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Tulsa Suspects In Court Today; Grand Jury Might Take Up Martin Case; North Korea Nuclear Concerns; Bubba Watson Wins Masters; Mike Wallace 1918-2012; Trayvon Decision Day Approaches; Jennifer Hudson in Court; Trayvon Martin: Preparing For Grand Jury; Gingrich: Romney's The Likely GOP Nominee

Aired April 9, 2012 - 06:00   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east so let's get started here.

The terror in Tulsa, Oklahoma appears to be over. Two suspects are heading to court this morning after that killing spree that had people too scared to come out of their homes for 48 hours. Plus a Facebook post that may point to revenge as a possible motive.

BANFIELD: We could know in days whether George Zimmerman will be charged in the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin. After 43 days, it's possible the grand jury could take up the case.

SAMBOLIN: And the world watching what North Korea will do next. New reports this morning that the North is planning to test its third nuclear weapon and also a rocket in position for launch right now.

BANFIELD: The guy named Bubba wins the coveted green jacket, Bubba Watson pulling off an emotional and grinding sudden-death win at the Masters and one of golf's favorites finally has a major title.

SAMBOLIN: But at first here, they're not calling it a hate crime, but police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are investigating whether race and revenge played a role in last week's deadly shooting spree.

Two suspects were arrested yesterday. The 19-year-old Jake England on the left and 33-year-old Alvin Watts face three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. They will be arraigned today.

All of the victims were black. England's Facebook postings suggest he may have been motivated by revenge for his father's killing two years ago.

In the first hour of EARLY START, we asked Tulsa's mayor about the investigation.


MAYOR DEWEY BARTLETT, TULSA, OKLAHOMA: They have a lot of information to sift through, both the district attorney's office, the city prosecutor's office, they'll be very involved as well as the police department obviously.

But it will be their observation and decisions about how they do approach this event, whether or not it's a hate crime, those issues have to be determined. But certainly the motive and what was the intent, why the randomness of this activity.


SAMBOLIN: CNN's Jason Carroll is live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jason, what are authorities telling us about the possibility of hate crime charges?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, you heard what the mayor said. What they're really trying to determine here and they're going to need some more time in order to do is come up with a motivation for why the suspects allegedly acted in the way that they did.

I know that you referred to that Facebook page from Jake England and let me talk a little bit about that. It was two years ago on April 5th that England's father was killed by an African-American.

And on Thursday, England wrote about that on his Facebook page. He used a racial slur. He also said "it might just be the time to call it quits." He also made reference to "it may be time for another funeral to happen."

That was on Thursday and the shootings happened on Friday. That's when the shootings started to happen again on Friday. So this is one of the things that investigators will be looking at as they and determine whether or hate crime charges will be brought against these two suspects.

Also when I spoke to the mayor this morning, when I asked him about that, he said, if those types of charges are brought forth, his office would certainly support that -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And the suspects are due in court this morning. What can we expect?

CARROLL: Well, that arraignment is expected to get underway at about 10:00 a.m. That will be happening right here, but we're told that the two suspects will not actually physically appear in court, this will be done by video conference from jail.

They'll be read the charges. If they do not have an attorney, they will certainly be assigned one at this point later on this morning and they are not expected to enter a plea. This is a lot of procedural legal stuff that will be going on throughout the day -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Jason Carroll live in Tulsa, Oklahoma for us. Thank you very much.

BANFIELD: It is 4 minutes now past 6:00 and a grand jury is expected to possibly take up the case of Trayvon Martin, and if it happens, it happens as early as tomorrow.

Both sides, prosecutors and defense attorneys, are now strategizing, planning to deliver their answers to key questions in the case.

In the meantime, there are new protests that we can report on from this weekend calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman as well as Neonazi group claiming it has armed patrols in Sanford. Police saying though that they have seen no such patrols.

Martin Savidge is live in Sanford with the very latest. So how likely at this point do we feel, notwithstanding the state attorney's comments about this case that the grand jury that's empanelled might actually see this case?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ashleigh. Well, I think there is a strong sense of anticipation that sometime this week we may see a decision.

Whether that comes as a result of a grand jury or weather it comes as a result of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, no one really seems to know, but there is that anticipation here in this community and elsewhere.

Of course, we know that the special prosecutor has three options, to charge George Zimmerman, to clear him, or put this into the hands of the grand jury.

The community of Sanford is feeling sort of well very much caught in the middle here because if there is a decision and if that decision is not to arrest and charge George Zimmerman, there's concern about possible backlash against the community.

If he is arrested we move on to the next phase. I sort of talked about this with the mayor of Sanford and how this community is trying to prepare. Here's what he said.


MAYOR JEFF TRIPLETT, SANFORD, FLORIDA: The people that come into our city, everything's been peaceful. You know, the message that they wanted to get out, they got it out.

There hasn't been any violence or any activities other than peaceful protests, peaceful march. So my expectation I'm hoping it will continue, whatever that decision is, but you got to plan for the other side of it, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: And they are planning for the other side of it. That being that if they need to call in additional law enforcement from the county or from other nearby communities, they are prepared to do so.

There was a group called the dream defenders, they ended a three-day march in Sanford, yesterday, and they are still in the area today. There could be more possible demonstrations of some sort -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And of course, you know, Martin, you've covered enough trials to know that grand jurors come from the community, and this is the community that is watching all of these demonstrations and seeing some of these heightened tensions in this area, not just the neighborhood, but the surrounding state and the country itself.

Is there concern about continued protests in the community today and of course, that other story that we had, the Neonazi protest, is there concern that the tension's going to get out of hand?

SAVIDGE: Well, there's always that concern. No doubt about it. The mayor himself says there is that concern. As far as the Neonazi patrols, the white supremacists, that seems to be rumor at this point.

There's been no sign of that. The police force here says they have seen it. The mayor definitely says there's been no indication of that, but it does show you that how emotions and rhetoric is running very, very high.

And there is concern that it wouldn't take much to tip it into some sort of violence. It hasn't happened so far. The demonstrations have all been peaceful. The hope is that will continue to be the way it occurs in Sanford.

BANFIELD: All right, Martin Savidge live in Sanford for this morning. Thank you very much.

BANFIELD: It is 7 minutes past the hour. North Korea is rattling the international community this morning. This is new overnight. South Korea is now claiming that the north is getting ready to conduct its third nuclear test.

In addition to those nuclear fears, there are plans for a long range rocket launch. Pyongyang has moved a rocket into position. That's triggered fears of a ballistic missile test. North Korea insists it just wants to put a satellite into orbit.

In a rare move, it even showed off the hardware, inviting foreign journalists to look at its top secret launch site. Our Stan Grant was there. Take a look at this.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is about North Korean pride, about their right to launch a satellite and also refuting any claims that this is not, in fact, a satellite launch, and in fact, a covert missile operation. JANG MYONG JIN, HEAD OF LAUNCH SITE (through translator): I'm very disturbed.

GRANT: He can deny that it's a missile?

JIN: Look for yourselves with your own eyes then you can judge whether it's a ballistic missile or whether it's a launch vehicle to put a satellite into orbit.


SAMBOLIN: Experts say this could also be a test of long range missile technology that might be used to strike the United States and other targets.

BANFIELD: It's now 9 minutes past 6:00 on the east coast. It was a battle to the finish and beyond. Bubba Watson winning the 76th Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

There's the moment, big hug. He beat South African Luis Oosthuizen on the second hole of a sudden death playoff. Oosthuizen forced that sudden death playoff with the double eagle. That's only the fourth in the history of the Masters. The 33-year-old Watson started the final round in fourth place, but shot a 68 to force the playoff.


BUBBA WATSON, 2012 MASTERS CHAMPION: Going back to my childhood, going back to what my wife said to me, what my mom said to me, just put my head down, my caddie said you're a good golfer, you're here for a reason. You can do this. You've hit all these shots before. You just have to do it at this moment.


BANFIELD: Yes, this moment. Look at that moment, too, the big hug and the tears, it was great. He was always one of golf's great characters and now he's got the ubiquitous green jacket.

Ubiquitous is our word of the day, anyway, congratulations, Bubba. It's your first major, major win. It's good to see your tears. They're real. They're honest. You are an endorsement dream, my friend.

SAMBOLIN: I loved that he talked about his family.

BANFIELD: Look at him, the heavens above. There's the ubiquitous green jacket. She did it twice.

SAMBOLIN: All right, 10 minutes past the hour. Still ahead, a line of fire, this is not a war zone, folks, it was I-5 in L.A. If you live there, you know all about this, 6,000 gallons of fuel erupting into flames, shutting down the interstate. This happened on Easter Sunday. BANFIELD: Nice Easter Sunday. And the so-called soccer mom madam is due back in court accused of running a brothel for the rich and powerful and trying to get her bail knocked down from the millions.

SAMBOLIN: Plus why Ben Stiller's new movie might be a tough sell because of the Trayvon Martin case. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Top of the fare, that's how Mike Wallace wanted to be remembered. That legendary newsman died over the weekend and he was almost 94.

Mike Wallace had a reputation like no other, built from decades of interviewing both the notable and the notorious. He was aggressive. He was fearless, his reporting was terrific.

Along with Harry Rezner, Wallace was an original correspondent on CBS' "60 Minutes" dating back to its start in 1968. He's being remembered with fondness and respect.


LARRY KING, FMR. HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE" (via telephone): He brought the story, he went to the action, and he gave you the story. Was it objective? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes very subjective, but he got to the core of things, and he enabled you -- you almost felt like you were with him when he was in the trenches.

MORLEY SAFER, "60 MINUTES" CORRESPONDENT: People like Mike have an indefinable quality that makes people at once take to him, immediately, and then find themselves rappelled by him. It's a unique talent.


BANFIELD: Morley Safer calling Mike Wallace a one-man truth squad.

CBS will have a tribute to Wallace on next Sunday's "60 Minutes" broadcast.

SAMBOLIN: It'll be a great tribute, great tribute.

Fifteen minutes past the hour.

Time to check the stories that are making news this morning. Two suspects in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, shooting spree will be in court today to face murder and attempted murder charges. Nineteen-year-old Jake England on the left and 33-year-old Alvin Watts are accused of randomly shooting five people in an African-American community, killing three of them. England's recent Facebook posting blamed his father's death two years ago on a black man.

Singer Jennifer Hudson is scheduled to testify in the murder trial of a man accused of killing her mother, brother and her nephew. Jury selection begins today. Prosecutors say William Balfour, estranged husband of Hudson's sister, gunned down the family in a fit of jealous rage. We'll reveal more details about the case in the upcoming trail when we talk later on the hour with legal expert Midwin Charles.

BANFIELD: Fifteen minutes now past 6:00.

Parts of two L.A.'s freeways are reopening this morning after a tanker hauling 6,000 gallons of fuel exploded and left a river of fire flowing down Ventura Highway, shut down the interchange between two of the busiest roads in the country over the weekend, Ventura and the I-5 freeway.

Police say it was a drunk driver who collided with the tanker, sparking that massive explosion. That driver survived and was arrested.

SAMBOLIN: The New York woman accused of running a multimillion- dollar escort service will be back in court this morning. Alleged madame, Anna Gristina, is trying to get her $2 million bail reduced. Gristina has been held in solitary confinement since her arrest in February.

A cinematic three-peats for "The Hunger Games." The young adult blockbuster was number one at the box office for a third straight weekend.

Are you ready for this total? It's now topping about $300 million. "The Hunger Games" made $33.5 million just this weekend along. Coming in second "American Reunion" with $21.5 million, and "Titanic" coming out again but in 3D this time, pulling in $17.5 million.

SAMBOLIN: The effects of the Trayvon Martin case now reaching Hollywood, with FOX pulling advertisements for its upcoming film called "Neighborhood Watch."

BANFIELD: Unfortunately, the title.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, the Ben Stiller comedy is scheduled to come out in July, but it could be delayed in the wake of the Florida teen shooting death by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain. FOX is already pulling ads and trailers like this one.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergeant, he assaulted us with eggs.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at him and listen to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to his words and look at my face but look at him while he's talking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at my face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to my words and hear this face.


SAMBOLIN: I know, right, you want to laugh but then you don't. If FOX puts the film on hold, it will not be the first time. FOX rescheduled sniper thriller "Phone Booth" after the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Good for them for being, you know, sensitive. But --

BANFIELD: All-star comedic cast.

SAMBOLIN: And funny, right? The trailer is funny, but you don't want to laugh. So, that's a tough for them.

BANFIELD: Again, just a really unfortunate circumstance for them. It will be interesting to see how they handle it ultimately.


BANFIELD: It's 18 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast.

Your 401(k), have you been thinking about it lately? Because today could be --

SAMBOLIN: Since Friday.

BANFIELD: Today may not be so great for your stocks, for your 401(k), for your headache. Markets are going to react today to that very lukewarm jobs report that came out on Friday and the future, let's say it's not looking so bright. You got to wear shades.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here today in Austin for South by Southwest Interactive, where I'm going to launch my new game Super Better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're about to enjoy the biggest spotlight that any marketer could ever hope to have put on them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been play testing this game for about six months now. We've had thousands of people come and help us design it and test it. I watched people on blogs use it for chronic pain, for chemotherapy, for getting over a bad breakup, and seeing all these other people say you know, hey, I'm getting Super Better, too, and this is working for me. It was really promising.



SAMBOLIN: Look at that!

BANFIELD: Isn't that pretty?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it's beautiful!

BANFIELD: This is the time when you say, it is a great place to live and not just visit. It's a great place to live, folks. It's New York City, 52 degrees, but warming up to a lovely 64, with sunshine. In fact, sunshine all week long.

SAMBOLIN: Seriously, all week long?

BANFIELD: Stay at Zoraida's. Yes, sure.


SAMBOLIN: I'll take you in.

BANFIELD: She's got a big place.

We're minding your business this morning.

New York's great except for the Monday after the Friday bad jobs report, then you don't want to be anywhere near Wall Street.

SAMBOLIN: No. Apparently, they got a little catching up to do today. They were closed for Good Friday and still have to react to that lukewarm jobs report for the end of March. So, who is joining us today to give us the bad news? Felicia Taylor.

BANFIELD: Felicia.


SAMBOLIN: It was good news and then you show up, Debbie Downer. No, we're happy to have you, but we've got to hear the reality.

BANFIELD: The truth is the market already focused on what was a very disappointing jobs report, only 120,000 jobs were created in the month of March. We were looking for more like 210,000. So, clearly, almost half of what expectations were.

We need to keep above 300,000 in order for the economy to really be picking up steam, and the one thing that could be a harbinger in terms of, you know, slowing things down are gas prices. We've got them right now at $3.92, and that's not bad considering that we could have topped over $4 at this point. So things are looking pretty good when it comes to gas prices but nevertheless, that's something people are going to be watching, because that could definitely bring things back.

But again we're going to be looking today at the jobs number and already, Dow futures are off 1 percent pretty much across the board. So we're looking at a steep decline at the open, and certainly stocks are going to be focused on that.

Bernanke is -- the Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke is going to be speaking later on today and people are going to be looking to see if he's going to have any kind of a hint of more stimulus in the economy. He didn't give that the last time. Now, people are going to be looking for it because again this jobs number was extremely disappointing.

BANFIELD: Is he talking interest rates as well today?

TAYLOR: He probably won't make any change on interest rates. I mean, that's definitely not going to be a focus right now because he says so clearly that things are going to stay low for probably the next couple of years until 2014. But people are going to be wondering whether or not there's any kind of movement on inflation and whether or not he's focused on that.

BANFIELD: You want to hear the real Debbie Downer? I'm just looking at Ezra Klein, this is unbelievable -- Wonkblog, Ezra Klein's "Washington Post" blog. And he says if we keep adding jobs around 200,000 a month, it's going to take between seven and 12 years to get back to full employment even if we're adding them at that right.

TAYLOR: That tells you how serious the number is, at 120,000 we're nowhere near the pace that we need to be in order to have a recovery. They're calling this a tepid recovery -- tepid means really slow.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I mean, we were talking about the fact that I was feeling optimistic about this and you said, shouldn't have been.



BANFIELD: We'll call you for some advice later on.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Felicia. Appreciate it.

BANFIELD: Great seeing you. Love her.

Twenty-six minutes past 6:00 now

And still ahead, we could soon know whether George Zimmerman might be charged for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin. This after 43 days since the incident itself. Will a grand jury actually take this up case?

SAMBOLIN: Emotional and painful days in weeks ahead for Jennifer Hudson. Jury selection is set to begin for the man charged with killing her family and she is expected to take the stand at the trial.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: It is 6:30 here on the East Coast. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Hi there. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Nice to have you here with thus morning.

And here's what's making our top story list this morning:

A grand jury could hear the evidence in the Trayvon Martin case as early as tomorrow, this more than a month after George Zimmerman shot and killed that unarmed teenager.

SAMBOLIN: More than three years after singer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew were killed, jury selection will begin in the trial of the man that is charged with those crimes. And the star is expected to be in court.

BANFIELD: The U.S. Navy will begin cutting compensation checks as early as today to victims of last week's fiery crash of a fighter jet into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Amazingly, despite the pictures you're seeing, no one killed or badly injured in that terrible accident.

SAMBOLIN: A sentimental voyage -- a cruise ship retracing the path of the Titanic 100 years after its maiden and only voyage. The same amount of people on board, many of them relatives of the original Titanic passengers.

BANFIELD: This morning, prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin case are preparing for the possibility that a grand jury could review evidence and testimony tomorrow. It's been 43 days since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. The admitted shooter, George Zimmerman, is a neighborhood watch volunteer.

No doubt this has been a highly charged case. Just over the weekend, a group of college students walked 40 miles across central Florida to see Zimmerman arrested and tried in court. That was their message -- although Angela Corey, who's the special prosecutor investigating the Martin case, has said from the start that this case will likely move forward, quote, "without a grand jury."

Jamie Weintraub is a criminal defense attorney, and she's based in Florida. Phyllis Kotey is a former Florida judge and former Florida state attorney.

Welcome to you both.


BANFIELD: Phyllis, let me begin with you. As a former state attorney and I know that there are many and I know also that Angela Corey has a lot of supporters, people give her a lot of good street cred in her job.

What do you think the likelihood is that this case will be passed to a grand jury?

PHYLLIS KOTEY, FORMER FLORIDA JUDGE: Well, the likelihood of it is very great I think because of the political issues that are surrounding it, the information that has taken place so far, the activities in terms of the non-arrest of Mr. Zimmerman. So, it's very likely that a grand jury may want to hear from the case over and above anything that the attorney may be saying.

BANFIELD: But interesting you would say that, Phyllis, the political issue surrounding it.

Jayne, jump in and let me know how significant that is when it comes to what special prosecutor decides to do. Should politics be playing into it or just the facts?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Unfortunately, it does in this kind of a case. It's such a hot potato.

You know, in Florida, you have to have a grand jury indict if it's a first-degree murder or sexual battery with a victim under 11. Anything else is really voluntary by the state attorney. They're elected officials. They don't want this hot potato so they take a very volatile situation and they give it to the grand jury. That way they can say it was the community that made the decision.

BANFIELD: And, Jamie, the jury remains secret. This is -- this is one of the most secret proceedings in American jurisprudence. You never get to know about the proceedings. You never get to know who the jurors are, right?

WEINTRAUB: That's correct.

BANFIELD: It can never be unsealed in any circumstance?

WEINTRAUB: Not without court order. Certainly with a court order it can be done with a grand jury proceeding.

BANFIELD: So, Phyllis, jump in on that. If there is a court order, what would be the requisite? What would be required for a court order? What kind of bar has to be met there?

KOTEY: The threshold would be so high for the grand jury to have to reveal its deliberations because all basis of the grand jury the secrecy that allows it to act without any sort of political influence, which is why it becomes the best place for a case like this to land, that a decision can be made.

BANFIELD: Of course, best place for prosecutors. But defense attorneys don't get to play any part of this. I mean, you don't get to defend your case to a grand jury.

WEINTRAUB: Well, in Florida, interestingly enough, what they have is a voluntary provision where if the defendant wants to testify, which of course as a defense lawyer I would highly recommend against it, they are permitted to voluntarily waive immunity and perhaps make an appearance. They are not ever compelled to testify obviously because of Fifth Amendment issues.

BANFIELD: Sure. And, Phyllis, have you ever seen a circumstance like that where a defendant actually chooses to waive his or her Fifth Amendment right and go in and testify?

KOTEY: Yes, I have.


KOTEY: Yes. Many times you'll see that -- you'll see it especially when a defendant feels that they have a really justified basis for why they acted. But the problem is you don't have a right to an attorney as well. While your attorney may be present and may be able to counsel you and give you advice, they cannot give you -- ask any questions or do anything to help you in terms of the presentation. So, that's the danger.

BANFIELD: I want --

WEINTRAUB: Remember, Ashleigh, his statement will be introduced in the grand jury.

BANFIELD: Right, anything he's made to the police -- police reports, correct?

KOTEY: Could be. Yes.

WEINTRAUB: Well, I don't know what's in the police reports is accurate, I think that's a whole other issue for all of us.

BANFIELD: So, Craig Sonner, one of Zimmerman's attorneys, spoke with me on Friday on "Anderson Cooper's" program and I asked that specific question, what do you think the likelihood is that your case is going to end before the grand jury? Have a listen to what he said.


BANFIELD: Do you think your case is going to get indicted?

CRAIG SONNER, ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: At this point, we don't know. There's not really --

BANFIELD: In one way or the other?

SONNER: There -- no, I can tell you the possibilities of things. I mean, it could go to the grand jury, they could indict or they could no bill. The state attorney could actually file charges or the state attorney could no bill it. Those are the possibilities of things that could happen, and without having, you know, all the details, it's hard to say what's going to happen.

BANFIELD: Just mention as well that Craig Sonner was on the right and second attorney Hal Uhrig was sitting on his left. Phyllis, it's been often said and repeated that you can indict a ham sandwich. In the truthful --

KOTEY: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: -- manner of this, when it comes to a grand jury in your state, it's not true that you can indict a ham sandwich. It is not that -- it's not that difficult, but it is tough.

KOTEY: It is tough, and I think the grand jurors are very inquisitive in terms of what they look at and they take that role very seriously in terms of having to make a decision, that's free of politics. And I think one of the points we just made that's really important and the fact is that you can have this grand jury acting on its own in terms of an investigation while the actual special prosecutor in the case may be investigating as well for possible filing decision.

But, ultimately, if this is going to be a first-degree murder case, a grand jury will have to either indict or no true bill and may even present some -- have some sort of presentation or presentment if they take neither action.

BANFIELD: And we shouldn't expect anything to happen quickly either.

Phyllis, it's the first time I've had a chance to talk to you. It's really nice to have you on as a guest and I hope to see you again.

KOTEY: Thank you. Thank you very much. It's great to be here.

BANFIELD: And, Jayne, as always, I can't even count the number of times we've had to talk but good to see you.

WEINTRAUB: Nice to see you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Thanks to both of you joining us from Florida this morning.


SAMBOLIN: It is 37 minutes past the hour.

Still ahead, Jennifer Hudson is expected to be in court with the man accused of killing her mother, her brother, and her nephew. Jury selection begins today.

And a reality check for Newt Gingrich, giving Mitt Romney a major nod, but he's still not stepping aside. Why? He says he's still running.

You're watching EARLY START.

Ooh, but first, let's head over to Atlanta and check in on Rob Marciano.

Good morning to you.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Hope you had a great weekend.

It was decent weather wise for a lot of folks for the holidays and the winds are blowing this morning across parts of the Northeast and some snow falling across extreme northern New England. Winds right now are gusting so much that the airports, at LaGuardia, are already reporting delays in excess of an hour, and that will continue today. Severe weather threat across the plains and cooler air will pour into the Great Lakes tonight and the Northeast tomorrow.

It's 38 minutes after the hour. EARLY START is coming right back.


SAMBOLIN: It is 41 minutes past the hour. Good morning to you, Chicago.

It is 48 degrees right now. A little bit later, it's going to get warmer, 62 degrees but a little cloudy for you. Nonetheless the perfect town, isn't it?

And this is why we're in Chicago. Jury selection begins in the trial of the man accused of gunning down relatives of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Prosecutors say 30-year-old William Balfour shot members of her family in a jealous rage. That was in October of 2008.

His victims included Jennifer's mother, 57-year-old Darnell Donnerson, her brother, Jason and 7-year-old nephew, Julian King.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin later this month in Chicago. Hudson is expected to attend every day of that trial. She's also on a list of 300 witnesses who could be called to testify.

Midwin Charles is a criminal defense attorney and we're going to chat with her to find out some more about the details -- because this is really an interesting case. The judge is Charles Burns. He's the presiding judge and, of course, there are unique challenges, right, when you're a superstar.

If you don't know Jennifer Hudson from winning an Oscar, from being, you know, a world famous singer, you've seen her in commercials on television. So, how do you really find a jury that could really hear this case?

MIDWIN CHARLES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's really, really hard. Not only do you know who Jennifer Hudson is but most people know this was a horrendous crime -- at least what is alleged to have occurred. Three generations gone from Jennifer Hudson -- her mother, brother, and her 7-year-old nephew.

But I think this judge is challenged in the sense of making sure that the jury pool is not tainted, that the jury pool will listen to the evidence fairly and not be biased or prejudiced against this defendant.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I think that that -- therein lies the big challenge, right? Because there were 150 potential jurors gathered just last week. They filled out questionnaires and Judge Burns asked anyone if they couldn't hear the evidence without sympathy, bias or prejudice. And what happened? Immediately, 20 people stand up.

How do you do that?

CHARLES: Well, if I were his defense attorney, I'd move for a change of venue. And I would argue that perhaps this is not the best jurisdiction where I could get a fair trial, especially since this is where it occurred. This guy is from the neighborhood, William Balfour. Everybody knows him. There are allegations that he's tied to a gang, he's part of gang membership and what have you.

So, his defense attorneys should move for a change of venue.

SAMBOLIN: And what about Jennifer Hudson appearing in court each and every day, right? She's going to be there. How does she really maintain a straight face, non reaction? Because the jurors are going to be looking at her.

CHARLES: I think that's going to be very, very hard. Now, what the defense attorneys can do is ask the judge to say, you know what, she's a potential witness and therefore she shouldn't participate in the trial because that might taint what she's going to say when she gets on the witness stand.

It's not unusual. Attorneys often do it. But I think it's going to be very difficult for a judge to deny her the right and the opportunity to participate in this trial, given the fact that this has to do with her mother, her brother, and her nephew -- and not to mention her sister, who was married to this guy at some point.

SAMBOLIN: Well, what if she does remove herself from that situation? You still have the issue -- we get back to the jury selection, the fact that everybody knows her, right? And perhaps may even want to be a part of this, because afterwards there are going to be lots of interviews granted, right?

So, how do you make that decision, even if you do move the venue?

CHARLES: It's hard. It's hard. I mean, when we think of the Conrad Murray trial, Dr. Conrad Murray, who as you know was convicted of manslaughter for killing Michael Jackson, it's difficult. Judges really are challenged these days, and I think this judge does not play.

I think he's not going to take any nonsense. He's already banned people in the courtroom, not just potential jurors, but court officers and police officers from using social media. They are not allowed to use Twitter.

They're not allowed to use Facebook, and it's my understanding that he has a list of everybody's account names, so they can keep track of who's tweeting and who's sending information outside of the courtroom.

SAMBOLIN: But there's a new Illinois law, I believe, that it does allow cameras in the courtroom. So, do you think, perhaps, we could see cameras in the courtroom here?

CHARLES: I doubt it.

SAMBOLIN: You doubt it. CHARLES: I doubt it, especially if this is a judge who, from what it I understand, is very no-nonsense. He's going to kind of command the courtroom in a way to make sure that this defendant gets a fair trial, because at the end of the day, that's what's most important to a certain extent. You have to abide by the constitution. He's entitled to a fair trial. So, he may say that this is a little bit too much.

SAMBOLIN: And what do you think the chances are that Jennifer Hudson will be barred from attending the trial?

CHARLES: I think it's very low, given her close connection to the victims. I think it's going to be very, very hard for him to bar her from that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Midwin Charles, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

CHARLES: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: I'm sure there's going to be plenty more to talk about it.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Ashleigh, back to you.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much, Zoraida.

Here I was thinking the jobs report meant that Christine Romans didn't want to have any part of today's "Minding Your Business" report. She wanted to wait until the stock market settled out (ph). No. No, she's in for Soledad O'Brien today. And I still will be watching the stock market, my dear.


BANFIELD: I didn't think you wanted to have to face the wrath of me.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, boy. I know it's going to be a big day for the markets. But also, we're following a lot on Soledad's show today. The trial of the alleged mastermind of the "USS Cole" bombing, that trial resumes this month at Guantanamo Bay. We're going to talk with retired navy commander, Kirk Lippold, off their Front Burner al Qaeda's attack on the "USS Cole."

Iowa Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, taking a shot at President Obama suggesting the president is, quote, "stupid" for his comments regarding the pending Supreme Court ruling (ph) on healthcare. Stupid, that's what he tweeted.


ROMANS: Iowa is nice. Iowa is nice. Everyone in Iowa is nice. We're going to have our panel weigh in on that, and check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People ask me, mitt, just how many piercings do you have?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I always say more than I need, but less than I want.



ROMANS: "Saturday Night Live" with a brilliantly funny take on Mitt Romney, the candidate who is pro-everything. If you're about to head out the door to go to work, don't worry. You don't need to miss the rest of our show. Check out our live blog on our website,


SAMBOLIN: Beautiful. Look at that. Good morning, Washington, D.C. It is 54 degrees now, and a little later, it's going to be sunny, 68 degrees. It is perfect weather for Easter eggs.

BANFIELD: Picture that makes you proud to be an American, right? You look at the White House, and you think yes, that's our place. That's the people's place, folks. It is now 10 minutes before the top of the hour. Time to check our top stories making news this morning.


BANFIELD (voice-over): And two men are facing possible hate crime charges for allegedly gunning down three people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The suspects, 19-year-old Jake England and 33-year-old Alvin Watts will be arraigned this morning. Police say England may have been out to avenge his father's killing by a Black man.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin shooting could take their case to the grand jury tomorrow. It is now 43 days since that Florida teenager was shot and killed by self- appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Tensions do remain high as Martin's family continues to call for Zimmerman's arrest. Zimmerman, meanwhile, maintains he shot martin in self- defense.

BANFIELD: Support for Mitt Romney coming from an unlikely corner of the GOP, and the source? His sometimes bitter rival, Newt Gingrich.


NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have to be realistic, given the size of his organization, given the number of primaries he's won. He is far and away the most likely Republican nominee, and if he does get to 1,144 delegates, I'll support him. I'll do everything I can this fall to help him defeat Obama. It is the primary goal of the entire Republican Party has to be to defeat Barack Obama.


BANFIELD: Far and away the likely nominee. Gingrich says he's staying in the race, nonetheless, to help the party build a solidly conservative platform. He says if Romney's the Republican nominee, he says he'll work hard for him just as hard as he'd work for himself.

SAMBOLIN: So, this is why I was saying Easter eggs, and we're looking at Washington D.C., it is not Easter in Washington until the eggs roll, and today, the first family is expecting 35,000 people to join them on the south lawn for the annual White House Easter egg roll. This year's theme is "Let's Go, Let's Play, Let's Move." And let's move is First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States.

BANFIELD: So love it.

SAMBOLIN: Perfect weather for that today.

BANFIELD: Pictures from last year, the presidents helping them along -- get out of the way. Out of the way, dude. Come on, dude, I got to get my game on here.

It is 53 minutes now past 6:00 and still ahead, a sentimental voyage. Cruise ship retracing the steps of the "Titanic" with the same number of people on board to mark the 100 years since that disaster. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: More than 1,500 people died when the "Titanic" sank 100 years ago, and a commemorative cruise is setting sail from Britain to retrace the exact steps of the ill-fated voyage. Some of the cruise passengers are actually descendants of "Titanic" passengers. CNN Dan Rivers sat down with one of the men whose grandfather survived the shipwreck.


PHILIP LITTLEJOHN, GRANDSON OF TITANIC SURVIVOR: There is a picture of him on the rescue ship on the "Carpathia." Quite clearly, still dark hair, dark mustache. Six months later, he goes back to work. He's issued with a new discharge (INAUDIBLE), and in the front of that, color of hair, white, so between April and October, he went completely white through the effects of shock.



BANFIELD: Holy cow! SAMBOLIN: That's incredible, isn't it?

BANFIELD: So remarkable. The stories are so incredible. Other passengers on this cruise consider themselves "Titanic" history buffs. Many of them dressing up in period costumes. It's a little creepy, almost eerie when you look at that. That was the so-called unsinkable "Titanic." It went down on April 15th, 1912. Of course, you know the story now after it struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland in the Atlantic.

SAMBOLIN: Tough to see that.

All right. Easter Sunday is typically a huge sports day, and the headliner may be the great big wheel race. Yes.


SAMBOLIN: Dozens of big kids and little kids racing down the steep heels of San Francisco during the 11th Annual BYOBW. You know what that is? Bring Your Own Big Wheel extravaganza. The yellow flag came out during a multi-big wheel, the pile-up.

BANFIELD: The bunny ear got kind of caught one of --

SAMBOLIN: Well, you know what I asked, is that a real grandma or is it a guy dressed up as a grandma?

BANFIELD: I think the latter. I think the latter.

SAMBOLIN: So much fun I think we should do that everywhere.

BANFIELD: I'm surprised fisticuffs don't break out. They're serious.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, no. They're having a good time. Big wheel. I have a bit of a big wheel in the long time. How about you all at home?


BANFIELD: I have a big wheel at home. Hey, Elmo. That was really cute with Elmo doing his thing.


BANFIELD: I do have a big wheel at home.

SAMBOLIN: Do you ride it?

BANFIELD: I do not.

SAMBOLIN: Oh. Ashleigh, coming down the hill.

BANFIELD: Do not want to break it.

(LAUGHTER) BANFIELD: Hey, it was really nice to have you here today. That's EARLY START, the news from A to Z.

SAMBOLIN: It was, indeed. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Christine Romans starts right now.

ROMANS: Good morning, ladies. I'm in for Soledad today. Our "Starting Point," the terror in Tulsa. Two suspects heading to court this morning after a killing spree that had people too scared to come out of their homes for some 48 hours. Oklahoma police now looking at a Facebook post for proof of a possible hate crime.

We could know in days whether George Zimmerman will be charged for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. A grand jury could be taken up this case as early as tomorrow.

Plus, a senator calling President Obama stupid on Twitter. The healthcare fight, the high court now being reduced to name calling and team Obama firing back.

And "Saturday Night Live" struggling to find something Mitt Romney doesn't like.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When people ask me, Mitt, just how many piercings do you have?


Well, I always say more than I need, but less than I want.



ROMANS: Mitt Romney and piercings, two words I never thought would be in the same sentence. It's Monday April 9th. "STARTING POINT" begins right now.