly icy roads and the kind of wind you normally see in hurricanes. We'll show you who got hammered, where it hit, and who -- who still is in harm's way tonight.

Also breaking news tonight from a place dedicated to preserving endangered animals. A woman is mauled to death by a lion she was working to save. A lion which had appeared on the "Ellen" show. We're going to be joined by Jack Hannah for all the latest on that.

We begin, though, with "Crime and Punishment." The Jodi Arias murder trial. What could be a unique preview of which way the jury is leaning. What happened today in court is only permitted in two other states. Jurors actually asking questions of Jodi Arias. But, boy, did -- boy, did they have some questions for the woman who shot, stabbed and slashed her boyfriend to death, who's now on her third version of that night and now says her unbelievably brutal the attack was self defense, not cold-blooded murder.

More now from Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 100 questions from the jury to Jodi Arias. Delivered by the judge. They started with a zinger. About the digital camera the couple used to take naked pictures of each other right before the killing.

JUDGE SHERRY STEPHENS, SUPERIOR COURT IN MARICOPA COUNTY: Why did you put the camera in the washer?

JODI ARIAS, ACCUSED OF MURDERING EX-BOYFRIEND: I don't have memory of that. I don't know why I would do that.

KAYE: Again Arias' memory fails her. Preventing her from explaining why she put the camera in Travis Alexander's washing machine after she killed him. The camera contained pictures of Alexander in the shower, including this one taken just two minutes before his death.

Photo time stamps put Arias at Alexander's house at the time of his death. And what about the gun? The state says she brought it with her to kill. But Arias says it was Alexander's gun, that she grabbed it from his closer shelf.

STEPHENS: How did you have time to get the gun down if he was right behind you?

ARIAS: I don't know if he was right behind me or not. I just had the sense that he was chasing after me.

KAYE: After she killed Alexander, investigators say Arias dragged his body through the house and put it in the shower. The jury wanted to know why.

STEPHENS: Why did you place Travis' body back in the shower?

ARIAS: I could only speculate because I don't remember.

KAYE: Nor could Arias remember for the jury what she did with the clothes she was wearing when she killed Alexander. Or what she did with the knife used to stab him nearly 30 times and particularly cut his head off.

STEPHENS: Why is it that you have no memory of stabbing Travis?

ARIAS: I can't really explain why my mind did what it did. Maybe because it's too horrible.

KAYE: The jury also wanted to know why Arias didn't just run for help the day of the killing.

ARIAS: It's hard to describe the fear. It was like mortal terror. It really was. I really thought he was -- had intentions to kill me.

KAYE: Arias claims Alexander physically and sexually abused her during their relationship. She says she killed him that day in self- defense. The jury wanted to know if she ever documented past abuse she's testified about.

STEPHENS: Did you ever take pictures of yourself after he hit you?

ARIAS: No, I did not.

KAYE (on camera): The jury had a lot of questions about the couple's sex life, which included recordings of their phone sex played in court. Jurors asked about specific events like when Alexander tied her to his bed. Without flinching Arias answered each and every one of those embarrassing questions never taking her eyes off the jury.

STEPHENS: Did you ever voice concern to Travis about being uncomfortable with some of his sexual fantasies?

ARIAS: Yes, there was one fantasy that he wanted to do which was pulling off on the side of the freeway exit and having sex on the hood of a car, and I was -- I told him that that would be impossible.

KAYE (voice-over): The jury also wanted to know this. STEPHENS: Why would you continue to stay with someone who had sex with you while you were sleeping?

ARIAS: I was in love with Travis. I knew I was in love with him and my only concerns was that I believed from a religious and spiritual perspective that our relationship would not be blessed if we acted that way.


COOPER: Randi joins us now live from outside the courthouse in Phoenix.

About 150 questions, Randi, were asked. And really fascinating the level of detail that these jurors, and clearly they had been listening very carefully. There were also some questions about the -- basically the three versions of her story that she's given over time about what happened that night. How did she explain that?

KAYE: Well, the jury had asked why she didn't just tell police the truth from the start. And Jodi Arias said, well, that answer is, quote, "complicated." She said that she didn't want people to know what was going on in their relationship. She certainly didn't want police to know that he had apparently been physically and sexually abusing her. She said, she didn't want the dirty details of their sex life out there. She certainly didn't want to tell police about the moment that she says she caught Travis Alexander masturbating to a photo of a young boy.

She says all of this was so embarrassing. But Anderson, as you know now, because of those lies, her sex life, that couple's sex life, their dirty text messages, their recorded phone sex sessions, that has all been on full display not only here in court but also in the media now for weeks.

COOPER: I was curious to see. I mean, we couldn't see it obviously on the camera. How -- you were there. How did the jurors react while she was answering their questions?

KAYE: They were taking notes, they were listening intently. But just sitting in that courtroom it almost felt like the jury and Jodi Arias were having a one-on-one conversation. Even though the judge was the one who was asking these questions and they had been submitted anonymously.

It was just so strange because they were almost spending time with her because she was answering their questions. And some of the experts have said the more time she's on the stand the more they get to know her and talk to her so personally like that, the less likely they'll give her the death penalty.

COOPER: Yes. And that's certainly what the defense is hoping.

Randi, appreciate it.

Joining me now, Nancy Grace, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and criminal defense attorney, Mark Geragos, co-author of the upcoming book, "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works and Sometimes Doesn't."

Nancy, what did you make of the questions that the jurors themselves were asking today of Arias?

NANCY GRACE, HOST, HLN'S "NANCY GRACE": Anderson, I've got to tell you that I was, frankly, very concerned when I realized that the judge was not going to allow re-cross-examination which is, you know, discretionary to the judge in this jurisdiction after the defense had redirect, but when I got load of the jury questions I could not have been happier.

Questions like, why did you take time to delete photos off your digital camera after you had just killed Travis Alexander? And her response was, oh, that's one of the things I tell you, I just can't remember that.

Questions like well, if your phone, your cell phone really died why didn't you plug it into a wall charger? I mean, they clearly have latched on to every minute fact that she has testified to in the stand and they are calling her on it.

COOPER: And, Mark, what about you? I mean you had said previously you didn't like the idea of jurors asking questions? Would you --

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't and it's for precisely the reason unintentionally that Nancy just mentions. It's an adversarial system, the adversarial between the defense and the prosecution. Structurally, this is supposed to be jurors who are sitting there as impartial finders of fact.

Nancy is delighted because they're acting as mini-prosecutors. That is exactly why I don't like it.

GRACE: No, because they're asking truthful questions, Mark.


GRACE: You just don't want to hear the answers.

GERAGOS: I -- yes, I don't care whether -- well, actually that's not true. If I'm trying the case -- if I'm trying the case --


If I'm trying the case I love to hear the juror's questions even if they're not asked because it gives you some indication of where their head is at. And you could still tailor it because look, they're still on, they can call an expert, an expert can deal with that.

TOOBIN: We have a system where jurors are asked to make literally a life or death decision in this case. Isn't it rational to allow them to ask questions? They're the fact finders. I wouldn't want to make a decision without having the opportunity to ask questions?


COOPER: So -- and only a few states have this system, right?

TOOBIN: Three. Only three.

GRACE: Hey, Jeff.

TOOBIN: But I think it's a good system.

GRACE: Have you guys ever had that?


TOOBIN: I've never had it -- seen a trial like this.


GRACE: Have you guys ever had that? Because --

GERAGOS: I have. In California it's permissible.

GRACE: Where I was trying cases, they didn't have it. But, Mark and Jeff and Anderson, I had this one judge I would try cases in front of. He was about -- 80 years old. He would just let the jury do it anyway. And I'm telling you both sides are shaking in their boots right now because the number one rule on questioning a witness is do not ask the question you don't know the answer to.

TOOBIN: Right.

GRACE: I've done it a couple of times, and I have had about an 80 percent failure rate with those questions. And so that exactly what's happening right now. They don't know the answer to these questions. And a very good one was, I'm going to just throw this one at you, Anderson. They just asked a couple of hours ago if you didn't like the sex fantasy that Travis came up with of tying you to a tree and ravishing you, why did you go scouting for just the right tree?

Now that's a good question, Anderson.


GERAGOS: But there are also equally questions that you could spin as being defense oriented questions as well. There was a -- there was a number of those.

GRACE: Like what?

GERAGOS: The problem with this -- well, the ones about your dad slapping you? The ones about the -- Spider-man under wear.


GRACE: Well, did you hear the answer? GERAGOS: And things of that nature. They're focused on the Spider-man underwear. That is not a great thing for the prosecution.

GRACE: That does not help the defense.

TOOBIN: But the other thing I think is interesting is that how lawyers are jurors are frustrated --

GRACE: But did you hear -- you've got to --


TOOBIN: -- by the limits of the rules of evidence. Yes, they want to know the context. One of the questions I thought was so interesting from the jurors was, describe -- Jodi Arias -- your relationship with your parents. Now that's a question that if you were sort of writing a short story or a journalistic account of -- of her life I don't really know why it's admissible evidence. I don't why the judge allowed it. But it shows how jurors think. I thought it was --

COOPER: It was interesting, though, Nancy, I mean, they -- there were more questions about sex.

GRACE: Anderson. Anderson, please call on me.

COOPER: I -- go ahead, Nancy.

GRACE: Anderson, please call on me.

COOPER: I'm calling on you.

GRACE: OK. I hope you heard that. I hope you heard that, Geragos and Toobin. He called on me.

Now, let's get back to what you Geragos just said about the Spider-man underwear. Now her testimony was on direct that he wanted her to dress up like a little boy and have anal sex from behind with her. To suggest that he was a pedophile. But what the jury asked actually about those underwear, those Spider-man underwear, hey, if you took all these pictures of you in these underwear that said Travis Alexander on the back, how come you didn't take the pictures of the Spidey underwear you keep talking about?

TOOBIN: I also think this is a real tribute to this jury. Some of the details that they picked up. She -- one of the jurors asked if you're nearsighted, how do you drive, because she didn't wear glasses. And she sort of has this long elaborate story of how I don't -- I don't have trouble driving. But, you know, I just thought that was such a perceptive picking up of a detail.

And frankly most of the questions I thought were very hostile to her position. So I don't know how the defense could take much solace.

GRACE: Good luck.

GERAGOS: Well, no, they don't take much solace but the --

GRACE: You know you make it sounds so good, Toobin. Hostile to her position. I like that.

GERAGOS: Well, the problem --



GERAGOS: The problem with it is that the jurors are -- I don't care what anybody says, if you have tried any number of jury trials, jurors pay attention. I mean, they really pay attention. That's the whole reason you have 12 jurors. They get back there. They act like a super computer. These are -- people always, I think, mock the jury system. I think it's one of the greatest inventions ever in terms of a civilized society.

So I'm not saying that they are asleep at the switch or anything else. I think juries always, there has never been a trial I've tried where they haven't come up with something. Nobody in that courtroom --


GRACE: Call on me, call on me.

COOPER: Nancy?


GRACE: Thank you, Teacher.

Jeff, you are so right about them asking about her vision. Because in court, I wish I had a pair of glasses to show, actually take off the glasses to read and to look around, which makes me wonder, why do you have glasses unless you just want to look brainy, like Geragos and Toobin here? But what she answered to that question was basically, Anderson, I have essentially seen the world fuzzy my entire life and I just realized --


GERAGOS: Does someone want to explain to Nancy the difference between nearsighted and far-sighted?

GRACE: That was her answer.

COOPER: I don't know the difference, to be honest.


GERAGOS: I only play an ophthalmologist on TV.


Maybe somebody could tweet to Nancy the difference between nearsighted and farsighted.

COOPER: And in case you haven't noticed, I just put on my glasses so you will include me in on the smart category here of people who wear glasses.

Hey, Nancy, we got a --

GRACE: Brainy. Brainy.

COOPER: Brainy. We got a "Digital Dashboard" question for you tonight from Facebook. Barbara asked, says, "I think they have lost sight of what the trial is about. Didn't Jodi Arias kill Travis? As a person who's lived through an abusive relationship, it is insulting for her to use that as a defense when you listen to the facts. Where is there any proof of that?"

Any -- has there been any proof of that? Of an abusive relationship?

GRACE: Well, I'm very sensitive to that question, Anderson, because while I was prosecuting I spent 10 years volunteering at the Battered Women's Center. And became intimately familiar with the battered women syndrome defense and frankly when I believed it was a battered women syndrome defense I would see the case in a whole different light.

And what's concerning me along with Barbara is, there is no evidence of battered women syndrome in this case at all other than a few incident she testified to and has been caught in lies about. So if she is faking this defense that hurts all battered women because when they go to trial, people are going to go, hey, you remember Jodi Arias? That was a sack of lies. And it's going to hurt them. I completely understand what Barbara said.

GERAGOS: Well, I have to -- I hate to agree with Nancy but she is right. There is a -- I can hear prosecutors all of this country in the future, mocking defense lawyers on battered women defenses because of this case. There is a certain degree of irony --

GRACE: Only if they're liars, Mark.

GERAGOS: The violence that was done here or the extreme violence that's demonstrable was not by Travis. So that's a --


GERAGOS: So that's concerning, and having defended women who are the victims of it is a different -- it's a difficult situation.

COOPER: Well, let's leave -- hey, Nancy, are you wearing handcuffs as a necklace?


GRACE: Yes, I am.

COOPER: Is that --

GRACE: Would you like a pair?

COOPER: Why, I just -- I guess I'm nearsighted or farsighted. I wasn't --

GRACE: I did it for you, Anderson.

COOPER: I saw something shiny and then the more I look at it, I was thinking, are those handcuffs? They really are?

GRACE: Yes, they are, and they work.


Just in case I need to arrest somebody.

COOPER: I'm glad it didn't come to that.

GERAGOS: You subscribe to her premium channel and you'll get them as a free bonus.

COOPER: Nancy Grace, always love to have you on. Mark Geragos, as well. Jeff Toobin, thanks.

Let us know what you think about this idea of jurors -- a good idea for jurors, people ask a defendant questions on the stand. Let's talk about it on Twitter right now, @Andersoncooper.

Up next, why is senator -- this senator still talking? He's been at it for hours now. Senator Rand Paul trying to bring back the old- fashioned talking filibuster. We'll tell you why he's doing it and whether anything is going to come of it. Later, where the latest killer storm is heading and the epic damages it's already done when we continue.


COOPER: Welcome back. Something is happening tonight straight out of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." An old-fashioned talking filibuster. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has had the floor since 11:47 this morning. Trying to block a vote on President Obama's nominee for CIA director with nothing more than his vocal chords. He's keeping hydrated, he's eating candy and voicing his objections to the administration's use of killer drones.

The odd thing is that under current Senate rules Senator Paul doesn't have to be talking to maintain the filibuster, and he himself acknowledges that when it comes time for a vote to break the filibuster, possibly on Friday, chances are he'll lose. So what exactly is he doing?

Let's talk about that. Let's hope we won't be filibustering here. Republican consultant joining us, Margaret Hoover, "Newsweek" special correspondent and "Daily Beast" editor Peter Beinart, and chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Gloria, let me start with you. Some liberal senators sounded almost happy with what Senator Paul is doing. The bigger issue that he's pushing on the administration's policy on drones or lack of transparency is controversial with people on both sides of the aisle.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is and they were happy to hear him talk about. I mean, this filibuster, Mr. Paul goes to Washington, is all about getting attention. Because he knows he's not -- not going to stop the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. So he's trying to place attention on this issue of drones and the question of whether drones can actually be used in this country potentially on an American citizen.

I mean, he clearly believes it's unconstitutional and illegal, and he asked the attorney general for a letter about it. And the attorney general ruled it out but not completely unequivocally --

COOPER: Well, he said hypothetically given a 9/11 type of situation the military might be able to do that.

BORGER: That's right. And -- so this is a question about how far is the attorney general willing to go? How far is the president willing to go? And there's also another question here that liberals agree with Rand Paul. On an ethical question of transparency. The president has said he's going to talk about that again which is, how much do we and the American public, how much should we know --

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: -- about the use of drones.

COOPER: Peter, what do you make of the filibuster:

PETER BEINART, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK AND THE DAILY BEAST: I think it's terrific. You know, first of all, this is what a filibuster is supposed to be. We have defined -- we have created this -- this kind of virtual filibuster where you just say, I filibuster and then you go and have dinner, right?

A filibuster is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to have some cost to you. This is what this guy is doing. It's on a matter of principle, not party. He says, Bush is continuing -- Obama is continuing Bush's policies which is -- which are right and he is doing it on the right subject which is this is the guy who's actually nominated to head the CIA.

It's not like the Republicans who were threatened to filibuster Hagel because of Benghazi which Hagel had nothing to do about it. And he's shaming liberals. I say this is as a liberal. He's shaming us into saying we have to make sure we don't put our partisanship ahead of our concern about centralized government power and what the Obama administration is doing. And I think he's setting a really good example.

COOPER: He's been going for more than eight hours. Just for people who have not heard, let's just hear what he's talking about, just now, randomly. Let's just drop in and listen to what he's saying.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The problem is I think once he gets into the FBI, the ludicrous nature of what he's asserting will really be, I think, paramount. I can't imagine that he can argue at that point that we're not going to obey the Bill of Rights with the FBI because we already do with the FBI. So many of the answers are pretty simple here and pretty easy and I just can't imagine why he is resisting doing this.


COOPER: Right now also at the Jefferson Hotel President Obama has been meeting with some Republican senators. I understand the -- looks like the senators, some of them have been leaving the dinner, appears to be over. That these things, both going on in different parts of Washington.

Margaret, what do you make of it?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the filibuster, I can't believe Peter and I actually agree on it. It's a good old-fashioned filibuster. It's not (INAUDIBLE) and reading from Webster's Dictionary. It's actually a well-prepared senator making reasonable arguments for now --


COOPER: Well, there were some tweets being read earlier while he was taking a bathroom break.

HOOVER: But -- that's right. Everything he's saying is substantive, thoughtful, discursive, he's actually making a case for the point of a filibuster, which is, is there a constitutional question to the kill list that President Obama is employing abroad? Can he do that on American citizen who are not an imminent threat to American security here in the United States? That's a real question. That's a thoughtful question.

COOPER: And not just President Obama, can any U.S. president kill an American citizen at home using drones?

HOOVER: Unilaterally or should there be some process of balances and -- checks and balances on that process?


COOPER: It is an important question. I mean, this is not -- this is obviously an important question.

BEINART: Beyond that. I mean, the drones are an important question. Look, Obama -- President Obama has moved towards drones because they're cheap. This is what we do because we as a country don't want to expand the blood and treasure to go invading countries anymore. That's why it a track 15. But with it comes really, really big concerns about this should not be -- I don't care which president you are, whether you're president of a party that you like, a president should not be invested with this much power to make his decisions without oversight and I think Rand Paul is actually -- he's actually not even going far enough in the questions he's asked.


BORGER: Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, Gloria.

BORGER: I think the president and the White House has sort of been caught off guard by this. I don't think they really understood what kind of an issue this would be for John Brennan during this confirmation fight. And I think this whole issue of transparency and this is sort of ironic coming from the president who, when he was a senator, always called her transparency who's a constitutional scholar himself.

I think in a way they've created this problem for themselves because they did not lift the veil for people on the intelligence committee about how they make the decision to use drones. And so now they're going to have to go back at it and say, you know what, we were wrong and we need to be more transparent about it to people we trust in the -- in the Congress.

HOOVER: We are going to start to see it, too. You've got Ron Wyden there, a Democrat from Oregon.

COOPER: Right.

HOOVER: Who joined the filibuster, along with other Republicans. It's technically a bipartisan filibuster now. What happens in a second administration of a reelected president is the high watermark of President Obama's influence is right now. Eventually the coalition on the left and the right begins to fray. So what you see now is President Obama also concurrent to this having dinner with Republicans for the first time in a couple of years. I think that is indicative of clearly a new tact and hopefully a recognition that President Obama knows it's in his court to try to get some sort of legacy legislation through now.

COOPER: Peter, Lindsey Graham earlier were saying, look, this is a sign of just how divided the country is that the fact that President Obama is having dinner with some Republicans is a major news story.


BEINART: Right. And it's a sign that the Obama administration has realized that just because the Republicans are losing the fight over the so-called sequester, he can be losing, too. And he has further to go down in the polls.


COOPER: Because his poll numbers are higher than the Republicans.

BEINART: Because his poll numbers are much higher. But they have gone --

BORGER: Yes, but his numbers were --

BEINART: They have gone done and so I think he realizes that his strategy -- of trying to force complete capitulation is not working.

BORGER: But his numbers are heading in the wrong direction. If you look at the "Washington Post"/ABC poll today by a 2-1 margin, people say they approve the sequester generally. These forces spending cuts. While they don't approve the military cuts, and by the way, the president has absolutely nothing to lose by having dinner with these people because even if it doesn't work, he can tell the American public I tried it. It didn't work. So I'm doing it. And that's what the American public wants to see.

COOPER: And it's certainly hoping just to peel away whatever Republicans he can. I mean, he's not hoping to change --

HOOVER: And by the way he's got to work on Democrats, too, though.

COOPER: Right.

HOOVER: I mean he -- this is a president who doesn't have a great track record with Democrats in the Senate either.


BEINART: But look at this list of the senator. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, these are blue states where Obama feels like he can put a little bit of pressure on these guys to compromise.


BORGER: But, you know, Senator Lindsey Graham, came up with the invite list. And the invite list is not a bunch of moderates. The invite --


BEINART: There are no moderates left in the Republicans. This is what passes for moderate.

HOOVER: Susan Collins is invited.

BORGER: This is no -- these are conservative Republicans, some of this --



BORGER: -- biggest critics and what the president is going to get from them is, OK, if you want a grand bar gain here's what you need to do for us, and that's what Lindsay Graham and John McCain will --


COOPER: Well, it already looks like it's not a late dinner because it looks like a bunch of them already left.

BORGER: Early bird.


COOPER: Yes, Gloria Borger, appreciate it, Margaret Hoover and Peter Beinart as well.

Just ahead breaking news an African lion hand raised at a sanctuary devoted saying exotic cats. An animal that actually was on "The Ellen Show" a while back has killed a 26-year-old woman. We're going to get Jeff Corwin's take on the horrific attack. Plus a CNN exclusive the family of Reeva Steenkamp is speaking after the first time since Oscar Pistorius was freed on bail. What they told our Drew Griffin in South Africa. It may change the way you see her (INAUDIBLE). (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up. It couldn't have been easy. Gabby Giffords returning to the parking lot where a gunman shot her in the head two years ago. She came with a message. That she can speak at all today is extraordinary. We'll tell you what she said ahead.


COOPER: By now, tens of millions of Americans have had enough of it. They have it up to here literally. All the same they are getting more of it. More snow, more icy rain, more deadly roads and now the kind of gale of course, winds, blew down trees, washes coastlines out to sea.

Take a look. Swirling counter clockwise along the east from seaboard, New England about to get dumped on by a storm system that is really leaving its icy mark. More of the damage that are pouring now from Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A state of emergency declared in Virginia as more than 200,000 people are without power in sub-freezing temperatures. While many in the state heeded the warning to stay off loads. Others needed authorities to rescue down from the ice and snow.

Parts of Virginia are reporting accumulations of over two feet. The storm dumped over a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest where it is plain for at least, one death. The driver of this truck was killed after his rig fell off of the Cedar River in Wisconsin. Further West in Minneapolis, the airport remained open despite snow fall of just under a foot. On the east coast, Maryland's Chesapeake bay bridge was closed because of high winds but not before this tractor trailer overturned on one end.

Further north, the con-service (ph) for coastal flooding and (INAUDIBLE) in areas that were already hard-hit by hurricane Sandy. There are predictions of waves towering up to 14 feet prompting officials in New Jersey and Delaware to advise residents in some coastal areas to evacuate. And in our nation's capitol, Airports remained open for business. Lawmakers prepared for the worst in government business shout done for the day. But in the end Washington was spared the brunt of his winter storm.

Brian Todd, CNN. Washington.


COOPER: Let's get caught up in some other stories we are following. Isha is here with the 360 bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a grim milestone, the number of Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations has topped one million. That is five percent of the population. The U.N. says 1400 refugees crossed the board each day to escape the violence that have been raging in, in two years. 141 Syrians were killed today according to opposition groups.

Meantime, Syrian rebels are holding 20 U.S. peacekeepers, none of the Israeli occupied golden heights. In the You Tube video, rebel says they will be held until our asset forces withdraw from a village where heavy fighting has been heavy. CNN cannot verify its authenticity. Now, the rebel said they suspect the U.N. peace keepers, I should say, of trying to aid their enemy. U.N. says they will only regulate supply mission and is demanding their release.

Gabby Giffords today returned to the Tucson parking lot where she was shot in the head two years ago to call for stricter gun control. Speech is still difficult for the former congresswoman. She said less than 20 words. Other survivors of the shooting joined her at that rally.

And spectacular images of Mt. Etna shooting lava and ash. That's right, it leaves famous active volcano is erupting once again. Now, we should say, it rarely causes damage but it often inspires a great deal of art.

COOPER: It's amazing.

SESAY: Spectacular and scary.

COOPER: It's amazing how high the air shoots that lava.


COOPER: Isha, thanks very much. Breaking news coming up. Three hundred pound African lion goes on attack in an animal sanctuary, killed an intern there. We are going to talk to animal expert Jeff Corwin about his take on what happens. This is an animal that was on the Ellen's show awhile back.

Also tonight, a CNN exclusive, the family of Reeva Steenkamp breaking their silence for the first time since the so-called blade runner Oscar Pistorius is released on bail in her killing.


COOPER: Just is head in the CNN exclusive, Reeva Steenkamp's uncle talks to our Drew Griffin about his hope in meeting Oscar Pistorius, the man charged with murdering his niece.


COOPER: There has been a fatal lion attack in California. And here is what we know right now. The lion was 350 pounds named Couscous and attacked and killed 26-year-old intern at the Project Survival Cat Haven, an exotic cat sanctuary east of Fresno. She was apparently inside the lion's cage when the animal attacked her. She died at the scene. The founder of the sanctuary gave these details.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Female volunteer, the intern, entered the lion's enclosure where she was attacked and fatally injured. The lion was shot and killed per our safety protocol. Our thoughts go out to the - our friend and family and to her family at this time and this trying time. We will keep you guys posted as things progress around here.


COOPER: Well, the sanctuary also said they hand-raised the African male lion from the age of eight weeks. Here he is, the animal, on the Ellen DeGeneres show when he was three weeks old.

That's Jeff Corwin there, animal expert Jeff Corwin holding him. He is going to join us in just a minute.

First, I want to talk to Katharine Herr, our affiliate KGPE. Katherine Herr.

Katherine, you are outside the gates of the sanctuary. What is going on now? What is the latest?

KATHERINE HERR, REPORTER, KGPE (via phone): (INAUDIBLE) arrived just around 20 minutes ago to pick up the body of the woman who was killed here by the lion. The gates have been locked and closed off with crime scene tape. There are sheriff deputies and investigators still on scene here.

COOPER: And you have been inside this cat haven in the past. What it is like? I think you even saw this animal? HERR: I did. Last time I was up here about a little over a year ago. And this is basically a sanctuary for large cat, say you have lions up here, tigers, cheetahs and jaguars. They are involve in preservation efforts and Africa as well. But this facility is open to the public. They were not open today. No visitors on sight.

But you go in and there is a road that sort of lines through the area being closures to these large animals. Each enclosure is basically closed off by reinforced fences. And the lion enclosure is towards the end of the tour that you may take through here. And I was there and got close to this lion. The lion seemed docile when we were up there. They found her that you heard from that interview, that statement Bill Anderson had actually reached through the fence and was scratching the lion behind the ear. I was just a couple of feet away. The lion did not seem aggressive in anyway. The male lion, Couscous shares the enclosure with a female lion as well. We haven't been told yet where the female was during all of this -- Anderson.

COOPER: Katherine, appreciate the latest on that, obviously, huge tragedy there.

I want to bring in Jeff Corwin, host of "Ocean Mysteries" on ABC and author of the new book, "Sharks."

Jeff, to look at you holding this lion when he was, I guess, just a couple of weeks old on the Ellen show, I mean, it is so sad what happened now. How surprised are you by this?

JEFF CORWIN, HOST, OCEAN MYSTERIES: Well, I'm incredibly surprised whenever a tragedy like this unfold Anderson. These are powerful creatures and they possess strength and incredible predatory skills. And it think that is what you have to remember here. There is a big difference between a small preamble defenseless cubs relying on human beings for nurturement (ph) and for care and a 350 pound creature that pretty much sits on the top of the food chain.

COOPER: And even though, and the picture we are seeing now, are you on with Ellen on the show, even though this cub was hand raised, as you said, I mean, these animals are hard wired, it is part of who they are that as they grow they are hunters.

CORWIN: Well, there certainly is a big difference between a lion living out in the wild of the Savannah that would look at human beings as a potential competitors or even a predator versus a lion raised in a captive human care environment. These animals clearly rely on human beings with their food, for their shelter, for their security and their stimulation and for their life quality experience.

But, these are powerful creatures and these animals can spend a life time with a little aggression or little examples of potential danger to human beings. But, when you weigh almost 400 pounds, you really only need to have one bad moment. And it is not impossible to pay the ultimate price for that. And that is why many zoos that keep lions, especially zoos that are part of the AZA (ph) community are very strict rules and regulations when it comes to working with these animals and maintaining them in a zoological environment. COOPER: And I guess, you know, there is a lot we don't know about the incidents surrounding, exactly what happened inside that cage in the moment. Why the animal would have attacked. I mean, the fact that this girl was an intern, do you think that is something that is going to look at, that whether there was a mistake on the part of the sanctuary to allow an intern not fully trained into a potential dangerous situation?

CORWIN: It is an interesting question, Anderson, but I wouldn't speculate on her role or the way that she worked with this institution, with this wildlife sanctuary. Many zoos and aquariums around the world rely on interns. They are a valuable part of the community for these institutions and interns sometimes, you know, retired people called does play an important role. I can tell you, for example, the Franklin park zoo in Boston. If you want to become a volunteer, or an intern at that zoo, you are looking at almost two months of training before you actually, have contact with any animals.

COOPER: Jeff, I appreciate you talking to us today. It is such a horrible thing, I mean, in different ways. I also appreciate Katharine Herr giving us that report.

That we should point out the sanctuary said that the intern got too close to the lion. Exactly what that means, we don't know the details of that. Of course, we are trying to learn more.

Just ahead, a CNN exclusive, new inside on Reeva Steenkamp's relationship with Oscar Pistorius, insight from someone who considered her a sister, her cousin . The family of Reeva Steenkamps is speaking out for the first time since Pistorius was freed from jail and what they are saying is going to surprise you next.


COOPER: Welcome back on 360 exclusive now. Tonight, the family of Reeva Steenkamp is breaking their silence for the first time since her killer, Oscar Pistorius was freed on bail. Steenkamp's uncle and cousin, both agreed to talk on camera with investigator correspondent Drew Griffin in South Africa.

Now, Drew has been digging into Pistorious' past. And what he has found is really very much at odd with the athlete's public image. In Drew's report last night. Former friends of the track star described a man who was often drinking, angry and armed.


MARC BATCHELOR, SOUTH AFRICAN SOCCER PLAYER: He would have a trip switch, and you know, he would get violent and angry and he would fight with people and cause a lot of problems. It's like well you were waiting for something like this to happen, you know.


COOPER: Well, Pistorious claims he shot Reeva Steenkamp because he thought she was an intruder. He says he loved her deeply, but was the love to Steenkamp's cousin talked to Drew about that. And what she told him was pretty surprising, equally surprising with Steenkamp's uncle has to say.

Here's Drew's report.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The interview took place inside the Cape Town home, Reeva often stay, in the backroom of her cousin's Kim Martin's. It is where we interviewed her and Reeva's uncle.

Has the family now realized emotionally what has happened?

MIKE STEENKAMP, REEVA STEENKAMP'S UNCLE: You sort of wake up in the morning expecting Reeva to give a phone call.

KIM MARTIN, REEVA STEENKAMP'S COUSIN: It is easier to deal with it if you don't concentrate on anything else other than the fact that he is not here and at the end of the day she is not coming back.

GRIFFIN: What the family says it does not want to concentrate on is just why. Reeva Steenkamp is not coming back. She died in the home and at the hands of her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius. He is charged with murder and awaiting trial for what he has called an accidental shooting.

Kim Martin says, she was as close to Reeva as a sister. There were no secrets. She knew the couple were dating. She also knew was not in love.

MARTIN: And I knew that in time she would text tell to me about it.

GRIFFIN: But, she never did.

MARTIN: No. She never did.

GRIFFIN: January 2nd, on small day in Cape Town, Kim and her daughters finally did meet him at this seaside cafe. It was the only time she ever met him. He barely made an impact.

MARTIN: It wasn't enough to form an opinion on his personality, you know. Typically, Reeva, Her and I would chatting and the kids. And what I saw then, but we did speak he was nice. He seemed like a nice guy.

GRIFFIN: You still think that?

MARTIN: I don't really want to comment on that.

GRIFFIN: In what now seemed an ominous event. We now know, Reeva's own mother had met Oscar Pistorious too, at least by phone. Oscar and Reeva were driving at a high-way and Oscar drone the fast cars was supposedly speeding. STEENKAMP: She called her mom and said it to her mom. Mom, Oscar is speeding. She said, Jun, pick the phone and say, let me speak to Oscar. And she said Oscar, hey, listen, that is my precious and my only daughter, my precious daughter and that is everything that is my angel and you better slow down. Otherwise I will get the mafia onto you after wards. And Reeva said after wards, mom he slowed down.

GRIFFIN: And now the family, including Reeva's parents, are trying to come to grips with a lot of tales of the past. Former friends of Pistorious speaking out about anger rage and guns, early signs that the police may have mishandled the crime scene and the fact that Oscar Pistorious who has admitted killing Reeva in an accidental shooting is now free from jail awaiting trial.

MARTIN: The less I hear about only at the start feel better.

STEENKAMP: None of us are going to be represented at the court in the trial. None of us in our family are going to go up. We won't be present. I can tell you that now and for that reason that is not about the court case, it is about Reeva.

GRIFFIN: It would be too painful. But choking back tears, make did say he one day does want to meet the man who killed his niece.

STEENKAMP: I would like to be face-to-face with him. And forgive him, forgive him what he has done. And that way I can find most probably more peace with the situation but held him face-to-face.

GRIFFIN: And you would forgive him mike whether this was a tragic accident?

STEENKAMP: Whatever the outcome I feel with my belief and if Christ could forgive when he died on the cross why can't I?

GRIFFIN: You must have seen on the reports about things in his past that have come out. Is there any reaction to any of that?

STEENKAMP: The least I know from the outside the better. For myself. That right or wrong I'm still focused on the one thing is forgiveness and I'm not going to change from that.

GRIFFIN: As for what happens to Oscar Pistorious, it doesn't matter says Steenkamp, nothing will bring her back.

Drew Griffin, CNN. Cape Town, South Africa.


COOPER: The family speaking out for the first time we will be right back.


COOPER: Time now for the ridiulist. In California where three people allegedly stole a yacht. That's right, whole freaking yacht. I'm talking about 82-foot multi-million dollar yacht named the darling. Now, they just took the thing allegedly and have it grander time until the ride was cut short and they ran the thing aground. The general manager of the local boat yards said he has never heard of this happening before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not some that big. We didn't believe it yesterday and we heard it and it involve the boat out a number of times. And I have never heard of a boat being ripped off.


COOPER: So, apparently, the alleged thieves really enjoyed themselves on the high seats and a laugh of luxury. Here is the KTUV reporter with the details.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And it looks like they turn this into a party boat. Investigators found the inside liters with beer cans and pizza boxes.


COOPER: Nothing like pizza and beer in cans. They really clashed up and stole in the up party. Alas, it did not last long. The three were arrested right off the yacht which is also a first for local witnesses.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the first one where I have seen them heft to get the perpetrators off.


COOPER: Now, this isn't really the most subtle crime in the world. I mean, how do they think they would get away with this? Don't people learn anything from "30 Rocks" anymore?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to your fantasy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not his boat. We have to get off this boat. This is not his boat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this your boat?


COOPER: I can't even say the word yacht without thinking the rest of the development of the magical stylings of Joe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any magician can make --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So how did you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael was on that yacht? You killed --


COOPER: It's simple. If it's not your yacht don't make it disappear because you'll surely get caught at least on the "RidicuList."

That does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now. Another edition of 360 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.