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tv   CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera  CNN  June 30, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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the argument against cosby was he had a specific m.o., a way of doing this. it takes a lot for the supreme court to say that's too much to the point where we have to reverse this conviction. >> the supreme court is saying the witness they brought in to make the pattern argument should not have been allowed? >> exactly. the judge went too far and let the prosecutors go too far in calling five other women who were not the victims in the charge in the indictment. these were women called to establish, the prosecution said, a pattern, but the judge said it went too far and it was so prejudicial to the defendant that we can't let this conviction stand.
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wolf blitzer picks up our coverage now. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> hello. i'm ana cabrera in new york. breaking news just in. bill cosby is about to be a free man. the pennsylvania state supreme court moments ago vacated the 83-year-old's sex assault conviction. he was convicted of three counts in 2018. his case was an early flash point in the me too movement. again, just moments ago the court overturned bill cosby's conviction. with us is brynn gingras. what do we know about this bombshell ruling? >> reporter: this is the opinion we're going through right now to get the fine details. like you said, the supreme court, the state's highest court in pennsylvania, vacating his conviction and judgment of sentence according to st the
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pennsylvania courts. we're still trying to figure out does that mean he's going to be leaving prison today. we'll get these answers for you. we're learning four judges were in favor of this, two part in favor, two part not in favor and one who filed a dissent entirely. we'll bring you details as soon as we know them. to give more background, again, he was convicted back in 2018 for aggravated incident assault. he was only serving a few years of a ten year sentence. remember, he wanted to take that full sentence instead of showing any remorse for what he was accused of doing. the accuser was andrea constand, who worked at temple university and accused him of drugging and assaulting her many years ago. prosecutors brought this case forward moments before the
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statute of limitations expired. this was a huge case. it was big in the me too movement. dozens of women had come forward and comedian of similar things. he was just actually denied being able to be released from prison not too long ago, so this is a huge turn of events. we're going to go through this opinion and get more details for you, but this is huge. >> this is just breaking. i understand you don't have a lot of information. at this point, do we know when we could see bill cosby walk out of prison? >> we don't. it's very possible with this turn of events that it could be today. of course, we have people going to the courtroom in pennsylvania trying to get that answer.
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>> stand by. i want to bring in a couple of legal experts including elliot williams. elliot, first, your reaction to what we are just learning, that the pennsylvania supreme court has overturned the conviction of bill cosby. >> it's a dark day in the history of american law. the challenge here is that there was never a question as to bill cosby's guilt. in a lot of cases when cases are overturned or people are convicted or not convicted, the issue is that the case was hard to prove against them. the issue with bill kcosby is that the statute of limitations had run on a pattern of predatory conduct. whether it was the matter of andrea constand, there were a number of quite serious allegations brought against bill cosby. we should be careful to note even though this was the charge
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he was convicted of, there were many other incidences that either couldn't have been charged or couldn't have been brought. this was a short sentence. we're learning more about it. he only served a couple years of it. to some extent, justice really hasn't been served here. i look forward to reading the opinion and see what the basis were for throwing it out. >> are you surprised by this conviction being overturned? >> i am surprised. the first thought has to be for the victims, for the charged victim and for all the other victims who testified and spoke out bravely. it's very rare to see a court of appeals overturn a jury verdict
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on this basis. here's the ruling from the pennsylvania supreme court. when he was charged he was charged with sexual assault of one victim, that temple university employee. prosecutors said and the judge said, yes, you can. prosecutors said we want to call up to five other victims, not the ones who are charged here but five other victims to establish a pattern. the judge let them do that and now the supreme court has said that went too far. these other five victims were not the subjects of the charged indictment and they went beyond establishing a pattern. they went to the point where it was presidential to the defense. that's the legal basis for the ruling here. it's really rare to see a conviction overturned on those grounds. >> can the prosecution now appeal this and have a new trial? or what happens next?
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>> they can't as a practical matter appeal. this opinion is coming from the highest state court in pennsylvania, the pennsylvania supreme court. prosecutors now have to decide if they want to try to retry bill cosby for what would be a third time. remember, the first time he was tried, there was no conviction, it was a hung jury. the second time was what resulted in his conviction. they have to make a really difficult decision. prosecutors are usually willing to retry somebody once, meaning for a second time total. a third time gets to be sort of the limit. i've seen people who have been tried three times very, very rarely. but beyond that is sort of beyond the pale of what you'll see from prosecutors. >> let me bring in another great legal mind of ours to weigh in.
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>> i'm pretty shocked. given the defiant nature we've seen from bill cosby and his team at the beginning of the trial and after the verdict. he has remained defiant. we had reports that even in prison he refused to participate in some classes that were made available for sex offenders and that he maintained his innocence throughout. i think this is a big set bback for the women that came to testify, the many women who told their stories of being drugged and sexually abused by bill cosby. his conviction meant so much for so many women who suffered in silence and were afraid to tell their stories. now to have a court say those stories can't be told in a trial is a real blow to those women as
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well as to the larger me too movement. >> according to cnn's count, bill cosby was accused by more than 50 women in terms of different types of inappropriate behavior. again, though, this case in which he was convicted stemmed from one accuser's account of what he did to her. that was andrea constand. it was all related to an incident that happened in 2004 when andrea constand was a temple university employee, which she accused him of drugging her and sexual assaulting her in his home in 2004. the statute of limitations was a big part of this case as well. just doing a quick google to our previous reporting and this was an article from june of 2020 when the pennsylvania supreme court allowed bill cosby's team to appeal his conviction. at the time it said there were two issues in which he was able
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to appeal this case. one had to do with the prior bad act witnesses, some of those other accusers who testified about alleged assaults that weren't directly a part of andrea constand's case. the oh issue focused on the prior district attorney's decision at the time not to charge bill cosby a decade ago when this happened to andrea constand. how common are the prior bad act witnesses? is it typical for people if this is one of the reasons why the pennsylvania supreme court is saying this conviction should be overturned because these prior bad act witnesses testified and they shouldn't have. is that unusual for these people to have testified? >> that's a great question. prosecutors flirt with danger a little bit whenever they bring
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up evidence of conduct that a defendant might have engaged in prior to the thing that he or she is being charged with. look, you can use evidence at certain times to establish a pattern. this was the way this person carried out a certain type of event again and again and again. as a pattern, the problem is that this is what the law does. it puts in jury's minds that if a person committed those crimes he must have also committed these crimes. he actually did commit those other crimes but the way trials work he was charged with and being tried for one particular offense, the assault of andrea constand. it's dangerous territory to start wading into. yes, it is important to establish a pattern, but once you start putting in the idea that this individual is a bad person and you should convict
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him because he's a bad person, that runs the risk of a conviction getting overtrnurned >> what more are you learning about the court's reasoning? >> they're saying there was an agreement with the previous prosecutor in this case castor who prevented him from being charged criminally. so he was then able to sit down in a civil deposition which was then later used in the criminal trial. that's what they're saying was not fair. it says d.a. castor decided that the commonwealth would decline to prosecute cosby for the incident involving constand, there allowing cosby to be forced to testify in a civil action without the benefit of fifth amendment privilege. cosby relied upon the district
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attorney and proceeded to provide four sworn depositions. during those depositions cosby made several incriminating statements. it seems to be that paragraph that is the crux for why we may see cosby get out of jail. >> if i'm understanding it correctly, it sound like it was because they used cosby's own words from these civil cases that it prevented him from essentially pleading the fifth. >> absolutely. we always knew that former d.a.'s agreement with bill cosby not to prosecutor him criminally could be potentially problematic. we knew that the witnesses that weren't on trial, having them testify, as much as we wanted to have those witnesses come forward, we knew that was potentially problematic.
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this agreement with the district attorney and bill cosby saying we won't prosecute you, that allowed him to move forward with that civil deposition and give testimony and make statements. and then to be able to use those incriminating statements to then come back when there's a new district attorney to file criminal charges against him, this was always going to be an area of concern. i'm sure the current prosecutor knew there was a potential for the conviction being overturned on appeal. because prosecutors have a lot of authority, they have a lot of power. imagine a prosecutor saying to a potential defendant you can go forward, you can talk about this case, you can give testimony under the penalty of perjury without the worry of ever being criminally prosecuted. and yet someone else gets elected and that promise is revoked and now you find yourself facing criminal
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prosecution and those very words you gave in a civil deposition now being used against you. not surprised that the supreme court had a distaste for how this entire matter was handled by that former prosecutor. >> so many twists and turns. we will continue to stay on top of this story and bring you updates as we learn them. my thanks to all of you for joining us. there is another major story we are working on today, the frantic search for survivors in that deadly building collapse in surfside. wolf blitzer is there. >> it certainly is frantic right now. the death toll sadly continues to rise right now. 16 confirmed dead here. it's just gone up by four. 147 people still unaccounted
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usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. usaa i'm wolf blitzer reporting live from surfside, florida. sadly, the death toll is climbing as crews recover more bodies from the rubble. 16 people are now confirmed dead. 147 people still unaccounted for. they are missing. the search is now in day seven. time and hope for survivors quickly running out on this day
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seven. it's not yet a recovery operation. it's a rescue operation. there's still hope. >> there's still hope. a press conference just wrapped up. i caught up with the miami-dade mayor right after to get the latest details, first about the tunnels that the commander of the israeli team told our colleague john burman earlier today. she says this was indeed a sign of hope that they continue to follow these tunnels and voids looking for signs of life. then i also asked her about the personalre recovered. we learned yesterday the debris is being sorted. we know it's being taken to a florida department of transportation site. families want to know about the precious personal belongings of their loved ones, jewelry, clothing, any kind of item that
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belongs to their loved ones. according to the mayor, she says these items are being placed in bins and being sorted. they're going to be cataloged. all of it is evidence for now, but she says those items are being recovered and preserved. then about the chief became emotional. they also spoke about the contingency plans for the two storms they're monitoring. this is a huge concern because as you can see everything behind us, once rain starts rolling in the concrete becomes very slippery. the situation becomes very dangerous. that was his concern for the men and women risking their lives right now to try to save lives. the state of florida saying they do have contingency plans and
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more personnel and equipment to make sure they can continue this operation and respond to storms anywhere in the state of florida. >> thank you very much. excellent reporting, as usual. we're watching the storms right now. officials are so deeply concerned that with bad weather -- and it's been raining for much of today and sometimes pretty torrential rain -- they are deeply concerned that will undermine the search and rescue operation. they keep calling it a search and rescue operation, not a search and recovery operation, recovery meaning there's no more hope there will be survivors. there are still 147 people who are still unaccounted for. joining us now is the chairman of miami-dade board of commissioners, chairman diaz. thank you so much for joining us. what's the latest?
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>> you know we have 16 bodies have been recover ed. that is the latest. we have another team coming from another team one coming from virginia, which will hopefully be here by tonight. we're continuing to work no matter how much the weather is bad for us or whatever it is -- >> it's pretty bad right now. >> it is. it's been constant. earlier you saw the amount of lightning in the area. we'll still continue. the lightning is the only time we have to stop. but it's nonstop for us 24/7. >> they are risking their lives to help find survivors. are you still hopeful after day seven? >> i am. i've seen this happen in other places before where they find somebody so many x amount of days that they weren't expected
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to find somebody and they have. i saw that in haiti in the earthquakes when after nine days they found a baby alive. there's hope. that's what we have to give the citizens and the family that are here. they need that hope. >> but is a false hope? i've been speaking to family members. they are hopeful but many of them are beginning to say to me, you know what, they're moving on, they have to deal with reality. >> that's each family member. many of them say i hope to god that my daughter is alive and please keep working as hard as you can, please don't stop. it breaks your heart because you want to help them all and try to find solutions and hope we could get this done immediately and help everybody, but unfortunately it's a very close process.
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>> this rain is not good. >> not at all. >> the men and women involved in the search and rescue operation, how are they holding up? >> you know, they have hope. they're energized to keep working hard. they're going as fast as they can within the slow conditions they have. you can see it in their face it's hard for them. there's so many different ones here from task force one and team one and all the teams in florida, the israeli team. they all have that sense of pride to work as hard as they can to find somebody. they're professionals. they're heros. they put their own lives in jeopardy. some of those places, you would really have to think twice to go in where they're at. their spirit is high. >> how are your conversations with them going? >> good, good. i see them, i meet with them, i
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try to break bread with them. i talk to them, i thank them. i don't think in my whole life i've said so many thank yous to so many people were doing the job they're doing. that's our goal, is to be supportive and help in any way we can. >> how are you comforting the family members? >> we have tried everything. the mayor has worked hard in bringing in all the different entities to help the family members also making sure their needs are met, the hotels, everything they need to have so they could feel as comfortable as they can in such a hard moment in their life. we're doing everything we can as a government and the state has come in helping where they can. everybody has worked hard to try to find solutions. >> i hope the weather gets better. >> so do i. >> it's an awful situation. thank you for all your important work. >> thank you. >> very, very sad story, anna.
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the longer i stay here, it's so powerful. you have to realize the fear, uncertainty and anger these families are going through. they're wondering how could this have happened here in the united states. >> so many questions, not enough answers and too much time lapsing and mother nature now bearing down in that area. our other breaking news this hour, bill cosby set to be released from prison after his sex assault conviction is overturned. we'll speak with lisa bloom next. ♪ when you have nausea, ♪ ♪ heartburn, ingestion, upset stomach... ♪ ♪ diarrheaaaa. ♪ pepto bismol coats your stomach with fast and soothing relief. and try new drug free pepto herbal blends. made from 100% natural ginger and peppermint.
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the difference in try and triumph... is just a little umph! upsees, i need upsees. i'm sure this isn't something money can't solve? what the fudge? oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! more on our breaking news concerning bill cosby. a short time ago the pennsylvania supreme court overturned his 2018 sex assault conviction. he is set to walk free after serving more than two years of his sentence. one of cosby's lawyers telling cnn moments ago they believe he
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will be released from prison this afternoon. we are joined by attorney lisa bloom, who represents three women who have accused cosby of sexual assault. lisa, your reaction to this ruling? >> i'm absolutely disgusted and shocked by this ruling. to think that it's all based upon a prior sweetheart deal the prosecutor made with cosby after a full trial, which i attended with my client janice dickinson, she was one of the brave witnesses that testified. the jury heard all of the witnesses and evidence and convicted him. now that this day has come, it's a slap in the face to all of the victims. >> so he could be walking free within a matter of hours before people are even fully able to digest what is happening. what kind of emotions will that
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bring to his accusers? >> i think it's going to be a very hard day. i think it's going to be a retriggering event for all of them who testified that he had drugged and rained them. i want to remind everybody these are very, very serious charges. these women allege they were sexual sexually assaulted under the influence of drugs that he tricked them into taking. and then they were passed out and he sexually assaulted them, very, very serious charges. it just goes to show if you have money and power and you can afford attorneys to fight and fight for years and years, eventually you may find a loophole and a way to get a conviction overturned. that's what happened here. >> one of the women you represent is janice dickinson who testified at the trial, helping to establish a pattern of conduct. have you spoken with her? >> i have not spoken with her yet. i know janice well.
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i was proud to represent her. we did get her a big victory in the civil case we filed for her. there is the civil justice system as well as the criminal justice system. sometimes you can get justice there. i know janice well. i'm sure she is devastated by this ruling. >> he was sentenced to three to ten years. he's coming up on that three-year mark. do you feel like that time served was justice in some way? >> well, i'm glad he got some time served, i really am. i believe it's more than 60 women in total that have accused him. he got to have a good long life of wealth and privilege before he was held accountable for his crimes. it was only tiny measure of the justice he should have received. >> he has always maintained his
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innocence, which is one of the reasons he was denied parole just a month ago because he didn't comply with some of the treatment or courses and counselling they wanted him to have in prison. he is still maintaining his innocence. doesn't sound like there's any remorse there. >> he has, but i think common sense dictates -- if you have one accuser or two accusers, okay. but when it's more than ten, 20, 50 women, it's inconceivable that he's innocent. i want to remind everybody this conviction was overturned not because he's innocent, but because a prior prosecutor made a sweetheart deal with him and the court said today he could not have been prosecuted after that deal was made. >> let me read a portion of the ruling. to your point, it is a little bit technical in terms of the
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legal action that was taken, why they said this conviction was overturned. it didn't have to do necessarily with what he did and whether he was innocent or guilty of the act, but it actually had to do with the fact that there had been a previous deal he made with a prior district attorney many years ago. this dates back to 2004 when he was accused of having indecent sexual incident with andrea constand. he ultimately was told then by district attorney castor that he would not be prosecuted for that incident, which led to him being forced to testify in a deposition for a civil case. because that deposition and what he said that was incriminating in that civil deposition was then used in his criminal court case. it essentially prevented him from pleading the fifth.
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his words were used against him in criminal court, is how i'm understanding that. it sounds like a technicality. could there be a chance of another trial? >> i don't think there's going to be another trial. this decision can be appealed up the chain. the decision by the prosecutor who decided to let him go scot-free and not be prosecuted is deeply disturbing. it would have been one thing if bill cosby took a plea bar gauge and served some time. again, dozens of women have accused him. andrea constand has always maintained he sexual assaulted her. but this promise that i'm not going to prosecute him, that was
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just a bare promise. it's appalling that that promise was ever made. bill cosby's attorneys continued to fight this and now they've gotten this victory today. deeply disappointing for the victims. >> more than 50 women have publicly accused cosby of raping or assaulting them over the next 40 years. could another case of another accuser go down the criminal path? >> it sure could. the biggest problems that victims have -- and i represent many sexual assault victims -- is the statute of limitation. in many cases that's five years, ten years. my client janice dickinson, her incidents happened in the 1980s so she was not able to file a criminal complaint, but we were able to file a case for defamation after he called her a liar and some other women did that as well.
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if women were sexual assaulted by bill cosby in the last ten years, they should consult with their attorney. the time limits vary from state to state. it is always possible another victim could bring a case. >> lisa bloom, thank you so much for joining us and reacting to this breaking news. again, bill cosby about to walk free, his conviction overturned by the pennsylvania supreme court. our other breaking news, a race to escape. survivors of the building collapse in florida providing new details that could be crucial to investigators.
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i'm wolf blitzer in surfside, florida. as the days pass after the deadly building collapse here, survivors are telling their stories. one recounts waking up as a crack spread through her sixth floor unit. >> i feel like sounds, strange sounds, strange. i run to my living room.
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something inside of me said, run, because this building will collapse. >> i'm joined by a structural engineer who examined this condo tower last year. when you were there, what was your bottom line conclusion? >> the conclusion was that they needed work. we were there because they invited us to the building to do a 40-year inspection. prior to doing that type of work, we have to generate a proposal to let them know how much our fees are going to cost. to do that proposal we do a site visit to the building to learn the scope, how much time we're going to be spending there, what level of effort it's going to take. i had visited the building to do that preproposal review. >> did they start doing anything based on your recommendations? >> no. we submitted a proposal for them in march of 2020.
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so we were not selected to do any of the work, so we didn't do any kind of assessment or inspection of the building associated with the 40-year. we assumed that was given to another engineer. we were informed we weren't selected. i didn't follow up to see who was doing the work at that point. >> when you see all these new reports that the pool deck collapsed first and then everything else began to collapse, what does that say to you? >> it's congruent with the information in the original engineer's report that we've been able to review since the collapse. he indicated this was significant concrete deterioration in that plaza level and garage slab especially around the planters in the pool area. if there's information that's where the collapse started, it would be consistent with the information where he noted the most significant deterioration. >> when you surveyed the south
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building in 2020, your conclusion was it needed work but you were not overly alarmed? >> that's right. i toured the property with the property manager and they pointed out a couple of locations of areas of concern that they felt would need to be addressed for the 40-year inspection just so we could get an overall sense to have building. we didn't look at the entire building. what i had seen was what i normally see when do i this type of work. we are engineers that specialize in buildings. when we get called into a property, there are issues of some sort, so we expect to see issues of some kind. >> i've been coming to this area for a long time. was there any sense that the building itself was in real danger of collapse?
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>> no tt that i saw while i was there. if there is, we tell the owner to immediately address that. while i was on the property, >> do you think people in other buildings around here should be worried right now? >> i don't think so. i think this is an anomaly and we should definitely investigate and review, but there was -- you know, this is not something that ever happens at all, so i feel that they are safe. >> they have to learn what exactly happened to make sure it never happens again. >> right. it's going to impact our profession and industry going forward as we learned. >> it will be a turning point i suspect. jason, thank you for joining us. jason borden, a structural engineer. it's a tragic truth, as hours and days pass with zero signs of life, hope to find survivors
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diminishes. my next guest, a local meteorologist in miami, lost his godmother and uncle, gladys and antonio lazano in the collapse. the couple were together, found together in the rubble on saturday. phil farrow, their nephew is joining us right now. phil, i'm so sorry about this news. my heart goes out to you and your family. your uncle and godmother were married for 59 years and you've described them as beautiful people. tell us about how you're remembering them now? >> first of all, thank you, wolf, for having me. my godmother and uncle were incredible people, very loving, very giving. basically the rock of our family. they were always kind of bickering as to, oh, my gosh, i hope that i go first and not you. it's almost a blessing in disguise, if you will, that they both went together. we are going on the presumption that they fell asleep and they
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never knew what happened. >> gladys and antonio's son, sergio, told our randi kaye that your loved ones were found in their bed. as you correctly point out, that they died in their sleep. over 140 other families are still awaiting confirmation of what happened to their relatives, to their families. what is your message to them? >> oh, my gosh, don't lose the faith. we all want to be reunited with our families one way or the another. we all want closure. the folks that are out there working so diligently to recover our loved ones are working hard day in and day out all through the night. and so don't lose faith. we need to make sure that we are at least reunited with all our loved ones. basically it's in the hands of a higher power, but don't lose the faith.
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>> your uncle and godmother, phil, i know they lived in apartment 903. for how many years, and did they ever complain, did you ever hear them complain to you or other members of the family about the condition of the building? >> i never heard any complaints whatsoever. that was their home. they loved living by the beach. that was antonio's dream was to live at the beach after they retired. they have been there 20 plus years. we have been there many times. i personally never saw anything, but then again i was never looking for anything. but as far as i know, they had never commented anything to me about any conditions that were presenting at the condominium. >> were you or your family aware of that april letter that residents received that further detailed how quickly concrete seemed to be deteriorating in the building? i guess the bottom line, were you ever concerned for your
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loved ones' safety? >> never. we were never made aware of -- at least for me, i was never made aware of that letter. and since i did not know of any ill conditions there at that building, i never worried about them. as a matter of fact, there was never in the scope of my reality that something like this would happen. so to answer your question, no, i had never heard or seen that letter. >> what questions do you want answers to right now? once again, my heart goes out to you. >> well, first of all, we all want to know what happened. what led to this? what kind of catastrophic event led to this situation? so answers. answers are needed by everyone, for the family members, for architects and engineers. we need to know what was the cause of this so that it never happens again. this should not be a reality for
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anyone anywhere in this country or any place else in the world. we should all have safe places to live in. >> it's an awful situation, heart breaking in every respect. phil ferro, thank you for joining us. so sad indeed. ana, i know the president and first lady will be here tomorrow. he will have his role as comforter in chief meeting with the search and rescue teams who are all heroes right now. the weather is getting really bad and also meeting with family members like phil. it will certainly be a painful experience for the president and the first lady. >> so many lives touched and the strength that you are hearing in all of those voices and the people you have been talking with this past hour, wolf, is really remarkable. our hearts go out to all of them. thank you for being there for us, wolf. thank you at home for joining us. we'll see you back here at 1:00 eastern. the news continues next with
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welcome to newsroom, i'm alisyn camerota. victor is off today. we do have breaking news. bill cosby will reportedly walk out of prison this afternoon a free man. a short time ago the pennsylvania state supreme court overturned bill cosby's sexual assault conviction. he was found guilty in 2018 of three counts of sex crimes and sentenced to ten years behind bars. cnn's brynn gingras is following this story. how did this reversal happen? >> it's a shock to everyone at this point. on both sides, even his attorneys who are headed to the prison right now to get bill co cosby. we're told by his attorneys that they have not spoken to him but they do expect him to come out and get in their car this afternoon and they're expected to go to the cosby home. i want to read you a quick statement. the statem


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